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!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Treats!

Brown sugar pumpkin pie, lady apples, and lemon sugar cookies for the kids to decorate tomorrow! They've been down at the neighbors most of the morning, carving some pumpkins while I've been busy in the kitchen. It smells warm and delicious! I'm getting excited to go over to Denises' house to spend time with the family. It rained a little this morning and the sky is thick with clouds. Hopefully we'll have a dry evening at the festival. Nobody likes a messy looking angel.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Plans for the Weekend

Pumpkin carving contest over at aunt Denises' house, Halloween festival at the Waldorf School, dinner before trick-or-treating in the Shire: goulash with noodles and sour cream, pumpkin pie, Halloween sugar cookies, mulled cider and little lady apples. Pictures of delicious food to follow!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Festival

Michael is off to the pumpkin patch, with Oliver's class, to get 200 pumpkins that were donated to the school for the Halloween festival on Saturday. Tomorrow, each child will carve a pumpkin that will illuminate a path. Guided by angels, the younger children of the school are led on a journey through beautifully decorated classrooms. Each year the school prepares for a special fairy tale play and the children receive small gifts from each room. This is Oliver's big year, since he is in fourth grade, he can try his courage on the perilous path. Each child must walk this path alone and in the dark meeting challenges along the way. I am so proud of him for being so brave. I will be trying out my wings as one of the angel guides and enjoy the sweet faces who truly believe the wings are real.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Morning in the Garden

It's a spooky walk to the garden spot!

Here they come!

All the little seedlings are working hard! It's so exciting to see them popping up in their neat little rows of green. Before we know it, we'll have fresh radish, carrots, beets and parsnips. It's getting much cooler and it's almost time to put in our garlic and onions. Only one downside to having so much garden space.......WEEDING!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Prayers for the Dead

Beginning yesterday,I light a small white candle on the altar of my ancestors for seven nights and say a prayer. Trying to remember, in detail, each face I knew and loved. Remembering their touch, smell and voice. How it felt to be in their home surrounded by all that loud crazy family, or how my grandmother's hair looked after I put one hundred bobby pins in it to form little buns all over her head. Ahhh, the smell of Aquanet and Noxzema. Sending these loving memories to those beyond the veil really connects me to who I am and I feel their support lifting me. These memories will live within me always. Here's a Samhain (celtic new year) prayer that I use.

I miss you most upon each Samhain

when the boundary turns to sheer

I wait until the veil is parted

At the ending of the year.

Sweet spirit, as you walk among us

At the tolling of this eve

I see your face beyond the sunset

and hear your voice upon the breeze.

In the glowing of the candle

From the shadow on the wall

I watch for you in every movement

and hear your footsteps in the hall.

Can you sit and spend the evening

As the portal opens wide?

Ancestral dead, I bid you welcome

Most recent dead, I pray, abide.

When you come I sense your presence

I put my hand out in the air

A moment, then, we stand united

Palm to palm while waiting there.

I miss you most upon each Samhain

When the boundary turns to sheer

We share these hours until the dawning

Then bid farewell until next year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Everything Pumpkin

Baking pumpkin on a rainy day Yesterday was such a perfect day to bake a pumpkin, so rainy and cold. I still have a quarter of it left, it was so large. We made an impromptu pumpkin soup with organic chicken sausage spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. So delicious, it was shared around our cozy table with friends and family. My beautiful neighbor, Jill, brought over some homemade molasses bread just in time for dessert. Still warm, we spread it with butter, fig conserve and sipped hot licorice tea. This morning, I added spoonfuls of the puree to yogurt with cinnamon and a little conserve for sweetness and ta-da.......pumpkin pie yogurt! The remainder of the puree will be reserved for an actual pie or two on Halloween. Hooray for fall!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Football and Friends

The kids enjoy the Band-uh!

Football in the rain With tickets from our friends the Hackett's, we hit the Aggies game! We all had a great time in the rain but the best part was the Band-uh! We stayed after the game and watched the band rock out! After a wet bike ride home, we enjoyed a warm fire, good food and friends in pajamas.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rainy Day at the Dairy

Such sweet creatures.
"Trying to eat here!"
Molly feeding a calf

A view from the dairy

Yesterday, we took a field trip to the Bodega area with Molly's class. We had such a great time visiting one of the sister dairies of Strauss. They produce that delicious milk sold in bottles with a thick layer of cream at the top! It's no small task to produce organic dairy products. Anytime a cow gets sick, and uses antibiotics, that cow can never be milked again. With 182 acres and about 200 cows being milked twice a day, I say paying a little extra is worth the cost.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


