The Lemons of 2016

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I have wanted to renew my love for writing for a couple of years now but I can come up with a million excuses to do something else and probably less productive. During one of these exact moments, I realized that I had less desire to write because I could much more easily post a photo to Instagram, which in turn will post it to Facebook , which in turn will announce to the world that it is indeed snowing, I am indeed at the airport or yes, I am, again, napping with my cats by the fire. All of this mono-syllabic pronouncement has limited my need to write in complete sentences. That being said, I love going back through my blog and rereading my life’s moments.

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So that being said, 2017! I began this year with a bag of Meyer Lemons i procured for about $2.79 (thanks California!) and tried to figure out what to do with these beautiful little balls of sunshine. After the temperatures had dropped below zero and my cat was permanently attached to his bed in front of the fire, I decided to make candied lemon peel with the desire to make scones or cakes or anything that requires this delicious treat. I decided not to cut corners. I wanted to make the same perfectly translucent, chewy sweet rind that i had eaten in France.

To begin with, start with the most unblemished organic fruit you can find. You can use lemons, oranges, grapefruit or any other citrus you can get your paws on for this process. I had 8 beautiful meyer lemons. Icut off the tops and bottoms and scored the rind the long way to peel off strips of rind. img_3296

I juiced the lemons and froze it for another time. A cup of meyer lemon juice is going to come in handy for something wonderful!

I then placed the rind in a pan of cold water and brought it up to a boil. I reduced the heat to simmer for 45 minutes. I drained the water, refilled my pan with cold water and repeated the process one more time.

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Next I filled my pan with 3 cups of cold water and 2 cups of sugar. I brought it up to a boil to melt the sugar and added my rind. I lowered the heat to a low simmer and cooked the rind for about an hour until the peel was translucent. I strained the peel and placed it on a parchment paper cookie sheet to cool. If you don’t eat them all, you can store the candied peel in a sealed container forever. I ate them all…Next up, ginger! same process!

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2013 Wrapped Up

Last year I decided to find a few things that represented my life over the past 12 months. Needless to say, 2012 was wonderful and mildly insane. 2013 found me on new adventures, much more insular but still brilliant. At last I am settling back into myself again. For now.

Here are my words, photos and songs that remind me of my year, ala Clint Eastwood.

12 Words

Unprepared, excited, anxious, frustrated, hopeful, dreamy, adventure, broke, tired, full, blessed, furry.

!2 Songs

LCD Soundsystem

Angus and Julia Stone

Live Oak Review

Dr Dog

John Prine

Todd Snider

Lou Reed RIP

Bach

Arcade Fire and Bowie

Yo La Tengo

Flaming Lips

Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer

Photos
So many more moments could be added but i had to edit somewhere! It was a very blessed year.

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New Year in Norway with my beautiful family

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Butchering Pigs in Ireland

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Late winter hike in Cork

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Visiting Milleen

Photo on 2013-01-26 at 22.14 #3

Beautiful Cheese Muscles!

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Working the Farmer’s Market in Skibereen

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Having a nip with the locals at a pub with Phe and Douglas

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Graduation!

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New Orleans in May..Alligator bra?

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New Orleans at its finest

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Elderflower Syrup. SPRING!

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My new housemates arrive. I’m in love

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I become an auntie and a godmother to my beautiful Josephine

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The wonder and awe of the Flaming Lips with a dear friend.

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Turning 40 in Spokane, Washington with great friends!

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Beautiful dinner at Nedd Ludd with healthy pours of Bourbon.

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Lucas Elliott Jeray arrives in all his perfection!

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Getting to know my snow peas, Bianca and Rowey

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Returning to my roots never felt better. Tokeland, Washington.

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keeping me sane

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two new additions to my family. Fingal and Clemens

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Moving to Cheney, Washington for a spell!

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Being family in B.C.

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HO! HO! HO!

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Snow day equals LOTR’s day!

Bacon Jam

baconjam4I live in a meat-centric town. Bacon is a staple on just about every menu and my vegetarian friends consider bacon their “vacation meat” so they can splurge on the best food ever created.
This last summer, I was introduced to a phenomena called Bacon Jam. This sweet savory spread melted instantly on my tongue leaving the lingering flavor of bacon behind.
From that day on, i decided I would make it. I started researching recipes and most are just varieties of the same, some asking for ketchup, others required maple syrup. I settled on a combination of recipes and developed my own to share with you!

baconjam3Bourbon Bacon Jam

makes about 3-4 cups
2 lbs of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs chili powder
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup stone ground mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

In a large pot, fry bacon. Remove bacon and add onion and garlic to drippings and saute for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and bacon to pot and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 1 hour. Using an immersion blender, blend jam into chunky texture and bring back to a low simmering boil until liquid thickens. cool and store for 2- 3 weeks in the fridge.baconjam2baconjam

THANK YOU!

This season is a juxtaposition for me. The days are growing short, the evenings long and cold and many times I feel the calling to slow down. In the midst of this is the wildness of holidays. Friends, warmth, rich foods and festive gatherings pop up around each corner. The ability to enjoy the moments before me while planning the details so as not to forget anything is a familiar walk on the tightrope. I thrive in this time.

I recently moved to Eastern Washington to help a dear friend with his cafe. While learning the complicated timing of a perfectly frothed cappuccino, i was forced to slow down. I had the blessings of living in a tiny town where I had a great deal of time on my own. Alone time can mean fostering creativity or battling demons. I did a little of both.

November for many people is a time of counting blessings. I decided to write up one thing i am thankful for each day until I returned home to Portland.

I look now at my list and am in wonder of my own strength and delight in the details. November has been a very good time.

