Photo challenge day 18: Close up

First Thirty-one Photo Challenge (from Fourtuitous). Day 18’s theme is “Close up”.

A close up of the title of my current read: Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is a novel set in Mexico and the United States and I am really enjoying it. I will post a review on here next week, when I finish reading it!

Into the Beautiful North

Into the Beautiful North

Photo challenge day 16: Change

And it’s the sixteenth day of the First Thirty-one Photo Challenge from Fourtuitous! Today’s theme is “Change”.

I got into the habit of typing quick to-do notes down on my phone calendar. But then I realized I never really looked at it and so there wasn’t really much point in putting things on there. Writing things down on paper, real paper, not an electronic ‘notepad’, is much more my style. So I decided to change and then I bought this diary. Since changing from ‘virtual’ to-do lists to real ones, I am becoming more organized already!

Flipping through the pages of my 2013 diary

Flipping through the pages of my 2013 diary

Weekly writing challenge: Starting Over

This week’s writing challenge from The Daily Post is a piece of creative writing on the theme, “Starting Over”. For more info, visit The Daily Post writing challenge: Starting Over.

Monarch Butterfly by Art Planet

Monarch Butterfly by Art Planet

La mariposa volotea
y arde — con el sol — a veces

“The butterfly flutters
And burns – with the sun – sometimes”

(from “La mariposa de Otoño” – The Autumn Butterfly – by Pablo Neruda)

Starting Over

Every year they come to Michoacán, filling the wide, open space of the space between earth and above with blood-red color. Las mariposas. They arrive each October, thousands of them tinting the sky with their delicate wings, as fierce dry winds blow down from the mountains, the red dirt swirling up like demons in a frenzy.

Continue reading

Photo challenge day 15: Bundled

We are pretty much half-way through the First Thirty-one Photo Challenge over at Fourtuitous. Today’s theme is “Bundled”: very appropriate for this snowy January weather we are having!

You need a good pair of gloves when you’re bundling up against the cold.

My gorgeous leather gloves: a Christmas gift from a friend

My gorgeous leather gloves: a Christmas gift from a friend

Photo challenge day 13: Cabin Fever

I struggled to think of what I could photograph for today’s photo challenge theme (for more info on the First Thirty-one Photo Challenge, head to Fourtuitous). Having spent most of the past three months running here, there and everywhere during what has been the most stressful time of my life so far, it is actually nice to coop myself up at home and enjoy some much-needed respite. So today’s theme of “Cabin Fever” was difficult.

I settled on photographing my lunch time bowl of soup. Sometimes, although I love it, cooking can give me cabin fever. Actually, I guess it’s not so much the cooking but the amount of clearing up and washing dishes at the end. I love cooking but a self-cleaning kitchen would greatly add to my enjoyment!

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup.

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Don’t get me wrong: the soup didn’t give me cabin fever (it was delicious) but the clearing up did!!

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

A few days ago, my sister gave me a bag of parsnips. Her husband had brought them home and since she doesn’t like parsnips, she gave them to me. I am not a parsnip hater but I am not particularly enamored by them either. But I was determined not to let them spoil and go to waste. And so I made this soup which actually turned out much better than expected. I guarantee it will convert anyone with a low opinion of parsnips!

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Ingredients – serves 6 – 8, depending on portion size. If you are daunted by the quantity of soup this recipe produces, freeze the leftovers.

4 large parsnips, peeled
6 medium carrots, diced
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mild chili powder
Vegetable stock/bouillon cube
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C. Chop the peeled parsnips into rough chunks. No need to worry about making them look pretty; they are going to be blended. Drizzle them with a liberal amount of honey and a little olive oil.

Chopped parsnips, drizzled with honey, ready to go in the oven

Chopped parsnips, drizzled with honey, ready to go in the oven

Sprinkle with a small pinch of salt and some ground black pepper and roast for 30 minutes. Half-way through roasting them, add 2 garlic cloves (chopped in half) along with more honey if necessary.

2. While the parsnips are roasting, saute 2 finely chopped onions in a little olive oil. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika and some ground black pepper. When the onions are golden, add the diced carrots and 1/2 tsp mild chili powder. Cook on a moderate temperature and stir frequently.

3. When the parsnips are done, add them to the onions and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes. Then add vegetable stock to cover the vegetables – the liquid should come approx. 2 inches above the veg. Sorry for the lack of an accurate measure: I didn’t bother measuring my stock. You can always add more liquid if you prefer a thinner soup.

4. Cook until the parsnips and carrots are tender, adding more cumin, paprika or chili if desired. Blend thoroughly and season to taste. After blending, return to the pan to heat the soup until bubbling. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad. Enjoy!

Photo challenge day 12: Flakes

First Thirty-one Photo Challenge day 12 (Fourtuitous)!

I have much better pics of snowflakes on my camera, like this one:

snowflakes falling

snowflakes falling

But that was taken in 2011, whereas the photo below was taken today. It’s an embarrassingly terrible photo though but it was all I could get!

snowflakes and ice on the car

snowflakes and ice on the car

Photo challenge day 11: Warmth

Today’s theme from the First Thirty-one Photo Challenge at Fourtuitous is “warmth”.

Few things are more delicious and more warming on a cold winter’s day than a hearty bowl of home-made soup. This honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup is my own creation. The addition of ground cumin, mild chili powder and plenty of black pepper give it a spicy warmth.

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup