Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Downstream like a Leaf Boat

My granddaughter Sara inspired me to draw a scarecrow that tends the birds instead of scaring them. So I sketched and painted this scruffy guy with a bird's nest in his pocket, a Downy woodpecker feeding at the bucket dangling from his arm, a wren feeding at a bowl, a Hermit Thrush on a glove, and a Mourning Dove nesting in his hat. Oh, and did I fail to mention the hard-to-overlook crow?

Dear Friends,

The strong current of 2012 has washed me downstream like a leaf boat. My sweet husband Jeff had surgery last week and I have been busy tending him. My friend Ginny drove up to help me and between the two of us, we could move him, feed him, and keep him entertained. Thanks Gin! You saved me.

I love all the letters, e-mails, and cards I've received from you in the past few weeks. Thanks also to Diane Peterson for the gift of the children's garden book written by her friend Paula Frechette. Paula (like Diane) is a person who gardens with her heart and soul and that is evident in her book "Gardening with Leo and Bill."

Every time I sit down to scribble a note, write a card, or draw a garden plan, birds escape from my pencil and wing their way onto a page. Then, they beg for a splash of water, a dab of color, and a dash of fine-tipped black pen so they can come to life on a page.

This will be a shortie today. First, let me congratulate dear Pondside for winning the Timber Press, Marty Wingate book, Landscaping for Privacy, give-away, which was chosen by the random number generator. Since Pondside is a member of my Grimy Hands Girls Club, she'll receive a bonus gift.

Thanks Timber Press for sending me such a great book to share with readers.

In my last posting before my memorial tribute to my dear friend Marge, I showed a photo of my Molten Lava dessert. A few of you wrote and asked for my recipe, which I am happy to share. It was a great and easy dessert with some little tweaks I added for a contrasting salty/sweet taste. 

I made the Molten Lava before a dinner date with friends. When we returned to our home, I popped the desserts into the pre-heated oven and the house instantly smelled like heaven. And, if you don't mind me saying so, the dessert was fabulous.

I dare you to keep your fingers out of this

Molten Lava Cakes

Prep time 25 minutes
Cooking time 14 minutes

6 (1 ounce squares semi-sweet chocolate)
2 (1 ounce squares bittersweet chocolate)
10 TBSP unsalted butter (MUST be unsalted)
1/2 tsp sea salt (choose the flaky sea salt)
1/2 cup Soft-as-Silk cake flour 
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks (large eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP orange liqueur (I used Grand Marnier)

Note: I add the flaky sea salt AFTER I mix in the butter. The sea salt won't dissolve, and when you bite into the warm, delicious cake, you will be able to taste a hit of salt contrasted with the deep sweetness.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Grease 6 (six ounce) custard cups or ramekins. Melt the chocolates and butter in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and orange liqueur. Ladle the batter into the custard cups, which, for the sake of your oven, should sit on a cookie sheet. Clean the sides of your ramekins so they look neater than mine. Bake for 14 minutes. The edges will feel fudgey, but the center will be thick and gooey.

I topped these little gems with fresh-whipped, heavy cream laced with vanilla, 2 teaspoons of confectioner's sugar, and a light dusting of  finely grated orange peel. You and yours will LOVE this dessert.

In between working and tending Jeff, I've been loving every second in the garden. Many of my terra cotta pots are filled with herbs, lettuce, and edible flowers. I call these pots, which are just steps from my kitchen, my "Fingertip Gardens."

One of my favorite greens in the garden is "Miner's lettuce," so named because the 1849 miners depended on this early spring green. This is a California native plant that is succulent, delicious, and easy to grow. It is great in green drinks and salads. I bought seeds for my California garden from Larner's Seeds, but Johnny's Seeds and Territorial Seeds also carry them. Like many of our plants, these are called many other names besides Miner's lettuce. Some refer to this as Indian lettuce, winter purslane, and penny lettuce, but the correct genus and species is Claytonia perfoliata.

Back to work now. So wonderful visiting with you. I love reading your comments. Keep in touch!

All joys,



Elizabeth Ann said...

Sounds like both of you are on the mend and I imagine looking forward to a nice spring and summer. Thank you for sharing your drawings with us - we all enjoy them very much!

Michelle said...

That is a very sweet scarecrow. What a nice idea of him tending the birds. Hope you and your hubby are healing well.

