Beside myself

March 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gifts, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, Mother's Day, recipes, relationships, shopping, sweet potatoes, yarn | 3 Comments
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You can take that statement, “Beside Myself” in a couple of different ways … perhaps.  But I am actually using it as a play on words.  My focus is on the “side” syllable.  I have shared a couple of main course recipes the past two weeks from those my son and I have worked on together, and today I thought I would share two recent side dishes we have deployed into the family menus.

Unfortunately, these two side dishes are so good that each time we make them up, they are devoured before a camera can be fetched–so I have no photos for you.  They are, however, so delicious that I will describe them to you in detail and you will be able to fill in with your own imagination what I have been unable to capture with my camera.

Before I do that, for my knitting readers I need to give an update regarding the summer blanket knit-along I mentioned last week.  There were plenty of people interested in joining in, so I have posted the first set of instructions here (and if you look at the top of my blog, under the header photo there is a navigation tab “KAL”, that is the one you can click on to go directly to the knit along). Be sure to check in there, and sign up in the Comments for the RSS feed for the KAL to stay connected with the group and receive updates via email.

And just one more thing for my knitter readers and other fiber artists. I have been telling you the last few weeks about the Knitter’s Eye Chart art prints my son and I collaborated on. This past weekend we released our newest art print for fiber lovers … I am calling it Stash Pride. As you can see, it states very clearly, “If You Can Read This You Are Standing Too Close to My Stash.” The inspiration for this one should be obvious to any fiber hoarder lover fanatic addict … well, all of those things that we are.

The Fiber Stash is sort of like a sour dough starter that has gone completed out of control. It begins with a tiny little bubbly internal growth that you hardly notice at first but over time (a short amount of time usually) each bubble (represented by one more ball of yarn or poof of wool) multiplies exponentially until before you know it the Stash has taken on a life of its own and is bursting forth, spilling out of the closet, into the hall, throughout every room in your house, into your purse, your car, your garage, your attic, the lawn, the street … well, you know how it is.

The Stash Pride art print is a way of proclaiming the completely obvious, but also making it clear you are proud of your fiber addiction. We created them in five different color schemes and they are available in my Etsy store or on my website in two sizes:

11″ x 17″ for $19, any three for $49
8″ x 10″ for $10, any three for $26

You can also now get the Knitter’s Eye Charts in the 8″ x 10″ size for $10, three in that size for $26 — in addition to the original 11″ x 17″ size ($19, set of three $49).

Okay, back to being Beside Myself with a couple of scrumptious side dishes.

These are both super simple, nutritious side dishes that will tickle your palette and your appetite in a big way: Sweet Potato Almond Jumble, and Roasted Carrots with Asparagus. We came up with both of these sides in an effort to put more alkaline-based food choices on the table in a life-long quest to provide delicious yet healthy food to family.

The Sweet Potato Almond Jumble is delicious for breakfast, or as a side dish any other time of day. This is a beautiful, jewel toned side because sweet potatoes bake to such a glowing orange color. Little almond chunks and almond dust with maple syrup dripping over them on top of the potatoes provide texture visually and in the mouth.

The Roasted Carrots with Asparagus is a surprising punch of flavor, as roasting brings out the rich flavor potential of the carrots and the roasted asparagus gets a bit crunchy–the two vegetable flavors pair perfectly with each other.

Sweet Potato Almond Jumble

1 to 2 large sweet potatoes or yams
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped roasted or raw, unsalted almonds
a touch of butter or an olive oil based butter alternative
touch of sea salt
maple syrup or raw sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Wash potatoes thoroughly in cold water. Puncture several times with a fork. Place on the oven rack and bake until tender throughout, about 40 minutes to one hour depending on how large the potatoes are.

Remove potatoes from oven, cut in half and peel immediately. Slice potato halves into a casserole dish, or directly onto serving plates; cut slices into bite-size pieces and arrange in a little pile. Put a dab of butter or alternative on each pile of potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (optional). Sprinkle finely chopped almonds evenly on each potato pile. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp maple syrup over each pile, or 1 or 2 tsps raw sugar (to taste).

