Friday, December 31, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies with Greek Yogurt

Molly and I baked the most scrumptious oatmeal cookies last night. Instead of granola on their yogurt this morning how about crumbled cookie! I swirled some raspberry jam into the Greek yogurt and they crumbled the cookies over the top, yum! Here's the recipe for the cookies:
1/2 pound(2sticks) unsalted butter
1c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2c sucanat
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla
1/4tsp coconut extract
1-1/2c flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp salt
3c oats
1/2c sweetened flaked coconut
1c dried sour cherries
1c walnuts
preheat oven 350
Cream together butter and sugars then add eggs, vanilla and coconut extract. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt then add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in oats, cherries, coconut and walnuts and mix well. Bake tablespoon size dough on ungreased cookie sheet just until set in the middle and brown around the edges(about 10-12 minutes),

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Delicious Gratitude

I had such a fun day yesterday! My aunt took me and my cousin to San Francisco and we had the most incredible lunch at Cafe Gratitude. A mostly raw and all vegan menu makes most people very nervous but I went in with much confidence. My dear friends have told me about not only how amazing the food is but the couple behind this small empire. Truly inspiring! I'm not a vegetarian, vegan or raw food fanatic and this dining experience left me wanting to come back and try more. I think my favorite was a live (uncooked/raw) I AM DEVOTED coconut cream pie. Everything you order has an affirmation like this. The vibe of the whole place is just so uplifting and both your soul and body leave feeling nourished. We finished up our day at the Claremont in Berkley having cocktails and watching the sun set on the bay. San Francisco city lights, simply beautiful. Hey, isn't that a Journey song?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Music in the Morning

Checking my facebook today, I noticed a music video that was posted of my dear friend Vatrena King. Now a mom in my community, she once sang with just about anyone you can think of and was one of the "Ikettes" on Ally Mcbeal. This song always lifts me and is one of my favorites to start off the day. Dancing around the kitchen, singing and getting some yummy popovers in the oven was how it looked in our house this morning. The rain has moved on and left beautiful, clean blue skies. The birds are sunning themselves on the bare branches and a large blue jay feeds at the feeder outside my window. What a picky eater! He pushes most of the seed onto the ground to get to his favorites and little birds and doves come to clean up after him. The birds seem grateful for the offering. Thank you Trena for yours!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A chicken has been stewing all night into rich stock for soup and the house smells heavenly. We have so much bok choy in our garden so I think I'll put some in the soup for dinner. What goes best with homemade chicken soup? Home made bread with butter! I'll bike to the co-op with the kids and then we'll bake some whole wheat bread together. Also, I want to take some pictures of the garden today, there were some beautiful magenta flowers on the fava plants the other day. Oliver and Molly seem to be enjoying the break. They've been taking their time waking up and enjoying the Shire on roller blades and bikes. A few bumps and bruises, tears and arnica. I think they've learned to be more careful but then Molly rides by the window, leg over the handle bars of her scooter. Oh well, she has a helmet on.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mysterious Fog

Winter is here bringing with it thick tully fog that blankets the valley. Tree's look like skeletons reaching up into the soupy air. Birds look less like their flying but more suspended, as if they're caught in cotton. Now is the time of year where I always feel ready for transformation. The holiday craziness is over, things are ready to be put away to free up the space and something new will come. Spring feels like it's not so far off and the bulbs are already pushing up their green fingers. I'm ready for all that this new year is going to offer! First, though, we must clear the way so there is room to move and be moved. The grapevines need trimming, the sticky leaves must be raked and all the holiday decorations must go. We thought we avoided getting a lot of "stuff" for the kids but we still need to find room in this small space for what they received from family, who were more than generous with my children. What exciting things will this new year bring? The possibilities seem endless!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Coconut Cream Pie!

