Birthday Girl’s Weekend– Santa Barbara!!


Hello friends– Do you have fall birthdays to celebrate in your family?? We have a big one– Maryann turned 10!!  So last weekend we trekked up to Santa Barbara for her “ten year old birthday trip.”  Let me tell you, it’s big fun to have all that time to ourselves with our bright spunky girl!

We started out referring to our Birthday Fun Map–  First stop was the Moxi Museum for kids.  Maryann was in her element.  Hands on exhibits using light, art, sound, movement.
     

     

Then we were off on the Little Toot tugboat tour of the harbor– the Captain even gave Maryann a turn at the wheel!
     

We made a Sunday morning stop at the Santa Barbara Mission–founded 1786.
     

Then dropped in to stroll through the lush Santa Barbara Zoo.

     

We picked out our favorite pieces at the SB Art Museum– and puzzled over a few we were unfamiliar with.
     

And we rounded out our day with a tour through the historic courthouse– up the tower for views across Santa Barbara.

     

The sun was about to set when we headed back to deliver Maryann home.


We’re so thankful for days exploring with this sweet girl.  Happy Birthday 10 year old Maryann!!  Here’s to a great year ahead!

Hello Autumn!!– and Pumpkin Baking


Hey there friends– It’s come!  Autumn has finally arrived.  Maple leaves are starting to cover the backyard and amazingly, we supposed to see rain tomorrow!! I wonder, are you one of those people who love autumn??  It just seems like a fresh new start after the hot lazy summer days. The best!

“Delicious Autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking successive autumns.”
— George Eloit

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’m with Anne– So glad for Octobers!! Looking forward to the month ahead..

 

      

HOPES FOR OCTOBER
#1.  Pumpkin Cream Puffs– Let the pumpkin baking begin!!
#2.  Pull out my Halloween kid’s books to read with the Grand-girls
#3.  Mugs of hot Caramel Apple Cider
#4.  Hang the Fall Eucalyptus wreath on the front door
#5.  Take a brisk hike through Craig Park and the fall colors
#6.  Join in the Oktoberfest at the Rockwell’s
#7.   Make pots and pots of soup (Corn Chowder, Pozole, Chili)
#8.  Pull down all the cozy sweaters from the top of the closet
#9.  Evening fires in the fireplace & mugs of apple cinnamon tea
#10. Plant the Sweet Peas (for blooms in the spring)
#11. Just sit and watch the leaves drift down from the backyard Maples
#12. Cal Football & mugs of hard cider & a huge bowl of pop corn (Go Bears!)
#13. Harvest Party with my MOPS moms & their adorable kids!
#14. Have our friends in for Sunday Supper– pumpkin pancakes
#15. San Francisco with Mom to see her great grand-kids for Halloween.
#15. Make our Thankful Heart Chart to be ready for November 1st!

 

Started in on the list this week with those Pumpkin Cream Puffs– They look tricky to make, but cream puffs are so easy– and the way they puff up in the oven to be light and hollow is like magic!


LITTLE PUMPKIN CREAM PUFFS
Puffs:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Garnish:
powdered sugar for dusting the tops

Set oven to 425 degrees.

In a saucepan bring the water, butter and salt to a rolling boil.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour until it forms a big glob.  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together and then with a fork beat the eggs into the flour mixture until it’s a sticky smooth batter (no lumps! takes a few minutes)

Drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Leave about 2″ between each puff– they will grow!!  Pop them in the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes until they are puffed and golden.  Let them cool completely, then slice each puff horizontally with a serrated knife.

To make the filling, beat the cream, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice with an electric mixer until it is a stiff cream.  then gently fold in the pumpkin.

Drop a spoonfuls of filling in the bottom half of each sliced puff and then set on the top half (it’s best to not fill the puffs way ahead– they could get soggy!).   Dust with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Makes about 20. Ready to eat!!

