Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How To Freeze Berries

After a trip to pick berries, I block out time to quickly process the fruit.  When picking at it's peak, berries will turn from perfect little sweet jewels to moldy mush in a matter of hours or days at best.  So it's smart to reserve what you can eat fresh and then freeze the rest.

Freezing berries is very simple.  If you suspect that your fruit has bugs or pesticides, gently wash it.  I don't pick from places where this is an issue and am able to avoid this step.  If you do wash your berries, you need to let them dry before you proceed.  Lay them on towels that you are okay with getting berry stained.

Then simply lay your fruit on cookie sheet pans in a single layer.  Sick the pan in the freezer until all the berries are frozen solid.  Finally, scoop the now frozen berries into baggies that are well labeled and put back into your freezer.  

Now you have a freezer full of perfect berries, picked at their peak, ready to be used in muffins or scones or pancakes or breads or smoothies or my personal favorite, right out of the bag, still frozen, topped with a bit of half and half or cream.  

Do you ever pick your own fruit and freeze it or preserve it?  How do you like to use up your frozen berries?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pink And Green And Preppy Day

I always have a tough time with my birthday but this year was a ridiculous nightmare.  So I decided to have a re-do on my half birthday last week.  OK so between us, it was one of those days when nothing goes right.  Which is what I get for trying to make it a great day.  Always happens.

But I looked cute.  Please say that counts for something.  My favorite kelly green shorts and a pink button down and my pearls from high school.  I took a quick jaunt in the late afternoon up to my favorite spot to remind myself that my issues {like the nearly constant battle I have going on with Time Warner Cable because I think that me paying my bill entitles me to Internet service and they think otherwise and I may or may not have cried on the phone to them...again...} are small and insignificant.  

Then in the enening, I went over to District's house to watch baby H for a few hours for her.  To my absolute surprise and delight, they had a pink and green and all things sweet cake for my half birthday.

After playing pirates outside for an hour with baby H {argh matty}, we came inside to bubble bath {him, not me} away the day and as he told me...crack into that cake!

So the day didn't go as planned but thanks to my tundra bestie, it definitely ended on a very sweet note!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quick Trip To Vermont: Raspberries And Blueberries And Farm Stands Oh My

It's no secret that Vermont and I have a long standing love affair going on.  I firmly believe it should be nicknamed The Cute State because it really is just all things cute and charming.  As I do most years, I made my way to my farm crush, my fantasy farm estate, Mad Tom Orchard, to pick {and eat} my weight in the most delicious raspberries.

Mad Tom Orchard, which offers you pick raspberries and cherries in the summer months and you pick apples in the fall, is close to Manchester, VT and in the most beautiful location surrounded by the Green Mountains.  My long-standing tradition beings with Mad Tom for raspberries, then moves next door for blueberries, and ends with lunch at the bookstore (and a bit of shopping) in Manchester. I'm a simple girl and this is very honestly my perfect summer day out!

How sweet is this little nest with the most beautiful eggs that are colored blue with brown speckles?  It was sitting right near the top of a row of raspberries.  It looks like everyone that saw it was careful not to disturb it.  I still can't get over how pretty it is!

My view while picking in the lower field.  Not bad, right?!

My view from the lower field back to the main farm house.  Can you imagine living there with that stunning view daily?  Swoon!

If you've never picked your own fruit, I highly reccommend it.  On a large scale, it can be a powerful lesson on where food comes from and the effort it takes to put it on your table.  On a small scale, it's fun and the fruit is always so much more delicious as you are picking and consuming it at the peak.  Fruit in grocery stores is grown, chosen, and packaged for long term.  The purpose of food you find in a grocery store is not flavor.  True story.  It's about eye appeal {read: does it look perfect and uniform} and shipping quality {can it ship and store for weeks and still be edible and possess good eye appeal}. Picking your own is also a great way to get outside with friends or family and experience something different from your normal routine.

The fruits of our labor.  Purple Royalty Raspberries and a red variety with a name that escapes me at the moment.  Wait until I show you two of my favorite ways I use these berries!  Stay tuned...

Do you ever pick your own fruits or veggies at a farm {or at home}?  What's your favorite to pick and why?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sadie Sunday: All Blankies Were Her Blankies

Oh Sadie, I sure do miss you!