Each potato makes a good sized serving for two people.

Roasted Carrots with Asparagus

One bunch of carrots
One bunch of asparagus (preferably younger, thin stalked asparagus)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Wash carrots and asparagus thoroughly. Peel carrots and remove tops and tips. Cut carrots into one-inch long pieces, then slice each piece down the center. Cut asparagus into 2 inch long pieces.

Place carrots and asparagus in a bowl, then pour 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil on top. Stir the vegetables together, tossing so that the olive oil evenly coats them. Use enough olive oil so that all of the veggies are coated. Spread them in a glass cassrole dish or on a cookie sheet lined with foil, large enough so that the veggies are in a single layer.

Place in oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until carrots are tender and begin to get a lightly roasted color to them.

Remove from oven and serve as-is, or lightly sprinkled with sea salt.

My family completely loves these new sides we created. As always, I appreciate my son’s collaboration with me on menu plans and recipe development … thank you dear son of mine.

I have to run now, but hope you enjoy the recipes and, if you join the knit-along, that as well!

Have a great day,
~firefly

A matter of faith

November 15, 2006 at 2:19 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, knitting, love, recipes, soup recipes, sweet potatoes, yarn | 16 Comments

Fireflys Gracious Parcels Knitting ProjectThe first two squares for the Gracious Parcels 2006 project were hand-delivered to me last night by my husband. Winnie of The Buttons (my new nick name for her) made two in a pretty rust color. Winnie is moving away to be closer to her daughters in a couple of weeks, and yet she took the time to knit two squares … what a sweet and dear woman she is.

Several fellow bloggers have mentioned and linked to Gracious Parcels on their websites, and to each of you … thank you so much. The help is very appreciated.

This morning while I was having my tea I finished up the knitted drawstring gift bag for my niece’s Christmas gift … designed especially to match and accomodate one pair of Knitty.com’s “Fetching” fingerless gloves. (Photos further down in today’s blog.) Anyone familiar with that pattern will recognize the 4×1 ribbing and cables. I added buttons as embellishments, and accented the bag with a touch of the blue from the gloves. All in all, a very fetching gift … if I do say so myself. I will share and post the pattern this coming Friday (the pattern for the bag, not the gloves as the gloves pattern doesn’t belong to me).

Fireflys Blue Enamel Amish BowlI have a thing for little bowls. When my husband and I were in the Finger Lakes region a couple weeks back for a three-day mini-vacation, we stopped at what was promoted as being the largest Amish market in New York. There were four or five large “barns” filled with all kinds of goods and products. I imagine some were Amish made and some were not, but I am not certain. I saw this cute little white speckled deep blue enameled bowl there … and bought it.. Late every morning I have a scrambled egg sandwich on a whole wheat english muffin and I use my pretty little bowl to whip them up.

I baked some yams in the oven last night because later today I plan to experiment with a soup I have in mind using yams (or sweet potatoes), banana, and ginger. My daughter had some incredible soup in the Sonoma Valley in California several years ago made of those three key ingredients and I’ve wanted to experiment with the concept ever since she told me about it. Today is the day … I’ll let you know the results on Friday.

I was thinking this morning about the role faith played in my husband and I getting to know each other and accepting the idea of marriage rather quickly. I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but he and I had agreed to marry and knew we would go through with it before we ever met face-to-face. It was wild, but not. You see, we were going on a profound sense of faith that could not be shaken.

It began on Valentine’s Day last year, or just a day or two before. I was feeling hurt and confused about whatever was or wasn’t going on with the Viking. When the Viking and I were getting to know each other, even then faith was the driving force behind my actions. The feeling of knowing what to do and the natural rightness of my actions was huge and unwavering. When I drove to Nebraska after Christmas to meet the Viking, it was faith that gave me confidence. After New Year’s when he went out of communication bit by bit, because my faith was so strong I continued to hold on to the idea that things would turn out okay in the end. The feelings, the knowledge, the sense of rightness, was all much too powerful, clear, and serene to ignore. So, I went with it.

