Celebrating

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It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

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Happy 2020! I hope your holiday celebrations were as lively and enjoyable as ours. This was our not-so-fancy Christmas dinner: pan roasted chicken thighs, roasted asparagus, sliced cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. No pie and lots of movie watching and puzzle making! It was the best day.

Fear not about the pie, however, as we spent Boxing Day with the local cousins (yay!), and our contribution was a ham, homemade fudge (walnut & cranberry pecan), homemade maple cream liqueur (scroll down for the recipe), spiced wine, and a bourbon pecan pie. You know, all the essential food groups.

It was a grand day of eating, chatting, D & D (our party continues to slay), more eating, a little drinking, and watching a couple episodes of The Mandalorian. We are actually in the know on a current event! Ha. That Baby Yoda is adorable.

We were also up late enough with weather fine enough for a midnight stroll (Juniper was ecstatic to be out so late, little cutie) to witness the annual AdAmAn display on top of Pike’s Peak. It only took three years! If you don’t know about it, it’s a group of climbers who endure a freezing hike the two days prior to New Year’s and set off fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Greg and I are not generally keen on fireworks in a been-there-done-that kind of way, but this display really is something, illuminating the peak in spectacular fashion! Here’s looking forward to next year…

And to yesterday’s lunch – a zucchini, apple, dried cranberry, and feta salad, with a little apple cider vinegar reduction dressing. The tops! All the basic holiday food groups were a bit excessive, so we are doing a much needed reset. The body brims with gratitude.

And if you are any kind of maple fan, you will be grateful for this recipe! Our friend Alex is Canadian and gave us this delicious Maple Cream Liqueur from Cabot Trail. We absolutely love it, but it isn’t available in the United States. Sadly, there isn’t anything quite like it here, and as I scoured the internet for recipes, came up blank. So I did a bit of tinkering and ended up making a version I actually feel is superior. It is SO easy, too.

Maple Cream Liqueur

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup gold rum (I like Bacardi), whiskey would also be wonderful

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Mix maple, your booze of choice, and the cocoa powder in a mixer or with a hand blender until smooth. I tried to do this with a whisk, but the cocoa powder is super finicky and kept floating on top. Add the whipping cream and mix on low just until combined. You don’t want to make it frothy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve over ice or in your favorite cup of coffee. I have no idea how long this keeps because it’s too good to not want to drink. Enjoy!!

Back when we lived in Portland, on some random channel I could never remember, I would watch Burns & Allen. I do remember that it was always in the hush of late evening, and that Gracie Allen was simply THE BEST of the whole darn show. She dazzled! This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing a rare and wonderful incarnation of her. Greg and I, after nearly four years in Colorado Springs, finally made it to the Millibo Art Theater, to see Yule Be Naughty. It’s a fun mix of silliness, cabaret, amazing aerials and acrobatics (seriously, wow!), and some pretty stellar Gracie Allen style story telling. If you are local and in need of an adult activity this weekend, go and be glad!

Before that, on Thursday, to be exact (thank you flexible work at home hours!!), we headed to our local castle, Glen Eyrie, for their Yule Tea. Greg made friends with a knight before the pair of us enjoyed every bite and sip.

The Big Horned Sheep was part of a herd grazing and relaxing on the lawn. Pretty cool!

dreaming of snow….

I am one of those people for whom it isn’t a complete holiday season without certain foods or events. On the event side, we must listen to Alice’s Restaurant, preferably on Thanksgiving, but, as was the case this year, the following day, despite talking about it and even queuing it up prior to dinner. The tamales, apparently, were just too exciting. We also must read Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, laughing and crying and delightedly sighing. That we did on Sunday, and loved it as much as ever.

As for the food and beverage side of the equation, I must have, in no particular order: stuffing with cranberries and celery, perfectly sliced canned cranberry sauce, egg nog (preferably with brandy, but whisky or rum will do), biscochitos (only my recipe will do – snob), fudge, and peppermint ice cream.

This summer, I learned the most amazing and delicious basic ice cream recipe. 8 oz heavy cream whipped to soft peaks & one can sweetened condensed milk – mixed gently together & frozen in a loaf pan. I made it with the addition of vanilla, a few tablespoons of my homemade peach & strawberry jam, chunky peanut butter & their delightful cups. Each was shockingly good considering the ease with which they were made. Seriously top shelf. And no churning or worrying! So, when it came time for the annual stroll down peppermint lane, the choice to make it myself was obvious. I added a half teaspoon of vanilla and five hammered to bits starlight mints. Divine.

Another lovely snow. It came in the smallest possible flakes, that fell and fell and fell. Champagne powder and Juniper’s dream come true!

