this week on tumblr


One last round-up in 2010 of recent favorites from my tumblr page...

I woke up at 3am but the skies were all cloudy and I had a serious case of dry mouth.  At least someone was able to see the lunar eclipse.

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Love it love it love it.  And it's a fairly wee kitchen too.

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Yes to making a decision and doing it. Yes to action over emotion. Yes to solo travel. Yes to music in the desert, to exploration and doing things that are a little scary. Yes, yes, yes.
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Such a pretty winter party, but I imagine all of the guests getting frostbitten and cranky and heading indoors.  

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Awesome shirts and sweatshirts with out of print, iconic book covers on them.  Plus, for each shirt sold a book is donated to a community in need through Books for Africa.

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Genius.

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Check out this blog, written by newlyweds traveling the world.  It helps that they are both photographers, because their photos are amazing.

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We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war,” Mr. Johnson and General Ham wrote. “We do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.

We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot and believes all are created equal. Those are the ideals we upheld today.

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And as always, you can head over to my tumblr page for more finds and inspiration from around the web.  Those of you on Twitter, well, please tell me what that thing is all about and then follow me here.  Happy New Year to all!  Pour a glass of something bubbly, crank up the fondue pot and celebrate!  What are your plans?  Tell me, tell me.  A bunch of us are heading to the beautiful Burlington, Vermont tonight to ring in 1.1.11!

wholeliving.com featured blogger

I'm excited to announce that I've been chosen as one of the featured bloggers for the 2011 Whole Living Action Plan: 28-Day Challenge!  You might remember that around this time last year, I did a little detox as part of the Action Plan from Whole Living.  The 28-Day Challenge is designed to help you make healthy, lasting lifestyle changes by breaking bad habits and gradually introducing new ones.  I'll be blogging about my experience with the plan right over here, so if you'd like, please join me there and follow along.


The plan officially starts on January 3, but there are materials and guidance up online for doing some prep this weekend.  Beginning next Monday, I'll be blogging over there 3-5 times a week about my progress with the plan, sharing tips or strategies I've learned and connecting with others around the country.  Every once and awhile I'll give an update here, but if you want in on all of the action you'll have to head over to my blog at Whole Living.

(Photos via Whole Living.)

darling holiday cards

I ordered this year's holiday cards from Rifle Paper Company.  I already have a set of thank-you cards and a small print illustration from this shop and just couldn't resist these.  Aren't they darling?  I ordered a mix of traditional cards and postcards.  It turns out that I didn't order enough, so once again please consider this post as a wish for the happiest holiday season to all of you readers.  I hope you are all surrounded by friends, family & peace and are making a full recovery from your Christmas cookie hangovers. I'm excited to share a little blog announcement later in the week, so check back for some news about a project I'll be starting soon.

PS- See our cards from last year here.

the snow queen


My cousins, sister and I were really lucky growing up.  We were visited each Christmas not only by ol' St. Nick but also by someone a bit more fit and who didn't steal cookies or drag dirty, flea-ridden reindeer across the globe.  Every year on Christmas Day, the Snow Queen visited us at our Nan & Grampy's house and brought us tiny Christmas gifts.  We opened presents and played downstairs in the living room and anxiously awaited that gentle knock at the front door.  A nearby adult would nudge one of us to go open it and let our visitor inside.  It's safe to say that we were all a bit terrified of the Snow Queen.  If I ever was made to answer the door, I was undoubtedly trying my best not to wet myself and disgrace the family name.  The door opened and we would scramble back to someone's lap and watch her effortlessly glide in towards us.  I'd alternate between burying my head into a parent's shoulder and sneaking a glimpse of the most beautiful and magical creature I'd ever seen.

Without making a sound, the Snow Queen carefully placed a tiny treat for each of us near the Christmas tree.  Then, just as quietly as she came in, the Snow Queen left.  As soon as I slowed my breathing and heart rate down (I was a nervous kid), I'm sure I dove right into the pile of presents in search of some chocolate or a Polly Pocket.