And to my way of thinking, there’s never too many pumpkin treats this month.  Here’s a few baking ideas:

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

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Pumpkin Bran Muffins

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Maple Pumpkin Granola

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Pumpkin Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze

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So HAPPY AUTUMN!!  Hoping you enjoy all the coziness and brisk days.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
–Lauren Destefano

Summer’s End and Peach Tarts

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.   –Helen Hunt Jackson

There is a time in the last few days of summer when the ripeness of autumn fills the air.   –Rudolfo Anaya

 

Hey there– I’m wondering if autumn is rolling in where you are.  It’s just starting to come for us and I’m savoring the September warm (but not too hot!) days and summer fruit still in piles at the market.  This week I picked up a few peaches for tarts.

You can get these pretty tarts in the oven in about 10 minutes–so easy. They’re the perfect light ending that last summer meal.

PEACH TARTS ON PUFF PASTRY
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed*
2 large ripe peaches
4 oz. cream cheese
a few shakes of cinnamon
2- 4  tab. honey
serve with:  ice cream

Cut the puff pastry into 6 squares with a pizza cutter (or a sharp knife).  Lay the squares of pastry onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

Divide the cream cheese into 6 parts and spread it over the pastry, leaving a 1/2 inch margin around the edges.

Slice the peaches thinly (leave on the skin) and layer them over the cream cheese. Dust the peaches lightly with cinnamon.

Pop them into a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is puffed around the edges and the peaches are tender.

Drizzle honey over the peach tarts and serve them warm with ice cream or whipped cream.  Enjoy!

 

And just want to say Good Bye Summer by collecting these memories all in one spot.  I’ll miss the golden days and good times with family & friends in these long and lzy summer days…

Kicked off summer with Grammy Camp— love reading and creating and laughing with those girls.

     

 

We began the 4th of July with a breakfast & beach walk along with dear friends.
     

 

Family came in fo the weekend to celebrate Nick & Alyssa’s beautiful wedding.


John & Laurel took us in for a great week in
Wisconsin— lots of boating, evening walks, good meals and time to talk…

     

 

The Monday night friends rounded up a few times for lunch over our summer break.  Love those beautiful faces.

 

A bunch of family met up rustic little cabins for 5 days of hiking, s’mores and campground meals at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  Loved having the grand-girls at arm’s length and waking under those glorious trees!

     

 

And finally there were a couple trips up to San Francisco to dote on grand-kids and to welcome new grand-guy, Oscar into the world.

   

Ah Summer, going to miss those long bright days, times with out & about with people we love.  But the joys of Autumn are around the corner.

 “The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”

―E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

 

And P.S.  — here’s a few more favorite peach recipes:
Avocado Chicken with
Chipotle Peach Salsa

 

Fresh Peach Cobbler

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Peach Crostata

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Peaches & Cream Tart

 

 

 

 

  

 

San Francisco Days and Roasted Tomatoes


One of my favorite houses in the neighborhood.


Out on a trek through the woods of Golden Gate Park with this mini hiker!  

Hey there friends– Back from 3 weeks in San Francisco with new baby Oscar and his dear family. Missing them all from here.

We made this new favorite roast tomato pasta for dinner one evening there, and liked it so much we did it again a couple days later when friends dropped to meet that Oscar!

It’s super simple and the tomatoes and garlic smell incredible roasting in the oven!

ROASTED TOMATO PASTA
8 oz. mini ravioli (or your favorite pasta)*
2 cups small cherry tomatoes (red or yellow)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

garnish: parmesan romano cheese, grated & sprig of marjoram or basil

In a large bowl, stir together the cherry tomatoes, red onion, chopped bell pepper, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then turn it all out onto a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.  Scrape all the extra oil out of the mixing bowl on to the tomatoes.

Pop the tomatoes into a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are just starting to brown a bit.

While they are cooking, cook up your favorite pasta according to the directions on the package.

Drain the pasta and spread it on a pretty platter.  Spoon the tomatoes and all the juices on the baking sheet over the pasta.  Serve it hot with a sprinkle of parmesan.  So so good!

*I used mini ravioli from Trader Joe’s here, but fresh ravioli is the best!

