Monday, March 27, 2017

March Photo A Day 27 - Eat

Today's March Photo A Day prompt is "Eat" so I thought I would show you what I've been eating lately. The Cashew Smoothie Bowl above was yesterday's "Second Breakfast" (yes, I am secretly a Hobbit.)  

In the summer, we eat almost exclusively "farm fare" fresh from the garden.  We go out and harvest, come in and preserve, and eat whatever is at hand.  We eat a lot of salads in the early summer, and a lot of tomatoes in the late summer, and a lot of squash from harvest in autumn until they run out or go bad in the root cellar.

At this time of year, there are still a few good spaghetti squash in the root cellar, and still some canned goods on the shelves in the canning room.  We even have a small "salad patch" growing in a tray under full-spectrum lights.  However, I get a little tired of the storage foods about now. The truth is that the first breath of spring air elicits in me a craving for food pulled straight from the garden.

I clipped fresh thyme today, as I have several times this winter, and I see that chives and sorrel will be available in small quantities soon.  In the meantime, I have been trying to add something new and fresh to my cooking repertoire to hold me over until the early harvests from this year's garden.

A few weeks ago, I had a "smoothie bowl" (a thick smoothie that you eat with a spoon, rather than drink) at a restaurant, and I have been wanting to recreate that at home.  I was home alone all day Sunday, so it was a perfect day to experiment and not worry about forcing anyone else to eat the results of my innovations.  I shouldn't have worried, because my Cashew Smoothie Bowl was delicious! 

The "Un-recipe" follows (because I am a "little bit of this, little bit of that, type of cook!)

Cashew Smoothie Bowl

Soak in water overnight
  •  1 1/2 cups of raw cashews


Blend (in food processor or high power blender)
  • Cashews
  • 1/4 cup fresh water
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Pure Almond or Vanilla Extract (1/8 tsp or to taste)
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 2 bananas

Top with fun extras.  I used (from left to right in photo)
  • Roasted lightly salted sunflower seeds
  • Blueberries
  • Black Chia Seeds
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Eat with a spoon!

Today's Second Breakfast was a variation on a theme. My Avocado & Greens Smoothie Bowl was topped with unsweetened coconut, strawberries, mandarin orange wedges, and walnuts.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Three Days of Rain (Photo A Day 26 - Team)

There is a break in the rain.  
Quick!  Pull on your boots, and come with me,
with my one dog sled team, out beyond the still half-frozen swamp
deep into the quiet wood.

We will step over the lingering snow,

while far over head the crows wheel and circle,
keeping guard.

Past the little rivulets and streams that run only in the spring,

to the secret heart of the woods,
where even in the bleak days of early spring,
we can find some green.

We will walk a lazy circuit through these soggy acres,
down to the edge of swamp,
where the frogs are still sleeping with their toes buried in mud.

What do you think?  
Should we take off our boots and dip our toes in the icy water?

As we head back home,
we will look up into the mist and gloom 
of this rainy gray afternoon,
and we  will see that the robins have returned.

(Use your imagination!  But, there really are several robins in the tree in this grainy gray photo!)

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you good company.

March Photo A Day 25 - Flat

Nature teaches more than she preaches. 
There are no sermons in stones. 
It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral. 

~ John Burroughs

Today's Photo a Day prompt was "Flat."  This, for me, was the most difficult prompt thus far.  First of all, it was difficult to think of something flat, that would be fun to photograph.  Now, when I was a girl, I had wildflowers pressed between the yellow pages of a very fat phone book.  These days, though, I leave the flowers growing in the field and take photos of them.  The region around me is not flat, but consists of gentle rolling hills.  Neither is the lake flat today, when the wind is cold and choppy. Instead, the lake is filled with churning blue waves, with white flags upon their crests.

Just the other day, when we walked the icy shoreline, I found a few small stones, one of which is very flat. So here is my subject, I thought.  However, I then encountered the other difficulty with this prompt. My inexpensive phone was not adequate for taking these photos, without the ability to focus carefully or to select a macro setting.

These are called Petoskey stones, and unless they are wet, they appear nearly monochromatic gray. They may be polished, but not tossed around in a rock tumbler, for they will disintegrate. I once believed that they were unique to our region, for they are named after a nearby town, as well as after a historic Ottawa chief who once lived in this region.  Alas, Wikipedia tells me that they are also found elsewhere in the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Germany and even somewhere in Asia.

