They say...

It gets worse before it gets better.
{carving out a bit of dining space for breakfast this morning (jacob exclaimed, "i don't think that the 'organization' is working.")}

Seeing that we've been at it for 10 days... I'd say "they" are right.

I've agreed to volunteer for the entire day today AND tomorrow (why???)... and we've got Jacob's spring orchestra performance to attend tonight... a resume to help him create- a t-shirt to help him design (So. Done. With. Homework. Assignments.)... Friday's 8th grade graduation ceremony (yes, graduating the 8th grade is apparently a very big deal these days :)) to plan for... 

In other words, there will be very little checking off of the to-do list today (or tomorrow- or the day after that), so looks like we won't be living in "organized harmony" quite yet.
But sooner or later before summer- even if it kills me- room by room... shelf by shelf... drawer by drawer... clutter will be conquered- once & for all.

Nature's treasure trove.


The quintessential element to the ultimate summer dessert... & next to butterscotch sauce- the most underrated sundae topping.

We're @ Pink Moon Daily today sharing our berry {sorry} best tips for keeping these little red gems at your fingertips [only].

Please visit, & if you've got any tips or recipes of your own, let us know!

Purging along {& bakin' ratatouille}.

since friday night, book shelves have been thinned, stacks {and stacks} of magazines (all of which i intended to read- cover to cover... none of which have been) recycled, garbage bags filled, barbies purged, walls scrubbed, drawers- bins- closets- keepsakes- organized, ...4 large truck loads to the good will later... and this is only the beginning.

ryan's almost finished listening to simplicity parenting, and man- all we can think is- how the hell did life get so OUT OF CONTROL in the past 2 years???  how did we (we, who pride ourselves on deshittifying) accumulate so. much. sh*t?

much more to come on this topic, but for now, onto lighter fare... 


it was last night's dinner, and- talk about simplicity.

now that summer's just around the corner {10 more days!?!}, i am declaring that it be added to the weekly rotation (also a key learning from the aforementioned book, but more on that later).

zucchini... squash... tomatoes... basil... bell peppers... a summer garden, captured all in one pot.

{and so hearty & flavorful, the kids don't even remember just how "healthy" it really is... & just how many dreaded bell peppers are mixed in.  we've been eating only vegetable-based dishes, and in an effort not to make two separate meals, we no longer omit them- or cut them super huge so they can pick them out... & tonight, for the first time- they both ate the entire meal- bell peppers & all!  guess they figured it wasn't worth all of the effort to dissect each bite.  proud parenting moment :).}
baked ratatouille
*adapted from the master your metabolism cookbook, by jillian michaels

serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil (I used grapeseed oil, & then drizzled a little olive oil on each dish just before serving)
1 medium chopped red onion
1 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (used only a tiny bit)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bell peppers (used one yellow, & one orange), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch-thick half-moons
2 medium summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch-thick half-moons
2 (15-oz) cans beans- cannellini, chickpeas... (I used leftover pinto beans from a big pot I made on Monday night)
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried
20 basil leaves, torn in 1/2, plus a few extra for garnish (I had a lot to use up, so I used 30 leaves)
salt & pepper
2 tbsp grated parmesan, optional (I omitted this)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Have a 3-quart baking dish ready.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute more.  Add the peppers and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the drained tomatoes, the zucchini, squash, beans, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese, if using.  Bake until bubbling and lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes.  

Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves & a lovely drizzle of olive oil.
good stuff, i tell ya.


yep, that's right... we've been stoned.  summer's not here yet, but you'd never know by the looks of our csa box.  bright red cherries... perfectly sweet strawberries... & a whole lotta peaches & apriums.  last year, i had an entire {huge} case of these to use up.  there were aprium tarts & cocktails & you name it... this year, not so much.  fruit's not on the horizon for several more weeks.  although i've yet to purchase an entire case, they've been in our box for the past three weeks, and we were starting to need a dedicated shelf for them in the fridge {they- along with the peaches- ripen super, duper fast}, so I pulled up a post that i'd bookmarked last summer- and set out to freeze these babies.  We may not be able to enjoy 'em now, but we'll most definitely look forward to lots of peach margaritas little peach indulgences here and there... in the coming months of "HOT."

{as promised~ 'two tried & true recipes this week', but this is really not a recipe... more of a technique :)...}
freezer peaches {or other ripened stone fruit}
*adapted from three many cooks

makes 2 quarts

3-4 pounds peaches
juice from 1/2 a lemon
[recipe recommended sugar & 'fruit fresh'... I omitted both & added lemon juice]

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  With a paring knife, score a small x at the base of each peach.  Working in batches drop peaches in water; cook to loosen skins, about 30 seconds.  Peel skins off;  quarter (or half) small peaches (cut larger peaches into thick wedges) then pit.  Place in bowl, and drizzle with lemon juice; gently toss.  Spoon peaches into freezer bags; lay flat on a baking pan and freeze until solid.  Stack in freezer until ready to use.

friday has arrived.  my weekend starts early with a morning hike... & a little mexican food with friends for lunch.  
So happy, i don't even think I'll miss the margarita (the chips may be another story).

