Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Bit Greener

My boys, both big and little, probably think I have lost my mind.  I have been trying to add more green to all of our diets.  They do pretty well with standard vegetables, but are struggling with the new ones I am adding.  I, on the other hand, cannot seem to eat them enough.  I am in love with all things green.  I wish I could magically instill that love on the rest of my house.  The two new ones that I tried to bring to the table this week were Kale and Brussels Sprouts.  Sautéed Kale went over so-so at the table.  They ate it with grimaced faces.  The Brussels Sprouts were another story.  Jack ate 4, Kevin ate 1, and Lincoln's were found in various places under the table and in his highchair. I grew up eating Brussels Sprouts and am quite fond of them.  My boys see them as a type of torture.  I guess I win some and lose some.  But, I give them credit for tasting them. 

Last night, I roasted my Sprouts and it was by far my favorite way to eat them.  I drizzled them with Olive Oil, sprinkled salt and pepper, and roasted in a shallow pan for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  They were superb!  My parents came over later and declared them a huge hit (that is after my own children and husband nearly died trying to swallow them)!

I have also been using my Basil plant as much as possible in the kitchen.  That thing is growing like crazy.  I like to thinly chop a handful of leaves and add it to melted butter and lemon juice.  Then, I pour it over Tilapia fillets and broil the on high for about 7-8 minutes.  That is a super tasty and easy way to prepare fish.

So, last night, our green things were our own fresh cucumber, basil, and rosemary.  We also had roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I served them all with Tilapia fillets and mini corn muffins.  Overall, dinner was a success-minus the hatred for sprouts.  (I am thinking it's all in their mind!)

I would love any suggestions for new, green vegetables that I might have success getting all the fellas in my house to actually swallow and smile.  I will keep trying.  Green is good, after all.

B Charmer

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bell, Purple

"Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else?" ~Betsy CañasGarmon

"Gardening is a kind of disease. It infects you, you cannot escape it. When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed." ~Lewis Gannit

Oh, these garden quotes I have been finding really make me chuckle.  There is great truth in them. I would have to insert coffee drinking in the last one because I don't really do the cocktail thing, but still the words are true!

Yesterday was a good gardening day.  My homemade pest deterrents are working beautifully.  Things are growing well.  My beans I planted last week are taking off beautifully.  I find it so comical that I am growing a full-on veggie patch in my little apartment/townhouse patio space.  The neighbors all come around to chat and check on the watermelon or strawberries.  Yesterday, I traded a bunch of leftover bean sprouts for a zucchini plant with my neighbor and friend.  And, I have officially hired myself a water boy while I take a trip next week.  He seems thrilled to take the job. 

I find it funny that I was so worried about taking the boys out of their home when we moved.  I was worried that taking their grass and little house and putting them in an apartment in a much larger city would be devastating to them.  They are country boys, after all.  But this move has been better than I could have ever imagined it to be.  The neighbors have become very good friends.  Trading plants, sharing in Bible study, and enjoying all the little boys between us all has been a treasure.  I am so thankful for this season in our lives.   I am thankful for this small, cozy apartment.  I am thankful for the neighborhood, and most thankful for the beautiful people it has brought into our lives.  I am beyond thrilled that I get to take this time away from work and spend it here with my children and our cozy, little life.

Well, the coffee is getting cold and the zucchini needs to find a dirt home.  Talk with you later my friends. Here is a peek at the latest ripened treats. I used the purple bell in spaghetti sauce last night....yummy!

B Charmer

Monday, June 24, 2013

An Apple a Day...or Three

Green Apples. We love them around here.  They get eaten pretty quickly, so I don't often have time to do anything fun with them.  Yesterday, I had pork chops in the oven and I just really wanted some type of apple bake for dessert.  Dessert for us is tricky.  I have to make things that are sugar-free and gluten-free for my husband.  I thought and thought and came up with this plan.  It was most simple and most yummy.  I cored three apples then thinly sliced them.   I had fun laying them in a lovely dish sort of French-tarte style.  I put a few pats of butter on top of the finished slices.  In a separate bowl, I combined quick oats, sugar, brown sugar, and melted butter.  I used sugar-free baking sugars for mine, and it came out very tasty.  I do not do a lot of sugar-free baking but this worked very well.  I also did not measure...sorry!  I can tell you that I had probably a cup of oats, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of white sugar, and about 2 tbsp. of melted butter.  I eye things a lot and work till I get a consistency that I like.  I was looking for a crumble -type consistency for mine.  I had planned to put some cinnamon in it, but I admit that I forgot.  Honestly, we did not miss it.  I baked uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  It was devoured almost instantly.
Just as we were digging in to our dessert, My Aunt sent me a recipe that she clipped from a paper years ago.  It was so closely similar to mine, only done in the microwave.  I will most certainly be trying that out soon.
It is always nice to feel like I can create something that fits the guidelines for my husband but tastes delicious, too!  This really did the trick and I can't wait to share it with him again for an early morning breakfast treat before the boys get up.  I am thinking breakfasts might just have to be our time to get three words in before a cup of milk topples and someone needs a fresh diaper.  Lately, our conversations feel sort of like Morse Code given in between rounds of baby squeals and freckly giggles.  Sweet times for sure, but a little peace for the grown-ups would be nice.
Here is the microwave version:

And..... a little peak at life with little reds. 

 Watching the baby goats ride home.... 
Have a lovely evening, my friends.

B Charmer


I am listening to the rain and rumble of thunder.  The house is a bit darker from the storm.  I have piano music playing in the background and a nearly empty cup of coffee on the table.  I am filled with so many thoughts today.  Good thoughts. 

