Showing posts with label Musings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Musings. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Vintage Signs From the Central Coast

Has it really been a month since I last posted here?
There is a part of me that would like to be really bummed out about that, but I am not going to listen to her.
Instead, I am going to tell you that since I last posted school started.
And let me tell you, home schooling this year is kicking me in the booty.
This is the first year where I am schooling both boys.
William was in kinder last year, and I am of the old fashioned mindset about kindergarten: it should not be stressful.  
It should be fun.
It was.
And therefore, it was a relatively easy year for both of us.
But this year there is a bit more work to be done.
Both boys are young enough to need a fair amount, or a lot, of hands on help still.
So, I am quite busy being a full time teacher to the both of them.

And then there is Lilly.
On the first day of school, she sat at the table with us as she always does, drawing picture after picture.
I told the boys it was time for math.
"Where's my math?" she asked.
Sheesh.
So basically I am scrambling because I did not anticipate that my 4 year old would want to be doing a full curriculum with her brothers.
She wants to write, to read, to spell, to do math--the works.
Girls.
They really are different, aren't they?

And then there is David.
I wrote a bit about him here.
Trying to teach school to the big kids, keep up with the house, the yard, cooking, and the myriad of other things on my to do list, all with my busy, busy, 1 year old running around, is almost more than I can handle.
And some days, it is more than I can handle.
Hence the lack of blog posts.
Blogging has fallen to the bottom of the list of things I get to do after I get everything else done.
Because I never do get everything else done, I don't blog.

Anyway, like I said, I am not going to be depressed about this, even though I do miss blogging fiercely.
If you are not an avid blogger you probably don't fully get this.
"It's. A. Blog," you're thinking.  "What's the big deal?"
I know.
But writing and picture taking mean a lot to me.
My mind, my heart and yes, even my soul, are all filled when I am in this space.
So letting it go has been hard.
I feel like I have gone through the 5 stages of grief with this process.
It sounds lame.
But it's true!

It's been a tough road, but I think I have finally made it to the acceptance stage.
I am willing to take what I can get and be thankful for it.
That might mean blogging once a month.
Or twice.
Or maybe even less.
I keep reminding myself that this is a season.
Right now it feels like the end of winter.
I am slogging through the mud looking for the first flowers of spring.
But soon enough, things will change again, and the mud won't be quite so deep.
At least I've got cute, pink rain boots to see me through.

I've also got some more vintage signs to share with you.
We spent last week up north on the Central Coast.
It was utterly beautiful.
And while vacationing with 4 young kids is not relaxing, it was fun.
We had amazing food, soaked up the abundant natural beauty, and went on plenty of fabulous hikes.
We also kept our eyes peeled for vintage signs.
Here are 3 of my favorites.

This one is in downtown San Luis Obispo.  
I've loved it since Aaron and I first visited  SLO, 12 years ago.


This one is from a tiny, little town between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
We drove through it on that same trip to San Luis, 12 years ago, but had forgotten about it.
We drove through again this year, on our way back home.
Davy was sleeping, and the kids were anxious to get to In and Out for dinner, so we didn't get out and walk around, but I did snap this one shot.
I like the looks of this town.
And I like this sign.
And then there is this sign.
Oh how I do love it and all its kitchyness!
Isn't it adorable?
We saw it as we were getting on the on ramp for the 101 in San Luis.
"That's a cool sign!" I yelled.
Aaron got off at the next exit and backtracked to find it for me.
I love that man.


Here's hoping I get back here before another month slips by.
And if you're sticking around through this season I'm in, I do so appreciate it.
Thanks for visiting.
And do come again!
Love from,
Greta

Friday, August 10, 2012

What's Your Favorite Summer Time Meal?