...and tomorrow- the long-awaited, much-needed purge will take place.  big time.

hope your weekend's just the right amount of productivity & pleasure.

Deepest, darkest secrets...


... I'm over at Erin's place~ Such Small Steps ~sharing a few (secrets, that is)...

Come on over & feel free to spill a few of your own :).

A fine line.

It's always a fine line between what gets shared in this little virtual space, and what is better left unsaid.  I don't typically go the 'cryptic route'- yet don't feel it's necessary to give every teensy-tiny detail either.

When it comes to health issues, the line seems to get even finer.  So, teensy-tiny details aside, it has been a pretty rough couple of months for us.  Just as Ryan's condition improved, we were hit with another scare.  This time, it was Jacob.  His chest bone structure is a bit uneven (from one side to the other), which led to x-rays & a scoliosis-screening.  A couple of weeks later, he started to experience chest pain.  There's nothing more miserable than watching your child suffer- or waiting to see if there is something seriously wrong.  

After several phone calls, a doctor's appointment, extended Google searches, and another bout of 'the waiting game' during the past week, we're not yet in the clear.  But we do have a good deal of clarity {and peace of mind} about his condition and potential next steps.  And I can honestly- and happily- say it sounds much scarier than it actually is.  Of course it's not over yet... More appointments to come, possibly a long-term brace, but at this point- the seemingly endless state of pins and needles- for far too many weeks- has finally begun to dissipate.  

We're ready to take the intensity level down a few notches, and get back to our "normal," semi-chaotic, gloriously simple, boring life.  Reading, & games, & Target/Trader Joe runs... that's what our weekend was filled with.  Along with the best mother's day present of all~ a spruced n' polished back yard, ready for lots of al fresco eating, slip n' sliding, & all sorts of happy memories.
And today, I did something that I haven't done in far too long.  I set my mile-long-to-do-list aside, picked some basil from the garden, & I baked.  Baking is one of the things I've missed most during the past several weeks of drama & dieting.  Even though I can't actually EAT the goods, the smile on the kids' face, after busting through the door, made it all worth it.  Plus, I've had these beautiful little scones on my mind ever since I pinned 'em.    

The sweetness of spring & the fragrance of summer.  A deliciously fine line.
double-strawberry {basil} scones 
*from better homes and gardens april, 2011 issue.

makes 8-12 scones

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries (purchased at trader joe's)
2 tbsp snipped basil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
half-and-half or milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Gently toss in fresh and freeze-dried strawberries and basil.  Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together eggs and half-and-half.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once.  Using a large spoon, gently stir just until moistened.
Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface.  Knead the dough by folding and gently pressing it five to seven times, turning dough a quarter turn after each fold.  Transfer to a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet.  Pat or lightly roll dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle.  Cut circle into wedges and pull apart slightly (I used a floured pie server to [gently] pull apart).
Brush wedges with additional half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake about 16 min or until golden.  Serve warm.  Refrigerate any leftover scones, and reheat as necessary.

{for more 'tried & true' recipes, click here... 2 in 1 this week ~ to make up for last week :)}

Over the moon.

Doesn't take much to make me happy.  A new page of stamps... her smile when an awaited letter arrives, a favorite coffee mug in one hand... his in the other...  

As I shared last week, I couldn't be more thrilled with the opportunity to write a gardening column for Pink Moon Daily.  Only 2 months in, and already a mound of stories & tips to share.  And this year- more than ever before, we're on it.  Too much water?  Fixed.  Our strawberries are being snacked on by someone other than us??  Umm, no...  We'll be damned if those birds rob us of our strawberry picking pleasure.  Lots of mistakes to learn from...  Lots of luscious tomatoes to be had.        

But the best part about this little Pink Moon Daily Adventure??  Ryan's roped in to my blogosphere bliss right by my side.  And that makes me a happy camper.  Or rather- a happy gardener.

So please head over to read our very first post, & feel free to jump right in on the discussion.  We may be more "on it" than in years past, but we're continuing to learn as we go... and when it comes to the garden, there's LOTS of learning to be had.  So share any tips you've got - big or small.

{By the way, have you subscribed to the daily (yes, Estelle publishes every single day!) feed yet?  I am loving it so far.  I look forward to each & every post.  And after only one week, it's provided me with a wealth of useful, simple healthy-living tips.  AND- you can like it on Facebook too!  I always appreciate a forum for deeper engagement :).}

Simplicity parenting.

You may recall a post I wrote a couple months ago in regards to re-grouping, re-connecting, and unplugging.  And we did, for a few days, until life resumed as "normal"...
Well, it's time to create a new normal- one that will last.  We're both reading Simplicity Parenting, and so far, it has been profound... thought-provoking, challenging, empowering- and yet presented in a clear, approachable manner.  It simultaneously brings to surface what we intrinsically know to believe is right (for us, individually, and as a family unit), and it introduces new insight, ideas, & simple {yet powerful} methods for facilitating change- for re-grouping, re-connecting, and getting back on track.

