Monday, August 31, 2009

eggplant wonders

Out at the garden I have about four eggplant plants. They remained on the small side for quite awhile. The cool summer we have had hasn't been all that great for eggplants. See eggplants thrive in hot weather-so really I wasn't expecting much in the way of eggplants, but to my pleasant surprise I found one-growing~

I can't wait to bring this pretty purple globe home for good eats. So seeing this eggplant got me thinking about Libby (she has this wonderful blog), because a couple a weeks ago she asked if I had any eggplant recipes. I have one recipe in particular that is great for the upcoming cooler weather of fall. A simple but really satisfying recipe, we often serve it over rice.

Eggplant Stew
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 baby sized eggplants (or two medium sized eggplants)cut up into good sized chunks
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 bell pepper (seeds removed, chopped)
1 medium onion chopped
1 very large sweet potato
2 medium sized tomatoes chopped
1 can of stewed tomatoes (Mexican style)
2 cups of chicken (or veggie) stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

First peel and chop the sweet potato into good sized pieces. Boil the sweet potato chunks until slightly tender, not to soft, set aside. In main pot with oil, place chopped up onion, peppers, and garlic-saute until translucent. Now add eggplant, sweet potato and chopped tomatoes cook all together for about five minutes. Add canned stewed tomatoes, bay leaf, and stock, let stew simmer for about 35 minutes-to thicken stew allow to simmer without top on the pot. Taste stew, add salt and pepper accordingly.
Serve over rice if desired.

(photo of the stew made last fall, as you can tell I like taking food pictures :)
Last year we ate a lot of this stew, and thanks to my little eggplant that's now growing we will be able to make another pot.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

the late summer garden

just thought I'd share some photos of the garden and whats happening out there now~

~acorn squash


~crawling along

~web weaving

~lettuce going to seed

The nip in the air tells me that autumn is just around the corner, and soon sweaters and socks will be needed. I suppose thats why it's so important to enjoy each day fully as it is.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

small knitting

I was able to finish up a little knitting for a precious little someone, my dear new niece. The pattern for these baby booties is from the same book by Melanie Falick which has the pattern for the felted balls. See all that color, I need it-daily- and I know the little one receiving these will look so adorable in them.

So school has started for the girls and I'm feeling just a little overwhelmed, but its all good. I got up way early this morning and before nine a.m. I had~
*checked my e-mail
*put a load in the washer machine
*made breakfast
*washed dishes/started the dishwasher
*packed lunches
*checked backpacks
*bagged some tomatoes for the freezer
*helped the girls with better clothing options (its a bit cooler today)
*combed hair
*lotioned up faces
*drove kids to school

(I think I typed this list out so I could see what I've done so far today :) but regardless of my reasons for typing this list, I definitely think a little nap is in order. Who says that napping should be only for small ones, goodness-I think I need them even more now as I get older, how about you?


Monday, August 24, 2009

still upside down

Remember this~

it's now this~

upside down, originally uploaded by *nichole*.

my homemade hanging basket is still up and hanging (actually the first plant was crushed because the bucket wasn't secured properly and it ended up falling to the ground, so this is tomato plant #2, secured with lots of twine). So far it has 3 green tomatoes on it. I'm not so sure about this hanging tomato thing, but it has been interesting to observe.

Hope Monday was good to ya!

(totally unrelated but "upside down" got me thinking of this song :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

still enjoying summer

~tomatoes, flowers from the garden

~tea (made the lazy way) just add tea bags to water

~and enjoying these zebra tomatoes especially

I appreciate the comments given for the giveaway, thank you so much!
At first I thought I would let the kids draw a name, but they fell asleep (my mommy quiet time is after they fall asleep :) so I used and got the #3, which is Glo from Hooked on Yarn, One Stitch at a Time.
Glo just send me an email and I'll get your package on its way.
Thanks again everyone and have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

pancakes and a 50th post giveaway!

For the last couple of mornings the girls have been asking for pancakes. Usually I have been able to make them happy by offering bread and peanut butter for breakfast, but today guess what? All the bread was gone! So I obliged and pancakes were made~

~making pancakes

~the pancake pile

The pancakes turned out great. The girls and I used the recipe from the book Cooking is Fun. This book is totally great for kids and parents who want to make simple homemade delicious food. I love the vintage look of the book, which only adds to its charm. Actually the pancakes happen to be the second recipe that we have tried from this book. Just on Monday we made the Heirloom brownies (these were also totally good, especially with a cold cup of milk).

This is the 50th post on my little blog here, so I've decide to do something a little special. For a while now I been trying to organize my craft stuff- I have found some things that I think will do well in a new home, this includes:

~3 skeins of novelty yarn (purchased from Hobby Lobby)
~2 iron-on appliques (one floral, one an owl)
~1 needlepoint kit
~1 small bag of colorful tiny clothes pins
~1 card of vintage buttons
~1 small bag of vintage trim (purchased from thrift stores)

just leave a comment by Thursday evening (tomorrow night) and I'll draw a name by Friday lunchtime.

