All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

I hadn't carved a pumpkin since I was a kid, so I was excited when my brother-in-law invited me to join him and my nephew (the artsy ones in the family) for their annual creative rite.  We tried some non-traditional approaches, including a "carve-by-color" technique featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine (even though my nephew informed me that my design wasn't scary enough!):


We didn't have proper tools, so we improvised. 

Then, we decided to play with power tools:

The eyes on this pumpkin were created with a 1" drill bit.  We used an apple corer to create the nose.
It was fun, and I'm already thinking about designs for next year!

While we carved, my sister toasted the pumpkin seeds - yum!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Century of Quilts: America In Cloth

I just watched the PBS Home Video documentary "A Century of Quilts: America in Cloth" tonight; I had picked it up at the library.   It was so good - I watched it twice!  It "celebrates the art of quilting by featuring selections from the best 100 American quilts of the 20th century, the stories behind their creation and the quilters as they work."  They featured older quilts as well as contemporary ones.  I found it to be very moving; many of the quilters they interviewed echoed my sentiments re: quilting:

"I don't sell my work; I make a quilt just for personal satisfaction, and I don't want to sell it.  It would be like selling a child; you put so much time and effort into what you are doing.
- Jinny Beyer

"Somehow quilt making is a way to work through tragedy, a way to present your soul ache publicly in an acceptable way....  Quilts aren't just decorative objects; quilts can serve as intense artistic expressions of oneself."
- Jonathan Shannon

"Every quilter knows what was going on in her life at that time [when she was making the quilt], and it documents it for her."
- Paula Nadelstern

It also helped me to better understand why so many people were moved by my quilt display last month.  I think they connected deeply with what what was being expressed by each quilt maker through their various quilts, especially the older ones.  And, there's something about an art form that is touchable.  Quilting is an amazing hobby, unlike any other creative venture I've attempted....

Happy Halloween!

Photo credits: Ricky Fitts, age 6.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quotes Worth Contemplating

"Just about anything I've learned, I learned by reading."
- Dan Kane, CPRS employee

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quotes Worth Contemplating

"God doesn't heal us to use us; He heals us because He loves us, and then He invites us to play."
"The deepest pain asks the best questions."
- William P. Young, author of The Shack, in an interview by WITF's "The Creative Zone".

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eating to Live...

... vs. Eating to Avoid Dying.
There's a BIG difference.
Which is it??
After wading through tons of material re: healthy eating, nutrition and cancer prevention these past few years, I felt called to eat seasonally, organically and locally this year, focusing on God's provision and the bounty of the season.  It was an amazing experience!!  I had no idea how deeply it would impact me.  Or how committed I would become to it.  Cooking became a delight vs. a drudgery.  Instead of eating foods I could acquire, I ate foods that were provided.  I found my stride.

Nutritionists recommend eating superfoods and taking supplements.
The weight loss experts say to count calories and cut your fat intake.
Vegetarians say don't eat any meat.
The raw foodies say don't cook anything, ever.
I think juicing is a drag.  Period.  Plus, it's wasteful.
Chefs think nothing of spending $30 a pound for pine nuts.

I found it could be much simpler than that.  I simply prepared whatever was available in season.  I found that seasonal foods are meant to be eaten or cooked together - they complement each other beautifully. It doesn't take fancy recipes.  So many times in the past I would spend hours cooking, work up an appetite, then be terribly disappointed with the final product.  That has rarely happened to me with seasonal produce.  I love what I cook.  What an amazing thing to be able to enjoy the whole process - the growing, harvesting, cooking and dining.  It's a way of eating that is attractive, that invites others to join me and even eat with me.  And, it truly, truly is healthy.

Maybe my body pH is off.
Maybe I don't understand glycemic indexes.
Maybe I'm not getting all the nutrients I should be getting because I roasted my veggies vs. eating them raw.
Maybe I'm not getting enough raw fiber.
Maybe I shouldn't be eating any white flour.
Maybe I don't eat a huge variety of produce on any given day.
Maybe I ate too much fruit yesterday.
Maybe it's time to detox.

But I LIVED.  Lived abundantly.
And no, I haven't eaten any mangoes, papayas, kiwi, bananas or imported grapes lately.  Certainly haven't eaten spring greens since spring.  Can't remember when I last ate an avocado.  But, I think God knows what foods my body needs; He knows where I live (Acts 17:26).  After all, He created me, and I think just maybe He put the foods I need for health, both body and soul, right under my nose.

P.S.  What's a superfood anyway??  Isn't it anything God has created and provided?  Who's to say one is better than another - after all, God doesn't have favorites!!  :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

There's nothing quite as satisfying...

... on a crisp fall evening than making an in-season supper, as I watch the moon rise out my kitchen window.

The Menu:
Baby Greens & Grape Tomatoes with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Oh, so satisfying!!

Final Harvest

Frost is in the overnight forecast, so I quickly picked the last of the cold-sensitive produce from my garden.  As I pulled out the pepper, green bean and tomato stalks and tidied up the garden this afternoon, it reminded my of the death and dying process.  Yes, it was sad to see the end of a rewarding season of bounty, and seemed like a waste for the green tomatoes to end up on the compost pile; but at the same time it was very satisfying to neatly bring the garden to an end so that I can move on to other ventures and pursuits.  And best of all, for a gardener there's always next year to try again, to attempt new methods and varieties, experience better weather, to correct mistakes, and on it goes.

