Pancit

Pancit! One of my first Filipino dishes I have ever had. My husband is of Filipino decent and his Mother and Lola would make us this for dinner. I love the lightness of the clear cellophane noodles and all the flavors that make up this delicious dish from a far away land.   IMG_4385

Pancit

1 pound pork, chicken or beef cubed
1 can vegetable soup
1 can of corn kernels
1/2 cup peas
1//2 cup sliced baby carrots
1 small bunch bok choy
1 green cayenne chili
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 package cellophane rice noodles
1 small red onion
1 garlic clove
Olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Pure sesame oil
Cracked black pepper
3 green onions diced
Sriracha aka Rooster Sauce (optional)

Pour olive oil in hot, large frying pan and stir fry meat until brown on both sides. Remove meat and add to pan; chopped garlic, onions and chili, stir fry until onions are translucent. Add corn, peas and chopped boy choy to stir fry. Add, meat to pan, stir fry and add soup, vinegar and sesame oil. Add soy sauce and black pepper to taste.
Boil cellophane noodles for three minutes, drain and add to stir fry, toss. Top with green onion and for me, Sriracha for more heat. Enjoy!

Fruit Stands on the Back Roads

I almost always travel the back roads of Sonoma County whenever I have to go somewhere. Usually, I’m driving my teens to school or work or to visit a friend in another town. I love Sonoma County and all its country roads, and even though I would definitely classify my job as a rigorous Taxi Mom, it’s all worth it for the widespread country views which I adore and soothes my soul. Views of golden rolling hills or wide, flat grasslands combined with pastures and lazy cows and fluffy clouds or clear blue sky days that go on forever is the norm. Every time I go for a drive it is all worth it! My last outing I decided to go off my beaten paths and explore the small produce stands here and there.IMG_9413
First stop, after dropping my daughter off at work driving from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol a (20 minute or so drive), is my little, newly discovered egg stand on the side of the road by Ragle Ranch Regional Park. Fresh farm eggs! Years ago I raised my own chickens and eggs, but for a long time now I have been reduced to shopping for eggs in the local grocery stores. Fresh eggs are so much nicer than supermarket chain eggs. The yolk is bright yellow in color and full of flavor. Brown eggs and blue eggs from Araucana chickens are such a delight for me to see and to bring home! And if I walk along the fence in the park I can visit the flock of chickens from where my eggs came from, so I know they are the real, fresh deal! The eggs are pricey because of the cost of feed for the chickens but I don’t mind, I’m keeping them healthy with their favorite grain; the owner smiling and my new fresh egg habit going!IMG_9974
Next stop, on my way home by the gorgeous Laguna de Santa Rosa off High School Road is The Sonoma Swamp Blues Organic Blueberry farm, (Oh, yum!). Throughout the late winter and early spring I have been watching the farmers cultivating their blueberry bushes from afar while driving and I just couldn’t wait for the season to begin! Summer is here at last and the blueberries are in huge delicious form. Big containers, full of large juicy, organic, indigo colored blueberries line the counter. This is my second year of buying blueberries from the stand so I can make my blueberry muffins, pancakes and fruit yogurt to name a few. I love my blueberries grown on the Laguna Swamp land. I figure the soil must be rich in nutrients to grow such delicious blueberry bushes. When I see the Sonoma Swamp Blues tent with its big banner sign it always makes me feel somehow like I’m taking apart in Louisiana’s bayou living!IMG_9920IMG_9924IMG_9922
Next Stop, winding through the back roads, I have to cut over (just once), to Hwy 12 to pick up my fresh strawberries at the little stand there. Oh my gosh, so worth it! The owners are super friendly and begged me to take pictures of their fruit. (Honestly, they didn’t need to because my camera was out already), the strawberries and blackberries were asking permission to be photographed! Gorgeous, plump, bright red and juicy strawberries; full, deep dark, purple blackberries are in baskets on the counter. Large white buckets in the back filled to the top full of berries! I bought 1/2 a flat of strawberries and a basket of the blackberries. More fresh fruit to add to my yogurt for my quick morning breakfasts before I hit the road being, Taxi Mom.IMG_0876 IMG_0874
After winding my way home back through the country roads past pastures, barns, cows and horses I make one last stop at the top of my street to our friend’s little wooden farm stand. They have had a stand up for years on their grandfathered farm in the middle of suburbia. I always swing by their stand and pick up a basket full of fruit for a tart or smoothies. In the fall I pick up green apples perfect for baking apple pie and making applesauce. Today they are selling peachcots, loquats and raspberries. “Loquat? What’s a loquat?”, I think to myself. I’m not sure what a loquat is so I drop my coins in the container and take the other two fruit baskets and now I’m happily on my way home with my bounty of fresh fruit and sunny thoughts from my country back road travels. Simple pleasures make me happy and today is a great day!IMG_9979

