Elderberry Syrup

Though when are about to exit flu and (hopefully cold) season, I decided to make one last batch of Elderberry syrup with the leftover dried berries we had. There are a million recipes online here’s the one I use. I find for the most part it is an easy process, just takes a little time.

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Ingredients:

3 cups of Water

1/2 cup Dried Blue Elderberries (please confirm with the seller that they are for cooking)

2 Tbsp Dried Ginger Root (personal preference)

1/2 tsp Cinnamon  (personal preference)

1/2 cup of Honey (some like up to a cup or as little as a few teaspoons)

 

Directions:

  1. Add berries, ginger, cinnamon, and water into a pot over and heat on the stove until it boils
  2. Turn down heat to a low simmer for 35 minutes
  3. Mash the berries and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth into a bowl or large measuring  cup. Let cool then add honey, stirring to make sure it is mixed together.
  4. Place in sealable container and fridge. It should be good for up to three months.

 

 

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I serve it over breakfast in shot glasses, with a little nod to the bees 😉 

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Cough Syrup Drenched Feelings

Last week a nasty head cold invaded my throat and threatened my lungs, the medicine I was taking to stop the “Cold of Doom” made time roll itself into one continuous cough ball. If any of you are getting knocked down by a cold, seriously just listen to your body and rest, it will be over so much faster. Thankfully I am doing much better now, but still suspicious of the tickling feeling on the top of my throat from allergies. Yay Spring!

Though honestly since moving to the East Coast Spring has become my favorite season to see. I enjoy the cooling and the warm colors of Fall and the stillness of Winter (still not a fan of Summer), but Spring has such a wonderful fresh feeling, like a new beginning. Also I adore Spring veggies.

While I was lying in the ditch of my couch with a stream of old “Bones” episodes playing I pondered the whole writing thing. It is completely possible this story will never see the light of day or the fluorescent bulbs of a book store, so I wondered if it’s worth it.

I decided it is.

I’ve found the stories I have been kicking around in the back of my head only get louder and more annoying if I try to ignore them. It’s like a Top 40 song from the 90s, you pushed it aside and think you’ve moved on from it but then.. Bam! you are minding your own business in the grocery store and the tune starts blaring at you for attention and now it’s stuck and you find you still know all of the words. I also enjoy the challenge of getting something that seems perfect in my head on to paper and seeing it for the moth-eaten curtain that it is, then filling in the holes.

In the downtime my cold caused I realized I need to move on from the book I have been working on for the last year, it’s time. I fixed the beginning of the book shortly before I got sick and sent it out to three of my friends to get their take on the changes. In the midst of a particularly bad afternoon of “sick” I got an email back from one of my friends telling me the new beginning worked. She also said a few more things that got my cough-syrup-drenched emotions all verklempt, and it was what I needed. I am still trying to an agent, but now I need to poking at it.

So today I am starting a new book, not the sequel to the Witchy Women story but something completely different. It will be a Women’s Fiction novel, no paranormal characters in sight. This one will be about rock-n-roll, heartbreak, devotion, art, identity, and hopefully love. It will require some interesting film and article research.

I hope everyone is enjoying a happy and healthy Spring, and like Bailey stopping to smell the flowers every once in a while.

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I Need to Wear a Bra When I Meditate & Other Uncomfortable Conclusions

Warning: This is my experience with mediation, individual results may very.

Towards the beginning of the year I decided to take up meditation.  A few artists that I admire do it, it has been linked to making the body and mind more healthy, and couldn’t we all use a little quiet time? Now Pinterest and other such websites have told me that all I have to sit down and concentrate on something to be meditating but I wanted to dive a little deeper into it and make sure I was doing it right.  I used a Christmas gift card to get The Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau Roshi. It has fabulous reviews and the forward is written by one of my favorite writers Huston Smith.  Ironically the forward was my least favorite part of it.  The forward was good, but very deep- it was like a thick piece of food that my mind had to chew on for a while, almost every sentence having to be worked over in my mind before I could go to the next thing.  It was just a lot to take in at first, but that’s what I wanted right?  So I read on and eventually got to the practice of meditating and how to sit what to do, etc.

