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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Frenemies & Pretzel Syndrome

Yes, I am an indulgent pet owner. Yes, I let my pets get on the couch, and the bed, and the chairs. Judge me if you want, but I say, life is better with pets in it, on it, over it, under it, etc.
Beth insists on sleeping in between Glenn and I every night. This gets a bit complicated because Dexter sleeps at the foot of the bed. They have a tentative peace between them, but sometimes Dexter tests the peace and it gets a little hairy (or is it furry?).
In order to accommodate my pets’ needs, I squirm and curl up and contort into a pretzel and otherwise adjust my sleeping position to theirs. It gets really bad when Fly, who is supposed to sleep on the floor (she’s an 80-pound German Shepard-I have my deal breakers), decides to join the slumber party. 
Last night was one of those nights. Fly didn’t get in the bed, but she did decide she had to go out, on the coldest night of the season, at 5:20 a.m., and then bark ceaselessly at woodland creatures no doubt shivering and cursing at the cold, cold night. 
Who cares, though, right? I mean, when you’re greeted with this degree of ridiculous cuteness in the morning, I say it’s worth it, pretzel syndrome and all!

The Secret Of My Sucess

Meet my friend, Neti. This little pot keeps me healthy and snot-free when everyone else around seems to have sniffles, coughs, and other mucus-related nastiness. For those of you unacquainted with the neti pot, it acts as a nasal wash, or lavage, bathing the sinus passages and rinsing them thoroughly. Neti pots have been used therapeutically for centuries. 
Every other day, or everyday if I feel I might have been exposed to a cold or flu, I fill ‘er up with neti pot salt, an herbal wash, and warm water and pour it in, alternating nostrils. I won’t lie-it isn’t always a pleasant experience. You know when you’re in a swimming pool or the ocean and you accidentally get water up your nose and it feels like the top of your head is going to burn off? Yep, that’s what the neti pot can bring. Not always, mind you, but the possibility for a quick burn does exist. I say it’s worth it, though. I’ll take a few minutes of firey brain over a lingering cold any day. 
My other cold and flu-fighting secret is a warm tea, fueled with fresh ginger slices, abundant lemon juice, a healthy dose of honey (local is best), and a generous sprinkling of cayenne. Stir the whole thing up in a big mug or teapot, allow to steep for about 10 minutes, then bottoms up. If you’re really concerned you might be getting something, mince a clove or two of fresh garlic and add it to the tea. For those of you opting to go the garlic route, I’d suggest straining off the liquid through a fine mesh sieve before use. I promise you, this stuff is liquid gold. I’ve been cold and flu-free (stomach flu notwithstanding) for years now, thanks to this protocol (and yes, I’m knocking on my wooden dining room table so that it remains that way!).

Good Times

Apropos of nothing, I came across some black and white photos from my honeymoon and decided, on this rainy afternoon, to share them with you and take a brief pause from writing about how not to kill yourself whilst using a pressure canner. 

Inside the Coliseum, in Rome. 
At Parc de la Vilette, in the suburbs of Paris. 
A Japanese garden in Monaco. 
In an exotic cactus garden, high above Monaco. 
Outside the famous gelateria Giolotti, where Gregory Peck took Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday.” 

Yuletide Feast






Owing to the fact that I’m the type of person that doesn’t like doing things I don’t understand the significance of (um, panty hose? wha?), I opted to explore some of the ethnobotanical elements associated with this time of year a bit more closely. What better way to showcase and share my new found knowledge, I decided, than by throwing a swanky cocktail party? Guests were encouraged to don their finest party frocks and join Glenn and I this past Friday at our home for libations, feasting, and camaraderie. It was truly wonderful. 

We ate:
-Cremini mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese and herbs
-Phyllo pastry cups filled with leek, potato, apple and rosemary
-Smoked local Gouda and chevre topped with pecans & cranberries
-Roasted salted figs  
 -Spiced, herbed pecans
-Black-eyed pea and dandelion green cakes with homemade aioli
-Sugarplum balls of dried apricot, figs, and dates with orange peel, 
Cointreau, and spices
-Pine nut and anise seed cookies
-Homemade buche de noel (Yule log) with meringue mushrooms
We drank:
-Eggnog martinis
-Tawny Orange Marmalade Sours with Hendrick’s Gin
-Sparkling Rose (that’s wine, not the flower), pomegranate and 
Absinthe punch
We smelled:
-Juniper candles
-Juniper & Douglas Fir incense
Guests received:
-Homemade bitters, either basil or orange
-9 Herb sachet blends, representing the connection between the soil
beneath our feet, the ground we stand on, and the heavens above
We saw:
-Wild-harvested decorations, lovingly gathered and curated by my 
dearest of friends, Jen and Jon (love you nogito and negita!!)
It was amazing and precious and delicious and I’m looking forward to doing something similar for each season from now on!