Nature's Heart

Nature's Heart

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baked Pomegranate and Brie Delight

Happy Anniversary my Love! I can't believe that a year has passed by so quickly! 8 visits and thousands of miles flown over the course of the year...I am so blessed to have you in my life! In the spirit of us celebrating our Anniversary we are going to be celebrating this Friday...but leading up to today, this scripture that gets sent to my phone daily was appropriate in the spirit of things.
Keeping up with the topic of all things rich and sweet! I finally tried my hand at a treat that I came across a few years ago at a Christmas party (Thank you Ana!).

It is a pomegranate and brie baked delight and really easy to make!
You will need a wheel of brie, pomegranate seeds and a little brown sugar.

I purchased a whole pomegranate but they are available already seeded at some grocery stores.
An AMAZING tip if you are going to de-seed your own granate...cut it under water!!! It avoids the staining juice from getting all over the place!
Once you have your seeds...heat the oven to 300 degrees ferinhight and shave off as much of the brie outer coating or wax that you can.
Then place the brie on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
Next, cover the top of the brie with a light coat of brown sugar and to the sides too if want.
Add a nice layer of pomegranate seeds.
Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the the brie starts to lose its shape a bit.
I transferred mine to a cute sandwich plate (it's nicer if you want to make a better impression).

Serve warm with an assortment of crackers, pretzels or even toasted baguettes or anything else you would like to try!

It's sure to be a crowd pleaser and I would be surprised if there is any left! ENJOY!!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Serenity and Pear Spice Bread

I have been doing rather well so far this year with taking more time for myself. Particularly on the weekends, trying not to overbook myself or my self inflicted, "to do" list pressures.

So I had a weekend full of some of my favorite things...
Baking occurred as I tried my hand at a new recipe for pear spice bread (or cake as the recipe I used from titled it).I always love to put my own spin on things so I opted out of the cardamom, added cinnamon, and only used whole wheat flour. I will definitely add more pears and some applesauce the next time I make this. All in all, it was pretty tasty and filled my kitchen and home with a beautiful aroma.

I also found my sketch book again...had fun doodling and just letting myself fill some pages. 
I love pen and ink...and coffee never hurts either.

 Then I went through a cleaning spree and rediscovered what I thought was long lost...a friend of sorts... yes folks this is my original crayon collection...I'm surprised these crayons have survived multiple moves, and weather and especially that this tin is still in almost pristine back to 1991 when I purchased it on post at an Army PX in Germany.
 So I spent a bit of time reconnecting and playing with them and just remembering the joyful feeling of using these fun colors and transforming a blank page. I forgot how vibrant they are and I quickly remembered that very specific smell of crayons on paper...very distinct...amazing how powerful the sense of smell is in how it makes a lasting impression upon your memory and how easily and quickly it is able to transport you back in time... 

I want to be up in age some days,
Remaining and feeling young forever at heart.
I have to remind myself that patience is a virtue
        That time will come.
If I play my cards right,
I have firm inclinations that there are
Particular freedoms to be had and found,
With age increasing, certain insecurities
Can finally be put to rest and released.
        Freedoms found in being those
Many years with a head full
        Of silver and wisdom,
With no time or tolerance for fears to come.

Where do you find your serenity?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A "Grand"canyon New Years

It never ceases to amaze me, how different, diverse and beautiful the desert is. The picture on the left is the view out to my left while we were on the road and the picture on the right was the subsequent view to my right...just look at the color difference!

New Years Eve and we hit the road early... "Goodbye California", we already miss you but "Hello Arizona" and the anticipation of the Grand Canyon!
We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day! Good thing we decided to travel in the middle of winter as we found out at the beginning of the trip that the air conditioner unit wouldn't cool anything to save it's life.

 It was a race to get to the Grand Canyon before dark. I had made peace with the idea that if we didn't see it that night (New Year's Eve) that it would be there to greet us New Years morning. Ben was determined!! Adamant really..."There's still 30 minutes of dusk after sunset...we can make this!!!" "We are going to see the Grand Canyon if it's the last thing we do!!!!

Well we did...after sprinting in practically almost complete darkness but we had about 5 minutes of dusk left...enough to see enough to see some definition of part of the canyon...and even better, to see the blanket of stars reveal themselves for us! There were only two other couples out on one of the viewpoints. It was one of the most special moments I have shared with Ben.

Needless to say we were in such a hurry to get out there that we left our headlamps in the truck...trying to get back in the dark was...interesting to say the least...but all part of a good memory.
Happy New Year! I opened my eyes to this view from the truck.

 We found out that there was a no open or wood fire policy...charcoal only...the problem was that it was so cold outside that the charcoal wouldn't heat up...Thank God for lighter fluid...good thing I brought a pyromaniac with me too...nothing would stop him from cooking brunch!

