Beet & Apple Quinoa Salad

I was recently told about something called Stehdhal Syndrome. It is a condition where you become physically moved to tears, or a fluttering of the heart by beautiful things. I believe I have the food related version of this syndrome. When I took a bite of this salad, I seriously almost cried. Now, Im not saying this is the absolute best quinoa salad you could ever have but, its really really good.

Maybe it was the beets. I've had beets as a child, out of a can. What a sad way to be exposed so such a wonderfully delicious root vegetable. I saw how Abby had become smitten with beets, and made a mental note to pick up some fresh ones from Stanley's. I brought a few home and forgot about them until this weekend when I needed to throw something together for a bbq. The house was hot. We don't have air conditioning so that last thing I wanted to do was bake a cake, or a pie (never thought Id ever say that!). I rummaged around and saw my beets. I wondered what they tasted like raw.

Lord, thank you for beets. I took one bite of this delicious beet and I was giddy. So earthy! So dark! So sweet! Amazing! What can I put with this!? I pulled out my trusty Flavor Bible, a gift from my father who always encourages my cooking endeavors, and saw that beets pair well with salty cheeses, sweet or tart fruits, and a few kinds of nuts, balsamic vinegar, and herbs like tarragon and mint. I got to thinking and looking in my pantry and came up with this lovely salad. It turns out to be strikingly beautiful as well, my i phone certainly doesn't do it justice. The lighter colored quinoa soaks up the beet juice and turns a gorgeous soft magenta, which is nice next to the bright green apple skins. 

Orange Scented Quinoa Salad with Beets & Apples 


1 cup tricolor quinoa
2 cups water 
2 Beets, peeled and cubed 
2 Granny Smith Apples, cubed
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
1/2 cup of queso fresco, crumbled. 
A few sprigs of peppermint 


1. Let the quinoa soak for about 20 minutes in cold water. Rinse well. 
2. Cook the quinoa according to your preferred method.  
3. Let the quinoa cool, you want it cold.
4. Mix the juice of the orange with the apple cider vinegar, a little bit of the mint.
(this is the "dressing")
5. Toss the quinoa with the dressing
6. Incorporate the apples and beets.
7. Add the queso fresco, crumbled on top
8. Garnish with remaining mint. 

For those of you who are not used to eating these sort of dishes, I encourage you to try it. It is such a cool sensation of different textures and flavors. I try to incorporate the occasional raw recipe into our diets, just because it's so good nutritionally speaking, and its just fun. Raw beets are especially good for new to be mommies or women trying to get pregnant (they are really good for the baby too), they are high in folic acid, and cooking the beets depletes that. They also contain vitamin B6 and vitamin C. You can read more about how great beets are here. So, just from a nutritional standpoint, you should try it!!

Thanks for reading.

Knitting & Snuggles

I woke up this morning to delightfully chilly weather. I threw together some spelt flour and poppyseed pancakes, a good hearty breakfast for Xavier before work. I love having the time to wake up early, but still well rested, and make a simple breakfast on the weekdays, what a treat, its the little things like a handful of poppy seeds that make a relatively mundane pancake a little more beautiful and exciting. The woman on the radio said, "Let's just get through this day." I couldn't disagree more, this sort of weather is exactly my favorite, and calls for hot coffee, knitting and snuggle time at home with Julian. Window cracked open, knitting needles out, blanket forts and maybe a little Harry Potter. I had so many plans for today, especially blogging plans, quite a few recipes I wanted to get up, some other posts and a few things around the house that don't need immediate attention, but they can all wait. Today is for snuggles and knitting. 


Swallow Tail in progress 

This is recycled yarn, its seriously lovely. Cashmere, Alpaca and Wool, 
approximately a light worsted. I wish you could feel how soft this is. 


