Saturday, April 27, 2013

Welcome Fairies!

We welcomed the tree fairies into our garden yesterday.   I was poking around Etsy and found Fairy Hill Woodworks.   I couldn't resist myself, these fairy portals were adorable.  I was so excited about showing it to Serafin who loves being a little fairy.  Now we get to slowly build our little fairy land.  Do you have fairyies, sprites or pixies in your garden??  This one followed a pill bug all the way on top of my car while I was putting my tools away.  That was the first time I ever had to tell a fairy to "move her little buttinsky!!"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nettle Pesto

Yeah, yeah, I've already been called obsessed in regards to nettles (RISHA!).  But being obsessed about nettles is not such a bad thing, they are so good for you!  We've got so many of them I figure why the heck not try and figure out something new!   I guess, to some, it might look like barf, but to me, it looks like a nutritious heaven.  So, after a friend of mine told me about making nettle pesto, I picked up some pine nuts and got to work.  Isn't this pesto so beautiful, such a very rich green. 

I've made pesto before, and even looked up some recipes before I made this, but really, it all comes down to your own tastes.  So, . . . I'm going to give you this recipe "the Greek way", . . . meaning there aren't going to be any measurements, it's going to be more like a handful of "this" and a pinch of "that" (at least that's how my yaya used to do it!).  Anyway, be brave, experiment and have fun!  Nettles are yummy!

A large pot full of freshly cut nettles.
Olive Oil
A few cloves of garlic
Two large handfuls of pine nuts
A large handful of grated parmesan cheese
A pinch (or two or three) of sea salt

Note: If you want to make your pesto in a mortar and pestle (how do you think "pesto" got it's name?), it may take more time but the outcome is supposed to be way better than using a cuisinart.  Me?  I took the speedy route and my results were still delicious.  Here's what I did:

To Make:

-Place nuts, cheese and garlic into cuisinart.

-De-sting your nettles by placing nettles in boiling water to blanch for 1-2 minutes.  

-Use tongs to remove hot nettles and put in colander, squeeze out any extra water.

-Add nettles to cusinart, plus a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.


-Taste and add any extra flavorings, or more olive oil if too thick.

. . . . . .

I served some under a bed of baked cod that night, a little went a long way.  It was GOOD.  Pesto is strong wether it be with nettles, basil or whatever greens.  I've also put some in the freezer to have at a later date as I've been told it freezes well.  Anyway, that's all for now folks!  Hope you enjoy your nettle pesto!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Orcas Dreams Part 9: Going and Coming

One of the many sunsets that Gary took from "the top of the hill" in Oakland

 It's always nice to go away, but it's even more nice to come home.  There is something about absence that, as you know, makes the heart grow fonder.  My trip to Oakland was very sweet, that's the best way I can put it.  

I was bombarded by such a mixture of feelings.  I missed my old haunts.  The restaurants I used to frequent, stores I loved and strolls that I went on millions of times.  When I first arrived, literally the first thing I did (after managing to haul the kiddos to the rental car place, get the car seats in and head off), was take a drive.  With both kids conked out in the back seats I let the wheels take me where I wanted to go, back to my old home, on the hill, where both my kids were born, where I spent 9 years with my husband and watched a thousands of sunsets. It felt like no time had passed, the house looked just the same, only my heart ached a little with my sentimental spirit taking hold of me.  It felt good though.  I needed to go back and say hello.  

To be honest, I don't really miss Oakland.  Yeah, I miss my old home a little.  But it's mostly people I miss.  My friends.  My Dad.  Other family members.  I miss my people and here, in this new place, it takes time to find those connections.  I am though, slowly but surely.  There are a lot of people here that I really resinate with and look forward to cultivating relations with.

As the week progressed in Oakland, I visited all my old haunts and favorite places, I also noticed a few other things; I started to feel bombarded by lights, noise, people, smells, traffic, . . . yada yada yada.  Sigh.  City Life.  I have removed myself from so much of this stimulation that now, when I am in the midst of it, every cell in my body buzzed from the activity.  

