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Summer Pesto

One of my favorite summer recipes is Pesto Pasta.  We live in cilantro, pecan territory.  So a cilantro, pecan pesto is in order don’t you think?  If you don’t like cilantro try it with some parsley & garlic, this recipe may just change your mind.  If you want to go traditional, use basil instead.  I interchange basil in this recipe whenever we have enough to harvest in the garden.  It’s delicious either way.  In my opinion, the pecans are a must.  They add just the right crunch.


1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley

(or 2-3 loosely packed cups of fresh basil)
1/2 c. pecans
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
salt & pepper to taste

mix in food processor & add to warm pasta

To take it up a flavor notch, add some freshly grated Parmesan or my favorite, crumbled feta cheese on top. This recipe goes well with any grilled meat or vegetable.  Add a nice white wine & Mmmmm, heaven.

This recipe freezes well.  I like to freeze it in plastic bags that are flattened like a little square pancake.  Then I can stack them one on top of the other.  Make sure you save a tablespoon of pesto for your morning scrambled eggs. Add a few cherry tomato halves thrown in and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Enjoy the flavors of the season!


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Lavender Cake


Mmmmm, lavender cake is one of our favorite treats!  We make it for birthdays, Easter, summertime, anytime!


The first step is to find some lavender, grow your own or buy some.  We have a co-op here in town that sells herbs in bulk so we stock up on lavender whenever we go.  I  had my son Michael help me grind the lavender with a mortar & pestle.  This is my favorite step as it releases that fresh, floral fragrance.



Use a circular motion when grinding so that it’s grinding along the sides.  You want the lavender minced fine.



This cake has a dense, pound cake type texture to it.  We’ve made it gluten free, which I think is the tastiest, using brown rice flour & garbanzo bean flour.  You can also use all-purpose flour as well.  If you use sugar instead of the honey then add a tray with a little water underneath it to make it really moist. I seem to make this cake differently every time based on the ingredients I have on hand.  It always turns out well.

The frosting is a simple glaze with some lavender sprinkled on top to make it pretty.



Michael is beyond excited to taste it!



Just one more picture Michael!  He could barely contain himself.



Check out the recipe on my blog, Chocolate Eyes  & enjoy!

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A Fairy Walk in New Mexico…(Toy On a Walk Series)

Hello from sunny New Mexico!  Today my fairy friend, Fae and I would like to take you on a walk to show you some of our favorite New Mexico plants. In the coming weeks we will have many more Natural Kids’ toys take you on a walk of their little corner of the world.  What a fun way to see the world, through the “eyes” of a toy!

Today we are walking around our neighborhood in the Land of Enchantment. We are blessed to live in this very sunny, warm, desert climate.  This evening it’s still quite warm at 80 some degrees.

This first beautiful Spring bloom matches Fae quite well.  It is the flower of a Cholla cactus.


Here is a larger view of it.


This is one of Fae’s most favorite desert succulents because of its beautiful red/ orange flowers.  These plants are giants and tower above us at about 15 feet tall.  She loves to watch the humming birds and bees weave in and out of the lovely flowers.


The Yucca, New Mexcio’s state flower, which is really a plant.   Aren’t these flowers so unique & beautiful? The Yucca’s spiky leaves were used by Native Americans as fiber for ropes & baskets.  The roots of certain varieties of Yucca were used for soap.


Fae thinks this Agave plant would be so much fun to slide down if it weren’t for those pointy spikes on the ends!  The agave has many uses.  Agave syrup for baking, Blue Agave is grown to make tequila.  We see tiny little Agave plants and giant 6 foot Agaves in our neighborhood.  They are fascinating plants and have an amazing and beautiful end to their lives.  I wrote about that here.


Fae loves this plant, not so much for how it looks but for how it smells during and after a rain.  In New Mexico it rarely just sprinkles, when it rains it pours.  And when this evergreen shrub’s waxy leaves are disturbed they become very fragrant.  They fill the air with a lovely fresh green smell.  Some people don’t like the smell but fairies love it!  The creosote shrub is fascinating.  They can live for two years with no water and most will live to be about 100 years old.  In the Mojave desert there is a creosote shrub that is known to be almost 12,000 years old!

I hope you have enjoyed our walk in beautiful New Mexico.

Visit Fae at my etsy shop, Mama West Wind.


Becca Thornton is a stay at home Mama of two sweet little boys & wife to her high school sweetheart. They are Northeast transplants living in the sunny Southwest.  A typical day finds them soaking up the sun playing, gardening, baking, crafting & homeschooling.  Find her at her blog, Chocolate Eyes, & visit her shop, Mama West Wind, where she sells Waldorf inspired toys & decor.