Thanks for reading


Fruity El Pastor Tacos

This has been quite the weekend! S had a safe and wonderful delivery, and welcomed a heathy, gorgeous baby boy into the world. We're so glad he's here. While the G family gets some time to bond with the new baby, I get some time off of work, even though work doesn't really feel like work most of the time. Im so blessed to be working with such a seriously amazing family.
Yesterday when I got back from meeting new baby G, Xavier mentioned that he was inviting a few friends over for a bbq today.There is something so wonderful about getting together with just a few of your closest friends, the intimacy and comfort reminds me that community really is worth the effort. It is also so endearing to see the way they love on Julian, it really does take a village. Kristen (note that Kristen is not Kirstin, we have different names hah) came over this morning to help me whip up some delicious mango salsa and guacamole. I really appreciate that her approach to cooking is similar to mine, she is creative with the ingredients and staples she has on hand, and always makes something outstanding out of little time and few ingredients.  Don't ask me how our bbq became taco night, I was standing in line at the butcher case in whole foods looking for Xavier's burgers and I remembered that my apricots were probably going bad soon. I should probably use them up, a marinade? A sauce? Apricots and........pulled pork, yep, Xavier loves pulled pork. This will do. 

So here is the recipe for the pulled pork that I made for Xavier. (and Kristen and Charles and Jake) 

10 medium apricots
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
1 tablespoon cumin
pinch of salt/pepper 

1. Peel and pit the apricots, puree them. 
2. In a sauce pan, combine the other ingredients with the apricot puree and let them reduce a little bit. 
3. I stored the sauce over night in a ball jar, I was hoping the flavors would blend together overnight. I had about 12 oz of the sauce at the end. 

Pulled Pork:

2 pound bone in pork shoulder 
3 jalapenos, sliced 
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
8 oz (1c) apricot/balsamic sauce
salt/ pepper

(pre heat oven to 350)
1. Line a glass baking dish with foil. 
2. Rub the salt, pepper, cinnamon, garlic and cayenne on all sides of the pork. 
3. Place the pork shoulder in the glass baking dish, scatter the jalepenos around the pork. 
4. Pour the sauce over the pork, making sure to cover all sides and get in any nooks and crannies.
5. Cover the pork with the foil to form a pocket. 
6. Let the pork cook for about three and a half hours, or until it is tender and cooked through.
7. Take the pork out, let it cool a bit so you can pull it apart with a fork, discard the bones.
8. Use the left over sauce to coat the pork. 

To assemble the tacos we used regular flour tortillas, mango salsa, pomegranate guacamole, (recipe for those are below)  some queso fresco, and cilantro from the garden. 


You can always tell if something is delicious if everyone is a happy silent for the first few bites. These tacos made that happy silent moment. They really wouldn't be the same with out the delicious mango salsa & pomegranate guacamole. It really made the whole dish feel so summery, exciting with different crunches and flavors.  When I asked Kristen if I could post her recipe for these she gave me a quizzical look and asked me if they were really recipes. Her humility is so endearing. So with out further ado, here it is. 

Kristen (not Kirstin's) Mango Salsa:
1 ripe mango, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1. Orange pepper, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic (grated with a microplane)
1/2 a jalepeno (grated with a microplane) 

Combine all ingredients

Kristen's Pomegranate Guacamole

I just want to throw in here that Kristen made this for a christmas party, she threw the pomegranate seeds in because she thought it would look pretty, and it did, and it tasted amazing too. I had hoped that she brought over a pomegranate today, so when she pulled it out of her bag I was delighted! The crunch and sweetness of the pomegranate seeds are a nice surprise and contrast to the smoothness of the avocado. 

1/2 the seeds of a small pomegranate, 
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, (grated with a microplane)
1/2 jalepeno (grated with a microplane)
juice of three small limes
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 avocados.

combine ingredients. 


We also made the Cantaloupe Basil Aqua Fresca I mentioned in my last Things To Consider post.
And while we were pureeing all that cantaloupe we figured we may as well go big time and made this too, but added a little vodka and a lime to spice it up. 


What  a delicious evening. Im stuffed. I like to save the meat for the celebrations or special dinners. Being married to a non vegetarian makes being a strict vegetarian a little difficult sometimes, but life calls for flexibility, and this is especially true in marriage. Hope you are having a great weekend, and great food! 



