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.