Vee said...

Lovely to have Pondside win the latest giveaway. She will so enjoy the book.

Good to know that Jeff is doing better. He is probably thrilled to be an independent guy again without the tender nursing care of two good women. Ongoing good thoughts (prayers, too) for a complete restoration to good health.

Sara had a wonderful suggestion. I love the happy scarecrow who isn't such a very good scarecrow. Sweet illustration.

Happy February to you both...

Bonnie K said...

Your drawings are uplifting. Hope Jeff recovers. I know how stressful it is with "a man down" (that is what my students call it). Glad you have the garden to escape to. I did think your lettuce was primroses at first. Guess I'm just hopeful for spring here.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

That is just the cutest scarecrow!

I love "seeing" you again. :)

camp and cottage living said...

I love your scarecrow onspired by your g'daughter. Next I look forward to seeing it in your latest
I'm glad to hear your DH is doing better. So glad you had the loving help of a friend to assist you too.
I use to make Lava cakes regularly but had forgotten all about them. Thank you for bringing them back to mind-I think!!
I'm a wee bit jealous to see your garden goods-it will be the first week in June before it's safe enough to put anything out where I live. Maybe I need to move back south!
Take care now-Kimberly

Pat said...

Such a delicious post from start to finish!
Hoping this finds you doing well and also your husband recovering smoothly.
I follow Pondside also and congratulations to her for being the fortunate recipient of your giveaway!

Love your sweet little birds and that friendly scarecrow is fabulous!

Pondside said...

Just reading along, enjoying your post and smiling inside at the thought of the happy scarecrow, when I read that I'd won your draw. What a thrill! Thank you so much!

Teri said...

Oh, I hope that Jeff is doing well. Surgery! I don't like the sound of that word at all. Wish you lived closer. I'd give you a hand too. We used to have Miner's Lettuce at our old place but I haven't seen it around here at the new place yet but you never know. And those drawings! Wonderful! Darn...I wish my name we Pondside. The book looks incredible!

Diane said...

The scarecrow is gorgeous I love him. Hope that your husband soon gets better. Take care Dciane

Darla said...

You are such a talented person. I do hope you are feeling better from your health issue and am very sorry to hear of your sweet husband's surgery. Friends are angels that help us through life, count yourself blessed to have a good one!

Comfrey Cottages said...

((hugs))What a triple whammy you have had in a short time:( I do hope Jeff recovers well, Sharon! Sending him healing energy and some supportive and healing energy to you also xx Your little scarecrow is adorable! In some cultures, the little birds flying out of your pen are reinforcing what you are doing.. surviving. Through all of it, one foot at a time. Know that you are loved xx

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I don't think I've seen or heard of miners lettuce before, but I think I'll see if I can find it locally. And I love that image of the no-scare crow.

Happy@Home said...

I do hope it won't be long until Jeff is feeling back to normal.
Your drawings are so sweet. I love the idea of a bird friendly scarecrow.
Your lettuce looks so healthy and tasty. Reminds me that I should get outside and take a look at the lettuce in my pots. I'm afraid I've neglected them for awhile now.
The chocolate dessert looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

La Table De Nana said...

Take care.. Your little moltens do look "healing"~:)

Robin Larkspur said...

Sharon, your drawings of little birds and scarecrows are a real pick-me-up. I just lost my beloved mom a week ago today, and have been away from the computer. Today you offer birds, and molten lava cake! What a treat! I send Jeff healing hugs and a big hug for you!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Sharon, have not been on computer in a week - so sorry about Jeff's surgery - I also had surgery on Monday. A good time to recover for me since nothing is growing.
Love the scarecrow.
Sending healing thought to your Jeff and special thoughts for you.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

cute scarecrow! it seems like spring has arrived!

Dawn said...

I hope Jeff is feeling better, and that you are too. I don't know what's going on, but it seems that we are all having some tough times lately, doesn't it? So many loved ones with compromised health right now.
Maybe spring will be gentler with us all.
Hugs, leisure, and comfort foods should hold us over until then.

Vicki Boster said...

Oh my- you and Jeff have had your time of illness lately. I hope and pray that he recovers quickly- and that you both stay on the mend after this for a long while---

I have to say- I'm excited about the recipe-- sea salt AND chocolate- yes!!!

Love the whimsical scarecrow- he is precious.

