Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, April 13, 2012

Scrabble Babble

We had a huge thunder storm last night. Woke us all up. Wow! It was wild.
I want everyone to know that I gave at least a third of the Lemon Bars that I baked yesterday to a neighbor... so we didn't eat them all ourselves.
And, did you know that it's National Scrabble Day today. I discovered this when I visited Heidi Ann at Gold Country Girls a while ago.

Also...It's Friday the 13th. Yea!
I think I hear more thunder.
It's raining again... and I'm home alone.
I'm going to pass on posting much today and lay low.
I feel a bad cloud  moving overhead.

So, go play a game of Scrabble,
 and lay low...
Until tomorrow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rain, Morning Thoughts and Lemon Bars

"Hidden, oh hidden
in the high fog
the house we live in,
beneath the magnetic rock,
rain-, rainbow-ridden,
where blood-black
bromelias, lichens,
owls, and the lint
of the waterfalls cling,
familiar, unbidden."
by Elizabeth Bishop
This morning was a wild one. Strong wind and steady rain lashed the garden and hills beyond. The wind railed against the house making Cutter nervous...
and sending Carl under the bed.
Watching through the window, I enjoyed the view of the storm from the safety of our living room.
 Within an hour or so, the rain let up and the sun came through the clouds for a short time.
 I stepped outside for a few minutes. The air was cold. The wind wild.
The daffodils bent and swayed on their delicate, yielding stems...
 I could hear the creek, through the wind, as it swelled again and overflowed its rocky edges. And then the wind picked up, drowning out the creekwater sounds and my sweater wasn't enough warmth anymore. I went back inside.
I cleaned up the kitchen, thought about finishing the new scarf I have been working on, and wrote a few emails. I went back into the kitchen and as I grabbed a banana, I saw this lemon.
This lemon was with a few others in the bottom of the fruit bowl. There it was, staring at me, covered with mildew and mold... and looking rather annoyed. I took it out and set it on the sink.
The other lemons were fine. It was then that I remembered  purchasing a bag of them at Wall Mart last week, thinking that I would make some lemon bars for my family at Easter. The lemon bars didn't happen... apple crisp happened instead. So I had all these lemons and now this one was going south really fast. There were four more in a bag, in the refrigerator. Lots of lemons... what should I do? 
Well, it was still raining outside. (YES, that's a Halloween pumpkin on the porch. I just can't throw it away. It's still pretty and it hasn't rotted out yet.)
The laundry was caught up. The house was fairly clean. The knitting could wait. I was still suffering from withdrawals over my Nuno felting disaster and  the lemons were waiting for redemption.
So, clearly, there was only one thing to do. Make some Lemon Bars.
First I "zested" the lemons, them I squeezed them.
This is the very old Betty Crocker's Cookbook that I love and use all the time. I've had this cookbook since I was first married and that, my friends, was a long, long time ago.
 This is the recipe, on page 270.
I follow this recipe exactly... except for putting maybe a teaspoon of lemon zest into the flour/butter mixture that bakes first. Other than this addition, which I think is a good idea, I make them just like it reads. Oh, I don't cut them up either, unless we have company.
I love Lemon Bars. What I really mean is... I LOVE LEMON BARS. 
This, for me, is what Weight Watcher's calls a "red light" food. So this is a very dangerous dessert to have sitting around the house. Do I sound like I care? It was raining and I had lemons. Some times "fate steps in and sees you through".
 We don't cut them up into bars. We just cut them as we eat them. It's easier this way.
 We already taste tested them for lunch.
The Prospector said that they were really good. I had to have another piece before I could make a definitive decision. Yea, I know. It's all about quality control. Actually, it's all about control... sort of. It's about eating only quality products, with enjoyment, and savoring every bite. It's about the logic of eating well and having control over one's environment. Yes, That's it. That sounds about right. 
I'm the mistress of my kitchen and I like to make sure that my Lemon Bars are the same good quality every time. 
Sounds like a rationalization doesn't it? Yea... it is. I simply LOVE Lemon Bars. That's the truth.
But it all has to do with habit and control. It's kind of like marking my store bought eggs with H.B. when I hard boil them. 
Even though I only hard boil ''store bought" eggs and they're the only WHITE eggs in the fridge.
What can I say. It's a control issue. I don't need to do it...all the other eggs are from the coop and they are colored. Our chicken eggs don't hard boil well and the shells stick to the egg ( even with ice cubes), so when I want to hard boil eggs or a deviled egg holiday comes 'round , I buy the "store" eggs. And when I hard boil them, I mark them H.B. Don't make this into an issue. It's just the way I roll. It's who I am.
The empty lemon rinds go into a bag and into the freezer.
 I use them with some salt and vinegar to clean the sink, the grout between the tile and to cut up and throw down the disposal, which I never use but has to be cleaned out once in a while... just because.
It makes the kitchen smell great.

I would invite you all over for dessert but... there won't be that much left by dinnertime.
Sorry... but, the recipe is easy and I won't say a word to anyone if you aren't having company. 
Lemon Bars are a guilty pleasure.... better savored alone... or with a special someone.
Owl update:
He flew to the Mock Orange, from his perch in the eaves, last night just before dark. I went out and took this photo of him. He stayed there and let me get close enough to take a great picture. 
 This morning he didn't return. Where does he go and what places does he stay in when the weather is like this? I wish I could follow him and find out.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Morning

"Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
The hunt began...
There was no getting dressed first, even though it was 7:00 a.m. and quite cold outside. 

