Winter Magic

Winter Magic
"Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall." ~ Ray Bradbury

Monday, December 31, 2012

all of that "end of the year" stuff

I just realized that my last post was over 5 months ago, right when I went back to work from summer break.  I guess "A working mom's blog" is more difficult than I had imagined.  It isn't that I don't have anything to say, things have been wonderful and busy, but I just don't have the time to sit and write them.  Maybe I even have too much to say lately.  I've been very involved politically - presidential election and issues at work, but I don't want this blog to be about that.  Recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary have gotten me involved politically again, and once again I don't want this blog to be about that.  So, I've not found the time to write here, but I have been writing.

I'm not one for new year's resolutions.  I set goals for myself all of the time, but not what I would call resolutions.  Here are my current short-term and long-term goals.
  • blog at least once a month (whether it be here or as a guest writer on another blog)
  • learn how to take amazing pictures with my new Nikon
  • upload those pictures in a timely manner and create digital scrap book pages with them as they are uploaded (instead of doing 100 pages of scrap booking the month before Christmas) 
  • get pregnant (still trying)
  • get back into my "teaching groove" - I need to find that passion again
I have other things that I am always working on, but I don't consider them goals at all, they are life choices I've made:  to be the best mom and wife I can be, to eat healthy and enjoy food, to cook for my family, to garden, to shop locally grown and organic when possible, to foster healthy friendships even if it means I have to be the one who calls, and to live my life with integrity.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cooking for Family: Potato Leek Soup

One of the wonderful things about our family garden is exploring new ways to prepare all of the fresh veggies we now have.  I've found a hundred different things to do with tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, and basil - flavors that complement each other so well.  Tonight I decided to try my hand at potato-leek soup.  When I first planted the garden the goal was to have all of the ingredients (except chicken broth and butter) from the garden; however, my potatoes didn't turn out, so I had to buy 2 lbs of baby Yukon golds for this recipe. The leeks, oregano, lemon-thyme, and cilantro were all from my garden.   The rest of the ingredients I already had in the house.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large leeks (cut lengthwise in 1 inch segments, do not use the dark green parts)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 2cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
  • 2 lbs potatoes (I used baby Yukon gold, but any will do) diced
  • dash of oregano 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh lemon-thyme (regular thyme will work too)
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce (or any other chili sauce)
  • ground sea salt
  • pepper
fresh lemon-thyme

Directions:

Add leeks and butter to a medium saucepan with a little salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring about every 2 minutes.  Do not let leeks brown!
leeks and butter

Add water, broth, and potatoes.  Bring to a simmer and cook covered on low heat for 20 minutes.


diced potatoes
Scoop about 1/2 to 3/4 of the soup into a blender and puree.  
pureed

Add puree back to the soup and add oregano, cilantro, and thyme.  Stir well.  
oregano, cilantro, lemon-thyme chopped and mixed

Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.  Stir well.
love Louisiana Hot Sauce!

Finally, let simmer for 5 minutes after all seasoning has been added.  


I like this soup served hot, but I've heard that some serve it cold.  It is a very filling soup, so no need to prepare any other food for your meal.  It took me about 45 minutes to prepare this meal, including prep-time and running outside to cut the fresh herbs.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Photo Card

Cubes Plum Baby Announcements
To see Shutterfly's birth announcement designs, click here.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Crunchy Scale: Food for Baby and "convenience"

I never understood how controversial food could be until it came to feeding my baby.  Before I was pregnant I just assumed, based on the long aisle of baby food in the grocery stores and what I saw from moms around me, that there was a health/medical reason why babies drank formula and ate processed food from jars.  After getting pregnant I started doing research, mainly because my gut was telling me that something was not right.  

I mean, why would I buy formula when my body could produce the most perfect food for my baby?  I was given many reasons, most of them revolving around the word "convenience" and the fact that I work full-time. And, why would I feed my baby processed food in jars when I don't eat processed food from jars?  Once again, the reasons given to me revolved around that word "convenience".  

I took issue with this word.  Convenience.  Yes, I work full-time, but I had also made the choice to have a baby.  I didn't make the choice to be a mother based on convenience.  In fact, I pretty much knew that having a baby would be the opposite of convenient.  

So, I made the choice to breast feed, even though it wasn't the easiest choice, even though it wasn't easy, even though I worked full-time and had to pump.  Yes, it made my life harder - but I was doing what was right for my baby bug.  You see, she comes first. No questions asked, I chose to bring her into this world and it is my job to take care of her to the BEST of my ability, not based on what is easy or convenient. I also made the choice to only feed my baby home made organic foods.  Nothing from a jar.  Now that she is a toddler there is a no fast-food policy in place, no soda, no juice, no candy and only the occasional treats. I also made the choice to start a garden to reinforce the idea of fresh natural foods.   

Are these choices easy? For me they were.  They are the right choices for my child, they are the right choices for my family.    Someone told me that I was "trying to be super mom" working full time, nursing, cooking home made meals, cloth diapering, gardening, etc... .  So what if I am "trying to be super mom" -- why is that bad?  Why is that said in a negative tone?  Isn't that what every mom wants - to be the BEST mom she can be?  

