Friday, January 1, 2016

Bonne Année, Bonne Santé!


My word for 2016: Resilience.

xoxo

Friday, December 25, 2015

Everybody's Singing...

This guy is my spirit animal. Sissy that walk, Santa!

 All the bells are ringing out, and it's Christmas all over again!

However you're spending your time today, and whoever you're choosing to spend it with, I hope you're taking time to create magic in all that you do.  Oh yeah, and spread a little love while you're at it, it really does go a long way.

Merry Christmas, Season's greetings, God Jul, Joyeux Noël, Happy Winter Solstice ... And everything else!

xoxo 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Cranberry Saw Us

1-handed OJ action shot ... My talent knows no bounds!
Each year when the pages of my calendar dwindle down to the last few, I've got one thing on my mind, aside from that lump of coal I earned from Santa, and that is ... Cranberry sauce!  Members of my family have a longstanding tradition with gelatinous goo that holds the shape of the can after being released from its confines, but when I was forced to give up all things processed, and eat like a homesteader things got a little complicated, especially the part about no refined white sugar, and I had to let go of such time honored treasures as these.  However, with a little research I was able to put together an incredibly simple, and successful recipe sure to cause riots with all your guests at your next gathering.      

The Gang's all here!
Here's what you need:
  • 24 oz Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 Orange - Juice & Zest
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup
Here's what you do:
Wash fruit, and combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring contents to a boil, turn temperature to Med-Low, cover, and let reduce for about 15-45 minutes, checking the mixture for your desired consistency every 15 minutes, and giving it the occasional stir. Let cool, remove cinnamon stick, chill in fridge before serving, and ... That's it!

Makes 4 cups (1 Litre).

What was I saying about complicated?  The most complicated part about learning to cook and bake without refined white sugar is digging up, and converting, or inventing the recipes in a sugar cane dominated world, but once you've done the groundwork, the actual recipes are a cinch!  Remember, you can always use honey in the place of maple syrup in my recipes, if you're into that sort of thing, but for my bee-sting allergy people out there (like me!), maple syrup works like an absolute dream.  Happy holidays & enjoy!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Original Boss Babe


 1990 Holiday Barbie in damaged box: $6.50


Trip to the beauty shop before she meets your 5 year old niece: Free


Kickin' it with your Homegirl 25 years later: Priceless


xoxo


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Here We Go!

http://www.worldbuilders.org/

Patrick Rothfuss' Worldbuilders are at it again with their fundraising efforts barreling down the track of another record-breaking year on behalf of Heifer International.  Every year his assembled team of world-building minions roll up their sleeves to bring Geeks from all walks of life together for the greater good of humanity by raising money for people experiencing crippling poverty around the world.  How much money, you ask?  Last year brought in over $880,000.00 USD, an amount they're looking to beat this year, with 14 days to go and a total at $681,441.00 USD, and ***ALL DONATIONS MADE TODAY BEING MATCHED*** I think this will definitely be a bar-raising year!

How can you join the fundraising mayhem?  Several ways, actually!  From online auctions, to buying things from Pat's store, The Tinker's Packs (where all proceeds go to charity all year long, every single purchase), or just by straight-up donating on the Worldbuilders page, where each donation of ten dollars gets you an entry into the massive lottery of donated books, games, and deliciously dorky miscellany.  Get to clickin' if you want to get your hands on some swag whilst helping people feed themselves, their families, and rescue their village's economy.  Even though sales through Pat's website are constantly put toward charity, this particular event ends December 14, 2015 11:59 PM UTC-11 so, go (!) and donate now if you don't want to miss out, especially if you want your charitable gift to be doubled (ends today!).

xoxo

DEADLINE EXTENDED!!! New deadline now December 18, 2015 11:59 PM UTC-11.
An opportunity to match donations up to another $200,000.00 was announced in the wee hours this morning, causing Rothfuss to sound the rallying cry to #BilboItUp for one last major push.  With the total now blown past ONE MILLION USD, this is yet another record breaking CRUSHING year for Worldbuilders, and Heifer International AND it's not too late for you to join the madness!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November's Sky is Chill and Drear, November's Leaf is Red and Sear

