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I've been blogging over at Our Sleeping Flowers these days. Still me, and still delicious, come join me!

Today we spent the day with bestie kristin and her newest little one, mr. 5 weeks old and looks so much like his mother. It's amazing how you forget how miniature they start out, all of a sudden my little one was godzilla. Then there are the traits that every newborn has, making any mother's heart swoon for new life. The little noises they make, their smell, their smiles during naptime, their stretches (definitely a favorite), and even their cross-eyed stares. It's difficult not to marvel at the miracle that they are, even when they're exceptionally needy or spit up (and pee) all over you.

My own little miracle didn't share my wonder and adoration, it was the first sign of jealousy I ever saw in her. Her pitiful cries for attention made my yearning for another bun short lived. At least for now.

This is a sneak peak recipe for the class on saturday. are you coming? are you excited? Have you entered Susan's giveaway for a spot and a half?

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it seems my daily list continues to lengthen, even if i'm crossing them off every chance I get, it still feels good to accomplish anything.

for example:

test and finalize recipes for brunch class.. check.
answer e-mails, texts and tweets.. check.
fill a few pinboards.. check.
make more almond milk because we're out.. check.
return neighbor's blender used to make aforementioned milk.. check.
laugh with sisters.. check.
have lunch with dear friend at the park, then move indoors because it's still frigid.. check and check.
visit mom.. check.
shop for running clothes but buy skinnies instead.. check.
(help) apply for grad school.. check.

run three days a week.. to do
return library books.. to do
write in my journal.. to do
e-mail this, e-mail that.. to do
call virginia may.. to do
go shopping for brunch class.. to do
figure out + survive this sleep training thing for the second time.. to do
manage to blog on a monday morning, or anytime on a monday.. to do
support husband through gmat #2.. to do
tell my husband how grateful I am that he's my sugar daddy.. to do

obviously I'm still working on a little thing I call prioritizing well, but I am prioritizing, if at all.

Susan (love her!) is hosting a giveaway for this week's brunch class, win 1.5 admission - 1 free admission and half off the second for a lover, friend, or neighbor. Hope you can be there, it will be delicious!

Before I began my quest for the best chocolate birthday cake, I would request one specific dessert for my birthday; strawberry shortcake. It actually didn't matter what the cake part was, sometimes it was angel food cake, other years it was pound cake, and still others we had it with shortbread, which has no immediate connotation of cake at all. But regardless of what sweet crumb we had to sop what was layered on top, it always included the early fresh strawberries of spring, lots of sweetened cream (never the fakey stuff) and a special song to set the mood.

Even though I made my own chocolate cake this year, I couldn't forget my favorite spring dessert. I'm sharing it with you this weekend, in case you're looking for something sweet to share; aren't we always?

honey lemon pound cake with fresh strawberries recipe at zupas

wishing you a lovely, and official, spring (or autumn) weekend.

A quick note to let you know that Melissa is back from Haiti, and we have a class coming up! We will be teaching a brunch class next week at Jacob's Cove Farm. Can you believe April is almost here? Come learn some decadent brunch recipes for spring. Perfect for sunday brunch, Easter, Mother's Day, or any late Wednesday morning.

as always, come hungry!

decadent brunch recipes for spring
April 2, 2011 12:00p.m. to 2:00p.m.

Here's a peek at the menu:

lumberjack pancakes with a pear + apple compote
sweet potato and kale bread pudding
poached eggs over roasted asparagus with a hollandaise sauce
fresh fruit salad with honey, lemon and basil
raspberry steamed milk


Over the weekend, I celebrated my 26th birthday. It was small and quaint, and perfect to me. We spent the day together as a family, eating good food and enjoying typical utah spring weather; moody overcast skies at the break of day, a raging snowstorm in the afternoon, and a windy but sunny and almost warm sunset. I always had mixed feelings about my spring birthday because of the fickle weather, but then spring has always been one of my favorite seasons. I kept finding hand written notes wishing me a happy day all over the house, I received well wishes from friends and family (my phone died twice because of its overuse), and husband made sure I didn't have to cook at all on my special day. But I couldn't help baking my own cake. What's a birthday without a cake? One that keeps on giving for a few days after. And chocolate, of course.

