Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sweet Jumps Ahead

My sincerest wishes for each and every one of you that all of your wildest dreams will come true in 2009! 

*Image courtesy of 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hear It And Weep

I'm really loving this right now. Listen on a cold winter's night with something warm to sip and something soft to cuddle.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yes We Can!

I'm looking for a few good canners. Each book in my series will profile folks who are doing whatever the book topic is about. In this case, it's home canning and preserving. So, if you're a canner, or someone in your family cans, or you have a buddy who's homemade pickles make summer worthwhile, I'd love to connect with them. Either post a comment here, or write me directly at: All it takes is completing a short questionnaire and sending me a good digital photo of your glorious face! Come can with me! (That last sentence seriously deserves strong consideration for "dorkiest blog sentence EVER!" Apologies.)
*Sorry about the hideous quality of the photo. I took it in my quite dark pantry. After, oh, about 18 attempts, this was the best I could capture. You get the gist of what I'm suggesting, though. 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Splendor

An aromatic welcome.
A mountain of citrus from Glenn's folks in Florida.
Weighted beauties. 
Blueberry is helping me write the next book. 
A new tribal rug from India, since Dexter chewed up the old rug. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Come In Peace

The Best of Everything

What a week it's been! We started last Sunday with a 10 course Feast of the Seven Fishes traditional Southern Italian meal at the home of our friend Ric Scalzo (owner and founder of Gaia Herbs). The food and company and overall environs were wonderful and truly appreciated. Then, there was the roof situation, which I'm happy to report has resulted in a grand new roof that imparts to our humble abode a bit of a thatched English cottage look, appropriately enough! 
Then, on Christmas Eve, we headed to the home of our friends Nick and Meredith and their 3 1/2 year old son, Miles. They actually live in a home that I used to live in, which was beautifully constructed from a number of different types of wood over the course of 10 years from timber on the 185 acres where the house is situated. It's truly a magnificent space. 
Nick is of Lithuanian descent and on Christmas Eve, which also happens to be his birthday, he engages in a traditional Lithuanian 12 course meal. The cuisine is variable, depending on what he fancies that year and what Meredith skillfully whips up in the kitchen. Glenn and I contributed a flourless chocolate torte and a bottle of Calvados for Nick. 
A scene from the feasting. We were probably around course 6 at this point. It was delicious, and ridiculously filling. And lots of fun!
Miles decided to leave Santa ham rolls instead of cookies. What can I say? He's an iconoclastic kid with artists for parents! 

Christmas Day didn't go quite as well. I came down with some kind of nasty 24-hour flu. I stayed on my mom's couch while Glenn and Mom slaved away in the kitchen, wondering if the end was near for me. The few bites I was able to enjoy were sublime. 

Thanks to everyone for such abundance and love this week. Now that the feasting is over and the roof no longer quakes from above and all is at peace in my stomach, I'm ready to get back to working on the Canning & Preserving book. 

Oh, I promised to mention some of the handmade items I gifted our families with this year. They included, but aren't limited to: salted caramels, herbed spiced pecans, salted chocolate chip cookies, pear apple ginger marmalade, apple butter and blackberry mint preserves. 

Today my brother Walker and sister Devan share a birthday, turing 24 and 22 respectively. Happy happy to the both a ya's and here's to thoughts of brighter futures ahead for all of us!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Bed

We're getting a new roof today. There are 3 men presently ripping off old shingles with glee and abandon, like roofers do. We've needed a new roof for a long, long time, but kept putting it off. Two weeks ago, during a long, hard rain, when we had buckets and towels set out to collect drips that were occurring all over the house, it seemed that we couldn't wait any longer. You try sleeping through a constant drip 12 inches from your bed, when pillows over the head, ambient music, and even ear plugs all fail to quiet the incessant noise. 

And so, here I sit, with 3 days until Christmas, trying to write a chapter for the next book, while the cats and dogs keep giving me looks of distress and bewilderment on account of the stomping and hammering and dump trucks delivering shingles and latino music blaring to give the roofers some solace on a morning with a wind chill of -8. There are cakes and cookies for the family to be baked, fudge-making to be attempted, fires to be stoked, and canning instructions to be written. Just another day in the life. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When I Was Just A Little Girl

This is an old Christmas card written by my youngest sister, Theo (the little blond in the picture). Devan is the one with the weird grimace and I'm the 18-year old with too much eye makeup on. I love this card. It resurfaced recently after years of living in my "letters" box. I keep it on my desk for a quick smile. Never underestimate the power of hand-written cards and letters. I've tucked away many for posterity. For me, they have the transcendent power of scents, instantly transporting me back to people and places long ago. They help me see things with fresh eyes, where I was, where I've gone, who I am becoming, how malleable reality is. 