So where am I on the crunchy scale on this one?  I'd say granola, but since I didn't do pure BLW I'm sure some would disagree :)

granola = super crunchy, all natural

oatmeal = partially processed, mostly natural

instant oatmeal = processed but nature is still there

sugar puffs = who needs natural?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Square Foot Garden: Cucumbers, Lady bugs, and Baby bug!

This is what happens when you skip checking the garden for a day...

Mommy, check out this cucumber!

It is mine, all mine!

I think we might need a bigger basket!
We've got lots of ants, so I thought we wouldn't have much of an aphid problem, but it looks like the aphids figured out that the ants don't like climbing up the cucumber vine.  So, we decided that more lady bugs were needed.  We released them at night when it was cooler out, and it has been 4 days now and they are still hanging out in the garden.  The aphids are almost all gone, but the sad thing is that once the aphids are gone, so too will the lady bugs be gone. 

Samantha trying to get the lady bugs to crawl on her.

Loving the lady bugs!

finding plenty of food on the cucumber vine

hello there!

hanging out on the tomatoes
In my next blog I will post some yummy garden fresh food!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Peacock Hair

The weekend before my daughters 2nd birthday I had my hair done to look like "peacock hair".  A few months prior I had seen a "rainbow" hairstyle on Pinterest and fell in love.  I knew that I wanted to do something similar to my hair, and my daughters birthday party was the perfect reason to do it! 

I hadn't had my hair cut or colored professionally in over 9 months, so the first thing I had to do was search and find the perfect place and person to do my hair.  I ended up discovering Elle at Vicara Aveda Salon in Chino Hills.  She listened to me and understood exactly what I was looking for.  To be honest, I've never seen a stylist so excited to do my hair before.

Here are the before and after pictures - please forgive the quality, they were all taken with my phone. 

my hair before


first she had to lighten the ends that would be colored - the color will be a gradient from puple to teal to blue


finished hair - indoors


outdoors -- it is hard to tell, but it goes from purple to teal to blue



with my amazing stylist, Elle!
I hope to be posting pictures from Samantha's 2nd birthday party soon.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Square Foot Garden: Watching it Grow

Samantha pulls the first of our French Market carrots.

the cucumber vine is starting its way up and beginning to flower

the zucchini is starting to flower too

the butter lettuce seeds have sprouted

three nice bell peppers almost ready to eat

and the tomato plants have gotten huge!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Family Garden

When I first created this blog I titled it "Cultivating the Wonder" because I believe that it is a parents job to cultivate the wonder that their children are born with.  I believe that it takes time, patience, love, and much more to facilitate the natural wonder that is inside each child, and I also believe that as a child grows the parent has to work harder and longer to keep this wonder alive, or society will find a way to squash it.  My own personal sense of wonder was at first cultivated by my parents when I was a child, and then later by a few teachers who believed in me, then in the books I read as a teenager and as an adult, and still later by my students in the class room and my student leaders in Link Crew, and now by my very own daughter.  When I read the poetry of Robert Frost I am inspired, when I hear Ray Bradbury speak about following his loves I am inspired, and when I look into the eyes of my almost 2 year old daughter, I am inspired.

The other night my husband asked me why I changed my blog's focus from our daughter and parenting to gardening.  It dawned on me that perhaps I have not made my focus clear, and thus there was some confusion about the different things I choose to blog about.  My focus has not changed, only my means to reach my focus.

Cultivating the Wonder = parenting in a way that facilitates the growth of my children creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. My posts about gardening are really about family, about the time and effort that needs to be put in to make something grow and be fruitful. They are about my daughter seeing nature as part of our daily lives, as something that provides for us because we provide for them (our plants), as something to respect and care for as we do our own family. When I post about food, it is because I believe that taking the time to cook for family, to select and prepare the ingredients, and to sit down together to eat are all acts of love; they contribute to the cultivation of a family. Please do not be misguided and think that this is a blog about food, or a blog about gardening, or even a blog about my daughter.  This is a blog about the choices I make, we make as a family, to grow together, learn together, and keep the wonder of life alive within us.

baby bug helping plant butter lettuce


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Square Foot Garden: Natures First Green is Gold 2

my first pole bean is starting to sprout
close-up of first sprout (pole bean)



the radishes are getting bigger

close-up of a carrot sprouting

carrots making their way out of the soil

lettuce sprouting
close-up of the butterhead lettuce sprouts

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Square Foot Garden: First Salad

In the square foot garden you harvest many of your vegetables weekly/daily on an "as you use it" basis.  My first harvest was just enough to make two small dinner salads!  For the lettuce and spinach you simply cut off the bigger outer leaves each week rather than harvesting the plant all at once.  

our first green onions are ready to eat - they have a much stronger flavor
than the store varieties I'm used to.  I will harvest some this week
and let the rest grow to full-size onions

lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach ~ washed and dried

had enough to make two lovely bowls of salad  ~
 I added strawberries, pepitas, and cojita cheese before serving

close-up

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Square Foot Garden: Nature's First Green is Gold

April 17th ~ the radishes have started to sprout

so small and full of possibilities 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Square Foot Garden: Planting Seeds

pole bean, radish, carrot, and butter lettuce

 sfg method: Lettuce - 4 per sf - a pinch per hole
sfg method: Radish and Carrot - 16 per sf - a pinch per hole

carrots and pole beans need to be covered until sprouting
deep root box: carrots (2 types), white sweet onions, green onions, leeks, white beets, and radish

our lemon tree has thorns