So, why do we always kick and fight against the idea of death, especially when there are unbelievably amazing things ahead?  Yes, there will always be unripened tomatoes and the wish for a few more weeks of warm weather so the green peppers can turn sweet and red, but the end of a life well-lived should be just as satisfying as putting to rest a productive vegetable garden. 

And so, I'm reminded to live a rich, fruitful and bounteous life so that I'm ready for that final harvest, whenever it may come!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Handmade Gourmet Dog Treats

This totally cracked me up - I was at Root's today, and an adorable stand caught my eye.  There were all kinds of intricate baked goods, beautifully displayed, very similar to what I would slave away at and serve at a formal tea on my expensive china.  It turns out that they were DOG TREATS!!  They even had a fancy birthday cake, all decorated and packaged in a bakery box!  I don't even LIKE dogs, but I couldn't resist chatting with the owner.  Their treats are made out of mostly local whole foods with some organic ingredients - probably healthier than what most PEOPLE eat.  If I had money to blow, I'd love to purchase a variety of their items, serve them to guests at a tea, have them rave about how good the food was, then reveal the truth that they had just eaten dog food!!  :)  But, I don't have money to blow, and I don't want people to be afraid to eat what I serve them, so I won't....    Tempting thought, though!

In case you are a dog lover, here's the link:
Their stand is currently located indoors at Root's.

Today's Bumper Sticker Spotting

"Drive carefully:  90% of all people are the result of an 'accident'." 

Monday, October 18, 2010

End of the Season Cilantro

I accidentally spilled some cilantro seeds on the patio this summer.  They were swept off the patio and forgotten about.  But, forgotten about or not, they were happy to flourisht so they could remind me of a bounteous summer garden, just in the nick of time!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poisonwood Bible

OK, someone help me out here - why is this book so highly recommended??  I hated it!!  I slogged my way through the thing because of my great faith in Barbara Kingsolver (I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), only to find absolutely nothing redeeming in the book.  It was distressing, depressing and almost made me wonder if I was as crazy as every member of the Price family (except the child who died!).  I was so bummed.  I was sure it would turn the corner at some point, but it never did....  I did enjoy the clever way the book was written from all five of the female characters' perspectives, but other than that - UGH!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Worth Contemplating

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
— Barbara Kingsolver

Friday, October 8, 2010

Toasting Nuts

A friend called today, asking what's the best way to toast nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.), and if it's even necessary.  Toasting nuts before using them in a recipe intensifies their flavor.  You can either toast them in the oven or in a skillet on the stove top.  I usually do them in the oven:  simply spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Just be careful - they can burn quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on them!  If you want to do them on the stove top, toast them in a skillet on medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 


Monday, October 4, 2010

Healthy Granola

Below is the recipe I always fall back on for a basic, healthy granola.  When I'm ready to serve it, I usually add ground flax seed (I grind flax seed with my coffee grinder and store it in the freezer), dried fruit and homemade yogurt.

Source:  Glo's friend

In a large bowl, mix the following ingredients:
12 c. rolled oats
2 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c. pecan meal or chopped nuts
1 c. olive oil
2/3 c. honey
2 T. blackstrap molasses
2 t. cinnamon
4 T. water
2 t. vanilla

Pour into two greased 9x13" pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Extra Life for Basil

I discovered, quite by accident, that basil roots nicely in water and keeps much longer than most herbs.  I had cut too much one evening, so I stuck the leftovers in a glass of water, set it on the windowsill and kind of forgot about it.  Before I knew it, it was sprouting roots and continuing to grow new shoots.  So, be sure to cut what's left of garden basil before the first fall frost hits and you'll have fresh basil for another month or so!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Airing of the Quilts

Today was a perfect day to air out the rest of my 1800's-era quilts before tucking them away in their chest - a clear, breezy day with low humidity.  The shade of the house protected them from direct sunlight.  I would love to be able to wash them like I did the 1930's quilt, but I'm not sure I want to risk damaging them since they are so old - especially since the pineapple quilt is in mint condition and looks like it has never been laundered, the ones that have been laundered over the years are too fragile, and because crazy quilts usually can't be laundered or dry-cleaned (never, ever!) because of the variety of non-cotton fabrics they contain.  They smell so much better - they were so musty smelling that it almost gave me the creeps....  I think they are relieved to have shed their foreboding odors (and maybe haunting unpleasant memories??) and grateful to be given a new lease on life.  :)

Interestingly enough, I discovered that the batting inside this cut-down scrap of a circa 1930 comforter...

... is actually a Log Cabin quilt from the 1860's!  How cool!  I'm so tempted to take it apart and rescue the Log Cabin quilt inside, but I'm not sure if I should compromise the integrity of the quilt....  The Log Cabin quilt is almost in better shape than the comforter!  It looks like it might have been a twin-size comforter; for whatever reason, someone apparently cut it in half, and this is all that is left.  I wonder what happened to the other half.  Wouldn't you love to know the story behind this quilt?!