The previous owners of our home planted some fruit trees and berry bushes around the backyard. I sampled one of the blackberries black raspberries but it wasn’t ready yet…sour!

They looked ripe, but I’m told to wait until they are soft enough to practically fall off on their own.

Volunteer maples had taken root  around the blueberry bushes and grape vines, keeping them in constant shade and making them a bit scraggly. Although we felt a twinge of guilt for wanting them “removed,” some trees had to be cleared away to bring in more sunlight for the berries.

A tree was cut down on the left. You can see the amount of light that can now shine on the grape vines and blueberry bushes, far right.

The beginnings of a blueberry

Morning dew collected in a grape vine.

an abandoned birdhouse under the thornapple tree

little blue birdhouse

Have you ever seen happier clothespins? Good day to do laundry!

It’s been a great morning so far, and I’d like to continue this good feeling by passing on some awards to my fellow bloggers.

First, I’d like to give Richard@ REM Cooks  both the Sunshine Award and Versatile Blogger Award, and here’s why. Richard’s professional experience in the kitchen and love for food is evident in all his recipes, whether it’s a simple dish or something extravagant from luxurious crab meat to some lean green beans (okay, haricot vert, but it’s the same thing, right? ;)) He’s inspired me to try out some of his recipes, experiment with new flavors and be more fancy-yet-simple in the kitchen. He’s incredibly helpful and friendly if you have any questions, I suggest you read his blog immediately! Richard, your blog is awesome and your recipes are outstanding. Thank you very much for sharing.

I just recently got to know Cinnamon@eat PRAY tri after several WIAWs, and she’s got good recipes mixed in with family stuff, work stuff, her faith, and a lot of good laughs. She just started her first 23 Paws party for us pet-loving food bloggers, and I think that alone deserves a Sunshine Award! Be sure to check out her 23 Paws Intro Page on how to link up, it’ll be fun!

Gabby over at The Veggie Nook deserves a ton of Sunshine Awards, if you ask me. The recipes she posts are healthy, simple, and delicious—what more could you want? Sometimes I read her posts in the morning and she may have an easy-to-make snack or breakfast item that I would immediately try (I’m in the kitchen already, so why not?) She also is constantly on the lookout for healthy challenges (she’s on a no-sugar challenge right now!) so hop on over if you need some motivation or inspiration for a healthier lifestyle.

My rendition of Gabby’s amazing “Lemon Coconut Hemp Seed Bites”

Mama’s Gotta Bake has one of the most beautiful collections of food photos I’ve seen. Desserts are her specialty, and once you look at her delicious cakes, you’ll see why! She definitely gets a Versatile Blogger Award for making the word “dessert” inadequate for the gourmet gallery of goodies she has to offer.

Anneke from notsoskinnycook gets a Versatile Blogger Award for creating a wide variety of delicious home-cooked meals and lovely photos of her food as well as her family enjoying her food! From broccoli soup to beef schawarma, Anneke has a nice collection of recipes with international flavors and universal appeal.

Beef Shawarma

Anneke’s Beef Shawarma with Peanut Butter Sauce (source: http://notsoskinnycook.wordpress.com)

Thanks again to my fellow bloggers for making food fun! :D

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

This prize is awarded to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”As an award winner, there are a few rules to follow:

  • Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
  • Answer the questions below.
  • Pass on the award to 10 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you awarded them.
1.  favorite color?
2. favorite animal?
3. favorite number?
4. favorite color?
5. favorite drink?
6. Facebook or Twitter?
7. what is your passion?
8. giving or getting presents?
9. favorite day of the week?
10. favorite flower?
 Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

– Thank the award giver(s) and link back to them in your post
– Share 7 things about yourself
– Pass this award along to 15 or 20 bloggers you read and admire
– Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award

Whew, this was a long one! Be sure to visit their blogs for some great food, beautiful photos and maybe an interesting story or two. Have a great weekend, and eat well! :)

I am working on a little garden area for some herbs, but am having more fun laying out the rock border than figuring out what I’ll be planting. This is one of the sections I’ll be working on:

I get the stones from our little creek not ten yards from our house. My husband suggested making steps going down to the creek, so when we had a gorgeous sunny day over the weekend, I spent a few hours clearing the brush and putting in these stone steps:

I’m pretty happy with it so far, and and am hoping the rain will help the soil settle a bit. Weather permitting, I’ll be working on the area some more this weekend.