Are you a rock hound?  I try to keep my sampling to a minimum on my nature walks, but sometimes a little talisman is hard to resist.  When I have admired them long enough, perhaps I will scatter some of them along the shoreline again for someone else to discover.  What rocks are unique or interesting in your area?  We have several others that I am learning to recognize.  I love to walk the beach in a light rain on a warm summer afternoon, because the colors and patterns of the rocks glisten brilliantly.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you joy in your surroundings.

More about the photo a day challenge here.  Tomorrow's prompt is Team.
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Sunday Stroll Invitation

We are on the third day of all-day rain and drizzle. If I walk at all, it will be a soggy plod through deep puddles! I hope your weather is more inviting than mine!

The weather has also put a damper on my rural satellite internet, so yesterday's Photo A Day post is in limbo on my desktop computer and I am writing on my phone with it's tiny screen and limited data allowance!

However, if you stroll today, please leave me a note so I can come by for a visit as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I am cleaning house and watching through the windows for a break in the clouds.

Click here to join Steve out on the cold Prairie for an early Springtime Stroll.

Friday, March 24, 2017

March Photo A Day 24 - I feel...

cozy. It has been an all day rain. Indoors, a low fire is glowing. I have a warm mug of tea at hand. It's not even 7pm, and I am already relaxed and comfy in my flannel pajamas. I am about to delve into Braiding Sweetgrass, a book I've been meaning to read for quite some time.

On the other hand, Micah, as you can see, prefers to sit out in the rain. He chose to sit on the upper deck, rather than under a roof, so he can survey the rain-washed garden. Someone has to keep an eye on things you know!

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you all the comforts of home.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Photo A Day 23 - Tired

Are you tired of seeing photos of my ice and snow?
I am, but here are some (phone) photos of it anyway, 
since today's prompt is "Tired!"
  We braved the icy shoreline
 and made our way 
to a hidden stretch of shale beach.

Walking away from the cold wind on the beach, 
and hking up through the quiet woodland, 
to the lane on the ridge
we found little treasures;
last autumn's pine cones,
and last summer's bird nests.

As we walked, 
we planned a picnic for warmer days,
on the shale bluffs,
overlooking Lake Michigan,
under the tall towers of Black Spruce.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you serenity.

More about the Photo A Day Challenge here.  Tomorrow's prompt is "I feel..."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Photo A Day 22 - Work

For today's prompt, I am going to link to an old favorite post of mine.  Yesterday's photo was taken by one of my daughters, so perhaps that is not strictly in keeping with the intent of the challenge.  The post I am linking to today contains only my own photography, from a garden I worked in once upon a time.

If I tell you that this past weekend, my farmer and I took our granddaughter (along with her parents) to see the new live action movie of Beauty and the Beast, you may understand why I was drawn to this old post.  The little narrative that goes along with it tells you who was working in that old butterfly garden along with me.  I hope you will link over to read a very short story, entitled While the Wild Wind Blows.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you joy in your work.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Photo A Day 21 - Sweet

This is a "recycled" photo included on this blog way back in 2007, in this post entitled Echo and Narcissus...  The next several days of the photo challenge will be either recycled from  earlier posts, my personal photo collection, or taken with my low quality cell phone camera.  My son has borrowed back his little point and click camera for an adventure, so I am winging it for the remainder of the photo challenge. 

Hopefully we will soon be seeing some blooms similar to this in my neighborhood!  What about you?  Are your crocus and daffodils blooming?  Do you have a house in your neighborhood that has an abundance of spring bulbs, bursting with color and life at the leading edge of spring?  Each year, I put in a few more.  There is something so cheering about early-blooming flowers!

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you good cheer!

Monday, March 20, 2017

March Photo A Day 20 - Hidden

Hidden away in an upstairs room, this sweet creature is resting and healing. She is under the weather, and I am kitty-sitting for my youngest son.  This little cat, Skye, has been his companion since he was about a year and a half old.  She lives with him when he is at his dad's.  She is staying with me during some busy weeks for that household, but I have to keep her tucked away upstairs because my two, otherwise wonderful, dogs are not cat-lovers.  She is getting a lot of TLC, not to mention having a few portraits snapped for today's photo prompt, Hidden.  