I used a recipe from my lovely sister in law. One of those "it happens to be vegan" recipes I love discovering. I decided to make a few changes to it, substituting all purpose flour with cake flour, increasing the cocoa, replacing the water with milk, and the undisclosed "oil" with my favorited coconut. I just can't leave things be. What resulted was something less cake-like and more resemblant to two big brownies. Didn't bother me a bit. It may not be the holy grail of chocolate cakes, the chocolate cake I hope to win the nobel prize with; but it was fantastically moist and perfect for a late march birthday, and the few days following. Maybe on a regular ol' sunday afternoon I will try the recipe as it was given to me, and discover it was the fabled perfect birthday cake after all. Sometimes I just give myself too many airs, but then I am the birthday girl.

well, was.

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I am constantly amazed at the strength and generosity of the blogging community. henry + lucia at utterly engaged and lydia at ever ours created for japan with love, a fundraising site donating to shelterbox USA, a charity that, as the fundraising website states:

provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters at the time when they need it the most. Each large green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. A whole box costs $1,000 (US), so we're hoping to raise enough to send 5 boxes.

The wonderful thing is, they've exceeded their goal and as of now have enough to send 16 boxes. Shows you the power of hearts knit together, doesn't it? DONATE HERE

I will also be joining in the bloggers day of silence tomorrow, feel free to join in if you like. Because I am signing off early, I'm sending you my well weekend wishes today. My post for zupas will be up tomorrow (scheduled by necessity), and shares things that are in season right now. Then all tomorrow I will be spending time with loved ones, promoting for japan with love as often as I can, and living my life well, because it's the best thing to do when you can't possibly do anything else to help.

wishing you a lucky and very happy weekend.

Over the weekend I, as I am sure many of you, have had a constant stream of thoughts and images around what is happening in Japan running through my mind. It seems so strange that while I worry about my awkward hair length, a teething + independence seeking toddler, and a husband studying for the gmat every night, that there are people without homes who are missing family members; children, husbands, wives. Cities have been destroyed and face a difficult and lengthy recovery, and I complain that a blueberry muffin recipe I am testing has been irrevocably ruined by my mediocre substitutions. It's not unusual, the way I feel. In fact I am willing to bet many of you feel the same.

It's an awkward grieving process that I go through during world calamities like this. At the time of tragedy, I instantly feel closer to those suffering, because I am human and know something of loss, so I empathize to some small degree. But I know I cannot stop living my own life, a life that has not come to a crashing stand still but continues on with a momentum that however lessened, still propels. So I focus on what is immediate, what is most important in my own little world, still enjoying the small moments and not forgetting the greater picture. I guess that's what really helps me cope with these tragic moments, knowing, seeking, and remembering the bigger picture.

what can you see of it?

I may not always talk about world tragedies, because I usually do not know what to say. But I do grieve, in my own personal way and know that aid in any way helps. If you are interested, here are a few ways you can help.

American Red Cross
US Fund for UNICEF

good advice on giving responsibly + a list of charities to give to
more good advice about giving responsibly

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I spent an afternoon at Jacob's Cove farm last week talking with farmer Dale about some exciting things. One of which will be announced soon, (I can't wait!) another I can share with you now. If you are interested in purchasing a share with Jacob's Cove this harvesting year, and enjoying multiple weeks of the best local natural food your tastebuds will ever experience (the tomatoes alone are worth it) sign up with the promotion code 10101 and you can receive an extra week of food for FREE!

sorry for all the caps and extra big letters, it feels so imposing when I do that...

