Drinking

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It snowed!! A whopping three inches in our garden and well before actual fall (two weeks ago already?!), but the timing couldn’t be better, stifling some of our wicked wildfires in the process. Small mercies. Still praying for rain, though. Boy do we ever need it in the West. Such heartbreak at all that has been lost.

Snow day cuddles with the girl. How cute it she?!

I asked Greg to take a picture of me in my new favorite dress, testing the light with a photo of him first. As ever, he had me laughing myself silly! The dress is from Duluth, and possesses a dreamy, pajama type comfort. Stretchy and flattering, with GIANT pockets. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Homemade cherry preserves and a buttered club.

I’ve been eyeing these prickly pears for a time now and decided today was the day to harvest. My first attempt was a FAIL, trying to pick them with a single garden glove. I gave up a third of the way through, with so many needles in my fingers (so aptly named!). Undeterred, I returned with rubber gloves and kitchen shears, and all was copacetic.

Jerks with their boozy habits, leaving bottles all over the town. Made for a nice picture, though. And I brought it on home to recycle.

I did some interweb reading before deciding a simple whir in the Vitamix would do the trick with the prickly pears, adding nothing. I made margaritas with the strained final product. Fresh is best, peeps. My goodness, Y E S ! !

Another oldie! I am a year and a half or so here, on the lap of my Great Uncle Chris. I associate him with Cadillacs, cigars, whiskey and a velvety bass voice. Oh, and love…

We grow quite a bit of mint and forget to use it more often than not. In a mint-lucid moment, I grabbed a bunch, whirred it in the Vitamix with lime and sugar syrup before topping it off with fizzy water. The color was a delightful almost neon, and the flavor equally electric. I am so parched looking at it that I think I’m going to beg off writing this post for a few to make another. You won’t know the difference, and summer couldn’t really ask for a better drink.

Well before the pandemic had us mostly confined, Greg and I found ourselves spending more and more time at home, thinking about moving to the country, as our need for space, starry skies, and silence grew more important. Interaction with other people, for in-theater movies, sporting events, art galleries and museums, and dining out became less and less so. And so, depsite the horrors and losses of this dreaded disease, we feel grateful to know that our isolation is neither a punishment nor a burden.

Additionally, and I sometimes feel snobby for saying so, but I like my food best. At the times when I crave something special, something I don’t feel like cooking, or when I simply need a break from the kitchen, and we go out or order in, I am often disappointed, and Greg whispers, “Yours is better.” So we are pinching the necessary pennies and hoping to have our own slice of quiet country life, hopefully sooner than later.

When we lived in Portland, our dear neighbor Pat went through the trauma of breast cancer. It was an awful and stressful time for her, and just about the only way we could help out was to make food. Her favorites were my lasagna (at least at the beginning, before she was terribly sick) and these ginger muffins. While rooting through recipes on the hunt for something else, I stumbled upon it, entitled, without an ounce of creativity, “Pat’s Cancer Muffins.” I don’t remember if they were a riff off someone else’s idea or my own fabrication. They don’t look like much but were as tasty as I remembered. Maybe you’ll like them, too.

3 oz piece unpeeled ginger root

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Cut ginger into large chunks. Process into tiny pieces. Alternatively, use a microplane to shred it or mince it by hand. Put the ginger and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Set aside to cool.

Add zest to ginger mixture.

Beat the butter with remaining sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, beat well. Add the buttermilk, beat until blended. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, and beat until smooth. Add the ginger mixture, beat until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin (I prefer to grease the tin rather than use papers for a crispy texture). Bake for 18-20 minutes at 375, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

Variation:

4 tablespoons butter & 4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup buttermilk & 1/2 cup orange juice

zest of one orange

Grandma’s rose bush made a heap of beautiful hips! I made delicious jelly!

The rim of Palmer Park between the trees. We walk here at least once a week, in most weather — Juniper hates the rain.

I made the best barbacoa meat a couple weeks ago, slow cooked all night long, and worth the effort. We enjoyed it every which way for days.

I don’t know what the pink flower is, but it cheered the path for a couple of weeks. The teensy yellow blossoms of the Russian Olive make for a heavenly scented walk and help make up for the trees highly invasive nature.

Shrimp & Grits!!

A front garden yucca getting ready to shine…

It’s cherry season, y’all!

I am trying my hand at water kefir – the less funky cousin to kombucha. This was blueberry lemonade and sipped like a dream. Hope you are as well as can be and keeping it positive!

We spent a wonderful, laughter-filled evening with the cousins Wednesday, at the super fun downtown Holiday Stroll. We love our time together!

We also love Colorado Springs! It’s a little weird, but it’s beautiful and full of heart. There were stands with free hot chocolate and cookies, while Santa (no photo, sadly), carolers, and a brass quartet strolled along with us.

We even got lucky a second time at Jack Quinn’s, scoring one of the special booths for a delicious dinner beforehand. I got my favorite Blarney Stone, and Greg is showing his goofball side with dessert. I love him so much!

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Hello from Jack Quinn’s, our favorite Irish Pub! This was last Saturday, and we were lucky to arrive at a sleepy enough hour to snag one of the very special booths, each cozy and enclosed, what an office cubicle dreams to be. The kind eyed with envy from passersby (been there!) and what I imagine would be taken by gangster types in days of yore.

It was a grand outing downtown, with an early dinner of Guinness for Greg, a Blarney Stone for me (Jameson, bitches!), and a shared feast of pretzels with beer cheese dip (the height!), amazing mussels, and a pork belly boxty. Oh, and a beautiful baked apple. Sooo much deliciousness and kindly service. Always.

We followed our perfect meal with JoJo Rabbit at Kimball’s Peak 3, our favorite theater that’s just around the corner. After loving Taika Waititi’s work in Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, and Eagle vs. Shark, we had rather high hopes. Sadly, it didn’t live up to our expectations, despite the fabulous Sam Rockwell and the scene stealing from he adorably funny Archie Yates. We’ll likely do a similar repeat this coming weekend to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. More high hopes…

A few weeks back, strolling a craft fair with my dear friend Bebe, I became smitten with a cache of felted wool acorns. Itching to recreate them, I collected acorn tops from neighborhood streets and bought all the makings – wool roving in 100(!) colors, felting needles, and a sturdy pad for all the stabbing. With my attention diverted by three books of every manner of cuteness checked out from the library, I have yet to complete an acorn (ha!), but I have made the cute peach and the wee mushroom and mouse scene. What I will do with them, I am not quite sure, but who cares! They are adorable.

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