Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sharing and Baking...

I started off my vacation with plenty of baking and cooking and some to give away for neighbors. I was overwhelmed from baking I am going to bake less next year.

Kids enjoyed their vacation with more munching and drinking hot coco. 

Little Nicolette ate banana bread for breakfast until, I could not serve anymore for her. We end up only doing two batches of cookies this year and for sure they are gone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

simple hot chocolate station

Little one seems to enjoy hot chocolate a lot more this winter. I decided to add a little station this year to our new kitchen counter. She is loving it and it is very convenient for everyone. The most disappearing items seem to be marshmallows and peppermint sticks. 

Our paperwhites are in bloom at least one. The other one has recently send its bloom stalk up. Any time it will bloom too. We cannot take its strong fragrance up stairs in Nicolettes room; so we decided to bring it to the kitchen. 

I love this idea making a small space for hot chocolate, what do you keep at your finger tips during holidays. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Record breaking

I was in a mission to write many posts this year; because, I have been posting the same number of posts for the couple of last few years. Years 2012 and 2011 both sum up to 119 posts published, but, I am still posting this year and way over 119 posts. 

I do not have a big number following my blog but I love my usual comments, and a big thank you goes to Meryl Carver from My Bit of Earth. I love reading her blog which has inspire me in many ways. I share many of her interests which Meryl blogs in her blog. 

This year has been my second year blogging while at work. I learned to value time more than any thing this year. It has been a great year, teaching is getting back to me and I have begun to share my love with children in class including forcing bulbs. Thanks to many posts on internet

We are working on a big project, this year and will be posting about it this spring. We are all excited about that and more to come. 

I am happy to enjoy the time off from work, it is not exactly time off for me, but I get to do few things I love the most, reading, sewing, knitting, and ofcourse stocking my little shop. 

Holiday baking is taking shape, and enjoying catching up with friends and neighbors. 

I am planning to blog more in 2014. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Cactus…

This year I became an owner of two Christmas cactus plants, and I hope to keep them alive throughout the year. I love the color of the plant which is in bud state. It reminds me of the coral pink or the light orange I use to love as a teenager. I have seen this plant in bloom at my neighbors and they are so beautiful and love it. 

Seemingly,it is easy to take care of this wonderful plant. It needs less water; however, the temperature seems to be in 50-60 F degrees that is going to be tricky in our house. I would love to see the one yet to bloom. I can see the tiny buds. It is amazing to see at the tip of this flat leaf there is a wonderful bloom. It is definitely the structure adds a bit of drama to this beautiful plant. 

I love this instead of poinsettia which could be a challenge to take care and usually been toss in the trash after holidays. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Forcing Bulbs

Past summer, I was thrifting with a friend, and I did some great scores. One was these wonderful bulb vases. I have eyed these at a garden shop and wanted to buy them for a while. Finally when I saw them for .25 cents, I decided to grab them all. I have been planting bulbs at school with my older kids, we are doing a bulb study. 

It was fun to do this small project with Nicolette. She had a great time with it and wanted to plant more, but I did not have any; because, we have planted them all. Her paper whites have bloomed and smells great in her room. 

Have you ever forced hyacinth bulbs inside and had luck with it. I am looking forward to see results. We will be observing them closely.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter snow storm - Electra

Yes, we were hit by the snow storm Electra, although, we did end up doing some shopping during this weekend mostly food. I could feel the lull before the storm it all started around 12:30 p.m. for us. Niegel, was able to get his usual run, I finally made it to Yoga after a little break. It was a great feeling to get back to Yoga. 

Finals are done, only one class with few more papers and this Monday I am officially done for the fall semester. It is a good feeling, but eager to see my grades. 

I had so much fun creating and painting this semester, color placement was the key, and I might be working on a new series in my little shop coming year!

Nicolette, enjoyed the snow, and it was bitter cold outside. I knew she is going to be happy with her little snowman with no time, because the wind was not helping to be out, to enjoy the snow. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Niegel's running…

This Friday was a exciting day as we decided to drive to Boston to watch Niegel running; however, his running did not go the way he wanted. Niegel was bit disappointed at the end with his timing. We will be back on track again this Tuesday with him again. I know it is a lot for him but he seems to be enjoying it!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Being late or frugal...

