24 October 2012

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Autumn Squash and Kale*

Have I mentioned that fall is my favorite season?  Not just for the weather but also the fabulous food that comes into season.  This book is a great staple because when you have no idea what to do with the food at the market it provides a simple, delicious recipe anyone will love.

I have already made this soup twice.  TWICE.  Ok, I should clarify...cc made the first pot on the day I flew home from Squam, and I made the second pot last week.  It is full of flavor and nutrients!

Quick note:  I left the peas to simmer with the rosemary and took Annie for a run, forgetting to take out the sprig.  If you don't take it out, it's very potent.  For our palette we enjoy it, but if you're not a big fan of rosemary, set yourself a timer to take it out.

serves 6

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 ounces pancetta, minced (I have used bacon)
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of dried yellow split peas
1 fresh sprig of rosemary, 4'' long
4 cups of homemade or canned chicken broth, plush more for thinning
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound peeled hard shelled squash such as kabocha or butternut, in 1/3'' dice
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 pound kale or green chard with ribs removed

Heat olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat.  Add pancetta (or bacon) and saute until it renders some of its fat, about 3 minutes.  Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft and sweet, about 10 minutes.  Add split peas, rosemary, 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat to maintain a simmer.  Cook until split peas are completely soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Taste often and remove rosemary sprig when rosemary flavor is strong enough.  (It should be subtle.)

Season soup with salt and pepper.  Stir in squash and tomatoes.  Stack kale leaves a few at a time and slice into ribbons about 1/4 inch wide.  Stir them into the soup, cover and cook until squash and kale are tender, about 20 minutes.  If soup is a little thick, thin with chicken broth. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

*recipe copied directly from Fresh From the Farmers' Market

23 October 2012

How To Paint if You Are Not An Artist

I'm not an artist.  At least, I've never claimed that label.  I'm creative, but I can't draw.  I can slap paint on a canvas but it's not a da Vinci.  I'm slowly learning that art can be created whether you have the talent to draw a perfect figure or not.  It's called mixed media collage!

Take this quote, for example.  Mary Oliver hit it on the head when she wrote these very basic life instructions.  I need to see these words everyday and a post-it note is not going to cut it. 

I need something bigger.  I need a paint project.  In comes the $5 canvas. 

I picked up this canvas at an estate sale about six years ago with the intention of painting over it.  I have no idea who Carlson is, the colors are ugly, and I'm really hoping this isn't a piece of art worth thousands like the woman that bought an original Picasso painting at a garage sale for $2.  However, it is the perfect size for my project.

I started with the frame. Then, I applied a base coat of light gray to cover the yellow, green, and white.  Next, I applied 3" vinyl letters (thanks to this idea) to spell out the poem.  Then I went to town and added pieces of old paper, maps, washi tape, and other odd bits in different shapes.

Then I added more paint.  I chose the color palette because this piece will be hanging in our bedroom and we have several blue maps on the wall as well so I wanted it to balance. I mixed, blended, wiped paint off with a rag, used water, stamps, and stencils.  Before it was dry I pulled off the letters, exposing the paint underneath.  As suspected, there was a little paint that bled under the vinyl in the process so the letters are not as precise as I would have liked them.

All in all, it's not bad for someone that isn't an artist.  I can't decide if it's finished or not.  I can always go back and paint over the letters with a brush to clean them up, but there is something about the mess that I like.  As I was hanging it, I noticed the words "tell about it" popped off the canvas.  Though not intentional, the message is clear.  It's as if that is the instruction I need most to hear. 

Anyway, it's above the dresser now and these words are what I read when I first open my eyes in the morning. 

What do you think?  Is it finished or I could I add something?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

22 October 2012

Lotus Wei Energy Mists

{photos via Lotus Wei}

The challenge for 4(for) green acres this month is about improving your health.  While part of improvement means preventative medicine, an even bigger part is taking care of what you have in the first place.  It starts with your mind.  You are what you think.  

Recently I've been introduced to the science of flower essences.  Katie Hess, a flower alchemist from Lotus Wei, has studied the interconnectedness between the earth and humans.  Again showing the positive influence and healing powers nature can have on us.  What she discovered is that as we as humans spend more and more time away from nature, stress and tension have started to build in our lives, which is problematic on the health of our systems.  Her goal has always been to help others find personal growth and she found flower essences to be the medium to do so.  A true 4(for) green acres approach.

Thea used the Lotus Wei energy mists during our class at Squam.  At first I was skeptical because I always feel good at Squam so determining if they had any effect would be impossible.  After Squam, I read through the great information on the Lotus Wei website, and I decided to purchase the mini mists collection to test it at home in my everyday environment.  To be authentic here, I have to tell you the reason I feel I need this type of science.  I am not easy to live with.  I have a tendency to sway from one end of the mood spectrum to the other and not all that often in between.  I pretty much drive myself internally and do a good job forgetting to show affection to those I love.  I do believe that nature balances me and I'm willing to try any form of it.

If you're like me, you're wondering how flower essential oils can change you.  I found that question in her Q&A section and here is what Katie has to say.    