Many bloggers are reading (or have read), and equally benefiting from this book.  In today's fast-past, consumerist, high-tech world, we're all experiencing similar challenges when it comes to raising a family, and striving to "keep it simple" while struggling to fit it all in.  Alexis {@ Fern and Feather} is hosting a virtual book club discussion, and today, I'm over at her place- spilling the beans about our current state of affairs.  It's been one of the most powerful chapters in the book thus far.  I'd love it if you visited me there, and shared your thoughts- whether you've read the book or not.  To do so, click right HERE :). 

I can see clearly now.

Since our recent health scare, we've made some pretty big changes in our lives, particularly in our diet.  Some temporary, and some not... but all for the better nonetheless.  Since Ryan was the unexpected catalyst for this change, I thought he'd be the best one to share our experience.  So without further ado, here's Ryan! 
No sugar.  No dairy.  No gluten.  Yep, that is what our next sixty days looks like.  It all started with a trip to the doctor to find out I had an infection in my blood.  Antibiotics knocked it out, but we had to wonder how it got there and why my body could not fight it off.  I hardly ever get sick, so it made me realize that I need to take some sort of action to get back on track in regards to my health.  On a friend’s recommendation, we had our blood analyzed by a microscopist.  It's amazing what two drops of blood can reveal.  Apparently, I'm living in a persistent hypoglycemic state, which pretty much explains how I've been feeling the past few years… no energy & always waiting for the second wind that never seems to come.  My blood was riddled with all sorts of not-so-good things (I’ll spare you the details). 

The good news is that it is all fixable.  It's time for us to get the cells in our bodies functioning as they should.  If you think about it, why not start with your blood, since it runs through every organ of your body, including your brain?  First step was to drink more water.  We’re talking over a gallon a day, as opposed to the two or three cups of coffee to start the day and a glass or two of wine to end it… and maybe a glass of water in between.  Second, we had to change our diet.  We knew it would be challenging, but doable.  She sent us home with a book of recipes, a few natural supplements, a Trader Joe’s shopping list for alkaline rich foods, and a ‘prescription’ for 9000 mg of omega-3 per day.  Oh, and Torrie was told she would have to sit in the sun for at least ten minutes a day- and that she'd have the ‘unfortunate’ side effect of losing weight (funny- she didn’t seem too concerned about me losing too much weight).

It's been almost a week and the changes have been remarkable.  I have more energy than I've had in years and have more mental clarity, like I am coming out of a fog.  I actually feel like exercising, and would like to think I've been in a better mood… maybe you should ask Torrie.  The diet has been surprisingly easy.  I have to admit, I miss cheese and bread, but giving up sugar (natural & refined) was easier than I thought.  We're encouraged to eat plenty of avocados and to use olive oil liberally, which [almost] makes up for the sacrifices.  The food is good and there is plenty of it.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up this weekend, there will be no sacrificing (okay, maybe that isn’t entirely true - a margarita would be nice).  Fish tacos with plenty of accoutrements and heirloom beans are something to look forward to, especially if I know that it will help bring me back into balance, out of the fog, and on the road to optimal health.

{Sorta cheating on this week's 'tried & true' recipe post.  We haven't actually tried the recipe yet, but thought it was *necessary to share our Cinco de Mayo menu- in case you're in search of a festive- yet healthy recipe.  In the book, she gives a healthier option... Marinate the fish in olive oil, lots of lime juice, salt, pepper, and roughly chopped cilantro for at least an hour and up to overnight.  Grill the fish for a few minutes per side, depending on the thickness... We'll be taking this route (along with brown rice tortillas)~ of course :).}
  Image via

A party to remember.

Image via
You know when you're invited to a dinner party by someone you truly admire?  Someone that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt will make you feel right at home... all the while chatting it up with everyone else... assembling that simple, yet perfect meal, refilling your wine glass- or better yet, casually leaving you to your own devices, so you may fill as you please.  Someone who knows that the key to a successful party not in the execution alone... that the guests in attendance play an unprecedented part in the entire affair... their unique style, their spark, their stories, their spirit.  It's all infectious... in a good way.  A way that makes you want to keep on smiling, laughing, sharing... and pouring.
Well, this is exactly how Ryan & I feel to be a part of Estelle's new site~ Pink Moon Daily.  A daily source of information & inspiration on clean, green, and sustainable living.

I've mentioned, several times, just how much I admire this gal, and I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to contribute and collaborate- with Estelle, and with an amazing, creative, and all-around crush-worthy group of ladies.
I would absolutely love it if you followed along for yourselfI know that this will be a daily spot in which I will be uplifted, informed, and inspired... and I have a feeling you will too.

{Ryan & I are contributing by way of a gardening column...  To see the rest of talented contributors, click here!}
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