Eating

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Way back in 2008, I wrote about the concoctions I made in the drinking and body care categories. One of them was kombucha, which I have made off and on in the fourteen years since. We’re in an off period now, but never say never about the future!

I also tried various deodorants and shampoos, which in their former formulations I abandoned. The deodorant paste contained baking soda and made my armpits break out in a rash after a couple months, while the shampoo eventually made my hair look greasy all the time. Live and learn.

Today I present you with what I have learned. I still make soap (and very much enjoy it!), for hand and body washing, shampoo, and pictured at top, laundry. This is made from 100% coconut oil (and lye, of course) which cleans clothes exceptionally well and will make your skin drier than dead leaves if you wash with it on the regular. Greg and I grate it with a microplane, using about two tablespoons per load. A batch of eight bars lasts well over a year, mostly because we only wash a load or two a week.

In case you wondering why, since we’re such a small family, it takes a while to achieve a full load, usually every two to three weeks for darks and once a month for lights. I considered the minimalist clothing idea at one time, only having a few items in each category, but realized with so few garments, the necessity of washing a small load of laundry all the damn time, and who wants that? No one under this red roof, I assure you. I went for a minimalist color scheme instead – black, white, grey, oatmeal, harvest yellow, forest green, turquoise, and rust for the majority of my tops and sweaters. Jeans in every fade, a single black pair of corduroys, ochre, rust, and green pants, skirts, and shorts. Most every garment is a good match for the others. I also wear everything but the undies for as long as they aren’t visibly soiled or smelly.

It’s also a boon for all of our water reducing measures in preparation for moving to Taos. We’ll have a well and collect rainwater for all of our usage, no endless city taps! It is best to be prepared well in advance.

Getting back to it, I also make hand and lip balms, with beeswax, avocado, and olive oil, sometimes with herbal infusions, like creosote bush and calendula, and the remains of lip balms I’ve gotten as gifts. The lip stuff I use several times daily and the hand balm every night at bed time. I should also mention the hand balm benefits from the addition of zinc, which is a pretty amazing all-around for skin.

In the liquid category, the pink spritz (a great re-use of a rosewater bottle) has a mixture of zinc, magnesium flakes, sulfur, and filtered water. Greg has super sensitive skin, and this is the absolute best mixture for keeping it clear, soft, and itch-free. He sprays it all over, scalp included. It is not hyperbole to say the change has been astounding. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t smell like matches, either.

The old rye bottle is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and rice water, which I use as a face and hair rinse. The blue spritz is our deodorant – a combination of essential oils (tea tree and white thyme for antimicrobial properties, sweet orange for scent), water, magnesium flakes, and a touch of alcohol. The amber bottle is my moisturizing hair oil. I use castor, olive, and jojoba oil, with rosemary and mint essential oils, which are supposed to stimulate hair growth. That is not definitive, but really smells nice. It helps keep my dry ends in check, at least!

Are you still there? The camera continues to please, dear peeps, in spades!! Our first frost brought a whole host of photographic delights.

Weekend morning ritual: get up without an alarm, though shockingly close to said usual hour, enjoy a latte or three and a ginger biscuit or three, with Juniper cuddles on the sofa. Right when her pants are full to brimming with ants, we walk!

Oatmeal Raisin with flake salt, crispy-sweet, salty good.

Creamy chicken stew, made with cauliflower and cream cheese instead of actual cream, pureed to smoothness. Add ground chicken, green chiles, corn, onion, garlic, and powdered New Mexico chile galore. Eat super duper fast.

Happy Halloween!!

Mt. Herard

Lenticular

Our ascent begins…

Unknown Pleasures

Our high point, with Cleveland Peak most distant

South towards Zapata Ridge

A long way to Medano Creek

STEEP

Descent

Greg and Juniper hoofed it. I was far less glamorous and a tad more fun, sliding on my rear.

An excursion to Great Sand Dunes National Park was the second reason for heading south this past weekend. Neither of us had ever been, so it was decided a month or so ago. We stayed in Fort Garland, at The Lodge, which we highly recommend for pet and people friendliness!

