Friday, August 26, 2011

This Moment 8.26.11

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (From Soule this tradition so I am striving to do this as well...I need to take more time to savor and it will be such a treat to look back and remember these moments next summer)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just Cupcakes=Just Delicious

While our nephew was visiting this summer we made a special baked goods field trip to Just Cupcakes in Virginia Beach. I really wasn't expecting much because I have previously purchased cupcakes at other cupcakeries and been underwhelmed. If I am paying a premium price per cupcake, I expect the baked goods to live up to my expectations and take me to baked goods nirvana.
Just Cupcakes was a cute little shop, but I was more impressed with their product. Oh. My. Goodness. I could have eaten this entire box of cupcakes all by myself. They were that good. Some of the flavors we tried: happy birthday, frankly scarlett, Chocolate peanut butter, Oreo. This cupcake shop makes me want to become a better cupcake baker. Love the cute cupcake designs in the Hello Cupcake books, but for me, it is all about the flavors. I am more interested in mastering awesome flavors in my baked goods. Have you tried any cupcakeries or come across a favorite flavor?

p.s. I am in no way being compensated for this glowing review. I really just loved their cupcakes. If you are local and want to try them yourself, check out their website.

Monday, August 15, 2011

the rat race and the search for simplicity

I've been thinking a lot about the endless work, work, work cycle our culture celebrates lately as I struggle to find balance and time for the things I love: my husband, my beautiful baby girl, my family, long naps, and my endless craft adventures. I recently finished a great non-fiction book by Wanda Urbanski (she hosted a show called "Simple Living" on PBS for many years) called "The Heart of Simple Living: 7 Paths to a Better Life."  
The Heart of Simple Living: 7 Paths to a Better Life

Her book cited some other interesting titles on the subject of slow living and the search for a new simplicity. I found one of them at the library. It is called "Affluenza: the all-consuming epidemic". I love this quote from the book: "In Taylor's new dream, the word simplicity means far more than cutting back on consumption. It means cutting back on unwanted thoughts, waste, and stress-- scrapping the artificial and superficial in favor of the authentic. It's not just simplicity of stuff, but also simplicity of purpose, and clarity of mind. It's about being contented and connected, rather than confused."

The Taylor cited in the book used to work at the Center for the New American Dream. They have a great website you should check out if this topic interests you. What is your version of the "American Dream"? I don't dream of driving a giant SUV (hello giant gas bill) and living in a McMansion, but I also don't dream of living completely off the grid. My ideal life falls somewhere in the middle of these extremes. I want my life to be filled with purpose, abundant joy, love, peace, crafts, long naps, and walks on the beach...doesn't that just sound lovely?     

Friday, August 12, 2011

this moment

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eating my vegetables...or at least trying

Money talks, dessert sings. -anonymous
Let my words, like vegetables, be tender and sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them. -anonymous
Both quotes from the book The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper

Aren't these quotes great?!! They came out of this great cookbook from a fantastic show, The Splendid Table. My husband and I decided to put our money where our mouths are and support local agriculture and small business this summer by joining one of our local CSAs. (Community Supported Agriculture). We pick up the week's offerings on Friday and try to consume all our fruits and veggies over the weekend and the following week. The fruit is easy to savor. I am a fruit junkie and so is my little bird. Is there anything better than delicious peaches, watermelon, and blueberries on hot summer days? Not in my book.

Veggies are another story. I am not a big greens eater, but as I age and mature(I hope), I have realized that I should try and expand my food horizons a bit and eat a little healthier. We have gotten some expected vegetables, like butter beans, and some other more adventurous offerings like Japanese eggplants and patty pan squash.

It has been a good experience thus far. Easier for me to say because my husband does all the cooking and I do all the taste testing and dessert baking. I will try and post some more shots of our CSA bounty later in the season. On a random side note, I have also been attempting to grow my own tomatoes and herbs on our fire escape, but that is for another blog day and another blog time. Have any of you joined a CSA or made weekly trips to the farmer's market part of your routine? I would love to hear about your foodventures!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reluctant to entertain? Me too...

Reluctant Entertainer, The: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious HospitalityI read a great book a couple months ago called The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin . It encourages women to embrace entertaining as a way of life. She discusses her transformation from reluctant to seasoned entertainer. The book has great anecdotes and recipes to try. She included this quote by Chuck Swindoll from his book Dropping Your Guard which really spoke to me.
"It is only when I share life's experiences with others that I can enjoy them to the greatest advantage. You see, having a relationship calls for being in fellowship with others, and that cannot be done very easily at arm's length. It implies getting in touch, feeling the hurts, being an instrument of encouragement and healing. Fences must come down. Masks need to come off. Welcome signs need to be hung outside the door. Keys to the locks in our lives must be duplicated and distributed. Bridges need to be lowered to allow others to cross the moat and then share our joys and our sorrows."

Are you in relationship with others? Are you connected or holding others at a safe distance? Do you share your ups and downs honestly and openly? Do you talk to your friends or just read their Facebook feeds? I was convicted by this quote and have been making a concerted effort to be in closer relationship this year with loved ones. Our modern lives are so hurried and harried that this proves to be an ongoing challenge for me. Read this book if you get the opportunity and tell me your thoughts.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Boy Crafting

Okay, my sweet husband willingly goes into craft stores and listens to me discuss my never ending projects, but that is where his craft love ends. He happily supports my craft habit, but has no interest in joining me. It is refreshing that every summer I have a craft buddy, at least for one short week. One of his nephews comes to visit for a week and I have selected projects for us to do so we are not video game/tv zombies every night he visits. Two summers ago I dragged the crew into the craft store and G selected some blue yarn for a hat/scarf I knitted for him. Last summer we painted these canvas prints. G's was the coolest...he did some serious 10 year old speed painting and I loved the finished project. The wash he put on it looks great. My robot turned out pretty cool. My husband did not appreciate the cheap brushes and limited paints included in the packs, but he put up with us and painted a pirate as well.

This summer I picked some wooden creatures to paint. I am always anxious that G will think my craft projects are dumb(he is an eleven year old boy after all)...but he really loved the snake I selected. Once again the pack included cheap brushes and limited paint choices, but I love his finished product.

Have you been up to any crafting projects with cool kids this summer?
Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time