Things to consider 5/25

D&S left for the hospital about an hour ago to try and coax the new baby into the world. We have delicious treats, cool things too look and and see and touch out here little baby, hurry on up! It is really interesting being on the other end of these things, being the not pregnant one, the bystander, the one nervously waiting for the texts and updates. I can't help but to remember the day Julian was born, and get  (more than) a little sentimental. I thought about sharing his birth story today, but that will have to wait, today is a day for the G family. So here are a few things I am looking at to keep from biting all of my newly manicured (thanks to S, we both got a little time away from the children to be pampered and prepare for today) fingernails.


 despondent bunny and mermaid tears toes 

This photo booth backdrop is beautiful, I think would look great as an over the bed piece. I would l
ove to try a DIY version.

This Swallow Tail Shawl on the needles with recycled yarn, but the last few days have been a little busy for knitting.


Next month is going to be a (hopefully) big month for KALANAG, Im sponsoring two of my favorites, Mandy and Sara


Had to order this little guy for my knitting notes. I love this cute company/blog. They have nice looking recipes and a great aesthetic. 


Cantaloupe Basil Aqua Fresca is in the plans for our memorial day gospel community bbq. 


Npr told me to check out these Summer Reads. Why, yes I will...take them all. 

 And with that I must go, Julian is demanding that I read Have You Seen my Cat? by Eric Carle.  I usually read to him at any request but I really don't like this book.... I haven't seen your cat man, maybe you should keep him inside if you don't want to loose him.


Generations & Goodies

I just want to start out this post with a true story. I am pretty embarrassed about how this is going to go but I want to be honest and share my real life experiences with you. So lets get to it. When Julian was about 8 months old I took him home to visit my parents. He was still nursing regularly and wasn't really interested in food for the most part, maybe a little here or there, but not much of anything. I avoided giving him cereals, preferring to give him pureed or mashed banana, avocado, sweet potato etc, and the occasional bit of oatmeal with breast milk mixed in. Since I hadn't had the opportunity in a while to go out on my own, I headed out to see some friends and do some knitting alone, leaving Julian with my Mom and Dad. Before I left I nursed him, and because he has always refused the bottle I told my Mom she could give him some oatmeal if he gets hungry. A few hours later I came home to a happy baby, I was so thankful to have gotten some time to myself. I asked my Mom if he had any oatmeal and she said, "Yes! He loved it! He ate so much!" I was so surprised, either he was really hungry, or maybe he was actually starting to want solids. I saw the bowl of left over oatmeal on the table and I took a bite. 

"Mom, what is in this." 

"Sugar, cinnamon and butter and milk"


I then proceeded to have a mini freak out, spouting off about all the dangers of refined sugars and non organic milk products etc, leaving my mom almost in tears, and myself feeling terrible. Julian had never had sugar before. I had purposefully avoided trying to "enhance" the flavor of any of the solids I was giving him so that he would develop a realistic pallet, to appreciate the flavors of unprocessed foods. When I told my mom to give him some oatmeal, she gave it to him like she would have made it for me or anyone else. When I told my mom to give him some oatmeal, I expected her to give it to him the way I would have given it to him, plain with breast milk. She was just trying to give him something she thought he would enjoy, and he did enjoy it, so did she. 

My parents and I have a lot of differences in opinion when it comes to raising Julian. It's a fine line to walk on between appreciating the advise and help your parents give you and finding your own voice and way as a parent yourself, being firm with out being offensive. For our family, I find the things we disagree about most are food. I grew up eating a lot of fast food, southern fried chicken, white bread, canned green beans warmed up in a plastic container in the microwave and whole milk at every meal until I moved out on my own. Im not saying my mom wasn't a good mom for feeding me these things, she was a wonderful mother, she just honestly didn't know any better, and to her credit, not a lot of people did at the time. When I finally started having to make my own decisions when it came to food, it was difficult for me to choose the healthier option. It took a long time for me to learn to appreciate healthy and nutritious food, trying things over and over until I got used to it and started to love the way I felt, and how real food tastes. I don't want Julian to have to go through the same experience, not to mention I just want him to be healthy in general, and that in itself if one of the reasons I am so anal about what he eats, why I got so upset when my mom gave him white sugar in his oatmeal.

