Woot!  Woot!!
Bramble is back up and kicking💃🏻
This makes me happier than you guys will ever know.

When last we left off…
Life had become crazy town for me.  My thyroid went rogue and I was surrounded by teens and a toddler. Two opposite ends of hard spectrums.
I knew it wouldn’t last though but I also knew something had to be sacrificed…Bramble went on the old back burner.

But now? Oh yes life has slowed….ok no it hasn’t BUT my people are all old enough for me to make a little blog post from time to time 😉

Lots of changes in our lives and lots of the same.

Changes:
Pretty much plant based eater 98% of the time still.  I do eat fish occasionally and well…cheese and I are having a “messy” break-up currently.  I fuzzy heart cheese.  That stuff is my weakness.
I typically don’t classify myself much as either Vegan or Vegetarian because it is my experience that the moment you tell someone you are their eyes glaze over, they tune out and you just know that every word out of your mouth sounds like the adults talking in the Peanuts cartoon “Mwa-mha-mwa-mha“.
Plants.  I like plants. I am not perfect but I do eat a crap load of plants.
They are my favorite.
Gluten had to go for good though…darn thyroid Hashimoto’s kicked in but heck it has been almost 3 years since they took out half my thyroid and I am still not at levels high enough to add medication.
The Dr. says my diet has definitely played into that.
So the plants stay.  I shall keep fighting the good fight to keep this little half a thyroid chugging.
“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

Adam now DRIVES, has a car & goes to COLLEGE!  (I feel so old but in my defense he went like 3 years early) He is still considered a homeschool student but let’s be real here…he takes 12-16 credit hours.  He isn’t doing much at home other than home work.
Haley is off to high school and doing amazing.  My years of homeschooling these two didn’t mess them up!!!  Woot woot!  They actually have both done amazing.
Lucas went off to Kindergarten this last year (you read that right KINDERGARTEN) and he LOVED it but as we have done for all of them he will be coming home next year and back to homeschooling.
My biggest fear with homeschooling him is that he will be jumping to far ahead next year.
Homeschooling allows kids to go at their own speed and his seems to be full force ahead.
Ready or not here we come.

Photography studio…yep it’s still there.  Granted it is about 75% food/stock (selling on at most of the big stock houses now)/commercial photography these days.  But I still get to see my loyal family clients at least once a year and I LOVE that.

Crafts…Well I opened my Etsy shop and filled it with “all the things” I love to make and it does decent.  It is my little creative outlet.  A place to sell my ADHD creations and help my family with “the extras”.
I will be adding my teeshirts and jewelry to this site in the coming weeks/months.
While I like Etsy and all…the tee shirt company I use doesn’t mesh with Etsy and since all my swag if zen/yoga/earthy it fits right in over here with my food, farms and basic homemaking goodies.
Goal is to have EVERYTHING up by September.  Key word “goal“.

Same:
I am still homeschooling.
I am still terrible at grammar and will continue to pester friends and family to edit for me.
I am still cooking just about every meal for this crew.
I am still VERY passionate about food as medicine.  EAT YOUR VEGGIES people 😉
I am still goofy, sarcastic and often forgetful.
I am still very very happy.
I am still buried under a pile of life that I am always just a bit behind on digging out of…but it is a wonderfully chaotic, beautiful mess.
I am still redoing furniture and walls and rooms and gardens….
I am still gardening.
Still photographing farms…added in a drone.
Pretty much everything is the same…except the family is growing up on me.

What will happen on Bramble this go around?
Pretty much the same but probably heavy on recipes, how to’s and nature….just sharing the things I love.
Easy enough.
My goal is to teach folks that eating your fruits and veggies doesn’t have to be painful.
It is actually pretty amazing!
Now…to go write up my tomatoes soup recipe 😉

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Goat cheese.
Fact:
Everything is better with goat cheese. 
True story.

Eggplant on the grill…throw some goat cheese in there and BAM! So fricking good.