I was amazed at how much more relaxed I became once I was back in Washington, sitting at the ferry landing with my kids waiting to get on the boat.  It was pretty instantaneous.  When I was in Oakland I was afraid to let Serafin get more than 10 feet away from me!  Here, both kids go toddling away from me and I don't feel like I have to reel them in every second.  We've been living in a bit of a bubble here.  Although Orcas is a part of this crazy world, somehow I feel safe here.  I don't know if it's an illusion or I'm just kidding myself, and in for a nasty surprise at some point; but really, here, people are so trusting and open it only serves to make me be the same.  

 Although my heart still says that the Bay Area is my home, Orcas Island is slowly morphing into a sturdy living foundation for me.  I don't know how long I will be here, but for now i'm excited to continue trying to create a full and happy life here for myself and my family.  I've been here for half a year now.  I can't believe it.  I said in the beginning I was going to give it two years before I really formed an opinion of wether I liked it or not.  Now I've bumped it up to three, so something must be right!

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Earth Day"

In my opinion, every darn day should be Earth Day, can you imagine how our world would be if all the consciousness that went into this one day was extended to 365 days a year??  If we respected the world we live in more then there would be so much fruit for all, AND less and less depletion.  Respect our Mother and she will take care of us.  I know, I know, I'm ranting a bit, but really, there is hope for our world, I believe it.  Let's work for a better future for our children!  XOXO  Happy "Earth Day", . . . every day and every night!  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Robot Rampage

 Um, my daughter is obsessed with robots.  As you may know, she was Plex (Yo Gabba Gabba) last Halloween.  She still dons her robot costume every once and a while and walks around the house saying "All systems A-OK".  Sometimes she even does a robot dance with stiff arms and legs.   

Here is a tour of the different robots in our house. . .

"This is Robot Feeree.  She comes from Peeree.  She likes to play on the swings and her favorite color is purple."

We are slowly working to color this robot who hangs out in our living room window.  He doesn't have a name yet, but he is Robot Plex's cousin apparently.

Ms. Serafin even insisted on a robot sandwich one morning!  She ate his entire body first and left his face.  Then she slowly picked off the raisins.  

And of course. . . we made use of her lego set.   This robot took some time to make as Silas doesn't share the same appreciation for robots as Serafin does, duh, he's only 1!  He came over and bulldozed our poor creation about three times before we managed to finish and put him higher and out little brother's reach!

That's all for now folks, over and out!  Bleeeeeeep!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tasty Tea 8: Nettle

Me surrounded by my nettle friends, in pure heaven!
Nettles are more than just a tasty tea.  Nettles are amazing!  The stuff is like liquid gold, rich in iron and calcium.  When I drink nettle tea, I just feel darned good, and so will you!  In previous blog posts, I talked about stinging yourself with nettles but I didn't go too much into the benefits of regular consumption of nettles.  This wonder herb has called to me since my first pregnancy with Serafin.  My mom had recommended them to help keep my iron levels up and the water retention down.    The stuff is amazing, yes, that's the second time I've said that.  Now, I drink them, I eat them and I even sting myself with them.

Whenever I'm feeling bloated I drink nettle tea.  Whenever I need energy or feel a bit down in the digs, I drink nettle tea.   It's a dieretic, anti-inflammatory and filled with anti-oxidents.  It is said to cleanse the body, flush the kidneys and help promote strong blood vessels.  There are periods of time when I drink this tea every day in large quart size jars.  I brew it in the morning, a couple of Tbs fulls of the herb and let it sit on the counter for a few hours till the tea is a rich dark green, then I carry the jar around with me till I've slurped it all up.  Yum.  Simply thinking about it is making me want to go and make myself a "cuppa".  You can also throw freshly picked nettles in some soup or, as I've recently learned, make pesto with them!

There is a large nettle field growing near our house, when I take my dogs out to walk I've been admiring its beauty.  It has been calling to me.  Nettles are best picked in early spring, when the young shoots are fresh from the ground.  Nettles should not be harvested and consumed after they have flowered, the old leaves contain irritants to your kidneys and digestive track.  If you are lucky, you can find it growing in your garden, I see them everywhere!