 There are so many different voices shouting out to new parents about how to raise, feed, discipline and care for their child it could drive you crazy, but when your own parents say something that you don't agree with, or confuses you, or has been scientifically proven to be detrimental it takes things to a totally different level. These are your parents, they raised you. The solution for us was a good conversation about how we are choosing to care for our son and how we need their support and understanding, even if they don't agree with some of those things. Its hard to tell your parents that you think they are wrong, or, at least it is for me. In the end I think you really have to form your own opinions and make your own decisions on what parenting your child looks like, the best thing you can do for them in that regard is to be confident in your resolutions. At the same time, I realized that I do need to let them be themselves, I can't control every thing in Julian's life including the way they interact with him, and thats ok, that is healthy. I have to remind my self that he probably wont get a cavity in his baby teeth if he occasionally has an ice cream cone with them at the local custard joint, and he wont develop a terrible learning disorder if he watches an entire 2 hour disney movie once and a while. 

Have you had any similar situations, or had to have difficult conversations with your parents about your  baby? Id be interested to hear what that looks like for you and your family too.

look how tiny baby Julian was! This was taken the same day of the terrible freak out. 

p.s. I sent this to my Mom before I posted it to make sure it wouldn't hurt her feelings. She just wants everyone to know that because of my harping about and the importance of whole foods she is trying hard to incorporate those things into her diet, and she especially wanted everyone to know that she likes veggie burgers. I love her. 

Thanks for reading.


Lavender & Rose

 Im not sure if I have mentioned before that I used to work for LUSH. It was a great job, I love all of the products and it taught me a lot about natural ways maintain your skin and hair, while being environmentally conscious. One of my absolute favorite products they have is Angels on Bare Skin. It is a white clay based exfoliating but gentle cleanser, perfect for sensitive & combination skin like mine.  It is also pretty pricey, totally worth it, but still a bit of a splurge. I have actually struggled with acne my entire adolescent and adult life, it can get pretty bad, so I am always on the look out for gentle cleansers that soothe & heal but also help to fight the acne. I recently ran out of my AOBS so I mixed up this little face mask with similar ingredients to soothe some trouble spots I developed over the weekend. The lavender is a natural anti inflammatory, soothing the skin, the rose is a natural toner as well as an anti-inflammatory, the kaolin helps to cleanse and exfoliate with out drawing out the healthy oils you want to keep in your skin to have balance. 

Lavender, Rose & Kaolin Face Mask 


While I was stocking up Chelsea's wedding gift with bulk spices from Whole Foods, I grabbed a few of the ingredients needed for this mask, the dried lavender (since my lavender plant hasn't started blooming yet) and the kaolin clay (also called French white clay). Both were literally less than a dollar an ounce, so I got a small ziplock baggie of both. The rose is from my back yard! Now, Im not sure if this is really the best way to incorporate rose into a face mask but I was short on time and I thought chopping the petals would help to release those oils, when I couldn't make my own rose water. I also has some tea tree oil on hand which I mixed in as well, which is a great anti bacterial and cleanser. 

I just mixed a tablespoon of the clay with just enough filtered water to wet it, and mixed in the flowers and a very small amount of the tea tree, it can be potent, too much can irritate my skin. I let it sit for a minute and then applied it to my face. I made sure to apply it in circular motions so that the larger bits acted as a gentle exfoliator. 

 Anyone notice my old spider bite piercing scars? I took those bad boys out while I was in Uganda, before one of the kids got the chance to pull them out! 

After applying my mask, which was cooling and soothing, not one bit itchy, I drank this AMAZING juice from local Chicago juice company, Wide Grin. You could also easily make this yourself. 

Watermelon, Lime and Celtic Sea Salt Juice

I washed my face with warm water and a wash cloth, and it felt smooth to the touch, all of the trouble spots were still there of course, but calmed and a little less noticeable. The thing I was most surprised  by was how easily my make up went on, it seemed to lay a little better. 

 Ta Da! Fresh and Clean. 
All together the whole thing from beginning to end took about 30 minutes, during which I was able to water the plants, make the bed, make Julian breakfast and drink my yummy juice. Not bad, not bad at all! Try it! Let me know if it helps you too.