Fireflys Hand Knit Fetching Fingerless Gloves Gift BagNonetheless, when the Viking went out of communication it was very disturbing. I struggled with many feelings and did not understand how such a feeling of faith could be met with such evidence that faith was leading me in the wrong direction.

For me, it became a personal and somewhat valiant effort to continue to have unwavering faith no matter the evidence to the contrary. I held close to my sense of faith and coached myself a number of times into being faith, accepting faith throughout my very being. Everything in my life for at least ten years had led me to the conclusion that my lack of faith at times was what caused me the most difficulty and suffering in life. To go with the flow of the river me was an ultimate act of faith and goodwill. I felt that I was on the precipice of the most crucial point in my life, when a calm sense of complete faith would make the difference and that I must not falter.

When sadness or confusion tried to set in on me and settle into my bones, I went outside and took a walk. It was a beautiful time in Los Angeles as we were having a warm and clear winter. Everything was green and fresh, the sun was golden and healing. There was a huge park near where I was living; there was a dam with a walking path that stretched about two miles. I could go there and walk the breadth of the dam and back and get in a four-mile walk.

No matter what I felt like when I started one of my walks, no matter what troubles I might be struggling with, sometime during the walk I would feel a powerful connection with God. It actually felt as if I was having conversations with God at times, examining the subject of faith and having many realizations about the role faith played in life or could play if you let if flourish.

(When I speak of God and faith, I am not speaking of the God of any particular religion, or the faith of any particular set of beliefs. Just God … my own understanding of what God is to me and what my relationship to God is. A non-denominational and universal concept. The struggle on our little blue planet between religions is odd, I believe. That man strikes down man (or woman or child) in the name of God, and faith, and religion is so counter-intuitive it is hard to believe such actions can exist in a society so seemingly advanced as ours.)

Many things were on my mind as I walked my four miles day after day on top of that dam. It was a beautiful, wonderful, fulfilling time for me.

Fireflys Hand Knit Fetching Fingerless Gloves and Gift BagDuring the transition between when I met my husband at the end of January (met him only via email) and when I finally let go of the idea that the Viking was the direction I was headed, I resolved quite a few issues with myself having to do with what my real intentions are in life, regarding marriage, the future I would like to strive toward, etc.

One afternoon right around Valentine’s Day I was washing dishes and felt awash with a fantastic sense of well-being. It seemed odd to me, because I was feeling also let down by the crumbling of the Viking reality. Somehow, though, I couldn’t help but smile. It seemed rather silly, but I smiled anyway. Looking out the window into the warmth of a sunny day I had a clear and distinct thought enter my mind that I would be married by spring, by the end of April specifically.

My next thought was, “Well, that just doesn’t make any kind of sense.” How could that timing work out? The Viking was all but gone, and the only other prospect was this really interesting man I was sharing emails with who lived on a farm in upstate western New York, a place I certainly would never agree to move to.

I reminded myself that faith is knowing what you know inspite of any evidence to the contrary or lack of evidence supporting whatever it is you know. So I thought, “Okay. This will be the perfect act of faith. I have no reason to believe it could possibly be true that I will be married by the end of April. Therefore, for that very reason I will have faith in the accuracy of that knowledge.”

When I made that decision, I felt even more serene and happy. My heart was light and I knew it was a right action to completely let go of the Viking and to not feel that anything I had been believing in or any of my actions had been wrong. I decided that even though he was not the direction I was headed in, he had been key in keeping me walking down the right road to where I was going, and where I wanted to go.

Another point of liberation. Liberation so sweet, and so divine.

The following Saturday was when my husband and I first spoke on the phone and time seemed to stand still.

That is where today’s part of the story ends.

May your day be divine.

~firefly

Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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