Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Musings - December 2017

'Tis the season! And right now, there are two types of people. 
- "The holidays are wonderful!"
- "Ugh, the holidays."

And some days I fall in both camps. It's a complex time of year and can be emotionally challenging for many - including me. So, these were the best and worst of the month.

Books: Sometimes when I'm stressed, I have a hard time sleeping. A little time with a book before bed helps. So I've made it a point the last month to take the time to wind down. Because of that little habit, I managed to finish 5 books! (It only looks like 4, because one has two). I was lured in by Lagom's cover. It really wasn't worth the $13 that I impulsively paid at Target. There is a Swedish flair to the idea of frugality, reduce, take time for the family, etc but it's certainly not new. Anita Blake, vampire hunter, has another outing in Bullet but it's almost formulaic at this point. The Furies was an interesting pick-up at my local Little Free Library (but it will be going back). The best find was a two-in-one pick up of The Innocent Mrs. Duff and The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. At some point in my life, I purchased this two-in-one book of mysteries on a whim. It was a good whim. Her books are brilliantly written and hold up well to the test of time. They are exactly the kind of reading you hope someone would leave behind at beach cottage or holiday rental.

Gratitude: The garden that never stops! We pulled out carrots on December 2nd. (And kept harvesting the parsley, mint and thyme until mid-December.) The carrots intrigued me. Some were nearly full size, some were very small. All were planted in mid-May, so I'm not sure what the difference is!

That some skills, once learned, don't fade. We've been crocheting scores of yarn roses for an upcoming event. La Gram Russe taught me to crochet the summer I was ten. I remember it vividly. And that's good since I hadn't crocheted in about 10 years! But like swimming or riding a bike, it comes back.

Free will. You can choose to change. You are the only one who can make that choice. But if you don't put the choice to action, it's just a wish. I'm also grateful for those who help facilitate self-change by reminding you that you can not change other people. (And may I recommend a book called "Boundaries" to help you learn when to say no, especially to family and how they treat you?)

Listening: Since the latest update, my iPhone has been a little temperamental about pulling up my podcasts. (I do not enjoy hard rebooting every morning to just to pull up podcasts.) It's made listening less easy and if it's not easy - it doesn't happen in my world. I think I hit Sidehustle about once a week and nothing else. Plus, with the season, the soundtrack has been heavy on the holiday playlist. Bonus - a few of the kidlets like Gumbo Christmas and Straight No Chaser, so I have musical allies in the household!

Perfumes: I've been trying to kill off a very large bottle of Paper Flowers, as mentioned last month. And for a change, the occasional splurge of Majalis. I've also tried different lotions to change the base. Small variations. Sometimes that's just what you need.

Recipe of the Month:  This month, it's all about easy in my life. We totally went semi-homemade on a bunch of stuff, including sugar cookies. We had a BLAST decorating them!

Cassie (11) likes to make deviled eggs and pigs-in-blankets. And her teen-age brothers love them. So, we often make those two things during holidays. And this year, The Guy made a delicious treat with cream cheese and crescent rolls. So, with one extra ingredient, we were able to add-on an delicious and easy new treat!

Creamy Crescent Treats
- One pack of cream cheese (we used garden vegetable)
- One pack of crescent rolls
Open and unroll crescents as noted on package. You can use at that size or cut down for more appetizer-sized rolls. Add a dollop (or 3 if using full-sized) of cream cheese and roll up the rolls. Cook according to package directions. Easy!

Tip - you can mix in chopped green onions to the cream cheese for an extra fresh delicious option.

Also, Israel (19, Isy) has taken a liking to the protein balls I make and asked for the recipe.

Peanut Butter Oat Protein Balls
- 1 cup quick cooking oats (also reserve additional for later)
- 1 cup unsweetened, natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1/2 cup of chia seeds or flax seeds or a mix, optional
Mix all in a bowl. Scoop out a tablespoon, and on a wax paper surface roll into a ball, then coat with extra oats. Stored tightly, these will last a week in a refrigerator or a cool room.

