life is beautiful

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Delicious Coconut Pancakes

My sweet husband took us out on Christmas Eve morning as a surprise, (Good morning, would you like to out for breakfast? - What a sweetheart!) and we had the most delicious coconut pancakes at a local place called "Joy's Bakery." 
Since then, I've tried several times to replicate Joy's pancakes, and most of the recipes have been pretty complex (and calorie-heavy, involving coconut milk, etc.).  But the pancakes I was after weren't Thai specialties, they were just good old "American Coconut Pancakes" served with whipped cream (not a pineapple reduction), so on Saturday night I decided to try something simpler! 
I took boxed buttermilk pancake mix and made regular pancakes. Then, just before I flipped them, I sprinkled some sweetened shredded coconut (the kind you buy in the baking aisle at the grocery store) on the wet side and finished cooking as usual. And..... Voilà!

Our new favorite pancakes. Mmmmm!

(Excuse the fall décor in the background... I "stored" it on that door before Christmas and there it remaineth still...)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday is Special

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD, 
"plans for welfare and not for evil, 
to give you a future and a hope."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Out my window

So, Spring is quietly happening here in the valley.  I feel like the world around me is waking up gently, stretching slowly as its eyes blink open after the long rainy season.  We have some early risers - the demure little crocuses that are peeking out again from everywhere that I planted them 2 years ago.
Hello, little friends!
There are Muscari in my western flower bed, eagerly jumping out of bed.  I know they'll be some purple and some snowy white out there in just a few weeks, and mixed into those little green sprouts are the irises which will tower tall but now are just stubby fingers uncurling from sleeping fists.
In my Eastern beds daffodils are about to pop, and the irises are even taller than the others.  That side of the house is blessed with the most sun since it has no big trees to protect it.
Out my front window I can see tulips lavishly laying out their greenery.  As I cleaned out the beds after we moved here, I collected all the tulip bulbs I encountered and tumbled them together into the front, so they make a nice riot of color by the front entrance. Here is the little man with some of last year's showing....
Tulips are a big deal around here, and my beds don't really do them justice, but we don't have to go far at all to see them in all their splendor!
There is a large (too large I've been told, and I did prune it, but I think it is so glorious that I hated to cut it back too far! Maybe I'll be braver this year?) wedding wreath bush (Spirea) by my front window, and while in a few weeks it will be covered in tiny, fragrant blooms, right now it is speckled with tiny green buds of promised glory to come. I love it just like this.  Don't you?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blueberry Goodness

I had an itch to bake something fruity and poundcakey, so I made this, and it was so beautifully delicious my husband and I actually ate it for supper. 
It was that good
Plus, we're counting calories, and I say, if dessert is calling you but won't fit into your calorie budget, do whatever it takes to make it happen. Ha!

It was so good that I forgot to take an after picture.... Guess you'll just have to make one yourself to see how pretty it turned out. ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hurry Up?

from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (excerpts from pp.66-71)

"The time, always the time, I'm an amateur trying to beat time.  The six kids rouse. We race.... The breakfast... and hurry. The books, the binders ... and hurry!  In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear.  I have done it.  I do it still. Hands of the clock whip hard. So I push hard and I bark hard and I fall hard and when their wide eyes brim sadness and their chins tremble weak, I am weary and I am the thin clear skin, reflecting their fatigue, about to burst, my eyes glistening their same sheer pain.
The hurry makes us hurt.
Hurry always empties a soul.
In the bleep and blink of the twenty-first century, with its "live in the moment" buzz phrase that none of the whirl-weary seem to know how to do, who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync?
Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: when I fully enter... into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of all my attention.... And when I'm always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter....
And blind eyes see: It's this sleuthing for the glory that slows life gloriously.... Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention....
This is where God is.
In the present. I AM - His very name.... God Himself is timeless. It's not the gifts that fulfill, but the holiness of the space.  The God in it.... This I need to consecrate: time....
I am a hunter of beauty and I move slow and I keep the eyes wide, every fiber of every muscle sensing all wonder and this is the thrill of the hunt and I could be an expert on the life full, the beauty... that lurks in every moment."

I'm planning a full review of this book soon, but I couldn't wait to share this. What do you have time for today?  My heart ached when I read the description of the author's chronic rushing of her little ones, because I'm guilty of it too.  I'm so thankful to read her words and see how God lead her to treasure ordinary moments and fill her time with gratefulness instead of frantic activity.  More thoughts coming on this, for sure!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fresh Dirt

Yesterday, my sweet son "helped" me clean out the winter clutter from our raised beds.  He is the sweetest little garden buddy!  He was distracted with a ladybug on one of his little diggers just as I finished up the biggest bed and raked it oh-so-smooth, (the mushroom compost has made for some really dark, rich soil!) and when he saw the finished bed he exclaimed over and over, "Ohhhh, Mom, it's sooo beautiful!"

"Mama, it's really beautiful!" 

"It's just so beautiful!!"

Do you have any idea how that warmed my heart?!  My little gardener in the making, loving the orderliness of a freshly raked plot - such a great joy to my soul.