Where has this month gone?!  Am I the only one who felt like I went to sleep October 31st, and woke up November 29th (mind you, with extremely vivid dreams of turkey, and cranberry sauce!) as if coming out of a NyQuil coma?  Or maybe it was that I was too busy enjoying it to count the days as they passed, and didn't realize just how late in the year it was getting until I woke up this weekend to frosty 28º mornings ... a rather sharp realization to drag me out of my harvest haze, if you ask me!
Illustration: John Rae

Here I am nonetheless, staring into the face of December elbow deep in drying herbs, flowers, and garden seeds cleaning, organizing, and preparing for the next planting season already. Thanks for the heads-up Aesop, baby!  You won't catch me out in the cold with nothing to gnaw on but a frozen fiddle (barring unavoidable disaster, of course).  At any rate, it won't be because I spent all summer singing, and dancing ... although, that doesn't sound like an entirely bad way to spend a summer ... balance in all things, yes?  

One of the things I'm living for right now is the Glass Gem Corn I grew from seed thanks to Garden Hoard -- a two person, organic, heirloom seed, Midwestern enterprise -- that I'm in LOVE with!  Katie, the owner, is an awesome woman with a wealth of knowledge to share, and a love for plants who wants to feed the world ... what's not to like?  Besides, I love smart chicks, and I'll take any opportunity to support her "fempire" when I can.  Anyway, back to the corn, it's decorative, it's edible, it's grind-able, it's poppable, and it's GORGEOUS!  Each ear is a complete surprise, even when plucking from the same stalk ... which totally tickled my colorholic tendencies.  

Keep in mind when growing, these are not the ears you get from a packet of hybrid seeds or what you find plumped up at the supermarket, Glass Gem Corn ears are much more elegantly sized.  Heirloom produce is typically not what our supersized-society (with exceptions, of course) is used to seeing or eating, however you do get the added bonus of unparalleled flavor, and a pretty high guarantee that any seeds collected will perform in your garden next season, and thus, you can create your own seed home-library without having to run to the store every year to replenish your seed stash.  If you're looking for new-to-you or unusual varieties of fruits and veggies to add to your garden, or you're brand new to this garden-gig, and just starting out pop over, and check out Katie & Christian's operation.  For a two person show, they've got a good selection, surprisingly great customer service and availability (I honestly don't know how they have the time!), and they hook their customers up with extra goodies every order.  


Happy planning & planting!
xoxo

Saturday, October 31, 2015

After Apple Picking ...

... Or apple buying for that matter, though how the apples are procured really isn't important.  Just be aware that the sweeter the apple, the sweeter the sauce, so pick a palate-friendly variety because this is a no-sugar-added recipe, unless you like your applesauce to pack a pucker-up punch, of course!

Applesauce
In a 6 quart slow-cooker combine:
10-ish Cored, and sliced apples (Fuji is my apple of choice, skins on)
1 Cup water
1 Teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon ground Allspice (optional, because of the use of the other spices many feel allspice is redundant.  I think it adds more overall body to the flavor.)

Cook everything on High for the first two hours, and finish on Low for the last 4 hours.  Let cool a little, purée, and serve.
Yields 72 ounces.

Seventy-two ounces?!  Whether cooking for large gatherings or just a meal for one, I do most everything in large batches.  I find that once I've got all of my equipment out, it takes less effort, and is a more efficient use of my time to make a larger quantity than dragging out all of my culinary accoutrements every single time I get a hankering for a small serving of something, which can make getting into my freezer a bit of a Level 9, B-Type game of Tetris, but I find it's worth it.  It's especially useful having extra applesauce on hand for anyone with dietary restrictions (allergies, food intolerance, etc.) who need to swap out oils, or eggs from certain baking recipes.