Hi again–

Just wanted to drop in a few more photos of our SF days (bits I want to remember)– Baby snuggling, good talks, quiet meals together, plenty of playground time with an almost 2 year old.  So glad we could be there.

     
Brand new little Oscar, at the hospital and on his way home for the first time.

     
Lois lined up with kids waiting to get in the library for story time.  With Mom on the playground.  Lois & Grandma Duplo tower!

     
And one Sunday morning Larry and I went out on the town– Breakfast at my favorite ever bakery– B Patisserie.  A wonderful worshipful morning of church at Reality SF.  And then off to a cool new cafe for lunch– Theorita, specializing in pies like the baker’s grandma used to make (we split a piece of chocolate, pecan bourbon pie for dessert!)

So glad to have those days to watch our Oscar come into the big wide world– and see him blossom and grow in his new family.  Thanks Ani & Brian for everything!

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P.S. Here’s a few other favorite simple pasta recipes:
Broccoli, Chicken & Bacon Pasta
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Saucy Tomato Chicken & Pasta
Creamy Lemon Chicken & Pasta

Recent Reading

Hi Reading Friends– I have one question for you —  What are you reading??    Do you have some recommendations?  I’d love to hear them!  Always looking for worthwhile books to track down and read.

And for you readers:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis
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Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”  ― Lemony Snicket

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ― Dr. Seuss

I’ve been reading a piles of books lately.  Mostly reading snuggled up against a toddler, who has definite literary tastes. And also some a few books of my own that have been worthwhile.   Here’s a few of our favorites:

There’s been multiple readings of The Lady with the Alligator Purse every day around here.   It’s a sing-along book about a baby who drinks up all the bathwater and eats up all the soap, resulting in visits from the doctor, nurse and, or course, the Lady with the Alligator Purse, who saves the day!  Nadine Westcott has added her lively lovely illustrations to a whole string of children’s songs in books like Miss Mary Mack and Down By the Bay.  All books you’ll read/sing again and again.

Hug by Jez Alborough is also on high demand here.  A baby monkey sees an elephant mom & child giving hugs and it sets him on a search for his own big hug.  Along the way he finds other jungle animals hugging and is about to despair when his Mom appears with– you guessed it– an enormous hug!  Few words, just illustrations tell the story.  Was fun to talk though and the bonus was big hugs from my reading buddy!

Go Dog Go is a classic by P. D. Eastman (but in the Dr. Seuss collection).  It’s just a series of observations about dogs doing crazy things, in the simplest vocabulary and happy illustrations.  That’s why it’s great reading with a toddler and also a wonderful first book for a kindergartner to take on reading on his own.  It’s silly and whimsical and ends with a big dog party!!  Any kid who likes dogs, will like this book.

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone is the best!  Good old Grover notices from the title that there is a monster at the end of the book.  He spends that next several pages trying to stop you from turning pages so that you will not get to the monster at the end.  It’s funny and interactive and happily (spoiler alert!) the monster at the end is just him–lovable Grover.  I recommend this book be read with that grumbly Grover voice for best effect!!  Lois and I love it– with her stuffed Grover sitting on her lap!

Here’s my reading buddy Little Lois and I reading at the library after Toddler Story Time.

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And happily, I’ve had some time to read books that are not heavily illustrated, aimed at a little more mature audience.

One of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is a riveting story.  Westover grew up in a large survivalist family near he mountains of Idaho.  Her rigid father ran a junkyard on their land, her mother a mid-wife and herbal healer. Over the years family members suffered gashes, burns, concussions and were just treated at home, the medical world distrusted.  As well, the children did not attend schools and were cut off from the wide world.  Tara suffered from an abusive brother and parents who would not protect her.   When one of Westover’s brothers goes to college, he encourages her to do it as well.  She teaches herself enough to take the ACT and eventually goes/graduates from Brigham Young University–hearing for the first time of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.  She continues on to study at Harvard and to earn her PhD from Cambridge.  But through these years she constantly struggles over her relationship with her family, with loyalties and the fears of her childhood at play. A fascinating crazy true story about the ties of family and the power of education.