I am a big believer that folks would eat more veggies if they realized how easy they are to work with in the kitchen.
I am trying to share all my favorites that double as “fast, easy and tasty!” Eggplant with goat cheese:

Goat cheese on Grilled Eggplant

Ingredients

  • Eggplants
  • Goat Cheese
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Thick slice eggplants length wise.
  2. Place on a sheet of foil and cover in olive oil.
  3. Add sprigs of rosemary, basil or oregano (or in my case all three from the garden) on top.
  4. Pour juice of 1-2 lemons on top.
  5. Add dash of salt and pepper.
  6. Throw those bad boys on the grill and flip them every 5 minutes or so.
  7. I like ours super soft but some like them firmer. 
  8. When they are cooked add some clumps of goat cheese, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and let them cook a few more minutes to soften the cheese.
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Would these be wonderful without the cheese?
Absolutely.
But I am a weak girl and goat cheese is one my weaknesses. One day I will break up totally with cheese but for now…goat cheese stays🙈

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Taking a moment to tell you folks…stop fearing tofu/soy.
Did you know that there have been updated studies proving that soy has some very redeeming qualities.
Granted anything you read needs to be recent.
The types of beneficial soy are: non-GMO/Organic Tempeh, tofu,Misi and edamame.

I try to avoid processed soy as much as possible since I am chugging along with half a Thyroid. There is still a bit of debate on how much soy intake is too much soy intake for us lucky Thyroid folks but most seem to agree that good quality forms of soy on occasion may actually have benefit.
Which makes me happy because I heart tofu when cooked correctly😜

As promised…recipe time!

 

Teriyaki Tofu Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients

  • Firm tofu cut into tiny squares (I love the Wildwood baked teriyaki tofu personally. I pick it up at Whole Foods)
  • Quinoa (as much as you would like)
  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped Peppers (bell and Jalapeño)
  • 1 chopped Squash
  • 1 chopped Zucchini 
  • 2 minced garlic cloves 
  • Basil
  • Parsley 
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt/pepper/cayenne pepper/Braggs Sea Kelp seasoning (to taste)
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Almonds

Instructions

  1. Sauté the tofu, peppers, onions and garlic in a splash of olive oil and soy sauce.
  2. Once soft add chopped squash and zucchini.
  3. Cook the Quinoa at the same time.
  4. When finished throw it all in a bowl and add the chopped basil and parsley and squeeze a few lemon wedges on top.
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This one doesn’t disappoint❤️
.

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This is the point in the year where everyone asks me what I am reading this Summer.

So far here is the short list:

 

 

bigThis little gem…

Big Little Lies

By Liane Moriarty
I ended up with it from one of my free book sites I visit or was it on sale?  Doesn’t really matter….the “how”.
But once I started I quickly fell in love and was thankful it ended up on my iPad.
Any mother who has ever sent a child off to Kindergarten can probably relate to this book.  The one thing they never tell you when you give birth to those little cuties is the politics involved in being a mom.
It is no easy job and often you can feel like you are straight back in high school…and that is even in the homeschool mom world too!
The whole “where two or more are gathered together” totally can be said about woman and drama.

Now don’t go thinking I don’t love my mama friends.  When I had my babies I had zero clue the world that having children would open up for me.
The friendships I have made that will last a lifetime.
There is a bond there.
This book had me laughing about it all.
Then there was the domestic abuse side and well….I have lived that from the child’s perspective and the book was pretty much spot on.
This one…well this is the perfect “pool side” book!  I actually picked up The Husband’s Secret today to read at the pool (since we all know I should not be allowed with my iPad beside a pool with a three year old.
He is not to be trusted 😉 )

 

 

 

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County

By Kristen Green

9780062268679_p0_v2_s260x420
Check out Kristen’s amazing trailer for this one!