You can see her in a couple of old, old blog posts here.

More about the Photo A Day Challenge here. Tomorrow's prompt is "Sweet" so maybe you will be seeing another photo of Skye, because she is definitely sweet!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March Photo A Day 19 - Order and Sunday Stroll

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, 
and to have my senses put in order. 
~ John Burroughs

When we plant gardens, so often we work in tidy, linear rows, but nature has more of a f-l-o-w.  I find the story clearly written as I wander near the creek.  At the edges of the creek, all along its length, the natural order of things is cattails and reeds, water grasses and soggy, nourishing, rotting leaves.

Up from the creek a few steps, sunlight pours in through the cedars.
We walk on dry trails, but water and ice catch in little pools.

As we step out of the cedars, we find an open field, once cleared by an earlier generation of farmers.  Small cedars have planted themselves in the clearing.  Every year a few more spring up.  The field is trying to return to the natural order of things.

I like to sit in the swing at the north end of the field and consider that slow motion change in what lies before me.  In a couple of decades, will I sit here in the sun amid wildflowers, or will cedars be filling the field  with filtered light and interesting shadows.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you peace.

Sunday Stroll Invitation - Last Sunday of Winter

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. 
Hal Borland

This is officially the last Sunday in winter.  Evidence of that is clear, where I am.  There are patches of snow on the land, and bits of ice in the water, and yet, the chives are two inches tall and green sorrel is peeking up beneath the decaying leaves remaining from last autumn.

Will you walk with me on this last Sunday in winter?  If you do, and if you post photos of your stroll through your own corner of the world, please let me know in a comment and I will share a link to your blog on this post, and on my own Sunday Stroll post coming later today.  I wonder how great a variety of weather and early spring growth we will find?

Stroll with Steve and the birds Out on the Prairie.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

March Photo A Day 18 - Hope


Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, 
you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn. 

~ Walter Scott

As we drove to town today, I could see that the orchards had the slight haze of red that indicates that buds are swelling.  This is a vulnerable time in the orchard.  As buds swell, they become more susceptible to frost damage.  Here in our northern hills, several more frosts, a few hard freezes, and more snow are a near certainty at this time of year.  Today's Photo A Day prompt is "Hope," and as I see the buds swell, I hope for a gentle spring that eases the orchards into bloom at just the right time. 

Our own home orchard is a small endeavor.  We have a few trees each of almonds, apricots, plums, apples, cherries, pears and peaches, within the garden enclosure.  There are grape vines and a large patch of strawberries, as well as a few blueberry bushes.  Outside of the garden, blackberries run rampant in the woods and there are several ancient apple trees, still offering generous amounts of fruit each autumn.  The young trees within the garden are just entering their fruit bearing years, and so are more tentative, less voluptuous, in their offerings.

In the midst of winter, we pruned the fruit trees and vines.  In the spring, we will protect them as much as possible, tossing frost covers over the grape vines and strawberries, our two most abundant fruit crops, at the very least.  Through the summer, we will harvest the earlier fruit and guard the later harvests against insect invaders.  Raccoons are particularly fond of peaches and pretty crafty about getting under our garden fence, and last year ants found our peaches just before we determined that they were ripe enough to pick.  Fruit growing is a continual, nearly 4-season, engagement of vigilance and innovation, intuition and application.  

I am especially appreciative of the wild blackberries and ancient apples, because we just ignore them until it is time to harvest.  It gives me a thrill to live on such a bountiful earth, during those hot summer days in the blackberry bramble!  Now, in Middle March, I walk quietly in the sleeping orchard, filled with hope and happy expectation.

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you something to look forward to.


More about the Photo A Day Challenge here. Tomorrow's prompt, Order.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

March Photo A Day 17 - Green

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. 
~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca
(1600 to 1681)

Even in these last days of winter,
it is easy to find bits of green in the heart of the cedar swamp;

the rich green of moss, and the silvery green of lichen,

green backdrops,

and a green cedar roof overhead.

"Walking on thin ice" through the cedar swamp in my bright blue boots, it is easy to see the truth in de la Barca's quote.  Perhaps the loveliness of the world does arise from green. Today's photo prompt, Green, was a fun one to seek out on a gray sky day in middle March.

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you many shades of green.

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