The Naked Face Project

Have you heard of The Naked Face Project?  I just found out about it last night through a mailing list I’m on.  I was intrigued and interested, largely because I have been makeup-free and hair-styling free for most of my adult life, whether for good or bad!   Part of my reason for not wearing makeup comes from the fact that I don’t like the way it feels on my skin.  I also value authenticity and wearing makeup makes me feel like I’m trying to be someone I’m not (not that you can’t wear makeup and still be authentic!) But I also have to admit that I’ve been genetically blessed with good skin.  I don’t do my hair because I don’t like the feel of the hair dryer, its noise and heat.  And it takes too much time.  I’d rather be enjoying a cup of tea and reading a newspaper article instead of doing my hair.

I have more thoughts I want to share on this, when I have a chance. Growing older and living in California and now in Houston has sometimes made me stop and reconsider my easy-going ways.  I’d love to know what you think and if you’ve heard of the project.  It ends on March 31 and they’re encouraging other women to join them, even if just for the day!


Chicken Paprika

This dish has become a new holiday favorite.  My stepmom makes it for us when she comes down at the holidays!  In fact, it's what we had for Thanksgiving dinner.  My husband and I want to find a quicker way to make it so we can enjoy it more often, perhaps with boneless chicken breasts.
Chicken Paprika with Spatzle
1 3 - 3.5 lb cut up fryer
1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 C butter
1 Large chopped onion
2 Tbsp paprika
1 C chicken broth
1 C light cream
1/2 C sour cream
In bag, shake chicken in flour, 1 tsp salt, and pepper 'til coated. Save 2 Tbsp flour. Brown chicken in butter, pour off fat, but return 3 Tbsp to skillet. Saute onion 10 minutes or so. Add paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, and broth. Bring to boil, lower heat. Add chicken, turning to coat. Cook, covered, 30 minutes or 'til tender. Remove chicken. Stir in cream. Make paste of saved 2 Tbsp flour and sour cream. Slowly stir into pan. Cook, without boiling, 'til thick. Add chicken. Serve over spatzle.
3 C sifted flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1 C water
1/4 C melted butter
Combine flour, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Make well in center. Add eggs and water and mix thoroughly. Scoop up dough onto spatula or lage spoon and cut off small pieces with a knife directly into a boiling pot of salt water. As dough bits rise, scoop off with a slotted spoon. Place in covered bowl with melted butter and keep warm as the rest cooks.



Today was all about the water: a trip to the aquarium, a walk on the beach, coming home and taking a bubble bath with a book. I love these murals on the sea wall in Galveston. It was overcast and breezy today, a bit warm and humid. We hadn't had a free Saturday in months and enjoyed the sense of, well, freedom to take off and have a mini-adventure for the day. Have you had any mini-adventures lately?


Small Victories

My quest to lighten the load in our home continues. Earlier this year, I did something I never thought I would do: recycle 10 years (!!!) of Martha Stewart Living magazines, including duplicates that I'd picked up at library sales. I lost count around 165 copies. I had recycled many other periodicals that I'd been hanging on to, but for some reason felt compelled to save the MSL ones as reference materials. As it turned out, once I actually sat down and started going through them (absolutely no idea how I had the time for this), there ended up being very little that I actually needed to save. I clipped craft projects and a few recipes to save, and that was that. I couldn't help but think about how much MSL and other home magazines are so very much like fairy tales for adults: perfect home, amazing dinners with beautiful friends, clutter-free rooms. I think they reflect the way we want our lives to be more than reflect how they actually are. As a reader and former library employee, I adore magazines, but I have had to stop some subscriptions just to slow the flow of stuff into the house. It also seems that many magazines just don't have nearly as much content as they once did - edited down for quicker reads for today's busy people. Of course, I still receive some mags, and I still have some piles sitting around that need to find their way to the blue bin...


Tying up Some Fun

I don't have a lot of time for craft projects these days, but I had a tie-dye kit that had been sitting in my closet for years and finally decided to put it to use. A friend and I dyed onesies and little t-shirts for the wee ones in our lives. We also used Rit liquid dye in buckets to make easy versions of the ombre clothing in stores this spring. Our favorites were the ones with the top third dyed blue, the middle left white, and the bottom third dyed green. In the wash, the dyes ran enough to dye the middle white section a lighter bluegreen. Easy fun!

Now it's time to get back to laundry and dishes...


