May 2011

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From ClipArt Etc

This post is for The Green Mom’s Carnival on 1/2 Year Resolutions

The list of things I haven’t done and want to do are longer than anyone would want to read: A garden that needs tending, skills that need learning, a body that needs care. After awhile the list becomes more of a burden than an inspiration. So at half way through the year it seems like a good time to make the resolution to practice forgiveness. For the ecologically minded, guilt is everywhere. In a reusable bag left in a car, a food scrap not composted, or a car uses too much fuel. And as a mother I find myself constantly finding ways to measure myself up against a higher standard. When I look back on the things I haven’t done or look forward to the things I could do, but haven’t yet, it is easy to get so frustrated that I don’t want to do anything at all.

Forgiveness isn’t just good to practice for myself, in fact, it is even better to experience forgiveness toward the people in my life and the world around me. Whether it be in a moment of frustration or a long standing resentment. By viewing life through the lens of forgiveness I realize that it’s not just others that deserve forgiveness, I  also owe it to myself to forgive them.

It’s not easy, to approach the world and myself with a forgiving mindset, but it is a simple enough concept to remember and definitely a worthwhile goal. Guilt and judgment become unnamed feelings that weigh heavy on the heart. After awhile it can be easy to forget what that gnawing feeling is; once I recognize that there is a remedy for what I’m feeling, I find more clarity. Forgiveness is healing and inspiring, and says it’s okay to move on. Which is good because there is a home that needs tending to, a family to raise, and a huge list of other things that need to get done.



I can’t wait till Elsa Mora’s book comes out!

Beautiful Stationary via Design*Sponge

Summer is almost here, I try to enjoy the breath before the hot plunge. But I also look forward to Halloween.

Just now finding out about Vivian Maier.

I can’t afford these cast iron skillets. But I like looking at them.

These lockets speak to my whimsical self.

Although I didn’t watch Oprah, I enjoyed this.

Come Right Back!

American Frugal Housewife is a sort of manifesto of good economy and frugality. First published in 1828, the tips were likely of good use to homemakers of the time.  Although the instructional material may not seem as accessible to today’s reader, it at least provides an interesting historical perspective:

Her philosophy is just as pertinent today as it has ever been. My favorite call to arms is in the furniture section:




One of my favorite things about pre-industrial and turn of the century works is the imagery and even the touch of folklore embedded in the day to day accounts. I love this bit about rose-water.

Rose water? Aged cheese carefully wrapped in paper? It makes me long for another time, (I am not squeamish about insects, so that part doesn’t bother me).


I’ll leave you with my favorite recipe, this one is for Wedding Cake. I think I could make this, I know I could eat a slice:



These images were found in the Google scanned book. American Frugal Housewife is in public domain and widely available.

Here is the source link.


This month the “Green Mom Carnival” had a series on Getting Back to Nature. I really wish I had found it before the deadline. But alas, I did not, but it still inspired me to write about what I think is a very important topic.


Sometimes I have to remind myself that there are no series of activities that will help my child appreciate something like music, nature or art, The best way to appreciate something is to incorporate it into my life with an overarching philosophy, to understand why it is important and why I need it in my life.


The best way to “get back to nature” is to realize that there is no natural world; there is just one planet that we all share and that nature doesn’t begin or end. We breath the same air, drink the same water, live under the same sun, though we don’t like to think about it, there are microbes in our bodies and on our skin that our as wild as a herd of animals and deeply important to maintaining our equilibrium. There is no nature; that is just a human construct. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get outdoors and “back to nature”, in fact I think the best way to come to this realization is by being outdoors. Except one day when you come back inside, you don’t leave nature behind, it stays with you.

Live like a bird!

Really want to make these wings!

Stacking Throne!

Dreamy little village!

Questioning Ikea.

He may be awkward but he’s cute.

Little Scream.


This year I have made an oath to myself to appreciate the weather more for its subtleties. To try to keep the AC off when I can and ease myself into the heat. In South Georgia the Summer can be like the winter, you force yourself indoors, you can’t plant anything in your garden for a month or two (except maybe okra and field peas), and when you are in thick of it seems like it never ends. I’ve made the mistake in the past  years that I’ve lived down here by saying that “The heat comes in March and leaves in October”, that it is hot and miserable for half of the year, and the other half of the year it is mild and perfect. This year, I have swore to change my perspective. The weather patterns are not so simple. Yes, there were days last week that were very hot, what I am now thinking of as the Summer Harbinger days. But, I’m trying to imagine the Earth as a sort of choir. Last week was the prelude to Summer, and these remarkable cool days are something of an  interlude, reminding us of what will come again. Yes it will be hot, but if I tell myself that it is one way (Hot half the year, and mild the rest), I blind myself to these beautiful subtleties of the year.

While browsing through children’s books at the local Goodwill I found Your Own Best Secret Place by Byrd Baylor. The illustrations and content struck me right away and I gladly took it home for a dollar. It is about a young girl who finds a cozy place in a cottonwood tree that was once inhabited by another guest. This guest was not a fox or a racoon but a man named William Cottonwood. Though he had been gone for sometime he left a note and a few of his things. The girl wonders about William Cottonwood and rhapsodizes about the beautiful spot that they had in common. Through the rest of the book other children describe their own places; in stacks of hay bales, on a sand dune, or in a canyon.

