I spy, 30 threads per inch

I just got done writing a thank you note.  To my eye doctor.  Silly?  Not to me.

He listened and took me serious. I wanted to take a moment to be grateful.

A bit of background:  A fellow counted cross enthusist, told our group, that she took her stitchery with her to the eye doctor.  No, not to pass the time in the waiting room.  She took it to show her doctor what she actually does as a hobby.  She is thrilled with her new glasses.  The doctor told her……I have never seen cross stitch before,  those are tiny stitches.  So beautiful.  I can tell it makes you happy.  Let’s see what we can do to help you.

As much as I respect and like our eye doctor, let’s face it, he can’t possibly know every single hobby or work every single one of us enjoys.   Sure, sure the “get to know you” form asks if you work on the computer or have any hobbies.  It doesn’t really have the space to explain in detail what exactly you do.

So, I put on my big girl boots and worked up my courage and took a couple of samples of my work.

The staff and doctor put my fears at ease.

They each explained they have had people bring in their guns. They needed to show exactly what they need to focus on.   One patient brought in her knitting.  He has one patient who asked for multiple pairs of glasses and bought in his cards.  He is a poker player and wanted glasses just for that reason.

You see, I enjoy counted cross stitch.  The fancy light I use just wasn’t helping as much as it did 25 years ago.

To be more exact….  I stitch for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes a day.  I stitch on linen that has 30 threads to an inch.  I stitch over two threads at a time. 

I also do embroidery.  I also quilt and sew and mend and garden.  I bake and read and type on the computer.

So while I have oodles of hobbies, one in particular is extremely fine work.  I needed to show him what I do, so the perfect solution could be found.  He had me hold the actual fabric and stitch. During that time, he measured how far I hold it from my eyes and he made the notations.

Here we are a little over a week later.  I am ONE HAPPY STITCHING GIRL!!!!

While I am told, the glasses are cute, I am thrilled to be able to see well and stitch without being frustrated or my eyes becoming tired. My hobby is a pleasure again. 20160805_122200-1_resized

I wanted to share this idea with you.  I thought if you are having a dickens of a time crocheting a granny square or tying a fishing lure…..there is a solution out there.

Try and be brave (oh, believe me I know, it takes courage to show your work and explain its value) and take a sample of your work.  It is mighty important to you. When you take the steps to have the courage to show what you are proud of, as if by magic the professionals want to help find the perfect solution for you.

If you need me to go with you or send some good karma your way, speak up!  I will gladly hold your hand.  You will be so proud of yourself for sharing and asking for a little help.

In this together friends,

Happy Stitching, Happy Knitting, Happy Shootin’, Happy Poker playing!!

20160804_211432_resized_1PS.  I must give a 5 star shout out to the “Thread Heaven” product.  It is a fine product that helps condition your floss to lay down smoothly while working embroidery.  (If you already know about this fine product and have been using it for years…..this begs the question…..why didn’t you tell me about it?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 star soup, 10 star chef

Ah, the soup. The flavors were spot on.  You could taste layer upon layer of flavor building.  It started with a well crafted vegetarian broth.  A sprig or two of rosemary, a couple stems of thyme and a few choice pieces of parsley, all freshly picked from the garden, added to the broth to simmer in the background for another hour or so.

Once the flavors developed in the broth & herbs removed, gorgeous chunks of zucchini, garlic and onion were added.  The heat was gently brought up to a simmer.  The vegetables were allowed to play together, absorb and share their glorious flavors.   As soon as the onion and zucchini were easy to pierce with a fork…. out came the immersion blender.  The chef did it on slow and took her time.  She made sure all the timber was blended well.  Next,  3 heaping spoonfuls of lush sour cream was added.  The immersion blender reappeared and was once again instrumental in producing a creamy soup, almost silky in texture.  You could see the steam rising. 20160802_122906-1_resized

The bowls were heated before the chef used a ladle to gently ease the subtle green colored liquid silk into each.

20160802_123013-1_resizedThe garnish was quickly, yet thoughtfully applied.  Grated Parmesan, freshly snipped chives, fresh, stunning green pea shoots,  a couple of garden fresh picked peas, a chive flower and a generous amount of fresh cracked pepper. 20160802_122833-1_resized

The offered bowl of soup was a feast for the eyes.

That first bite.  Eyes closed, the warm, creamy liquid did a slow dance in our mouths just a moment before it slid down our throats.  I just barely caught the slight salt of the cheese garnish and the bite of the fresh pepper.  The mingling of savory delights was a symphony of flavors any restaurateur would be more than proud to offer to their guests.

Well done.  5 star good.

Yes, that good.

A simple, elegant lunch, however I thought I could going on eating that delicious offering all afternoon. I knew I would remember that meal for some time.

Oh, did I mention the creator’s name?  I am proud to say my friend, Chef Natalie, age 10.

You read that correctly.  AGE 10.

Because of her parents, she is respectful, smart, thoughtful, curious and a hard worker. She is over the moon enthusiastic and eager to learn, as much as she can, as fast as she can.

20160802_094355-1_resizedI had the privilege of spending the day with her.  Somehow, just by working side by side, she elevates the game.  You bring your A game, because, well, quite honestly, she is watching your every move.

She is serious.  Oh sure, she has an infectious laugh, is quick-witted and asks purposeful questions.  Don’t for one moment, let your guard down and causally  think this is child’s play.  This is the real deal.  She listened to and wanted to learn how to use a Coco-Jack to open a young coconut.  She was listening to every single safety rule about how to use the immersion blender.  She was already comfortable with the Blend-Tec, food processor and Kitchen-Aid.