Hello friends! Happy day after Thanksgiving to you! It was a non-traditional feast for us this holiday, celebrating with our cousin Zach. We enjoyed each other’s very fine company, along with margaritas, guacamole, green & red chile, pork & three kinds of wee sweet tamales. All made by yours truly, which was quite the endeavor! I started on Tuesday, so I wouldn’t be a manic maniac Thursday.

Grandpa would be super proud, especially noting the pork to masa ratio, as he nearly always lamented a lack of meat. It was my first time making tamales on my own. The last time was in high school, helping my mom. Much thanks to Tamales 101 for all the history (did you know they were among the first MREs?) and helpful advice! Greg and I decided that they’re the best we’ve ever had, which is wonderful, when Moreno’s and La Choza set such a high bar.

It was also the first time we’d ever had sweet tamales, more out of necessity than forethought truth be told, because there was SO much masa. Seriously. I didn’t have enough ingredients to fill them savory style, even when improvising with green chiles and cheese. I flavored the masa with vanilla and sugar in one batch, cinnamon and sugar in another, and sugar and chocolate chips in the third. You’d think our resident chocoholic would have been most excited about those, but he was dubious. They turned out to be our favorite, which was rather sad, as I made the fewest of them. Next time! The chocolate laden one is our final incarnation, made with leftovers and a sauce on the fly this afternoon. Delicious.

Finally to Zach’s creme brulee! It was egg nog flavored and muy muy delicioso. He and Greg did a fine job on the brulee portion. FIRE!

Oh, and here is my “recipe” for margaritas – my favorite in the land. Make a single glass or enough for a party. The sparkling water makes it slightly unconventional, but it is muy potente without it. Besides, bubbles are fun! If you are lucky enough to have some prickly pear syrup on hand, add it to your liking and be glad. The flavor and color are fabulous.

  • 3 parts sparkling lemon, lime, or lemon-lime sparkling water
  • Two parts tequila
  • 1.5 parts lime juice, fresh squeezed or bottled
  • One part orange liqueur (I like Gran Gala)
  • 1/2 part agave nectar
  • salt

Stir everything but the sparkling water together in a glass or pitcher, and taste to see how you feel about it. Add whatever it needs before adding the water. Sometimes the lime isn’t as flavorful, and I end up having it in equal proportion to the tequila. Maybe you like it sweeter. It’s your margarita. Do what you like! Another way I let go of convention is by adding salt directly to the glass. Salting the rim is a major pain. Sprinkle some nice sea salt in, stir, and taste. Add more, if you want. Enjoy!

New sage growth filled the air with its intoxicating scent and had the hubster and I swooning.

Our wonderfully cozy digs (and sweetest dog, ever). Greg and I have never been so enamored with a rental, envisioning, were it to come on the market, how we would make it our own.

The Taos Museum of Art at Fechin House. Every bit of the woodwork hand carved by Nicolai Fechin (feshin) in the first half of the last century. My photos pale in comparison to the in-person beauty. The artwork was pretty stunning, too, featuring Marjorie Eaton and Juan Mirabal (student and teacher to one another).

Well worth walking to their our of the way location on Kit Carson, tea.o.graphy serves and sells a stellar selection of tea. I also bought a fantastic mug with an old school pick-up on it, handmade in Taos, of course. If I can’t drive the truck of my dreams, I’m gonna drink from its likeness.

The above two photos are from the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, which was also owned by Dennis Hopper. It has quite the history!

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

One of the most photographed buildings in the world gets its annual spruce up. How lucky we were to see it in progress. Sad to miss the interior, however. Next time!!

Year round hollyhock beauty! Now that is a thought. We have a massive volunteer in the back yard and a few in the front that I am hoping will bloom this year.

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in the Moreno Valley is a deeply humbling and moving space created out of a father’s deep and abiding love. Doc Westphall began the memorial after his son David was killed in an ambush in 1968. It was the first Vietnam memorial, dedicated in 1971.

When we were there, the Angel Fire Garden Club was busily and quite cheerfully creating beautiful garden beds on the grounds. I was touched to see such an out of the way place so filled with love for those who gave everything in Vietnam. There is so much good in the world, peeps.

More dazzling green! Our nephew Tyler came for a visit last week, and we chuckled that some poor person might move to Colorado or New Mexico believing this is what spring looks like on the regular.

Red River reminds us of Colorado mountain towns of our childhood.

La Veta Pass greening up after last year’s massive fire. Hope springs eternal…

A final glimpse from the road, with gratitude for the best way I can conjure to celebrate the start of my 48th year!

 

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