ANYWAY, if you're a new reader, I would love to introduce you to one of my favorite farms this side of the Rockies, Jacob's Cove. It is where we get the most beautiful food through the harvesting season (we are share holders); it's where Melissa and I teach our local natural cooking classes (they provide the seasonal food + location); it's where my sweet little toddler plays in the mud, with goats, and farmer's daughters; and where I believe a real change in the year round demand and supply for real food in Utah County has begun. They have faced a number of challenges, hardships, and even a failing crop, but they are working as hard as ever to bring Utahns real food. These are some of the most determined and selfless people I have ever met.

If you have been thinking about trying out a CSA this year with Jacob's Cove and you live in the state of Utah, in these counties: {Salt Lake, Utah, Summit and Wasatch} you can have local natural food delivered to you, even to your doorstep if you like. Jacob's Cove will have weekly pick up sites in each of the mentioned counties, and will be offering home delivery for a small fee.

some information: 

more information about Jacob's Cove farm here.
CSA = Community Supported Agriculture, and a look at what food you will savor.
what does "local natural" mean? i'm so glad you asked.

purchase a CSA share from Jacob's Cove Heritage Farm here.

don't forget to use the promo code: 10101 when you check out to get an extra week of free food! Who doesn't like free food?

take note: They are ALWAYS willing to have visitors, especially if you want to help out with planting, weeding, etc during daylight hours. make it a goal to get a little dirt under those fingernails.

This week has been an unavoidably lazy one; at least it feels like it. I am constantly amazed at how quickly the day goes by when you're busy with reading time, dance time, errand time, mealtime, giggle time, naptime, singing time, bath time, and bed time, with a few other "times" in the wings. Of course there are those things that come up unexpected, important enough to forget every other plan until it's accomplished. And then there are others that seemed important in the planning process, but in the end were just superfluous. I like when I get things sorted just right, feeling both productive and fulfilled with how our day was spent. So although I say our week was lazy, we were doing something every minute of it. Well, with the exception of the day when we were in our pj's until 3pm. yeah. we probably didn't accomplish much that day.

even though we were super lazy busy, I still noticed some lovely things about our week.

saw. lots of green grass and grey skies. my fave.
heard. giggles. so many giggles.
smelt. lavender oil on the bottom of the cutest feet ever.
felt. so loved from a surprise from husband (a borrowed copy of my favorite bbc yet), even if it didn't end up the way he expected.
ate. more smoothies and toast for brekky than oatmeal.
boogied. in our pj's to the radio, and alphabet song.
planned. big things with farmer Dale for the future of local natural food. more to come next week, get excited! p.s. if you're thinking of signing up for their csa, wait for monday.

roasted broccoli and garlic with orzo pasta on zupas today.
take note: I published another version this recipe a number of months ago, but this recent take seems easier to me, and used the last of our garlic tapenade stores. I have made plans to replenish our supply this weekend, we'll see how that goes.

wishing you a lovely + productive weekend.

The last few days I have been spending the evenings off the computer between the pages of an enthralling book and humming and tapping my toes along with Fred and Jane. Sadly though, I've enjoyed these moments alone because Aaron has been studying yet again for the gmat (second time!). But he still comes upstairs when I call, to laugh with me at Fred's silly outfits. Have you ever noticed?

One of the mini goals I made for myself this year was to finally get around to making my own crème fraîche. It's was one of those things where after I found I had made it four weeks in a row, I wondered why it wasn't always so. I try not to live in the past, regretting what could've been, and instead try to focus on enjoying the present moment. Gratefully, crème fraîche makes that an easier task. Have you ever had it? It's wonderful. The beautiful marriage of active cultures and whole cream is luscious, a little snappy, incomparable. go. make this. today. It almost seems silly because it's such a simple recipe. The type of recipe I can see a mother or gran teaching their children, showing how magic is made with some cream, a spoonful of yogurt, a nurturing environment, and a bit of time.

A number of life lessons could be taught alongside, no?

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Let's talk skin.