I was coming down the hill with a bowl full of nettles and tripped, a few leaves landed on my wrist and ouch!  It sure did sting for a bit, but yes, it was kind of a good pain!

If you haven't felt a nettle sting before, don't be shocked, they do have a bit of a bite!  Nothing too bad, but if you aren't ready for it, it can surprise you.  The hairs under the leaf and on the stem will prick you and you will get a few bumps, it can ache, but in some strange way I actually like it.  They say the prick is good for arthritis and other joint pain, perhaps that's why I don't mind so much, the nettles are just kissing me to help my achy joints!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Corners of Our Insides

Photo by G. Dorrington

I have been wondering what, and even if,  I would be inspired to write something this year for the "anniversary" of my mom's death.  Every year I have honored her somehow by  sharing memories and photos of her, talking about my experiences with her death and how it has changed me.  I have done some of that recently, but I haven't really touched on what's going on deep inside.  Despite my practice in presence, this day has been creeping up on me, sitting in the back of my mind for over a month now.  

Right now I'm sitting here with a glass of red wine, made from the very grapes that my mom planted.  She would have liked knowing that, I used to hate red wine.  I have lit a candle for her because wherever she is, I know she is surrounded with light, and in this light, we are connected.   I also grieve.  I grieve for my sweet and beautiful mother.  

My mother's death taught me so much about myself, most of the time I choose to speak of how strong I became after her passing.  I learned that in grief, there is also a birth.  That when the clouds lift, there can be a celebration of something new and profound.  After mom died, I found some inner strength and inner wisdom that was finally awakened.  It was most welcome and something I needed and, I believe, couldn't have happened with out experiencing her loss.

I haven't, however, spoken of the fear that settled in.  Yes, fear, that which "cuts deeper than any sword".  The suddenness of her death, the shock of it all made me realize how fast death can be upon us.  How things can be altered in an instant.  My life can change in a matter of seconds.  I know there is such beauty in this; I try to bathe in every minute of this glorious life, be it difficult, easy, fun or saddening.  The fear creeps up, though, especially during the harder times.  It's a deep fear of loss, of losing another that I love.  It hurts to even think of it.

I try my best to sit with it, to hold, love and heal the hurt girl within me, the one who is afraid.  The one who still misses her mother and is afraid of losing another family member, particularly a child.  At times, it tears at my heart strings like a saw ripping into me.  I can do nothing, but feel, for if I choose to ignore it, I become numb.

 I believe in looking deep within my friends.  It is the only way I can live.  Perhaps, one day, like the candle I have lit this very night, I will bring light and warmth to all those fears that hide themselves in the dark corners of my insides.  Perhaps one day, either in life or in death, I will become free of them.  As my favorite poet says, dear sweet Rumi, "The hurt you embrace becomes joy.  Call it to your arms where it can change."  

Love and Light

. . . and thanks mom, . . . for everything.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sweet Life

The blossoming tree out in front of our house.

My poor Gary is sick again.  First it was his ribs back in December, now it's some weird stomach thing, that's the only way I know how to describe it.  It's been over a week now since he's been feeling bad.   It has been hard.  

Sometimes I find it difficult for me to write about things of this nature, like I'm letting you all into the darker side of my life, or there is something (I don't know what) to be ashamed of if life isn't going the way I want it to.  As if certain things are meant to be kept "secret" for some reason.  I guess I have been trained, somehow, to store away my darker moments and to carry them on my shoulders.  But alas, I know, deep down, I find solace in sharing.  

Yes, I find grounding when I write.  Getting the inside out of me.  So here I am, at my computer typing away for 10 minutes at a time; while managing laundry, diaper changes, food on the table, picking up and dropping off, and making silly faces at my children.  I already feel a little better knowing that you are here, reading, holding a space for me to be able to share my stories.  I thank you for that sweet readers.