We had a hard start to our morning, the other day. We've come to the conclusion that riding our bikes to school with the violin just doesn't work. Oliver was not pleased. However, even after such a stormy morning, one moment stood out. We arrived at school, engrossed in conversation, when, in mid-sentence, Oliver recoils in horror! Is he stung? Has he forgotten his report on the cure for cancer at home? I look down in the direction his eyes are fixed to find......a snail. Yes, he almost stepped on it. Carefully we maneuver around and I continue down the path. Realizing that Oliver is no longer next to me, I turn around and am greeted with a warm vision. He is kneeling down beside the snail, speaking gently and moving it to the plants. Compassion, something rarely taught or found these days. From preschool they have learned to respect all creatures and were mortified when I chucked a snail from my garden, or worse, added a little salt. In their chubby little baby bodies, they would softly sing:"Hey there, snail-io, how's the world with you? Stick out your little horns and tell me how do you do?" We can learn a lot from this simple lesson. "Let the creatures be." Even the ones that are challenging. Compassion, love, respect and tolerance; I'll keep working on these.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fruits and Nuts

Little jewels

I love these colors. It's the end of the month, and as usual, things get lean. Michael and I decided to do some foraging for the kids lunches. We came home with some beautiful fruits and nuts. The kids were so excited about the pineapple guavas from Denise's house. We also picked up some more walnuts, pecans and pistachios for use in our holiday baking. I couldn't resist photographing our bounty. Once all the nuts have dried, we need to have a cracking party!

Baked Pears

Yummy! Baked pears for breakfast.
Michael went to the pear orchard yesterday and filled his bag. It's so nice, when we are running low on fruit, to just walk outside here. The kids brought home some pomegranate, which went in their lunches today. I decided to start the day off with these baked pears! I peeled and seeded them, filled them with oatmeal, cinnamon, sugar and butter. I set them in a baking dish with some blueberry pomegranate juice and sealed them up well with foil, then baked them at 350 until they smelled good! I served them in a dish of cream at the top milk from the Strauss Dairy. Oh, and who doesn't like a bit more butter?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Pouring over dried grape leaves, droplets soaking the parched earth, relief at last. Rain cleanses the earth and the soul, leaving everything feeling, smelling, fresh and new. The kids take their cue from the birds, playing and singing in the trees. Soon, the streets will fill, spilling over into the swale beneath the trees. They love the waterfall that fills these man made pools, allowing water to soak back into our common area. Sitting on the little bridge, they create a world all their own. Can I be a child here?

In the Pumpkin Patch

Oh, what variety! They made it out of the maze!
And it was no small feat.

Michael has a plan for the carving competition.

Diana with a llama.

This one is for Elana.

Colors, textures and of course, flavors.

On the hunt for the perfect pumpkins for Denise and Diana's competition on the 30th! We've started an annual carving competition with family and friends. I'm more into the pie, so instead of wasting a ten dollar pumpkin, I'm going to bake mine! Maybe I'll win for originality.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Family Farm Day

Michael contemplates the placement of the veggies!

Molly and cousin Elana sow the seeds.

Molly and Oliver working the beds with Auntie Denise

Up early with my tea and Molly home for three minutes, then off to the garden! Today, we planted rows of seeds, in anticipation of a bounty of beets (all varieties), an abundance of carrots, a river of radish and a plethora of parsnips. Out in the cool fall air, the family gathers to plant and to plan. No one shall go hungry here! If a little is good, a lot must be better!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Pumpkins, skeletons and ghosts aglow. In the fireplace, candles illuminate my white pitcher filled with dried artichokes. My ancestors stand amongst tin tapped luminaries and a giant bat hangs from our green lit ceiling fan. I love my house at Halloween! Ahhh, hot licorice tea with almond milk. Molly is camping out in Denises' house with Elana enjoying pizza and a movie. Another day in the Shire.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Visit from my Sister

My sister, Addie, came for an overnight visit! The kids were so excited to have her here. They love having Auntie Addie nearby to pop in like this. They had dinner together in our ghostly decorated house and Addie braided Molly's hair for her, before bed. This morning, I baked cinnamon popovers with butter and honey then we were all off to school on our bikes. It felt so good to watch Addie ride ahead next to Oliver, chatting all the way. After dropping off the kids, we headed to ciocolat for a coffee and shared a breakfast. We had a great time talking and watching the UC traffic (bikes) go by. So wonderful to start building a relationship with my little sister. She is amazing. We had great laughs about her terribly uncomfortable bike seat the whole way home!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Angel and the Golden Ball

When my children were in preschool, for their birthday, the teacher would tell a story. It went something like this: Once upon a time, high up in the clouds, was and angel who loved to play with a golden ball. One day while she was tossing her ball up and down the ball fell through the clouds. The angel peered down through them to find her ball and saw children playing on the earth. Oh how she longed to play like these children. So she told the mother angel and the mother angel told her she must pick two special people on the earth to care for her. So she looked and looked and finally found the two most special people she could find. So the mother angel whispered into their ears "a baby is coming, a baby is coming". Then the angel traveled over the rainbow bridge where there was much celebration at her arrival.