Have a good Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

stampin' it out

This morning after doing some chores I attempted to make some stamps. I've been seeing this stamp making all through out blogland and decided to give it a try myself. I bought my stamp kit from Michael's last week (those 50% off coupons sure come in handy)~

~testing out the stamps

~instructions, am I suppose to read them?

~carving "freestyle" (I just have to do my own thing :)

~carved flowers

~freestyle flower image stamped
(I just realized after doing some web "researching" what I've actually done here is created a negative-space stamp, oh well live and learn!-I found this website pretty helpful:

This was fun, and I look forward to spending more time stamping in the future-practicing more and making some nice pretty cards.

Monday, August 17, 2009

easy felting

~a page from the book Knitting for Baby

Last week my friend Tara and I had great plans to get the kids out to go blueberry picking. We drove eleven miles out of the city to get to the berries. When we got to the farm we were met by a nice gentleman who told us that blueberry season was over (next year we have to go by the 4th of July). We were sorely disappointed and on the spot we had to come with a back-up plan for the kids. The back-up plan was a trip to the library. We took the kiddos to the downtown library and hung out for awhile. While we were there I showed Tara this book that I had purchased several months ago. It has all kind of cute baby/toddler knits in it. Later that week I found myself wanting to knit something that would be finished fast.
That's when I came upon the cute felted balls that were in the book-a fast knit, instant gratification crafting- now that's what I'm talking about!
See I'm not a terribly fast knitter (in fact I'm just plain slow). I start things and they just seem to go on forever and really I don't mind (well at least I try not to mind). Yet, there are times when I want something done quick, you know, and these felted balls fit the bill.

~felted balls

I knitted one ball in about a day then put it in the washer machine for felting. I let the ball air-dry for about two days and then stuffed it for shape.
So I guess sometimes fast is good.

Have a beautiful Monday!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday breakfast: green tomatoes and blueberries

This morning I sliced up some green tomatoes for frying. My tomato plants at the community garden were not staked well enough, so I had to use a bunch of twine, pantyhose, and more stakes to get the tomato vines off the ground. During that process I just went ahead and removed some green tomatoes so the plants would have less weight. I cut some of the green tomatoes up and put them in the jar with the pickles we made the other day (as the pickles lessen, I add more green tomatoes to the brine) and this morning I decided to fry some. I remember when I was young how my own grandmother fried green tomatoes-not only for breakfast, but for anytime. The crunchiness of the batter and the tartness of the tomato is so good.

~tomatoes getting a milk, egg bath then dredged through flour and cornmeal

~all fried up

I also whipped up some blueberry muffins, unfortunately it seems like my kids have a thing about cooked/baked fruit (so that only means more for me and the hubby :)
On most Sunday mornings I have a bit more time to make breakfast, and since usually the whole family is home that makes it even more special. During the week things are a bit more busy and hectic-so we may have cereal, a piece of fruit, boiled egg, just simple things. Sunday then gives more time for cooking, more time for eating, and most importantly, more time for just being.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

making a list...

I need a list to help me focus in the kitchen or either I'll get off track (actually I need them for everything). I got most of the kitchen list done today except that I didn't get to make chocolate sauce -chocolate sauce is just a household necessity don't you agree? Maybe tommorrow for the chocolate.

~tomatoes for sauce

Now on to the veggies (see I'm balanced), I didn't know that even though what initially looked like a big bunch of tomatoes would really only made a small amount of tomato/pasta sauce. I am also currently playing a game called "How to impress the family night after night with the fabulousness of squash and zucchini", yeah as you've most likely guessed this game is getting a bit tricky. I did freeze some of the squash though yesterday-and when I went out to the garage today I found the Food Saver that my mother gave me on one of her visits-yay!
Listing making will resume tomorrow, of course.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

sunflowers in August

~reaching high to the sky~

~beautiful sky~

~sharing your beauty with all who walk by~

Have a Blessed Tuesday!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Pickles, pickles, pickles! My oldest daughter has been wanting to make pickles for a while now, so yesterday that's what we did. All last week when I would food shop, I seemed to forget some key spice or seasoning that we need for pickling-got dill, but forgot pickling spice-got pickling spice, but do I have enough crushed pepper flakes? So by last Friday I finally had all the ingredients needed. Yesterday the girls cut up the cukes (which we had purchased from the farmer's market about a week ago), onions, garlic, and a couple of green tomatoes and then we combined all this with the vinegar/spice brine.

