Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Memorial day weekend was reprieve from the past month of enduring my crazy (end almost in sight) work schedule, unfortunate shen(nanny)gans with our new hire, and a flu bug that wiped me out for two full weeks.

We spent two of the three afternoons at the river, just casually exploring on foot and letting the kids run wild. If we could, I would do that with them every day.

June's National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) begins tomorrow.  The goal is to write every day and this month's theme is JUMP.  I am more grounded when I write, and although the timing feels terrible for a writing challenge, I think that is exactly what I need right now. Less stressing, less procrastination, less keeping it to myself, and more writing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Berry CSA: week 4

I've been sick for the last week, so I haven't quite been able to keep up with blog posts and picture taking. I don't have a pretty image of this week's Berry CSA share but we still got 6 lbs of strawberries and 2 lbs of snap peas. Agriberry was offering pints of their first harvest of raspberries, so I grabbed four of those as well.

Last week was a fun week in the kitchen. We're back to eating mainly from the farmer's market, with grocery lists consisting primarily of those ingredients we need to make the dishes that I have planned for the week.  In addition to the berry csa goodies that we bake and cook, I may also continue to use this regular weekly post to share some of the other produce related dishes that make up our meals each week.

Among other fresh stuff we enjoyed:

Strawberry buttermilk muffins
Roscoe (and Merritt) approved
Gnocchi with peas and bacon
Strawberry soup and a strawberry muffin for lunch
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Collard Greens with Raisins and Almonds
Buttered Spring Peas
Salad Greens from the garden
Everyone loved the strawberry muffins--they were moist and dense, and filled with berries.  Paired with a protein like eggs or bacon they made a convenient breakfast, and they also made for easy snacks to pack up on the go or to carry outside in hand. You can't go wrong with tangy buttermilk and sweet in-season berries.

The gnocchi dish was a crowd pleaser as well.  I love the simplicity of one-pot dinners, with everything you need in just one place.  I couldn't find bacon at the farmer's market (anywhere!) and so we bought fat back, which is basically uncured and unsmoked pig fat. It's cheap and fatty delicious when chopped into little bits and seared in a hot skillet.  I subbed it for the bacon in the dish and it did the job just fine.

I've made chilled strawberry soup a few times in the past, mainly as a first course at brunch. All the recipes I've tried have had similar ingredients: strawberries, juice, and a dairy component.  If the idea seems a little weird then you should probably give it a try.  The kids thought it was a smoothie and at some point I just gave up and poured it into their cups. Andy and I thought it was refreshing and a nice compliment to heavier dinners.

1 cup apple juice
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar (I probably used half this amount)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat.
3 cups strawberries
1/4 cup water
Puree until smooth in blender. Pour into large bowl
2 cups plain yogurt ( I subbed one cup of the yogurt for whole milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add to pureed strawberries with apple juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Garnish with strawberries.

As for the cream of asparagus soup and the collard greens, the soup was very rich but I enjoyed the temperature twist and the collard greens were really good--although I think I'm the only one in the family who ventured to eat them.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roscoe's ice cream party

Roscoe turned three on Saturday. We threw him a classic backyard party to celebrate and I am still abuzz with the way his special day played out, so simple and fun.  I think Roscoe loved being the center of attention and sharing two of his favorite things with his guests: ice cream & bugs.

For parties I like to dress up a head table as a focal point with a few yards of theme appropriate fabric to make a runner, and this year I chose Patty Sloniger's Bug Jars in gray.  It is whimsical and not too serious, but a pattern that even the grownups could appreciate. It set a colorful party palette of oranges, yellows, greens, and blues.

Because an ice cream bar was the main event, I ordered from etsy a set of multi-colored sundae cups, some personalized wooden spoons that read "i heart ice cream" and "happy 3rd birthday", and funky straws to set the table, then displayed homemade toppings in weck jars: caramel, strawberry, chocolate, marshmallow, and whipped cream.  We had a colorful variety of sprinkles, sand sugars, and nonpareils to choose from, and everyone joyfully built their personal ice cream sundaes.  For drinks, we offered citrus water, beer (plenty of beer!), and strawberry, chocolate, and orange milks, displayed in a big tub of ice.

The kids (and grown ups) made great use of our backyard space and spread out to explore the playhouse, and the garden, and to play with the various toys that were strewn about.

We had bug tattoos and a station for the kids to color "baby scorpions" that I drew for the one game that we had planned: Pin the Baby Scorpion on the Momma Scorpion.  It was not my first choice, I had hoped for a rollie pollie bug, or a grasshopper. Roscoe was confident that he wanted an insect with "pincers" and when he finally settled on a scorpion, one of the harder insects to make cute, I remembered that scorpions carry their babies on their backs and I was sold. I hand drew a silhouette I found online and traced it onto wrapping paper, then wrapped a piece of poster board with a complimentary color and glued that big menacing scorpion to the front.  At this age, I didn't want a game where there was a declared winner, so we clapped for each kid as they taped up their baby scorpion and then they got to reach into a jar for a few bugs to take home that grow bigger when placed in water overnight. The blindfold part was a huge hit.

