12.03.2014

the song ended.


The staff was alerted that it was nearly time to shut down the venue but there were still rowdy guests out on the dance floor.  

When he came to investigate, he looked around expecting to find a few intoxicated old ladies, instead he found us, a group of girls who had formed a circle, and said, “Oh!  check out you guys!”  We all waved to him and kept dancing our hearts out to “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

We continued dancing when the next song came on, knowing our time was limited and bathed in that particular happy light only a group of lifelong friends can produce.

I looked around at the circle of women, all of us mostly sixty twoish, the assortment of flowing outfits adorning various body types.  Life had been very different for all of us.  Yet we all swayed in time with the music. everyone of us knew all the words. I danced next to a woman I had known for over fifty years and one I had met just hours before.  

There were no partners.  We simply danced, a vibrant moving flower whose colorful petals waved and moved in the wind.  As we danced we tightened the circle, enfolding ourselves in laughter. We old friends felt the strength and glory that comes from a lifetime of memories.  We had all been through joy and heartache.  Life had given us some muddy gravel roads to travel and also some gorgeous perfect roses along the way.

I remembered all that I had behind me, the exquisitely beautiful and the painfully ugly, and at that moment, I felt every bit of power and support in that group that they too, were on a journey and we would all be just fine.

I love being where I am in this life.  Behind me are the insecurities of youth.  No longer do I hide as a wallflower, waiting to be asked to dance.  I dance when I want to, regardless of having a partner.  I love being with women my own age.  We understand each other.  We get it.  We support one another.  Gone are the small, petty differences we thought were so important.  Age brings wisdom, perspective, and a whole lot of forgiveness.

The last song played and we finally said good night to one another, hugging tightly and lingering just a bit before scattering out to our homes, knowing full well that we would one day be together again.  

It was a moment in time that was both finite and infinite.   

The song ended.  Our music does not.

just sayin'.


 Candied Walnuts

Makes 2 cups
2 cups walnut halves
1/4 cup granulated natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits
Generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon’s worth
3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon water

1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Add the walnuts to a 10-inch non-stick skillet. Turn heat onto medium, and toast the walnuts until fragrant, tossing frequently so they don’t burn, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the sugar, butter, salt, and rosemary. Let cook until the mixture begins to melt, shaking the pan a few times so the walnuts don’t burn. It will seem a little grainy; don’t worry. Add the water, and use a heat-proof rubber spatula to give the nuts a good stir until the walnuts are well-coated.
4. Spread the nuts into a single layer onto the prepared pan. Let cool completely. Break up any large chunks. Store in a covered container, in a cool, dry place for up to one week.

11.27.2014

press hard.



I'll only speak for myself here, I love a day (a season!) that inspires gratitude on all sides. I think back on the past years and I remember that first smooth stone, tossed into the pond. Gratitude. It slipped beneath the surface and the concentric circles formed and before I knew it, I was thinking harder about the things I am most thankful for. So, I'm glad I let that first stone fly ~ thankful.

If I decided to log my every thankful, we would be here all the live long day. I think, always, that time might be better spent living gratitude than writing every whip-stitch of it down. So, I'm making the choice to pen thankfuls on the inside surface of my heart, every day. I promise to press down hard when I write.

For today, I'll not attempt the unabridged list. Instead, I'll share some here-and-now, bright-burning highlights. I'm thankful that I'm spending Thanksgiving with my Family. Last year my heart was still a little fogged over. My family felt  incomplete. This year, I have new wrinkles and a new tinge of weariness, but what it means is that he is still here with us, and I'll take it.

 I'm thankful for unexpected surprises left on my door step.

I'm thankful for the cachepot of friends I have collected, the shiny new friendships and the weathered and worn. 

I’m thankful for soft, snowy days.

Hands that still hold mine.

Squeezy hugs.

Fresh journeys.

and answered prayers.

♥♥♥

I'm thankful for the hope of a new story.

I'm thankful that I am much more than the sum total of all my failures.

I'm thankful that Tom & Jerry humor transcends generations.

I'm thankful for the guy at the other end of the couch.

I'm thankful for the rattle and whir of a furnace, for air scented heavy with orange, for misbehavin' hair and flannel pajama pants. for puppies, siblings, extended family members, sons, the mothership and cinnamon rolls.

Count your thankfuls.

I hope all of you have a day full of love and laughter.

