This was a blog about my adventures with Joe. Then, along came Nia. Four years later, along came Stage 3 breast cancer. Fast forward two years, and I'm now caring for my dad while he fights his own cancer battle.
We just got back from a few days visiting Dale in Coarsegold. It was a great trip. I'll post Nia's pictures first. It is so interesting to see what her view is -- not only what she deems worthy of shooting (dogs!), but also literally the view from her height.
What a nice surprise! The rain today only lasted a few hours and then gave way to a beautiful afternoon just as I was wrapping up work! Nia and I scraped our plans to play indoors at the library, and biked down to the Farmer's Market instead. We literally had peach juice running down our chins as we sampled some early stone fruits. And we couldn't pass up ice cream cones, either, from Penny Ice. I enjoyed the Avocado flavor (though it maybe wasn't quite as good as the avocado smoothies at the Cafe Brazil...) and Nia loved the chocolate sorbet (so rich!).
My favorite part of my route from Seabright to downtown:
My little companion, trying hard to stay awake (when I pulled into the bike parking at New Leaf her eye-lids were fluttering):
Home again, home again, a few hours later (and the weather is still gorgeous!):
As I type this, the rain gutter on the other side of my wall is beating a steady drum beat as the rain comes down. Rain... in late May.... in Santa Cruz. What is up with this weather?! I'm ready for the warm days of summer already! At least yesterday Nia and I got to soak up some sunshine on the deck at Granddaddy's. Nia did some swimming too. The pool was only just above freezing at 62 degrees so only a few toes went in, but the hottub was nice and comfortable.
(Yes, sometimes she does get tired of me taking pictures of her!)
We celebrated all weekend long. Friday was just Joe, Nia and I. We all slept till 9, and then kicked off the day with almond waffles (with candles, of course). Later we went to the Boardwalk to go on a few rides and to stop by a photo booth for a picture strip of the three of us, something we've done each year on Nia's birthday (once I scan it, I'll post it).
Saturday was Nia's party. Anna & Zomina, George & Dale, and Phil & Pam joined us to celebrate. It was a simple, relaxed party. On the menu: Rye Soda Bread to be topped with olives & brie, or herbed butter, or roasted strawberries; Mixed Green Salad with almonds and strawberries; Tortilla Soup; and Carrot Cake. And I incorporated my latest sewing project. Note the banner. I used a bleach pen to write "Celebrate!" on it, too. My first banner project & my first time using a bleach pen = fun! (Seriously. I'm really happy with the banner and look forward to using it for lots of different types of celebrations. Nia kept saying, "Preeeeeety!" which is gratifying!)
And Sunday we continued to celebrate at Zoe's birthday party (Zoe is two days older than Nia). Karah was so sweet to put a "3" candle on Zoe's garden/bug cake for Nia!
Today, Nia harvested her first radish from our garden!! It was a long, thin French Breakfast Radish. The flavor was mild, which was perfect for Nia since she is really sensitive to spicy flavors lately. We were both so excited to eat something delicious that was a teeny, tiny seed less than a month ago! Pretty mind-blowing.
Gotta keep nurturing the rest of the garden now...
Each spring cherries seem to hit our Farmers' Market just in time for Nia's birthday -- something we've come to appreciate and look forward to. There is something so nice about eating in season.... delayed gratification, celebration, savoring what's new... It isn't just about the fruit & veggies tasting better (though that is there too). It is about slowing down and really embracing the season and what it has to offer. It is fun to talk about and anticipate what we might find at the market each time we go. This week: red cherries, orange apricots, green, plump peas.
Have you ever stumbled upon the most perfect book at the most perfect time? This just happened to me, and I can't get over the, well, perfectness of it all. I can almost hear the click! as the universe aligns with what I need right now. As you know, my little food garden is 4" x 4" plus a small container of sunflowers and two more containers of corn. Small, in other words.
So you'll understand my joy at finding this book: One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square. (I love when the title says it all!) Last night, I read the chapter on Companion Garden/Intercropping. This is a method of gardening that seeks to exploit the fact that some plants benefit each other when placed in close proximity. After reading it, Nia and I went out this morning and made some adjustments.
We added corn seeds to our bean patch, so the corn can act as a climbing support for the beans. We planted beans in the corn containers, and we planted a row of lettuce between the peas to eventually shade their roots and keep them cool. That was all the seeds I had available this morning. Next, though, I want to plant mustard near my tomatoes to help keep them happy with some extra nitrogen. And hopefully all this mixing will keep the predatory bugs confused and away from our babies!
So excited to see big red local strawberries in the market now. Unfortunately, as so often happens in the early season, I bought a basket of strawberries yesterday that turned out to be disappointing: Big, red, beautiful, yes, but tart. Bummer. Flipping through Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day I came across the perfect solution: Roasted Strawberries! These filled my house with the most delicious aroma and were absolutely perfect spread on a hunk of crusty rye bread (I made that today, too). I tend to get a little strawberried-out as the long Central Coast strawberry season goes on, so I'm excited to have this perfect solution to late season strawberries, too.
8 oz small to medium strawberries, hulled, sliced in half
2 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 TBSP port wine
A few drops balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil and salt. Pour over the strawberries in another bowl. Stir to combine. Then spread the strawberries in a single layer on your baking sheet.
Roast for 40 min.
While still warm, scrape the strawberries and juices from the pan into a small bowl. Stir in the port and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy immediately or let cool and store in the fridge for up to a week.