Decadence in the form of chocolate . . .

Sometimes I like when I run out of the usual ingredients and I end up putting something together that would have otherwise never been made. Today was such an afternoon. The kids were scrambling to have something sweet, “Anything mommy . . . “ But alas, we had no ready made sweet things in the house. After a while of intermittent requesting . . . half begging . . . irritating whining . . . patient waiting . . . I was finished cleaning and actually had an idea. Ooo . . . it was a good idea, and it was relatively simple, and I thought it would take care of everybody’s sweet cravings. The following is the recipe. I recommend it and am sure I will make it again. My eleven year old requested I write it down so he can have it as his birthday cake next summer. We’ll see about that . . .
 For now though, best mid-October wishes . . . 

Chocolate Decadence
Mix thoroughly:
8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1 + 1/2 tablespoons butter melted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 – 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Move 1 tablespoon of mixture to a new bowl for the “crust”, 
then add and mix 2 tablespoons almond meal.
Roll “crust” batter onto wax paper thickly strewn with almond meal.
Roll by covering the top in wax paper as well and rolling until the crust is about a 5” x 6” rectangle.
 
Whip 3/4  of the rest of the batter until light and smooth, 
then spread evenly over the crust.
With the last bit, add:
3/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee

Spread this last bit evenly over the top.
Shave unsweetened chocolate over the top.
 

Chill a bit before serving.
To serve, cut into 1” squares. 
It helps to wet the knife between cuts to make it come out more clean.

                                                                                    Cheers  ~ Marica

A gift for that tiny baby . . .

Finally finished, and given to my brother for his sweet new baby . . . 
 I used this pattern: Down Under Diaper Cover Pattern. It is so simple and was 
my favorite cover for my youngest son . . . more about that in this post.
As well as two hats . . . of extremely different sorts . . .
And one thick blanket to lay on the floor because babies need to be able to roll around a bit . . . 
Packaged up an passed on . . . 
Actually one of the things I miss most about having babies . . . Aside from snuggling them all day, and holding them all night, and carrying them month in and month out, and smelling their fuzzy heads, and looking at their tiny toes, and trying to remember them so I won’t forget once they get so big . . .  is making things for them. 

                         ~ Marica

October, and thinking of flowers . . .

I have decided to move my tea garden. As much time as I have spent building and planting it, every time I look at it now, I feel like it is sitting in the wrong place. 
When I first started to work on our yard, I remember feeling like I needed to know exactly what our plan was. It all seemed so permanent. After a bit I realized it may take a few start and backtracks to restart and be more clear about what we are doing. 
 Shrubs can be moved . . . so can stepping stones . . . And annual flowers put in their time with such vengeance . . . 
only to be done, on their own accord, before too long. 
I planted Hollyhock and sweet peas along a good portion of our back fence . . . I will be scattering poppy seeds out front where there is still so much vision needed . . .
We are discussing the home spot of one of my most favorite types of trees EVER . . . The Manzanita. My friend gave me this one for my birthday . . .
If I do everything right, someday, this will be a fifteen to twenty foot tall beauty . . .
With elongated curling branches, reaching for the sun, and hosting small snowy like
tear drop blossoms, that as a kid, we called snow. 

                                                                           ~ Marica

The Art of Eating an Ice Cream Cone . . .

From a cold rainy day, to hot fall weather, before we had time to blink . . .
 Brought us to a late afternoon ice cream cone . . . To keep everything balanced . . . 
On swings . . . 
 While the sun sank behind the mountain. 
Because who’s to say, there could possibly be anything more perfect.

                                                                ~ Marica

Rainy day stuff . . .

A day inside brings out inside projects. The last time we were at an art store we picked 
up some scratch boards. I hadn’t used one of these since high school. It was so fun, and 
such a different way of drawing . . .
We played some good old fashion board games . . . 
I also made the yummiest chai . . . 
I usually like making it entirely from scratch, or I use a simple chai tea bag. 
This time I was in a hurry,  but I wanted the real deal, so I did this half-way version. 
This is a rough guess as to what I did:
Chai
Bring to a simmer then simmer for several minutes:
2 cups water
2 black chai tea bags 
1 black tea bag
3 ginger tea bags
a few whole allspice
a dash of ground cardamon
a dash of ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground nutmeg
a pinch ground black pepper
Pull out the tea bags and add:
3 cups almond milk
Honey or agave syrup to taste
Of course now it is sunny again . . . but there is still that 
clean-ness to the air, and sparkle to the clouds.
                              ~ Marica

And it rained . . .

Most likely this is a post that only can be truly understood by those who must cherish their rain. Where I live, rain is rare enough that kids will run outside with light in their eyes exclaiming  “It’s raining it’s raining . . .” Adults too . . . It will be common conversation . . . “Did you hear the rain last night?” Or we’ll wake up in the middle of the night and ask “Is it raining?” It is not like we never get rain. During most winters we get our fair share. Every-so-often we will have what they call El Nino, which means we will have our share and a heavy bit more. I remember one El Nino year, when I was a kid, where we measured over eighty-inches. But on a whole, we have to wait months until the rainy season begins, and drought years test our memory of what wet weather feels like. 
Last night, in the middle of the night, I heard rushing water. I immediately worried that one our our water-pipes had broken. It turned out to be our loud gutter, pouring water onto the ground at a rapid pace. Rain? Could it really be in since the last few days have pushed over eighty and perhaps even ninty degrees?
This morning I took my camera out and made my way around, inspecting the remains of moister
 still on the plants . . . 
 The drops still on the leaves . . . 
 Clinging to the stems . . .
 Dampening our decomposing clippings . . . 
 Entangled with cobwebs . . .
 Amidst the curls of the passion fruit vine . . . 
 Holding on for dear life to the bottom of a tangerine . . . 
 Relaxing the parched Black Eyed Susan vine . . . 
 Preparing the Naked Lady Bulbs for their explosion . . . 
 Enrapturing the hibiscus blooms . . . 
Reminding the laundry that it was once wet, and will be again . . . 
I took in the dense smells of dampened manure, refreshed soil, cleansed air . . . 
I felt revived by the stillness, and clicked picture after picture to savor each individual and every last drop.
                                         ~Marica

Apple Cake . . .

Okay, the apple cake in written form. Note, this is a rough guess as to what I did, 
when I was putting it together I made a few mis-judgments, worked them into purposeful decisions  and trusted in the oven gods. 
P.S. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s not so bad and worth it.
Apple Cake
Preheat oven 350 degrees
Butter a glass 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Spread evenly:
6 cups apples sliced
Sprinkle with:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
In a large bowl combine:
1 cup milk
1 cup almond meal
1 cup raw sugar
2 + 1/2  sticks butter soft (20 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add one at a time stirring:
4 eggs
In a bowl combine then mix with wet ingredients:
4 cups unbleached white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon lemon rind save lemon for juicing
Add and mix:
3 cups sliced apples
Spread batter evenly over the apples in the pan.
In a separate bowl combine and crumble with your fingers, then
spread evenly over the top:
3/4 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
4 tablespoons butter soft
The lemon squeezed
1 + 1/2 cups pecans
Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean.
                                                      Cheers ~ Marica