It is hard for me to care for the sick.  I am realizing that I am no nurse.  As much as I have practiced healing in my life via massage, Reiki and other modalities, I find myself having difficulty being a constant care giver.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, it sucks ass seeing somebody you love in pain.  "I just want it all to be better, right now!"  That was my inner little girl talking.  All my energy, at the moment, is going towards taking care of the kids, helping my sweet husband with whatever he might need, squeezing in the occassional shower (I kinda smell), and trying to sleep (what's that again?).  Oh yeah, and I'm missing my mom too. Bleh.  

I remember though,  I have so much to be grateful for.  I am an optimist, even in my darker moments, I continued to be even after my mom died, seeing life as a beautiful fleeting time on this earth.  I also know that harder moments are here for a reason, some lesson that the universe has put before me that I am needing to learn.  Truth be told, this isn't all that bad.  There is so much around me that makes me smile and find peace.  When my eyes are baggy and black with circles from lack of sleep, and I feel like my legs are going to fall from under me (like at the end the day when I have to go up two flights of steps to change a 4th poopie diaper), I take a deep breath and I put one foot in front of the other and I look at the blooming tree in front of our house.  That is when I remember that this too shall pass, everything will change, and that life really is amazing.  Like the petals falling from the tree and the flower buds turning into sweet fruit--life keeps moving and life too is sweet.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mom's Torta

Serafin love's Torta, as you might be able to tell, she's ready to grub down!
I have been enjoying sharing my recipes with you all lately.  My mom always taught me that food was such a wonderful way to connect.  A time when everybody can sit down together and talk, or just simply be together enjoying the flavors they are experiencing.  As a result of my mom's passion for food, she was an amazing cook, she even took lessons from Julia Child and one point.  

This dish in particular reminds me of my mom.  One day, she showed up at my doorstep with two bushels of chard and a recipe.  "Here!"  She said as she handed me everything.  "Cook this!"  I was in my mid twenties at that point I wasn't as confident in the kitchen, I remember reading the instructions carefully and making it exactly as it said to.  Now, I have to say, I've probably gotten a bit sloppy in the kitchen (maybe too confident, or, more likely, just lazy).  I make do with what I have and am always throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that.  The recipe I am going to share with you is a spin off of the one my mom handed me, catered to what was in my fridge today.  I have flavored it many different ways, depending on my mood and I'd say 9 times out of 10 we all enjoy this yummy meal.

. . . . . . .

Mom's Torta


A bushel of leafy greens, leaves pulled from stems and chopped. (Today I used rainbow chard because it looked fresh and yummy.  I have used all types of chard and kale for this recipe.  I also chopped the stems today and threw them in to give the torta a crunch, but it's not necessary.)
2 Cups of cooked rice ( I usually make this dish the day after a stir fry or some other rice dish, I make extra and it is ready to go the next day when I assemble this dish!)
1 large chopped yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 grated zucchini
Handful of mushrooms chopped
4 large eggs
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Cups of cooked rice
1/2 bread crumbs
3 Tbs of butter
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Other seasonings (if desired sometimes I use curry, sometimes I use thyme and sage, whatever, you decide!)

To Prepare:

-Chop all veggies so they are ready to go.
-Grate cheese, set aside.
-Pull eggs out of fridge, set aside to get to room temperature.
-Saute onion, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms.
-After the onion mixture is cooked down, throw greens on top to cook.
-Put in a bowl to cool down to room temperature.
-Set oven to 425 degrees
-Add cooked rice to cooled mixture.
-Add 3/4 cup of cheese.
-Add Eggs.
-Grease with butter a 9 inch spring-form pan.
-Add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs to pan and make sure all sides are coated with crumbs.
-Put cooked rice mixture into pan.
-Combine the rest of the breadcrumbs with the rest of the cheese.
-Sprinkle breadcrumb/cheese mixture of top of uncooked torta.
-Dot with butter.
-Put in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, checking regularly to be sure it's not burning.
-When eggs appear to have set and torta looks cooked through, you are ready to eat!

We always find this dish is better once it has cooled down.  I usually make it in the morning and we enjoy it at night with a salad, it's light and yummy.  Bon Appetite!