Eleanor Oliphant is a quirky socially awkward young woman whose days are filled with office work and nights and weekends are spent alone, consuming frozen pizza and vodka.  She makes the acquaintance of Raymond, the IT guy at her work and he gradually becomes the friend she needs.  As you read along, the story of Eleanor’s disturbing childhood becomes apparent.  Raymond’s dogged friendship see’s her through her darkest hours.  Enjoyed this story for the interesting characters that I fell in love with by the end of the book–faithful kind hearted Raymond and courageous Eleanor.

Kate Bowler is a professor Duke Divinity School.  At 35 she has a wonderful husband and a small new son– and is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  She realizes how much she believed she could control her own life circumstances — that things did happen for a reason.  What results is her journey through involved treatments, surrounded by family and friends.  Her honest, vivid, sometimes funny account is Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.  Her truths about how to live when death is a near possibility are heartening and ring true.”

And I’ve saved the best for last.  I have to admit to being a huge fan of Shannan Martin, first on her blog and now her Instagram posts that are sweet, funny, honest and open my eyes to the world of need around me.  So when there was an offer to receive an advance copy of her latest book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I jumped at the chance!  Shannan tells stories– of people in her neighborhood and how strangers became friends.  She writes about digging in deep with the people around us, about being intrepid in how we love people, about sticking around for the long haul.  My copy is dog eared right and left– and I’m ready to go in and read it for a second time to collect all the thoughts I need to remember for my own care taking of people I love. Loved every well crafted page of this amazing book.  You can find Shannan’s Instagram meditations/warm hearted stories at “Shannanwrites.”  And her book is due out October 9th.

Here’s an excerpt of her writing:
“I’m on a journey toward understanding that my highest calling is to be a woman who loves my neighbor more than I love myself. I’m not very awesome at this yet, but each day is a new opportunity for growth, for guts, for compassion, and for open hands.”

 

For more posts on books worth reading:
Halloween Books Kids Love
Best Thanksgiving Books
Two Books–Two Old Favorites
Three Books–Three Women
A Pair of Good Books
Two Favorite Books

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”   — Jane Austen from Pride and Prejudice

P.S.  Painting at the top is “Great Chapter” by Nancy Chaboun (1954-)
Painitng at the bottom is “Girl Reading” by Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938)

 

New Guy in the Family


Lois gets to know her brand new brother Oscar at the hospital.
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Hey there friends– Up in San Francisco for a couple weeks, chipping in to care for our new little grand-guy, Oscar.  And also hanging out with his big (almost 2 year old) sis, Lois.  It’s pure joy.

I could sit forever with this one week old on my lap, taking to him about all he has ahead– walking and singing, bedtime books and trips to the zoo.  I’ve told him about chocolate cake and how much he’s loved by so many people.


First family of four photo– Oscar’s very first day in the big wide world!


And the little star himself — baby Oscar!!
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There’s just so many things I want him to know!  So I’m writing them down and someday (when he can read??) I’ll send them to him:

To Oscar–Things I Want You to Know For Sure:

#1.  You are so deeply loved– by mom & dad, by sister Lois, by Grandpa & me… and a long list of dear people!

#2.  I will be happy to play with you– hide & seek, legos, and even (my unfavorite) Candy Land game.

#3.  I’m ready to cheer you on at each new step ahead, on every new adventure.  (Save me a seat at your college graduation!!)

#4.  I’ll always be ready to listen  — to your knock jokes & long stories & anything you want to talk through.

#5.  We have some good times ahead!!  Family Christmases, camping hikes, birthday cakes and lots of snuggly story times.

#6.  I promise see you as your own little person– helping you grow and change in your own unique way.  I simply cannot wait to see the wonderful grown up guy you become!

#7.  You can count on Grandpa and me to be there when you need us– just text (or whatever kids will do to communicate in the future!) and we’ll come running.

#8.  I will always remember the day you were born.  We were waiting to see who you would be!!  And you were perfect!