In addition to my landscaping projects, I’ve been experimenting on some indoor miniscapes with edible sprouts. I’ve read that sprouted seeds are more nutritious than the regular dried seeds, and even after soaking them for a few hours, the seeds become more easily digestible. I followed Judita Wignall’s easy-to-follow steps on seed sprouting in her Going Raw cookbook. I had some raw sunflower and quinoa seeds which I soaked (separately) overnight in jelly jars covered with cheesecloth secured with rubber bands. Over the next few days, I rinsed them out a couple times a day while they slowly sprouted. I kept some of the sprouts in the fridge for immediate consumption, while the rest were placed in a tray filled with soil. After a few more days they developed roots and sprouted up even more.

Little flax sprouts muscling their way through the soil.

I also sprouted flax seeds, which were a little different. They didn’t germinate as quickly nor as noticeably as the sunflower seeds or quinoa, but instead developed a viscous coating which caused them to clump together in a big, gooey gelatinous mass (just a little gross, I never expected sprouting seeds to be slimy!) I couldn’t rinse them off so decided to leave them be and dumped them in a tray of soil, spreading them out as best as I could. After about a week they grew nice and green and were ready to eat.

Now although this seems pretty cut-and-dry, when sprouting seeds you do have to be careful of bacterial growth, mold, and also be sure that the seeds you wish to sprout are consumable. Here are a few websites that have good, easy-to-follow advice on how to begin and what to look out for when sprouting your seeds:

Here’s a good video explaining the hows of sprouting: http://rawfoodswitch.com/raw-food-equipment-reviews/sprouting-guide-sprout-seeds-bean-sprouts/

More great information from Holistic Jose, a personal trainer: http://holisticjose.com/2012/04/30/i-soak-my-nuts/?year=2012&monthnum=04&day=30&like=1&_wpnonce=f1acfe089f&wpl_rand=bd7786b91a

You’ve sprouted your grains…now what? Check here for some recipes!

My cats have never expressed this much interest in my salads, and sometimes it’s hard to really get excited about them. But I learned to be a little more colorful, if not creative, when it comes to presentation. Fortunately I’ve never made a salad that resembled the ones you would assemble at fast food restaurants:

Not very appetizing, it’s kind of healthy, but I won’t enjoy eating it as much as I would want to. I’ve never really liked iceberg lettuce in salads unless it was covered in blue cheese dressing, and tomatoes are not meant to be crunchy!

Shopping for salad ingredients was always kind of a chore and I could never get excited about it. Thankfully there are so many great raw food/vegetarian/vegan blogs that can give you some great ideas to make your veggies more enticing. Instead of thinking only green when shopping for your salad ingredients, how about shopping for other colors, instead? Visit the produce department and just look at all the fabulous colors the veggie world has to offer, like golden beets, purple carrots, and fancy heirloom tomatoes from pink to purple! Buy in small amounts to last you a few days so you won’t feel obligated to eat veggies just because you bought them on sale. Try a new item like flowering kale or even those hairy looking sprouts. Also think of texture, and of course, flavor! All those things will come together in one deliciously satisfying bite…that’s how a salad should be!

I like to keep a good variety of fruits and veggies, and am starting to sprout my own grains, too. Here’s what I made for lunch:

Taste the power of the rainbow salad!

And here’s what’s in it: lettuce, grated carrots, chopped celery, chopped cucumber, purple cauliflower pieces, shredded zucchini, chopped apples, diced dried apricots, strawberries, sprouted quinoa, and a sunflower seed sprout (just ’cause it’s good!) It’s a lot more fun when you have so many colorful ingredients…it’s like making art, so why not enjoy making your food as well as eating it?

Speaking of art, if you’re planning a dinner party and want to impress your guests, check out these creative ways to display your fruits and veggies posted by Design Indulgences. Below is my favorite, veggies and dip in one!

Crudites display

Display your veggies in glass vases found at craft stores.

And check out this wonderful salad presentation idea using cucumbers as the bowl! I hope these ideas will help you get a little more creative with your healthy eating, and come back and share some ideas with me, I’d love to hear what you’ve created!

Hello, everyone! About six weeks ago I started taking my love for cooking a step further and started ‘The Foodery’. It was a new approach to a hobby that I really enjoyed and was able to find people that shared my passion in all kinds of ways, from fancy to frugal, and from strategically planned to cooking whatever is in the kitchen. From these bloggers I tried some new “rawsome” recipes, learned time-saving shortcuts, and found beautifully prepared meals worthy of the most special occasions. Not to mention, I also made a few friends who are helpful, supportive and (whether they know it or not) unfailingly inspirational.