Peter Parnall’s illustrations are airy and expansive, they flow through the page like leaves on the wind. They don’t attempt to recreate the natural scenes, rather they capture an essence.

The moral of the story is a complex one, and it is no wonder to me why this book is out of print today. The idea of a young woman stumbling upon a presumably homeless man’s tree house then dreamily waiting for his return is not one that would sit well with many parents. What I was reminded of by this book were my own secret places I went to as a young woman of 12 or 13. There was a nature trail not too far from my home that I loved to visit, it was a beautiful wooded area next to a river that no one else would ever visit. I knew I was safe there. I told my mom where I ventured off to once or twice, but she always told me not to go. I went anyway. She had never been there and I told myself that if she were just to spend some time at the spot, she would probably agree with me that it was a fine place to spend one’s afternoon. Now I look back on that place and the many other places I escaped to as a young person with gratitude. I feel endlessly fortunate that I had the opportunity to experience freedom and independence as a child. It imprinted on me a sense of self sufficiency and trust in not only myself, but the world around me. I knew then that I would rather spend a day in the forest than in my front yard in fear of some unseen stranger. This is the underlying theme of Your Own Best Secret Place, that those places in the world away from your home that you make your own are shared with others, in order to find those places you have to let go of some fear.

As a mother I may not be able to follow the wisdom and trust I had when I was younger, but I may be able to give my child independence and freedom to roam.

Do you have your own place outdoors that you share with the world, but is all your own? I know need to find one again what about you?


Playlist Scratchboard for today


Good morning! Hope your morning is as beautiful as it is down here. If not and you have the case of the Monday’s and need a lift here is a pick me up podcast for your listening pleasure! It is an mp3 just over 20 minutes and perfect for getting pumped for Monday!

Music Monday Podcast for May!


via Sabrina Tibourtine Collage on Etsy


In no particular order, here are 10 of the more interesting things I’ve found on the Wide World Web this week!

The Dude’s Sweater is up for auction this weekend! Via When You Awake

Great idea! I just wish we could do this for every song… ever! Don’t you?

Saw a collection of Type-Based pillows on Apartment Therapy. The headliner was perfect for a Scrabble fiend such as I.

Magnetic Vertical Garden Startup!

The Innermost House is a small, beautiful house that is aiming to make a sacred space out of her home. She talked more about this week at Tiny House Blog.

Isn’t it amazing to see the ingenuity that occurs when  don’t throw something out? I never knew you could repair a mug with staples!

Mike Rowe Testifies!

I love this idea for a toddler game!

Make fast work of your magazine doodling.

Adorable young songstress!


Sushi doesn’t have to be a decadent, once in a while meal. Basic rolls are easy enough to make to become part of a regular meal rotation. The versatility of sushi means it can be adapted to varying budgets and tastes (no raw fish necessary!) While these may not always be authentic Japanese rolls, they are still nourishing and fun to make.

Once you have the base ingredients, nori (the wrapper) rice and vinegar, you can whip up sushi with a wide variety of fillings. The only other tool that is necessary is a bamboo rolling mat. I also like to keep around wasabi powder, soy sauce and ginger but you could live without them if you had to.

Sushi lends itself well to no-cook ingredients like fresh vegetables or creamy fillings like spicy tuna, making it perfect for the hot summer days ahead. For me, the trick to getting creative with sushi is to try to think of it like a modern tea sandwich, then the possibilities are endless.

This week I made some tasty rolls with carrots, garden picked dill and cream cheese. I had some imitation crab aka “fish protein” (Soylent Green anyone?) on hand so I put that in there as well. It was my first foray into using herbs in sushi and it was delicious!


My toddler loves rice, so she loves sushi!


Some notes on Rice:

When I finally learned how to cook rice without it sticking to the bottom of the pan it was “a  moment of zen”. It is quite simple: stir occasionally till it comes to a boil, then turn it off, cover and let it sit till done.

Sushi rice calls for a 1 ½ cup of water to one cup rice, rather than double the water to rice. This is what makes it sticky.

Vinegar is essential to a balanced flavor. Rice vinegar is really mellow, but white vinegar is a fine substitute. When I put together this roll I was low on white vinegar so I mixed it with fresh lemon juice and really liked the results. Adding salt and sugar helps balance out the vinegar and the entire result is quite tasty.

When making your rolls rinse your hands with water before applying the rice, this helps to keep the rice from sticking to your hands.

Accoutrements (Not needed if you don’t have them. But nice to have)

Ginger is considered a palate cleanser between rolls, but is also just tasty. I don’t buy pickled ginger instead I follow the How to Cook Everything recipe for “Quick Pickled Ginger” Which is thinly sliced ginger soaked in sugar, salt and rice vinegar (or white if that’s what you have) for 30 minute to 1 hour.

I prefer making my own wasabi paste with wasabi powder. It is simple and I think it tastes better than the tubed stuff.

Soy Sauce may seem essential but it doesn’t have to be if you don’t have it!

Sushi, both the making and eating of it is largely about the process and ritual behind it, embrace this to make your dinner even more special. This is good advice for any meal.

Any more ideas for sushi from your neck of the woods?

Read more:

Sushi making with kids:

Instead of spicy tuna try this variant:

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