52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 40: The Judgement Project

Consider this week's project as a self-awareness/personal growth kind of experiment.

This week we were discussing the topic of judgement at our meditation group. And when I refer to judgement, it covers both self-judgement and judging of others. It's not a good place to be with yourself when you cram all sorts of negative thoughts in to your brain. If it's true that what we put out there is what we get back, it would be a good thing to be careful about what we say and think. How many times a day do you find yourself saying something mean to yourself or thinking/saying something unkind about others? Well, that is what I decided to find out.

During our discussion I jokingly said that I'd love to carry around one of those clicking-counter gizmos for an entire week and see how many times I find myself in a place of judgement. Before I knew it, Lois's husband Bill went down to their basement and came back with one for me. So the experiment began. My project will not end officially until next Thursday evening at 7:30 pm. But so far, since Thursday at around 9pm, I have clicked away 53 moments of judgment. The week is still young and the clicker-counter gizmo goes up to 9,999. Hell, just looking at my horrid neighbor could send me way over that limit. See, now I have to click again for just having written that.

Some might say that this project of mine is a little excessive but I insist that it's a really good way to see and monitor these types of patterns. My continued goal here on this planet, in this body, in this lifetime is to keep evolving spiritually and get as close to my loving heart as possible. Besides, it's kind of fun wearing a clicker-counter gizmo around my neck all the time...it makes people wonder what I'm up to.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 39: making something with fresh pumpkin

At this little nook of the universe, it's fall and that means pumpkins. They're everywhere now. About two weeks ago I made the first pumpkin pie of the season for Breen. Of course I used the canned puree and that's okay; it's probably how most people make it. Let's face it, it's easy. You pull out a can opener and pour it in to your mixing bowl. But Breen told me a story of how he attempted to make his own pumpkin pie from scratch a few years ago. He used one of the big carving pumpkins. Big mistake because apparently the pumpkin turned in to an ugly shade of green while it was cooking. Who knew that you need a specific type of pumpkin for baking? So it got me thinking that I would love to challenge myself to cooking with fresh pumpkin. I admit that the task felt a little intimidating and daunting at first. But the other day I found three pie pumpkins for $5.00 at my local grocery store. In to my cart they went.

So here's the thing. I didn't want to make the obvious pumpkin pie. I wanted to think outside the box a little and yesterday provided the perfect opportunity for something a little edgy and different: Pumpkin Bisque. I invited my parents over for a little family dinner party for my dad's birthday and the bisque was going to be our starter. Perfect.

A pie pumpkin is much smaller and dense than a regular carving pumpkin. When you look for a pie pumpkin, make sure it is marked as such. When I started out on my project yesterday, I assumed that that pie pumpkins are as easy to cut in to as a carving pumpkin. Boy was I mistaken. The denseness of a pie pumpkin almost feels like a coconut. Breen had to take two of them outside and crack them open with a big cleaver. You can even see the grass from the front lawn.

I washed off the seeds and grass and placed them in a steamer basket and cooked them for about 15-20 minutes.

When the pumpkin can be pierced with a fork, it's time to take them out of the steamer and scoop the flesh out of the shell. Obviously, discard the shell. For this recipe, I needed 3 1/2 cups of fresh pumpkin which turned out to be almost 2 of the pie pumpkins.

Next, you take out a stock pot and saute some onions, leeks, celery and garlic in a little bit of butter until soft. Lots of fresh pepper and kosher salt to taste.

After the onion mixture is softened, you add the pumpkin flesh, herbs and 2 quarts of chicken stock. Let it come to a boil, cover the pot and let it cook on low for about 20 minutes. Remove the herbs and take a few ladles of the broth mixture at a time and puree it in a blender until all the soup is smooth (I learned the hard way that if you fill up the blender too much, it will explode all over the kitchen). I added a bit of half and half, some shakes of Parmesan cheese and a few pinches of nutmeg. I even tried to thicken it a bit by melting some butter and flour and adding it to the bisque. Also, the addition of 3 tablespoons of cooking sherry really elevated this soup to greatness.

I have to say that this soup was delicious! Even the kids loved it. There is a nice earthy flavor from the herbs and the flavors of the other ingredients give it a perfect balanced flavor. I think there was an initial hesitancy to try this because we are so conditioned to think of pumpkin for sweet desserts only. But I'm so glad I was adventurous here. I highly recommend making this soup!

Here is the original recipe

What did you do this week?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 38: wild horses couldn't drag me away....a trip to Asseteague Island

This weekend we traveled to the eastern shores of Maryland where Breen rode in the Seagull Century bike ride; a 100 mile ride originating at Salisbury University. We couldn't have asked for more perfect, gorgeous weather. I was also excited about this weekend road trip because I knew that Asseteague Island, home of the island where wild horses run free, was only a short half hour ride from the University. I have always wanted to go there.

We arrived at 8am at the University where Breen met up with a coworker who was doing the ride with him.

To my utter delight, his friend brought his fiance along and we hit it off immediately. As soon as we wished our men good luck, she and I hit the road to Asseteague Island.

Asseteague Island is beautiful and it really is true that the horses are everywhere. Since the island is their home, you have to drive carefully as they feel they have the rights to road:

On the Maryland side of the island, camping is open all year long. I couldn't believe how many tent campers were there. The camp sites are right on the beach and just a hop, skip and a jump away from the water. Fishing is a big sport on the beach. There are also trails to explore all over the island.

While the men were riding all day, the girls sat on the beach for a long while taking it all in. I definitely want to go back there with Breen to do some Fall camping and backpacking around the island. What a gorgeous day was had by all!

We ended the day by eating dinner at one of my all-time favorite crab restaurants, Lazy Susan's in Lewes, Delaware.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 37: sewing with my grandmother's linens

Boy, do I feel like an idiot. I wrote my post on Sunday morning on my lap top. The only problem is that my Mr. Linky information is bookmarked on my computer upstairs. So I saved my project with the intent to run upstairs and reopen it on my bedroom computer so that I could add Mr. Linky and I completely zoned out! I realized tonight what happened. I'm so sorry! Here is my post for week 37:

It's no secret that I make aprons. But lately I've grown tired of the same old design that I've been using. Truth be told, my sewing skills are rather intermediate and although I can follow a relatively straight forward pattern, I enjoy winging it and making my very own creation. Still, I would love to take some more classes on some advance techniques. There is something so soothing about the feel of fabric in my hands and the rhythm of the sewing machine. I intend to one day have an extra room where my machine can be kept out all the time instead of lugging it from the dining room closet. And my little stash of fabrics will be displayed and organized on open shelves. So it's no surprise that fabric, which is crammed in to dining room drawers, gets forgotten and neglected. Until this week. I had a little lightning flash of an idea to pull out the dozens of old linen napkins that once belonged to my grandmother and find a way to incorporate them in to an apron.

I love the result! For this project I selected some over sized white linen monogrammed napkins (2 to be exact) and sewed them together leaving a little "kick pleat" poking out at the bottom of the apron. The linen napkins serve as a lining underneath the gorgeous robin's egg blue fabric with birds, flowers and butterflies. I love this so much I almost wish it were a skirt. It has a fun flirty farm girl feel to it and the white cotton poking out from the bottom gives the apron a real sentimental feel. In addition, I decided not to sew the napkin lining all around. Instead I attached the top layer and the napkins at the waistband only giving it a nice smooth feel.

I'm so inspired that I'll be making another one later today with some bright lemon yellow fabric and more linen napkins with lace edging.

What did you do this week?