Though the cold was was bracing, we made the right choice starting our hike at dawn – no crowds! We also took it as a good sign that the bugle of elk marked our beginning. The light enchanted, and hardly a sound could be heard for much of our hike. Only in the instances when we laid still on the sand, fingers sifting, sun warming, did we hear animals, finally on their level, a wire on the kangaroo rat telegraph. There were other signs of life, mostly tracks: of birds, coyote, fox, moth wings, the skitter of seed pods and leaves, too.

In a search for the ultimate view, we ascended for nearly three hours, hoping the next highest dune would bring the glory. We were rewarded handsomely, but oh, how the muscles in my legs complained in the final moments! The most notable aspect about hiking on sand is there is nothing to grasp, the feet slide, the body groans, but somehow makes it, inch by inch.

Afterward, we rewarded ourselves with lattes and a lovely oil painting at our favorite Valley coffee stop, the Mirage Trading Company, knowing there was delicious pizza and equally wonderful service just a hop, skip, and an hour’s jump away at Moonlight Pizza in Salida. How lucky we three souls are!

Hello, and happy October! It’s been a while. After a much needed break from all the interior improvements we made when we moved in (six years ago!), and a bit of uncertainty about what exactly to do in the basement, we finally decided to paint – some wood paneling (but not all), the fireplace, and the laundry room ceiling. Thus far, we’ve finished the guest room, the little hall to the bathroom, ceiling beams, and around the fireplace. I started the actual brick this morning, but it is so deeply textured that rolling, even with a thick nap, is not really an option. We will be paint sprayer owner-operators forthwith!

That’s where I’ve been, at least. When not too tired to cook because of all the up-down-side-to-side brush and roller movements, I have made some yum. Firstly, this tandoori style chicken, which Greg gorgeously grilled and topped with a few home grown cayenne pepper slices. The recipe comes from 30 Minute Mowgli, the Indian cookbook for those of us who want to have a life outside of making this delicious food. I’ve made quite a few of the recipes and highly recommend it!

You may also note that the bottom photo is a little blurry? My lens is slowly dying, and sometimes I catch it in the act and others not, so, until I decide whether to buy another DSLR lens or to move to a 100% digital camera, please forgive me my off-pics.

We visited Michael and Mary recently (hiya!), and Mary, who has some deep roots in Maine, made amazing-delicious Whoopie Pies, after letting us know she would not be making Grape Nuts pudding. I had no idea this existed thereabouts, and as Greg and I are both Grape Nuts lovers, I sought out a recipe and made some right quick. Isn’t it beautiful? It smelled heavenly and was quite delicious, but the nuts made a soft crust on the bottom, and I wanted them at least a little bit crunchy.

Homemade pita tower! Spiced beef patties! Tahini dressed salad! Our favorite hummus with pickled raisins from Eat Cook L.A.!

Normally, Greg is a pita gobbler, so I made a lot of them. He surprised us both by not finishing the batch before they turned hard, so I made a little savory breakfast bread pudding, with homemade green chiles and bacon. Zero complaints, dear peeps.

Greg is a hot beverage sipper, and, whenever possible, also enjoys a dip-dip of something sweet and crunchy into said drinks. For a while, he enjoyed the big box of brown sugar Belvitas at Costco, while I always lamented their too sweet sweetness and all the unrecyclable packaging carted off to the landfill. After some trying and failing, I tweaked a few recipes into the best homemade version I could, and we are both pleased as punch at the result! This batch is on the thicker side, but we’ve since decided we prefer them thinner and crispier. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to see for yourself.

Ginger Biscuits

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup almond flour (I use homemade from making almond milk -woot!!)

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 t baking powder

8 tablespoons (one stick) butter, softened

75 grams powdered sugar (10 tablespoons)

10 grams molasses (1 1/2 teaspoons)

3 T microplaned ginger (maybe 2 t dried?)

1/4 cup cold milk

Mix milk, molasses, and ginger together, set aside. Combine flours and baking powder, rub into butter and powdered sugar. Add milk mixture and oats, combine until a stiff dough forms. Roll on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness, and cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly golden, 12-20 minutes. Depending on thickness, makes 30-40 biscuits.

Home grown tomatoes roasted for salsa!

For all of my fellow Little House on the Prairie fans, greetings from Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Oh my goodness, Laura Ingalls Wilder lived here! I wouldn’t say there is a whole lot in the looking department at the early hour we visited, as the museum opens at ten, and especially since we only noticed Plum Creek on our drive out of town and didn’t want to stop, but still.

I spent so much of my childhood (and a summer as an adult!) deep in the books, reading them a couple of times, then watching the show, it was impossible for my heart not to overflow a bit. We also ate at Nellie’s Cafe, which is a cute little place with kindly service, the biggest sausage on a breakfast sandwich, and an amazing sticky roll, which was HOT from the oven.

A little blurry, I know, but look at my smile. The excitement of being in Walnut Grove!

At the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. I have always wanted to stop here! The corn cob murals are pretty spectacular, with such a variation in shades, and certainly worth the trip.

The downside of my 51 year old body is having eyes going farsighted and that the tiny little preview of photos on my camera look pretty great until I get home and see they are blurry as heck. Wah!

So, you won’t be able to see the wall to wall motorcycles coming and going from Sturgis lining the road in front of Wall Drug. The Wall Drug, with signs for hundreds of miles. I have even heard they have a sign in the London Underground. Fancy!

It was a mob of people with every kind of accent and shade of sun burn and tan, all gobsmacked at the masses of choices of goods on offer. You will not be surprised to learn I bought fudge, in my favorite amaretto flavor. If it isn’t illicit, you can probably find it here before finding solace in Jesus (or whomever) in the sweet little chapel. Welcome traveler!

South Dakota melting into Wyoming, beauty for mile upon mile! The old timey Frontier gas pump is located at the finest public restroom on our journey. Located on East 21st Avenue, just east of Main, in Torrington, Wyoming. It is clean and bright and filled with vintage charm!

Hey there, hi there! It’s Minneapolis-St. Paul. Hilly and lovely and friendly filled, but what a nightmare to the novice driver, as many a street turns into a highway without much warning. We did a lot of cussing and driving in circles!

The Patric Richardson recommended bridge in all its glory! How cool to wander amongst remnants of the old mills. Since we are early to bed and early to rise types these days, we did not get out after dark to witness the neon. I’ll bet it puts on a stellar show!

Running up that hill, with a serious nod to Kate Bush, of course. How cool is it that her ages old song is making all the hit lists this summer. YAY! The Sensual World, which I owned on cassette (!!) got some serious mileage in my Celica.

September Room – Mark Manders

The Claes Oldenburg Cherry is even more cheerful in person. I never knew it sprayed mist on passersby. Eeek!

Also, to the right, is LOVE – Robert Indiana

Woodrow – Deborah Butterfield

Hey, Portlanders! He looks like the sculptures as you leave PDX, right? A little trip down memory lane.

After Dream – Pierre Huyge

A tree full of chimes that together play every note of a score by John Cage. Very clever.

Spoonbridge and Cherry – Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

X with Columns – Sol LeWitt

Black Vessel for a Saint – Theaster Gates

This fella is the saint safely nestled inside the Black Vessel for a Saint on the right, with no actual access, only slots for peering eyes and camera lenses. Damn, so good!

For Whom…

Kris Martin

Cock – Katharina Fritsch

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was probably highest on our list of activities in the Twin Cities. Nestled pretty much in the heart of Minneapolis and full of fellow wanderers, it is a joyful and energetic space.

Lunch break! The best Banh-Mi we’ve had in a very long while at Trung Nam. They also have amazing croissants that are next level delicious. The lightest, airiest, crispiest I have ever tasted. PLUS, apricot filled?! I didn’t know this was a thing, but oh! Yes, it IS.

Cathedral of St. Paul

Hockey!

What look like rabies tags looking cheerful on a tree. Guessing some sort of inoculant against a devastating disease?

Every photo from the beautiful sandwich onward is in lovely St. Paul. There is probably some sort of secret way to really know the difference between the Twins, but, as outsiders, we found them equally delightful!

Historical homes lining Summit Avenue. Good golly, it goes on for miles and has beauty after beauty!

Not my monkey, not my circus…

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