First of all, you have to bake an all-butter pie crust! I got a recipe from the Cook's magazine that uses 2 sticks of butter and sour cream that turns out beautifully. For the filling:
1/2 c Sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3 tbs flour
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 1/2 c sweetened flaked coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp coconut extract
To bake pie crust, line with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans and put into 375 oven for 20 minutes then remove pie weights and foil and bake for about 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
For Filling: Whisk sugar, eggs, yolk and flour while bringing milk and coconut to a simmer. Slowly add hot milk and coconut to egg mixture whisking briskly so not to scramble eggs and return to pan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until cream thickens. Remove from heat and add vanilla and coconut extract. Put into a medium bowl and press plastic wrap onto surface and refrigerate until cold about 2 hours.
Fill pie shell with custard and whip 1 1/4 c chilled whipping cream with 2 tbs sugar and 1/8 tsp coconut extract. Cover pie and top with 2/3 cup toasted coconut.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Oh the magic of Christmas Eve! I remember how it felt as a child, all the family, piles of gifts, everyone around the table dragging out dinner so we would have to wait longer to open our gifts. My Aunt Virginia would protest for the children from the couch, slapping her leg she would insist they hurry up! We all new that if there was an envelope from Aunt Virginia it meant a trip on an airplane! Having no children of her own, her nieces and great nieces, nephews and great nephews were her children. She had managed to keep the twinkle of childhood in her eyes and always arrived with garbage bags full of gifts at my grandmas house. She and my great Uncle Walter were the stuff of dreams to all the children. Tonight, it's my children's turn and though Aunt Virginia and Uncle Walter are no longer with us the spirit lives on through all my Aunties and my Parents! They truly make it magical for Oliver and Molly. Tonight they will hurry through dinner and be tortured just as we were with a long drawn out meal while waiting to open the gifts. Eventually someone will come to there rescue and round everyone up. Then we have our flaming fig pudding, carol singing and home to bed to await Santa. Right not, Oliver is practicing his violin for tonight's singing and I have a mincemeat custard pie baking in the oven that's making everything feel and smell like Christmas. May this be a peaceful eve for the world. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Today has begun and what better way to get started than with thick slices of persimmon bread with butter and some delicious organic eggs! Oliver has lit the candles, the tree is brightly glowing but leaning a little more and Christmas music is playing. The trees are so bare and many little birds flitter and flutter from tree to tree looking for any fruit that has yet to fall. They especially like our persimmon tree. Calendula flowers have begun to open their vibrant orange and yellow petals. Green and orange are the dominating colors here. Everywhere you look there are orange fruits, flowers and that neon winter green grass we get in California. The fava beans love this cool weather and show no signs of recent frost growing taller by the day around the large artichoke. We are heading out to Winters to see our dear friends and enjoy a little Christmas cheer, maybe even get her to sing!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice

Last night I enjoyed the beautiful ancient tradition of singing back the light to celebrate the winter solstice. The scent of sandalwood lead us up the path to the home of our resident herbalist. Delicious herb concoctions, like elderberry cordial, cilantro pesto and dates with nasturtium leaves on brie, were a feast for the senses. The counter was lined with a variety of oils made by our host. After enjoying the spread, instruments were passed around. Several guitars were played to accompany our host, in her flowy black gown, on her piano. A mix of Christmas and pagan songs all sung with such spirit. The darkest day is over and now the light returns to warm the earth. What a beautiful symbol to choose the date for Christ to be born. The light of god arrives at the darkest time for man. Whatever your beliefs are, the story is truly a beautiful one. Mankind could use a little more light right now. Happy Solstice to all! You can find our hosts book on My Wish List Store! Kami Mcbride

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mmmm, Eggnog!

After our freezing bike ride to the co-op, I heated up some yummy organic eggnog with a little bit of cognac to make us feel cozy again. The Christmas tree is lit, candles are glowing in the fireplace, The Nutcracker record playing and a dish of cookies and brownies are on the table. Molly went outside for a while and came home with a bouquet of radishes from the big garden and arm fulls of tangerines to munch on. Oooh, are those tangerines tart! The smells of citrus oil fill the living room each time one is peeled. The sun now streams through the window on this beautiful solstice. What a nice break from the rain. Little birds are snacking on the remaining grapes and water logged persimmons. It's good to slow down in this busy week and enjoy a peaceful moment like this.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Magic in the City

One of the infamous "hills"of San Francisco
Me watching the kids ice skate

Oliver ice skating

Molly ice skating at Embarcadero Center San Francisco

The Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Embarcadero Center San Francisco

In the Opera House

In front of City Hall before The Nutcracker

Dressed for The Nutcracker at the Palace Hotel Today the storms are moving over the Shire with such force! Last night I thought we might float away! We had such a wonderful weekend in the city with the kids. Instead of a lot of gifts under the tree, this year we decided on an experience the kids won't soon forget. The looks on their faces upon entering the Palace hotel were priceless and they ran up and down the lobby trying out the big velvet chairs. Sharing the Nutcracker Ballet with them meant so much to me and my memories of being a little girl were vivid in my mind and heart. The next day we walked around Union Square looking at the Macy's windows, the giant Christmas tree in the center and had breakfast at Lefty O'douls. We ended our city trip with ice skating outside at Embarcadero Center and the kids loved the lights at the Hyatt Regency. Now on to the week of baking! More persimmon bread to go into the oven!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Artwork from School