It's August already.
People are starting to talk of fall.
Beach chairs, sand toys, and blowup pools have been relegated to the back corners of every store.
And there is nary a package of water balloons to be found.
I know.
I've looked.
Meanwhile, school supplies are front and center.
But I'm not ready for summer to be over.
Are you?
Have you had enough summer time meals?
You know: picnics at the beach, or on a blanket at the park, in the back yard, barbecuing with friends, burgers, corn on the cob, and sweet, juicy watermelon.
All of those are wonderful summertime meals.
But this one might be my most favorite of all.
It's pretty simple, and takes me back to the summer Aaron and I trained through Italy.
I'm sure that's one of the reasons I'm so fond of it.
We ate lots of riffs on this meal.
Cheese, bread, good olive oil, cured meat, chilled, white wine, and perfectly ripe, deliciously fresh, produce.
If it's a picnic, you can prepare everything right there, and it's lovely.
If you're at home, you can take some extra steps and grill some of the vegetables, and the bread too.
Then it's even lovelier.
It's the kind of meal that's best eaten outside, under a shady tree.
And with enough time to linger at the table afterward.
The Italians know how to do that over lunch.
We're much more likely to jump up and clean up, or dart off to the next event.
Americans have a hard time sitting still.
Or is it just me?

We snuck in a long(ish) lunch last Sunday when were home with sick kids.
It wasn't nearly as long as a proper Italian lunch would have been, but we did the best we could.
I had ripe tomatoes from my mom's garden, fresh mozzarella, and just picked squash, ready for grilling.
I picked some basil from my herb garden, grilled the bread, and we sat down in the backyard at the turquoise picnic table.
If I closed my eyes and ignored the kids, I could pretend we were back at Francis Lodge in Sienna.
Ahhh, Tuscany.

I've got Italy on the brain right now.
I'm hosting my book club's next meeting this weekend at my house.
We read A Room With a View, and we're inspired by Italy, just like Lucy Honeychurch is in the book.
(Have you read A Room With a View?  It is such a great book.  You really should try it.)
So our party will be an Italian themed meal, spread out on a big table, under our sprawling avocado tree in my backyard.
There will be candles everywhere and lanterns hanging in the tree.
It will be very romantic.
I can't wait.

So another week goes by with next to no blogging.
I'm a little distracted.
Case in point, it's midnight and I'm up making things for the party.
What can I say?
It's how I get things done--late--in every sense of the word.
I can't wait to share pictures with you.
And to tell you about our trip to Palm Springs.
And the amazing cherry tomato pasta sauce I just made.
And so much more.
Why can't there be about 6 more hours in my day?

Hope your weekend finds you enjoying some favorite summer time moments, and meals!
Love from,
Greta 




Monday, July 16, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Scones and Why I Love to Bake

I bake something at least once a week.
Often I bake 2 or 3 things a week.
I love baking.
I love recipes so familiar that I know the measurements by heart.
I love letting my butter soften in the sun on the kitchen windowsill.
I love the way flour feels in my hand when I sprinkle it on the board, before I roll out my dough.
I love the smell that fills my house when things are baking in the oven, and the way the kids come into the kitchen to sniff and say, "it smells sooooo good in here."
I love giving warm baked goods to a friend or neighbor, to someone having a bad day, or just to say, " I love you."
I have always wished I could draw or paint.
To be able to draw a picture for someone seems to me to be one of the most amazing talents to possess.
I can't draw you a picture, but I can bake you a pretty mean loaf of banana bread.
Baking is one of the ways I create.
Baking fills my soul, not just my belly.
Several weeks ago James and I made scones for his book club.
We made one batch with dried strawberries, and then I decided to mix things up a bit.
Inspired by the fresh strawberries sitting on the counter, I chopped some up and added them to the dough.
If you've never tried scones with fresh fruit, I cannot urge you strongly enough to try them.
All too often scones are boring at best, dry and tasteless at worst.
Not so the fresh strawberry scones.
They were so very, very good.
The recipe I used was for cream scones, and the addition of the strawberries made the dough quite wet.
But I rolled it out anyway, cut out the scones, and they baked up beautifully.
They were moist and far superior to the scones with the dried strawberries.
They even met approval from the 8 year olds in the book club.
And you know the younger set can sometimes be hard to please if the treat offered them is not covered in neon frosting or tons of sprinkles.
James said to me when we first tasted them, "Mom, I love you scones."
And I love you, James.  You just scored a million good son points.
But, as good as they turned out, I still wanted to play around with the recipe a bit.
I thought these scones could benefit from some whole wheat flour.
Sometimes I find all white flour to be a little boring, and I like the complexity of taste that comes from the whole wheat flour.