Let me just say, that was a beautiful moment!

(I sadly didn't have the camera handy yesterday, but here he is by the garden two summers ago.  What a sweetheart!)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday is Special

Because of the Lord’s great love 
we are not consumed 
for His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is Your faithfulness. 

Lamentations 3:22-23

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Super-Yummy Creamy Coffee Punch

Look what I made today:

The. Best. Punch. Ever.  (If you like coffee, which I do.  A lot.... ;)

1 gallon chilled brewed coffee
1 Tbsp maple flavoring
2-1/2 cups Hershey's syrup
1 gallon vanilla ice cream

Combine first three ingredients and mix well. Pour this delightful concoction into a punch bowl and scoop 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream on top. Serve to happy party-goers.  (Add more ice cream scoops to the bowl as your party or shower progresses, as the first ice cream melts into the punch.)  

This makes a great bridal shower punch or baby shower punch, or a delicious beverage for any party!  Just be prepared to write our the recipe for dozens of people because they will beg you for it. ;)

If you have enough time, dust entire bowl (or better yet, each cup) with nutmeg or cocoa powder, and top servings with a chocolate straw or chocolate shavings.... there are tons of options! :)

I forgot to take a photo of my punch today, but this is basically what it looks like (image source and alternate recipe here):

Friday, March 4, 2011

Love in Bloom...

If you're having or helping with a wedding this spring, check out these glorious favors from Martha Stewart!

Using things I had on hand (cellophane envelopes left over from our wedding... :), wildflower mix that was tucked into a sweet birthday present, cream cardstock, a standard-sized stapler (though I craved a teeny one!) and my trusty printer, I made these adorable favors following Martha's idea for a friend's shower tomorrow. 

Couldn't you just eat those colors right up? :)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A New Dawn

Today I started a new era in my life - one I thought would NEVER come (for MANY reasons).  First of all, the story starts with my precious friend Sara Mincy.  She is a true artist, and her happy Kindergarten Chic decor-style captivates my imagination.  I'd love to be as brave as she is!!! (I really do look at it as true bravery, as you would see if you visited my bland-paletted, neutral home....)
Sara paints as I can only dream to paint.  Just look at some of her work!  It's great!  I feel so privileges to have two original Sara Mincy pieces in my home, and you should consider commissioning something with her, too.  The pieces are instant conversation pieces for company that visits, and add so much to the "feel" of my home!
Well, this week I was browsing around Prudent Baby and their post on apple pie with cheese made me remember a delightful little poem that a friend of mine used to tell me.... and I had a small canvas that I bought to do this project with (although we are still in the shape cutting out stage on that, so the canvas was still wrapped up...) so I whipped a few things out and started PAINTING.  Yes, me. I painted something artsy!  I did it! It's more of a miracle that you might be able to understand!
I started with a foundation in this WONDERFUL "Happy Camper" shade of flat paint from Behr - I had a little sample of it from an impulse purchase at Home Depot, and now I know that the color is really as GrrrrrREAT as I thought and I'm even more excited about painting walls this color one day (or gingerbread on my front porch?), but I digress.
So here is the foundation (three coats on the white canvas, and yes, I was painting on my washer, because my laundry room has the best natural light in the house during the little ones' naptime):

And then, since last week I happened to find some perfect and darling artwork on my newest blog discovery, CakeSpy (more on this later! :) and since I'm just hanging this in my own little kitchen and it's the first thing I've even desired to draw since about 5th grade, I tried to recreate their sweet loving pie + cheese with a pencil and my own little hand, and after about fifty tries, I DREW THIS and bravely (yes, bravely) re-drew it in ink on my fresh, happy-camper-green canvas, like this:

AND IT TURNED OUT!!!!  I still can't believe it. 

Is it perfect?
Do I like it anyway?
yep. And if I can't get over the imperfectly spaced letters, I'll just paint over it and try again.
(Who am I?)

Side note (just so you know.): Some people get sweaty and nervous when they speak or sing in public or parallel park or stand on a high ledge, but none of those things really bother me. HOWEVER. What does make me sweaty and short of breath and anxious beyond belief, is crafts.  Especially things like frosting cupcakes or (much worse) a whole cake, or even simple tasks like wrapping presents. But drawing?!?!?!  That creates dry-mouthed, heart-pounding inner panic unlike anything else in my life.  (Except spiders and oh, say, losing my three-year-old in the neighborhood for 10 minutes, but those fall into totally different categories, so they don't count in this context.) 

I still don't know what came over me, but I'm so happy it happened, and hope this is the start of something new....  I am blessed with a super-artistic mom and brother, and now as I'm trying to help my little ones be artists and appreciate the beauty around us in God's creation and in the ability He's given to human beings to create too, I've often wished to draw, even to just representationally copy something.  Well, here we are

I wrote my little poem on, and so now the next step is to paint the little cutie-pie and cutie-cheese.... So I'll be practicing that on my fifty or so practice-drawings and will show you the finished project, one day.... Let's just take it one step at a time. :)