Sunlight through the smokey trees

The interesting part is I still don’t now if I’m doing it right.  I count to ten while I breath, starting with inhaling on one, exhaling on two, so on so forth.  Then you move onto other types of counting. I usually would start right after I woke up and fed the cats, because any pet owner knows there is no peace when kitty is hungry. I only meditated for five minute a day the first week.  It was a new position for my body; my feet would fall asleep and I was always over correcting my posture.  Now in the book it says to wear loose, comfortable clothing.  Well most women will tell you bras are rarely loose or comfortable, so I would go sans bra.  By day three I realized my “ladies” were pulling me to floor and my back was really starting to hurt from just trying to keep those babies off the carpet.  So I found one of my more worn out, comfortable bras (which I affectionate refer to as a “house bra”) and suddenly my posture was not so painful.  I don’t know if I am breaking the rules by doing this, but I don’t care it works for me and gives me one less thing to be distracted by.

So in the book it mentions that certain thoughts will come into your mind that make situations and relationships very clear.  He recommends having a pad and pen nearby.  I’ve have yet to remember a pad and paper, but from day one I had some interesting revelations.  As I began counting (probably only up to 4) a thought came in my mind:

Wouldn’t it be so cool to talk to my Dad about this?  He’s meditated before…though not very regularly.  But I’m sure he would be happy I was trying it.  Wait, I lost count…I have to start at one again…inhale one, exhale two.  You know, he never really stuck with any hobbies.  Shit…inhale one, exhale two…

I think I got up to six that time. Maybe that’s why I have never taken to hobbies.  Would this really be described as a hobby? Probably not. Why should I care if he’s happy I’m doing this?

And the thoughts kept on creeping in and I would have to start over again.  As you can imagine five minutes became very long and very short all at the same time.   I did not feel very peaceful or Zen…and I felt a sudden desire to take a kick boxing class.  But, just like that a very complex relationship that had some walls were knocked down for me to see.

I went back the next day, tried again. This time when a thought came in my mind I tried to gently push it away.  It took me two weeks to do that gracefully. To this day I still don’t know if I am doing it correctly.

Early on thoughts of what I could be doing with the five, ten, fifteen minutes that I had eventually worked up to were the constant agitators.  All the little morning things that needed to be done to start a day right,  should be getting done with this new found time.  But I noticed that I slept better on the days I meditated and my anxiety was a little bit more manageable.  I only had to check that I locked the door once, instead of many times.  For a few months I meditated about five times a week, sometimes more than once a day.  It was only twenty minutes of my day-I just watched one less show or multi-tasked a little better later.

Eventually when those thoughts of all of the things I could be doing with the time crept in, I was able to tell my mind: No, this is your time.  You have the rest of the day to think about those things, or remember to make a call, or whatever else I thought needed to be analyzed at that moment.  Right then I was just going to breath and focus.

It’s kind of amazing how my my brain won’t let me just count to ten slowly without throwing in a whole bunch of thoughts that usually have nothing to do with anything.  They just pop up and say Boo!  And it’s not that you think of nothing when you meditate, you just ….I can’t explain it, but it’s not nothing.

Sometimes it has led me to some pretty hard stuff, realizations about my life and how my brain works.  In early summer I ended up taking a break for a while.  We had my Mother-In-Law in town for a few weeks and I couldn’t block out the noise I felt when she was here.  So I didn’t meditate…which I think my brain had gotten accustomed to and my reactions and feelings manifested in strange new ways.  But everyone made it though in tact and birthday cards were still exchanged this year, so let’s call it a win.

Eventually I made my way back to the mat.  Still wrestling with the thoughts that want to lead me away from what I’m doing.  If anything it is at least a daily moment to claim as my own.  I think many of us allocate our time to others so easily by necessity or obligation, but we don’t usually have the same approach for ourselves.  Not to say that we need to be more selfish (there’s enough of that going around), but I think we need to give ourselves at least a five minute break from everything else once in a while.  We don’t seem to be big on breaks in modern society.  If we have one were usually checking our personal email or playing with our phones (I’m still totally guilty of this by the way).  But maybe things would be a little more clear, a little easier if we felt obligated to treat ourselves how we treat the ones we care for.