For me, this applesauce recipe is an absolute autumn must-have, and it makes my dwelling smell like a fairy-tale cottage, you know, like before the misunderstood lady tries to coax children into her oven ... Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Enough

Recently, I was asked to join one of those "live-streaming" events that's supposed to raise your personal vibration frequency, Love or Above by a woman described in her bio as an intuitive healer, and medium.  First of all, to me, live-streaming means "happening live, in real time, like, right-now" not pre-recorded, and spliced with other material (which this was), made obvious by the sort of canned, or scripted responses between the two hosts that made the entire flow of the recording awkward and leaving it sounding forced and unnatural, and the fact that 45 minutes into it, just after the guided group meditation began, the stream stopped, and when I pushed the play button to jump back in, the entire program started all over again, from the beginning ... Which I guess could be possible with a T.A.R.D.I.S. involved, but I don't have one, and neither did the hosts of the program, as far as I could tell.  But before any of that could happen, there I sat, headphones in place, my little .pdf worksheet open on the screen, switching gears back to the days of Nerd Girl note-taker-extraordinaire, poised, ready to pounce on every keyword mentioned.  If I wasn't yet completely sold on the program, I could at least take excellent notes, and maybe learn something new, or come to some greater understanding if nothing else.  Alas, this was not meant to be, as I soon realized, the worksheets didn't match the script, which made it increasingly annoying trying to fill in the notes, as the speakers sped through the mismatched content ... Undoubtedly dropping my personal vibration frequency in the process.  I decided to pack it in, sit back, relax, and just listen.  This, too, I learned, was a bit of a chore as well, trying to catch the actual content between all of the breaks, and pauses reminding the listeners — If you want to know more follow this address, go to the site, check out this link, don't forget our generous coupon code, and buy, buy, buy! — and the like.  It soon became clear that I was just listening to one extremely long (90 minute), not so cleverly disguised, advertisement to get the listener to spend hundreds of dollars on other products that will bring abundance to his or her life ... Uhm, ok.

It's certainly bringing abundance to SOMEBODY'S life, that's for sure!

When I think of "more" in terms of spiritualism and abundance, I think more peace, more love, greater connection with the source of all life, and more empathy for my fellow humans on Earth.  What I am not thinking about is more ... STUFF.  Don't get me wrong, the program I listened to, or rather, the part that I had access to, definitely sells the product under the guise of the things I listed above, especially highlighting trust, but when it came right down to it, what kept being repeated, and glorified were very shallow, egocentric topics that kept circling around objects, and types of success that appeal to our lower-selves.  I would've thought this just a tactic to keep the people who really "need" the program interested long enough to sock them with some mind-blowing spiritualism if  

A. That ever actually happened
B. They had treated the 90 minutes a lot less like one long commercial to get the listener spending more and more dough.

The more I listened the more it all started sounding like a snake oil campaign, and the more disgusted I became.  Then came the segment of selling romantic love ... Yes, if you develop within yourself a person who loves with abandon, and shares and gives selflessly, and loves yourself you are possibly going to attract more love, and positivity to you, including even a romantic love, probably.  This isn't rocket science, happy, loving people tend to dig spending time with other happy, loving people.  But I feel as though these programs dupe people (specifically those experiencing levels of loneliness) with delusions of grandeur: Follow steps X, Y, and Z and you'll be married in no time, with an amazing career, wad of cash, huge house, and a ton of babies spilling out of it, with the perfect dog that never barks or sheds — Act now, and all this could be yours!!!  All you have to do is meditate, and listen to my specially designed, and formatted compact discs available on my website for the low, low price of another couple hundred dollars ... I know it seems expensive, but you're investing in your future, and look at all these free downloads and worksheets I'm giving you!  I'm SO generous!  Do you trust me yet?

Isn't there some-thing more to life than just following steps, and acquiring stuff (whether human or inanimate)?  Shouldn't we be shifting our focus to whatever that thing is instead?  That's the "more" that I'm interested in discovering, and uncovering in my life.  That's where I found this program to be severely lacking, and quite disappointing.  It wasn't the technical hiccups, or generic life-coaching, it was the bait-and-switch approach that set my teeth on edge.  Preying upon people's weaknesses, and using the cloak of spiritualism to peddle products has got to be one of the lowest forms of commerce there is.  It's actually quite sad when people are led to believe they won't find the answers they need, or the freedom they desire unless they spend the money to get them.