~the cucumber cut up

~pickling spice up close

~pickles in jars, now in fridge

This love of pickles for my daughter started when we went to visit my grandparents last Thanksgiving break. See my grandparents are excellent food preservers. They freeze, can (they make the best chow-chow), and they make of course the best pickles too-really garlicky and crunchy. After that visit, she would often remind me about how good "grandma's and granddaddy's" pickles are-and from then on I knew I had a old fashioned pickle lover on my hands (like her mom:)
I think the best thing about this is that my daughter was able to see that really the best things in life are homemade-from the heart, from the home.

Now who knew that a life-lesson could be taught with pickles?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday thrifting

Yesterday I did a little thrift shopping with my dear friend Kirsten from church. We went to that wonderful place and I found~

a basket and then filled it with goodies which included a pair of circular nylon knitting needles, an old embroidery pattern, some books for the kids, old blank greeting cards, two small floral plates~

I also found an embroidered table runner and a bit of fabric~

As I have said before I could stay at this store for hours, but fortunately the kids key me in when its time to go (:

Take care friends!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

kitchen crafting

Funny, as I was looking through some old posts, I've realized that my time crafting has really taken a back seat this summer. I haven't spent that much time at the sewing machine or knitting for that matter. Gardening and cooking have been taking up most of my time as of late-and really I love it (well, especially the gardening part). Because when winter comes, and the garden is put to bed, I'll be able to snuggle up on the couch with some nice yarn and a cup of tea.
This morning I took some photos of my kitchen. Our kitchen is super small, I do indeed wish I had more counter space, but we manage-by shuffling stuff around and storing stuff in drawers and cabinets. The kitchen, my creative space this summer~

~this is right above the sink, something pretty to look at

~veggie scraps,getting a bit out of hand-saving for compost

~jars of everything (tea, oatmeal, rice,couscous, pasta, old coffee beans)

~cookbooks with some bread on top

~and finally today's lunch, pasta salad

And in the coming weeks I'm sure that I'll probably be in my small kitchen even more, trying to figure out why in the world did I plant five squash plants-but thankful too that I did (my dear friend, I'll bring some over :)
Then I'll try my hand at canning (which, to tell the truth I'm a bit intimidated by), freezing, and maybe a little dehydrating-and before I do I'll be reading this again.

here's the recipe for today's lunch:

tomato-squash-cucumber pasta salad

~1 box of rotini pasta (I used most of all the pasta, just left a small amount in the box, I do that for some reason, but if you want you can prepare the whole box).

~1 good sized cucumber chopped

~as many cherry tomatoes as you please

~1 good sized yellow squash (sliced or chopped)

~4 cloves of garlic

~5 leaves of basil (chiffonade :)

~vinaigrette dressing*

~salt and pepper to taste

cook pasta according to directions on box, drain then place in bowl. To pasta add vinaigrette (I add the vinaigrette to the pasta when its still a bit warm because it seems to soak up the flavor more). To this add cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic and basil.Now with a small amount of olive oil in a pan, saute' squash for just a couple of minutes-till it slightly browns on the outside, add to pasta mixture.
Taste salad, add pepper and salt as desired.

*(for the vinaigrette dressing I use 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar,
1 tablespoon of brown mustard, 2 teaspoons of sugar, mixing it up well-add to pasta.
Once this mixture is added to the pasta I then add the olive oil-I add enough olive oil to make sure that the pasta is moistened well, but not to much that it's over oily).

Next its on to refrigerator pickles, my oldest daughter has been wanting to make these for a while now-she loves pickles! So hopefully we'll get around to making them before the end of the week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

a little baking

~stirring batter

~banana bread all done
(I reduced the sugar and only used one cup of sugar and then added a handful of chocolate chips:)

~sandwich buns all done too

its been a busy day for the oven!

hope you are having a good start to the week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

3 things that are great:

having a wonderful library in which I can checkout current books and magazine issues.

this date book/organizer, hopefully I'll be on time for my appointments for the rest of the year. I just love the birds on the front, really I bought it because of the birds (:

this baby watermelon, isn't it cute?

see, its just the small things.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

some vacation thoughts

traveling along the country side

pineapple growing

a man hand processing coconuts

the beach

Really I've being trying to put this post together in my head for a while now. See over a week ago we were blessed with the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic for a family vacation. We enjoyed the sun, the beach, the people, and the immense beauty of this place-yet in my mind,-as a visitor, you know- I often wondered about the daily lives of the people who actually live there. Staying on a resort for a week, with food and drinks available 24/7 can close one's mind to the reality that exists beyond such boundaries. One thing which I was grateful for was that we were able to participate in a tour of the country side-seeing up close local life. Of course it wasn't all pretty, in fact some of what we saw was just plain sad.
So there in my mind lies the paradox, enjoying the beauty of a place yet not knowing how to respond to the despair. I don't want to fall into the trap of being the stereotypical tourist. I want open eyes, and with this comes the responsibility to respect the people and the culture of a different country. Therefore, I am transformed from merely a tourist into a student.

I hope to travel always with open eyes.