Do take care--

Marguerite said...

Sharon, I had claytonia in a salad a couple years ago and searched everywhere to discover what that wonderful greenery was! how I wish your post had been there to tell me that elusive name. (it took some searching but eventually I discovered what it was) Now I know at least where to purchase the seeds.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that hubby is on the mend - it's good to have you back.

I really appreciate your drawings - what a talent you have. I'm so glad you share it. Trust me, when I pick up a pencil - birds do NOT come out . . . (perhaps it's the wrong pencil?)

Lori ann said...

thinking of you dear sharon, and wishing you and your jeff are on the mend and good as new soon. thank you for sharing this post with us (LOVE the scarecrow) and letting us know how your doing.

lots love,

kj said...

dear dear sharon, seeing those little lettuce leaves is one reason not to miss maine this time of year! my least favorite part of winter is seeing my grass and yard and garden covered up.

your scarecrow is adorable. a wise granddaughter, you have. easy to imagine how much she loves being with you, how much you influence who she is and who she will be :^)

i hope by the time you read this jeff is doing much better. only the nost special friends come to help in such a circumstance, and i'm glad to know you have that (no surprise there)

with love!

suzanne said...

My Dear friend Sharon

Trials come and go and leave one exhausted and a little vulnerable. I do hope Jeff is recovering well. I am sorry to hear about your dear friend you wrote about.

How wonderful to have the Grands giving you imput on your paintings...such lovely energy going into your book.

Our Summer is glorious and warm and every flower in my garden is trying to outshine the other...I love it. What free gifts we receive to make us feel good.

Sending love and light to you and Jeff

Lots of love

nana pam said...

hugs to you and hubby-hopefully your bad patch will soon be at an end. I love your scarecrow-wish I could blow it up big and send it to my granddaughter-your talent is such a joy.

Anonymous said...

glad to hear everyones on the mend, your scarecrow is just so cute, we call the lettuce winter lettuce as well but as we cannot work the ground until may its actually spring lettuce.
Your molten cakes are just about the most delicous sounding desert i have ever read, yummmo!Take care, best wishes from Canada

Buttercup said...

Stopping by to say hello. Hope Jeff is totally on the mend. Loved seeing your gardening and those beautiful lava cakes.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

My goodness you two are keeping me exhausted! The phone man must have a broken finger from trying to turn off the phone! Just a small joke to keep you laughing! Hope Jeff is right side up now and able to turn the phone off by himself! I can't help myself! Will never forget that moment! All positive energy coming from the east to you both! xxoo Nancy

Sharon Elaine said...

I may renew my Country Gardens subscription. Your essays in that publication introduced me to your writings. I too am a Sharon, gardener, writer, photographer, birder and have had 5 skin cancer surgeries on my face (fair & blue-eyed). A large brimmed hat and sun block are my friends. Time to pull out Hollyhock Days and A Blessing of Toads from my shelves. Your writings and illustrations bring sunshine to our hearts.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Sharon,

Just to set the record straight-I wrote and illustrated for Country Living GARDENER magazine, which was a Hearst publication. Sadly, it went out of business in 2006 and I miss it, but many of the readers keep in touch with me. I forged some wonderful friendships.

Do renew with Country Gardens! I like that magazine.

All best to you,

Sharon too

Sharon Elaine said...

Thanks, Sharon. I did confuse the two. I still have copies of your essays from heart's ease. Looking forward to the article in Country Gardens in the fall and will renew my subcription. I save all my back copies for reference.

Lili said...

Oh my, your poor dear Jeff! Sending my very best wishes to him for a speedy recovery and healing! Those molten lava cakes are going to appear in my kitchen soon... I was busy scribbling down that recipe. What a wonderful inspiration your little Sara is, I absolutely ADORE that idea and your rendering of it with the well placed sweet. And seeing your lettuce in pots makes me so excited for planting season here! xoxo ~Lili

Carol said...

I love those escaping birds Sharon! Your paintings capture their essence. I hope your sweet hubby is up to puttering around in the garden again soon. I hope you are taking care of yourself too! I love your scarecrow . . . and it appears that the crow does too. Wonderful illustration!! Is this for one of your books? May the "current of 2012" become more gentle and allow you to float peacefully in your "leaf boat," while your hands playfully splash water droplets about. Hugs, Carol