In My Garden

This past week we haven’t really been eating from our garden. The temperatures have been in the triple digits without any rain so none of the flowers are blooming. That should change next week though, they predict temperatures in the low 90′s!

IMG_20140726_082543IMG_20140726_084554However we have been doing a lot of yard work and apparently in our backyard, yard work means hard work because underneath all the sand is clay. Hard, compacted, rocky clay. But one weekend project at a time we are beginning to transform the yard.

IMG_20140726_084930This backyard of clay may not be the easiest thing to dig in or to garden in but it really is wonderful for for mud sculptures.

DSC04942DSC04940DSC04939My experimental three sisters garden is doing well! Native corn, beans and squash. Not what my ancestors ate but what the ancient peoples of this desert land would have eaten.

DSC04947 I’m dreaming of an herb and flower garden in this space. What are your favorite herbs to put together?

Also if your kids are taking part in the postcard exchange I am slowly sending out the emails this week so look in your inbox!

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A Hidden Oasis

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I recently discovered this really cool place here in town that surprisingly I never knew existed despite the fact that I had been to the same place where it is located many times. Normally we go to the playground at this park when we meet up with our homeschool group. However one day as I drove by the park I noticed on the opposite end of the parking lot that there was a fountain. I made a mental note of it.

A few weeks later I decided on particularly whiny morning that we needed to get out of the house and into nature. So I said to the girls, “We are going on an adventure, put pants on.” Half an hour later we were at the park exploring this new place. There is a duck pond with mallards, turtles, fish and even herons in the right season. Then behind the pond and not too far a walk away is what we call the frog marsh. The park managers have created a small oasis for wildlife with reeds and tall trees and the most precious thing of all: water.

In this marshy mini wetland we saw desert frogs, small fish, hawks, rabbits, squirrels, lizards, tons of dragon flies, hummingbirds, and doves. It was an incredible wildlife experience. We’ve been making weekly visits now because of the heat. Under the cool mesquite and cottonwood trees the temperatures are about 15 degrees cooler, and that makes it all the more lovely.

Note: all the photos were taken with my phone. I wasn’t expecting to find such a cool place!

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My Sous Chef

DSC04914 DSC04908 DSC04905 DSC04900The other day after breakfast V says to me, ” Mama when I grow up I want to be a cook like you. I want to be tall and cook things in the oven.” Every single meal since then, I have had an eager little helper. Yes I have taught her knife safety skills and yes the knife is sharp. But I believe that knowledge is power and oh my did making this salad give her power. She felt capable like she does every time she makes a meal with me. And that is worth slowing down to teach and prepare dinner at the same time.

Posted in Cooking and Food, Life Notes | 6 Comments

Kale Cupcakes inspired by Sparkle Stories

DSC04926DSC04918DSC04923DSC04921DSC04925DSC04928DSC04931We love Sparkle Stories and we listen to them every single day. When I say every day I mean EVERY DAY. S has yet to tire of the stories as she can identify with characters because they are almost her age and live a similar lifestyle to ours. V loves them too and has memorized the intro lines to the Martin and Sylvia stories. If you have never heard of Sparkle Stories you can check them out for free on their podcast or they have a free download of one of the stories on their website. You will quickly come to love Sparkle Stories and you too will be listening to them EVERYDAY!

So back to this kale cupcake thing. Well one afternoon S came up to me after listening to Sparkle Stories and asked if we could make kale cupcakes like Martin and Sylvia’s daddy made in the story. I said sure, why not.

I winged it by using my favorite carrot cake recipe and simply pureeing the kale with the oil before mixing it into the flour.  Now we had a good laugh at the batter as it looked like what we could only describe as pond water with goldfish in it. After the cupcakes baked they looked more like dark chocolate. I topped them with a maple sweetened cream cheese frosting. Yummy! You can eat these before dinner or for breakfast and not feel the least bit of guilt. Both girls like them very much. Though they were very filling considering all the fiber between the whole wheat flour and the kale and carrots. These might be the healthiest cupcakes ever baked.

Kale Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of sucnat
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup of coconut oil
  • 3 large kale leaves washed and stem removed
  • 1 large carrot shredded

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. Then in a food processor puree the kale and the coconut oil together. Add in the eggs and give a few quick pulses to mix the eggs and the oil. Mix the oil/egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until there are no clumps of flour left. Finally stir in the carrots.  Scoop batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake papers. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Frost with maple sweetened cream cheese.

Frosting:

  • 8 oz organic cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of organic butter
  • 1/4 cup of real maple syrup

In a stand mixer mix all of the ingredients together on high until whipped.

Posted in Cooking and Food, Sponsors | 14 Comments

Summer Postcard Swap for Kids

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* The swap is now closed.***

After several questions and inquires about kids getting involved with the postcard swap I decided I would hold a swap for the kiddos too.