Self-Care: It is the time of  year when dry skin reigns supreme. In addition to the usual oils (almond, apricot, coconut, olive), I've added some lotions and creams. There was a sampler of Hempz's lotions that caught my fancy this month. My love for roses continues. And I've picked up a rose hand cream (Caswell Massey) and a lovely British rose body cream from the Body Shop. Plus, Caswell Massey has a lovely Apothecary Sampler filled with different kinds of floral waters, including Rose! I've been adding that to my dry clay masks for a gorgeous good skin, scented treat. (Also perfect for toner post-mask.)  And yes, that is a new Rose Miscellar Water I'll be trying this month!

Watching: Binged whole seasons. Yep. Not even guilty. Heavy watching while crafting, wrapping, and writing. Inhumans. Shut Eye. Pure. 

(I track info and details better in large quantities. Weekly watchings just don't work as well.)

These are a few of my favorite wraps this year. I like using "everyday" materials when wrapping and finding ways to make things pretty. I love that the same materials can be used another day! My frugal "waste not" soul rejoices.

Random: I've recently discovered drug store leggings and a really awesome drugstore organic face oil (more soon). I now feel about 100% more confident that if a witness protection situation arises, I can adapt.

Happy holidays!

Take-away - Give yourself the gift of the time and space you need to process whatever gets thrown your way. 

Original musings posts you may enjoy:

All photos by moi! 

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Paint It Purple

Pantone has spoken. And the color of 2018 is....Ultra Violet. Or grape. Like many things, it depends on your perspective.

Spiritual. Regal. Creative. A delicate blend of opposites. Artistic. Complex. Mystic.

Pantone selects the color of the year based on current cultural influences.  Or at least that's the company line.

Sometimes I think they pick what they want to see in the world. Compromise? Less stark distinction? Other times I'm concerned by the implied acceptance the color engenders to some bigger ideal. We live in a democracy. Ultra Violet is not a democratic color. It's the color of royalty. However, the color does have an inherent richness. Perhaps it's a wishful nod at better times to come.   

Take-away -  Experience colors perception. But a fresh start is always possible. 

Other blog posts you might enjoy:
- Color, A Random Post (2016)
An Orchid Year (2014)
Pantone, Again (2013)
- Orange Love (2012)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gifts and Expectations

I find the holidays trying. It is not the gifts. It's the expectations. For me, it's the expectations of people who are maternal genetic family but strangers in any meaningful way

Sadly, creating distance with them usually requires a very firm stance on my part. They rarely seem to hear me. And their expectations of who I am don't match my reality - even the reality of those of you who just follow me here, they've certainly never tried to reach out to know me as one would any stranger in a social setting. It would be a gift for them to just accept me without expectations. It won't happen. They enjoy their expectations. I enjoy the freedom of not dealing with their expectations.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Musings - November 2017

The season of family and friends kicks off this month. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year! I love the gathering. The sharing. The lack of religious overtones. The simple grace of good times and good food.

Books: Just a few this busy month. The House at the Edge of Night (Catherine Banner) which was a good bit less interesting than the title implied. (I picked it up just for the title in September when I was traveling. My bag would only fit two new books  - I wanted three. Child Finder was a good buy. But now I wish I'd gotten the other book rather than this one by Banner.)  And Janet Evanovich delivers  the campy, raucous fun one expects from the 23rd Stephanie Plum novel.If you spot the combo at a Little Library - you may live near me!

Gratitude: The apparently unending bounty of our garden - that's fresh thyme, parsley (pictured) from the garden - as well as mint we harvested the week of Thanksgiving. (We love adding it to our water.) People who understand family is about inclusion and how you are treated showcases your value. The blue skies of November.  Movie dates with this guy.

Listening: The Best of James Bond. Azucar (Spanish guitar). Side Hustle podcast. Bombshell Business podcast.