Greys & Gifts

It is official, I am getting wiser by the day. My sweet mother started going grey at 18, today, at 42 she is all salt and pepper, it is gorgeous. What a wonderful gift to bring her this weekend on our trip home, a little physical reminder of our bond, and my taking after her. Usually we take the Amtrak, because of my love for public transportation, and our smallsmobile (our charming honda crv from the 90s) has a few wonky things going on, so I'm not cool driving it on the highway. When Julian was only a few months old the train was great, he slept most of the time, while I either read a book or knit a little treasure. Now that he is older it is pretty hit or miss, either he totally content with looking out the window, sitting in my lap, eating snacks and reading books OR he is a total hellion, and runs up and down the train and tries to stand in the vestibule, while screaming at the top of his lungs. Thankfully, my friend Jacob was willing to take the trip with us and we got to drive! It was so convenient, the evidence of my delight is clear in my extremely genuine smile. I never smile in photos, so this is a big deal. 

Julian totally looks like he's about to drop the f bomb. Excuse his potential french. 

For the most part the weekend was refreshing, it is always nice to spend time with the friends you have had since you were young, hearing the newest blessings in their lives and sharing yours. There is a sense of informality and silent camaraderie that fills my heart. My friend Susan is especially refreshing to me, she has seen me at my worst moments, and still loves me, cares deeply and listens intently when I share with her my struggles, passing no judgement, encouraging with simple gestures that speak more than her words ever could. I want to learn to listen the way she does. 

While I was home I as able to attend the wedding shower for two of my oldest friends, Shane and Chelsea, who have been dating since they were about 16. High school sweethearts always make me especially emotional. The shower was nice, although, they are always a bit peculiar for me, I feel bad for the poor couple having to open such intimate gifts in front of so many people. These are the things they will be using to build their lives together, its not just a bakeware set, this is what she will use to make them a warm dinner after a long, cold Michigan winter day, this frame will hold photos of moments they want to remember, perhaps even photos of the children they will have, these sheets will indefinitely be used to drape naked bodies, unashamed. I do understand though, that it is a celebration, and indeed, marriage is something worth celebrating.  

There are a lot of things that we received at our wedding shower that were never used, or we had multiples of. I wanted to offer them something that was a practical but thoughtful at the same time. In the end, I came up with a basket of pantry staples, an introduction of sorts, for a young wife, relatively new to the kitchen. I included my favorite vegetarian cookbook, considering Chelsea is also a vegetarian, and an array of practical organic spices like cumin and paprika, sweeteners, flours, and dried goods like lentils and quinoa, along with a few organic cotton dish cloths, knit just for her. I also added a few of the little things that make all the difference in a meal, but you don't want to have to add on to your grocery budget, like anise or lavender flowers, sunflower honey, spanish olive oil. I discovered the greatness of canning jars for storage and refrigerator use just recently, and my mom had a bunch laying around so I thought it would be best to jump start a collection for her. I would have liked to spray paint the tops so that she could use chalk to label them like this but I simply did not have time. I hope they enjoy many luxuriously long and delicious meals, reveling in each other's company. 


Mamas kitchen window

 The rest of the weekend was spent hearing Julian call my father "Paaaw" and watching him sign for "more cookies please", which is heart melting and adorable. My youngest brother, Collin, who is 12 just got his braces on, and the older one, Devon, 13, is now taller than my mother who is by no means short. Coming home to my mother's cooking is always humbling, I tell her about my latest ventures in curries and vegan deserts while she plops down a hearty and delicious serving of mashed potatoes with gravy, simple and too delicious. I eat it all, because it's how she says, " I love you" when she doesn't know I need to hear it. As much as I love indulging in her southern style of cooking, I always end up feeling, well, heavier by the time I leave. Such feelings call for things like peppermint tea, with leaves I picked from the garden. Have I told you how much I am loving having a garden?!

Peppermint Leaves + Hot Water = A soothed tummy. 


Lovley and delicious. 

 X is for Xavier 

I was also delighted to be met by this mind blowingly beautiful and inspiring collection of words and photographs, along with freshly steamed carpets, compliments of my sweet husband. So that was our weekend in a few words, it was lovely and needed. How was your weekend?