This is the best that I can remember this story but every time I heard it for my children, my child was placed in my lap wearing a crown and cape with all the other little children making "music", I would cry. Today was Molly's dear teachers birthday, so I had all the children draw a picture and Michael drew a picture for the cover of this beautiful birthday book. She seemed so happy to receive this before school began this morning. I certainly enjoyed helping it come together.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Pictures

Me and Molly with our ribbon at the Sonoma Vitage Festival.

Our shirts were a little bit big!

Michael in planting our winter garden.

Michael in the meadow, waiting for the stars

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taking It In

It was just one of those moments, yesterday, when everything seemed to be lulling me into a beautiful trance. I sat there, in the garden, smelling the freshly laid straw; watching the last summer blooms swaying in the breeze, their electric colors lit by the afternoon sun. I could hear the children in the neighborhood giggling at a birthday party and down the twisty path, the soul stirring sound of a violin drifting above it all. Try and find a moment today when everything else seems to fade into the background and the truth, of what life is, comes forward.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Drama, Gardening, and Stargazing

Molly and Oliver had the privilege of helping our friends Jeff and Lyndsay ready their actors for the Cool Davis Festival today. Jeff and Lyndsay have this great interactive business they started that educates children on the environment. It was so exciting walking into the theatre to see my kids on a stage in lights! Maybe drama should be included in our list of things I would like to provide for them. While they were "acting" Michael and I worked in the garden under the "instruction" of our neighbor Jillith (Jill). She did actually end up putting her hands in the dirt and the comic relief was well appreciated. The end result is rows of little green plants and lots of straw to keep the weeds at bay. We have planted a lot of chard, bok choy, cabbage and some brussel sprouts. Another thing I'm grateful for, my kids love greens. After the garden was done we headed out to Stebbins Cold Creek Canyon at the base of Lake Berryessa for our stargazing hike! There were probably about 40 people at this hike which is free with a suggested donation of only 10 dollars per family. We hiked about a mile up into the hills, laid our blankets in a dry meadow of wild oats and snacked on warm squash bread that Jill had just baked and our homemade pear juice. As the sun was setting, our guide told mythological stories about the constellations and soon we were staring into the Milky Way. What a beautiful night! The guide used her laser pointer to touch the stars naming the important ones for us. Molly and Oliver loved some of the funny names. Listening to the crickets Oliver fell asleep under Molly's legs and Michael began to drift. By about 9 we were hiking by flashlights back down the canyon occasionally gazing up at the great display from so far away.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cozy Cottage

I'm sitting on my grandmother's couch next to the window and taking in the morning light. Everyday looks a little different. I have set up an alter on top of the piano across from the couch filled with pictures of those who have passed decorated with little pumpkins and tin tapped candle holders, some with initials. It seems that every culture has this whether you call it Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead, or Celtic New Year it all seems to come back to the belief of the veils between the two worlds being the thinnest. Next to each picture is something that belonged to the person such as jewelry or a handkerchief. It really brings a warm feeling to the cottage. Taking time like this to really include the ones you've lost in your thoughts and daily life makes them feel not so distant and just seems to fit this time of year as the world is growing darker and mother nature is growing sleepy. It keeps me in check with the wheel of the year and the wheel of human life. One thing is certain, the love is never gone.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Morning Snapshots

A bike ride, just me and Molly. Molly is beneath a rainbow silk setting up the play area for the preschoolers. The parents enjoying coffee, conversation and snacks in the breezeway. The children barefoot in mounds of mud mixing and building their wood burning oven for the garden. My last glimpse is of my aunt Mary in a floppy hat and flowing skirt leading the little preschoolers down a lane of changing walnuts sweetly singing "follow, follow, follow me". Beauty in simplicity.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who Wants Cookies?!

These turned out delicious! I altered the recipe for "vanishing oatmeal cookies" substituting sucanat + a tbs of honey for the sugar and whole wheat flour for white. My worries of them turning out like healthy stones were quickly put to rest! Even Mikey liked them! We went to my neighbor Jill's for a beautiful harvest dinner with all the kids and these quickly disappeared.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Chilly Bike Ride

I found these pictures today of my grandparents with Oliver and Molly. I'm really missing them.

