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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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Autumn Apple Skillet Cake





















apple season  …  the apples have been picked and they are beautifully rosy, red .. naturally … now its time to make some naturally sweet and warming …

 Apple Skillet Cake


  • 2 or 3 medium tart apples (such as Mac), cored/ sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice or apple cider
  • generous sprinkling of your favorite combination of sweet spices(cinnamon, nutmrg, cloves, cardamon, ginger, etc)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt






















  • 1 1/3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract













1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 ½” to 10″ (2″ deep) cast-iron skillet; or a 9″ square cake pan. 
2) Combine the apples with the brown sugar, orange juice/ cider, spices, and salt. Set aside.  
3) Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 
4) Mix the warm milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture, stirring to combine. Pour into the prepared skillet. 5) Arrange the apple at the bottom of the skillet in single layer pattern. Over medium head for 10 to 15 minutes let apple mixture caramelize and brown 

6) Pour the batter on top and bake the cake for about 40 to 55 minutes until it is a light golden


7) Remove from the oven, and cool for about 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake from the pan, and place a large plate on top of skillet, turn over and serve. 
 ….this apple cake recipe was adapted from a recipe found here.

reprinted from original post by prettydreamer  from “whither will i wander



Hello, I am Pamela of Prettydreamer.   I am mama to a lovely prettydreamer  of my own.  I am still in love with toys,  storybooks and fairy tales of all kind.  In love with trees, rocks, maps and unknown places. And love stumbling upon ideas turned upside-down, folk hands  and honest traditions that run deep. and all the other friendly playful things that function or are simply made to bring joy

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Feel like eating awesome Italian food but don’t want to go out? Why not make it yourself?! Here is an awesome recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo that my husband and I carefully crafted and is sure to delight. If you’re watching your figure though, this recipe is definitely not for you, but it will make your tummy happy if you do. ^_^

You will need:

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1 Pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus a little extra for topping)
  • 2 Cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • dash of salt to taste
  • 1 box of fettuccine noodles

Start the water boiling for the noodles while you get the cheese grated and the garlic de-skinned then add the noodles once it’s boiling. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter an add the garlic, saute for a minute or so. Next, add the cream and pepper and simmer on low, do NOT boil. Simmer for a minute then add the cheese and continue to simmer the sauce for about 8 minutes or until it thickens.

Spoon sauce over fettuccine noodles, top with a little parmesan and enjoy! ^_^

I like to add cooked chicken as well, I usually cook the chicken right before I make the sauce and keep it warm in the pan until the sauce is finished. Super yummy!



This recipe was written by Kelley Zdziarski (the Little Elf) of LittleElfsToyshop. I live on a Christmas tree farm with my wonderful husband and parents and happily spend my days making toys to bring smiles to people all over the world. ^_^

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Eat Local – Support your Famer’s Market

Friday is an exciting day as I plan to do my shopping in the morning at my Local Farmer’s Market. I love all the fresh and yummy food but I also love getting to talk to the local farmers. Since we are in the planning stage of our future farm the local farmers are a wealth of information. Supporting local businesses is the best way to improve the economy.
I also like to find plants that are not going to be at my “big box” garden center. I picked out some berry bushes and the kids got popcorn plants. We love getting to see how these new items will work in our garden. It is also great homeschool research work for the kids to look up how to care for the new plants. So this week skip the grocery store and shop at your local farmer’s market. Find local Farmers Markets in your area,!