And remember - press hard.

 just sayin'.

cranberry chutney

24 ounces apricot preserves
¾ cup raspberry vinegar, or ¾ cup white distilled vinegar plus 1 ½ tsp raspberry preserves
A pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ cup Grand Marnier
2 bags fresh cranberries, nasty ones discarded
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, raspberry vinegar (or vinegar and raspberry preserves), salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier. Stir to mix, and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook – it will bubble aggressively, and you should stir regularly to keep it from scorching – for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until they are soft but not popped. [I know that they’re ready when I hear one or two of them pop; that’s a good indicator that most of them must be getting pretty soft.] Add the ginger and cherries, stir well, and remove from the heat. Cool completely before serving. The chutney will thicken considerably as it cools.

11.21.2014

make the moments last.



I was recently down south. It was all greens, bridges, blue skies and sunshine.  If you’re wondering why Savannah was completely out of shrimp and grits a few weeks ago… that was me.  I ate it all.  It wasn’t pretty.  Sorry.

Let’s go ahead and add “nervous breakdown” to the list of things I should never Google, or admit to Googling.  yikes!  But, I mean… if I have the foresight to Google it, does it mean that I'm probably not having one?  maybe.  Likely.  Don’t look at me.

Anyway, Fall...now we're talking.
I know I called fall, some time ago, but I tend to get a little antsy about these things.  I may have jumped the gun just a nudge, as we still had a few mid-seventies days to get through.  But seeing as the leaves are completely down and the first frost has come and gone and we've had several days in the teens and a snow storm, I just wanted to re-state for the record,  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

We're officially in full-on, fist-pumpin' winter fall. I've had hot cocoa afternoons, nights below freezing and blue-eyed skies.  My bed's sporting a thick blanket and a flannel covered duvet.  I'm knitting more socks, mittens and scarves. Boots are In, flip-flops are Out, and shorts have been retired to the back of the closet.  twice!

Well, okay then, pants plus long sleeves plus sweaters plus socks, boots, scarves and mittens all at once!  


So, Thanksgiving. The best Thanksgivings are those that stretch out for a solid 72 hours.

We're in the homestretch, but some of the very best lies in wait. How many different ways can you eat pumpkin in one week? A better question might be, how many times are you lucky enough to eat pumpkin in one week? And I haven't even begun to think about Christmas cookies...


I'm content here.
I'm wading around in dashed-off grocery lists, debating the merits of various non-pie pumpkin baked goods and desserts.

It's full of promise but slow and easy as a Sunday nap.

This is the season. This one, right here. It's where we are and it shouldn't be short-changed or over-shadowed. How can we possibly celebrate the day of gratitude when we're up on our tippy toes looking over its head?


I shall now hop down from my high horse.
You're welcome.

I know most of you don't feel as strongly about this sort of thing. Seasonal allegiance is one of my spiritual gifts, that's all.

Please promise you won't judge my early-Christmas-music listening. It's cool, dude. I'll come on out from behind my pre-Thanksgiving Christmas tree trees.

I decorate for Christmas like Liberace did bling.  Maybe more.  I don't understand it, entirely.  Partly, I think it's that leftover little kid love of anything shiny with the promise of magical. It takes me right back to six year old floating cloudberries, and sometimes when I wake up and realize it was just a dream, that those days are gone,  I can barely catch my breath. I'm pretty keen on sparkly, too.  I have an avalanche of boxes, that I unpack, singing carols in a whispery little falsetto. Just believe me when I tell you ~ scout's honor, cross-my-heart, crazy wins this round by a big ol' whopping landslide. I really get into it. Do my best to make the moments last.

just sayin'.


Pots of Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Cream Pie

CRUST:
1 (1 1/4 cups) sleeve graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter
FILLING:
1 can (15 oz.)100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Carnation Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk
1 (3.4 oz.) box vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice plus additional for dusting
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping
1 can (13.4 oz.) NESTLÉ LA LECHERA Dulce de Leche

 FOR CRUST:
COMBINE graham crackers and butter in small bowl. Spoon about 2 measuring tablespoons into each of ten half-pint canning jars, custard cups and/or ramekins. Pat crust down with back or side of measuring spoon.

FOR FILLING:
COMBINE pumpkin, evaporated milk, pudding mix and pumpkin pie spice in large mixer bowl; beat for 1 minute or until blended. Fold in 2 cups of whipped topping.

TO ASSEMBLE:
WARM dulce de leche in microwave-safe bowl power for 15 to 20 seconds to soften; stir well. Spoon dulce de leche on top of each crust. Spoon in about 1/2 cup pumpkin filling. Top with a dollop of remaining whipped topping and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice. Keep refrigerated at least 2 hours before serving.