Split pea soup for the soul

February 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Posted in art, country life, dogs, faith, family, food, gifts, knitting, Life, love, pets, photography, recipes, shopping | 3 Comments
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Two days ago at the break of day I saw that all of the branches of all of the trees were covered in white, snowy ice. As soon as the sun was up high enough to hit the trees our world exploded tiny little sparkly bits of magic. This happens once or twice each winter, or it has for the five winters I have been here. The trees along the river bank become especially sparkly with ice twinkles, amplified by the sun light bouncing off the white snow along the frozen river that lights the branches up from beneath. It is the most magical sight I have seen with my own eyes, and the most frustrating sight to try to capture and relate via digital photograph.

This morning we have heavy snow coming down in a hard wind. I am delaying going outside with my son’s Bull Dog, The Duke for his morning’s romp by the willow. Today’s blog will be brief, but I wanted to give my readers a heads up that this coming Tuesday I will share my personal Split Pea Soup including the story behind it.

Something interesting to contemplate in the meantime, my son (designer and Etsy seller FlyingJunction featuring vintage subway signs and bus scrolls) and I are collaborating on an exclusive line of beautiful and interesting art prints designed specifically for knitters and fiber lovers. Our first two releases: Knitter’s Eye Charts (right) and Stash Pride (see below) There are three styles and they can be purchased individually or as a specially priced collection of three; 11″ x 17″ professionally printed and easily framed using readily available standard sized store-bought frames.

Hang one in your craft room, family room, office, or studio. We designed them to be aesthetic as well as slightly humorous to those who understand the secret language of knitting patterns.

The Knitter’s Eye Chart makes an attractive and unique gift for anyone in your life who loves knitting or fiber.

Our second release celebrates the unique talent of fiber artists in building up a gargantuan stash of fiber of all sorts.  I call it the Stash Pride sign … this art print says it all:  “If You Can Read This You are Standing Too Close to My Stash”.

Your family already knows you have a special relationship with your stash, so post this art print close to your bounteous treasure to remind them not only of your addiction but also to keep their distance (lovingly).

Available in five different color schemes, and two sizes (8″ x 10″ and 11″ x 17″) this print makes a great gift for any fiber artist you know or a little something for yourself.  The Knitter’s Eye Chart and the Stash Pride prints are both on my website or in my Etsy store.

If you are interested in making Split Pea Soup with me next week, here is a shopping list:

  • 1 bag dry split peas
  • 2 32-oz cartons of chicken or vegetable stock (I use either my own homemade vegetable stock or Swanson’s
  • msg-free chicken stock)
  • celery, preferably very leafy on the top
  • carrots

Herbs and spices to have on hand:

  • Powdered thyme
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • cumin

Optional ingredients to pick up:

  • 8 to 12-oz pkg sliced mushrooms
  • thick sliced bacon

Also, I love serving this soup with fresh baked focaccia bread. I usually mix up a batch of pizza dough in my bread maker and then form it into a focaccia. If you don’t have a bread machine or know how to make yeast bread, you can buy a packaged mix for focaccia at the grocery store, or a pre-made unbaked pizza dough to use for your fresh focaccia.

So, get ready and let’s all have Split Pea Soup next Tuesday evening … yum!

Well, The Duke is calling my name and saying he is ready to go outside and meet up with today’s harsh weather. So, off I go …

Hope you have a wonderful day, and a beautiful weekend.

Warmest wishes,

A walk in the city

February 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Posted in art, country life, dogs, family, knitting, Life, love, pets, photography, shopping, snow, travel | 2 Comments
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My latest tribute to Etsy sellers … a Treasury titled, “A walk in the city.”

Here we are on the farm, out in the country enjoying a beautiful winter of abundant snow, cold temperatures … beautiful weather and cozy times in the house. However, feeling a touch of cabin fever I imagined for a few minutes that I was driving and walking along city streets.

Side Bar: The smell of homemade bread is wafting its way through the house, from the kitchen, reaching me here in the livingroom … mmm.  Just a sec, I have to take it out and let it cool–I’ll be right back …

Back to the Blog:  My favorite breakfast these days is a nice, thick slice of my homemade buttermilk-honey-whole wheat bread toasted with natural style peanut butter spread on it and a cup of black tea.  I am looking forward to just such a breakfast when I wake up in the morning.

Now, back to writing.

