Monday, April 30, 2012

Bedtime Fun

A couple of good shots from the weekend. Nothing like bedtime fun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

{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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wheat-Oat-Flax Buns

I've found the perfect hamburger bun recipe - Wheat-Oat-Flax Buns from King Arthur Flour. So yummy that I forgot to take a picture when they came out of the oven (they also make great dinner rolls). These are quick and easy, for a yeast bread, and oh, so good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tin Roof

Some might say they have a tin roof, but when you see this old log building, you've finally seen a real tin roof. We first saw this place in the Black Hills last summer while out plant collecting on the border of Wyoming and South Dakota. Pieter and Ben paid it another visit over the weekend. I am just amazed at it and wonder where tin cans came from.

Updated, 4/24/12, 1:30PM
And now I know! My friend Carrie, a cultural geographer in the Black Hills, saw my post and sent me an email full of explantation. I've updated the post with her text in italics.

These are questions I can answer! You can find isolated examples of these tin roofs throughout the northern Black Hills. Aren't they wonderful?! Sadly, we’re losing these structures at an alarming rate, as most of them are well over 120 years old.

Collective lore depicts these as cyanide lids. Large amounts of cyanide were once used in the smelting process in local gold mines and it came large barrels that must have been at least 5 gallons in size. Thrifty miners gathered the lids and turned them over, exposing the interior surfaces to sunlight. Cyanide breaks down when exposed to UV rays. The lids made nifty shingles.

In truth, as your photo clearly shows, these are NOT lids from containers of cyanide. Rather, they are lids left over from containers of salt, another important material used early on in the smelting process. Note your close-up which clearly shows an inside out stamped “NACL” in the center nipple. To be honest, while I’d heard they weren’t really cyanide lids, I’d never gotten close enough to see the proof of the matter. Your pictures are wonderful!

In any case, they did indeed make wonderful shingles. You’re looking at a marvelous example of one of the more subtle ways gold mining impacted the cultural landscape of our area. It’s common to see by-products of large industries reused in novel ways and thereby shape a landscape. I happen to think this is a particularly charming example. I’m told that large amounts of material from the Homestake Mine were reused throughout Lead and Deadwood. I’ve always wanted to get an old timer to give me a tour and point some of it out. The Black Hills were hip to recycling long before the term was even coined!

Thank you, Carrie, for such wonderful insight!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tree Climber

We've officially entered the independent tree climbing era!
Nothing like scaring a mama to find her boy about six feet up in the apple tree.
Oh, Papa, did you really need to teach him these new skills?

Friday, April 20, 2012

{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, April 19, 2012

Ruby Red

{Grapefruit, Citrus × paradisi}

When I eat a grapefruit, I remember my grandparents generously sending us boxes of them at Christmas time from Florida. Wonderful, juicy, tart fruits. A glance at Wiki gives this fruit an interesting history, starting in Barbados and ending up in southern US as the major producer of the fruit. The first pink variety was discovered in 1906 and the beautiful ruby red was discovered in 1929 growing on a pink variety in an orchard in Texas. Who knew there was anything but this bright interior fruit?

A successful introduction to grapefruit with a toddler! He loved it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arid Spring

{Mountain Lily, Leucocrinum montanum}
{Larkspur, Delphinium bicolor}

Pieter and Ben investigated a local hillside for spring wildflowers this week. What pretty ones they found! I still haven't gotten used to living in such an arid landscape and am surprised when we come across cacti so often. We finally got some rain over the weekend, softening up the ground a bit.
{love this photo of my boy}
{Nipple Cactus, Mammillaria}
{junior botanist?}
{Vetch, Vicia}

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shining up the kitchen

At three and a half months, Juliana is starting to settle into some longer naps (more than her usual 20 minute naps), which is letting me get a few little projects done. Yesterday I sewed up some flannel cloths for wood polishing. Pieter's wooden kitchen is unfinished, so we treat it with beeswax polish every so often. I used some newborn flannel blankets for the cloth, so there is a nice variety of designs in the same color. I put a little bit of the polish from the original jar into a small pot that Pieter can help himself to. The spoon is small enough to limit how much beeswax is used at once. His first go at it didn't last very long, but hopefully it will pull him in some more.

This is the first time I've set up this polishing activity for him. I got the idea for it from Meg at Sew Liberated. She has so many good Montessori ideas for toddlers. She recently revisited this idea of meaningful work in the home for toddlers. I really enjoyed reading this other post on meaningful work and feel reminded to keep including Pieter in my household tasks. Pieter has entered the "no" stage in a big way and I am needing lots of ideas to keep him busy and happy. I've also found some good advice from Dr. Laura Markham, especially on toddlers testing limits.

Now, if I can get back to knitting again, I'd love to knit up some more food for his kitchen.

Monday, April 16, 2012


We went to our first Wacipi (wa-chee-pee) this weekend. Ever since moving to South Dakota I've really wanted to go to a PowWow and learn more about the Lakota tradition. While the celebration lasted all weekend, we just went to the Grand Entry on Saturday night. We didn't stay too long because the drumming and singing was very loud for kids. It was hard to capture how beautiful everyone was and the intensity of the dance.
{wow! what a headdress! beautiful turkey feathers}

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Belt, anyone?

This is what happens when a toddler plays alone in the garage. 
A gigantic zip tie for a belt! Luckily, it just managed to slip off.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

La Bête Noire

In my search for a flourless chocolate cake recipe, I came across La Bête Noire, the Chocolate Beast. The title alone is a winner.  I tweaked the recipe to add a bit more flavor with espresso, vanilla, and cayenne. I also found using less chocolate and adding cocoa power makes the cake more affordable. The original recipe adds a ganache to the cake, which I find unnecessary. A little powdered sugar is the perfect final touch.

La Bête Noire
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 tablespoons espresso powder
7 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Line bottom with parchment; butter parchment. Dust pan with cocoa.
  • Wrap 2 layers of foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim. 
  • Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Melt butter and chocolate in large saucepan over low heat. Whisk until smooth. 
  • Gradually whisk sugar syrup and espresso powder into chocolate; cool slightly.
  • Slowly add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. 
  • Sift cocoa powder into batter, add cayenne and vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
  • Bake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.
  • Remove from pan, dust with powdered sugar (and sprinkle cayenne for an extra kick).
  • Serve as is, or with unsweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Friday, April 13, 2012

{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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Higgins Gulch

Pieter and Ben went out for a hike this past weekend to Higgins Gulch. 
They saw lots of beautiful things. Here are a few of the best ones.
{Horsetail, Equisetum hyemale}
{Cliffbreak Fern}
{Buffaloberry, Sheperdia}
A great hike finished with a little trash pick up!
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