It will work the same way as the mama postcard swap, only you’ll need to enter your child’s name for another child to send them a postcard. You may enter for more than one child, of course. If you have two kids and you want each of them to receive a postcard you will need to enter each child separately (so fill out the form for each child). Each child will in turn need to send out a postcard.

The swap will be open for one week. I will close it on Sunday the 26th. Emails will be sent out short after that with your postcard buddy’s address. You will need to send the postcard within two weeks of receiving your swap buddy. And as always I will delete all addresses after two weeks for privacy. Let’s get swapping!

 

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Feeling Peachy

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DSC04883DSC04879DSC04877DSC04882DSC04888DSC04884After three failed attempts we finally made it to our favorite local organic orchard yesterday. We were there with one goal in mind, peaches. We were thrilled to see all the trees filled with peaches and we picked and picked and picked. Despite the ants biting our ankles, the huge beetles and the bees, we walked away with almost 40 pounds of peaches.

I love that the girls now look forward to going to these places. They have enough of a memory to be excited when I tell them it’s finally season for a certain fruit or veggie. We try our best to eat our produce only in season and because of that we’ve waited such a long time for peaches. So we’ll enjoy them as much as we can or until we get sick of them and move on to apple season.

My plan for preserving these peaches:

  • peach lavender butter
  • dried peach chunks
  • frozen peach slices
  • peach leathers

Any peach recipes you want to share?

Posted in Cooking and Food | 13 Comments

In My Garden

DSC04874 DSC04871 DSC04870 DSC04869 DSC04868 DSC04865 DSC04864 DSC04863 DSC04861In my garden this week: monsoon season! Rain, rain, and more rain. As you can see in the pictures above we get a lot of water in a very short time. Yesterday morning within 15 minutes we had 3 inches of rain pour off our roof. We have gutters, but not very effective ones. We have a complete water harvesting overhaul listed in the plans for next spring. That means replacing the existing gutters and putting in a cistern to hold the water. Something we’ll have the pros come do for us. For now I am taking notes on where the water pools and how best to dig holes to channel runoff.

I’ve been reading up on permaculture and water harvesting in an effort to get a more sustainable backyard plan going. I figure if we are going to live in the desert better do it responsibly.

As for the food in my garden it’s mostly basil and tomatoes. I recently planted a lot of sunflowers and native corn beans and squash and they all were sprouting and then one morning I walked out to find the dog had eaten them all. Needless to say Lily is not allowed outside unsupervised anymore. I replanted of course and so with all the rain we shall see what comes up.

Just a quick reminder if you haven’t already and want to sign up to receive a postcard from someone please checkout the Summer Postcard Exchange!

Posted in Garden | 9 Comments

Summer Postcard Swap

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*The swap is now closed. *

It’s that time of year again! The Summer Postcard Exchange. Last year I held the exchange while vacationing in Italy with my in-laws; the year before I held it before going to San Diego. This year I thought it would be fun to hold it just before I go off to the magnificent (or so I’ve read) state of Maine for the wedding of my oldest and dearest friend. I love snail mail, and I am betting you do too. So join me in sending out a little love this summer.

The exchange works like this:

  • Sign up using the form below, leaving me with your full name, email, and a mailing address.
  • I will assign you a person to send a postcard to (usually whoever signs up after you) and will e-mail you with their mailing address.
  • After I email you the address I will only keep everyone’s mailing addresses for two weeks (in case anyone loses the email). After two weeks I will delete all the addresses for privacy.
  • Please send out your postcard within three weeks of receiving the person’s address.
  • When you receive your postcard, feel free leave a note here or on the Olive and Owl FB page and let us know you got it, and where it came from

I will close the sign up Sunday July 19th. I’m looking forward to a happy mail day!

 

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Sunday at the Market

DSC04859I love going to the farmer’s market, it’s my Sunday morning ritual. I make pancakes and then drag the family out to the market at 8 am to beat the heat. This morning there was lots of yummy treats. We bought the following:

  • melon
  • zucchini
  • Armenian cucumber
  • peaches
  • apricots
  • onions
  • eggplants
  • eggs
  • handmade tortillas

Happy Sunday everyone!

 

Posted in Cooking and Food, Life Notes | 12 Comments

Back to Baking

DSC04851bread We’ve finally settled in enough that I can get back to baking bread. I love making our family’s sourdough bread, it’s so gentle on my digestive tract and the girls can’t get enough of it. Just before we moved I decided to up my game a little bit and learn more about the chemistry of really good bread and learn about water to flour ratios. I checked out a bunch of books from our library and read and read and read.

Today I made a quick bread. Well, it took all day to make the bread, but it wasn’t an overnight kind of thing. I have yet to taste the bread as it came out of the oven after dinner and I wasn’t about to cut into before it was cooled. I am in the school of thought that you should wait until your bread is cool to cut into it.  I’ll put a picture up on Instagram and let you all know how it turned out!

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