Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkin Kale Scones

One of my favourite birthday gifts this year was a cookbook I received from my mom, "The Book of Kale".  Kale is one of our all-time favourite veggies, both to grow and eat so I was really excited to try some of the recipes in this book, from Kale and Cranberry Crisps to Lavash Pizza with Kale, Mushrooms and Olives. 

The Savoury Kale Scones with Pumpkin & Cheese immediately caught the eye of my little baker though (he LOVES to make scones) and so we set out to try this recipe first. 

It. was. AMAZING.

Without a doubt, the best scones I've ever made - buttery, savoury and best of all, made with kale from our very own garden. The little guy loved going out back, cutting the kale for me and watching it become something so delicious. He made sure everyone who tried a scone knew that the kale came from "his garden".

Savoury Kale Scones with Pumpkin & Cheese 
(adapted from "The Book of Kale")

2 C kale leaves, loosely packed
2 C unbleached flour (we used whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 T sugar ( I used a bit less)
1/2 C cold butter
1 egg
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 C cooked pumpkin in small dice (I used canned)
3/4 C grated cheddar cheese ( I used a bit less)
  • Preheat oven to 375 F with oven rack in the middle
  •  Blanch kale for a minute or two then chop finely and squeeze out liquid
  •  Blend flour, salt, soda, baking powder and sugar. Cut in butter with blender or fingers.
  •  Beat the egg in a small bowl and add the buttermilk, continuing to beat until well combined. Add to dry ingredients with pumpkin and kale and cheese.
  •  Mix with fork to just combine.
  • Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheet.
  • Bake 20 minutes.

So very delicious. The recipe makes huge scones if you follow the instructions to make 8-10. I ended up cutting them in half once cooked. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exercising my creative muscles

I haven't been writing much this last month or so, and its for a happy reason - I've been painting again.

I've been artistic as long as I can remember and I come by it honestly - my mother is a beautiful painter and illustrator. Its often made me sad that she hasn't kept up her work, especially now that her kids are grown and out of the house. I myself have slipped out of the creative habit, having convinced myself that "there just isn't time right now" while the kids are so young.  And not to sound all mushy and sentimental and well, artsy-fartsy, but it really is a part of me and when I'm not drawing or painting I'm not really whole.

It started during one of those wonderful extra-long baby naps where the house is clean, your chores are done and you're left wondering what to do with these precious and rare free minutes. Having decided that I wanted to give as many handmade gifts as possible this year, I decided to paint something for my best friend's baby daughter. I was pleased with the results but was a bit anxious - is art too personal a choice to give as a gift? Would she feel obligated to put it up even if she didn't like it? Was it even any good?

I ran it by some friends on a parenting forum I frequent and was met with lots of lovely compliments and a few people suggesting I think about selling my art. I was more than a little relieved and really very excited about painting again. But the selling thing - that had me a bit nervous. A few years ago, I opened an Etsy shop selling illustrated cards. I got extremely positive feedback, was featured on the front page of Etsy (kind of a big thing for an Etsy seller), and really loved the work.

However, I didn't do a proper business plan, I found that people loved the cards but just didn't want to shell out what hand-made cards cost when you can get a whole box of them at Costco for $15 or thereabouts, and I had some major printing issues which took up most of my time devoted to the shop. In the end, I spent many hours stressing, planning, printing, promoting and not very much time drawing. I wasn't able to justify the cost of materials and equipment and the time spent on something that didn't seem to be viable.

So, needless to say, I've been gun-shy about trying to sell my creative work again.

But, I love to paint. And I do think my paintings and illustrations are different than alot of what's out there for kids. And I have a friend who has a nice little crochet business that she runs successfully along with raising three kids who I'm using as inspiration.

I've been painting and drawing furiously during my littlest's naps, which has made my days so, so joyful. I really do feel complete again and in fact, I have to make myself stop painting most days or I'd let the laundry pile up, the dishes go unwashed and I'd forget to shower. That's how much I love it.

In the new year, I'll start a Facebook page and list some work. Just dip my toes in the water a bit. Maybe an Etsy shop, further down the road if there's interest. A local coffee shop is interested in displaying my work, so there's promise.

I'm not interested in complicating my life - I go back to work full-time in 3.5 short months and I don't want this to take away from my family life. But if I can sell a bit of work and spend those rare free moments painting instead of surfing the net or wasting time, then I think its a win-win. We'll see!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cutting down on screen time

I tend to thrive in a fast-paced environment; stress  actually makes me more productive and happier. When I have a lot to do, I get it done and then I make the most of my down time.  So, while I relish the opportunity to be at home with my babies for the first year of their lives, I sometimes find spending so much time at home a bit oppressive.As they say, the years are short but the days can be long.

 Its difficult to get everything done in a day, spend time with the kids, and get time to myself. I can find myself a bit paralyzed with indecision when the kids go to sleep (do I clean? shower? relax?) and I end up wasting away those precious hours of nap time.

I get a bit bored, which is silly because there's so much I can and should do with my time - being creative, getting outside, cleaning, fixing up the house, playing on the floor with the little ones.

The tendency to get bored and sort of mill about the house on a rainy day like today is something I've always had to fight with myself about. When I get up, get dressed, and get moving first thing in the morning, my day is so much better.  Technology has not made this easier. I find that I can so easily get sucked into the void of the computer or my phone first thing in the morning while drinking coffee, ostensibly to "check the news", which turns into reading blogs, Facebook, forums, Pinterest. Next thing I know, the baby's nap is done and I'm still not dressed.  In the evenings, its so easy to flop on the couch and start browsing Netflix - I'm emotionally and physically tired and I just want to wind down before bed. The problem is, half the time I'm watching something just for the sake of something to do. Its not intentional - its just lazy.

So, I've decided to limit my screen time. Much like eating Halloween candy, I find it difficult not to get carried away with time on the computer and my phone when its so very accessible. Clearly, my current routine isn't working so I'm going to shake things up. My days are going to start off with a walk with the kid(s) and the dogs, rather than lounging in front of the computer.  I'm hoping to spend evenings upstairs in the family room rather than in the basement with the TV, doing things I love - reading, crocheting, drawing. A glass of wine or a mug of tea and then upstairs to relax before bed.

I think I'm a bit tech-weary these days and its time to cut down, make my online time intentional and brief.

There's a whole real-life world to connect to.

And laundry to put away. Oh, the laundry.