Things To Consider

A very interesting article from Npr, Just What's in Those Breasts?!. These articles always sort of freak me out, the realization that there are chemicals seeping out from literally everywhere is so unsettling. We can't live in a box, but staying educated and being proactive helps us in the battle, I think. If you listen to the episode on Fresh Air , the Author Florence Williams talks about common chemicals that we are exposed to like BPA, Parabins, Phalates, and Triclosan.  She even did a "detox" to see how much control we have over these environmental exposures.  In the latter part of the show she talks about the effect of diet and chemical exposure on early puberty in young girls. This hits home a little bit, I hit puberty at nine years old, which was pretty intense for me emotionally and physically. How do you feel when you read these things? Does it scare you? 


Getting Julian a few of these see above article. We will see how this goes, he is in that "When I don't want something I just throw it at the wall" stage. 


This quote from Dorothy Day :
"My idea of a good dinner party would be one at which everyone took turns to talk about his latest interests"


I just ordered my first Kinfolk magazine. Im so excited to get it start planning a great meal to share with my dearest friends, and celebrate the little things. 


This Recipe  looks so delicious, you know I love me some lentils.


This is so TRUE.  I would love to have this hanging in my kitchen. I also love this post Candis wrote about feeding her baby. 


Did you know there is a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to DIY Play Kitchen?!
Julian has started, much to my delight, to pretend! He loves to pretend to have a little car in his hand and rev it, saying the most adorable "Vroooooooommmmmm". I love it! I think he is totally ready for some play kitchen time, and Im hoping to either make or score some Felt Play Food


Look at this cute summer sweater dress pattern. I might make one for myself, even though its for little girls.....

I love this skirt. Especially because its cotton! I saw a girl today wearing a nude/pink maxi skirt and a grey sweater (I was totally creeping to see if I could approximate the pattern in my mind...) and I thought it was so lady like and pretty. I like This one too but its pretty much the same print as my tattoo, so you should get it instead... 


Some Fair Trade loving, this statement necklace is gorgeous. 

Did I mention Xavier & Julian got me this amazing Perfume for Mamas Day?! I have been wanting it for seriously, a year, I could just never justify spending that much money on myself. What a great gift. Now I smell like black tea and citrus all day. Yum. 

Ok, one last I promise. All I have to say is Waffle Furniture


Thanks for stopping in

Simple Pleasures

 Home made maple whipped cream

 Cotton knitting 

 Ginger Lemon Tea 

Bebe's Pancakes

Sometimes the little in-between moments are the just as noteworthy as the big ones. 

What are your simple pleasures this week?


Truffle Time.

Oh, Dear. 

I really should not have made these, no, I really should not have. Thankfully, I did not make them for myself (Ok..I had a few..). These are Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt from the one and only pioneer woman. I made these for Shea, her mother in law, and my mother for Moms Day. We took some cute photos of the babies "making" them to present with the finished goodies. Man oh Man. Hubba Hubba. I changed a few things with the recipe but not enough to post it as my own recipe, so click on the link and follow hers, but, I will let you in on what I did differently. 

Here are a few shots of the makins'.

These are actually pretty pricey to make, (about $5 for 4 oz and you need 24 oz of the various chocolates all together)  but, I suppose if you have all of these ingredients on hand already its not bad, but I mean, who keeps delicious bars of chocolate around the house for longer than a few hours, NOT ME! Side note, I literally had to rescue these chocolate bars from the greedy fingers of my husband, who thought they were all for him!

This is so unlike me, I think I was channeling my repressed inner Paula Dean, my mother would be so proud. Side note #2, my mother can eat sweetened condensed milk out of the can, with a crusty baguette, if thats not a dead give away that we are from New Orleans, I don't know what is. Side note #3, Notice the sad forgotten noodle intended for butternut squash mac and cheese, it was a straggler who managed to avoid the pot of salted boiling water, to only be toasted under it. Side note #4, never buy a double boiler, just stick a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, ta da! Double boiler. 

Using one a mellon baller really helps to scoop out the chocolate to be formed into little yummy truffles. 

So, Pioneer Woman said this recipe only makes 36 truffles. I ended up with 83!?!?! Im not complaining, but either she was doing a lot of taste tests or mine were bebe truffles.