For those that haven’t tried flower remedy elixirs before can you explain how they work?
Flower remedy elixirs are an aqueous solution that when taken internally or applied on the body, works through the acupuncture meridian system. The science behind it is called sympathetic resonance: when you have two tuning forks of the same key and strike one of them, the other tuning fork starts to buzz even though it’s not touching the vibrating one. This is because the invisible sound waves expand out, causing the second fork to vibrate in resonance. 
The same happens with flowers. They are emanating waves that cannot be seen with the naked eye, but that strike a chord within us and as we re-balance our bodies and minds we experience more clarity, happiness, and peacefulness. When people find this hard to believe, I ask them how a cell phone works. We don’t question a cell phone, because we hear the voice on the other end. The waves emanate from the phone and send information through space. So we see this on many levels in technology. The difference is that what the flowers and plants has profound health benefits.
I get it, and I've been using them for about 4 weeks, with a small lapse, and I have to tell you that, YES, I do feel better.  Maybe it's a placebo, maybe it's just my willingness to be open to trying to something new, but I am not as emotionally strung out, and that makes it worth it for me.

Jump over to her website and pick a flower on the main the page.  It will point you in the direction of which essence you might be most in need of.  I think I'm going to need a gallon of inner peace!


I was not paid or given any product in exchange for the post.  This is truly my opinion of the product I purchased for myself.

18 October 2012

Melted Crayons

I spent a weekend home alone recently and most of that time was in my studio dreaming up all manner of things.  One of the projects for the {eye} wonder workshop was to play with crayons.  I took a non traditional route and melted a few of them. 

The result was amazing.  I absolutely love the drips.  This isn't quite finished.  I am not sure what process will happen next, but that's the beauty of art, right?

What else would you add to this canvas?

17 October 2012

Photography Classes

I have immersed myself in photography lately.  I took a class at Squam with the lovely Thea Coughlin and something seemed to shift in my mind's eye when it comes to taking a photo.  Currently, I'm taking an on-line course with Eileen Nishi, whom I also met at Squam, and I'm enrolled in another on-line course, again with Thea set to start in January.

Many of you have asked how my photos have gotten so much better since I started blogging.  While it's been a lot of trial and error, I've also spent time learning from pros/friends that know what they're doing.  These two ladies get it.  Not only is there camera instruction that is easy to understand, you get a little extra.  Secrets I can't give away. 

So jump in, sign up, and don't be afraid of your camera!  These ladies will walk you through it all.


While it's too late to sign up for Eileen's fall class, I know she'll be hosting another class after the first of the year.  At least bookmark the page, and I'll post info when she opens registration again.


Thea is full of energy and authentic.  The best way to describe her is genuinely happy.  She is a teacher at heart and her instruction on how to use your camera is easy to understand.  A definite must! 

15 October 2012

What Joy Looks Like

My baby sister is five years younger than I am.  For the most part she has been my shadow.  Growing up I hated her tagging along until my sixth grade teacher talked to me about what a great role model I could be.  My attitude changed after that conversation and I didn't mind her around so much.  Today she is my best friend.

One thing for sure that was always different between us was her love for hair.  I, ever the tomboy, hated having to manage my out of control hair.  Short, long, and a number of perms later, I still dislike doing anything with my hair.  Sarah, on the other hand, has always strived to have perfectly coiffed hair.  Her babysitter would fix her hair almost everyday and then spray it with a can of aqua net.  Soon her passion for doing other people's hair ignited.  Anyone that was a willing victim could have their hair curled, or crimped.  She was FIVE.

Jump twenty years ahead and she still loves hair.  She has made it her life's work.  After cosmetology school she worked on commission, then moved on to working for herself in booth rental, and now... she has manifested her dream and opened the doors to her very own salon.

I am so incredibly proud of her.  The process hasn't been easy:  Finding a location, dealing with a mess left from a previous tenant, a month delay in opening, and dealing with all the woes construction can bring.  The time is finally here. 

I have to showcase her and the salon in this space not because hair is my thing, but because following your heart is.  I feel like I've felt all the pain and joy that has come out of this project over the last year.  I'm overcome with bliss that it happened for her.  This is what joy looks like.

Here are a few shots of her space.  It's fairly minimalist with clean lines which actually makes you feel beautiful when you sit in the chair because you can truly see yourself.

Thank you for letting me share my excitment with you.  You can check out Sarah's facebook page here.  And if you're a stylist living in Lincoln and need a place to work, she has spots available.  *wink*

05 October 2012

Happy Weekend

Spending time settling into fall.  My mom comes for a visit this weekend and I can't wait to spend time with her.

Enjoy your weekend.  What are your plans?

01 October 2012

October 4(for) Green Acres Challenge

These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.


There is more to living a 4(for) green acres life than taking care of the earth.  Taking care of your body is just as vital.  While growing your own food to feed your body is important, so is general prevention.  With processed food taking over the markets and carcinogens in everything you come into contact with, stopping to filter and clean out some of the junk becomes necessary.

This month's challenge is centered around health.  That includes getting a routine physical with blood work, mammograms, prostate checks, etc.  It means taking the time to cleanse your intestinal track and get rid of the toxins that are harbored there.  Understand your body and know it, so if there is an issue you can be intuitively aware.

So, stop what you're doing right now and make an appointment with a physician.  It starts there.  It starts with the blood.  Later this month I'll be talking about various alternative medicine practices that I've been exploring lately.