Perfume: It ranges from super inexpensive to very fancy. Paper Flower. Magazine Street. Majalis. And I've decided that when you wear Majalis, you need to commit! It lingers. I wore it for a week straight as it permeated everything, in a lovely way.

Recipe of the Month: We had some fun in the kitchen this month! We made a "mummy pie", post-Halloween. Ours was a Granny Smith apple/raspberry combo, like Real Simple magazine's Instagram post from which we got our inspiration. But one could do this with most any fruit pie. Just lay the crust pieces overlapping and use a piece of the fruit to create a "nose".

I also invented a new recipe. It started, as many things do, with left-overs and super foods.

"Italian" Quinoa Salad
- Red quinoa,cooked (I used an entire package. Made with veggie broth)
- Celery and onions, diced and sauted
- Fresh spinach
- Butternut squash, roasted, diced
- Italian dressing

I was roasting squash, en mass, and making potato soup (which starts with sauteing celery and onion) when I realized I could make another food option for the week just by cooking some quinoa. So I did. I threw the fresh spinach on the cooked quinoa, added the sauteed celery/onions + roasted squash and tossed, allowing the spinach to wilt a bit. Then I realized it needed a flavor binder, and I had a jar of Italian dressing that I wanted to use up. The rest is history.

Can be served hot, cold, or room temperature. Lasts about 5 days in the fridge. Best if you let the flavors mingle for 2-4 hours before serving.

Self-Care: I'm currently obsessed with 3 things. 
1) Rosewater. Rosewater everything - witchhazel with rose for a morning toner, and Marcus Badescu's rosewater spray to refresh dry skin. 
2) Vanilla+dark fruit scent. (I think this may be left over from the delicious scent of grapes in the air at dusk in early September.) Anything scented with vanilla/black raspberry like my new soap and my grape/blackberry/vanilla lotion. 
3) My new hairbrush. Koh-i-Noor is an Italian brand now available in the USA. I mostly have a "hate" relationship with brushing implements - they make my hair frizzy. I have heard that wire brushes were better - and you can see I have a little collection. I hate all of them. I use a wide-tooth comb when my hair is wet and try to avoid brushing as it mostly just rips out my hair and makes a frizzy mess. But this Koh-i-Noor brush detangles and is perfect for use whether your hair is wet or dry. (It's the gray one in the picture.) Plus it does not frizz my hair out when used dry - it kind of smooths through the waves and takes out any tangles.

Watching:  Wynonna Earp. Harlots. (Many days I feel like Charlotte Wells, so full of promise and yet unable to make it tangible.) The Blacklist. And so many bad Bruce Willis movies. (He must have alimony. That is the only explanation of The Set Up.)

Take-away - Sometimes the pace of life gets hectic. Slow down. Enjoy this moment. It won't happen again.

Original musings posts you may enjoy:

All photos by moi! The hairbrush was a gift from the US importer of the Italian luxury brand. They had no expectation of a blog review.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Musings - October 2017

Has anyone else just felt drained by the stress and drama of the last few months? The politicization of natural disasters. The overwhelming wish to do meaningful good in the face of so much need. Add in a few work trips + a sick puppy, and, well, blogging just took a back seat. The world still turned. Things still happened. And I still mused - but only in my head... Here are a few of the things that were muse-worthy in September/October.

Books: Travel is always good for reading! The Child Finder made a two and a half hour plane ride far more interesting with deceptively simple language on a multi-level narrative. (And the author seems as fascinating as the book!) Since I loved the Hallows, I thought I'd try Kim Harrison's next series. I loved it less - probably because I adore the Hallows. On its own, The Drafter is likely a fine book. I may have needed more space from the world of the Hallows. For 3 or 4 years, Interpretation of Murder (a historical mystery that included Freud) had been sitting on my shelf. (And now, it's at my local Tiny Library, as I deemed it "okay but not a keeper".) The Immortals was a pleasant interlude of fantasy fiction for a week or so.

Gratitude: Birthdays. Rainy days spent exploring the countryside. Amazing stores that go on forever + tiny stores with adorable canine mascots. Books. The hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. The serene beauty of a butterfly garden in Tucson. Dishwashers.

