30 December 2011

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

No food screams more "Portuguese" than caldo verde... This soup is considered by many as the most popular staple in Portuguese cuisine. And it is oh, so simple to make!! When I am homesick, I find comfort in making familiar foods I grew up with... The main ingredients in this soup are potato and Portuguese cabbage (which we will replace with kale), but often smoked Portuguese sausage (chouriço) is added, for extra flavor. The key to this soup is cutting the kale really, really thin... If you visit any market in Portugal, you will find this cabbage already thinly julienned and sold by the kilo. I don't have access to chouriço around here, but I did find some Portuguese linguiça at my local supermarket!

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 to 10 ounces chouriço or linguiça, sliced or thinly chopped (optional)
2 quarts water
3 to 4 cups of kale, cut into very fine julienne (remove the thicker parts of the stems and roll the leaves together to make it easier to thinly cut)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Fill a pot with the water, add potatoes, onion and garlic and let it cook for 20 to 25 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, purée everything (I use a hand blender right into the pot, but if you don't have one, you can use a regular blender). You want to make sure that you end up with a fairly light potato broth, so at this point you can add some water if needed. Add the kale and the chouriço, along with the olive oil and let it cook for an extra 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste (sometime I will add a vegetable bouillon) and serve. I hope you will give it a try, I am sure you will enjoy it!

Bom apetite!!

11 December 2011

Inspired by the Comtesse...

There are so many things I love about this french romantic home... The owner, just like me, is a huge fan of the children's novels by the Comtesse de Ségur, and turned this gorgeous old presbytere into a lovely 19th century inspired home, one that the Comtesse's own "Model Little Girls" could have called their own! Shall we travel back in time together...?!!

02 December 2011

Christmas at Monticello

First and foremost, I just want to say that I am so deeply touched and thankful for those of you who so kind-heartedly reached out to me after my last post, I have read every single comment and email (more than once) and my heart is truly lifted... What a wonderful community we are! You have given me the wind I needed to keep on flying, I may not know the end to my Book of Life, but I hope I will tackle page by page, chapter by chapter with anticipation and excitement, and most of all, a grateful heart...!!

I leave you with pictures of the Old Fashioned Christmas Show at Monticello, as always the guest vendors have created a truly magical place and a shopper's paradise! The show starts today and runs through January 1st. Don't miss it!



25 November 2011

To be {me} or not to be...

I've been pondering, lately... About life, direction, dreams, destiny...

It all started with the realization that a few of my last shows have not been as profitable as they used to. A good friend kindly suggested that my stuff might be a bit "too sweet" for what people are looking for... You know, with the trend for neutrals and textures, burlaps and feed sacks, and  industrial and rustic pieces, a booth with floral barkcloth pillows and pink accents might turn people off... I know there are still some die-hard lovers of all things romantic that will get lost in all the pretties I offer, but is it enough? Do I change who I am at heart and feed into the trend or do I stay true to who I am and don't compromise my love affair with romance? Can I find a balance, where I can still be passionate about the things I bring forth yet offer more of what people are looking for? I enjoy what I do, but I also do it as a means to supplement our income... Learning to adjust to our ever changing environment is a key to any successful endeavor. At the same time, I need to recognize that there are things I can change, and there are things I can't. 

This all led me to a deeper reflection... An identity crisis of sorts, a restlessness in the depths of my soul... Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, or is there something else out there for me? And, if there is, will I find it?

I have always known that my true calling was to be a mom. I left all that was familiar and safe for me so I could start a family in a faraway land. Our nomadic military lives swirled us around the world, yet my husband and I were able to create a stable and grounded family. Far from having been the perfect parents (is there such a thing?), we still gaze at our children in awe of what amazing people they are becoming! I have had the priviledge of staying home with them and watch them grow, all the while finding ways to stay connected with other adults through creative outlets. In England I taught quilting classes from my home, in Morocco I published the American Embassy's newsletter... Here in Oregon I started a little venture selling vintage items at shows and antique malls...

My true calling is always going to be my true reason of being . I am aware, though, that as my children grow, they don't need me less, but they need me differently... As they get older and more independent,  so does my need to become more independent myself... I want to see myself happy and fulfilled, after all isn't that the best example I can set for my children? I see so many of my friends following their dreams, pursuing their passions, be it fashion, food, photography, jewelry... But what if you don't really know what you want? What if you are not exactly sure what your passion is...? Over twenty years ago I would have seen my life differently, having studied Economics and Business, I would most likely have been a career woman, a banker, a financial executive... But my life took turns that I will never regret but that changed the course of what I was to become...  I have always had a strong analytical side, and did not in the least considered myself the "creative" type... It wasn't until I moved to America that I learned to sew, quilt, paint furniture, decorate... I do love all those outlets, as I do hunting for vintage treasures... But where do I take it from here? How do I grow? Can I really find something that I am good at that is both emotionally fulfilling and financially rewarding?

Then, there is my practical side, the side that is thinking of dollars and sense, the side that realizes that outrageously high college tuitions are just a stone's throw away (oh, have I mentioned we have four kids?), the voice that says "forget your dreams, just get a job!" Easier said than done... How hard is it to find a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 17 years...? How hard is it to find a job, period? Do I go back to school and find a new vocation? Do I really want to?

My word for 2011 was GROWTH. I don't want to be too hard on myself, as I realize that I didn't quite accomplish many goals I set for myself... I am always growing... And I am still growing a family. Considering all the challenges set upon us, be it of economic, physical, social or any other nature, we actually all came out alright. Stronger. Closer. I will always strive for happiness. But my happiness is striving for a little clarity... An inspiring friend published a quote on her blog, that stuck with me: "The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you". That is the kind of inner peace I am looking for... If chasing your dream is hard, then finding your dream is even harder...

23 October 2011

Ruffles & Rust

We just came back last night from selling at Ruffles and Rust in Monroe, WA, and I have to say I was blown away with the sheer talent and beauty those amazing vendors brought forth... I was utterly inspired, it truly was a fabulous show!!! See for yourself...







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