Flashback Friday · Life

Flashback Friday, First Haircut

It seems pretty much everyone is looking a little rough around the edges these days, from family to neighbours, politicians to reporters; quite a few of us are in need of a ‘little off the top.’ Slowly, appearances are changing as restrictions ease and people are visiting their salon or barber.

It has reminded me of my son’s first haircut. He was born with a full head of hair and as the days grew into months, it grew into long curls around his neck. When he was hot they would stick to his little neck…and so the day came when they had to go.

He must have been around nine months old – I am sure I have recorded the date somewhere – it was around the same time he started walking. I knew the curls needed to be cut, but I was terrified of snipping him in the process.

I enlisted Mum as the distraction, waited for him to wake from his nap and put our plan into action. We sat on the front steps – he on my lap and the scissors hidden from view – watching the cars go by, singing our little songs. It was only a couple of quick snips, but what a difference it made in his appearance – he changed from a baby and into a toddler while sitting on my lap. At least that is how my mother heart felt at the time.

I kept those baby curls in a jar, stashed away in our cedar chest with all the other memorabilia from our lives – old yearbooks, awards and trophies, my wedding dress, the outfit worn home from the hospital, Douglas the stuffed doggy and giraffey, kindergarten art…the tangibles of milestones.

It was only a few short minutes, but the memory of that afternoon has stayed  with me and warms my heart. Looking at the photos this morning, I have the same urge I must have had those many years ago; to cover that little neck with mother kisses.

Simplee

 

Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe · In the Kitchen

Strawberries and Cream, A Variation

The recipe for Vanilla Cake Donuts comes from Gluten Free and More magazine (April/May 2017). It makes a dozen donuts, but I have halved  the recipe, because my donut pan only makes six at a time. I like the smaller recipe for a couple of reasons: the donuts are always fresher this way and the  smaller pan fits in the toaster oven for a quick bake without having to warm up the large oven.

Okay, confession time, when I make six donuts they get eaten fast, I mean really fast, maybe inhaled is a better description. A couple of donuts is okay, they are smaller than donut-shop, but would a dozen go just as fast?

This is a quick recipe to make and bake…which means it is a good recipe to experiment with. The Gluten Free and More recipe includes a vanilla glaze, but why stop there?

‘Strawberries and Cream’ donuts start with a vanilla cake donut and are topped with a strawberry glaze. I am going to try the glaze with fresh blueberries and raspberries too – perhaps over scones, or a roll cake, maybe over some sugar cookies…

Strawberry Glaze

Gather:

  • 1 to 2 juicy strawberries, washed and cut in half
  • 2 to 3 tbsn icing sugar

Method:

Place a small mesh strainer or sieve over a bowl. Using the back of a spoon, push the strawberry against the mesh to release the juices. Add icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, to the strawberry juice and mix well, until the glaze reaches your desired consistency.

Enjoy.

Simplee 

Life

Simply Said, July

silhouette photography of children playing near body of water
Photo by Samy Santos on Pexels.com

Then followed that beautiful season…Summer…

Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape

Lay as if new created in all freshness of childhood.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The balmy days of summer with lazy afternoons and long evenings. When the light takes on a new quality and anything seems possible. Each day a fresh beginning, the year beginning again.

Simplee

Life · Nature

Reflection, June

Last night, I sat in the living room, reflecting on June’s Simply Said, when it occured to me that instead of reflecting indoors, I should take the advice given in 1644 by John Milton:

In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.

Of Education

Milton was writing about education and I find it interesting that in an eight page pamphlet speaking about classic writings and Latin language that he would include a statement about getting out into nature. He was right, 375 years ago, and his comment rings true today – perhaps even more so today.

It is difficult to imagine that John Milton could have visualized the world we live in today (strangely, he would probably better understand the conditions we have been living under the past months with a pandemic than he could relate to the technology which has allowed us to preserve connections with family, friends, study and work.) Yet, the advice he gives to young people is timeless.

Thinking back to my early childhood, I spent a lot of time outdoors interacting with my environment – whether that was a field of cows, a forest of trees, pets, a pony, or my bicycle, collecting crickets, chasing field mice, walking barefoot, laying on the ground with arms splayed and feeling the spin of the earth, I was not only exploring my world, but my imagination. My bicycle was my trusty steed as we kicked up the dust on our adventures. But we grow up, and as the saying states, we put aside childish things.

Our wonder and curiosity should not be something we put aside, rather it is something we should foster and nurture and keep alive within us. We need to connect with that inner part of ourselves to be alive and fulfilled. As we walked out of the forests and into civilization, we pushed aside our connection with the natural world. Instead of being a part of it, we strove to dominate and control it. In the process we lost sight of nature’s “riches” as gifts and began to see them as resources to be plundered and sold.

There is so much to occupy our time and our thoughts that it is easy to lose sight of what is right in front of us, patiently waiting for our return. The trees continue to give us shade, whether we notice or not, the flowers continue to bloom, whether we see them or not, the waters continue to flow, the sun to rise and set, the insects to hum in the heat, the cycles of nature rotate on their timeless circuit. It is a classroom we have neglected entering for far too long.