Oliver's watercolor painting

Oliver's woven pouch

Molly's bay wreath
The children have been busy crafting and such at school these last couple weeks. Those vibrant watercolors just jump off the page! Molly's class had a bazaar in their room yesterday and sold little things they had made either at home or in school. What a great way to teach the children money and math! Molly had a blast and came home with the beautiful bay wreath. All classes have handwork every week and Oliver just completed his woven pouch which, of course, he was immensely proud of. For anyone interested in the Stockmar crayons, watercolors or beeswax, you can find it on "My Wish List Store".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Sanctuary for the Soul"

Wilbur Hot Springs, we shall return.

Michael writing in our room.

Me on our morning walk. The steam was rising off the stream.

Michael's reflection in the milky springs.

A faerie ring

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Busy but Beautiful

These days are packed full of tasks and the kids are getting ready for their winter concert on Friday. Oliver is practicing his violin, Molly sings constantly. Our garden is full of different shades of red radish easily pulled from the soggy soil. Rain, rain and more rain. Michael and I took a break from the chaos for our anniversary to soak in the hot springs of Wilbur. Quiet, contemplative, romantic, relaxing and beautiful. Truly a detox for the soul and body. Now we're back to the sprint paced life of school and community but grateful for it all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


This morning while cooking breakfast we played "Grandma got run over by a reindeer"..... loudly. The kids were hilarious! Molly sung and bounced along while I fried bacon and cut pieces of panatone. Oliver popped over the railing of his loft bopping his head from side to side like "animal" on the Muppet's. Later, as I was getting out of the shower, I noticed some artwork of Molly's on the mirror. She had drawn a huge silly face with curly hair in the steam. We had such a good time together this morning. It's so good to just be fun once in a while!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pics in San Francisco

Mai and Kai enjoying their goodies.

Molly and I in North Beach having italian pastries!
While the boys were at the game, we enjoyed San Francisco! Spending time just with Molly and my good friends Maya and Makai was really good for me. The city has such a unique energy. Molly practiced her photography skills and now wants a camera for Christmas. More of these days to come, I'm hoping!

Christmas Has Come to the Shire

Our tall, thin cedar is now laden with ornaments. Over the years, we've collected quite a few sentimental ones. Some the kids have made, others were given by my grandmother for their first Christmas. Some have been handed down as family have passed away and now sit on the branches of our tree, carrying with them, the memories of all the gatherings around my grandmother's tree. I can still hear the doorbell ring and loud welcomes echoing down the hallway as we tried our best to get to sleep before the big man came. We always sung Christmas carols, albeit a little off key, but the vibration of all our voices together left grooves in my heart like a record. Oliver was laying underneath the tree last night staring up through the branches, "You know what I'm doing mom? I'm really enjoying this moment, I want to always remember it." He will, too. I know I remember. Magic.

Monday, December 6, 2010


The sun is shinning in the Shire this morning! The gardens look so happy, green and lush. The narrow lane is blanketed with yellow leaves, the remaining persimmons hang heavy on bare branches, little tangerines look like ornaments covering the bushes along the paths. Ahhh, citrus time! We have more Meyer lemons than we know what to do with. Preserved, marmalade, or limoncello? All delicious ideas, now to get started!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Adventures in Tree Hunting

We found a beautiful cedar tree.
Oliver and Michael cutting it down.

Our friend Susan fell in the snow! It was a little on the deep side.

Me and Molly
It was cold and wet but oh so beautiful in the mountains, yesterday. We go with our friends to cut a tree in the forest and it's not easy to find one small enough for our house. We wrestled through the high snow and finally found a patch of "smaller"trees. We ended up cutting off about 3 more feet but I'll use the branches to decorate the house! Today has been fun as well,having biscuits and gravy for breakfast, decorating cookies with friends, and setting up the tree. Now, on to another fun filled and busy week!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Winter Spiral

Last night, was the winter spiral at the Davis Waldorf School. A room filled with the scent of pine that was carefully laid into a spiral for the children to walk. The only light, coming from a single candle in the center set on a stump and decorated with red berries. Each child is given an apple with a candle in the middle and while a man played quiet, reflective music on the piano, the child would take the walk alone. Everyone quietly watched as each child made there way to the solitary candle. Once in the center, they would light there own candle and choose a place along the spiral to light one of the candles that was placed along the path. Watching these children grow each year, you get a glimpse of their little spirits, as they hold the candle so carefully and the glow seeps through their fingers and lights up their faces. It's so symbolic for this time of year. We're going into the darkest days of winter and we either spiral too far inward and get depressed, or we spiral too far out with all the crazy holiday plans. Then, also there is all the darkness. Alone we bring a little light but as a community we are quite a force. What was once a dark path, now glows strong. A beautiful spiral of light.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Rain softly falling through the darkness

