Friday, December 31, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dreaming of a White Christmas

As a P.S. to yesterday's post, here are a few pictures of the Railway display at the U.S. Botanic Garden during an evening snowfall.  What a beautiful night in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol Building!

I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas in the Capital

We lived in Washington DC for the year of 2007 and really enjoyed every moment.  There were many things to do all the time, whether it was visiting a museum, biking along the Mall or going down to The Dairy Godmother for a frozen custard treat.  Just before moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts for the next chapter in our life, we enjoyed our capital city in it's glory: decked out for Christmas.  The most amazing display was found at the U.S. Botanic Garden.  Every December beautiful replicas of the Mall and a railway, designed by Paul Busse, are unpacked carefully by workers of Busse's company, Applied Imagination of Alexandria, Kentucky.   Each replica is created entirely of plants! Here is a great brochure from the Garden on all the plants used: Seasons Greetings.  I hope one day to be in New York during December to see another Busse display at the New York Botanic Garden.

Enjoy your trip to the Capital!

Railway, outside the Conservatory

U.S. Supreme Court
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building
U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Botanic Garden
Smithsonian Institution, The Castle
The White House
The Lincoln Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial
Ford Theater

Capitol Hill Neighborhood

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I really love using my cast iron skillet, especially for this recipe:  braised steak with red wine and rosemary. BUT, the handle heats up so much! This is especially problematic when I have it in the oven, pull it out and then forget that it is so hot and the hot pad has slipped off. Well, here is my solution: handle hot pads!
Here is a "before" shot. I am always amazed at how big felted items are to start with.
The pattern is "Felted Lopi Potholders" by Norah Gaughan.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice is such an important time of the year for those of us that live far from the equator. It is the darkest day of the year and brings joy with the knowledge that tomorrow the day will be just a bit brighter.

for a moment
the typewriters will stop clicking,
the wheels stop rolling
the computers desist from computing,
and a hush will fall over the city.

For an instant, in the stillness,
the chiming of the celestial spheres will be heard
as earth hangs poised
in the crystalline darkness, and then

Let there be a season
when holiness is heard, and
the splendor of living is revealed.

Stunned to stillness by beauty
we remember who we are and why we are here.
There are inexplicable mysteries.

We are not alone.

In the universe there moves a Wild One
whose gestures alter earth's axis
toward love.

In the immense darkness
everything spins with joy.

The cosmos enfolds us.

We are caught in a web of stars,
cradled in a swaying embrace,
rocked by the holy night,
babes of the universe.

Let this be the time
we wake to life,
like spring wakes, in the moment
of winter solstice.

~Rebecca Parker

Monday, December 20, 2010

A First

This summer Pieter and I had the pleasure to visit with our friends Dick and Mary in northern Michigan.  Pieter was just starting to eat solid food then and Dick had a profound thought, as a man that loves food: Think of all the things that Pieter will be eating over the next year. It will be full of firsts. The first taste of so many things.

Well, here is a first that went over big: MAC & CHEESE!
Nothing like homemade mac and cheese to bring on a smile.  I used spelt macaroni and a white sauce with spelt flour, raw butter and milk from the farm and some yummy sharp cheddar cheese.  Even Papa loved it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A new way to wrap

Fabric gift bags are the first project made with my new sewing machine. How fun and what a great thing for this world with limited resources.  While it is a lot of fun to wrap with sparkly paper and curl all that ribbon, this is also pretty satisfying to reuse these bags year after year.  This weekend I am sewing up some bags to give and then I'll have to create a stash of gift bags to keep in our home.  It really is pretty simple. See Soule Mama for a tutorial.

Friday, December 17, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Eden Project

Is it really only ten days until Christmas? A little peppermint bark should help revive my knitting hands. I've never made this before and WOW! I will never eat store bought again! This Bon Apetit recipe is a keeper. For any Tatems reading this, this beautiful candy dish was great grandma Floy's.

In Part II of my look back at England, here are some lush pictures from the Eden Project, an amazing botanic garden in an old china clay pit mine in Cornwall. I like their description about what goes on a the Eden Project: what we do. For James Bond lovers, the 2002 film Die Another Day was filmed here. If I lived in Cornwall, this would be the place I would be working at! When Chris and I visited in 2002, it was just one year old, so the plants are not quite as grown in as they would be now.
The Outdoor Gardens were incredibly vibrant and fun. Fields of lavender...

There are two conservatories, Rainforest and Mediterranean, that make a caterpillar like construction.
Inside the Mediterranean Biome, grape vines and olive trees were dominant and the sculptures were amazing.
The Rainforest Biome must be beautiful today. It had lots of space to grow into when we saw it.  As you moved through the conservatory, art was tucked away in places to surprise you.
After seeing many botanical gardens, the Eden Project has a very special focus on education. They strive to teach people about where their food comes from and about other cultures. The Malaysian Hut in the Tropical Biome is a great example.
I hope you can make it to the Eden Project some day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A look back at Kew

While the snow comes down outside, I am looking through a pile of photo CDs that I found yesterday. In the summer of 2002 my friend Chris and I took a trip to England. We fell in love with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  Here are a few pictures to warm up with.
The Temperate House is the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world. But I think my favorite is the magnificent Palm House.
Inside the Palm House you might find one of these plants, a tree fern.
And a few other beautiful plants.
Over in another house, The Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Giant Waterlily, Victorian amazonica, from the Amazon can be found. 
Oh, for another trip to England!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Freshly made granola is becoming a classic in our home. It sure is a great way to have Real Food without all the things you can't pronounce and at a fraction of the price.  To give you an idea of how much granola is eaten here, we are about half way through a 25 pound bag of organic rolled oats from Azure Standard that we got in mid-September. I have slowly merged several recipes, one from my friend Brittney, into the following standard. I hope you give it a try!

Basic Granola
6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
3/4 to 1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar or another sweetener like rice syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil, olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup nuts
1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit

Mix dry ingredients (all but nuts and fruit) in a large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour into large bowl and mix. Dump all on a large tray or split into two - it shouldn't be thicker than 1 inch. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and bake another 20 minutes. Stir in nuts and bake for another 20 minutes (60 total). Stir in dried fruit, put back in oven for a few hours with the oven off.

Note: if you like clumpy granola, add more water, which will clump the ingredients together more. But, this may also increase your baking time.

Cherry Vanilla: use dried cherries, pecans and lots of vanilla
Maple Walnut: use maple syrup, walnuts and sesame seeds
Orange Cranberry: use orange juice in place of water, orange extract and dried cranberries
Coconut: use coconut oil, coconut extract, add some unsweetened coconut flakes and is great with some chocolate pieces.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday in the Park

On the way to the library yesterday afternoon, we made a stop in the park.  Pieter loves to swing, even in the winter.  Both boys were warm in their new hats. Ben's hat is made out of the same wool, Cascade Quattro with A hat fit for a boyfriend pattern.  Here is my ravelry link.  The creek flows through the park and has a strange feature in the winter - it actually freezes from the bottom up. This can become a problem if the creek keeps freezing further and further upwards, pushing the water up out of the stream bed.

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