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:
http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/children/summer-project-make-vegetable-maki-sushi-with-kids-087091

Instead of spicy tuna try this variant:
http://www.food.com/recipe/spicy-tofu-sushi-186808

Raphael Saadiq’s Stone Rollin’ is one of the first new albums I’ve been excited about for a long time. Dare I say it is one of the only Grammy Award winning artists I’ve been this excited about ever in my adult life. I must admit that this album deserves a writer better versed in Raphael Saadiq’s previous work and unfortunately that is not me. However, as a music-lover I can say that it is absolutely clear that the seamless weaving of psych, soul, 60’s rock n’ roll and blues was made by a seasoned and dexterous artist with a solid catalog.
 

If the cross section of listeners on the cover is any indicator of whom this album is trying to reach,  the hipster analysts and  fun loving ladies, it should be successful, as indeed this album is both palatable and interesting. It is rich enough for a music snob and accessible enough for anyone that likes music. It is absolutely solid, through and through,  the second side is more of a smooth finish than a continuum of the explosive first half, and though it is my personal preference to have an epic ending thrown in the mix, all is forgiven in its overall flawlessness.

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Our home is uncommonly tiny, just over 1000 square feet. It is a prefab, probably by Clayton or a similar manufacturer. It is not a mobile home, the distinction with prefab is that it was partially built in a warehouse, then transported to site and put together here, but it is not intended to be moved off site. There are benefits to the prefabricated process, for instance the innards of the house weren’t exposed to the elements, and could possibly have an extended life because of this and the overall building process is far more efficient.   However, the long and the short of it is, that this home was built for affordability, efficiency and utility, not so much for aesthetics or beauty. The affordability factor has its benefits for a family such as ours that is just starting out, and living on one modest income.

When we decorated our home we started from scratch. No couch, no kitchen table, only some baby furniture, our bed and a bookcase. With such limited space it was imperative that we took a mindful approach.

So each week for the duration of Thinking of Home’s startup period I want to give you a tour of our home, room by room. If there is a room I want to do work in, maybe I’ll talk a bit about what and why I want to change.

This week we will start where most guests enter, The Dining Room. (Disclaimer: I like the idea of the photos of our home not being too staged, so forgive the mess… or enjoy it)

In a small space I think it is important to think cozy, not small. Books, upholstered chairs and benches where you share with your friends and relatives contribute to this mindset.

Ryan and I decided the colors together, I wanted a warm color and Ryan loves the Denver Broncos so we settled on orange. The color is Sherwin Williams Kumquat in a semi-gloss. Having such a warm, refreshing color around can really cheer us up during the day.

We went literal with the decorations, and chose the primary motif to be reprints of Florida orange crates labels. When I was a girl, I loved the orange crate exhibit at the Florida Natural History museum in Tallahassee and in the midst of deciding how to decorate a tiny orange dining room, the memory of these crates hit me and we went with it.

I knew that rooms would have to have multiple functions in our home and many of these functions were built into the house (for instance, one bathroom is also a laundry room, which I think is a pretty smart feature). With a dining room this small, having an additional function aside from eating may seem daunting, however I knew I wanted some bench seating and a bookcase, so the additional function would be to have the room double as a sort of study or mini-library. I have a small collection of nature, home, gardening and cookbooks so I thought this would be a great place to put them. I love having my books organized by subject, so this is perfect.

All of the furniture is from Ikea. Sadly the Ingolf bench has been discontinued. It is my belief that kitchen benches are essential for small dining rooms such as ours. The upholstered chairs also add to the cozy feeling. If I were feeling really feisty I may get around to adding some pillows to the bench too.

Our home is missing a landing strip and I’d like one below or to replace the bird tray area on the left. What do you think?

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This Mother’s Day the whole family slept in, and I got the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for, a beautiful sunny morning to myself, sitting at a table with some fresh flowers and a pen in hand. I opened up our backdoor and listened to the birds, trying to discern who was who by call alone. (One of my great loves are birds, though I wouldn’t call myself a birder, and I only have minor “Put a Bird on It” tendencies.)

The best thing about this Mother’s Day morning was just being there, my family safely in bed and a bit of busyness to help jump start my thoughts. The few tasks there were to do: a load of diapers needing washing, a dishwasher to unload, boiling water for coffee, were livened up by being the first things of the day. It was pleasant, and allowing myself to enjoy these things, rather than seeing them as a chore, was a gift I can hopefully continue to receive with each morning. The only way to do this is by opening myself up to experiencing it for the moment and the first part of the day is one of the best times to begin this practice. When everything is fresh and the world seems new.

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