Soft glowing Menorah candles flicker, their light dances across my wooden table

More candles light the hearth

Nothing but the sound of rain

Molly hums in her bedroom

Oliver snuggles with daddy

It's been a busy day, one of growth, one of change

For the kids, one filled with advent lights, dreidel games, bike rides, music, friends

Peace for us this evening

Peace for the world

Smells Like the Holiday's!

I baked some persimmon bread yesterday and yum!!! The kids were just getting home from school and were cold from the chilly bike ride as it was coming out of the oven. The house smelled like brandy soaked, dried fruit with spices. We sliced thick pieces of the hot pudding like bread and slathered it in salted butter, trying to catch every last crumb or drip of melted cream. The recipe I used was one by James Beard and it is a winner! Here it is:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2tsp baking soda
1tsp ground nutmeg
2-2 1/2 cups sugar of sucanat
1 cup melted and cool unsalted butter
4 large eggs lightly beaten
2/3 cups cognac, bourbon or whiskey
2 cups persimmon puree(about 4 squishy-soft hachiya)
2 cups chopped nuts(walnut, or pecans toasted)
2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 350 and butter 2 9" loaf pans lining the bottoms with parchment paper. Sift first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl then add butter, eggs, liquor and puree. Next, add the nuts and raisins. Spread evenly into loaf pans and bake for about an hour. I baked one at a time and pulled them out when they were still slightly soft in the middle when pierced with a knife. They were very moist and delicious! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Icy and Spicy

Blades of grass encrusted with heavy ice crystals, bend over in glittering fields of white, leaves piled high are frozen to the cold streets and our breath hangs in heavy clouds around our heads, so cold is this morning. The kids are in warm layers, gloves and hats. Molly worries about the family of mice in her school garden. Will they be cold and hungry? Relieved, she remembers that the chickens share food with the mice. A nice warm and spicy latte now in hand, I plan the persimmon bread I'll be baking today.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Busy Morning and a Warm Classroom

I have a lot that I'm trying to work on right now and it feels like I'm running through molasses. Nothing feels like it's quite up to speed which leaves me feeling very frustrated. The Internet and computers are running slowly, and we ran out of printer ink and paper. Apparently trying to work on these things and still get the kids ready for school doesn't mix well. We finally got ourselves, violin, lunches, jackets and hats in the car. Wow was it cold this morning! We all took a Rescue Remedy chewy and Oliver's promptly popped out of his mouth. When he got up to look for where it had fallen, I found it stuck to his backside. I peeled it off and stuck it back in his face, we all had a good laugh. Oliver's paper star was glowing amongst his classmates in the window of his room and upon entering Molly's a calm prevails. Along the window the teacher has set a beautiful space for the children to observe every morning. A single candle glows warm and bright surrounded by red berries and pine boughs. Behind the candle, stands a menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. I take a moment, enjoy the peace it brings me. When things feel cold, I'll try to remember the light.

Monday, November 29, 2010

City Energy

Michael and Oliver at the game.
Oliver rock'n the sideline at the Raider's game!
While I was with Molly and my friend Maya in the city, Oliver got to go to a Raider's game! So we do a little waldorf and a little craziness. They had a blast sitting with friends in safe seating and taking a walk onto the field. What an amazing gift from our friends. I definitely think Oliver will remember this forever. Although they lost, we met back at one of the coach's' homes for a beautiful dinner and lots of fun loud football talk. Michael was in heaven! Such great people. While they were at the Raider Nation, we did delicious Chinese food in North Beach, crunchy and creamy cannoli, and the ferry building where Molly took many pictures of all the food, Christmas decorations and views of the bay at sunset. She just loves taking pictures! She had that huge camera around her neck most of the day snapping away. I can't wait to see how they turned out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

San Francisco, Here I Come

It's been so long since I've spent time in the city and I'm really looking forward to it. Michael and Oliver are going to a football game with friends and my friend Maya and I are taking Molly and her youngest to San Francisco. I'll be sure to photograph any delicious moments to post later! The tree made it to the living room with little incident, which is almost a disappointment considering how funny it's been to watch in the past. Sparkling beautifully in the window, all the ornaments from over the years hanging from it's boughs, Christmas time is here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