Produce you will find in the Spring:
(some of these are not found here in the East but may be found in your area)
Baby Lettuce Mixes ~Early Spring and again through Summer and Fall
Broccoli ~ Early Spring and again in late Fall and Winter
Broccoli Raab ~ Early Spring and again in late Fall and Winter
Fava beans ~Through early Summer
Fennel ~Early Spring and again through Summer and Fall
Garden Peas/Petit Pois ~Through early Summer
Morels ~Maybe be found as early as late winter depending on the weather
Mustard Greens ~Early Spring and again in Fall
New Potatoes and then other varieties ~Through Summer
Radishes ~Early Spring and again in Fall
Ramps ~Also known as the Wild Leeks of the Appalachia
Snow Peas ~Through early Summer
Sugar Snap Peas ~Through early Summer
Amaranth Greens ~Through Fall
Artichokes ~ Spring and again in early Fall
Arugula/Rocket ~Through Fall, but most tender in Spring
Carrots ~ Spring and again in late Summer
Celeriac Root
Chives ~Spring through Fall
Collards ~ Spring and again in Fall
Dandelion Greens
Fiddlehead Ferns
Garlic ~ Spring and again in Summer and early Fall
Green Onions, Sweet Onions such as Vidalias
and Other Varieties
~Through Fall
Lemons ~ Spring and again in Fall
Mangoes ~ Spring and again in Summer
Pineapple ~ Spring and again in Summer
Rhubarb ~Through Summer
Sorrel ~ Spring and again in Summer and Fall
Spinach ~ Spring and again in Fall
Turnips ~ Spring and again in Fall
Watercress ~ Spring and again in Fall
Apricots ~Through mid Summer
Blueberries ~Though Summer
Boysenberries ~Through mid Summer
Cardoons ~Through late Fall
Chard ~Through Winter
Cherries ~Through early Summer
Loganberries ~ Through mid Summer
Olallieberries ~ Through mid Summer
Plums ~ Through early Fall
Pluots ~ Through early Fall
Raspberries ~Through early Fall
Strawberries ~Through early Summer

Post by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Make (delicious) artichokes

Today’s how-to recipe is from Donni of the Etsy shop Fairyfolk, full of delightful + magical felted acorns, toys, terrariums and more.

Make (delicious) artichokes

photo via Flickr

Oh how I love an artichoke… it’s the combination of their earthy flavor, the peeling of their green petals and the yummyness of the dipping sauce. I feel simple and sophisticated, all at once.
Lucky me… I had an artichoke for lunch today!
This is how I cook them…
I rinse them in water to wash them and get any little lingering bugs out of them.

Cut off the stalks with a knife.

The little spikes on the ends of the petals can be a nuisance. I cut them off before cooking by using a knife to cut off the tips of the petals.

And then I use scissors to trim the spikes off the remaining petals.
Place the trimmed artichokes in a steamer, stem up.

Steam for about 30 minutes or until stalk bases are tender.
My favorite dipping sauce is balsamic vinaigrette. I mix equal parts balsamic vinegar with olive oil and a little salt to taste (yes, I love balsamic!) Whisk together until it emulsifies and… Voila!
Melted butter is another great artichoke sauce, as is lemon butter or mayonnaise.
Peel a petal, dip it into the sauce and eat the soft flesh at the base of the petal. It’s delicious!!
When you come to the heart, use a spoon to gently scrape the hairs away, leaving the tender heart. What’s left is pure delicacy.
I cooked 4 today. As no one else in my family eats artichokes, guess what I’m having for lunch tomorrow, the next day and the day after? Lucky me!

What’s in Fairyfolk’s shop? These spring golden yellow acorns are so lovely!

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How to get crafty at snack time

It is Thursday and time for a tutorial, and I am Joshua the Dad of Dad’s Wooden Toys. I could talk about woodworking and tools that you are unlikely to have in your home. But instead I would like to teach you something simple that has brought me a lot of joy since I was a little boy. This craft has now become a favorite activity of my own kids. With this craft you stand a good chance of having everything you need already in your kitchen.
Some of the fondest memories can be surprisingly easy to make. I still remember how excited I would get over 20 years ago when my mom would announce that we were going to have ants on a log. Perhaps many of you are familiar with the traditional recipe which is just celery, peanut butter, and raisins. My mom who always had more than her fair share of creativity didn’t just make “ants on a log” we had “ants on a car” ,or “ants on a dragster”. Now that I am a dad I have added “ants on a plane”.
Here is what we will need:
  • Celery
  • Raisins (for passengers)
  • Peanut butter (to hold the passengers in place and for protein)
  • Carrots (preferably full size)
  • wooden tooth picks. (or uncooked spaghetti)
  • knife
  • Scissors

For the simplest of vehicles all we need is to add 4 wheels to the celery “frame”. Wheels of course are made by cutting cross sections of your carrot. Take a tooth pick and run it through the first carrot then through the celery and out the other side where the second wheel is put on. Then using the scissors cut off any part of the toothpick that sticks out beyond the wheel. repeat this for the back wheels. I like to put an extra small wheel on the top as a steering wheel. Viola, you have an edible car! It recently occurred to me that if you wanted the creation to be total edible you could use raw spaghetti instead of the tooth picks however since the spaghetti is more fragile you may still want a tooth pick around to make the initial hole in the hard carrot and celery, you could then hopefully get the spaghetti into the carrot without it breaking.