 I tried my hand at making cowboy it! A little rough as it was my first attempt but I love how simple of a process it is...are you ready to learn? All you do is add the appropriate number of scoops of coffee to boiling water...let it boil a bit and then let the coffee grounds sink to the bottom of your pot and pour out the coffee that is on top and that's filters, no brewing machines.
 The majority of the photos that I took were on my DSLR camera (that I have yet to download) but my wonderful phone helped me to capture this panoramic shot!!! Words can't express the awe that both Ben and I felt throughout our walk along part of the Canyon ridge. Every few steps we would stop and see a completely beautiful and unique picture/painting of the canyon. Breathtaking is an understatement. 
 We will be coming back. This day (and a half trip) was just a preview for us. We want to spend a week or so, hiking and camping down into the canyon. On a side note, I am so happy that we chose to go at this time of year...yes it was a little cold (esp at night) but on the plus side, it was significantly quiet and people free...I can only imagine what kind of a zoo the canyon must become during the more warmer and popular times of the year.
This little collage I made with a fun free phone app, once we got back on the road...a little recap of our amazing first two days on the road...Next stop...picking up Ben's "Little Blue"...To Be Continued...

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace
     will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will
     blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy,
     while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
- John Muir

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Potential "To-Do" Projects

2014 is here!!! I can't believe my 2 week vacation is over!!!
It was an absolute blast and I will post pictures soon!!!

I love the idea of a New Year...Not that this year has been bad, but there is just something so exciting to think of all that the new year holds for you...there is a clean fresh start kind of feeling and the opportunity for self improvement or to undertake new projects...It is great to have goals and especially important to write them down! You are more likely commit and to follow through with them when you write it down...The other option or addition to writing down your goals is to have an accountability partner/mentor...someone who will encourage you to succeed or kick you in the bum when you need that kind of motivation.

Although I rarely make new year resolutions, I do love the idea of New Year To-Do Projects as well as some ideas that I want to adopt or be more mindful in my life.

I was thinking of reserving every month to have a new undertaking or emphasis on a specific topic.

Some of the ideas that I am mulling over so far:

12 Sewing projects to complete: 1 a month

I mean just look at some of these beautiful quilt patterns!

I have really been feeling the urge to improving my sewing skills... I found two books on Amazon that look amazing!

As my stack of books shows I found my weekend reading list that I picked up from the library! I'm so excited to sit down with a hot cup of tea and look at all of this eye candy and inspirational fabric work/potential projects.

Photo collage challenge/projects:
  • Every month is assigned a color/color palette IE: January - white, February - blue, March - gray etc.
  • patterns one month, hearts another, sunsets etc
Cooking up a storm: 2-4 times a month try a new recipe...this could be something as simple as a new type of hot beverage to a full on meal.

Mandatory Me Time: One weekend blocked out that I cannot schedule or plan...time reserved for cook, sew, craft, write...a weekend filled with what I think I will call, "Holly Whateverings"!

Volunteer: I want to volunteer my time more in some way...habitat for humanity, soup kitchen, the humane society, friends etc.

Money Mindfulness: I'm pretty frugal but I feel like I need to be more mindful of not only the all to popular "Where" my money is going but especially the "WHY" behind and before I purchase something... The last couple of months I have definitely been making more "impulse" buys and justifying those purchases with "well it was on sale" or "It was a Goodwill buy"...the same goes with grocery shopping impulse buys of treats and goodies by making excuses such as, "Well I have to eat" instead of sticking to my grocery list and coupons...

I will begin to ask myself do I need it? If so, why? Does it fit within my allotted weekly/monthly spending money budget? Should I start a specific "fun" money fund? I will be figuring this out as I get closer to the new year...and this all ties in to my next topic...

Resourcefulness: I need to be more resourceful and content. I have SO much and need to utilize what I have a bit more.
Rest up: I need to give myself permission to's okay to not be involved up to my eyeballs in projects and particularly with performances. I also need to not base my self worth with how productive I am being...or more importantly how I am FEELING that I am being...I have always benefited from "being still" and often seem to hear God more clearly when my soul is rested and recharged...Another meaning of that Psalm 46:10 verse in more modern lingo would be to, "Shut up and know Who I AM". In the verse before and after He is explaining who He is and uses examples that our little human brains can grasp regarding His greatness. So why do I feel so restless and discouraged, questioning what my "life-purpose" is just because I am not directly or immediately involved in a project. I suppose that one of the reasons that I pack my schedule to the extreme is because that I don't want to ever want to be on the flip side and be or become "lazy"...I need and will find that healthier balance.

I can't help but think that this is how God has created us to be driven...the hard part is finding where we are driven...and how God will use us...even though God can use us in every way and often times in what we would overlook or classify as being mundane or meaningless...We have to remember that it isn't our job to know when or how God will use is simply our job to quiet our lives enough to not drown out God's maintain sensitive spirits and to follow His call when he prompts us to and to follow Him with BOLDNESS...

Wow...I guess I didn't realize that my list was so long...I'm excited to undertake these topics and challenges and I am going to do my best at acheiving these things as often as possible. Most importantly I will give myself GRACE if I don't. I usually am so rigid with my expectations of my capabilities and meeting a certain set of standards that I have set for myself. If I was doing my best in that moment then I will respect that and find contentment in it and I need to realize that what I am capable of acheiving or the energy that I have one day may not be the same the next.