I would add more to John Milton’s words. It is not only spring, but all the seasons which offer us gifts – the palette of a fall forest, the tickle of a snowflake on an eyelash. It is not only the calm and pleasant days which we should step out of our doors, but also unsettled days so to feel the power and energy of the natural world – step into the rain, feel the electricity in the air of an approaching storm. It costs us nothing, only a bit of time, but it is a lesson that all of us could benefit from, whatever our age.

Simplee

Gluten-Free Food · In the Kitchen

Cake of the Month, June

There hasn’t been much cake eaten this month – no cupcakes, no layer cakes, no roll cakes, not even a snack cake…

A family favourite flavour combination finds another reincarnation.

…but there has been cake doughnuts. These come together quickly and bake in a very short time. The doughnut pan holds six, so it fits perfectly in the toaster oven – saving the regular oven for use on cooler days.

This month there has been vanilla doughnuts dipped in melted chocolate; glazed with a chocolate glaze; chocolate doughnuts with a peanut butter drizzle; and this month’s feature cake…

…peanut butter (cake) doughnut with chocolate frosting. I used the vanilla doughnut recipe as the base, adjusting the liquid ingredients to include peanut butter and melted some semi-sweet chocolate chips for a frosting.

I never have to worry about storing the leftovers, because there never are any!

Simplee

Nature · Through the Viewfinder

Waiting for Butterflies

Normally, you do not want something in your garden with the word “weed” in the name. There is an exemption for butterfly weed and milkweed.

Both are drought tolerant and add interest to the garden, but it is who they attract to the garden which really adds interest – butterflies and hummingbirds.

Related to milkweed, Asclepias Tuberosa, is also known as pleurisy root. Whether considered a weed or a herbal ingredient, with butterfly weed in the garden and a field guide for identification in hand, I am watching the garden and waiting for the butterflies.

Simplee

Nature · Through the Viewfinder

Rain and Wind

An evening rain.

The periwinkles had folded up like rumpled umbrellas, it was their way to retain moisture and to reduce their surface area under the hot sun. They were in need of a drink, as were the other plants in the garden.

Finally, a cold front came through, bringing with it cooler temperatures (more seasonal) and rain on Tuesday. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the garden plants. But as so often happens when these weather fronts meet, there were some heavy downpours.

Hanging heavy with raindrops.

It seems that we fluctuate from one extreme to another. It is either stifling hot and humid, or sweater weather. It doesn’t just rain, but pours. The wind howls and whips rather than caress and rustle. Where has the middle ground gone –  the gentle nourishing rains which the soil could absorb? The pendulums have lost their balanced sway and now swing out to the extremes.

Wind scattered and caught in the blades of grass.

Wednesday’s winds did their job of drying out the soil again. Petals which  were heavy with rain the day before, were now scattered across the lawn, in the garage and along the pathway. Some catalpa blossoms were shaken loose from their boughs as they danced with the wind and were caught on the edge of the front path.

And the periwinkles have, for now, reopened their umbrella leaves.

Simplee 

 

Gluten-Free Food · Life

Sun Kissed

First of the season.

When I was pre-school aged, my father had a heart attack. He was told to “take it easy” –  he built a log cabin in the woods; that was his way of taking it easy. It was a full-sized cabin too, not a toy cabin, with an old wood-burning cooking stove. I remember the stove, the log (cedar) walls, seeing it grow as more logs were added, but that is about all I can recall – there are only a couple of photos with the cabin in the background. There was a sense of sturdiness about the building, security, hardiness; if my father were a building, he would have been that log cabin.

There is something less tangible I remember about the time spent in and around the cabin, more a sense of feeling, rather than memory itself. There is the aroma of the soil and sweetness; devil’s paintbrushes, ladies’ slippers and wild berries. Smelling wild berries takes me straight back to that time – a time I can’t fully remember, but somehow can feel deep within me.

It must have been around the cabin I tasted my first wild strawberries. Sun kissed, juicy and warm. Walking carefully, looking down for the white flowers and their tiny jewels. Those early wild strawberries were the only strawberries I ate for the longest time. Perhaps their simple perfection spoiled it for me.

We moved from the little cabin in the woods, across the country. Trees and forests became scarce and I didn’t taste another strawberry for years. We returned to the “farm” when I was a pre-teen. The high school girls picked stawberries in the summer; staining their nailbeds red and sun-burning their noses and necks. These were the cultivated strawberries, which seemed like giants beside the strawberries I remembered.

I always passed on offers of strawberry shortcake, strawberries and cream, strawberry socials. I would pick strawberries off my plate, and pass them over to someone else’s.

It did change, at some point, and as an adult, I started eating strawberries again. We would pick them ourselves, or buy them at the farmer’s market. We tried growing them in the garden, but the wildlife always got to them first…and I didn’t have the heart to deny them. My preference is still for smaller berries, locally grown and at room temperature.

At Mum’s apartment building there is a large lawn, we call it the field, where we walk around the perimeter, keeping under the shade, for exercise. I had noticed a few white flowers among the clover and upon closer inspection identified them as wild strawberries. I had been keeping an eye on the miniscule hanging berries, waiting for them to ripen. I was not alone in this vigil, however, and was beaten to the bounty – either bird, chipmunk or squirrel got there first. I hope they enjoyed their sun kissed treat and that it rekindled in them some distant memory.

Simplee