#9.  I will pray for you in your years ahead–  for you to grow and learn and walk in the way God has for you.

#10.  You have the whole world ahead of you little Oscar. What will it be like??  God bless you, sweet boy, in all the years to come.
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And here’s a few more photos of our time together:
     

    

     
 Above photos:  Scooter Girl!  Lois checking in on her baby Oscar.  Our girl mixing up a peach cobbler with Grandma.  Afternoon out with Ani for tea & treats at Andytown.  Lois’ walk in Golden Gate Park with Gr. Larry.  Shiny Oscar after his first bath at home.
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And P.S.
Spent this summer quilting up a little blanket for baby Oscar– such a fun project anticipating and praying for this little guy as I stitched along.
     

Links for a few more quilt pics–
A Quilt for Baby Otto
Quilt of Many Colors –Laurel & John’s Wedding Quilt
Quilt Story — A Quilt for Baby Lois
Little Quilts — Charlotte (7) & Maryann  (5) make tiny quilts
San Francisco Quilt Delivery–  Ani & Brian’s wedding Quilt

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And some last thoughts:

“Babies are such a nice way to start people”  –Don Herald

“Every child begins the world again.”   –Henry David Thoreau

“If your baby is beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time, you’re the grandma.”   (that’s me!)   — Theresa Bloomingdale.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord”  –Psalm 127:3

So very thankful for the life of this dear little one and all he has to come.  Love you tiny Oscar.

Ten Blogging Years


Hello Blog Friends– This August marks my tenth year of typing away on this blog.  Really it’s more of a scrapbook of recipes and thoughts I want to hang on to.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I would use this anniversary to close the site down.  Life is full. And there are so many things I want to give more time to–people we love and projects we never seem to get done!

But when I then I thought about now much I would miss it–especially keeping in touch with old and new blog friends (that means you– Lacey, Mollie, Kat, Marcia, Daisy, Suzanne, Lisa, Mary, Carol, Lilly, Cindy, Brigid, Vero, Ursula and Susie!!)

So I’m cutting back to once a week– less recipes, more of life and faith and family.  I think that will fit just fine.

And to mark the happy event of Ten Blogging Years, I thought I’d link to my favorite posts (just click on the blue letters to link through):

 

FAVORITE RECIPES — DISHES FO FAMILY & FRIENDS


Chocolate Cream Cake with Ganache Frosting


Creamy Lemon Parmesan Chicken


Books & Breakfast– A Morning with Friends


Beef Barley Soup


Swedish Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce


Bacon Ranch Potato Salad


Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Apricot Couscous


Overnight Orange Rolls

 

 

FAVORITE THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND FAITH:


True Home


Waiting


My Notebook


Rethinking Christmas


Enough


Aging Well

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FAVORITE BLOG MEMORIES WITH THE FAMILY:


Christmas With the Crew 2015


Wonderful Woodsy Wisconsin Wedding Weekend


Good Times in Big Bear


Grammy Camp 2017


Cambria with Kids


Sweet Times in San Francisco


On Being A Mom

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FAVORITE BOOK POSTS OVER THE YEARS:

     
     
Booklist Page (Notations of books I’ve read the last 3 years)


Five Favorite Children’s Books!


At Home in the World (& Other Travel Books)

  
Books For A Special Baby

 
  
30 Years of Books (Lit Group favorites)

      
Favorite Books (October 2009)

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FAVORITE TRAVELS FROM HERE TO THERE:


Family Trek Through the Sequoias!


Beautiful Kyoto


Vancouver Days


Wet Market in Lijang China


Lunch in Paris


San Francisco with the Grand-Girls (or Fun in SF with kids!)


Wisconsin Part #2– Off to the North Woods!!

 

Whew! That’s a whole lot of posts.  It wasn’t easy narrowing down to very favorites!!  And if you, by chance, are still reading this overwrought posting– thank you!!  It’s been a joy to send out posts for the last ten years to dear people like you.  I remain thankful.