So Pretty Right? So really the only things I did differently where time related, and the way I coated the truffles in the melted chocolate. I made a huge mess fishing them out of the chocolate with the fork and then using the fork to "drop" them onto the wax paper. "Rolling" them off of the fork was easier for me, and less messy. Oh, and the salt. Oh the salt. I spent a good twenty minutes in the bulk spice section at whole foods trying to pick out the right salt. There are certainly different kinds of salt. Salty Salt, Saltier Salt, Smoked Salt, etc. The salt I chose was Himalayan Pink Salt, it was saltier than normal salt, and I thought it would compliment the sweetness of the chocolate. Ok, Ill be honest, it was pretty. Who can resist pink salt?! Especially for Mother's day! They were seriously amazing, a great mix of semi sweet and dark chocolate. Pioneer Woman used milk chocolate for the outer coating, but I went with dark chocolate, and of course, it was fairly traded chocolate. (haha...I HAD to!). The outer coating gave a good crunch and then followed with a great fruity top note. You could really go nuts with this, I thought about what you could put inside of the truffles, like little nuts, or dried fruits. I also saved a few to dust with chili power and dark cocoa powder, those were pretty yummy too. 

So here comes the melt your face off too cute part:

Oh, I know, babies and chocolate. You certainly don't have to tell me. P.s. I give Julian dark chocolate all the time, its good for you! Plus, it took me a long time to get used to the taste of real dark chocolate, I was used to the overly sugary milk chocolate that Im sure isn't really chocolate at all. He is going to have it eventually, at some kid's birthday party, I'd rather he know what real Chocolate tastes like so when he comes cross the not so great kind he knows the difference. 

The Grandmothers loved the truffles and especially the photos. It was a fun time making them, and I will for sure be busting this recipe out come Christmas time. You should try it too, they would be great birthday gifts, or even favors at a wedding shower or baby shower. 


Rock Island for Moonbunniez

This is the my sweet friend Ariel. I met her through a mutual friend who said we would be fast friends, and he was very right. We instantly bonded over babies, creativity, books, faith and food. She is my favorite whole foods date, and the only one who will stand there with me for thirty minutes trying to decide between the chocolate coconut gelato and the regular coconut gelato, and not get impatient. She understands me....so when she left for Cambodia to do mission work I knew I had to send her off with something very special. 

Pattern: Rock Island by Jared Flood.
This was a serious pattern hah. It starts with the border, which is only a few stitches wide, but you have to do around 70 repeats of the 12 row stitch pattern. This might sound daunting but about a quarter of the way into it, I had already memorized the pattern, which made it fly off of the needles. The great part of this is that you create little loops on the outside of the border by starting the row with a yarn over. You then pick up all of these yarn overs to form the base of the triangular shawl. A few rows of garter stitch help to motivate you to get to the Rock Island chart. This chart is very easy to read and memorize as well, although the use of a life line is helpful. I wont lie, halfway through this chart and I was frustrated, its easy to drop stitches and yarn overs, and if you don't keep track of which row you are on you can get lost very easily. Once I did get past this chart, I was a little sad it was over. The rest of the shawl is worked in easy garter stitch excluding the slip slip knit (a left slanting decrease) and knit two together (a right slanting decrease) to form the spine down the middle. I think I finished this part in a couple of hours. You then kitchener stitch the last 8 stitches together to complete the triangle. The thing that really makes this shawl sing though, is blocking. Infact, when she comes home I may block it out again so that the lace opens a bit more. It was a great pattern that taught me several new skills, which is always a great thing when it comes to patterns. 

Yarn: Chantilly Lace in Birch Bear. 
It is from The Woolen Rabbit. Im always looking for great yarn that is hand dyed, or spun, or both, in the US. This shop is so great because its just one woman who does all the dying in her home in NH  and in small batches. The yarn itself is so wonderful, a strong blend of silk and merino wool, with rich drape and just enough sheen. You can see how beautifully it drapes if you look at the third photo, and notice how it lays on the shoulder so nicely. The color is hard to capture in pictures, a cool mix of grey, dark blue, icey white and even a little bit of green. 

Over all I would recomend this pattern to anyone who wants to challenge themselves with something new. It is such a great knit, not exactly relaxing but it gives you an excuse to sit alone at a coffee shop with some music and focus on nothing but the click click and fluidity of yarn overs and decreases.