The sun was just coming up. The eggs were hidden everywhere.
 The excitement was palpable.
The Bean... the wild man with wild hair.

 We even got an email from the Easter Bunny.
 Amazing technology!

 There was no doubt that Easter had arrived.

Later, after Breakfast, they settled in for some quiet time.
I even got Little Bean to pose for a formal portrait.
And The Bean settled into a Lego induced relaxation mode.
I took the boys outside for a while to give mommy, daddy and Papa a rest.  
We went out back and decorated the concrete with chalk.
 When Noni asked them if they wanted to go for a hike, they took a few seconds to decide...
(Oh, that hair.)
And then...
Off they ran, up the road, leaving Noni to catch up.
"Hey! Wait for me." I called out... and they did.
We went to the Manzanita grove on the next knoll beyond the old orchard.
 Where the fox live in dens around the trunks of trees.
It's were the wild things live. 
This is a magical place. 
 We learned about poison oak and what it looked like.
How a plant can be so small that you will step on it and not notice... or it can grow into the oak trees, become like a huge vine and makes the oak tree unclimbable.

 They learned that it is beautiful, has three leaves and the new leaves are shiny and tinged with red.
By the time we left, the Beans were able to tell me what poison oak looks like and could show it to me.
Yea, Beans!!

We talked about wild things and where they go when we humans arrive. How they are watching us and keep their distance until we leave. 
We collected special rocks and "cool" things. 
As we walked back down to the house, Little Bean spotted some holes in the hillside. He said that this was were the Rattlesnakes sleep until Summertime. 
Another good lesson learned.

They all left after lunch. 
The dogs, Papa and Noni took a long nap. 
We miss you, Beans. 
We love you all.
Come back soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh, What fun we had!

The Bean, Little Bean, Mommy and Dad arrived Friday night.
We started our weekend with energy, happiness... and a full house.
The extra bedroom instantly became the central headquarters for artistic endeavors. I really need a bigger workspace for two little boys that love to create things. Little Bean moved his projects to the dining room table and that helped considerably. The house was filled with activity.
...and getting to know each other again.
Playing outside...
Lots of drawing, cutting and painting.
And throwing a Frisbee.
(Nice job, little Bean!)
Later that night we had some Apple Crisp and ice cream... and we all settled in for a good night's sleep.

Saturday morning Dad and Papa took the Beans downtown to an Easter Egg Hunt on Main St.
 Mom and Noni went shopping and ate lunch in Sutter Creek. YES!
We went to a few of our favorite stores. Fine Eye Gallery and On Purpose.
On Purpose is filled with New Age, mystical, magical things... Buddhas, books and all things to transform your life. This is the store that promises positive energy to all.
 We talked to a man about a car.
 He and his wife were sitting outside of the Twisted Fork Restaurant. We asked if this was his car and he said "Yes". So we got permission to take some pictures and he told us that he buys and sells these beautiful old "masterpieces" and I think he said this one was for sale for something like $50,000. THAT'S a lot of money... but it was completely restored. It's an old bakery wagon with a wood ceiling in it.

We walked down to a favorite store for clothes and holidays. 
Tomorrow's Heirlooms is eye candy for beautiful things.

It's filled with charming good taste.
Beautiful window displays...
Hand made banners, soap and good smelling things.
 There is a wonderful children's section.
 And beautiful clothing.

I always ask if I can take pictures. The lady who owns Tomorrow's Heirlooms always says "YES".
When  you do a pictorial on your blog about a store it's kind of like free advertising for them but, even though, sometimes I'm told "No". Then I put the camera away. It's a good idea to always ask first.

We came home. Robbin and I took a short nap and then started dinner . The Beans went fishing with Dad and Papa. It's getting to be a tradition in this family. It's a good thing that we weren't having FISH for dinner though, because the fish decided to lay deep down in the Mokelumne River and didn't come home with the guys.
 The weather was beautiful.  The dinner was good. We had Easter dinner on Saturday because our kids would have to leave early on Sunday.
 I don't cook big meals much anymore, so the ham took longer than expected. I hate to admit that I'm a little out of practice but I will just say that everyone was good and hungry when we finally sat down  to eat.
We held hands and said, "Thank you for this food and bless all of those who couldn't be with us.".
We enjoyed the meal and discussed The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy as we ate. The Bean lost another tooth earlier in the day.

He wanted to be sure that the Tooth Fairy would know where to find him. We assured him that she (or he) would know where the Bean was for the weekend.
The day ended with a bath for the Beans. They went right to sleep.
Robbin and I did the late night bunny run... leaving a few plastic eggs with glow sticks coiled up in them so the Easter Bunny could find us up here on the mountain.
This looked so cool. Hard to take pictures of... but it looked wonderful.
We floated them in the birdbath to take pictures and them scattered them around the yard. ( A Pinterest idea that Robbin found.)

Tomorrow I will show you our lovely Easter Morning, and the hunt for Easter Eggs. What a joy to have the Beans looking for eggs in our garden. Can't express my happiness at this.

OH... and guess who came back Saturday... just for an Easter visit?
The little Screech Owl came back to see us. He hasn't been here for two months or so. But, he arrived on Saturday. We never know when he is going to come and perch on our porch eaves, but it was nice of him to arrive on Easter weekend.
I don't think that he liked all the commotion, but he stayed up there and surveyed the comings and goings underneath him until dark. At some mark, on his internal clock, he flew away.
Now, he is gone. I hope he comes back soon.

Tomorrow... The Egg Hunt.