In my mind the birthday cake was the little jewel of the day, if not for taste, then for effect. Another of my favorite cookbooks is Food for Friends, and for years I've had my eye on a recipe for a mountain cake that consists of only a few ingredients: self rising flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. The frosting and filling are made up only of butter and powdered sugar.  It is one of the easiest cakes to make, and while it doesn't produce the most gourmet result, it does bake up a buttery yellow cake with universal appeal. It has four progressively smaller layers glazed and decorated with candy that the kids picked off at will, whether it was their piece or not. I adorned it with sparklers before everyone sang happy birthday and my heart was full when Roscoe's face lit up with joy and surprise from his enormous colorful birthday cake.

Many of our friends made the trip to celebrate with us, and our families and Roscoe and Merritt's cousins were there.  The weather was sunshiny bright, and it was a happy happy birth anniversary for me and for Roscoe.

Unfortunately, I was feeling under the weather and didn't really capture the day in pictures, but here are a few:

Friday, May 18, 2012

A birthday invitation

We're gearing up for Roscoe's birthday party tomorrow.  Cleaning, baking, detail gathering this morning, and a trip for gelato and a stop at the toy store later this afternoon.

I can't believe that my boy is three!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On mother's day weekend

My mom graduated with her masters degree in social work this weekend. It has been a long road to this place, but she made it. When her babies were young she applied and was accepted into a graduate program in Oregon and when my dad was offered a promotion soon after, which required the family to move to another state, my mom's educational aspirations were put on hold.

I was just five years old then.

Mom was accepted into the MSW program at VCU when I was twenty-six, the year that I became pregnant with Roscoe. We've been in parallel worlds the last four years, my mom and I, nurturing our respective dreams and growing as women, and as mothers.

The sacrifices we make as mothers and wives to balance our needs and those of our children and our marriages, they are real.  I love that she held on to this, and carried it with her all of these years, just waiting for the pieces to fall into place.

It is the dance of timing. Knowing what is important and when it is possible. There's a certain grace required to make the dreams worth keeping come true.

Friday was her day and we are so proud of her. 

Berry CSA: week 3

This week we received 7.5 pounds of strawberries and 1 pound of asparagus.  (I happily swapped a unit of asparagus for another unit of strawberries, and then bought 3 more pounds of strawberries.)

Last week was strawberry-filled and we are not at all tired of them. We sliced strawberries for breakfast, we munched on them for snack, we ate strawberry shortcake with cream one night for dinner. Yep.

I cooked a perfect strawberry rhubarb jam that we spooned over ice cream, onto buttered toast and buttermilk drop biscuits. We ate it with peanut butter, we ate in on everything.  Together, the four of us devoured all three quarts of it--which sounds a little nuts as I confess this in writing.  If you had tasted it, you might understand.

The recipe that I chose from Simply in Season called for 6 cups of rhubarb, 2 cups of strawberries, and 3-4 cups of sugar. Here is the modified version that I used:

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

6 cups rhubarb diced (2 1/4 pounds)
5 cups strawberries lightly mashed
Bring to a boil in large saucepan

2 cups sugar
Add and boil uncovered 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

I poured the boiling jam directly into my weck jars and secured the lids.  Each time we opened a new jar, the lids popped as we unsealed them, so I think they would have kept just fine for a while (weeks?) in the fridge. 

Rhubarb and Berries

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Backyard Garden 2012: Seedlings

For the last month or so, the garden space has been just a pile of dirt and Merritt and Roscoe have enjoyed digging for worms, rolling around in it, and driving their cars through it.

One morning early last week, Roscoe and I planted seedlings and now their dirt playground is off limits. Based on the antics of last week, I anticipate our biggest challenge this season to be to keep the kids and their trucks from trampling our food.

In the background is Andy's latest project: a playhouse for the boys!
This year's garden represents a modified version of what I had planned for, as we are still learning. We purchased most of our plants from the spring plant sale at Lewis Ginter. The farmers and gardeners were happy to share their knowledge and I learned that veggies like pole beans and sweet peas that I had planned to plant in May will likely bolt this late into the season, and that we'll have better luck planting them as fall crops in the late summer. Also, lettuce greens and carrots are best started from seed and planted in succession so that harvesting can occur on a weekly basis year round. The salad greens we have now may last for only a month or so, which will make room for something else as the season progresses. 

Herb pots
I like that gardening is an ongoing learning process, and I look forward to eventually cultivating a reliable combination of planting methods and crop variations to grow the kinds of food that we enjoy most, in predictable cycles throughout the year.

For now we have cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, salad greens (tatsoi, mizuna, mixed leaf, and arugala), alpine strawberries; and herb pots brimming with mojito mint, peppermint, spearmint, dill, sage, parsley, basil, and rosemary.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Berry CSA: week #2

On Saturday we picked up from the market 4 pounds of strawberries, and 2 pounds of rhubarb.

I've never cooked or baked with rhubarb before, but many years ago I enjoyed the sweet and tart combo of strawberry & rhubarb pie. Again, we are torn between enjoying the berries as they are in all their perfection--so tender and sweet this week--and incorporating them into experimental dishes. At the very least I hope to make a strawberry tart and also some strawberry and rhubarb jam. I'm looking forward to scooping homemade jam from my weck jars at breakfast.

Last week, despite my prediction that our strawberries would be eaten before I could bake anything with them,  I did manage to make a strawberry and pistachio crumble that was pretty wonderful.  Kind of a surprise hit that I adapted from a well-loved recipe that we use all the time.

My favorite cookbook of the last year is In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters.  Her book "presents her essential cooking techniques to be learned by heart", and every dish that I've prepared from it has been phenomenal. Each recipe includes many variations and encourages creativity and confidence in the kitchen.

If you have some strawberries hanging around this summer, give this a try:

Strawberry and Pistachio Crisp
Slice 2 pounds strawberries into quarters
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon cane sugar over the berries
Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon and toss the mixture lightly to coat

Mix together in a food processor until crumbly:
1 1/4 cups flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup pistachios, shelled
12 tablespoons unsalted butter

Dump and distribute the topping evenly over the berries.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the juices are bubbly and the topping begins to brown.

We let ours sit for 15 minutes to cool and set up a bit, before we dolloped whipped cream on top and ate it up.

Strawberries with cookie topping
Fresh from the oven
Oh yum
I also tossed together the super easy goat cheese pasta and it made a great dish for an early dinner on a hot and balmy afternoon: light and refreshing with the tangy goat cheese, citrus, and asparagus.

Do you have any recipes to share?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My first finish

The scarf that I started back in March is finally complete. It's been slow going, but that's one of the reasons I'm a fan of knitting. I do a little whenever I can, and make progress here and there when things are quiet.

I blocked it at the end of last week, which perfected the shape. While it is too warm for a scarf now, I'll look forward to wrapping up with it in the Fall.

The Pattern:
Row 1: knit
Row 2: knit
Row 3: knit
Row 4: knit
Row 5: knit
Row 6: knit front and back of each stitch
Row 7: purl
Row 8: knit
Row 9: purl
Row 10: knit
Row 11: purl
Row 12: knit two together

I used one skein of worsted weight malabrigo merino wool.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Animal Nature

Roscoe spends much of his day imagining himself as a leopard, or an eagle, or a crocodile, and entertains  himself to no end by acting out elaborate scenes from animal life. He will be the first to tell you about the food chain: how the lion eats the zebra, and the rabbit gets eaten by the coyote. Who is predator.  Who is prey.

Roscoe often initiates a game where he asks me which animal a momma _____ has to protect her babies from. He'll fill in the blank and it goes something like, "Oooh Momma, what's a momma gazelle protect her babies from?" And I will think very hard and finally answer, "A jackal!" Satisfied, he will nod his head in approval, eyes bright, grin wide, as he thinks intently of the next animal momma.

Other times he takes it a step further and demands that Andy is a poppa animal, and that he and Merritt are the baby animals. Andy's job is to protect his babies from the big bear (me!) and I am instructed to roar into the room and try to get the babies, while Andy fends me off.  We all think it is a fun time.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if he's too young for the truth of the circle of life. So far he seems to understand that nature just is, and that animals must eat to survive.

Last week I came out the back door to Roscoe peering underneath the stoop, hollering "Maaa-maa! Maaaa-maa! Come look!  Come see what I found!"

When I made my way to crouch beside him I caught sight of a large black fly freshly trapped in a spider's web. As my eyes adjusted to the shadows, I noticed a spider who, a few seconds later, darted across her web headed straight for the fly who was having none of it, and began to buzz wildly in protest--beating his wings until he was flying in circles around a thin gauzy thread held only by his feet.  When he would quiet, she would make another attempt, launching the fly into another frenzied and dizzying round.

Roscoe was mesmerized. "What's gonna happen momma?  Is that spider going to eat the fly?"

I haven't been that close to life and death in a long time, even if it was just a fly. It was a little unsettling, actually. Should I pull this fly loose and set him free? But I tried to be upbeat and matter of fact, "Yep, that spider is soo hungry and she made that web to catch her dinner.  That fly flew right into her special web! Isn't that amazing?!"

After a little while Roscoe got bored of the fly's fight for survival, and I really didn't feel like watching the grand finale, so we decided to check back later.

We went for a bike ride and when we returned the fly was wrapped up tight in glossy webbing, and the spider was perched protectively, directly on top of him.

Roscoe declared, "That spider is drinking that fly's blood." I confirmed, "Yes, she is."

I figure that whatever I tell him about the struggles of the natural world will be filtered through his little mind and that he will distill from it whatever bits he can comprehend, and that the rest will be saved for another day.

Do you shelter your kids, or lay it all out?  In nature, in life?

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