I love riding bikes to school with Oliver and Molly. The chilly air, our tires crunching over the fallen leaves and nuts, the sweet smell of fermenting figs and all those beautiful colors growing brighter and deeper by the day. This morning was so brisk that even the sunlight coming through the clouds spoke of colder weather to come. Lately I've been standing outside the kindergarten yard to watch and listen to circle time. It brings back magical memories of preschool with my own children. Such a calm, warm transition for the wee ones to say goodbye to their parents for the day. For those with little ones still, who may choose to home school, here is the circle song to be done with movement and finger play.

In soft morning light
The stars fade away
The birds sing away
This is our new day
Shine like the sun
Bring light
And love
To everyone
Good morning dear earth
Good morning dear sun
Good morning dear stones
And the flowers everyone
Good morning dear beasts
And the birds in the trees
Good morning to you
And good morning to me
Have and beautiful and grateful day! :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grateful for Spilled Coffee

I call Tuesday's "glam-up day". It's the one day during the week, theoretically speaking, that I can put on a little make-up and put aside the sweat pants. Oliver has violin lessons at school on this day so it just feels like too much to bike with, giving me a little more time in the morning to feel like a woman! Now I'm sitting here outside the co-op in my lovely attire, leather jacket and all, with coffee dribbled down the front of my beige wool turtleneck. Ordinarily this would really push me to the brink. The one day I get to clean up and now it's ruined, I shouldn't even try, I give up kind of attitude tends to prevail leaving me feeling defeated. However, I find myself not bothered. I really feel a sense of calm and satisfaction with my life that I don't believe I've ever had. I have everything I need and more. We're aspiring to live by our values and I'm grateful for all the amazing little moments that make up my day. I'm grateful that I have a son, that at age 10, still likes to "camp out" in my room once in a while just to be close to me and my husband. I'm grateful to be able to make french toast with honey, butter and snow(powdered sugar)for breakfast this morning , for how happy they are to go to school and the amazing teacher and community that are there to greet them. I watch as they enter the classrooms with a smile, a handshake and welcome from their teachers. I'm grateful that I have this wonderful partner who shares the same visions and who loves his family more than words can express. I'm grateful for our small home in this incredible "village" and all the family that surrounds us. I'm grateful for all the friends that continually inspire and support me. It really is contagious once you start to focus on gratitude how many things reveal themselves. And now I can add to the list my spilled coffee for showing me how far I've come.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mincemeat Coffee Cake

This is the delicious mincemeat coffee cake I made yesterday that was sampled by my daughter Molly and her neighborhood friends. It smells mouthwatering while it's baking. I made the mincemeat myself from the pears here in the orchard and our green tomatoes left on the vines. The girls loved it! I also was able to finish the little dress my friend Maya and I worked on last week! So very exciting to sew for the first time. She has pics on her blog site so check it out!

Mincemeat Coffee Cake


1 cup flour (I like to use a mix of whole wheat and white)

1/2 cup sucanat

4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup softened butter


2 cups flour (again I use a mix)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup softened butter

3/4 cup sucanat

1 tsp vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup low fat yogurt

Mincemeat filling

1 14 oz jar mock mincemeat or homemade

1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease 9x13 pan. For streusel, mix dry ingredients and cut butter in until crumbly. For batter, mix flour, baking powder and soda. Cream butter, sucanat and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in yogurt. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 parts mixing well after each addition. Mix egg into mincemeat. Spread half the batter into pan and sprinkle with half the streusel followed by all the mincemeat. Cover with remaining batter and streusel. I baked this for about 40 mins. Insert cake tester to check doneness. ENJOY!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


We've shook the almonds from the trees, canned syrupy fig conserve, turned our green tomatos and pears into delicious spicy mincemeat, and baked whole wheat pizzas with the last of the peppers, tomatos and eggplant. Now it's time to work the gardens and ready them for our winter crops! Working along side my Aunt Denise we are preparing the beds with rich soil and all the little plants are waiting to take root. Our friends in Winters gave us a large amount of fava beans to plant. I just love their tall green stalks and creamy blossoms with velvety dark purple middles. They're so good for the soil and delicious in risotto. We helped our friends harvest their vineyards and make their wine with all the kids. What a great experience! Once the kids were bored they spent the rest of the afternoon in the pond catching tadpoles and floating on a boat in the cool waters. Molly had purple toes for days and we all smelled a little like wine. We have really taken in the season and feel a strong connection to the changing light filtering through yellowing vines. I'm looking forward to cooler weather and lush greens pushing through dark winter soil. I think today we'll bake bread filled with our mincemeat and fill the house with the smells of fall.