Black-crowned Night Heron

The other day my sisters and I decided to go for a walk with the kids around our favorite regional park, Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, CA. Much to our surprise we discovered this beautiful bird, a Black-crowned Night Heron standing like a statue right by us! Our Dad, an avid bird watcher should have been with us. I know he would’ve been proud of our new bird watching skills!

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Our Miracle Niece Kiera

Our little baby miracle niece, Keira was born as a preemie baby early last June and has plagiocephaly. We are raising funds to help buy her an expensive medical helmet for her head and brain formation. On Thursday, April 4th we are wearing green ribbons in honor of her ongoing fight and World Plagiocephaly Day. Here is her amazing story. http://www.gofundme.com/Keira-Jade20130402-162309.jpg

Bamboo Pens

20130721-143318.jpgMany times I have said, simple things can bring me so much pleasure. I just discovered bamboo pens to use with liquid ink. Not calligraphy ink pens bought from a store, but homemade, ink pens made from dried bamboo! My discovery started when I bought a book named, One Drawing a Day by Veronica Lawlor. I love this book because it encourages me to get back into my creative state of mind and draw.

One of the first exercises in the work book is painting a picture using bamboo pens. Even though I have many different types of calligraphy pens, I didn’t have any pens made out of bamboo lying around my house. In fact, I never even heard of them. I knew about quill pens; you know, the ink nib with the long feather on top (I bought plenty of those as a teen). Venturing further and having to look it up on the internet, I learned about this traditional Japanese and Arabic art of using bamboo reed pens for calligraphy and how to make them yourself. How fun to create a pen made from a bamboo plant!

I love glass bottles of ink with their rich colors and have lots of them in my art storage for calligraphy and drawing. But, since I didn’t have a bamboo pen on hand, I would need to create one for the project from my book. I went into my garden to find some old, dried bamboo sticks I remembered seeing lying around, brought them inside, found my paring knife and proceeded to carve the bamboo with wells to hold the ink and wooden nibs on both ends. They are so easy to make! Mine may not be perfect but they work beautifully and I love them. The art really does take on a new, ‘Look‘ and I have an art tool which is ancient, but to me, brand new! The nice flow of ink makes it feel more like painting instead of drawing. So cool!

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So Who Planted the Mangrove Tree?

My favorite lake, close to home is Lake Sonoma. On the north tributary end of the lake is Yorty Creek which boasts, the only beach on the lake and BBQ pits. We have been traveling the long, windy and bumpy dirt road to the lake for about twenty years now.

Children in tow, plus the dog, kayak and fishing pole packed to the gills (pardon the pun) with beach everything, we hang out on the sandy beach, relax and unwind. Once everyone’s happily playing in the water or eating I sufficiently relax getting into my zen, creative mode and take pictures and/or draw the surrounding scenery.

Huge oak trees dot the golden, grassy hills alternating with pine trees on the far end of the hills that slope down on both sides of the blue lake. It’s beautiful, surreal and I love it here. Interesting to me is the smallish tree on the left side of the lake sitting alone on the edge of the water so sweetly, a mangrove tree. Where did it come from and who planted it? This is not a tree indigenous to Northern California. I don’t see any other mangrove trees lining the water’s edge. Just one lonely, not from around here, mangrove tree with long spindly curved trunks and a little umbrella overshadowing its base. A tree that you would see in some far away tropical island ten times its size.

I’ve been drawing the trees in the area for some time now and I know it wasn’t there before. The mangrove tree is quite young, about three years old I guess to myself. But, there it is. I walked along the dirt path winding along the side of the lake to take a look at it in the scorching heat and ended up enjoying its tiny bit of shade. Fishermen cherish the canopy of leaves for its shade to be sure. It’s the only tree around on the dusty pathway where the heat is usually ninety or above during the summer. I sat under it, alone too, enjoying its welcoming comfort. Little finches graced its green foliage and flew off in unison together happy also for its presence. I felt at peace with the world. Who planted it or where it came from, I’ll never know. I am grateful for the mangrove tree, its beauty alone on the far side of the lake.

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