Thursday, February 20, 2020


On this cold cold  February morning walk, when your eyes water and your nose contorts, sucking in ice cold air.  Tears dribbled down my face for no apparent reason other than it was fucking cold, a raspberry bramble slapped the back of my frosty numb leg, sending a stabbing pain up my spine to an already short circuited brain.  The sun was not out and it was a grey, milk toast Ohio morning with a stiff  14 mph north wind.  My shoulders were scrunched up enough to be declared a turtle neck.  Kirby had refused to walk down the driveway and was home snoring.  And about the time my legs were burning with cold and welts, I stopped to look around.......... 

yup, definitely worth it.....
and this is out my front door, no need to drive anywhere just walk across the street.  

Since rolling off the frenetic season of shows, holidays, family, feasting and all things glittery, it's time to take a step away and review. For every single thing I question, in this sometimes out of control lifestyle, I can ask; IS IT WORTH IT? 

Can there be a more simplistic question that can bring such clarity?  This is a revelation to me and just why this thought is occurring to me at 65 is a mystery.  Although I think I have ghost memories of my teenage self and possibly even my wee self asking that question, when staying out past curfew, locking my brother out of the house (on purpose) or things making my folks go little gray-er.  Even then the answer was always YES, a resounding YES with a side order of YES and sprinkled with a bit more YES!   I am not sure what the hell happened in between but I forgot to ask. 

I am often asked why I can and preserve so much food.  I had a can of tomatoes in the cupboard and the smell alone made me aware of how worth it is to have a shelf full of tomatoes tucked in jars from my garden in the basement. 
The other night I had Butternut Carrot Thai soup from a basement shelf and Butch opened a can of store bought soup.  We don't even need to have that discussion but the jar beat the can, no argument from the peanut gallery on that one.  For me, it's YES.  For Butch who could eat Kirby kibble and say Wow, where did you get this great recipe, not so much. 

Bread...... is it worth it?  YES!  and I figured out a way to make it so it only takes a few minutes.  And it's full of great stuff like oat bran, nuts, whole grains, Einkorn flour, rye and stuff that I like.... oh yeah and Guinness.  I can't buy this bread and it costs under a dollar to make so discussion over. 
Butch still likes Wonder Bread, I think it's a wonder you can eat it. 

Teaching out at the Montessori school....... I have made peace with this issue.  Not sure the kids would say it's worth it but for me it is!   I've made so much peace with this I took on another class.  
But it's the middle of winter when traditionally no money goes in my bank account,  it paid for two big diseased pines to be taken out. 

and I have change to buy a few new plants for all that space!  

The two shows I have committed to ........ going on past review I would say, YES. 

How about getting a dog?  BaHaaaaa!  

and you get to meet the neighbors! 

And what about all that work in the garden? 

Absolutely YES! 

I have said to NO to quite a few things so I am weeding out this year.  Things that made me a lot crazy and things that made me a little crazy.   That NO thing has opened the door to new adventures
 I am kind of excited about.  

I haven't been in the studio too much but just enough that I want to be there.  

And just so everyone knows;  Mercury is in Retrograde and this could all go right out the window but for now can we get a: OH HELL YES!  

Oh and the Mom Box idea has been a blast!
February Mom box included homemade truffles, biscotti, chocolate chip cookies and a cook book :) 

So that's a YES!  (and no I do not want to start a side a business in my spare time) 

next month it has to be vegetables!  

So ask yourself.......... IS IT WORTH IT?  
You might be surprised, I was! 

Ahhhhh thanks fucking cold February! 

How I feel about most days in February.... 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Holy Cow it's February!

My 2020 plan of a free range lifestyle is moving along, sort of.  Thankfully no more issues with the van other than my depleted bank account, and that is where the free range lifestyle gets kind of fenced in.  

But I will not be corralled..... too much, I frankly refuse this year.  

Since last posting I hosted the great winter Pie-a-thon.  I had wanted to do a pie and Prosecco party for a while now and finally had the time to undertake this insanity.  Next time that little needle is stuck on the record I should just break the record and move along; next time! 

