Thursday, December 30, 2010

Red Lentil Stew

After the over-indulgence of the holidays, I was craving something a bit healthy, fresh, delicious and comforting. Hmmmm...
As I looked 'round the kitchen, I spied a jar of gorgeous red lentils and had my "AH HA!" moment. I began gathering ingredients and working out the details in my mind. Now, I was ready to create. The end result was just what I was after, it hit the spot.

I thought I would share the recipe with you here. Whilst it may appear to have quite a few ingredients, it is a simple recipe and only takes about 20 minutes of active time and then simmers away. I hope you like it.

Red Lentil Stew

1 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lg carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, chopped (you can substitute 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes)
1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
4 cups broth/stock (I used homemade chicken stock but, you can use vegetable if you want to make it vegetarian/vegan)
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (you could substitute parsley if you aren't fond of cilantro)
juice from 1/2 lemon

Heat oil in a 4 -5 quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute onion, stirring until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, celery, pepper, tomato, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt and saute, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add lentils, broth, and wine. Bring to a soft boil then lower heat and let simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Once the lentils are tender, remove from heat.
Stir in cilantro, lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I spooned it over cooked brown rice and served it with whole wheat pita bread. The Engineer liked his with hot chili sauce drizzled on top, while I preferred a dollop of plain low fat yogurt on mine. Yum!

What are you having for dinner?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Calm After the Storm

Good heavens, what a weekend! We are all a little tuckered out like little Baby Moonface here. Who, by the way, was born at the last minute in the wee hours. Her mama and accompanying receiving quilt of Pegasus magic, caused me to break a good number of my sewing rules and to utter a few unpleasants upon discovering a dearth of stuffing material.

Any imperfections were overlooked and the sheer number of ponies and pony related items found under the tree were vastly more intriguing anyway.

We had an amazing holiday feast with family. The Engineer and I joined forces to become a team of super chefs, creating a complete Middle Eastern vegetarian Mezza spread. Tabbouleh, Falafel, Fatayer (spinach pastry), Hummus...all from scratch, even the Pita were handmade. It was delicious! Yes, much feasting has been done! Our wee kitchen was put through it's paces and performed beautifully. Another night there was a roast chicken, mash potato, gravy with homemade rolls...not to mention the 6 dozen cookies made earlier in the week. I must admit, that never before have I had so many dishwasher fantasies. Still, unless we put one in the living room, I just don't think it's going to happen.

After all the hubbub, we have been soaking up a little lazy time. Pajamas have been worn long after the morning's gone, thankful for leftovers giving us respite from the cooking, and generally just hanging out as a family. There is a vague plan to motor up the mountain in search of snow play but, for now we are just letting it roll.
What have you been up to?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Comfort and Joy

Thank you for joining me in my little shiny place here...for reading, commenting, encouraging, inspiring and making this a most amazing journey! However it is that you mark the passing of another year, I hope that you and yours are blessed with comfort and joy, love and peace, health and happiness!

I wish you a most beautiful New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tins in Turtlenecks, Cans in Cardigans

The little green cottage smells of cinnamon and ginger, the cold winter wind is ruffling the feathers of the hens, the twinkle lights glow and we are up to our elbows in last minute doings.

You may recognize those spiky Aloes from my header. Despite my best efforts at neglect, they have continued to grow and propagate, multiplying in bunny-like abandon. So, inspired by Dottie Angel's jars in jackets, I thought why not tins in turtlenecks and cans in cardis?

What a grand last minute gift idea! I'll make them all cozy, dressed in their best sweaters, and at the last minute deposit them on doorsteps with notes of care. The recipient will open their door and see that a canned aloe has come seeking shelter and a forever home. If you see one upon your doorstep, please take them in and give them some love. They wont cause nearly as much mischief as a pesky gnome and they are quite useful around the house.

I am off, for the Gingerbread men are demanding duds and decorations!

I hope you are having a cozy day where ever you are!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hello Monday

Happy Monday my friends! I'm back from my busy week on the first official day of the school holidays.
I want to thank you all for the lovely comments and birthday wishes you sent my way. They certainly cheered me up and put me in a birthday state of mind. Unfortunately, due to some sort of technical glitch, I have been unable to reply to comments individually. Hopefully that will sort itself out soon. In the meantime please know that I read all of your words and appreciate them immensely!

