Nov 24, 2010

flowers by bella

The latest issue of Garden Design included a small feature on flower designer Bella Meyer, the granddaughter of artist Marc Chagall. Their descriptions of some of her arrangements sent me racing to her website to see some actual photos. And what innovative designs I found there! It's a different medium, but she is definitely continuing what her grandfather started...

Nov 23, 2010

intentions and flowers

Recently a dear friend and I moved our standing morning journaling date to Monday mornings to better accommodate our crazy work schedules. The new timing has prompted me to start using the ritual as an opportunity to set intentions for the week. Last Monday, one of those intentions had to do with savoring simple moments of beauty amidst a week full of meetings and other obligations.

All week, a phrase I had written came back to me. It was a reminder to myself to "breathe into the spaces" between my various work activities. Leaving a meeting on Tuesday, I reminded myself to stop and breathe, to use my eyes to look around and see the explosion of fall colors surrounding me. To savor that moment of beauty.

Next on my list was a quick stop at the grocery store before heading back home to reply to a heap of emails and ready myself for my next meeting. It would have been easy to let the weight of my to do list crush me, but that moment on Tuesday morning imbued the day with a feeling of expansiveness and gratitude, and instead of rushing through my grocery store chores, I took an extra five minutes to select some flowers to bring home with me. They went into water in my kitchen sink, where they cheerfully waited until the end of the day for me to scatter them through the house.

A week later, and I'm still enjoying the sight of flowers in my bedroom, kitchen, and office. Each time I see them, it's another reminder to "breathe into the spaces" in my day and to notice the abundant beauty all around me.

Nov 7, 2010

autumn recipe: Dutch apple pancake

This one officially ranks as my favorite new recipe for Fall.

Photo via Carter Mountain Orchard's Facebook Page
A friend and I took a field trip last weekend to Carter Mountain, where we picked three giant canvas bags full of Pink Lady apples. This variety stores well, so I'm planning to pack them away to have on hand all winter. It's no surprise, though, that I was dying to start cooking with them right away. We got home from the Charlottesville area Saturday night, and I almost immediately went online searching for an apple-related breakfast recipe for the next morning. I found this tasty recipe for a Dutch Apple Pancake online at Epicurious, and by 9 a.m. we were feasting on the fruits of our labor (plus some great raspberries we had scored at our farmer's market on Saturday morning).

Photo Courtesy of Alice Q. Foodie
Based on my limited experience and on the many comments from Epicurious readers, I'd say this is a pretty flexible recipe. Use different fruit. Add an extra egg or two. Use a little less butter. Try different toppings. Or, like me, make it in a too-small dish, or make a rough guesstimate on proportions when you discover you have one egg too few in your fridge. It seems pretty hard to mess this up.

Here's my slight adaptation of the recipe from Epicurious...

Dutch Apple Pancake
1 cup milk
4 eggs
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 med. Pink Lady apples
3 Tbsp (packed) brown sugar
Lemon wedges
Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Put butter in 9x13" glass baking dish and heat in oven until butter melts, about 5 minutes.
  2. While butter is heating, core apples and slice thinly. (No need to peel them.)
  3. Place apple slices on top of melted butter, layering to cover the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Return dish to oven and bake until apples soften slightly and butter is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  5. While apples bake, make batter: Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon and whisk until well blended. Add flour and whisk until batter is smooth.
  6. When apples are ready, pour batter into the baking dish over top of them.
  7. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and return to the oven.
  8. Bake pancake until puffed and brown, about 20 minutes.
  9. Serve warm with lemon wedges and powdered sugar.
The recipe says it serves four, but Bob and I easily polished off a 3/4 batch in one sitting and could happily have eaten still more. Yum!

Nov 2, 2010

Finnish barn-inspired house

Dwell recently featured this house by Lassila Hirvilammi Architects in their "Houses We Love" section. With its clean, barn-inspired lines, its distinct yet harmonious finishes, and the pastoral setting, I love it too!