I've been busy lately, beginning the next book and brewing up homemade concoctions for holiday gift-giving. I can't reveal too much just yet, as the recipients haven't received their gifts and many of them are readers of this blog. All secrets will be revealed in due time, though, I promise. 

*Yes, I know it looks like I have a lazy eye. No, I don't.
**Yes, I too see the weird fuzzy stuff around the photo. No, I don't have any idea what it is.
***Yes, she spelled it Chirstmax. It's an Adams Family holiday, sort of like Festivus is for the Kostanzas. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kittens Roasting By An Open Fire

Hearts and Behinds Campaign

No one ever said keeping chickens was going to be a cakewalk. I'd noticed Uno's backside looking a little less than pleasant on Friday. Yesterday, I could tell something was up and this morning, upon closer inspection, well, suffice to say, things aren't looking too altogether bootylicious for Uno right now. For those who know chickens, her cloaca is prolapsed. She's the shrimpiest gal in my flock, so passing eggs must have caused things to move a bit too much, if you see where I'm going without my having to get technical (I know some of you have weak stomachs).

So, I suited up in the clothes I reserve expressly for dealing with messes and general unpleasantness and headed out to wash a chicken's butt. We made some headway , as I plopped her fanny into a large, warm bowl of water and then rubbed her bum with honey, which is supposed to heal the wound. She looked like a wet, sticky, frazzled chicken when we were all done. Fingers and toes crossed that things will begin to heal over. She's isolated in the chicken tractor right now until things are a little less red. Chickens can be cruel and are especially interested in pecking anything red-colored, be that an earthworm or a chicken's heiney. A chicken tractor, for those who don't spend all their time pouring over chicken books (although you'll LOVE mine, whether you have chickens or not!), is simply a mobile chicken housing structure. Glenn built the most incredible one for the book and I promise to post pictures soon. The photo above, by the way, is of Uno on the day of the big photo shoot, so a big thank you to Lark books for the image. If you believe in long-distance healing chicken love, I'm sure Uno would appreciate having some sent her way today.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?

I think this song speaks for itself. Cherish the simple things in your life, not just during the holidays, but always.
Love to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Put A Little Tree In Your Yard

Christmas trees have long presented many a quandary for me. Buy a cut tree at Ikea and in exchange they plant 10? Done it. Keep a mature live tree indoors, only to have it slowly, sadly lose its needles? Old hat. Well, folks, this year, things are going to be different, and unprecedented! This year, I'm starting a new tradition. From here on out, my plan is to pick up several small potted trees each year, keep them properly watered and misted, and festooned with silvery whimsical things, and then plant them around my property at the end of the holiday season. I'm starting out with two Dwarf Alberta spruces and one Sea Green juniper. That way, I can enjoy the nobility and greenery of evergreen trees indoors without them having to sacrifice their lives. Instead, I'll treat them like house guests, accommodating their needs, and knowing that eventually they will move on. 
Since the little guys don't put off as much scent as their mature counterparts, each night I've been lighting a Aloha Bay  natural essential oil candle called, appropriately, "Christmas Tree." It's scented with fir balsam, white cedar, and musk and makes me feel like I felt on Christmas Eve when I was 8 years old and my mom played Barbara Streisand albums REALLY LOUD all night long to mask the sound of our whining-puppy-Christmas-Day-jackpot-present that was alone and scared in the garage. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

So, Tell Me What You Want

As I write this, it is snowing sideways. The snowflakes are actually coming down horizontally. The Raising Chickens book is almost complete and I'm getting geared up to begin writing about Canning & Preserving. At present,  I am flanked by 4 of my 5 cats. The wood stove is ablaze and these cats know a good thing when they feel it. I was wondering this morning, when all 5 cats were surrounding me, why it is that, when people go crazy in their homes, there is often an unusually large number of cats to be found in the vicinity. Why don't people loose touch with reality whilst in the company of numerous dogs, or rabbits, or parakeets? Why cats? Well, I have 5 and though the sanity level in my home can be questionable at times, I feel as though my bearings are on fairly tight. But I digress....

The intention of this post is to conduct an unofficial poll. I'm looking ahead to the next two books in the series, and it was suggested by my editor's boss that I poll my readership, as well as the readers of several other blogs, to determine what book topics people are most interested in reading about. So far, potential future topics include, but are in no way limited to:

-organic gardening/edible landscaping
-cordials, elixirs, and bitters
-salting, smoking, drying, and cellaring
-herbal products for baby, bath, pets, and home
-growing your own flowers

So, what strikes you as most intriguing? What seems most timely? What is missing? Those of you who might read blog this regularly (or sporadically!) and have not yet commented (or "de-lurked" as it is known in blog-speak), please feel free to do so. In fact, feel free to poll your own readers, if you are yourself a blogger. Thanks in advance for your feedback!