We are enjoying what people around here are referring to as a “normal” western New York winter.  The snow fall has been wonderful, the snow is lingering just as it should and getting deeper and deeper every day. There have also been plenty of days of brilliant blue sky and rich golden sunlight bringing a particular kind of magic to the surroundings.

There are many willows growing throughout this area, and though the other deciduous trees stand dark charcoal gray, the willow whips continue to glow with a golden hue as they hang gracefully to the ground, swaying and swishing in the wind. I love going out back with the dogs and catching sight of our grand old willow tree draped in beautiful gold whips, adding a touch of light to an otherwise monochromatic world.

It is getting late, and I feel sleep coming my way; I have been staying up late several nights each week lately to keep up with some writing assignments and work on my paintings. I have some small format paintings coming off of the easel now. They will be available at Zambistro Restaurant initially, and I will list them in my other Etsy store as well.

It is good to be painting again. Now, if I could only find more time to knit …

Warm wishes,

The year of faith

January 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in country life, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, knitting, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, snow, travel | 5 Comments
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Recently I was out and about the farm watching The Duke (my son’s English Bull Dog) frolicking in the snow.  I thought back to January 2006–I was single, living in the foothills just north of Los Angeles in a 15 x 15 square foot room I was renting from a very nice Australian lady.  My children, who I had raised as a single parent, were all grown up and living on their own.

Everything about my life had been turned upside down and inside out.  Making things worse,  it was over 90 degrees … it was January and over 90 degrees.  That was something I just could not abide.

I was sweltering in my little room, taking walks when I could on Hansen Dam, sometimes along a little trickle (barely discernible) of water known as “The LA River” that crawled along a through a little ravine near the place where I was living.  Weekends I lugged my painting supplies, easel, and a canvas from storage to a nearby park so I could paint … in the heat.

Now it is 2011 and here I am … married, living on a 50-acre farm in upstate New York with a 3,000 square foot farm house, a barn, a garage, woods, a wonderfully flowing river full of real water, and thick white snow as far as the eye can see.

It is January, and today we started our day at about -5 degrees with a fresh blanket of snow.

Fluffy, white, beautiful snow.  And I have a wonderful, loving husband who I love so very much.

Finally I am home.

Five years ago today I woke up not knowing this man or this place existed. Actually, that is not entirely true.

The truth is, a powerful spiritual event occurred in 1987 foretelling this entire scene. That spiritual event involved snow, in Los Angeles, on a day of miracles. From that point forward I knew that my husband did exist and that if I just lived my life and kept the faith the time would come when our paths would converge and we would know instinctively who we are to each other and we would join our lives together.

I knew he existed, but I didn’t have his exact coordinates and could not have described his face or told you his name.

It was five years ago today when I first received an email from him, introducing himself. I have told that part of the story here on my blog before.

He told me he was looking for his best friend, someone who complements him and vice versa … that the two would be greater together than they could have possibly been individually.

Though our story is one of great love and happiness, you might be surprised if you knew some of the trials and jarring realities we have been tested by in our few short years together. This has been, and is, quite a large experience.

We came into this marriage relying completely on a deep and abiding faith that we knew what we were doing and that what we were doing was blessed by God.

We met online somewhat by chance at the social networking site, FarmersOnly.com. He introduced himself by email on January 29, 2006. By late February we were seriously exploring all of the “what if’s” of a possible marriage. My early March we openly acknowledged the fact that were were, indeed, going to be married before the end of spring. On March 29 he flew me out to New York and we met face to face for the first time, already knowing we were going to marry. That evening he proposed to me and broke my rib in a big bear hug. A couple of nights later we had our first date.

On April 29, 2006 he was in Los Angeles, we got in my Ford Explorer, drove to Las Vegas and got married for $25 at a drive through window. Nine days later we arrived home at our beautiful farm.

Now, five years later, we are living a life we love. We have pulled through whatever has come our way, each time with a stronger bond than we had before, reassured that our faith in 2006 was not misguided. My daughter and our grand-daughter live with us, as do three dogs — a Weimaraner, an English Mastiff, and an English Bull Dog plus five barn cats. My son has a room here and visits when he can.

Much about our life has not turned out as we thought it would, but isn’t that the stuff of life anyway?

What we have done with it, now that is where our marriage really glistens. We are best friends, and we are much greater together than we ever would have been individually. What we have found and what we have made of what we were given, I wish on many others. I would love to know that many, many others have found and will find something of what we have.

The cool thing is, we’re just getting started …

~ firefly

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