Gratitude:
1- grateful that i was taught to speak my mind fearlessly, even when i know it might hurt
2-a borrowed bicycle and a beautiful ride to the lakeIMG_1788
3-wonderful co-workers who make me laugh
4-my dear dear friend Nina, on her birthday
5-snow, hot chocolate and bad hallmark xmas movies on my day off, pay day, tips and the local library having the book i want to read!IMG_1833
6- wonderful 60 minute massage for $50 and a block from my house!
7- my mother’s ring was found!IMG_1846
8- waking up with a smile on my face
9- knitting projects building up
10- paperwhites!paperwhites
11- clarity
12-soft red woolwool
13-sleep in a warm bed, on a cold night
14-unexpected joy of a great live bandIMG_1727
15-the smell of snow in the air
16-warm oatmeal, a good movie and snow falling
17-watching things grow, even in the darkest coldest monthsIMG_1849
18-waking up early enough to see spectacular sunrisesIMG_1850
19-cold days with sunshine
20- time
21-seeing progress
22- road trips to different countriesIMG_1910
23- too many options
24- sunrises over the mountains and water
25-a stunningly beautiful detour homeIMG_1899
26-anticipation of good things to come
27-coming homeIMG_1925
28-warm furry critters curled upIMG_2082
29-wonderful family, friends and a sated bellyIMG_2003
30- my beautiful friend Nicole on her birthday, of whom i am always grateful.

more thing to be grateful.

Gratitude in Details

photo-16This summer I unceremoniously lost my job while tending to a grieving friend’s heart. It was for the best. I would not lose my humanity for an employer who seems to have sold her own to a higher bidder. It its steed, i decided to embrace those last days of summer, as well as the end of my thirties, with an open-ended adventure. I traversed four states;Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, adored and well-traveled in my 39 years.

photo-15photo-10photo-17I hadn’t spent so much time in Washington since I grew up there. I zigzagged across the state of my childhood, exploring seasides and high desert canyons. I swam in lakes and camped beneath mountains.  It is impossible for me to revisit such places without a bit of nostalgia. The difference now seems to be my own place in its landscape. photo-9photo-11

photo-12After such a whirlwind year, this was a time to recapture some of my youthful delight and remind me of what is important. Although I am still slogging my way through the details, I could not imagine a more mentally productive way to spend a few days. I must never forget to be grateful for the details. photo-13Here we go..number forty.

 

woolie goodness

yellowOn my last day off i headed up to Adna Washington to spend a few hours at Black Sheep Creamery. Meg and Brad are two if my favorite people and they make the most wonderful sheep cheese!!IMG_0679

IMG_0680This visit up, i was going to work with Meg in her Dye Garden..yep..you heard me. She has a garden full of plants she uses to dye her wool! It is a constant evolution of experimentation. This day we plucked her black hollyhock blossoms to make what we hoped would be a deep purple or teal blue. We also experimented with Dyers Chamomile, which is different from the type we drink in teas. These blossoms are the deepest gold yellow. They still smell wonderful, especially when steeping in warm wool.

IMG_0697 IMG_0698As we poured over beautifully illustrated books to identify which plants we had access to, i savored the sunshine, fat lambs in the adjoining pasture and Meg’s gentle enthusiasm. I felt very fortunate. IMG_0684 IMG_0700In the end, we had to dry the hollyhocks for another time (always good to read the recipe. Especially when it demands a 24 hour soak to loosen the dyes) and dyed with Chamomile and Blue Hopi Sunflowers. I love the yellow! IMG_0691 IMG_0689I  also went home with an abundance of good cheese!IMG_0702

Grounded

IMG_0544This summer i started a new job. For minimal pay, I am happily working at several farmers markets selling a local product that i truly believe is worth its price. That being said, I am exhausted!!  i am working 10 hour days in a position that is always “on”with rarely a moment to stop and regroup. i am not used to this schedule and I am not adapting quickly. I get home from work and can barely think about doing anything besides crawling into bed to begin again the next day. Of course being stubborn, I still attend a smattering of concerts, events and friend’s gatherings into the wee hours..I pay for this the following day ten fold. i have also missed weddings, funerals, celebrations and camp-outs. I am feeling old and that these summer days are flying past me to quickly.

That all being said, last week, i had a few days off! i hadn’t had any weekends off since I started my new job but i needed this time to see family and friends. It was also 4th of July and I was ready to have some FUN!

IMG_0572IMG_0581My wonderful friend Douglas just happened to be here for a visit and we went on the best little hike in the Columbia Gorge. We dropped under a bridge, summitted a massive log jam, the size of my house, and waded up a creek bed for about 1/2 mile to a 100 foot waterfall. The day was hot, the water was cold and the scenery was spectacular! I have seen some wonderful things over the years but the Northwest still rates at #1 for me! I felt so fortunate to be here and really felt as if summer began that day. I didnt feel so old anymore.

IMG_0612Following this visit, I spent my fourth of July on a boat (first time in Portland) grilling burgers, napping in the sun and watching the fireworks..I love the 4th! I love blowing things up..Yes, i am American and it was fun to be back in the states for a little insanity.

IMG_0624The next day, i rolled out of bed completely rejuvenated, and had a great visit with my god-parents. My god-mother, Peggy made me the most beautiful quilt. I am still rather speechless and know it will brighten my room on those cold grey winter days. Later that evening, i headed north into Washington to meet my new niece/god-daughter Josephine Sarah. i fell hopelessly in love. For the next 24 hours, i was surrounded by my family and catching up with details and life.

IMG_0629I only had three days off but i feel grounded in a way i had been struggling to relocate for months. Nothing like a lot of love to refocus the mind.

Back to WORK!