Last week the temperature went up around here and it was not baking weather.
I didn't feel like turning on the oven.
But one morning I got up early, and it was still cool.
Aaron went for a run and the boys rode along on their bikes.
The house was quiet and I thought, "I'm going to make scones."
Scones and coffee sounded like a perfect breakfast.
Tucking a warm scone in my husband's lunchbox sounded pretty great, too.
Remember, baking is one of the ways I say "I love you."
(and I do love you, honey.)
I used the whole wheat flour this time.
I also cut the strawberries in a smaller dice, and used less of them.
As a result, the dough was a lot less wet.
There were a lot of loose, dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl.
But I was able to incorporate them into the dough when I patted it together with my hands on a floured cutting board.
For cutting out the scones, I used the top from a canning jar.
And I patted together the leftover scraps to use up every last bit of the dough.
Using whole wheat flour made the scones much darker.
Here are the all white flour scones.
And the whole wheat ones.
Before baking, I brush the tops with a bit of cream and then sprinkle with a bit of sanding sugar.
The scones came out of the oven tender, and moist, and with that nutty undertone that I love.
However, no surprise,  I still want to play around with the recipe.
I might try out some different flours--maybe oat flour or almond flour.
I decided I like the strawberries in a bigger dice, and also like using more of them.
I am going to keep working on this recipe until I get it perfect.
As much as I like baking with the kids and making them a part of the process, mixing up a batch of scones in the quiet, cool morning was such a perfect way to start my day.
Baking goes much faster when I do it by myself.
It's also very relaxing, and not nearly as messy.
I won't give up on baking with the kiddos, but I think this early morning baking might start happening more often.
Fresh scones with my coffee for breakfast is quite a treat.
Yum.
I'll let you know how adding the other flours turn out, and also if I try them with another kind of fruit.
I think a stone fruit like peaches or nectarines would be really delicious.
Until then, here's the recipe as I've used it thus far.
Enjoy!
Love from,
Greta


Fresh Strawberry Scones (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen's Cream Scone recipe.)
1 and a 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup of heavy cream
1 and a 1/2 cups fresh strawberries cut in a medium dice


Heat oven to 425
Put all dry ingredients into large bowl or food processor
Whisk or pulse ingredients to mix, 6 times
Scatter butter over dry ingredients in food processor, and pulse about 12 times until flour mixture resembles large, coarse crumbs
If using pastry cutter, cut the butter in about 12 times until flour mixture resembles coarse, large crumbs
Transfer flour mixture from food processor to a large bowl
Add berries
Add heavy cream
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently mix the dough for 30 seconds until dough comes together slightly
Turn out onto floured counter top or cutting board.
Gently pat/knead the dough together, being sure to incorporate all the loose, dry crumbs from the bottom of the bowl
Cut scones out in circles that are about 3/4 inch thick and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar
Bake for 12-15 minutes
Cool on a wire rack


And if you want to read about the Kids' Book Club where we first ate these scones, go to Lilly and The Brothers.
They are especially good to eat with clotted cream and jam.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summertime Breakfast

William asks for pancakes and bacon, to be eaten on the patio, almost every Saturday.
Lately the mornings are too cool and overcast with our typical June gloom to eat on the patio.
And often we're just too busy for making pancakes and bacon.
But today was the first time in a long string of Saturdays that we weren't hosting a party, heading out somewhere, or had a big project to conquer.
And the sun was out!
So breakfast on the patio it was.
Oh how I love a sunny, summer, Saturday!
To make things even better, we had our first peaches from the bare root tree we planted last year.
And I put some of our black berries in the pancakes.
I think they were the best pancakes I have ever had.
And, I'm feeling better.
Not 100%, but about 80%, and that feels about a million times better than I have for the past 3 days.
No more body aches and fevers.
Instead a mommy who feels like getting up and making breakfast.
Breakfast together at the turquoise picnic table?
It's one of my most favorite things.
Ever.
Good idea, William.
You are a boy after my own heart.