The day itself was just right. I was surprised by The Engineer and Pony Girl with a pancake breakfast, then spent the morning with a little yarn on the sofa next to a glorious spot of sun. There was a crazy trip to the thrift store and then a dinner date with the Mr. - after which I was reminded of the danger lurking in drinks that come with sippy straws. All in all, a very pleasant day.
I even managed a photo for my 'self portrait experiment' which I had been neglecting. I think I will be starting that back up again in earnest at the new year...possibly a flickr group in the works.

I've been hoping for snow but, instead we have dark, cold and rainy. I do believe some tent building and bread baking are in order for the day. I'm also itching to know what all of you have been up to so, I might come visiting. If you hear an unexpected knock at the door, it could be me.

Have a sweet day!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Are you as busy at your house as we are at the little green cottage?

We've had a wonderful few days with Nana visiting. Pony Girl has been soaking up some Nana love for sure! Just a few more days of school before the holiday break, which means I need to get super busy.

This weekend I had the immense pleasure of finding my little 'Happy How To' featured on Whipup. Such an amazing site full of tutorials, reviews, interviews, and loads of inspiration! They have an awesome 2011 calendar available for download for just $5.00! Go check it out.

I'm also gearing up for a birthday on Friday. I have to admit, I am approaching 42 with considerably less grace than 41. In fact, I may just not bother at all. As Pony Girl said to me last night, "I'm skipping bedtime tonight," maybe I'll just skip turning 42.

I don't imagine I will be around much this week - what with gifts to finish, a drivers license to renew, gray hairs to banish, and a mountain of laundry to climb. So, I am wishing you now a glorious week!

See you soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

C'mon Get Happy!

Kate from Fox's Lane has a little happy meme going on and I thought it was a great way to start the weekend! So, here is what is making me happy:

A fleeting moment of winter light coming through the window.
A warm little green cottage.
The Engineer cheering me on.
My daughter's knock knock jokes that make no sense.
Mastering zippers.
A friend who laughs out loud at my puns.
Vintage Gingham.
Singing in the car.
Homemade jam.
A healthy family.
Stripy socks always make me happy!
Twinkle lights.
Blog buddies.
Happy Lists.

Go find a whole bunch of happy over here!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Happy 'How To'

Last week whilst I was sweeping up the little green cottage, a light bulb popped on over my untamed curls. It was the shiny light of an exciting crafty idea, the kind that keeps one up all hours mulling it over.

You see, in my making, I end up with scraps of fabric in all shapes and sizes. There is a sort of loose organization going on with my save piles. I do hold on to cherished bits and vintage darlings. I keep especially, the long straight-ish strips of favorite fabrics, selvedge ends, cuts from quilting, anything stripy. Recently I had taken note that my basket of strips was bursting and threatening to make a run for it if I didn't make use of them quickly.

And so...long story short, I started having a bit of a crafty revolution, making up all sorts of goodness with my runaway strips. In this 'how to' I will show you how to make those stripy trees in the top picture. However, the technique I'm going to show you is limitless in it's possible applications. It is so easy peasy and slightly addictive ...or maybe it's just me.

Here's what you'll need:
A collection of fabric strips in varying widths (none of mine were over an inch wide).
Some cardstock paper
Glue stick (optional)
Sewing Machine
some buttons and bits of lace or ribbon

Now, choose a bunch of strips that you like and start laying them out together in an order that is pleasing to you. Grab your cardstock (in this example, I am using an A4 piece that has been cut in half lengthwise). I make sure that I have the right amount of fabric strips to cover the entire piece of cardstock.

Pick up your first fabric strip, I work from the bottom up. Place your fabric strip so that it is even with the bottom edge of your piece of paper.

If you like, you can use a small bit of glue to hold it in place. If you are using glue you will want to wait a few minutes to let it dry before going to your sewing machine and use the smallest amount so that it doesn't goop up your machine.

Now, take your paper and fabric to the sewing machine and simply straight stitch down the middle of your fabric strip, attaching it to the cardstock.

Choose your next strip of fabric and place it next to your first strip, slightly overlapping the sewn strip.

Stitch this strip in the same way as the first.