Listening: I've completely binged out on the Bombshell Business podcast. And P!NK, forever.

Perfume: I've been wearing a lot of my favorite Strange Invisible Perfume - Magazine Street. I love NOLA in the fall, and this is the closest I'm getting this fall.
- You can read here about my last NOLA adventure

Recipe of the Month: The children have told me I need to re-organize the In the Kitchen section by food type rather than chronological - another project for a winter day! 

Meanwhile, we made both pumpkin and apple pies - several times, in varying levels of fancy as the image shows - and have now perfected....
Jericho's Apple Pie:

- 6 cups of apples cut fine (mix of Granny Smith + Gala, about 3 apples of each) - squeeze a bit of lemon over the cut pieces to keep fresh as you go
- 1 cup sugar (preferably brown)
- 1/4 cup tapioca 
- 1 generous tablespoon of vanilla
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 scant tablespoon of nutmeg
- 1/4 tablespoon of ground cloves

We use home-made pie crust but you can use store bought. Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees. 

Notes: A mix of sour and sweet apples makes the best pie. I do the apples up first with spices/sugar/tapioca and refrigerate while I make the dough (1 cup of flour, between 1/2 - 2/3 cup of Crisco, scant 1/4 cup of sugar, a touch or salt, and a bit of cold water - use a pastry cutter to mix. Roll out between floured wax paper. That amount will make a pie bottom. Double to have a pie top.) 

Self-Care: This was a month of clean up. I like a quick clean option. My go-to is Alba Hawaiian 3-in-1 face wipes. I've tried Micellar Water before with limited success (too drying on me for anything but occasional use) but decided to see if perhaps I might like another brand of Micellar Water better for more frequent use. (Click here to read more about my obsession with cleansers.

  • Pacifica's Micellar Coconut Water is a touch too drying for my skin and not friendly for eye make-up removal. (I experienced a slight amount of burning around the eye when I tried to use it for eye make-up removal.) By the second day, my skin was dry and flaky.
  • Yes to Cucumber's Micellar Water is good for a quick clean-up. No issues with use around the eyes, but water-proof mascara gave it a little trouble. Again, my skin dries out if I use it for more than 4 days running, but overall I like it for the quickness and how completely it cleans.
Word to the wise - do be generous with your use of cotton squares/rounds when using Micellar Water to ensure you get all the make-up off.

Masks do a world of good for skin. I love them! My mom used to wear them about once a month when I was a kid, and she taught me several natural options. (Different skin need than mine - she has oily skin. I've always had dry, sensitive skin.) Yogurt and honey or honey and strawberry were favorites as a teen.  My grown-up favorite masks tend to be mix-ins - dry clays into which you can mix honey, yogurt or even maple syrup (the real kind - always organic - which is full of anti-oxidants). This month I found an on-sale, ready-mixed, season-appropriate new mask to love - Andalou Natural's Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask - which does a beautiful job of leaving my skin amazingly bright and soft.

I also got the opportunity to try (at a significant discount - because y'all know I'm not spending that!) a fancy French eye cream, Predire. It doesn't flake or dry out on the skin - as some "uplifting" eye creams do. It does seem to make the eye area gently taunt. The first time I used it was a sample after a long flight, and it made a world of difference to my tired, dehydrated, creased skin. (Flying just parches my skin.) We will see - they told me it was a year's supply (which made the math work), so we'll check back.

I've also been doing some working out - hence the need for quick clean skin care. Cardio drumming. Which hits my fun quotient. And yoga. Which I've discovered only looks easy. (I apparently live in the land of yoga. I've tried pilates yoga, yin yoga, and vinyasa yoga. I'm not actually good at any of them but I enjoy the challenge of trying.)

Take-away - It's good to stretch your boundaries with new experiences. And you can, even on a small budget. 

Pictures by moi!