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Thrift, Repurpose & Beautify

Earth Day is coming up.  I love to think about how I can live more simply and enjoy what I have.  I like finding ways to get the things I need for less and beautifying what I already have.  In line with this I recently did a project I’d love to share.

I wanted a painting bin.  When we do our watercolor paintings, in our Waldorf inspired home school, I am forever looking for our supplies and making multiple trips from our art closet to the table.  A simple cardboard box would have been fine to keep all my materials together but I love beautifully crafted things.  I wanted a paint box that inspired us to paint!  With this thought I found my way to the thrift store and picked up a possibility.  This sturdy wooden garden caddy was only a $4.  I brought it home cleaned it up and set to work.

This project has so many possibilities and variations to think about.  Art bins, garden bins, anything you need to organize can find a beautiful home.  I did a similar project, though not quite as thrifty, making a beeswax crayon caddy out of an herb box.  You can see that project on my blog, Chocolate Eyes.  I can imagine finding an old wooden box to plant veggies in and beautifying it.  Recently I found a wooden cd crate that is going to be a perfect home for a couple of herb pots.  I’ll be wood-burning that as well. Warning: once you get the wood burning bug it’s hard to shake.

For this project Beatrix Potter kept coming to mind.  We love Beatrix Potter books!  So giving a nod to the garden aspect of my garden caddy and the painting aspect of Beatrix Potter’s beautiful watercolor illustrations, I chose an illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. In this Illustration Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny have found Peter’s clothes and are now stealing onions from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Those mischievous rabbits remind me of my two little ones.

  • Begin by finding your inspiration.  Draw something or find something online that you would like to add to your wooden item.  Google “coloring pages” of the theme you’re interested in and you’ll find all sorts of free print outs.  Here’s one with fairies, dragons, elves & all things magical.   And here’s another for Peter Rabbit coloring pages.  This is where I found my line drawing print out. You can do something very simple like a flower or a few leaves, a sun, moon, rainbow or a henna-like design of dots, whatever sparks your imagination & is meaningful to you!
  • Also before beginning look at your wooden item.  Is it unfinished wood?  Does it already have a stain on it?  Does it need sanding?  If it has a patina than it’s probably been stained. If you want to paint it using watercolor you may need to lightly sand it for the watercolor to sink in the wood. Or you can use acrylic paint and not worry about sanding it.  Your choice.

  • Gather your materials.  You will need…
    a freshly sharpened pencil, powdered graphite or graphite sticks or charcoal, scissors, tape, wood burner & watercolors or acrylics, if you want to paint it. Plus beeswax wood polish to seal the wood.

  • Cut your print out to the dimensions of your wooden box or bin. Then darken the back of your print out by using the side of a graphite pencil. Or you can use graphite or charcoal sticks or powdered graphite, whatever you have on hand.  If all you have is a no 2 pencil that that will work just fine.  I had some powdered graphite so I used that. Fill in the back of your print out with your chosen graphite or charcoal.  Cover the entire back, leaving no white.

  • Then draw over all of the lines in your print out with a freshly sharpened pencil.   This will leave a pencil line on your wooden item.  Make sure to tape it down so it doesn’t move. When you feel you’ve gone over every line check for lines you may have missed by pulling up one end & peaking under.  There are always a few lines missed.

Here is the penciled illustration. It looks dingy because of the graphite. (Sorry for the glare.)

  • Then go over your lines with your wood burner.  I use the flat edge tip on my wood burner because I like the clean line it makes.  If this is your first time using a wood burner practice on a scrap piece of wood first.  Try burning long lines, short lines, wide and narrow curves.   Twirl the burner on its tip to make dots.  Go slow and have fun with it! ( If you don’t want to wood burn you could even use a permanent marker to draw your design.)
  • When finished with the wood burning clean the graphite or charcoal off with a damp rag and a mild cleaner.  I like to use vinegar & water.

  • Then you can decide whether you want to paint it.  I added a little color with Stockmar watercolors.  I like how it makes the illustration pop.  Once it dries, go over your painting & the entire item with beeswax wood polish.  You can make your own, here’s a recipe from this blog.  Or you can buy from an etsy seller like Natural Kids Team shop, Birch Leaf Designs.

Here’s my caddy mostly filled and ready to be used!  It could even fit a small pad of paper inside.

I hope this gets you thinking about what you can thrift and beautify.  Let’s care for and give new life to the material items already on this earth. Make the earth happy and have a happy Earth Day!




Becca Thornton is a creative stay at home Mama of two sweet, little boys & wife to her high school sweetheart. They are Northeast transplants living in the sunny   Southwest.  A typical day finds them soaking up the sun playing, gardening, baking, crafting & homeschooling.  Find her at her blog, Chocolate Eyes. & visit her shop, Mama West Wind, where she upcycles wool & sells Waldorf inspired toys & decor.