That's not how abundance works, or is supposed to anyway, in my mind at least.  If abundance is a very large, over-sufficient quantity of something, how is it only available to a few, or the ones who pay a hefty fee for it?  Doesn't that seem to go against the very definition of the word itself?  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
abundance (n.)
mid-14c., from Old French abondance and directly from Latin abundantia "fullness, plenty," noun of state from abundantem (nominative abundans), present participle of abundare "to overflow" (see abound).
When something is overflowing, does it care who is standing there and how much money they have in their pockets?  Sure, those with more money could afford larger buckets to "catch" the abundance, but if it's true abundance does a bucket still matter?  Or is there just so much, all around, and available to everyone that a bucket becomes superfluous?  If abundance is a large, extremely plentiful amount of something, and it's not available, or enough for everyone regardless of station or situation, how can it even still be abundance?  It seems a little lacking to me.

What happens when abundance is not enough?

People start taking your money, in the name of spirituality, for answers you already hold inside you.  

xoxo

P.S. The love vibration frequency resides at 528 Hz.  If you so desire, go give yourselves a tune-up, and let your hearts sing!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Raven

 What's an October without a little American Gothic Lit., anyway?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mood Swings

So, I saw an ad the other day (how often does that sentence end well?) for something that actually looked interesting!  Skillshare is offering 3 months of access to over one thousand classes for 99¢ when you use this code at checkout SSFB99 ← I'm usually not into this sort of thing, but so far all 99 pennies have been very well spent.

Enter Exhibit A: Fall Cottage, a mood board of a few of my favorite images right now that, to me, evoke a wonderfully cozy feeling that creeps in as fall begins its chill, thrown together with the help of Meg Lewis of Ghostly Ferns, and her class, Basics of Photoshop: Fundamentals for Beginners. 
1. Rose Gold Lariat Scarf, 2. Books via Lovely Reveries, 3. Joy in a Bouquet, 4. Sheep, 5. Grandmug Sango Nova Black, 6. Knitting Needles by: Anne Greene, 7. Damson Plums by: Moi, 8. Botanical Print: Cicadas from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm's Animal Life) vol. 9 by: Alfred Edmund Brehm, 1893, 9. Halcyon via Dorothy Rosenberg, 10. All Hollow's Eve by: Paul Parsons, 11. West Highland Terrier via Lavender Summers and Lilac Dreams, 12. Font
Ok, so I didn't reinvent the wheel here, and I'm not exactly a beginner either.  I did, however, learn new-to-me tricks that will dramatically cut my time on future projects, and who doesn't love to be more efficient?  Meg breezes effortlessly through the use of guides, simple yet high impact photo editing, beyond easy steps to apply clipping masks, layer organization, and more.  The thing with Photoshop is that one person is never going to learn it ALL, we learn what we need for our respective uses, and with there being so many different steps to achieve the same end goals, each person develops his or her own quirky way of navigating the program so, it's helpful now and then to, if not brush-up, at least see how other people are using it, try their methods, and add what works for you to your bag of tricks.  I personally believe there can never be too many Photoshop tutorials ... there is always something new to create, and a fresh, undiscovered way to create it.

That's all for now, I'm late for class!  I've only got 20-ish (+/-) saved lessons (so far) to dive into...

 xoxo

Friday, September 25, 2015

Plum-Crazy

Bowl by: Dirtkicker Pottery
Near my house, there's a perfectly obscured beach path known only to the adjacent inhabitants that comes to full life at the end of every summer with the most gorgeous Damson plums dripping from arched tunnels of rustling green.  Not typically one to get hands-y with things that aren't overtly mine, it took only one season of tripping, and slipping over spoiled, plums squished into the path before a silent oath was made to stop, at all costs, this gruesome plum-icide, and egregious waste in seasons to come.

This year with my trusty bucket in hand, and most demure and subtle, magenta hooded sweatshirt I was ready to enact my rescue-efforts-(quickly)-turned-full-fledged-plum-heist.  Three gallons later ... I, uhm, needed a plan, or better yet, a recipe, and one that didn't include refined white sugar and a multitude of other ingredients that aren't healthy for me to consume.  So I invented not one, but two plum spread recipes!

Pucker-Up Plum Butter
Here's what you need:
  • 1 Heavy bottom saucepan, or pot (I used my ever-faithful dutch oven)
  • 4 Lbs. Plums
  • 1/2 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup 
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2" Knob Fresh Grated Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
Here's what you do:
Wash, halve, and pit all of your plums, combine all ingredients in your preferred pot, and simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally, purée in blender (optional), chill or freeze.  That's it!