To Grandmother's House We Go

We're hitting the busy roads today to visit Grandma and hunt for a Christmas tree! It should be a muddy, wet, frustrating event with someone inevitably disappointed in the selection. Then comes the true test of patience........fitting the tree into a small stand that wants to fall over,or, at least lean ever so slightly enough to warrant repositioning. The poor person stuck under the foliage, yelling as patiently as possible for direction and hoping not to get a tick, just ends up getting tortured by laughing observers who disagree on which direction it's actually leaning. Although this doesn't sound like much fun, we all look forward to this long standing tradition of watching someone suffer. Later, I'll update you on the events of this year's killing and humiliation of, what was, the beautiful tree.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Muffled Laughter

Mincemeat pumpkin, paradise pumpkin and a traditional brown sugar pumpkin pie.
Molly just loves when there's a reason to celebrate and family converges on the Shire. She wants to be apart of the whole thing, from the cooking and setting the table, to listening in on the adults stories. Oliver likes to lend his "brute strength" to the event, helping to lift wood for the fire. Watching them both, I remember what that felt like as a child, how safe it all felt. "You mean, all these people love me?"Now that we're just across the street, Molly and Oliver spent most of the morning over at my Aunt Denise's house while I baked 3 different pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving(they all smelled delicious)! Being amongst all the bustle, fighting for space both physically and verbally. Try as you might to enter the loud conversations, you may never be heard. Denise compared it to the game Whack A Mole, you've just gotta be patient, then.............. HIT HIM! It's not for everyone, even I get overwhelmed and need to get away for a moment, regain my strength. At my Grandma's, I would sit in the stairwell off the kitchen listening to the muffled laughter, feeling the pulse of the family. The phone on the kitchen wall would ring and someone would answer, stretching the long curly cord around the corner to sit on the stairs to hear better. Having been discovered, I would get up and rejoin the happy chaos. There is not a stairwell to sit in anymore, so I stepped outside for a breather and there it was, the pulse. The laughter, loud conversation and games continued. Standing under the stars, alone, in the dark cold of November, I felt like a little girl again. "You mean, they all love me?"I am thankful for my family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Glowing Stars and Wildlife

A little bird helps himself to a candy sweet persimmon.

inner light and truth

You can find this beautiful kite paper at Paper Scissors Stone and an instructional book at My Wish List Store!

Nuts and Grubs!

We had some friends over yesterday and, with five children in this small space, it's so nice when they are easily entertained. A bag of walnuts and some crackers is all you need to start the fun! The nuts are dry and ready to eat but there's one catch........some have grubs. I know, YUCK right? Well, this seems to be the funnest part. Not knowing what you're gonna get, bug or food. I'm in the kitchen roasting pumpkin while screams of joy and delight rise up to the ceiling. Some are big, others small (grubs I mean) and sometimes there's a delicious walnut. I don't think many nuts will make it into my holiday baking since each one that they find is edible, well, gets eaten. So what do you do without a television people ask. Here's one interesting project! They didn't seem to miss the glowing screen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magic in the Shire

Oliver carves a face in the pumpkin that will soon be a pie while Molly and her friends discover new faerie homes along the banks of the swale now full from the recent storms. She points to a little walnut boat that has settled on a stones beside the water and they all try to figure out how the faeries will move it. They move on to the swings hanging from a large walnut tree, taking turns gliding through the air, they are blissful. My counter is lined with persimmons waiting to ripen to a translucent liquid orange before being baked into cookies and breads. In celebration of the inner light we need to get through the dark days of winter, we have set out a menorah and will fold beautifully colored kite paper in the shapes of stars to put in our windows. I love vacation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Comfort Food Breakfast

Today is the first day of the kids vacation from school! Yesterday was hard as we attended our friends memorial. The place was packed and some people stood or sat in the aisles. His young daughter performed "edelweiss" on her violin and the closing number involved us all singing the Beatle's song "We can work it out", his daughter on stage belting out with friends and family, all of us on our feet singing our hearts out, tears running down our faces. Oliver woke up crying this morning after dreaming that Michael had passed away. Such a heavy thing for anyone but especially children. I decided to make a comfort food breakfast! With all organic ingredients, I made a cornmeal custardy spoon bread served with rich maple syrup and thickly sliced bacon. Crunchy, luscious, sweet and smokey, the kids were pleased and we got to enjoy breakfast together at the table. "Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friends"
Check out the recipe section for this delicious spoon bread!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Storm of the Century!