I want to give a big mahalo to one of these bloggers for giving me the incredible Sunshine Award. Justa at justafrugalfoodie has one of the most fun food blogs you will ever come to know. Justa’s recipes are creative, delicous, and fantastically frugal. Reading her blog is like having a friend telling you her latest cooking or gardening escapade over a cup of coffee, so it’s no surprise she already received two Sunshine Awards! Thanks again, Justa, I look forward to spreading a little sunshine, myself!

Another mahalo goes out to Annemarie at Real Food, Real Deals for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award, woo hoo! As Annemarie mentions, she and I try to incorporate healthy foods into our daily meal-making repertoire. We’re not vegetarians or raw foodists, but if a recipe looks delicious enough, we’ll probably give it a try! Annemarie is also a wealth of money-saving tips and tricks. She will give you links to coupons, advise you on money-saving strategies, and compare home-baked goodies to store-bought. (guess which one wins in the end?)

I would like to pass on the Sunshine Award to at least one person for now, and that would be Annemarie at Real Food, Real Deals! As I mentioned, her money-saving tips has helped me to plan within a budget and still dish out healthy, delicious, filling meals. There’s no reason to resort to frozen food entrees when you can easily follow her recipes and tips…thanks, Annemarie!

About the Sunshine Blog Award

This prize is awarded to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”As an award winner, there are a few rules to follow:

  • Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
  • Answer the questions below.
  • Pass on the award to 10 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you awarded them.

So, here are a few things about myself:

  • Favorite Color – (looks in kitchen) I like turquoise blue, it’s cheerful and optimistic.
  • Favorite Animal – It’s a tie between cats (independent, clean, small) and pigs (smart, clean, and I love hearing them eat…smack, smack, smack!)
  • Favorite Number – 8, because it’s a combination of my other two favorites, 3 and 5. And it looks like the infinity symbol. :)
  • Favorite Drink – Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze Green Tea…hot or iced, it’s smells and tastes great!
  • Facebook or Twitter – I have a personal Facebook page, but have been paying more attention to WordPress blogs. You’ll find more info and awesome pics on WordPress.
  • Your Passion – Cooking, and nature/pet/food photography.
  • Giving or getting presents – Giving presents is much more fun…especially when it’s homemade desserts!
  • Favorite Day – Sunday, because it just seems like a good day for brunches and family dinners.
  • Favorite Flowers – Peonies, roses and tulips

Here are the favorites I’m following right now:

Just a Frugal Foodie
Real Food, Real Deals
Paleo Works
The Veggie Nook
The Taste Space – Steam, Bake, Boil, Shake!
REM Cooks
Whatever is In the Kitchen
The Copycat Cook

Here are the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

Thank the award giver(s) and link back to them in your post

– Share 7 things about yourself

– Pass this award along to 15 or 20 bloggers you read and admire

– Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award

Here are 7 things about me:

1. It’s hard for people to guess my ethnicity, so I’ll tell you right off the bat: I’m half Okinawan, the rest is Samoan, and French or Irish or Italian, or a combination of those, I’m not sure! In Hawaii, I would be called hapa. :)

2.  My favorite thing to eat as a kid was a block of cheese.

3. I met my awesome husband while on a date…with another guy!

4. Since I was thirteen, I’ve been a big fan of Sci Fi/Fantasy and Stephen King novels, and tend to re-read my books two or three times (I’m doing that now!)

5. I collect rocks and try to get a few when I travel or go hiking. I even got some as a gift: one from Antarctica, a Petoskey stone from Michigan, and a beautiful zebra stone from my mom’s friend from Japan.

6. Favorite meal from Sonic: bacon-sausage breakfast burrito (no cheese,) tots and diet lime-aid!

7. Dinner is my favorite meal because it’s the end of the day, you can relax and enjoy your meal and not worry about anything else.

And for now, I would like to give Gabby at The Veggie Nook the Versatile Blogger Award. I love her vegan dessert and breakfast recipes and most of them are pretty easy to make and incredibly delicious! Reading her blog has made it easier for me to want to try new vegan and raw recipes. Thanks, Gabby, and keep on cranking out those goodies!

Thanks again for visiting my site and posting your likes and comments. I am encouraged by your support and hope I can provide you with something interesting whenever you stop by. Eat well!

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