Saturday, April 30, 2011


Today is a soup kind of day. Yes- April 30th in Minnesota means soup weather.

I have been obsessed with this soup ever since a friend brought me a bowl of it. If you have the book "A Homemade Life" the recipe is found on its pages, otherwise this is a great adaptation (and the recipe I have pasted below.) I usually add some cannelini beans as well and it is also one of those soups that tastes better the longer it sits in your fridge.

Tomato Soup with 2 Fennels
from "A Homemade Life," by Molly Wizenberg
~serves 4-6 (generous helpings)~
~takes about 40 minutes~

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced (save some of the fronds for garnish)
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 28 ounce cans whole or chopped tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
sugar, to taste
pepper and vinegar, to taste

- in a dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the chopped onions and fennel, and sautee for 5 minutes.

- add the garlic, thyme and fennel seeds. cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5-8 minutes.

- if using whole canned tomatoes, crush them in a food processor, with your hands, or however else you'd like. if using pre-crushed, no need to crush further. in any case, add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot and stir everything together.

- fill one of the now empty tomato cans with water and add to the mixture.

- turn the heat down, and let the soup gently simmer, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes.

- when the fennel is very tender, and the tomatoes have reduced to make the soup taste full-bodied, it's done! add salt and pepper to taste. if the soup is too acidic for you, a pinch of sugar will mellow it out. if you want a little more bite, add a small splash of red wine vinegar.

- ladle into soup bowls, and top with a pinch of fennel fronds, and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream (optional, of course!).

- serve, very hot, preferably to a table of your best friends.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Some weeks I don't have words. This is one of them. I may later.

In the meantime the sun is finally shining here and I think I may have found the perfect bike accessory.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I didn't mean to stay away so long. i just was caught up in the busyness of life - lots of weekends away, weekends with company and projects. I know I am seem like I am a little over-the-top with the projects right now but once spring comes I want to be outside so I am trying to finish up my indoor projects while it is still cold and snowy out. (because, yes, as my local friends can attest, it did snow this weekend!)

However, right now the sun is shining and I want to get outside and clean out some of my gardens.

I had planned to catch up on blogging/emails/photo editing today but our internet was down for a few hours and I lost my opportunity. Hopefully the stars will align and I will have time again later this week, but in the meantime I will leave you with a funny story.

My parents came last weekend to celebrate Aidan's birthday and my Dad also taught me how to change light fixtures. In typical fashion I decided to go hog-wild and change out all the lights in our downstairs. (You can buy them uber-cheap at IKEA.)

I even changed out the lights in the bedroom closet, and I thought I was pretty smart to install a track-type lighting that had adjustable beams that could be directed right at the clothes. However I failed to take into account the fact that the light fixture is rather close to the bathroom door and so...... yeah........ you can no longer open the door. (or iron, as our ironing board is on the back of the door.)

So I guess I am not done. I need to make another little trip to IKEA and pick up a few smaller lights.

And if you are ever in the area and you need a place to stay..... I also upgraded the lighting in my guest bedroom - it even has a dimmer switch.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

the good, the bad, the ugly?

Well, not really. I try to keep the ugly out of my blog. Not that it isn't there in my life every day, and not that I don't want to be honest with my {few} readers, but I assume that most of my readers know me and if they do, they know the truth about my life. And no, life is not always perfect. But it does have beautiful moments that you can capture and those are the moments I want to remember.

I think balancing the truth and the beauty is something all bloggers wonder about. How real should I be? How real am I being? How real are the other blogs I read? We can photo-edit and wordsmith the truth right out of our stories and make them what we want to be, at least for today.

But today I had only one story I want to share, the story of my little boys birthday. The story of how he is now seven and how this birthday is bittersweet. It is hard to believe that he has grown into such a wonderful young man and I can say I am proud of him every day. Before we left for spring break we had school conferences and when I asked his teacher what we needed to work on she said "nothing." Nothing? Isn't there anything we can work on? No. Apparently he is a smart-as-a-whip-little boy who listens to his teacher, responds well to correction and is kind and generous with his fellow students. What more could a mother want? Right?

Tonight as I sit here and reminisce about the past 7 years of my life with Aidan I know they are the best seven years I have had. They have also been some of the hardest years of my life and I honestly don't know what is coming next. Some of you who know me know what these struggles are this year, and for those who don't I am sure it will be evident eventually. It's just that as I sat down tonight to write a little tribute to our birthday weekend and tell you funny anecdotes I couldn't do it. And so tonight instead of a glimpse into a so called "perfect" little piece of my blog life you get the "ugly."

And the rest of the story......... I don't know. I may only write about the good, and that is okay. But one thing I have learned is that we all have some "ugly" in our lives and if we are willing to share I have found people to be so much more gracious and kind then I would have ever thought. And those are the beautiful moments - the ones worth capturing.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to two of my favorite people. Aidan and Jane share a birthday and this picture is from a celebration they shared when Aidan turned 4.

How much he has grown! We have already had two celebrations this weekend and there are more to come so stay tuned!'

In the meantime I need to go upstairs and finish getting ready for my next round of company. Currently the upstairs bedrooms are torn apart as I rearrange and make room for this treasure which will hopefully be the perfect home for my fabric.

Don't you just love my little painter?