Original musings posts you may enjoy:

PS - Puppy is fine. It was a tummy issue. (Rx = rice, chicken, yogurt, and pumpkin.) He's never had one before, so I may have over-reacted. For a week. This is him with "I don't feel good" body language the day he was most sick. (He crated himself. Door was open all day.) Even his Mohawk looked sad and flat.

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Musings - August 2017

Books: It ranged from the fantastic to the horrid. The Third Translation by Matt Bondurant is a what happens when someone mixes a classic Irish book (Eureka Street) with a Dan Brown book and doesn't have a good editor. (One of the cats bit the cover - should have been a sign that I should abandon it.)  J.D. Robb, Echoes in Death, is easy light murder reading. I love the series. Best book find was Nina George - The Little Paris Bookshop. Fantastic. A great way to wile away a few hours at the beach, which I did several Sunday evenings as music played. 

Cooking:  I've been baking simply rafts of zucchini bread. In addition to the original recipe, we've now created a second version we are calling "Ben's Zucchini Bread". (Ben is 12, and this is the only way he eats vegetables.) He prefers more vanilla to cinnamon in his zucchini bread. I've also lowered the sugar and upped the zucchini and eggs to improve the nutritional value.

4 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup of oil (I use olive oil as it is a clean oil; there is EVOO good for baking)
2 cups sugar 
3 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 cups fresh shredded zucchini

Mix the beaten eggs and oil together, then add sugar and vanilla. Slowly hand blend all of the dry ingredients into the liquid/sugar mix. (I mix up all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, in a separate bowl.) When everything else is mixed, add the zucchini. Pour into a large flat pan.

Bake at 325 for 1 hour.  When a fork or toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done.  

Favorite Find: My hair is super dry and brittle, so washing every day is a challenge but my hair also frizzes out easily. I've tried a number of different options to revive my curls for day 2 (or 3)  - the synthetic ones usually work best but I don't like synthetic. Enter the Jane Carter Solution. Her revitalizing leave-in conditioner is filled with natural botanicals and good for your hair - plus it perks my curls right up! 

Gratitude: Beautiful things. Specifically the talented people who make them. 
- The first is my amazing new lightweight vacuum - the ErgoRapido which is a fabulously beautiful piece of technology! It's a floor vacuum, a hand vacuum, doesn't need purchased filters as you wash the filters as needed. (Bonus - the kids think it is fun to use.)  
- We went to an art fair a few weeks ago where a Young Artist (they had a young artist program) was selling hand crafted pens. I bought a beautiful pink pen. It makes signing any thing a joy.

Listening: The Art of Manufacturing podcast. The Business Boutique podcast. Florence + The Machine. Halsey. 

Perfume: I've been in a rose sort of mood. Persian Rose by Pacifica perfume. (Also, Paris Rose deodorant by Secret and Blush Rose hand cream. A very rose kind of mood.)

Random: I do love a problem solve! The pump stopped working in my favorite night cream. The one that helps keep the forehead wrinkles at bay. So I stopped using it. But my frugal soul wouldn't let me buy another when I had one that was nearly full. The solution was as simple as trolling the travel aisle of the supermarket and picking up a travel jar. Problems are only problems when you allow them to be.

Stress: That non-profit board thing has not let up. If everyone is a volunteer, those not doing their part on time should truly consider how it impacts other volunteers. Flaking out is the ultimate disrespect.

Watching: Mary Kills People. Total binge. Great casting. Interesting story. And I find the name very very powerful. Yet more, Criminal Minds. I have a tendency to work while I watch these. It lets me get more done.

Take-away - Stay open to non-standard solutions. If you stop being curious, you won't find it.

Pictures by moi - and you can tell! From top left my favorite things for the last month or so: Vacuum (ErgoRapido), Leave-in Conditioner Spray (Jane Carter Solutions), art pen, beauty jar, Feeling Hot Hot Hot (OPI nail polish), Wind of Lagoon (Sinful Colors nail polish), Pebble (Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigment) and books. And the backdrop? It's the yoga mat I've been putting to use with my first real live yoga classes this month.