Crazy football fans with sleeping baby.
Ok, so we go to the Aggies vs. Sac State game yesterday and let's just say it won't soon be forgotten. I got there first with Oliver and Molly and it was cold and windy. It began to sprinkle just after kick-off when Michael arrived with our friends three children, one of which is only two. Everyone was bundled in layers of rain gear including myself. The two year old promptly fell asleep on Michael so we covered him in a rain coat like a little cocoon. It started to rain a little harder. Then our friend David arrived and it started to rain even harder. By half time it began to downpour but the bands kept playing as determined as ever. All of a sudden, behind the stadium, shot a huge purple vein of lightening followed by pounding thunder! Now we were getting pelted by painful hail and the kids were all screaming, accept for cocoon boy who is still sleeping. We got out of there as quickly as possible belly laughing all the way to a cozy fire. I've definitely earned some football points here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Rain is Back

Yesterday, the rain returned. The ground is so thick with fallen leaves that it sounds like a low drum outside the window. Michael stepped into the garden this morning to inspect the plants, finding some with traces of the small creatures that visit in the night. This afternoon, we'll ride our bikes to another rainy, but fun, football game. Hot cocoa and tri-tip sandwiches are on the menu, yum! We have the next week off school, so I'll be able to tap into my more creative side with the kids. Baking, bike riding and leaf collecting all sound so fun. I usually press leaves in a book for about a week then thread them together to hang in a window. Small oak or Japanese maple work beautifully. Insert a needle next to the stem being sure to tie a small knot to keep it in place before stringing the next one. The sunlight coming through the window brightens the colors of the leaves just beautifully!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Poem by My Cousin/Niece

Molly came out of class in tears the other day missing her cousin Kiersen. Kiersen is currently living and going to school in Ireland. After hearing this, Kiersen wrote this beautiful poem inspired by the preschool as well as Oliver and Molly.


To the garden the children come
To imagine and bask in endless fun
Skipping, sliding and smiling
Thoughtless flower throwing, reclining
The Pixie Girl and the Soldier Boy
Fill my heart with immeasurable Joy
In the garden the children are learning
to run and chase glades in the morning
Their hands stained with ruptured grass
Sharing with each other a warm belly laugh
Building forts and discovering new sports
While making friends and new cohorts
In the garden the children play
Like romping fawns in the light of day
Swing, sing and shake apples from trees
Taking my hand--like Peter Pan--and teaching me new things
Poking bugs and picking up slugs
running back to give a big hug
-She bops along;that Rebel Soul, ready and willing to break every mould.
With eyes that gleam with mischievous wit, underneath it all deep compassion sits.
-He is cool and calm; that rugged man. Give him a problem; he's got a plan. Although he is resilient and serious, in his heart he is silly and curious.
In the garden the children believe in
All the fairies of the evening
In the dark they flicker and dash
Into the cold mud, their small toes they mash
And when it is time to say good night
I hope for them to hold tight
To the garden that they adore
While new adventures they explore

Thank you Kiersen for this beautiful poem. I will cherrish it always.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Molly is across the bike path having her singing lesson with the neighborhood girls while Oliver has his first violin lesson in our home. Michael and I step outside between the two houses to enjoy the evening and visit with our neighbors. Our neighbor next door shares some pomegranates from her bush and they are so intensely sweet. A warm glow seeps through the thinning grapevines covering our window. His teacher is playing a little tune on the violin while we stand outside listening, the light quickly disappearing, the moon lighting up the vibrant orange persimmon leaves. We give the teacher a couple of the pomegranates and schedule another lesson after Thanksgiving. Just one of those moments when you really get that you have chosen the right path for yourself.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Want My Children's Lunch

Warm and creamy risotto, a chewy organic granola bar and a banana. Now that's what I would want for a school lunch! They've gotten tired of the natural peanut butter and juice sweetened jam on whole sprouted wheat bread. It's nice, on these cooling days, for them to open a hot thermos of comfort food to warm their little bodies. Of course, I kept some risotto home for myself. Here's a recipe for my kids favorite risotto:
add 3 tbs each of butter and olive oil to a large pot or saucepan. Stir in 2 chopped onions, 2 sticks of celery with the leaves, 2 chopped carrots and 2 cups chopped spinach. Once veggies are cooked, add 2 cups of Arborio rice and let cook for a few minutes. Have ready a pot of hot stock (about 67oz) with some white or red wine added for flavor. Add a ladle full at a time to the rice stirring well and letting absorb before adding more. Once your rice is the right texture(we like it nice and soupy with a little firmness) add remaining butter and as much Parmesan cheese as you like! Sometimes we add toasted pine nuts or walnuts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A View from the Co-op

