Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jay Makes a Cake

Doesn't it look yummy? 

It's actually made of clay, even the candle on top.  It reminds me of a bachelor's cake.    :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Little Backyard

Here in SoCal, unless you live in a very old neighborhood...or far inland...or in a 3+ million dollar property, you just don't get a "real" yard in the traditional sense.  Our home on the east coast was on nearly an acre, and when we moved here I just could not get over the lack of space behind the houses!  The homes here are WAY disproportionate to yard size (McMansion anyone?).  But, now that we have lived here for over 15 years, we are used to it.  And, since plant material grows ALL YEAR LONG here, the little yard (as well as our front yard) actually keep us plenty busy.  WE are the gardeners.  Oh, that's another thing.  Most people in SoCal have gardeners.  We do not.

I thought I would share a couple of pictures of our little space.  It's small and cozy and quite humble.  Slowly I have added orange accents to the space for a little bit of drama....otherwise, it is really GREEN.

Here is a favorite reading spot (the lounge was a gift to me one Christmas):

We have had our patio dining table and chairs for 17 years.  They are Brown Jordan and I am so glad I splurged on this set as they have outlasted anything else in terms of yard furniture!  Plus, I still like the set.  The umbrella was from Home Depot.

We are fortunate to have many, many kinds of birds that visit our yard.  Since I am not a birder, I really do not know their proper birdy names  (although I know some are finches, some are hummingbirds, and we have neon green wild parrots that *loudly* cruise by), but they love our fountain...

This year I tried to keep the few flowers I bought orange in color...

I have had this potting bench for about 15 years.  It is on the side of the yard...

Pink roses (sorry for the blurry photo!)...

In the other corner of our yard, we are fortunate to have an in-ground spa, which we use nearly every day of the year here...

A few pictures of flowers follow...

The spa from our family room...

Hope you enjoyed this little mini tour of the backyard (believe me, it is a MINI yard!).  Funny, I was telling a friend how we lack a full built-in grill/bar area (some of my friends even have televisions in their backyards here) and she was so cute, saying "oh Steph, those yards are so boring compared to yours."  Friends always know what to say, don't they?!  :)

linking here and here and here

Monday, May 16, 2011


My older son (walking above) and I (picking up trash next to him) participated in a beach cleanup last weekend.  Kind of exciting, we were interviewed by a photo-journalist there while we were working. 

My son is passionate about the environment.  In all honesty, it is HE who has helped me look at the excesses and wastefulness around us with new eyes.  It's everywhere.  Now that I am striving to live more simply and to reduce our carbon footprint further, he jokes with me that I am "worse" (meaning, more passionate) than he is!  :) 

One of my deepest prayers for my sons is that they learn to bless and serve others.  And it is my great hope that my older son will find a purpose for this "thing" that weighs on his heart.  Sometimes he tells me that it might be too much for him to study environmental issues because so much of it saddens him deeply.  But all I can say is that sometimes we are called to do something that is difficult, or uncomfortable.  I suspect he will figure it out.  :) 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

British Trifle...yum

Here is a British Trifle that I made this past Mother's Day:

My friend Leslie, who is the cutest thing with her British accent, gave a Trifle making lesson to myself and a few other friends on the eve of the Royal Wedding.  We had so much fun watching the wedding, talking and especially *listening* to Leslie!  :) 

Anyone British with THAT accent may please come to my house anytime to talk about anything.  :)

Here are the lovely ingredients (this is SO easy to make and very forgiving if you make any kind of error!):

One pound cake
Strawberry Jam (I used raspberry)
15 oz can of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup (I used peaches in light syrup)
Fresh Strawberries
Custard (I used instant vanilla pudding-large box)
Heavy Whipping Cream, 1 pint
Cream Sherry (I used cognac.  You can omit this or use orange liqueur as well)

Slice pound cake and spread each piece with jam.  Place in bottom of a glass bowl.  Drain canned fruit, reserving the juice.  Wash and slice the fresh fruit.  Arrange on top of cake.
Mix about 1/2C sherry with fruit juice.  Pour over cake in bowl and let soak (mine sat overnight).  Mix up custard or pudding and pour over fruit.  Whip the cream and spread over the custard when cool.  Decorate with sprinkles, nuts or fruit on top (I left mine plain.  Chill 2 hours or more....then dig in.  :)

I did not have the proper serving bowl, so I used a glass ice bucket!

I will make the comment that the alcohol was a bit much.  I should have used about half.  But it really did taste fantastic and it looked pretty, too.

Mother's Day flowers in red also looked lovely:

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Linking here and here and here for fun.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I was going to repot my basil that was sitting in the kitchen window (above with it's friends parsley and cilantro), but then I decided I should first make pesto. 

There is something so wonderful about growing your own herbs.  I often wish I had a larger yard with a very sunny spot so that I could grow farmer's market quality veggies.  I would opt for growing produce in containers, too, but our backyard is very shady and when I have tried they have not done great (I also have this crazy idea about raising chickens for an endless supply of egg whites, but that is another post).  I will be repotting the herbs above, however, and keeping them there so we'll see how they do!

Where was I?  PESTO.  Here is the recipe:

PESTO (recipe courtesy of  makes about a cup


2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts (if you don't have pine nuts, you can use walnuts or hazelnuts)

3 garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 tablespoon of prepared minced garlic)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice 

1/4 cup Olive oil (EVOO)

1. pick basil leaves off of stems and wash
2. chop pine nuts, EVOO and garlic in food processor
3. add basil and chop
4. blend in the parmesan cheese!

Pesto will last about a week in the refrigerator or 3-6 months in the freezer.

Here is the dinner I made (SO easy):


If you grow your own produce, I would love to hear more!

Blessings, Steph.

linking: , ,  and

Monday, May 2, 2011


My artsy younger son made about $60 selling greeting cards he had made the weekend before last at a little art fair for his school.  They were a dollar each.  He enjoys photography and has a really good eye, even though he has had no formal training or instruction. 

 All of the decent photography on my blog has been taken by him, in fact.

Here is a sample of him simply fooling around with the camera the other day.  He'd forgotten to delete them:

Nice, huh?  :)
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