We were so disappointed every year when my Aunt Elaine missed the entire visit, coming downstairs just a few moments after the Snow Queen disappeared.  She would have been upstairs doing the dishes... or in the bathroom.. or fixing dessert.  Some years we could have sworn my aunt wasn't in the room but she would kindly remind one of my cousins that, in fact she was there the whole time and that one of us was even sitting on her lap!  "Oh right... yeah, now I remember..."

We learned from our classmates that the Snow Queen apparently had a very small delivery radius, limited exclusively to our grandparents' address, actually.  It increased your chances of a sighting, though, if you had an aunt that was a dancer, an actress, a talented seamstress and very beautiful.  And if you also were a part of a creative, persuasive and at times downright dishonest family that would easily put to rest any doubts or questions you had about the feasibility of a delicate lady floating around the neighborhood in the middle of winter.  Having those things in place was key to Snow Queen visitation rights.


My aunt won't be with us this Christmas.  She passed away last spring.

As we grew older, the Snow Queen stopped appearing in person but continued to leave little treats on Christmas Day. The memories of her, graceful and beautiful and generous, keeps her very much alive and present for us.  And when the next generation of little terrors starts running around the Christmas tree, I have a hunch that the Snow Queen will come around again.  And then we will continue the family tradition of duping our kids into believing in magical beings far past the point that middle school social codes allow.

What are your family holiday traditions?  Did your grandparents' house have any special visitors, strangely unique to their block or zip code?  Share them in the comments :)

weekday soup, fresh pea with parmesan cheese squares

This was intended to be a legit Sunday Soup.  Two Sundays ago we ended up having a late lunch of gigantic burritos while we tackled our office/computer/sewing/junk room, which is the bane of my existence.  It's been a black hole of all the crap we don't want to look at on a daily basis and frankly, it had gotten out of hand.  Considering our space here is fairly limited, we decided to lock ourselves in the room and do some serious weeding through, recycling, donating, throwing out and cleaning so that we can reclaim the precious few square feet.  End result being an emergency burrito run that kept us full well past Sunday Soup hour.  So it was Tuesday Soup instead.  And then yesterday, we actually did make another soup but it was just a variation on this one and didn't warrant an entire post.  But for the record, we added mushrooms and bell pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes.  And here is the soup that we intended to make on a Sunday but made on a Tuesday instead.  And the world keeps goin' round.

Fresh Pea Soup with Parmesan Cheese Squares
(Soup recipe comes from A Beautiful Bowl of Soup and the Parmesan Cheese Square recipe comes from Mom)

Ingredients
Soup
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 leek (white part only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 16 oz bag of fresh frozen peas
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper
Parmesan Cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
    Parmesan Cheese Squares
    • 2 slices of bread, any kind
    • spoonful of mayonnaise
    • a few tbsp of grated Parmesan
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped onions (optional)
    Directions
    1. For the soup... heat oil in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add the celery, onion, leek and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Stir in vegetable stock and peas; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until veggies are very tender.  Meanwhile, steam or microwave the carrots until tender.
    3. Puree the pea mixture with the milk in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Return soup to pot and stir in carrots, sugar and salt and pepper.  Heat through.  Stir together sour cream, Parmesan and pepper in a small bowl and scoop a dollop on top of each serving.
    4. For the Parmesan cheese squares... Cut each slice of bread into quarters.  In a small bowl, combine the mayo, Parmesan and onions.  Spread mixture evenly on the quartered bread and broil or toast for just a few minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden.  
    This only made about 4 servings, so double it if you are having guests over.  I haven't had split pea soup in a very long while, so I can't testify as to how different a fresh pea soup is.  It certainly has a more radioactive color to it.  And it was very good.  Flavorful but not overwhelming and on the quicker end of soup recipes. Sister got me the book for my birthday and it has the most gorgeous pictures in it.

    We double-teamed this meal:  I chopped up the veggies in the morning before I went to work and my co-chef did the rest when he got home from work.  I made the Parmesan Cheese Squares because they are not universally appreciated in this household due to one of the primary ingredients being mayo.  Which yes, I get the reluctance, but they are really very delicious and a super easy snack to whip up for an evening of tv- or movie-watching.  Plan for at least one slice of bread per person.