We tied our hair back, we put on fresh aprons, we wore closed toe shoes, we washed our hands again and again and again.  We tasted and then flipped the spoon around and used the handle to taste again.  We went through a drawer full of spoons and I folded 11 freshly laundered kitchen towels this morning.  We worked the day through. 20160802_121402-1_resized

She made a meal for her family. Eyes on the prize.  Serving her brother, Dad and Mom a meal she could be proud of.  She never once lost focus.  She is fierce and determined.  She served them an appetizer, a soup course, the main meal and a dessert to finish.

The day began for us with glorious smoothies using fresh young coconut and the water, strawberries, mango, spinach and lime.  Chefs need to be well nourished so they can concentrate on cooking well for others.

The days’ list unfolded like this:

Smoothies

Zucchini Soup

Chihuly Salad

Pot Stickers

Molasses Cookies

She picked & gathered green beans, tomatoes, radishes, herbs and a fresh egg. She learned about and started a batch of sprouts in the kitchen.

It was a full day of learning, giggling & oodles of fun.  It was the good kind of tired.  You know?  So tired from cooking all day, yet somehow re-energized with pure joy and enthusiasm to serve the meal to your family.

I was the sous chef.  I helped and washed dishes. I scrubbed carrots, beets and a pear.  I washed bok choy & spinach.   I sent pictures to mom and dad throughout the day. I got out fresh kitchen towels, different tools, appliances and kept things moving along our time line.

When she says “I made pot stickers”.  She really means, she chopped the ingredients, made the savory filling, learned to make dumplings and took 46 home to her family.  The chefs in the kitchen each got to cook and sample one.  Oh, be still my heart.  Lush, moist filling inside a plump, perfectly steamed dumpling wrapper. Oh yeah, she made pot stickers and a lovely sauce to serve alongside.

*Housekeeping note:  Because my friend is under 18, I asked for and received permission from her parents to share these pictures.

I wanted to write this post as sort of a thank you to my friend.  I loved spending the day together.  The day flew by and I can’t remember smiling as much as I did.    Then I got to thinking.  I wanted to share this because, it’s what many of us are looking for.

You know when we (grown up adults) all sigh and complain that we are not sure what our mission is, or what our calling is?

Maybe, just maybe our calling is to be the “sous chef”?  Maybe, our mission is to lift someone else up and help them stretch up on their tippy toes, while they stand on a kitchen stool to reach their potential?

May you be a “victim of Grace” as I was.  While washing dishes and gently reminding a young chef to keep their fingers curled under while using a mighty big knife…….may you be gobsmacked by the Grace and Goodness of a young person who is looking to you.

In this together friends, all covered and splattered with grace.

Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pulled pork sammies

It was a three, paper napkin kind of lunch.

Messy, sloppy and drippy good.  You know what I am talking about.  You take that first bite, a little sauce drips into your hand and then drips down near your wrist, as you are reaching for a napkin, you try and catch it all of a sudden it drips a bit down your forearm.  Then you lick your finger and try and clean up all while trying to take that next bite.  haha20160730_132131_resized

Boy Howdy, the flavor was dancing (with jazz hands) and the texture was spot on.

You all know how I love to make something on Friday to have ready for weekend lunches?  Well, this hit the spot and then some.  Easy to put together and actually tastes a touch better the next day.

One of the pickles about eating the way we do, we can’t just drive through a place and grab something to eat.  However, being honest here, we enjoy a quick made lunch full of flavor and goodness like the next family.

So once home from morning grocery shopping, we unloaded and then sat for a minute or two with a really great lunch. It went together lickity split and it was sumptuous and filling at the same time.

I won’t go into all the reasons why we don’t eat meat in our home.  If you want to have an intelligent chat, I would love to do that sometime.  One reason; I have to keep my system ph balanced and meat products rise the acid levels and we all know that elevated acid levels cause sickness, inflammation and arthritis to name a few.  Actually, it’s been about 25 years since we have eaten pork in our home.

Oh, I get it that not everyone thinks this is the way to eat.  Actually, I wanted to write this down to save it for me.  A gentle reminder what goodness I create now and then.

Needless to say we no longer put air quotes around the word pulled “pork” sammies.  No one in our family asks, “is this really pork”?

Okay, Dana over at Minimalist Baker, rocked our lunch on Saturday.

http://minimalistbaker.com/?s=pulled+pork+sandwiches

She is a gem to share her creations and boy howdy did she deliver!  Who would have guess that cooked lentils, some smashed and shredded carrots and onions and spices and BBQ sauce would deliver an amazing, mouth-watering, messy creation?

I make our own BBQ sauce, but you certainly can use store-bought.  Also, I just looked at her pictures and realized, she used purple cabbage and I used green.  So, apparently, you can make substitutions and it still ends up as a glorious lunch.

I used toasted buns (I must say the texture of the crunch was the perfect addition, don’t skip this delightful layer of crunch.)  I sliced the cabbage nice and thin and made a quick slaw.  Then I sliced Walla Walla sweet onions for an added punch of flavor. 20160730_131822-1_resized

The flavor was deep and rich.  The texture was great.  It was “stringy” like you would expect in a pulled pork sammy.  We were both clean plate club members.

Update:  We had the same lunch two days in a row.  Such flavor, we both cleaned our plates once again.  The really good news?  We have enough in the freezer to have one more fast food, spur of the moment lunch.  Yum-tastic.

Next time you invite a non meat-eater over for a casual lunch or BBQ, might I suggest you offer up something this spectacular?  Or just maybe, remember you and your family are worthy of a beautifully made meal that is both beautiful and nutritious.20160730_131937_resized

Quick, say Grace and pass the napkins!