Now that we all know we could make an easy car that is sure to be a hit with the kids, we can begin to add some pizzaz. Give your creativity a chance to really shine. With a few extra raisins your car turns into a bus. Cut a carrot length wise into a board and and with a toothpick in each corner to suspend it you now have a roof for your car. There are so many possibilities. The plane is made much the same way. We start with the celery stick and cut a couple of carrots into slices length wise. Find two that can be trimmed to the same size and then round the ends . These are our wings. We will need a few more flat carrot boards for the tail wings, and some skinny long slices for the propeller. Remember that the wing slices must be thick enough to receive the toothpick. You will be sticking the tooth pick into the flat end of the carrot wing deep enough to stay put, then trim the toothpick short enough that it won’t stick out the far side of the celery which is the body of the plane, and stick it in, repeat for the other wing. I put my propellers onto another carrot coin and one toothpick stabbed through them all sticks the propellers to the front of the plane. The wheels for the plane are not difficult but they are probably the most challenging part of this simple creation. After sticking a wheel on each end of an appropriately sized toothpick to create what looks like a dumbbell, stick two more toothpicks into the wheels each pointing up and inward almost completing a triangle. Those two upper points then push into the bottom of the plane and you have attached the wheels . There you have it an edible aircraft. Add peanut butter and raisins to suit.I guarantee the kids will enjoy it. I do suggest that you take a picture or two of your creation especially if you decide to get elaborate since in the end all the evidence will be eaten!! If your kids are older than mine, perhaps they would enjoy it if you just cut the materials for them and then let them build their own custom machines. I should give fair warning to those of you who enjoy crafts not be surprised if you get a little carried away. There is so much that can be done with other veggies and fruit like radishes, and apples to increase your possibilities. Radishes make great wheels or a small slice of the side of a round radish makes a neat red hubcap for a carrot wheel. Go have fun playing with your food! If you get inspired and do this with your kids or on your own, we would love to see a link to the happy kids and creative vehicles in the comments section.

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BreadMan BakeOFF!!!

It was a tough weekend for me. The hubby went to the moutains with some buddies. I had to cart the kiddos to so many activities. Between getting the yard ready for winter, basketball games, Nutcracker practices, church, preparing every single meal, and trying to sew some dollies – I pretty much felt like going insane…

How do single parents do it? Seriously! I was exhausted after three days…

One of the activities that helped me entertain the children and keep my sanity was baking the breadmen! I had never ever tried to make these from scratch. In Germany they were handed out to me as a kid. The local bakery makes them and hands them out for free!
So we made breadmen according to the recipe I posted here last week (SEE my post from last Wednesday!). Here are some pictures of how they turned out. The children loved making them. Enjoy!

Now you must try it! So much fun! We substituted the raisins with chocolate M&Ms in places. The color ran and made for some gruesome color on the mouths of our breadpeople. The kids also complained how the raisins popped up and burned to a crisp in the oven.
How in the world do German bakers do it? I really should have become an apprentice to a baker after finishing highschool in Germany. It would have been so much more useful here in America.
I miss German baked goodies so much!

So please join in the big BREADMAN BAKEOFF this week! Send me pictures and a little report about how your attempt to make them went, and I will enter you in a drawing for one of my Wee Pocketdolls!
Please send by next Tuesday – so I can post them here and enter your name in the drawing!
Happy Baking!
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Food For Thought

So did you guess where last week’s quote came from ? Of course, it was from a shop I love dearly: the shop profile!

Here is a new riddle for you: What team member felted the delicous food items you see here? Write to me and if you get the correct answer you will be entered in a drawing for one of my Wee Pocketdolls! =)

One comment I received after posting last Wednesday gave me Food For Thought for this week.