Icy Gardens

It's been a weird winter in south Texas - many days warmer than average (mid-70s and humid today - blech) but we've also had many freeze warnings. I haven't been out with the camera much in the past few months, but I couldn't resist this frozen puddle in the backyard with the ornamental pear leaf encased within. It made me happy to see ice in the backyard, happy to find icicles hanging off of my truck one morning - I love chilly weather. I know that increasingly warm temps are just around the corner, along with decisions to make about what to do in the garden (keeping it simple this year, as I repeatedly learn that I don't have the energy in a Houston summer to tend a garden effectively), decisions to make about traveling in order to escape the heat for awhile. What decisions are ahead of you right now?


T Tuesday: Afternoon Tea and Thinning Out

Things have been a little quiet on the tea front lately, but yesterday I enjoyed a delightful afternoon tea with a friend and one of her other friends at a little tea house in the area. With my pot of jasmine and their Earl Grey, we enjoyed cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad, samosas, and more. (I wish I would have thought to bring my camera!) It was a fun change of pace from the coffee in paper cups that is typically imbibed during dates with friends. This morning I am enjoying Tazo's Berryblossom White with my little dog stretched out by my feet, gnawing on a chew toy. His devotion is quite endearing.
I am slowly continuing my thinning-out project: pictured are a few items that have made their way to Goodwill. I had had them for a long time, and I found myself wishing that I had been taking more pictures throughout this decluttering process to remind myself of the progress I've made. The crazy floral tin was bought at a thrift shop during college in Vermillion, South Dakota; I began making the afghan in 2001 but never finished it and by this point no longer like the color choices I made or have the patience for it; the old lamp I bought at a garage sale in high school and after nearly twenty years of not having rewired it, it seemed time for it to go, hard as it was. I ended up keeping the marbles because they were so pretty to photograph. These items in particular carried memories with them.
Do you have any decluttering tips?


A Tea Kettle From My Past

We've had sporadic internet problems due to a lightning storm, but we think (hope) the problem is solved now...so I'm back for Tea Tuesday! I have been rather obsessively going through closets and clutter these last few weeks. I even opened up the pile of sketches from Drawing 101 that had been taped up between two big pieces of cardboard for many years, sight unseen. (Drawing 101 was a very long time ago!) I enjoyed seeing the sketches again, and felt kind of sad that I haven't kept up with drawing, even if I have done lots of other arts and crafts in the meantime. I was intrigued by how many times the tea kettle in the bottom drawing showed up in the still lives - our professor obviously found it worthy of repeated attempts. The other images are also momentos of my past: the violin that I haven't touched in years, the Chuck Taylors that I wore in high school and college, my Great Uncle Louis who often visited for Christmas during those years. I kept these sketches, although many of them ended up on the curb (after being photographed if I liked them well enough - thank goodness for digital photography.) I was surprised that I finally let them go, since I tend to be very sentimental. But a big part of me is feeling that by letting things go, removing them from my home, I am making room in my life for new things.


T is for Transcendent

Just yesterday we returned from Pennsylvania, where we were blessed with a new goddaughter. The church her family attends has recently been beautifully restored after a fire. The icons that cover the walls and ceiling of the church are wonderful and a great joy to see. Being a very visual person, one of the things that drew me to the Orthodox Christian faith was its embrace of the visual and multi-sensory (a nicely holistic approach to worship), its use of icons to remind us of Christ's life and the lives of those believers before us. I love that when I enter an Orthodox church, I know I am in a church and that I am there to worship God; countless visual reminders help me focus on this fact. Some moments are truly transcendent.
Stash Moroccan green mint and Raspberry Zinger were the teas I enjoyed when not at church! They were a nice change. Of course, not much time was spent sipping tea on this trip. My husband spent quite a bit of time folding paper airplanes for our godkids to throw across the room, and we also spent time drawing and doing a little art project. The weather was delightfully cool compared to Houston. You can find more Tea Tuesday participants here.


T is for Twin Cities

A week ago we returned from a quick trip to Minnesota to visit family. One of the highlights was visiting the Minneapolis Farmer's Market, which was hands down the largest one I've ever seen - two blocks' worth of vendors. I was enthralled by the heaps of bright veggies and couldn't resist taking photos, although I did feel a little self-conscious shooting in the crowd - hence quick decisions about composition, etc.! We enjoyed some of the produce grilled, some of it raw, some of it steamed. I had quite a bit of quiet time on this trip to read, so I kept it simple and drank decaf Lipton and Constant Comment when I wasn't eating veggies! I've visited farmer's markets in Santa Fe, Rapid City, SD, Cannon Beach, OR, and Minneapolis this summer, but haven't made it to any in my own neck of the woods. For as large as Houston is, the farmer's markets here just aren't that impressive.