"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April Buzz

We are having warmer days all the time now...gardening happens, laundry keeps getting behind. We are putting seeds and plants in the garden and lingering and lingering to weed them. Lots of lazy outdoor homeschool reading and math in the sunshine. Then we keep having an occasional short sprinkle and all the locals warn me to get ready, because now it will be the last rain and get dry out. Interesting climate and such a different kind of weather. I feel like I did all winter. I have no idea what to expect or what anything indicates. Normal is a setting on the dryer. This is one way to get that effect.

Went driving out to farms today, maybe the first time I have really done that in an exploratory and rambly way since we moved here. Its time to find a farm to get eggs at and maybe milk although I am exploring taking them out of the diet of some of us in the family...sad day at face value, but greater health and happiness is the worthy goal.

I am really enjoying being the Team Mom for Ru's baseball team. Little League is a community that I really appreciate and feel safe in, so much lack of pretension and warm welcome for people of all levels. Its been a great way to boost my confidence with management tasks (eep! Reminder emails!) and get to know lots of people. I know who is charge of snacks and several coaches, I know who to call when you lose papers and where the meetings all are held. Being on the ins is a great way to feel more comfortable. Its always so exciting to meet more of our neighbors via playing on a team together and this time is no exception. So many people we could walk to hang out with...you know....if I was feeling brave enough to invite them over to play. EEP! Must keep being brave.

The fruit in our area is starting to ripen, strawberries are up and I am dying to do a big pick so that I can sock some strawberry jam and frozen fruit in the freezer. Am also dreaming of Paleo shortcake.... The cherries are going to start in the first week of May and then we'll be all into the plums and the apricots and so on....can't wait. Am hoping to do some serious canning this year. There will be tomato sauce making at my house (Holla if you want in!) and I want to do peaches, maybe pears and some applesauce too. The first year after a break in the canning schedule is always overly optimistic. Heh.

Nib just lost one of his great big front teeth this morning, which is really cute. I was pretty pleased when it came out to see how bright and clean and solid it was. I am slowly but surely cleaning up our diet. Especially my last two children are made out of darn strong nutrient, dense ingredients. Mama finally got her ducks in a row! Ru is wiggling out his first really large molar after a long break in the tooth losing regime. His adult tooth is coming out eagerly through the side of his gum above it! Pretty wild. MUST REMEMBER TOOTH FAIRY DUTY TONIGHT!!!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Doves, Toddler Storms and Private Troubles

The pair of doves have returned who were setting on their second round of babies last year when we moved into our cottage. We watched them tugging grasses out of the flower beds and hunting for dropped bits of garden twine around the picnic table table while they were working on reinforcing and insulating the nest for the next round of use. And now, there they are, taking turns sitting there again, reminding us that we are going round and round the sun....just about to where we started here in California. Amazing.

Man, are we ever having a doozy of a time convincing Pom to stay calm and listen to limits! Whew. He's a screamer and a venter and a real whiz bang communicator who lets the world know what he wants and how he feels about being refused. Looking for books on teaching children kindness, calmness, gentleness, self-control and on parents staying peaceful in the midst of kid's storms. ("This is not my crisis....this is not my crisis...this is not my crisis....ad infinitum.") Tips? Titles?

Had a good reminder tonight at baseball that everyone around us is fighting battles we cannot see. I am too quick to judge and to label people as "mean" or "harsh" without knowing what makes them guarded and slow to connect. There are things we would never guess around us in the lives and homes and minds of the people we are meeting. We have to remember that none of us and none of "them" are walking around with a pristine, simple, peaceful life. We all have our stuff, and usually people are responding to their environment with the way they behave and talk, none of us is in a vacuum. I have to remember that when I want to get defensive with my labels and my dislike of the people that rub me the wrong way. We all have no idea what those we rub shoulders with are managing.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Welcome To Orange Blossom Cottage!

Thought I'd give you all an updated peek at our little house, which I have named Orange Blossom Cottage. This is the view, when you roll up and park in the spot out in front of our house as an overnight guest! Please, feel free to imagine....

And then this is looking to the right so you can see the whole little front yard and all the gorgeous roses along the fence. I think our little town is the perfect climate for tea roses and lemon trees. You wouldn't believe how lushly the roses are blooming, with no special care or encouragement beyond a heavy pruning this winter. Someone planted them long ago, the stems are bigger around than my wrist at the ground....and so covered with craggy, old bark that I'm not sure I'd identify them as a rose in a photo. There are pinks and yellows and reds and oranges and they smell wonderful too. I'm so lucky. On the front of the house there is a beautiful bougainvillea that I trimmed waaaaaaaay back with the help of a local landscaping man and arranged to no longer block the front window and instead to coil around the window on a trellis and also over onto the fence that leads to the backyard. This is a big change in yard space for us....this is our only "lawn" area with classic swathes of grass. We mostly have paved space and garden beds in the back. I am astonished by how freeing it is to have such a tiny area to mow. So lovely. Welcome to our cottage....consider booking a room soon!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Little Bit Mennonite

I'm making a collage of the pieces of myself right now...(Pinterest!!!) and one of the pieces that went in first was a Mennonite visual. My horse and buggy self is about my roots, simplicity, feeling useful  and maybe most of all belonging with other people. I am determined to build community here in California...but also, here in my mid-thirties, here in motherhood and here in the middle of the 2000's .... to surround myself with other women who are willing to work shoulder to shoulder, laugh together, cry together and help  mother each other's children.

 I am meeting interesting people out here and I am slowly piecing together a mental patchwork quilt of who in my acquaintance looks like the type who would be up for impromptu picnics, late night emergency calls from the bathroom and random canning adventures. I crave connection and can't even tell you how deeply it feeds me to have real soul like that in my life and yet...and yet.... I'm lazy. Super lazy. I don't want to be the organizer. I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, I'm not "together," I'm super great at following. I'm also just scared. I'm intimidated by other people, I feel inhibited, I worry about all the choices, I'm uselessly perfectionistic about my plans, and I worry that reaching out might be more painful than staying here alone, in my shell. I mean, seriously, I know way better. I know how great it is to reach out, even if you're received warmly 1/4 of the time. Its always worth it. Its way great.

I am considering leading a little book study for women....a small group, a group not freaked out by Bible-y things but not too uptight either. Willing to really get into the meat of issues and talk about the rabbit trails and the puzzles and the weirdness. I bought a book, I even got as far as floating the idea to the proposed women. Then I froze with my paws in the air and have just twitched my nose for about three months. So much scarey!!!! Yipes!

I am also interested in having a super random and stand-alone women's night where we do things together, practical, solid things we can touch with our hands and see finished at the end of the night. Simple sewing, canning, photo transfer projects, medicinal tinctures, natural dye work, maybe even brave stuff like simple welding. I want to work with tools and creation and messes and things that tip over and splash and look scary. I want women to take turns coming up with ideas and leading project nights...sometimes something they love to do and want to share, sometimes something they need help with and want to share the burden and sometimes something they have always wanted to try and never felt brave enough. I have no idea how to do that and I haven't posted any bills or nailed down particulars but I'm dreaming. In my dreams this group meets (on my rotation) in our garage, right off of the garden in the backyard....on a summer night  and there is golden light shining out of the windows and lots of laughter and maybe a little wine.

Today, there was no wine, but there was a very big mug of hot herbal tea and a very short chat with a couple of new friends about the overwhelm. There were hugs and smiles and understanding looks and there was even a self-care assignment which led me to the bathtub for a long, hot soak, reflecting on the ways I feel isolated and need connection and want a community. The things I need and ought to look to, and the ways in which I can be a little Amish and pull some of their simplicity, capability, warmth and peace into my friendships. I am after all, a little bit Mennonite in my soul, thank you Mama, farming roots, Ma Ingalls, and Stutsmanville Chapel (my home church which was truly a Mennonite congregation once upon a time), its part of who I am.


Friday, April 1, 2016

The Most Perfect Chicken Breast Of All Time.

Google has shined upon me and the produce of my search bar must be shared. I have found the secret to pan-sauteeing chicken boneless skinless chicken breast into tender, juicy deliciousness. No more rubbery, dry, frustrating cuts....and yes, I know that using thigh meat is a good alternative. Still.  Sometimes, nothing beats the price or the hefty simplicity or light flavor of breast meat. This approach is really brilliant. Nothing is added to it, not even water and no sauce to dress it up or crazy equipment....just perfect, perfect directions. Its never tough, never dry and never pink in the middle.

I have made it four times now with effortless reproductibility. Easy, clear and perfect for so many uses. It makes the best salad topping meat, taco filling, or addition to spaghetti sauce. I can batch cook several this way and then we're good for finger food for picnics or freezer meals for a while.

You must try this.

The kitchen gods will sing arias over your stove too!!!

Faith Durand over at The Kitchn is a brilliant, brilliant genius...and is the mastermind behind these very direct and foolproof directions. There are pictures and numbered steps and its all on one page. I'm not sure how she could make it better.

Check it out. Perfect Chicken Breast.