Now I have the rest of the day to enjoy.
I'm going to try to resist the urge to get things done since I am feeling better.
Instead, I'm going to play chess with William while the baby naps and the rest of the family is out looking at a vintage fridge.
Yes, that's right.
A vintage fridge.
I'll keep you posted.
Happy Summer Saturday!
Love from,
Greta

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Photo a Day -- Week 1 (and some musings on creativity)

I'm on a roll here.
I guess it's feast or famine.
Actually, what I find happens to me and my creativity is that it ebbs and flows according to my output.
When I am in a creative groove, finding the time to take and edit pictures and write posts, then there is an actual need to do more.
I feel like I can't get enough.
Ideas spin round in my head all day long.
I long to write.
I actually enjoy editing photos.
But then, life gets busy and I fall out of my groove.
For the first few days, my fingers still itch to type.
I am still trying to find a minute in my day in which to write.
Then another day passes in which I can't get a moment to write or work on my photos.
Then another.
Until enough pass that I feel my creative juices start to dry up.
It's awful.
My motivation wanes.
So much so that if I suddenly find myself with free time, the last thing I want to do is write.
Eventually I make myself, and then, the floodgates open again.
And I remember how much this feeds my soul.
And I'll do it as much as I can until I get thrown another curve ball and loose my mojo.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
How do you keep your creative juices flowing?
Besides Pinterest.
Because I am the one girl in the entire known universe not addicted to Pinterest.
I mean, it's fun and all, but I just don't have a lot of extra time in my life, and for me Pinterest just seems like a time suck.
I use it for special occasions.
So besides Pinterest, how do you get your creative juices flowing?

These photos are one thing that have really helped me.
Although there have been days when I've been in a slump and I can't come up with a single, creative idea for a photo.
But mostly, these prompts have been encouraging me to think outside my photo box and to be creative.
It's fun!
So after all that, here's my first week for April.

April 1, 2012
Reflection
We have had Aaron's computer set up in the living room since all the kids had influenza.
Fevers up to 104.
Moaning.
Tossing and turning.
And a Davy sicker than I had ever seen him.
It was a bad time.
On the weekend, the kids usually watch some Netflix on the laptop.
They so love their weekend tv fix that they don't care how tiny the screen is!
But when the whole lot of them are sick, then all bets are off.
TV rules go out the window.
And we brought in the big, ol computer to watch heaps of movies on.
I can't believe how dirty it is.
Just  like every other window, mirror, wall, door frame and finger-printable surface in my home.
Kids.



April 2, 2012
Color
Long ago,
when I was a mom to just 2 babies,
I bought 4 Easter buckets.
I was pretty sure we'd have 3 kids,
so I had to be prepared.
I bought 2 blue for the boys, and then a pink and another blue,
for the mystery 3rd child.
How funny that 3 blue and 1 pink are just what I needed.
Although James now prefers the hideous blue camouflage Easter bucket 
someone gave him.
This year he didn't carry his darling bunny rabbit one.
Oh well,  the boy is 8 now.
He might be too old for a bucket as sweet as this one.
No matter.
I'll always remember and love these pink and blue Easter buckets.



April 3, 2012
Mail

We have a mail slot.
It's right in the middle of our front door.
It used to be an ugly brass eye sore in the middle of our ugly green door.
But when Aaron painted the door, he also painted the mail slot.
Because it is all in the details, my friends.



April 4, 2012
Someone who makes me happy.

Blue jays are a dime a dozen.
But this little guy, smaller and infinitely sweeter than the jay, 
is harder to spot.
Bluebird.
Just the name is sweet.
Whenever I see him or his friends, 
I am happy indeed.




April 5, 2012
Tiny
Lilly changes clothes many, many, times in a day.
From dress up to play clothes, to her nicest ones, 
to all sorts of combinations in between,
she's got it going on in the fashion department.
She also likes to accessorize.
She went outside in this getup and climbed the tree.
I think she's the perfect blend of tomboy,
and girly -girl.
I looked at her this day and had a glimpse of the future.
My tiny girl,
but not for long. 



April 6, 2012
Lunch


Roasted squash, roasted mushrooms
and a salad.
This is a nearly perfect lunch.
I love vegetables.
A lot.



April 7, 2012
Inside my wallet

First off, I love this wallet.
It's an Orla Kiely.
And I love Orla Kiely.
LOVE.
But I cannot afford Orla Kiely.
Because and Orla Kiely wallet like this one costs about $100.
Sooo, when I saw this one at Buffalo Exchange,
and discovered it was only $12.00.
I gave a little squeal of joy.
Think I'll ever find one of her purses for such a steal?
I'll keep hoping.