Have you shop the end of the year bulbs at Home Depot. I usually get them at the beginning of the season. Lately, I have been kind of busy with projects, and simply forgot to buy bulbs this year until the Thanksgiving weekend. This has also become our new after Thanksgiving ritual to do. I bought many bags of bulbs, since they were half off, because it was the end of the season. 

I was worried though thinking I will not be able to get them in the ground. This is the weekend to get them in the ground before it is too late.

Finally we add a line of mixed bulbs to the newly build corner lavender garden. Outside temperature was thirty degrees. Yes, but the neat thing was we all worked together as a team to get them in the ground quick! Hyacinth, Tulips, Daffodils, and Grape Hyacinth. I had to use my old winter gloves to plant them, good excuse to buy new gloves. 

Only part that I did not like is, it is all in a straight line; next year we are going to make some changers to make it more natural. 

I am so excited for 2014 spring! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


It getting a lot like holidays. Fun to get the tree up, and little Nicolette was super excited! She loves to have the train running around the tree. We got a smaller tree this year. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

After Thanksgiving meals, hash brown turkey

Cooked turkey, cut into bit size pieces, and redskin potatoes with tarragon. A lovely fulfilling meal to all. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It is the season for cranberries...

Recently I had the opportunity to work with a “co-worker” who had great knowledge about cranberries. I love craisins and cranberry comport that’s about it. However, my canning ability and the abundance of cranberries mixed together made me to do some research. 

Result was apple cranberry jelly, and we all got in to work. Panduka was helpful to skin and cut apples. Nicolette was eager to skin apples using a potato peeler. Nigel’s energy created the perfect canning. Every one had a job from rinsing jars to wiping mouths, and sealing jars.

It was a delightful way to begin to prepare the Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday night. This jelly was so simple to make and tastes lovely. I cannot wait to try it with toast!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fresh flowers

Streaching the life of flowers in another arrangement!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

pears with honey and balsamic vinegar

I love honey, and this was a testimony for it! This is a very sweet and a simple desert after a heavy meal. 

I will make this everyday if I can. 

Melt some butter, scoop the inside, place them face down, pour honey and balsamic vinegar mix over pears, and bake them for F. 400. 

Serve warm with your choice of ice cream! Lovely. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkey Stock

When I was in VA, I invited my neighbor for Thanksgiving and some of our friends and family. After the meal we were left with this meat caucus which I was about to throw one of guest suggested that I could make a great turkey stock out of it. After couple of attempts I have mastered making my own turkey stock. 

On the same day, I cut all the leftover meat, wrap them in foil, and place them in ziplock bags to keep them off from freezer burns. Then I cut the caucus into 2-3 pieces depending on the mood after the guest departure. Usually the wine get the best of me. Just kidding after all we are all human! 

1 turkey caucus 
2 carrots
1 big celery stalk
1 big yellow onion (cut into pieces)
Flat leaf parsley
2 thyme sprigs
Black pepper corns
1 tbs olive oil

Place big stock pot on medium high heat, and 1 table spoon of olive oil. Sauté onions, when it is translucent add the carrots and celery. 
Let vegetables cook for at least about 5 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, and the  turkey caucus to the pot and cover with warm water. 
Bring it to boil and let cook for at least 40 minutes. Once it is cool discard the caucus and the vegetables run the liquid through a strainer you got your home made turkey stock! Thank you to my wonderful friend who was always eager to share her knowledge. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gobble gobble gumbo gumbo...

Way back, when we were in VA, I heard about dish name gumbo through a close friend who loved okra. One afternoon, after lunch in the staff room we were ranting off of our lunches and vegetables. Everyone knew about it except me, because I am kind of new to some of the American food.  

One of my favorite vegetable is okra. This is a common vegetable from many vegetables in south east Asia; although, recently I found, it originated from Africa. I have often prepared this at home for my dad and brothers in Sri Lanka. I can make this as a curry, and as a side entry. 