Namaste Y’all.

Revisit, Refresh

It looked like I had fallen back into the swing of blogging again, didn’t it?  Sorry…again.

The winter blues did sneak up on me a bit, that awkward time when the winter just gets annoying and everything you do or plan just seems to be in anticipation of Spring.  But there was one thing that we did not have to wait for Spring to enjoy, and that was a trip out to the coast to see our lovely friends Kudra and Porter.

Back in San Diego, when we first met them, we had heard from various sources about the incredibleness and the joy that is their St. Patrick’s Day Party.  And this year we got to go.  The evite went out and I said yes before I even knew if we had secured a couch or floor area to sleep on.  When I did speak to her later asking for dibs on some square footage in the living room, she told me that one of their guest bedrooms was available if we wanted it. Uh, yes please!  We also worked out that we would come up a day early so we could hang out and I could be her Sous Chef if needed.

A few nights before we left I started getting a bout of insomnia.  I get it from time to time, there were many things that could have caused it, the time change being the most obvious.  But as anyone who has had a few loss of night’s sleep can tell you, your personality becomes less than pleasant.  The night before we left I went to bed early but only probably got 4 hours of sleep.  I woke up at my usual time (6:30) and started making the two batches of scalloped potatoes that I was bringing for the party.  Once I was done it was time to pack the car and myself to head down the road.  I was a wreck, practically sleep walking but Honey drove and I caught a few hours of a nap on the way there.

When we got to Kudra’s and Porter’s I was a few more steps above sleepwalking, and they were cooking up a storm. At last glance the party was going to be around 30 people (hence the two batches of potatoes).  Kudra had Soda Bread piling high.

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Believe it or not this is not a staged photo, she was just piling up the bread so it would cool.

Porter was in the garage cooking up the corned beef.  Honey kept him company and they discussed beer brewing and various other subjects, while I stayed with Kudra in the kitchen and helped in anyway I could.

cabbage

We talked about what we had been up to the last few months.  Kudra and I used to walk around The Lake often and usually would be talking the whole time.  In the span of time since those walks I forgot just how much we used to share with each other.  The first few times we visited each other’s new homes and cities, we all stayed in a group of four for the most part-so those talks didn’t happen.  We realized it a little too late on one trip and while we were supposed to be saying good-bye we ended up in an almost three hour talk.  Now we try to fit in at least a little walk to talk and catch up without the menfolk around. This trip we had the kitchen to ourselves for hours and lots of talking was had.  I told her about the insomnia and she had some suggestions.  She has been taken a herbalism course and gifted me with a lovely therapeutic oil blend.

As we talked over our cooking prep about all of things that were going on in our lives, I felt more at peace than I had in a while.  My relationships in my new city are still relatively new and I know that I keep a good amount of my feelings and opinions to myself, it was very refreshing to put some more out there and to not be  worried about how it would come across.  Kudra always listens and more times that not completely understands. She has been very open with me, even from our first stroll around the lake and that has (I think) in turn made me more open with her.  Perhaps I can use that logic to have others be more open with me.

When the guys emerged from the large pot cooking we put together a little dinner and chatted together.  The plan was to participate in 5k walk the next morning, but since we were in town the rain had come to the coast once again.  Around midnight we began making promises that we would not do the walk if it was raining (we had already made the donation, so it was no loss to the cause).  We played chicken with time to see how long we could stay up and see if the rain had in fact washed out our early morning plans.  A few hours later  after much more talking and cooking, we hesitatingly got into bed.  Kudra made me a vitamin mixture before bedtime and made sure we had some lavender oil burring in our room as we slept.  Even though we only had a few hours sleep it was the best sleep I had gotten in weeks.

We all woke up the next morning, got dressed and watched as the sky opened up and rained on us the whole way there.  But about ten minutes before the walk started, the rain stopped.  We all walked quickly (trying to keep up with Kudra’s mother who was also there) and not a drop fell on us.  Later we caught a late breakfast at restaurant near Kudra’s Mom’s place and it began raining again.  It then rained for most of the day and throughout the St. Patrick’s Day Party.  It didn’t seem to put a damper on the day and after all of the wonderful food I ate I was thankful to have had morning exercise.

