This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A round life...

...does not fit in square lunch boxes.  I've really tried.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

But can she make a cherry pie....

Pie.  It all started with one simple word.

Yesterday, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, an old friend (and I don't mean she IS old, just that I have known her since before I was even really ME) posted on Facebook that she was grateful for:  pie.  And I was hungry and my head reeled and my mouth watered.  The day before, at about the same time (the I've-cooked-two-kids-breakfast-and-packed-their-lunches-and-dropped-them-at-school-but-haven't-eaten hour) a blogger I read had mentioned popovers AND posted a picture, which prompted me to run to the kitchen and whip up a batch.  They were good.  I ate them with Stilton and gouda and apricot jam.  But THIS was pie.  It was two days before Thanksgiving so on everybody's mind (and lips) were apple and pumpkin.  But the image lodged in my brain and taste buds was CHERRY.  Oh, those Rainer cherries I had put up in light honey syrup this summer called to me and said, "THIS is why you put us in these jars."  And I resolved to bake a cherry pie, darlin' (or is it charming?) Billy.

I researched some recipes online quickly and consulted The Joy of Cooking.  It seemed that I needed tapioca to thicken the cherry syrup, in a nice clear, unassuming way.  Tapioca.  Not something regularly stocked in my kitchen.  So, I needed to hit the grocery.  But life gets in the way.  I got the tapioca yesterday afternoon, when I took the girls for their Halloween treat from Gran and Poppy (who live 3000 miles away and sent $$) -- they got frozen yogurt.  But then it was time to cook dinner, eat, clean up, bath, bedtime.  No cherry pie.

Today was a new day and I was determined. Yesterday I had considered buying a crust and just filling it.  But that seemed wrong.  Those hand pitted cherries could not go in a store bought crust.   I looked at the go-to recipe for crust for so many people -- Ina Garton's recipe.  But hers uses shortening.  Uh, I just can't.  Part of my "hang up" is straight up nutrition -- trans fats, GMO's, all that... bleh!  But there is also this.  I remember Crisco in my mother's pantry when I was a child.  I remember her pulling it out to fry chicken or such things.  I remember looking into that open container, at that gorgeous snowy white STUFF.  And thinking, "OH MY that looks yummy.  I want to taste it!"  And tasting it.  And finding out that it somewhere between doesn't-taste-at-all and makes-me-want-to-retch.

And, total pie aside, brief off topic!  Today for the kindergarten party in Gregorie's class, I made popcorn.  I, as I always do, popped it in coconut oil.  And every time I open the container of coconut oil I look in, at the gorgeous snowy white stuff.  And I stick my nose in.  And I inhale.  And I usually taste. And I always think, "THIS is what I expected back then.  THIS dreamy goodness!"

But anyway, I decided that an all butter crust was the thing for me.  So, I went with Smitten Kitchen's all butter recipe.  And I started at 4 pm and clearly hadn't thought about "chill it for an hour or two" part.  So, I waited.  And dreamed of store bought crusts.  And thought about the fact that I don't actually own a pie pan.  Hmmmm.....  All this was a bit much, so I drank some homebrewed IPA and thought that tomorrow would be a good day to make a cherry pie...

[to be continued...]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tying down bubbles

I was working on my short story tonight and I needed my journal. And I couldn't find it. Not my "right now" journal, obviously, but my Journal. The big one. I needed a quote from it. To make part of the story "hang". And I looked and looked. And while I was looking (panicking) I saw the popcorn pot in the sink. And I started to wash it. And I saw the dish rack full of dishes drying. So, I started drying/putting away. And I came to the lunch boxes. The Bento Boxes. Oh, the nice, square boxes into which I pack the nice square lunches. "Where is my Journal????" And I dried the boxes and set them on the counter and dried all the little rectangle containers that go in... And I thought, "MY LIFE DOES NOT FIT INTO SQUARES! IT DOES NOT FIT IN THESE BOXES!" And I remembered where my Journal was. But I'm still wondering where my life fits into these boxes....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hoppiness is

I owe this blog much more than just a bunch of pictures of my not too fruitful garden after 6 weeks of silence but with the girls in the middle of the second week of K and 1st grade and me still trying to get a handle on our new "lifestyle" I'm not sure I can deliver tonight (I'm hoping to get this all loaded while the chicken strips coated in pastured egg, ground flax seed and panko oven-fry in some walnut oil...)  Lunch tomorrow for the Bubbles will be the aforementioned chicken strips, spaghetti squash (that I roasted earlier with some walnut oil and sea salt), crostini, and melon chunks.  Hopefully arranged artfully in their bento-style boxes, with a flower!  Maybe I'll remember to take a picture of that too...  But in the meantime, I am really really really proud of this picture (and not just the picture, of the subject too!):
Click on it - see it up close and gorgeous!  Happy happy hoppy hops!