Continue repeating the process with all of your strips, remembering to overlap each one slightly. Or, you could lightly glue all your strips into place first, allow the glue to dry and then stitch them to the paper.

Once you have finished, turn the paper over and draw equal triangles onto the cardstock. I used a ruler and a pencil to make my markings. I was able to get 6 equal triangles out of this piece, with 2 half triangles left over.

Cut along your lines and voila! you have 6 lovely stripy tree triangles.

Aren't they nice? Oh, they could use a little something though. Time to break out the buttons and lace.

Sew on some buttons, a label, some lace or ribbon, whatever strikes your fancy!

At this point, you could turn them into some pretty groovy tree ornaments by either sewing or gluing two of the triangles back to back. With a good size needle, sew some embroidery floss or yarn through the top to be able to hang it.

I decided to turn these into a happy little garland.

Depending on what fabrics you use, this technique can look quilty or pleated, it's pretty fun to see what you can come up with. You could make this a 'no sew' kid friendly project too just by using a bit more glue. There is no limit to what you can make with this process.

I think it would make a pretty great stitched postcard!

I turned some of the small left over bits into gift tags by sewing another piece of cardstock to the back.

I even turned some into little birds on a string of ric-rac, tweet!

I hope you have enjoyed this simple 'Happy How To'! If you make some trees or use this technique to make other clever stuff, I would love it if you added photos to my flickr group!

Have a happy happy day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello Monday - Holiday Nest

This weekend we brought home a little tree, pulled out the holiday box, untangled the twinkle lights, and set about feathering our holiday nest. It was a sweet time with my little family and I found myself getting just the tiniest bit giddy and skippy of heart. I was walking about the cottage in one of my singing moods.

Pony Girl was all a-wiggle with excitement and couldn't wait to be the first to put her very own special touch on the tree.
We keep things pretty homespun 'round here. We don't have many decorations; what we do have is either sentimental or, something homemade and often on the wonky side. Nothing matches but, it all goes together somehow.

As we opened up the holiday box and unwrapped each ornament, I started thinking about how many others were doing the same this weekend. I thought I would go visiting and see what the clever folks in blogland were up to. I wanted to see how they were getting ready for the season. Here is some of what I found.

by itchinstitchin
I love the delicate lace and crochet garland next to the rustic wood.

and dottie angel is always ready with a bit of joy

Nulka is creating a gorgeous daily album count down 'till xmas.

rainingsheep is so swank and stylish with the beautiful light coming through.

This tree of hearts by krafty_k just made me smile.

What are you doing to feather your holiday nest?

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's Friday - time to show off!

First, let me say how appreciative I am of all the gorgeous comments you left for me over my last two posts. You all have brought tears to my eyes with your lovely words and joy to my heart with what you have shared with me. I really don't think there is a better group of people out there, you absolutely are the best of the best. Thank you!

And now for something completely different...a little shameless self promotion! I have finally managed to get a couple of new Hook Books in the shop due to popular demand.

There are a couple of other little gifty items in the shop as well, so stop on by and have a little look-see.

Next week I have big plans, there's been a crafty revolution going on 'round here! I have a wee 'How To' planned if I can get the light to shine through these dark winter clouds for photos.

Have a joyful weekend and I will see you soon!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The girl who loved wild horses - continued

Hello, I was away from my computer yesterday so, I'm back to continue my story today.
Thank you all for the thoughtful and lovely comments you left, they made my heart feel so full.

Note:I realized as I read over the first part of my story, that I wasn't very clear about when we received the Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis for Pony Girl. For the sake of clarity and to help with consistency, Pony Girl was diagnosed a little over a year ago.
So, what does it all mean... this diagnosis, this brave new world, this grand adventure? To us, it means finding out all we can and always trying new ways to engage. SPD is a broad diagnosis and can mean something different for every person affected by it. It has often been misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD. Some children with SPD are on the Autism spectrum. While that is not the case with Pony Girl, (or so they tell me) I do have a family member with Asperger Syndrome and I think that background helped me when Pony Girl was diagnosed.