Sometimes I think of all the things that life brings and wonder about their meanings.  Sometimes, I get frustrated and anxious.  I might feel a bit defeated, at times.  Some moments I am completely filled with joy and wonder.  Any day can bring a million changes and decisions.  A year of life can begin and end so very differently. The road is always winding.  Always.

I was sitting in church yesterday morning with a million thoughts whirling in my head.  I was thinking about the past and the present.  How the journeys of yesterday brought me to the present moment in life.  I thought of how many prayers that I have prayed that have been answered in my favor, and how many times I have been told a very clear "no".  I thought of how many times that I have compared my life to others or compared my current situation with what might have been, you know, if only....

I was left with a very clear, pristine thought.  It is hard to even put words to it, but I was certain that life's twists and turns are very purposeful.  That past decisions and even mistakes are woven into a very beautiful tapestry.  There are bumps and bruises.  There are failures and heartbreaks.  The road is winding and scenic.  There are stops along the way.  There are times the road changes course, but I truly believe the best is always to come. 

My wish is that I, and all of us, can learn to embrace our journey.  I hope we can embrace the people that we are and find comfort in our own woven journeys.  I hope we can all find a way to make peace with ourselves and enjoy the ride.  It is a beautiful ride....bumps and all.  And when the rains come, and they will come, I hope we can feel the promise that they bring and not worry so over the moment of darkness and rumble of thunder.  I hope we can feel the growth sure to be ahead, feel the cool and refreshing promise of a future, and enjoy the pause as the showers fall. 

B Charmer

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Around The Home

To say I am enjoying my new found freedom would be quite the understatement.  The feeling of time off without a deadline to return to something is quite possibly one of life's greatest feelings.  My children and my little home just feel so perfectly sweet right now.  Thankful is a feeling I cannot seem to put into words.  I am only on day four with endless days ahead.  So grateful.

The garden keeps me tickled.  I have beans to plant today.  I need to get them in the dirt right away. I am also trying my hand at pumpkins.  The boys are already planning their jack-o-lanterns.  I hope they grow.

The purple bell peppers are doing so well.  We have one almost ready to eat.  I am looking forward to tasting this treat for the eyes.  I have heard they are quite yummy.  We also have a fast-growing ever-bearing strawberry plant that is doing well.  The boys are thrilled at the prospects of berry eating today. 
Yesterday, I had fun working in my bathroom.  I have this desire to whip this house into great shape.  I love to organize, but I am trying to do so using only the things I already have.  It takes a bit of creativity, but I am enjoying the challenge.  I decided to use two small baking dishes that I never use for baking to help tidy my makeup drawer.  I also put to use a herb planter for a toothbrush cup.  I had fun with a roll of shelf paper that I had bought almost a year ago.  I feel better already being in the bathroom. 

Today, I must plant the beans and pumpkins.  I have a trip planned to a new grocery in search of some things that make preparing gluten-free things for my husband a little easier.  And, we may even take a swim in the pool.  We have our neighborhood Bible study tonight, and I am planning to make some tasty treats for that.  I think we are meeting by the pool again so the littles can splash and play while we older ones chat and learn. 
Grateful.  Very much grateful for this season of life.
B Charmer

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In The Garden

"Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest." ~Douglas William Jerrold, about Australia, A Land of Plenty

My garden is so small and bound to containers and a small patch of ground.  However, I still find it full of wonder and surprise.  Each warm week brings more fruit.  We have dined on our strawberries, squash, and herbs.  There is more in the works out there in that sun.  It makes me wonder why I never did this before when I had so much lawn?  I will put it on my youth and laziness, I suppose.   Now that I am bound to such a small and little plot, I am full of thoughts and ideas of green things and the smells of dirt and flora. 

Whenever I get the chance to expand my garden plans again, I cannot imagine the ways in which I will learn.  Gardening is one of the greatest teachers.  It teaches me most about our Creator.  He takes my efforts and His power and puts together quite a masterpiece. Sometimes I learn harder lessons.  I might find a plant covered in hungry crawling things, or find a flower struggling to survive.  I think then how true this is of life.  There is a certain mystery of life that requires a trust in The Great Creator that He can work it all out.  He gives the life, He gives the growth, and through that we find fruit.  I find God often in the garden.

Today, I am setting about a plan to shew the ants that are dining on my beans.  I used marigold blooms that had faded and placed them all around my strawberries.  That seemed to work beautifully for that.  However, they are not being deterred in the beans and tomatoes.  My kitchen, turned apothecary, produced some potions that I hope will aid my efforts. 


I did an oil and soap mixture, and I am steeping an onion and jalapeno pepper tea that I will try tomorrow.  I am trying to avoid chemicals.  I'd like to think they might do the trick simply and efficiently. 

Oh, the garden.  I couldn't resist the urge to add a few more things.  Being in the south, I still have time to get a few last minute things going...if I am lucky.

We shall see if God grants them to grow.  I surely hope He does.  I could play in the green and dirt for hours.  Strangely therapeutic. 

As a gardener, I'm among those who believe that much of the evidence of God's existence has been planted. ~Robert Brault
B Charmer

Monday, June 17, 2013

Southern Charm

There is something distinctly southern about white picket fences and hydrangea bushes. I admit, I find myself full of warmth when I stroll the streets of a nearby town. Neighbors will chat and offer a sit on the porch. Garden shades offer a respite from June's rising temperatures. There is much gazing and conspiring to add this flower and perhaps plant another dogwood. A little storybook, for sure, but a walk down the lanes of a Carolina town is full of all things charming. Come walk with me.



B Charmer

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