Mary Richmond wrote:

“the single biggest thing moms can do to be green is pack green lunches, stop buying individual water bottles and snacks and recycle at home. OK, that’s not a single thing but they’re all related. i invite you to look at all the wrappers and containers that your family uses and disposes of every day… someone who works with kids every day I’m appalled at the waste otherwise smart families send to school every day…..use reusable containers for everything, use a Brita filter, use cloth napkins and real utensils (buy at thrift shops or yard sales so you don’t lose your good ones but kids are surprisingly good at this….) and make your own snacks….

So I did take a serious look at what and how I pack my kids’ lunches. All in all I think I am not doing too badly. We do use a Brita filter and refillable water bottles. We definitely stay away from those frightening “Lunch ables”. A cracker, a small container of ketchup, and some cheese wrapped in plastic. Who in the world came up with that idea? Very little food and lots of trash for more money. But oh so convenient…

I make the children sandwiches or quesadillas, with a side of fresh fruit and vegetables. Takes about 15 minutes. You can put them in boring Tupperware containers or you could use one these cool lunch wraps by

Wow, isn’t that pretty? What a great idea! I have to get some for the children and husband. Just imagine opening your lunchbox and looking at that instead of some ugly cardboard box…Makes me hungry just to look at that wrapper!

And then of course, there is always the possibility to choose snacks that have a natural wrapper: how about bananas, oranges, and apples?

Have a great week, and enjoy many healthy snacks!


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Instructions Not Included Part 2

Two weeks ago I began this blog topic. It is such a powerful idea to me, that children should be allowed to play without parental direction or instruction, that I decided to do the article in two parts. I am focusing on only one of the ways parents can step back and let their children do what they do best and naturally: play. That is, to provide them with toys they can figure out, which are open-ended, meaning the child can use her or his own imagination to complete the toy. It is difficult for some parents to understand this concept and choose a natural toy when they are bombarded by advertising from so many big “name” brands. In the first part of “Instructions Not Included,” I gave several examples from my fellow artisans from Etsy’s Naturalkids Team. I’d like to invite new readers to start with my last post. In this current post, I will continue to offer suggestions in this area with additional links.

Here’s something to consider:I read somewhere that invention is not necessarily creating something new with a purpose, but giving a new purpose and way of using to an existing item. Take the item pictured above from Fairiesnest. Yes it is a wand…or is it? If so, is it for a wizard, a fairy a princess? The answers to these questions will be completed by the child. What new way of using this timeless toy will be invented, what enchanting scenarios may be created? And since it is not licensed or branded by a multinational corporate identity, the possibilities are truly endless.

“Waldorf dolls, such as those made by Bellawinter,
Germandolls or
Woodcreations’….convey little expression. Like the “Mona Lisa,” they are enigmatic and allow the child to decide their emotional state.

In imaginary play, this aspect of allowing the child to complete the toy by deciding if the baby is sleepy or awake, sad or exuberant, not only exercises the child’s imagination, but may also be therapeutic, allowing the child to work through emotional struggles. When Eva was 2, she slipped off the step in our pool. One second later, I lifted her out. This upset her nonetheless. The next day, she had her baby in the bathtub and was teaching it to swim. Clearly she was working out her feelings about water. Mommy’s only job was to wring the toy out later and allow it to dry!

Here is a gnome by Oritdotan. Who is he? Where did he come from? Is that a shell really a cauldron with stew? This playset does not offer any solutions to these riddle. Instead, it offers endless possibilities for the child to imagine.

Beneaththerowantree‘s gnome is quite different…almost a beehive…is he friendly or shy, abiding or mischievous? The child can decide what adventures to send him on, what his future in their present will be.

And who are the gnome’s or the doll’s friends?
Perhaps a needle felted bird, by Thesingingbird

…or some tiny hedgehogs…by Purplemoonfibers.

How about a snail from Woodmouse?


…or Freedomrainbow’s custom order cat…

Is it a really a cat or a woolly forest creature or someone from another universe. this is for the child to decide.

The conversations and adventures these creatures could have with each other are endless, because they come free of history, branding or any other known fact.

There are so many examples I could give from my colleagues on’s Naturalkids Team. But I hope these few examples will give readers a taste of the endless play their children could delight in with toys made from natural materials as they project their fantasies onto them. Like Cozycottage’s strawberries, the sweetness is there, ready to be enjoyed by all the senses, and it begins with the imagination.

In my next blog, we’ll explore another aspect of the playroom. Til then, be well.

By Rebecca Varon-Remstein