Original musings posts you may enjoy:

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Gardens - New Horizons

I've been creating a new garden space. I'm lucky to have the space to create a full vegetable and herb garden and even a bit of flower addition.

Three beds so far. (Image is the first two). Tomatoes - yellow cherry, purple cherry, 2 kinds of red cherry, green zebra, german queen, and a beefsteak. Peppers - thai hot, jalapeno, giant marconi, habernaro, lilac, green. Purple and heirloom zucchini. Sugar baby watermelon. Snow peas. Raspberry bush. Blueberry bushes (2). Blackberry bush. Basil - cinnamon and regular. Lemon balm. Spearmint. Dill. Parsley. Candy stripe celery. Rainbow carrots. Fig. Purple and yukon potatoes. Cucumber. Marigolds (bunny deterrent). Oregano. Thyme.

And then something unexpected happen. I found asparagus randomly growing in the yard. And blackberries by the creek. And mint by the side yard. 

We call them "tiny harvests" when we go to the garden. We used them to enhance whatever is cooking. We've gotten a few raspberries. A few blueberries. A good bit of cherry tomatoes. About 5 zucchinis.  A couple of cucumbers. A handful of cherry popper peppers. A few jalapenos. A lone lilac pepper. Some lemon balm for water. Made pesto (toasted walnuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, and basil) from the basil. Made biscuits with the thyme. Added the celery to potato salad. 

Take-away - Tiny enhancements make life better.

***Images by moi! And you can tell!

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Herbed Biscuits

I love to cook. And some of my favorites are the Southern foods my great-grandma made. She's also the one who taught me one of my favorite Southern phrases about belonging and being who you are - if your cat had kittens in the oven, you wouldn't call them biscuits, now would you?

I may be obsessed with biscuits. It started when I was five and my great gram would let me help her make biscuits in the mornings when we visited her. And I'd eat them fresh out of the oven with butter and honey. Her biscuit were not sweet. They were a touch savory and equally suited to cheese or jam or honey.

Now, I make biscuits (from scratch) about every other Sunday. My favorite recipe from childhood, drop biscuits. You can find a lot of recipes on-line. I'm a fan of this drop biscuit recipe, and I use it often.  I love a savory biscuit - a touch of cheese and chili as you make these up is a fantastic option. 

However, I have a ton of herbs coming ripe in the garden. And I'm trying to cut my butter intake. (Go healthy eating!) So I did the Google search thing and came up with a fantastic olive oil biscuit recipe from a website called OliveTomato  - which also taught me how to make biscuits that rise in layers. (Bonus!)

Like every other recipe I find, I tinkered with the original. Usually the first time I make it as written then tinker. But this time I went ahead and made a few adjustments to the first batch -  I added 1/4 cup of herbs and cheese. The next time I made it, I swapped out the herbs and changed the ratio of yogurt and milk  - which I have noticed makes a firmer outside and flakier inside. I've tried this basic recipe with different herbs.

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (lessen the salt if using a salty cheese)
  • 5/8  cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp, as needed
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used basil*)
  • 1/4 cup of cheese (I used Parmesan when I used the basil), optional
Yield: about 12 biscuits (usually 11 + a tester for me)

Mix up the dry ingredients (including herbs and cheese if desired) first. (Heat oven to 450 degrees). Make a well in the middle. Add the Greek yogurt and olive oil to the well. Use a pastry cutter to mix, adding milk as needed to achieve dough consistency. Roll dough into a ball. 

Lay down wax paper. Flour it. Place dough on it. Flour top of dough.  Add another layer of wax paper. You can use a rolling pin (I use a french rolling pin), and roll the dough flat. Once flat, layer it back until it forms it is several layers thick but patted down to no more than 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter (or a glass - that's what I use) into "biscuits". Bake for about 15 minutes. They will be beautifully risen and lightly browned.

