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August 2011

Lemon Balm Pesto & I'm out....

My cousin flies into New Orleans today. (second cousin, to be exact)

We're pretty sure we haven't seen each other for about 12+ years. She grew up in southern California & still lives there. I grew up in southern Idaho and Alaska and have lived in a whole lot of places since then. It sure makes getting together tough.

So for the next few days it will be a little quiet in this space.... just a picture and a few words. I want to soak in every moment of catching up & laughing that we can squeeze in.

But first, you should see this snapshot my mama sent me of Kayte & I in about 1990. I think we're about 11? We're on a river rafting trip in Idaho..... (I'm on the right)


Steph and Kayte


Hahaha! I love it.

And before I get back to finishing up my to do list I want to leave you with this.

Lemon Balm Pesto.

We have a ton of lemon balm in the garden & I was brainstorming ideas to use up a lot of it, and well, this is definitely a good thing to do with it. It's delicious! We've tossed it with potatoes, pasta & orzo.... all with great results. I think it would also be deicious smeared onto chicken or fish before grilling or veggie kabobs or even pizza. We're trying that next. 

The recipe......

2 cups of lemon balm leaves, lightly packed

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 to 1/3 c walnuts

1 large clove of garlic

salt & lemon juice to taste

blend in a food processor & enjoy ;)


been working....

Some little bits of the week's work.

New project bags sewn up & added to the shop..... these sold out in a flash at Squam Art Workshops & I've been meaning to get them back into the shop. I've also been working on a new batch of kid sized bags and a few pairs of board shorts have made their way into the shop as well!


project bags


project bags


On the home front some laundry soap was made (with this recipe), we've named it "Nancy's" as it resides in a recycled yogurt container. We've made it with tea tree & peppermint soap and we love it. I use one TBSP per wash in our HE washer. Some was put aside for the big boy who is heading out next weekend. I was ridiculously happy when he requested a bag of Nancy's to take with him. Silly, I know.


laundry soap


for the boy


And the garden got a makeover.... or well, it got robbed if you ask one of the kids. I pulled up all the tomatoes and greens that had finally wilted and given up in hot Louisiana heat. This means I need to get some seeds started over the next few weeks.... I am dreaming of chard. Any other chard fans out there? Man do I love that stuff. I think you could sneak chard into just about every meal with lovely results. Though my recent favorite is a handful cooked in a bit of butter topped with a spoonful of chipotle mayo and a farm fresh fried egg served with whole grain toast. That's the kind of breakfast that can keep you going, you know?




All these random bits of life & work reminded me of a favorite quote I pulled out towards the end of reading this book. (By the way, it's an awesome read!)


"When working within an ecosystem (as opposed to an office system), the work is never done. Life is always going on. Weeds grow, children express their true nature, the pump for the solar hot water burns out, windows stop closing correctly, chickens wander in the road or poop on your outdoor furniture, and the best toys have a quirky trait of preferring floors and kitchen tables to shelves and window sills." ~Shannon Hayes Radical Homemakers


I love this ecosystem.

Happy weekending to you.



The mama paparazzi has once again been thwarted.

I am forever trying to snap a photo of this beautiful young lady of ours.....  and this is what every picture looks like. Hands up "Moooo-ooom!" She says to me, laughing.




She totally brings the sunshine with her in everything she does. Kind hearted, smiling and looking at the world as a glass half full. These days she can diffuse a fight between her younger siblings, cook a delicious meal and pound out a sweet 80's rock song on the piano. She stands an inch taller than her mama (that makes two out of the four kids!) She shares mine & Joe's music taste and makes some darn good playlists for our weekly road trips.

And today she left on her very first solo adventure. Three whole weeks in Minnesota visiting some wonderful friends of ours (and hers). She packed her own suitcase and paid for half her airfare and well, she's just growing up. My mama heart flip flopped all morning until she called to let us know she had arrived safely. The happy excitement in her voice was like sweet honey to my soul. 

Here's to many wonderful adventures to come...


An Ode to a Crazy Cake Man

Well, maybe an ode is a bit of a stretch.

Maybe the title should be..... "my husband has mad cake skills". I think it's even cooler if you spell skills with a z. SKILLZ.

All right, I know.... I'm getting carried away here. But I think it's time you knew of the mass craziness that takes place on birthdays here. It started about 15 years ago for the very first of the first birthdays, a super cool race car. And then the madness continued.....

We've had castles, treasure boxes, sea serpents, alligators, slugs, tea pots, mushrooms, a brief commercialized era of blue's clues (hey, we're human too!) and as the big kids have gotten bigger there have been electric guitars, pianos, rodents of unusual size, fountains, blocks of "cheese" and more. Each year the mastermind (Joe) thinks up a cake.... sometimes with kid input and other times not. As the kids get older it is often a little inside joke that turns into a birthday cake.

The weeks leading up to the birthday have the kiddo begging to know what their cake will be, while Joe gives illusive hints and smugly grins at them. He spends the first half of the birthday morning cutting, icing and creating the birthday cake. Most of our birthday peeps feign hunger or thirst in hopes to get into the kitchen and sneak a peek. At which point Joe dramatically throws them out. It's this totally ridiculous tradition that really is nothing like our other very simple birthday happenings. The cake is always this over the top candy laden creation that Dad & kid adore to no end. I have become the master cake & icing maker.... finally making both cake & icing that are just right for the ordeal and Joe's exact requirements. {Which became a real challenge when the youngest was in his dairy/egg free days!}

And while I should really share a bunch of cake photos to show you all Joe's mad skillz.... I will instead just share this year's castle & the ultimate chocolate cake recipe. ('cause the scanner & I don't exactly see eye to eye.)


Luke's Castle:








I know, it makes you want to brush your teeth and ward of sugar buzzed young people..... but it's so cool, right? And I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy a slice of it with my coffee yesterday morning.... ahem.

Do any of you have crazy ridiculous traditions? I'd love to hear what they are.

And the cake..... oh that cake is my all time favorite. No eggs, no dairy and super easy. This was adapted from somewhere. Maybe a moosewood cookbook? I think there are many a vegan cake out there that look similar. It's my go to birthday treat. *swoon*


Right Now : I Am


Dark Chocolate Cake

3 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached bread flour)

3/4 c cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cup water *

2 TBSP vinegar

3/4 cup oil (I use extra light olive or grapeseed)

1 cup sugar

1 TBSP vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt in a large bowl & set aside. In another bowl mix together water, vinegar, oil, sugar & vanilla. Pour this into the flour mixture and stir gently but quickly. Bake in a well oiled & flour dusted pan for 15-25 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (10-20 minutes for cupcakes)

Makes 2 round cake layers or 24 cupcakes.

*This cake is AMAZING if you use cold coffee instead of water. The stronger the coffee the better, in my opinion. It is also incredible with a 1/2 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate chips or finely chopped bakers chocolate in it. I love the coffee with bakers chocolate combo and a bourbon chocolate ganache for grown up cake. Wow!