So, another garden thing I'm feeling really happy about (because honestly, there isn't much this year -- tomatoes have wilt, carrots are lovely but few and far between, something ate the broccoli, something LARGE, not aphids or such, the cucumbers, well, typical cucumbers for me, etc etc...) is THIS!
OMG a PUMPKIN!  From the volunteer plant growing in the morel habitat (not the new plant I actually PLANTED).  So far I have SEEN one single female flower and I rather, um, forced her to do the deed.  So, I think I made this!
Other things that make me hoppy, I mean happy...
My magnificent ever growing rainbow chard.
Chive flowers with honey bees.
Everbearing strawberries.
Ripe strawberries.

Self seeding arugala.
A broccoli sprout from????  There are actually a dozen or so of these!  Volunteers always seem so much stronger in my garden so I'm hopeful this might become something great.

Yeah, like this crazy pumpkin!
Under the pumpkin, there grows some lovely baby chard!
More baby chard!

And all is not lost up above, in the sunny beds.

Figs!  I picked (and ate) two yesterday!  A dozen or so to come!
Bell peppers.
Dahlias!  Loaded with honey bee tho I couldn't capture a picture that way.
Yellow bell.
Banana peppers -- hmm, are these the sweet or the hot?  I never know until I cut in!
The blackberries have made an arch across the tipis.
And we do have SOME tomatoes.
Yellow crookneck.
I was hoping to find another rogue pumpkin back here, where the planted pumpkin has spread into the hops, but no.
Pumpkin-hop jungle.
What I found was this lovely spider!
And just one more time:

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Mothers and gardeners have something important in common -- they both come to realize that there are things they can do, and things they can't; situations they can control, and those they can't. At some point they likely determine that there are fruits they can cultivate,  and some they just can't -- though, I'll admit, I have yet to concede anything in my garden or with my kids!

Today I spent a couple long, sweaty, itchy hours working on my tomato bed.  I pruned extra foliage and added strings and raised others to keep the tentacle-y vines "contained", off the ground, exposed to the ripening sun, free from molds and fungi.
I managed to tame this bed somewhat, to get it "under control".  But I turned around towards the pepper bed and realized there are tomatoes, volunteer tomatoes, that I will never control.  They sprout up every where.  And tend to take over.  This is the pepper bed.  And that is a big ol' cherry tomato vine lying on top of the pepper plants.

The only thing that is growing in this box that was actually PLANTED in this box is the dill, which you probably can't even see.  The tomato and the tomatillo are both volunteers.  And have taken over.

I decided to leave these PLANTED tomatoes to themselves (other than the store bought cages) -- no pruning.  I'm curious, this is an experiment -- the tomato plants themselves are store bought and therefore not as near and dear to my hearts as the little former seedlings in the big bed.

Despite encroaching tomato plants, I have managed to grow some nice peppers this year.  After a complete pepper failure last year, I'm enjoying these beauties:

I even picked a couple today.
I ate them in my lunch lettuce wraps and Gregorie made quick work of the carrot.  I did manage to grow her part bunny, part bear.

My carrots this year have not been that successful.  I do have this lovely bed of them growing though
and I can't bring myself to thin it!

I have decided that if my beans won't grow and my blackberries want to take over the tipis, so be it.

And I have resolved that sharing strawberries with the wild things is just part of the game.

I have learned that I CAN grow calendula and cucumbers (after several failed attempts),

But I cannot make my crookneck squash produce a female flower.

And while I cannot stop this planted pumpkin from overriding its cucumber neighbors
or this volunteer pumpkin from shading the chard seedlings,
I CAN make this pumpkin have sex.
By picking this male flower
And pollinating this female.
I left them stuck together for good measure.  

I can make (or at least help) the hops grow up the twine

but I can NEVER tame the mint, sage, or borage!

Frankly, the potatoes look a little out of control too!

I cannot make my husband clean up the dog poo.  But I can clean it up myself.  I'll spare you the picture.

And finally, I cannot keep my children from making messes.

But I can make sure they clean up!

At least most of the mess...