Happy Failures

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The other day I sent a photo of my side garden to a long distance friend. I told her that this now successful side garden made up of mostly free plants that I got from my Aunt’s garden, some plants I got from the farmer’s market long ago and about 3-4 perennials that I bought and planted was a result of many “happy failures.” This story of the evolution of my side garden is one that can teach us a lot about failing and getting up again in life.

I remember at one time there were two large trees there. They were two close to the house and provided too much shade and roots for planting much in the side garden. We had them removed. Then, I tried some different plants there. First, I started with some annuals. They did ok, but required a lot of watering and much more fuss than what I have now. Later I planted most of the plants that I have now when my Aunt was thinning out her garden and she gave me lots of plants. I worked as quickly to plant those plants along with the large plants that I got from the farmer’s market. Part of the front of the garden was still bare. Over the years I tried different plants there. Some of them didn’t like the full sun, others grew too “leggy” and I didn’t like the way they looked with the rest of the plants and others were too small or short and got “lost.” in the other plants. A few days ago I bought one last perennial to fill in a gap for a plant that eventually died because that spot wasn’t right for it. Now, I feel that I have a fully lovely and functioning garden which will take little water and maintenance other than occasionally weeding in that area. Luckily the plants are now mostly so large that there aren’t many weeds that grow there. I’m so glad that I learned so much from this garden. I learned what plants grow best where, how much sunlight they need and also that it’s important to space plants of different heights in different spots.

This garden project reminds me also that even when we “get it right” there will be work to do. The garden must still be watered and weeded in order to flourish. So is our life. Even when we find the perfect mix of career/business/family/friends/free time we still need to stop and nourish ourselves along the way. We need to stop and see if we are truly thriving where we are currently rooted, or if we need to make a change to really grow and blossom in our lives.

How can we equate this garden project with life? Here are some ways:

  1. There are many things that we will try in life that may not survive or may not be a good fit for us. This can be relationships, careers and places we live. They simply may not agree with our true selves or how we want to live.

  2. Sometimes our projects don’t take root because we think we “ought” to do it, or it’s the next logical step, but our hearts aren’t in it.

  3. Sometimes we need a break. Our area of the garden is “too shady.” We need to take a moment to step out into the light to see our true potential. We need to stop what we are doing and look within for the answers.

  4. Sometimes we need to fail in order to learn a particular lesson. We need to look at difficult times and challenges as lessons that come to teach us something. Just like some of the plants that didn’t do well in that area were telling me- move me or compost me. Sometimes we need a different perspective or need to learn to quit and move on to another project, job, home or relationship.

What have your happy failures taught you? I’d love your comments below on this post with your stories!

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Lemon Balm Scones for Strawberry Shortcake

Lemon Balm Scones for Strawberry Shortcake

Right after I picked 22 pounds of strawberries at a local Oregon farm a couple of weeks ago, I knew right there I had to have strawberry shortcake! I remember when I was a little girl- maybe 4-5 years old and my grandparents took me to a strawberry festival. I was so excited! The festival basically involved lots of strawberry shortcake. YUM! There was a building and ladies by a table ladling servings of sweet strawberries over shortcake and then putting ice cream on top. I must have eaten 2-3 servings of it all by myself. I was in heaven! I'm not sure I could eat quite as much today but I enjoy it just as much. I hope that you enjoy this shortcake recipe & remember when you were a kid and relished every bite! 

Lemon Balm Scones + Strawberry Shortcake: 

Makes 6-8 servings

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups gluten free flour mix (without xanthan gum) 

2 tablespoons organic sugar + extra for dusting the tops of the shortcakes

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons vegan margarine or butter

2 eggs

2 tablespoons lemon balm leaves, minced

1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Make sure there is a rack in the center of the oven. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. 

2. Mix together the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. 

3. Mix together the flour mix, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut the margarine or butter into the flour mixture. Make sure the margarine or butter is well incorporated and it resembles a coarse meal. 

4. Beat the eggs well in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment or until they are frothy. Add the milk mixture and flour mixture. Mix at medium low speed for 1 minute. 

5. Pat the mixture into a large round on a floured board. Make sure it is about 1 inch thick. Cut rounds out of the mixture with a cookie cutter. It will make about 6-8 large rounds that you can split in half and fill with berries for the strawberry shortcake. 

6. Place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with coconut milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Place the sheet on the center rack of the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 375F. Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  

Strawberry Mixture: 

4 cups sliced strawberries

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Place in a bowl and mix. Let the mixture macerate for about 10-15 minutes to soak up the flavors. 

 

Strawberry Lime & Rose Mock Tail

Strawberry Lime & Rose Mock Tail

 

Here in the Portland, Oregon area the roses are starting to bloom, so it is Rose Festival Season! I just love this time of year when my rose bushes are at their prime and they have the most lovely, fragrant blooms. Since I grow my roses organically and don't use any chemicals on them, I can use them in drinks and dishes! What a win! 

I hope that you enjoy this fun and quick drink recipe that you can make to celebrate the roses this season! You could also add some rose water to amp-up the rose flavor if you desire. 

Rose, Strawberry Lime & Rose Mock Tail: 

1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries

1 key lime, quartered

1/4 cup maple syrup with infused rose petals (you'll use 1-3 tablespoons of this for 1 drink, then save the rest) 

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup rose petals

4-5 rose petals (for muddling in drink) 

crushed ice

sparkling water

 

1. Put strawberries & lime pieces & 4-5 torn fresh rose petals into a tall glass. 

2. Make syrup: bring to a simmer the water and maple syrup. Add the 1/4 cup rose petals. Infuse the syrup for 10 minutes while it cools. 

3. Add 1-3 tablespoons of the infused syrup to the glass. Muddle with a wooden spoon or muddle. Then, add crushed ice and sparkling water to taste. Taste your drink for sweetness and add more of the syrup to taste. 

This drink is yummy and refreshing. It won't taste a lot like rose petals but it has a unqiue flavor. 

Raspberry Pico de Gallo or Salad

Raspberry Pico de Gallo or Salad

Wow! Fresh raspberry season is here and it is one of my favorite berries & my husband's favorite berry of all time. We are so fortunate that we now have mature raspberry bushes in our backyard and can gather and enjoy lots of delicious raspberries day after day. I am now able to pick a whole bowl full every single day. It is such a wonderful thing. 

As a result, I was brainstorming recipe ideas for raspberries when my husband suggested a raspberry salsa. I had never seen one before, so I decided to gather up a few ingredients and give it a go. I love the marriage of the raspberries and tomatoes and the lime juice gives it such a tangy flavor too. 

To accompany the salsa I made some fresh tortillas with corn masa mix, salt and water. These triangles topped with the raspberry salsa make a great healthy snack or appetizer. We also had the discovery that since you leave the raspberries whole in this recipe, it tastes great as a salad or side dish. It may also be used to top grilled chicken or fish. I hope that you enjoy some of this salsa today and celebrate the bounty of summer! 

Raspberry Pico de Gallo: 

Makes about 2 cups salsa or salad

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup finely chopped grape tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 large clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. 

2. You may serve this salsa/salad immediately or let it sit in the fridge for a while for the flavors to meld. It is also excellent as a topper for grilled chicken or fish or as a lovely side salad.