What does it look like? Speaking only about my personal observations with my daughter; it can look like a rainbow on some days, and like a hurricane on others. My daughter has trouble filtering information and stimulus. She receives it all and seems to need to make sense of it all at once. Young children have poor impulse control generally, for Pony Girl that is exaggerated. Sometimes it seems as if she is absolutely compelled to touch, move, run away, throw, feel, and get into everything in a 20 foot radius. It often means that she is unaware of personal danger and safety can be be a real issue.

In places of great sensory stimulus, say for instance the grocery market, she is overwhelmed with all the lights, colors, sounds, and movement. Shopping is hard, I'm just gonna say it. I have had to learn to become a sort of shopping Ninja when at the store with my girl. She's a runner, and I have learned to leap carts in a single bound, to navigate crowded aisles with the swiftness of a cheetah, I have honed my tackling skills to an art and I have gained an almost steel like resolve in the toy department, almost. I have also discovered my zen mind when my little screaming mimi draws the stares of the locals. Yup, that's me on the floor of the market physically restraining my kicking 5 year old (who has the strength of Hercules by the way), you may move along now. It isn't always that severe by a long shot but, it does happen.

Along with being easily over stimulated by sensory input, she can suffer from a lack of sensory input as well. Sometimes I have to remember that she needs to engage in "hard body work", pushing and pulling heavy things, wrap her up tight like a burrito in a blanket, squish her, wrestle her, have marathon dance parties. Her need for tactile engagement is significant, which usually means making a mess. Playing with flour and water, smearing anything goopy, rolling in the mud, shaving cream in the bathtub, etc. it's all good stuff.

Her gross motor skills are significantly affected, I mentioned before about the bumping into walls and furniture. We had a physical therapist for a while who worked with her. Now, she has just been assigned adaptive P.E. and I am grateful for that.

Our transition into Kindergarten was another eye opener. The first few weeks of school were very challenging. She was a galloping horse in the classroom, neighing and snorting while all the other kids were doing their work. She tried to walk out of the school on her own a couple of times. The cafeteria was too big, too noisy, too bright...she would eat her lunch under the table and then run away. Her learning delays were made very apparent.

To be honest, it was a difficult time for me. I had some very down days and felt a little helpless and sad. Then, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and went to work on how I could help. As a family we brain stormed and I renewed my fierce mama ways. I was a mama on a mission! Fortunately, I was not alone. We are very lucky to have a school that is working with us. The special education team is doing their best despite underfunding and large case loads. We have all come up with ways to communicate and improve the school experience. As a result, Pony Girl is thriving. At our recent parent teacher conference, it became clear just how much Pony Girl has accomplished, how far she has come, and how much hope and excitement there is for the future. It is very clear that Pony Girl is adored, all the other kids in her class have taken her under their wing and help her in any way they can. That just makes my heart sing!

Why am I writing about this now? It is a very personal story and while I am protective of my family's privacy, it is a big part of our everyday life - I am constantly talking about it to teachers, doctors, therapists, other parents etc. and it felt a little strange to leave it out completely from this part of my life. Not that I was hiding it but rather, it felt like something was missing. It isn't what this blog is about but, I didn't want it to be something I couldn't talk about either.

I struggled for a while with my decision to share this, my hesitation was understandable. I did not want my readers to think, "Oh, poor girl." for she is hardly that! Recently someone said to me, "I bet you sometimes wish that she was just normal." The comment broke my heart a little bit; for what is normal? I have never wished for one second that my child be anything other than herself. I want her to know that who she is, is more than enough. I want to help her succeed and provide her with all I can to help her make her way. I don't want to change her and I will fight to make sure she doesn't feel less than, and I never ever want her to lose her spark.

I believe that her...
tenacious determination
bombastic enthusiasm
boundless energy
wild imagination
gusto for life
insatiable curiosity
crazy humor
weaving ways
alarming cleverness
fearless exploration
left of center view
and blessedly happy nature
are gifts she was given, what she was meant to have. Qualities that will serve her well through her life and will guide her to success. It is simply who she is and she is wonderful! It is my job to help her know this.

As parents, we are our child's first teachers, we are their voice and their champions. We know our children best and it is up to us to not be swayed by doctors, relatives, or well intentioned passers-by. Learn all you can, get a second opinion, be a bother, make phone calls, keep digging, ask for help. Just keep going, one moment at a time. Treasure each gift and know how lucky we are.

Thank you all for coming along on this journey and letting me share a part of our life with you.