Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sliced or Smooshed?

Perfectly sliced berries in a strawberry shortcake

Strawberry shortcake is one of my favorite treats!  Nothing says early summer to me like this indulgence.  However, there is great debate at our house regarding the best way to prepare it.

Me:  The shortcake is cakey...the strawberries are sliced or chunked, NOT smooshed.  The ensemble is assembled just before serving.

DH:  The shortcake is a pie-crust-like base, the berries are smooshed, and the ensemble soaks together overnight.

I know he loves me because he made this shortcake in the cake-sliced style.

How do you like your strawberry shortcake?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Braised Leeks

The DH's braised leeks

Leeks are a new crop for us.  They like long, mild growing seasons which we have plenty of around here.  We feasted on these leeks from our garden last week.  Wow, WOW - good!

The DH's (dear hubby's) Braised Leeks
  • One bunch of leeks - outer edges removed, washed carefully to remove dirt between the leaves
  • Trim off most, but not all, of the greenery (we are saving for later use)
  • Slice in half, lengthwise
  • Brown and soften in olive oil (we like using a cast iron skillet for this).  It's a good idea to add a little water, too, to assist the softening.
  • Keeping in the cast iron skillet, cover with heavy cream.
  • Place in a 400-degree oven for about 30 min, or until brown on top and the cream is thick.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Practicing Joy and Winners!

I chose the title of this blog post deliberately...practicing joy.  Because sometimes we just have to make ourselves practice something that isn't coming easily.  It's not that I'm unhappy...it's just that I feel a little volatile in the moment.  I'll have a joyful day, hour, minute -- and then something happens and I'm swooped up in drama and I allow my joy to leave (sickies, work work work, being homesick, blah blaha,).  I'm working on this, and practicing joy is one way.

Recent things bringing me joy:
* These gorgeous lilacs!  The color, the texture, the fragrance.
* My biggest ever blog giveaway!  417 commenters, oh wow!  Congrats to the winners (see below).
* My husband - he moved us into our new home with very little help from me.
* That my family and friends in the Midwest are safe after the storms.
* My recent trip to CA.
* Sun and warmish temps. 
* US-grown strawberries with cream (eating only seasonal fruit these days, another joy - diving deeply into the seasons).
* It's a three-day weekend.
* My job, I have a good one even on the really Really REALLY tough days (like today).
* Riding my bike to work and looking at all the flowers.
* All the FLOWERS!  Wow - it's Eden around here!

Now to the winners of my blog giveaway!  It may take me a few days (I just moved = disaster in the house)...but I'll ship it next week for sure, just as soon as I unearth the goodies!

Tara at Sew Tara who said, "Yipee fabric!! I'm all about using small bits of fabric lately although I'm not sure what I'd do with charm packs, they seem to nice to cut up! Perhaps a lap quilt, been needing one of those for a while.  needing = wanting, let's be honest. :)"


Angela from Cup of Tea who said, "I've been making pinwheels with charm packs lately, but I'm eyeing a recent Moda tutorial for cathedral window blocks that I think would be perfect for a charm pack!

My favorite thing about Spring? Tea! (Actually my favorite thing about every season :-)"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring Giveaway Day!

I'm happy to be participating in Sew, Mama, Sew!'s latest giveaway day.  Spring is so special, for so many reasons - even with the horrible allergies I've had. 

My giveaway will include two charm packs of fabric, and tea!  The giveaway is open through May 25th, and after that time I'll draw a random winner.  Good Luck!

To enter, tell me either what you might do with the charm packs or what you love about Spring.

-- Update -- Wow!  I've had such excellent response, I'll pick two winners!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends

I've been tracking moments of joy this year, and one thing's for sure...there are joyful moments each day when we stop to look for them.  There are also MOMENTS of joy, the kind that make you smile 30 years later.  Here's one of those, dancing with my "Circle of Friends". 

I have my employer to thank for bringing us together.  We four have seen each other through many work crisis moments and deeply profound life transitions.  This time it was to celebrate a wedding. The bride (second from left) was married on a ranch near Paso Robles, CA.  I will remember this joyful moment for the rest of my years!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hyacinths to Feed Thy Soul

Woodland Hyacinth

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,

And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,

Sell one, and with the dole

Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

-- Saadi, Persian Poet

Monday, May 09, 2011

Upcoming Giveaways

Just a quick note about a couple of Giveaways...

Pop over to This Good Life and support her first blog giveaway.  It's tea-themed!  Through May 15th.

And mark your calendars for May 23rd!  I'll be participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's next Giveaway Day.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 06, 2011

J-Tea in Eugene, OR

Josh Chamberlain, making a refreshing and like-no-other iced tea

On a fine, fine spring day last weekend I shared several cups of tea with Josh Chamberlain, proprietor of J-Tea.  Josh runs an online store as well as his tea bar in Eugene, OR.  I wish I were a little closer!  Josh's story is fascinating, and he's clearly in love with high-quality tea, particularly from Taiwan. 

Josh began his tea journey in earnest while working toward his MBA in Taiwan.  (Read more about that story here.)  Synchronicity played a role and provided local mentors and tea guides to inform and shape his tea education.

I enjoyed hearing Josh talk about the evolution of his business and his plans for the future.  In particular, I enjoyed a new release - a special iced tea.  It's made from a green oolong base then mixed with honey and lemon, served up super cold.  I'll leave the trade secrets to Josh, but add that I think he has a winner.

I found myself getting lost in the well-chosen tea wares and how the sunlight played against them. 

I had a big case of the wanties for one of these lovely jars.

The Eight Treasures - a new line of teas selling in local markets.  These teas offer a great range of flavor profiles, perfect for someone wanting to broaden his/her tea tasting experience.
J-Tea from the outside.  If you are in Eugene, it is a must-see!