We tried the left-over biscuits the next day as sandwich holders. Delicious! We added a pesto and mayo. My sandwich featured a fresh heirloom tomato. Guy's featured heated ham - he may have made 6 open-faced "slider" style sandwiches. Maybe. And eaten them with a delighted face.

The next time I made biscuits, we had  crazy amount of fresh lemon thyme in the garden. So I did not use cheese but used lemon thyme blossoms + leaves and served the biscuits with blueberry/lemon jam. All kidlets were delighted with that "experiment". (They have come to enjoy when I tell them I'm making something new.)

Take-away - There are ways to make memories sweeter. Bring them into your present day and share them. 

---As usual, all pictures by me and you can tell!---

Side note - I found a new gluten-free biscuit mix from King Arthur. While I'm not an overall fan of mixes, given my new gluten sensitive status, I'm willing to try it!

*Extra bonus garden recipe for if your basil is going crazy. this is all to taste so, no exact quantities.

Watermelon Salad
- Ball part of a watermelon (I used 1/2)
- Add sliced basil (I used purple Thai)
- Sprinkle lightly with feta cheese
- Sparsely dress with a good balsamic vinegar

Remember to tell the kids it's "watermelon salad" and not dessert watermelon!

Fruit is great with basil. You may want to also check out this Peach + Basil recipe. (Scroll down in the post.)

If you would like to see more of my recipes, check out In the Kitchen for a complete list - and a few bonus cookbook reviews.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Musings - June 2017

Books:  I've been sliding my way through a number of books. 
- The Job (Janet Evanovich)
- Broken Open (Elizabeth Lesser)
- The Ice Queen (Alice Hoffman)
- Silence Falls, digital edition(Patricia Briggs)

I've been making time to recharge. For me, books fit that criteria. And I discovered my local Little Free Library. Such a fun concept! I love leaving books there. Plus with Quotle (new fav app), I've been sharing quotes from what I'm reading. So fun!

Gratitude: That I live in a first world country (no joke - we have so many blessings we don't even realize). For the internet's ability to let us find so much info - including awesome recipes. The garden; I'm loving how it grows. And fitting the garden herbs into the crazy amount of cooking I've been doing has been fun.  (Basil olive oil biscuits to the right.) Biggest gratitude this month, is all the many patient people in my life who help me be a better person. 

Listening:  Halsey. Forever. (Lyrics of Castle)

Perfume: Tulip brand. Peony and Mandarin. Finished it out. It's very light and subtle. And I've been wearing it long enough that I'm tired of it. I'm so impatient, I should never buy large bottles of anything! I've been fitting in different trial vials for Marble & Milkweed. So far, those have not been "keepers" for me....

Random: So much baking. Drop biscuits for breakfast. Various cake and cookie experiments. Dinner biscuits. And pies. 

Stress: Still not fully unpacked and recently a volunteering activity has taken over my life. (Really. It's got to more even keel. I'm not up for this.) Also, part of being in a new space is finding new everything - pedicure place, Chinese place, dry cleaning, so many small changes....

Watching: So much Criminal Minds. I'm probably on some kind of watch list at this point. (And, like most of America, I caught Wonder Woman in theaters. While I loved the action sequences, after watching 2 seasons of Marco Polo - I was a bit less awed than most.)

Take-away - Adaptability is the key to surviving nearly anything, including unexpected stresses. (Also, sometimes, having an adaptable mindset helps with recipes!)

 --Pictures by moi - Top image, from left to right: I've been rocking a kind of simple vibe with up-dos/ponytails and  simple eyes/lips. It's carried over into the perfume (Tulip brand), night cream (Lavido, it's Israeli - weirdly I got samples as a thank you gift from Amex - I like the eye cream but not so much the face cream), my favorite DHC soap in sample form, book du jour, lipstick (an Ulta lip crayon with a swipe of my dwindling Covergirl NaturalLux lip gloss), pedicure polish (Blushingham Place), my trial of Benefits' Roller Lash (it smears, a lot. Nope). 

Original musings posts you may enjoy: