“All is Well and All is Bright”

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    Daddy and Sage testing out the new Radio Flyer on a crisp Christmas day walk in the park.

Daddy and Sage testing out the new Radio Flyer on a crisp Christmas day walk in the park.

In late October, I had big plans of sharing all of my holiday bits and bobs with you: The crafts, the tree decorating, the festive drinks, the comfort food. But that didn’t happen, obviously. During the month of December, my toddler decided that he was going to start waking up at 4:45 a.m. Every. Single. Bleeping. Morning. So, by 7:30 p.m when we were finally able to corral him into his jammies and tuck him in, I was exhausted and nearly ready for bed myself. Needless to say, this didn’t leave much time for editing photos and writing a blog post. Sigh. There were just not enough hours in the day or days in the week.

On top of the early rooster calls, December also brought a big change for myself, the business and our family. After nearly five years of working from the home office, I signed a lease on an office space in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. Since Sage was born in Fall 2011, Justin and I have tried what seems like every possible solution in an attempt to balance a business and a baby. It made for a very challenging year, and I don’t know how many times I thought about throwing in the towel and closing up shop for a while. But, we both agreed that I would go insane; this work and creativity is just too much of who I am.

Nord Alley, Pioneer Square

Thanks to the Northwest Sustainability Collaborative, this is the prettiest alley in Seattle.

So, when the right opportunity presented itself, I decided to make a dynamic move and give it a shot. Friends thought I was crazy to intentionally add a two-hour round-trip bus commute to my day; but that’s two hours I have alone that I didn’t have before. Two hours to sit, to read, to relax, to catch up on Podcasts, maybe even take a snooze. For a busy, sleep deprived¬†mompreneur – that sounds like magic. And when my bus pulls into 5th and Jackson, I wrap my scarf tight, step outside onto the crisp, buzzing streets of artistic Pioneer Square –¬† and I feel right at home again. I get a cup of coffee that doesn’t have a green mermaid on the cup, say hello to the nice old man who sells newspapers on the corner, and avoid the crazy lady who screams at imaginary people on the out of service pay phone in the square. Once I sit down at my desk, I sigh a sigh of relief knowing that I can sit there as long as I need to; uninterrupted and simply… create. It has been such a blessing to be surrounded by other driven and creative people. Listening to others’ laughs and watching the ideas dance across the room helps fuel my passion and drive.

As I settle into a new routine and a coming new year, I force myself to stop and reflect on all the love, support and brightness that makes this life possible and the people who make living this life worthwhile.

And now: A Holiday Season in Review

french farmhouse holiday decorating

I live scouring the property for things to make the house festive this time of year.

shabby chic wreath book

A shabby wreath I made from an old book. You can find a tutorial for a similar one here and here.

hostess gifts farm

The hens were nice enough to provide enough eggs so we could give farm fresh hostess gifts.

holiday infused vodka

In preparation for our holiday cocktail night, I made candy cane, cranberry and cinnamon infused vodka. We unfortunately had to cancel the party due to illness… so needless to say we have lots of tasty vodka on hand. Shame. ;-)

The thoughtful gifts I recieved from Justin and some of our family. The Swaraski Crystal earrings will be ringing in the new year with me. The book is the third in a series which I will be reviewing in the coming year. I also found pepper spray in my stocking...just in case.

The thoughtful gifts I received from Justin and some of our family. The Swarovski Crystal earrings will be ringing in the new year with me. The book is the third in a series which I will be reviewing in the coming year. I also found pepper spray in my stocking…just in case.

yams, holiday side dish

A side dish we enjoyed for Christmas dinner. I mixed half yams and half gold potatoes then whipped them with browned sage butter and a little cream. Very tasty and festive! I’ll post the recipe soon.

And last but not least, I learned to play a couple Christmas songs on my guitar. When Justin's Grandpa Vernor kindly gave me his 100 year old banjo that he bought in Hawaii in the fifties. Such a meaningful  gift and I can't wait to tune her up and learn to play!

And last but not least, I learned to play a couple Christmas songs on my guitar. When Justin’s Grandpa Vernor heard them, he kindly gave me his 100-year-old banjo that he bought in Hawaii in the Fifties. Such a meaningful gift and I can’t wait to tune her up and learn to play!

Cranberry Tangerine Conserve

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This is that recipe that I dream about all year. Fresh cranberries only grace us with their tart, plump presence from about October to December. Originally from Ruth Cousineau, this is the perfect last minute addition to your feast as it is easy to make and enriches just about everything on the Thanksgiving table. For just five ingredients simmering on the stove, it tastes beguilingly complex. Tangerine juice and zest, fresh ginger, and plump golden raisins add a citrusy, spicy sweetness to tart, bursting cranberries.

Seeing as I’ve been horribly sick for nearly two weeks, this is the only item I had the energy to make for this afternoon’s family dinner. That said, it will be the perfect flair to a robust meal cooked with heart and a zesty dollop to dance on our leftovers. Enjoy your friends and family today, and if not, enjoy your wine. Cheers!

cranberry-tangerine-conserve

Cranberry Tangerine Conserve

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 tight-skinned tangerines
  • 3/4 lb fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Remove a 4- by 1-inch strip of zest from 1 tangerine with a sharp vegetable peeler (preferably Y-shaped), then scrape off any white pith from strip. Squeeze 1/3 cup juice from tangerines.
  • Bring juice, zest strip, and remaining ingredients to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer, uncovered, until berries have burst, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Discard zest before serving if desired.

A Bitter Cold and a Simple Healing Tea

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Greetings from the soggy Northwest, where 1 in 3 people are currently battling a nasty cold. It hit our house at the worst time since Justin is in Brazil on business this week. Little Sage was nice enough to share it with me, and we have been in survival mode ever since. Justin feels helpless that he isn’t here to nurse us back to health so he sent his love and two dozen beautiful roses yesterday. My good friend Angela also showed up yesterday and made me a hot whiskey toddy to ease my throat and my nerves (chasing a busy toddler around while you are sick is pure domestic torture.)

In fear of me actually keeling over and dying, my sister Gretchen drove down from the San Juans to lend a hand until Justin returns. Comfort food is in order. She is making homemade chicken soup as I write and later we are going to harvest the beets from my garden and make a mushroom and beet green gratin. Meanwhile, I am curled up by the kitchen window, sipping on my favorite winter tea. Stay healthy my friends.20121114-100006.jpg

Comforting Ginger, Lemon and Honey Tea

8 oz boiling water
2 lemon slices
3 slices fresh ginger
1 TSP honey
Fresh Mint (optional)

Crush the ginger and lemon slices in the bottom of the mug. Add boiling water and stir in honey. Breathe in the steam, sip, and let the natural medicine work it’s magic.