Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Flowers

Skunk Cabbage. 
Trilliums.  I'm used to thinking of Trilliums as being rare, but they are actually quite plentiful.  They just don't last very long and they only come once a year.  Also, they grow in the woods and are not easy to spot from a moving car on a busy road.  I've lived here for more than a year and have never realized how many trilliums there are, growing just a few yards from my house, I guess because if you want to see them you have to be willing to tromp around the woods in the rain wearing muck boots.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meanwhile in Greece...

The weather here is cold and rainy.  Meanwhile in Greece, where daytime temperatures are currently ranging between fifty and sixty degrees, Mary has just sown her first tomatoes of the growing season. 

Mary lives in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece.  She maintains her garden plot in a location 68 miles from her home, amidst pine forests near the Mediterranean Sea.  I connected with her via her internet shop where she sells seeds for home gardeners.   Here are some of the tomato varieties that Mary offers:

Brown Berry

I plan to follow Mary's progress through the planting season.  I love knowing that there is someone on the other side of the globe living in tune with nature through gardening and I'm hoping to mix things up a bit by highlighting what's going on in her world in contrast to what's going on in mine. 

Half of Mary's one acre gardening plot is devoted to olive and fig trees and she takes pride in her exceptionally abundant stand of wild greek oregano.  She devotes a generous amount of her resources to growing corn.  She recently found an old greek variety of corn that can grow without much watering.  Watering requirements are an important consideration for her.  Since her plot is not connected to a city water supply and she has to collect rain water for irrigation.  She says, “Rain is important for me and for anyone who lives in Mediterranean. We love rain because we have sun the most days of the year.”

If only I could give Mary some of my rain in exchange for some of her sunshine!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

I spent the day planning a special dinner.  Unfortunately, the power went out around 5pm, so instead of sitting down to an elegant meal, I made sandwiches.  Then Mark and I spent the evening playing Scrabble by candlelight.  This morning I baked the dessert I had planned for our Valentine's Day meal.  Mark asked me to make him heart shaped chocolate chip cookies because those are his favorite.

I used a heart shaped cookie cutter for a mold.

I also made almond roca cookies using the same technique.  It's a recipe I got from my mom.  She always made these to put in the Christmas baskets she made for her friends around the holidays.

Here's the recipe:  1 c. butter, 1/2 c. white sugar, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Melt 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate.  Spread on top and garnish with sliced almonds.

Making Valentines

 I spent the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day making paper to use in my handmade cards. The part of this process I love the most is mixing the pulp.  It's kind of like playing in the mud, only the results are a lot prettier.  I'm never sure how the colors are going to turn out until the sheets are dried.  That's part of the magic of the experience for me.

Here's what the pulp looks like as it is being prepared in the blender.  What a vivid color!  Would you call that cerulean blue?

This is the end result of this month's papermaking adventure.  I have a special deckle so that I can make a single sheet of paper that is shaped like a heart.  I tied a piece of vellum to the back in order to achieve a legible writing surface and garnished the front with a bow and a  tiny decorative flower.