Makes about 30 ounces (4 cups, 1 Litre).

Playing up the tartness of the plums with added lime juice, this spread isn't subtle, or one most people would enjoy on their breakfast croissant.  It is, however, awesome on sandwiches!

Try:
On one slice of toasted sour dough bread spread a thin layer of mayo, on the other slather generously with plum butter, stack rotisserie seasoned deli sliced chicken, and avocado, slice diagonally (because everything tastes better this way) and dig in!

Smooth Shiraz-Plum Preserves
Here's what you need:
  • 1 Heavy bottom saucepan, or pot (I used my ever-faithful dutch oven)
  • 3 Lbs. Plums
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Shiraz
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1" Knob Fresh Grated Ginger 
Here's what you do:
Same as above.  Wash, halve, and pit your plums, combine all ingredients, and simmer for an hour stirring occasionally, purée in blender (optional), chill or freeze.

Makes about 24 ounces.

Mugs by: Brookish
Thanks to the wine, this one has a beautifully deep-red color, nice, not-too-sweet flavor, and a rich body that makes it perfect for slathering on anything edible, basically.  So far I'm loving it especially on toast during blustery, cloud covered, light-flickering, autumn mornings! 

I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to summer than by savoring some of the season's fleeting flavors.  Whoever said change, or transitions have to be miserable was living life all wrong.  Everything in life has its turn -- I'd rather dance through life's cycles, than spend my time kicking and screaming.
New Moon in Virgo Mandala from the High Vibe Guide
I welcome all of this month's revisions, and am thankful for the opportunity to release everything that is, or has been weighing me down, and holding me back.  I know that whatever the Universe has in store for me next will surpass even what my wildest imagination could ever cook up, and I am prepared for my next transformation.

xoxo


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Directions [10D]

 Don't despair, Darling ... Dominate doubt, defend delights, dance defiantly -- daily.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Don't Carrot All

Solar Yellow & Purple Dragon Carrots

"This strangely still pause between summer and autumn, greenery and gold, and the heat and rising wind that is once again readying itself to rush it all away in a climactic symphony of color and scent is - in my opinion, one of the best parts about living on earth."
- Victoria Erickson

Before
I couldn't possibly agree more.  I'm a fall baby through, and through so you know tomorrow's equinox has got me turned up!  And, is probably why I love this dish so much, with it being the best colors, flavors, and scents of both Summer's abundance, and Fall's harvest on one plate, to me, it's heaven in every bite.  The warming spices of garlic, ginger, and thyme mimicking the heat of a summer sun makes this perfect for keeping the chill at bay on blustery fall days.  Enough of my ode to seasons, let's get down to business, shall we?

Here's what you need:
1 Roasting pan
1 Bunch of Asparagus
1 Fuji Apple (or pick your own fave)
Optional
1 Large White Onion
4-8 Carrots
3-5 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional:
1 Small baking dish
2 Cups Walnuts
1/8 Teaspoon Thyme
Olive Oil
1" Knob of fresh Ginger

Here's what you do:
Preheat oven at 425°F
Grease your pan(s) with just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your roasting pan & baking dish (if opting for toasted walnuts), remembering that the apple will release liquid as it heats, so don't over do it - we're going for roasted veggies, not drowned; dust with thyme.  Scrub, rinse, or peel all appropriate ingredients, snap asparagus and arrange in pan, chop apple into bite size chunks, slice onion, cut carrots into medallions, or any other preferred shape for that matter, and into the pan with them!  Mince garlic and sprinkle evenly along the top of your snuggled up veggies, grate ginger evenly over roasting pan (optional), drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and give it all a few shakes of your preferred salt & pepper. That's it, you're ready for the oven!  Set timer for 20-25 minutes depending on your appliance.

After
Optional: 
Dust your already greased baking dish with 1/8 tsp. of thyme, add 2 cups of walnuts, and stir to thoroughly cover with oil & spice, then add to the oven in this separate dish for the last 5 minutes your vegetables are roasting.  When finished, combine and toss with vegetables.  Let cool, and serve ... Voila!

  
Bon appétit, my Lovelies!