The winds are blowing today but the air is soft and warm. Dried leaves whirl over streets, bikes pass and people wave. The world has taken on a golden hue. Another pumpkin awaits baking for our Thanksgiving pies. It's time to welcome another holiday season with food, family and fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shhh, the Gnome is Sleeping

Cleaning up Molly's room today was quite a task. She's my little clutter bug and each corner and crevice is filled with trinkets. All very important, of course. While she's sick in bed, I am finally able to try to untangle the ball of twine. I'm almost done when I notice another corner she has set up. Over by the door, sitting on top of a little box and encircled with stones and lace, is a basket covered with a neatly folded blanket. I look over at Michael and gently lift the blanket. Inside the basket, tucked in on his side , is a little gnome she made. He's sleeping so sweetly and we both are nearly in tears. How much longer will we get to experience this wonder? Not much longer, I fear. So the sleeping gnome shall stay in his castle by her door and I get to enjoy this world a little longer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


We were planning to meet the kids and my mom in San Francisco today but Molly got sick. Instead, we ended up driving down to my mom's to pick her up. Poor thing, it must be a flu. Now we're snuggling in bed with our comfortable pajamas on waiting for Michael and Oliver to come back from the store to make dinner. Molly has requested watermelon, granny smith apples, macaroni and cheese with peas and sausage. Anything else Molly? She seems to have her appetite back! I hope she feels better tomorrow so we can enjoy our Sunday together. I would love to take a bike ride over to the campus arboretum to see all the changing trees and ducks on the pond. Molly says she would like to pack a picnic, again her mind is on food. OK Molly, just get better and tomorrow we shall picnic!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today I think I'll go to the orchard and pick some persimmons! There are two varieties, the fuyu, which is more like an apple, is ripe and ready for eating. The other needs to be completely soft or it has a bitter, sappy texture. The kids are with my mom for a couple of days and when they get back they'll be so excited to find a pile of beautiful orange persimmons on the table. My mom recently harvested her honey from the hive on her property. She brought 5 jars for me to share with family and friends! I love holding it to the light to see it's dense, opaqueness. It really does seem like liquid gold. Now all we need are some chickens in the family!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"Often goes the Christ in the stranger's guise." Although I lean more towards nature based beliefs, I love this celebration of bringing light to darkness. Tonight, the kindergarten does their lantern walk at the school and they've been working hard on the lanterns they will carry. Each child bringing their own little light out into a cold, dark night. Crunching over leaves, they are apart of a collective glow. What a powerful symbol, to fill what was once a dark space with such brightness and warmth. To see that together we are a powerful force of love and light. The story of St. Martin has wonderful imagery. It's said that while passing under a bridge, Martin came upon a cold beggar. Martin took his cloak from his own back and tore it in two, sharing it with the man. The man later appeared in a dream, I believe, as Christ. What an important lesson to teach our children, to give love and light. Somehow, bring your own light to the darkness today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All School Morning Verse

I use to speak this verse every morning with Oliver and Molly while we home schooled. I'm missing it, so I think I'll use it for myself now.

To wonder at beauty
stand guard over truth
look up to the noble
resolve on the good
this leadeth us truly
to purpose in living
to right in our doing
to light in our thinking
and teaches us trust
in the workings of creation
in all that there is
in width of the world
in the dept of the soul

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Colors on My Bike Ride

My favorite tree

Wow, nature is amazing!

The swing under the walnut tree stands still while children are at school.

Yellow-green leaves with chocolate brown seed pods.

Light streams through the canopy above the Shire.

Gourds decorate a neighbors fence like little swans.

Peach leaves make a beautiful color when dying silks.
Everyday, the colors intensify and everyday I say I need to capture these beautiful trees with a photograph. I finally made myself stop this morning. It's so nice to just stop what you're doing and take notice of nature's fantastic display. If you don't, you might just miss it. Soon a rain will come knocking down the leaves, leaving only bare branches to behold until spring. Take a moment to really soak in these colors while they last!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Field Trip to a Rice Farm

Molly in the cut fields
Loading up the trucks

Beautiful grains.

Rice fields as far as the eye can see.
Both Molly and Oliver's class had a field trip to a local rice farm last Friday. The farmer spoke with everyone and alowed the children to run in the fields. They had so much fun falling down, disappearing beneath the tall stalks and pulling the grains loose. It was so nice to be able to be on a field trip for both my children at once!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Speaking of Snail-io

Across from the third grade garden stands the kindergarten gate.
And watching the gate, is the new Snail-io oven! Working with bare feet in mud and straw, the third grade children, Molly included, built this beautiful outdoor oven for the garden. Next week, they'll fire it up to make homemade pizzas! Michael was able to assist Brian Baker and Mrs. Toy construct this incredible oven. What started out as clay bricks, made by Oliver's class last year, to a mound of sand and finally ended as an amazing sculpture. The children will be so excited to begin using it this week! Check out Brian's web site at

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Nutcracker

Almost every year from the time I was very little, my grandparents took me to the Nutcracker ballet in San Francisco. In a new dress and shiny shoes, we would ride the trolley cars singing Christmas carols and click up the marble stairs that led us to our seats. Thick velvet curtains and large chandeliers, it was so beautiful. The orchestra would warm up, the lights go down and a large snowflake appeared on the drawn curtains. It was magic! Now, for the first time, I will be taking my children to the War Memorial Opera House. I can't wait to share this with them. There is nothing like the feeling of San Francisco during the holidays. Such wonderful memories.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Loss

Yesterday, our community suffered the loss of a parent. It was sudden and unexpected leaving a feeling a shock and vulnerability in it's wake. As the primary care giver, he was adored by his two young girls. I can't imagine the loss his wife must feel. Once the girls were safely in their classrooms this morning, the parents began to weep. What was so important to us moments before, now no longer on our minds. My aunt Denise showed up for gardening time and I relayed our sad news. I decided to head out with the kids to get my hands in the earth, to ground and be present. Hands in the soil, sun setting painting a neon pink sky, I feel a sense of peace. Little rows of baby onions we will watch grow as we are watching our children grow. This is a gift, not an entitlement. The sun disappears and a soft mist holds us. A flock of Canadian geese fly overhead their calls ringing like church bells for a sacred mass, reminding me how precious our time here is. I love you all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parade of Pumpkins

After Halloween, all the families bring their pumpkins down to the main green to be lit for several evenings. Each day they gather, excitedly rearranging the glowing squash, eating caramel popcorn by a warm fire. Neighbors meet, sometimes, for the first time. One man sits in his wheelchair, his loyal dog laying beside him. He has taken over the organization of this small parade and we all benefit from this simple little tribute to the carved vegetable. Through the dark field they meander, each face different from the last. As we go home for the evening, we pass other neighbors on the way, wheelbarrows full , making their way down the dark paths of the Shire.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Morning's Ride

What a beautiful morning! Passing the peach orchard, we notice the leaves beginning to change to that vibrant yellow. The tops of other trees have begun to transition from the tops turning a deep magenta. A haunting mist hangs over large green fields. An older man on his walk moves slowly, each exhale turning to vapor in the cold air. Then we are at the school, parents helping to plant the many donations from a local herb farm. Hands in the soil, their children watching and playing, our resident herbalist bends down to taste one of the green leaves. If there is a healthier place for a young child to flourish, I am not aware. Once again, I am grateful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Remains

The day after Samhain/Halloween, what's left behind? A room that was full of warm souls, now just the traces of what was a beautiful night remain. Dishes, food, candy and candle stubs; wilting pumpkins, empty glasses and burnt incense sticks. Memories of what was many years ago and what was moments ago, fill the spirit. One day, we'll be on the altar and these memories that we've created with our children will endure. Maybe they will pour a glass of wine for me!
If I don't see you through the week
See you through the window
See you next time that we're talking on the telephone
And if I don't see you in that Indian summer
Then I want to see you further on up the road
I said, oh won't you come back?
I have to see you my dear
Want you to come back home in the Celtic New Year?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Festivities

Why no pesticides? Because then you can find cool creatures like this in your garden!

Oliver as a hunch back and Molly as skeleton last night at the festival

Penelope, Serafina and Molly decorate Halloween cookies. The goulash is bubbling and another pie sits upon the table. On the altar we have a gin and tonic for grandma and grandpa, some hard candies for my gran and Michael's grandfather, some sweet smelling rose petals strewn about and some mini pumpkins Oliver carved little faces into to light up the sacred space. The children have had a fun weekend thus far carving out many pumpkins and eating many sweets. I'm going as a witch and so is Molly while Oliver has chosen the skeleton for tonight's pumpkin lit walk through the Shire. It's so magical, even as an adult to walk these paths at night. All the trees, fallen leaves and crisp air. The smell of pumpkins lit by candles and knocking on the doors of friends, family and neighbors in the anticipation of yummy treats. Costumes can be so creative, especially the Little ones on their first trick-or-treat outing. Happy Samhain/Halloween to all!