Invite the neighbors over, then realize there are 12 of us and one pie is not enough, then realize not everyone likes mincemeat, then realize you have been saving pie recipes since 1970 and my friends, you are down the pie hole of insanity.  My initial list had 19 "favorite" pies.  Thankfully my right brain kicked in and pointed out that was more than one whole pie per person; weed this list out!  Speaking of weeds, in a moment of clarity and panic I realized I had double booked the day and had a seed swap-potluck 40 miles away.  I'll just take pie and seeds and make it home in time to whip the cream and bake off one last pie.  I made two practice pies; applesauce and peach-blueberry, just to get my pie groove on. 

applesauce test pie....... the peach blueberry was consumed before I could get pictures.

Pies that made the cut: Mincemeat, Walnut and Whiskey, Lemon Meringue, French Silk with Espresso, Coconut Cream. 
Recipes are here:  PIE RECIPES

The parts I always forget:  
clean the house, blow the dust of the dishes and glassware, buy the Prosecco and bath the dog.  
This party stuff is a lot of work!  
But we made it!! 

We had a great time and I have never done anything like this before and I would do it again but I not going to be making pie for awhile. 

Along the lines of frantic activity we had a warm spell!  This fits in perfectly with my free range life style.  When I was in a pie frenzy, the snow was blowing and it was cold outside.  The wood stove was humming along and the dog was snoring.  Two days later I was in shirt sleeves hacking down tree limbs.  Which worked out great after eating way too much pie. 

One of my observations for the last few years; look out the window and plan the day!  If it's raining; bake, go to the studio, write a blog post, get into trouble applying to shows you really don't want to do etc.  If the there is no precipitation of any kind: GET OUTSIDE!  There is no tomorrow.  Sometimes the rain or snow lasts a week.  Sometimes the warm weather lasts 12 hours before we plummet back to freezing or have wind storms.  There is no more normal!  If strawberries fail but peaches have a bumper crop put up enough for two years as next year peaches might fail and strawberries might have the bumper crop.  We just don't know anymore but put something up and get stuff done when you can.  If the lake is calm go kayaking today not tomorrow!  This is the new normal.  I am getting much more done living under these "normal" weather patterns.  

Marinated Mushrooms:

Oranges were on sale too.  I love canned oranges and grapefruit! 
Not marmalade.... it's a texture thing with me. 

Then the warm weather hits and you're in the backyard moving plants and pruning like a 
mad woman.  The new neighborhood cat, Figgie stops by to save you. 

I still have 5 more plants to move but this is a huge start to the backyard makeover. 
If you would like watch the beginning of the transformation head over to the youtube channel.

The way back is going edible in a big way!  The deer have educated me to what they will eat and what they won't eat and they have eaten quite a bit.  And I am YouTubing all of this as it will be quite a change.  Confession, I am having a hard time leaving my formal gardening skills behind and deep down it just goes against everything I have held holy for the last 50 years.  I do not live on a farm, I live on a half acre lot with neighbors very close.  I do not want this place to look like a farm I want it to look landscaped but still edible and enjoyable.  As I take more and more ornamentals away what do I replace them with.  Are they just being replaced for food value?  and food value for whom (me or the deer)?  Do they make sense in this environment?  I don't have the luxury to plant just to plant. 

Ever drive down a street and see someone who is trying to "foodscape"?  95% of the time it looks like hell, IMHO.  So I have thrown down the gauntlet for zone 5 neighborhood gardens on this half acre; can I make this place look landscaped with native plants and edibles?  Toss in a few chickens, not 25, just a few and a blind dog.  OH and what does one do with all the dog poop on this half acre, the landfill should not be an option, or tracking it through the house.  I am hoping to come up with a solution, stay tuned for that one. 

It's been a great month of hiking, seed swapping, neighborhood visiting, pruning, transplanting, permaculture workshops, garden planning, seed ordering, YouTubing thinking and hiking. So much hiking this month.... 

sometimes just hiking around the yard....

and laughing........ don't forget to laugh :)