I know it seems unrelated to food, but the health of your skin (and every organ) has everything to do with food. The best way to nourish your skin is from the inside out. Does the old adage, "you are what you eat" come to mind at all? Today, I want to talk about what you put on your skin, or rather, what I put on mine. sit back, and let's get hippie.

A few years ago I made the decision (and began making gradual changes) towards using more natural skin products. The mantra I chose when deciding what to use was basically, if I could eat it, rub it on. It seems a bit extremist, but it was a principle of letting only the purest things touch my body, because it's sacred to me, and since I try to only allow the purest things on the inside, why not on the outside too?

Before I made the decision, I was using products I believed to be the best. They were expensive, elitist, full of ridiculous amounts of chemicals, and they worked pretty well with a few exceptions I attributed to certain times of the month and things like camping, etc. Even if those skin products had nothing to do with my occasional bad skin, now that I have made the switch to more natural products, I like my new skin better. It's so much happier. I very rarely break out, and when I do it has consistently followed the consumption of certain foods, so I know the culprit, and it's not aunt flo.

Now is where coconuts come in. When I was pregnant I rubbed coconut oil and 100% cocoa butter on my belly, breasts and rear. sorry for the visuals. I came away from that pregnancy with minimal stretch marks, and the ones I did have healed quickly as I kept using the oil and butter. I know different body types and skin types react differently to the stretching that happens during pregnancy and nursing, but I think both eating + externally using the oils that I did helped my body to cope with them much better.

We have tried a lot of different skin products + remedies. Some we liked; others we hated; and we are still searching for our favorites. As of today, here's what we're rubbing on our skin.

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I have fond memories of my grandmother; granny. She's the type of grandmother that can keep you in line with a look, but also make you feel more loved and important than anyone else. I have faint memories of visiting her home in Vidor, Texas. They are bits and fragments, but when I piece them together they create a beautiful quilt of moments and a time I recall like a dream. The smell and weight of the humidity, the deafening sound of the cicadas, the smoldering heat in the summer that required driving (rather than walking) across the road, her greenhouses filled with so many flowers and plants, her washroom where all grandbabies were given their baths in the big sink, and her green garage freezer filled with surplus berries from past seasons. Breakfast at the kids table, the cereal cupboard, the tableware, even the sugar bowl, and watching her mix sugar with her milk before adding her cereal, every time. My favorite version of peter pan (a musical of course), bluebell ice cream, running barefoot, seashells in the gravel, ginormous mailboxes, imaginary games, and a line of the plumpest blackberries my young years had ever seen. I returned to visit after almost twenty years and so many memories were resurrected; noticeably lackluster, but still as much of a treasure.

virginia may + sandra jane (my mother)
circa 1956

There was a time when she came to live with our family, after we moved here to utah and still when I was very young. The memories lessened considerably in fondness. I think it had something to do with being a young child and prefering to be outside playing in the sun rather than sorting through undetermined amounts of laundry alongside her. She was a great help to my father during those years, I hope I have shown enough gratitude for both of their sacrifice. When I think about the moments I could have spent getting to know her better and understanding the life she lived, I regret my fickleness. But I was young, and as much as I'd like to think I am very different now, more sentimental with a clear understanding (and practice) of what is most important, I still find myself gravitating toward things that seem more enticing than a phone call. Even if it's the very thing I wish I would have done all those years ago, spent the time.

It's funny, in a sad and morose kind of way, how you really never change as much as you think. I am still that silly young girl in hand me downs, with bruised shins and dirty fingernails, that would rather run and climb trees instead of spending time with the people who I will miss most when they leave. Only now I can recognize it much better. In the conversations that we have had, even if they are more scant than I would like, we laugh together, she gives advice, and I listen. I ask questions, and she tells stories, or refers me to her written biography... and through it all I am reaffirmed just how much I love her. I see bits of my mother in her, and shadows of myself. I don't think I would have appreciated, and definitely wouldn't have been able to relate to, my dear granny like I do now. So ultimately, I am grateful for times to be silly and young, but also amenable and mature.

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