April 8, 2012
Shadows

In the afternoon, the sun shines through the avocado tree in our backyard.
And it makes these lovely shadows on the white wall behind it.
They dance about, every time the wind blows through the leaves.
They look like a filter for your intsagram photos, 
but they're not.
They're the real deal.
I think they're so beautiful.
I never tire of watching them.
I think they're a little bit magical.



I'm pretty tired now.
I've fallen asleep, sitting up, twice now.
And had to erase the nonsense that I wrote.
Seriously, I startle myself awake and look at the things I wrote and they make no sense whatsoever.
It can be funny.
My creativity is waning due to extreme fatigue.
Hoping I can keep this ball rolling.
Love from,
Greta

March Photo a Day--Week 4

What?
It's not March anymore?
April's nearly over?
Oh well.
I'm a bit behind in posting, but still chugging away at  my photo a day project.
Here are the pictures from March's list--week 4.
Enjoy!

March 22, 2012
Kitchen Sink

It's there--just off the side of the photo--my kitchen sink.
I really love this photo because it is a glimpse into my every day mornings:
the knife I use to chop veggies for Aaron's salad,
egg shells, from the soft boiled eggs James and Lilly love to eat,
a cup and a spoon, from the baby food I fed Davy,
cucumber peels from Aaron's salad,
 the 50 cent, IKEA kitchen towels I buy in bulk,
and the spoon I used to stir my coffee.
You know, to anyone else, this photo is just a picture of a mess.
But to me, it is a beautiful picture of my life.
It's the way I take care of my family everyday.
It's a few of my favorite things.
It's a beautiful little mess.


March 23, 2012
Moon

Vintage Golden Books are some of my absolute favorites.
This one is about the sky.
It's pretty great.


March 24, 2012
Animal
This is Lilly's little mouse.
She wears a little red dress,
and she sleeps in a matchbox with a soft mattress,
a fluffy pillow and a warm, knitted coverlet.
I just love her.


March 25, 2012
Breakfast

Our avocados are ripe.
That means avocados on toast for breakfast.
Every morning.
It is the simplest and best breakfast I know.
Avocado season is my favorite.


March 26, 2012
Key

My fist car was a 1964 (and a half), Ford Mustang.
It was turquoise.
It had some problems.
The brakes went out on me twice.
While driving.
My power steering would suddenly go out,
 and I'd pull over quick, pop the hood,
and pour in some power steering fluid.
Then, back on the road.
Oh the things you think are no big deal when you're 19 years old.
But I paid for it myself, 
I was proud of it,
and I loved it.
The time came when I had to sell it.
The coolest key, the one with the galloping mustang, went with the car.
But I kept this spare key.
For the memories.


March 27, 2012
Your Name

Do you let your kids write their names in their books.
You should.
This is my name, written in my 5 year old handwriting,
in one of my childhood books, Mouse Soup.
I get a little grin every time I see it.


March 28, 2012
Trash

My husband spray painted our kitchen trash can.
It's eraser pink.
It's so much better than white.
That man will spray paint anything.
It's one of the many things I love about him.


March 29, 2012
Feet
In all the wide world, 
there are few things quite so sweet
as 
baby feet.
Davy.


March 30, 2012
Toy

Do you remember this toy?
My kids love it just as much as I did.
I really love the art on it.
It reminds me of Switzerland.


March 31, 2012
Where I relax

It seems counterintuitive.
I relax by making a mess in my kitchen.
Mixing up a batch of pancakes for my crew.
But it does relax me.
Maybe it's the knowledge that I am caring for my family.
Maybe it's the act of doing something I love.
Maybe it's the recipes in a cookbook I have loved since childhood.
Maybe it's all of it.


There's an interesting thread in all these pictures: things that I love.
Things from my past, my present, my day to day, memories, food, and the acts that I love to perform.
Simple pleasures that I love.
Wishing you a day full of simple pleasures that you love.
Love from,
Greta

PS.  So those towels from IKEA?  They raised the price to 80 cents.  The word is out.
If you like Lilly's mouse, you can find her, and her brother, here.