Another staff member mentioned you guys should try “gumbo.” Of course my question was what is gumbo? Well there is a lot of okra in that dish, and that is the only one she could think of that time. One mention you should try it at the Cracker Barrel. That was it! I have come across many recipes about this wonderful dish. I have been to FL many occasions but never had a chance to enjoy it with my family nor prepared it to my family.  

Finally, last April from one my trips to FL amazingly without my family I was able to visit a wonderful spice shop, and had an opportunity to get dome filé powder (apparently dried and ground sassafras leaves). 

There is so much history goes into this amazing dish which have originated from the South mainly from Louisiana. However, the influence it holds from countries such as Spain, France, Germany, West Africa, and Choctaw.  

Finally filé powder in hand and left over turkey, I decided it was gumbo for lunch over rice! I could not think of another way to enjoy the history of gumbo and Thanksgiving together. 

Leftover Stuffing...

I love serving leftovers with a twist. Well, it all began with stuffing. This is an easy way to serve up your left over stuffing. Warm up the stuffing in the microwave in serving bowl and place them in a warm oven. 

Poach eggs, I like to cook them lightly so the egg yolk is runny. I used my tomato chutney on the side, and place the egg on top of individual bowls. Add some chop parsley. 

Serve with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. If you need a kick add crushed red pepper flakes. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Sri Lankan making tradition around holidays...

Being a Montessori teacher for young children away from where I grew up have immensely change my outlook on embracing and learning about the American culture. I was fond of reading Thanksgiving to children from MN, KS, and VA. When we moved to MA, I was elated to visit the Plymouth plantation like a little kid. I loved the fact  how they survived hardships together. 

A certain, Sri Lankan holiday brings bitter memories to me, and I would make many attempts to steer away from it. I always wanted to create a tradition which will incorporate Sri Lankan tradition into our family. In this way we acknowledge and respect ALL cultures!

Thanksgiving, reflects a deep appreciation towards Native Americans, and we Sri Lankan’s grew up with respect and appreciation towards family. I know the world is changing, family values are changing, and certainly traditions are evolving globally. There is a part of me wants to make our own tradition. I enjoy thanks giving, because it allows me to slow down, appreciate life, and mostly be thankful for simple things we often take as granted.

My teenage sons looks the other way, when I inquire him what he is Thankful most this year. It was bit hard for me to take it in, because I remember the time same boy took time to think and say that he is thankful for his parents! I guess it is the teen phase. 

This year we had begun a tradition, and it might sounds cheesy, but we will plant after our Thanksgiving meal every year, to remember the good time we enjoyed as a family. This will a beginning of our own family tradition. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

We have been raking for the past couple of weekends. I meant big piles of leaves since our yard looks like a huge pile of leaves. I personally do not like the feel of raking wet soggy leaves. My allergies are not very helpful either. Little Nicolette was having a blast, and it was very amusing to watch her gather leaves. We had raked them to be bagged, and Nicolette decided to move to a different spot to make a nest for her to play. 

She was not helping much, and adding more to our job. Leaves in our yard had find its place this fall, and some made to the compost. We might have great compost in the spring of 2014. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Overkill of the pumpkin...

Lately I have been cooking with pumpkins a lot. We have learned many things about pumpkins during this year. Next year garden might have a different kind of a pumpkin vine or two. The cold weather let us enjoy our oatmeal on a regular basis. 

Tired of eating the same old same old. I decided to add few oomp to my oatmeal.

1 cup steal cut oats 
2 cups water 
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup dried fruits I used cranberries any thing you can find in your pantry 
1/4 cup chocolate chips add this at the end
1/4 chopped nuts 
1/4 milk to serve with brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
Dash of cinnamon powder

To oats add 2 cups of water, pinch of salt, pumpkin puree, and cranberries and cook on slow fire. Once oats are cooked add nuts and cinnamon. Spoon it to two bowls, and add, brown sugar, chocolate chips, cold milk, and serve it warm. 

I had to admit it tastes great! But it was a bit too much pumpkin for us.