The party was wonderful, it was a mix of her nearby family and their friends.  The food was incredible, from the corned beef to the cabbage to the vegan shepherd’s pie to the homemade soda bread from a grandma’s recipe book.  Then the guests all brought something, serious dents were made in my scalloped potatoes even tough there were four other potato dishes around.  Someone brought around 50 “Irish Carbomb” Cupcakes and so many other delicious desserts I lost count of how many bites I took off of Honey’s plate. Porter served his incredible homemade Stout and another one of their guests brought his award winning Stout (I actually liked Porter’s more).  I also had my first glass of Moonshine.  I know, two years in the South and this is my first glass?  You can buy the regulated ones in the stores but this was actual moonshine.  It passed the the test without blue sparks and no one went blind.  It was actually pretty good, sweet as all hell, but good in a small amount.

The people at the party were wonderful,l as I expected friend’s of theirs would be.  They were warm and welcoming and tried their best to convince us to move to their town.  Which was very tempting 🙂 We have offers of boat rides and staying at beach houses the next time we blow into town (with hopefully better weather next time).

The next day Porter made corned beef hash with what little leftovers they were able to hide away and the sun finally came out for us to enjoy breakfast on their porch with some Bloody Mary’s.  The time went too quick and it after a while we had to pack our things to head home.  Honey I talked a lot on the drive back.  There has been a certain disconnect with who we feel we are here.  Nothing weird between us as a couple but rather how we are here.  Lifestyle stuff is different and while nature is more prevalent, the connection to it is not.

When we got back home we made decisions and plans regarding our reconnection.  We somehow scored a composter like the one we had in San Diego at 40% off and already assembled (which was a pain the last time).  We decided to say screw if it is “not allowed”, we can’t keep on living in a way we don’t feel comfortable with.  It is hiding behind a bush where only one or two neighbors can see and one of them said they thought it was great.  I picked up an oil diffuser and some lavender to help keep me having the same lovely sleep I had at their house.  I also got the vitamin mixture she gave me and I have felt great.  We grilled some fish in the backyard and ran into another neighbor who complimented the things we had done with the yard and agreed those cedars were horrible.  I have been sleeping better, cooking better, and even communicating better since we got back.  I didn’t realize how disjointed I felt before we left, but two nights among friends seems to have put us back into a more happy place.  As being around such wonderful people has a tendency to do. 😉

Getting Out in the Green

Since we moved here my walking lifestyle has changed.  I used to be able to walk to the market or various other places if I wanted and walk around The Lake with or without my various walking buddies.  When the move really became official I was so busy cleaning, gardening, packing, and planning that I relied on my car when grocery shopping and my Lake walks seemed unnecessary.  When we got here I was in a state of exhaustion for about a month. No really the pictures are quite terrifying, I looked like the Crypt Keepers’ younger but more ragged looking sister.

After a doctor’s appointment where I was “encouraged” to start exercising regularly again I began walking around the neighborhood where we were renting for 30-45 minutes a day.  We sold my car before we went East, so I was limited in location.  The neighborhood was actually quite beautiful but cut off from walking anywhere outside of it.  There were trees, plants, challenging hills, and circular streets so I could make a huge lap rather than retracing my steps.  Another drawback was I had to walk on the street and most people forgot they were in a residential area, so there were a few accidental games of Chicken every so often.

When we moved here I was very exited because there were actual sidewalks and I saw people walking all over the place at all times of the day.  I have walked here a few times but I find it’s hard to get motivated, it’s just not like my other walking spots have been the last few years.  It is a very well kept neighborhood and people do beautiful things with their yards, but it is all so sterile.  But a few weeks ago we discovered the Greenway and I think it will become my new Lake.

Greenway

Greenway

Greenway

 

These sites are just within a two mile are of each other, it’s like you are going on different trails  You have pine trees, marshes, and ponds.  It is beautiful and there is life everywhere from tadpoles and turtles to hawks and bunnies.  It’s like the Lake where I have to walk to a certain spot and then turn around, but now that I have an App for that I can stop with the guess work and really know what progress I am making.  Though those moms with the newborns in the strollers are a certain level of hardcore I could never compete with.

Greenway Trees