 

Daryl grew up with Kristen and at the school the book is about.  When I moved to Farmville from Ohio I fell in love with the sleepy, often backwards at times, little town and the people that are in it.
I can’t wait to read up further on the history…cause I am a huge history buff and still love visiting that little town where change is slowwwww and “cruising” on a Friday night was the highlight of our week.  I knew more people from Daryl’s high school than I did from my own.  I grew to not mind the loss of being able to go anywhere without knowing someone.
True small town living was a culture shock all it’s own for 18-19 year old me and I often wondered what this little town’s story was.  I knew it was twisted, complex and somehow the wounds of the past were/are still very much on the surface.
Can’t wait to read about it!
Did I mention I came from a town where the Underground Railroad was our claim to fame?  (and yes I am taking my kids on this tour this Summer when we go home in July)
My friend even had a tunnel in his basement leading to the bus station across the street…boarded up now of course.  The first time I took Daryl back to visit with me he was in shock.
They were having the annual Summer parade and we had Union reinactors NOT Confederate.  Daryl was all “Holy crap!  I am not in the South anymore!”
Farmville was a world away from where I came from.  But it was a wonderful year just the same 🙂

 

 

 

The Dirty Life

By Kristin Kimball

dirty

My friend Kati from Nourish Farms handed me this book over the Winter and said “This book…YOU must read this book!”
I am a gal that when my friends hand me a book and say “You must!”  I know that I must!  They know me and my passions.  I have a love of the farm life.
A passion to share with the masses the hard work farmers do everyday to bring images that make farm life come to life for those who have never set foot on one.
These days that is just about everyone.  You would be shocked how little folks know about where their food comes from, let alone the blood, sweat and heart break that goes into farming these days.
Trying hard this season to share images from our local Richmond Farm community and the love and passion they have for their work.  I have been sharing it over on the studio site and should be adding a huge batch of film images in the coming weeks over there 😉

It is hard work folks.
This should be a good one!  Because Kati said so!  She has wonderful taste!

 

 

The List

By Siobhan Vivian

list

Oh yes…because I love reading what my kids are reading as well.
I shall be picking up this one and reading it along with my Haley bug this Summer.
I have “a thing” for young adult books.
They are fun, and normally carefree.
I had to laugh one day when the kids were talking in the car about how all YA books must have the formula that parents are dead, somehow missing or just checked out of parenting.
They had a point…and then I realized “oh wait a minute!” that was basically my late teen years in a nutshell.
I so need to write a book 🙂
One day…one day….it would be quite scandalous for sure.  I should probably stick with cook books or something a bit more PG (but we all know those aren’t half as fun).
Not sure that this book has any of those things but it looked like a fun read just the same.
So read it we shall!

 

 

 

 

 

Lord John Grey Series

by Diana Gabaldon

johnI am still not sure why I have yet to read this set?
I am a huge Outlander fan and have read the series…at least twice…ok maybe a few of the books three times…maybe.
Why have I yet to read this series?
No real reason.  It is time.
This Summer shall be the Summer I finally read them.
How could you not love John Grey?  Can you imagine being a gay man in 17-anything?  Hello, it’s hard enough in 2015.
Oh yes…did you read the part above where I described myself as a “history buff”?  I love a good historical fiction series.
I shall see if this one fits the bill (I have my doubts that it wouldn’t…I have loved everything she has written to date.)

 

 

Well that sums up my Summer.  If I get through more or add some in I shall be sure to add them in.
Happy reading by the pool side folks!  (Oceanside if you are lucky 😉

 

 

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I started off the morning thinking I would make us one thing but then Lucas and I ventured out to check on the garden…
Where we ended up with a basket full of Swiss Chard, herbs, beets and one carrot.
The menu changed after that.

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DSC_6529-1web

 

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Broccoli and Swiss Chard Salad

Ingredients

    Salad
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 4-6 thin cut swiss chard leaves
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • Handful of walnuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (your choice)
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground Ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Can't get any easier than this...throw the salad fixings in a big old bowl.
  2. Make the dressing in a jar and pour over top.
  3. Enjoy!!
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