I found this photo a few days ago and it made me smile so wide.  I think it's from 2013 and after a bath because all the towels (aka blankets) were out.  

You never met a blankie or pillow that wasn't yours.  And you always had to fix momma's decorating.  I would fluff the pillows or fold the blankets only to come back later to find you rearranging my work.  You were so cute the way you would paw at them and then tuck your cute little nose under them to get them in just the right order.  And then walk in circles to find just the right position before laying down.  

I don't think there was a single time in our 14 years together that I didn't pause to watch you do this and just grin ear to ear.  You were so funny and had such big opinions, and I LOVED it!

I love you, baby bunny!


XO Momma

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Made Me Look: Corn In The City

Walking a few days ago in my city, I nearly tripped over stalks of corn.  Growing in a crack in the street in a busy downtown area.  I have no idea if birds or humans are responsible but I'm amazed that months have gone by without anyone running it over or stepping on it or just pulling it out of the ground.  On top of that, we've had so little rain that it's stunning to me it was able to germinate and grow.

Not quite a mile high by the Fourth of July but still...pretty stinking awesome!

Life is full of funny, little surprises.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy National Dog Day

I saw on Instagram that today is National Dog Day and far be it from me to not celebrate one of the most special national holidays.  Cheers to dogs everywhere, here on earth or up in Heaven!

Sadie, this was such a cute memory.  It was morning and I had just made the bed and left the room to use the restroom.  When I came back in two minutes later, you were in my spot, having moved a pillow in front of you, creating a little madras pillow nest for yourself.  Proud as could be!  Always momma's cute baby bunny!  

Happy day, sweet lovie.  

XO Momma

Monday, August 22, 2016

Half Birthday: Goals For The Next Six Months

Today is my half birthday.  Ugh.  I wrote a post about the last six months but have for now decided to hold off publishing that one.  Instead, I'm going to focus on the future.  Because as much as it does help me to vent and process the past, today is a day to be positive and energized for the good things to come.

So here are a few of the things I plan to focus on for the next six months.

* Do more yoga.  Deep breathing and long stretches and just winning the battle to get my ass on the mat are life changing for me.  

* Tell people what I am feeling.  I am the queen of wanting to be pleasing and sweet and never rock a boat.  So I bottle.  Everything.  I have all the emotions.  But you'll never see them.  I need to continue to get out of my never say a word comfort zone and actually express myself.  Even if the risk is upsetting people.

* Keep saying yes.  I decided almost a year ago to make this my #yearofyes and I've done a decent job.  But I can do better.  I can say yes more.  I want all the stories and smiles that come from being brave and saying yes!

* Focus intensely on my two biggest goals.  I know...I'm not disclosing all the bits and bobs on here.  I will in due time.  I just need to for now keep this close to the chest.  But it's here...the next six months will be all about the two biggies and I want to see where that takes me.  

* Say no without guilt.  I can read...I am aware I told you I want to say yes more.  The thing is, I want to say yes to taking chances and things that get me outside of my box.  I want to say no more to things that I don't want to do but agree to do because I can't work up the nerve to just say no.  {So really, three of these goals are tied least I am open and honest about my issues!}

* Laugh more, love more.  No explanation necessary.  But it should be a stark contrast to the last six months.  

So that's it.  Basically I need to sweat my cuckoo back in the clock daily if possible and find my smile often.  I'm a simple girl who is more motivated than ever to make the past six {well really the last 10} months just a blip in my life story.  And I I KNOW...I can do it!

Cheers to my half birthday!  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sadie Sunday: I Hope Heaven Is Bath Free

Dear Sadie,

Bubble baths were never your thing.  And I generally disliked giving them to you just as much.  But you sure were funny post bath when you would run around the house, rubbing up against the walls, leaving a Sadie height stain, trying to dry off.  No matter how much I would towel you dry, it was just ingrained in you that they only solution to that miserable wet problem was to manically rub against all possible surfaces.

I would cover the sofa and arm chair in towels and you would eventually make your way into one of them.  In the winter {which is like 13 months each year here in the North Pole), I would cover you in another towel and sort of tuck you in.  You would be so exhausted that you would just sleep in that little cocoon for a long time (not something you would do under any other circumstances).  

The day after your bath though was another story.  You were cute and sparkly and you knew it!  You had the most adorable extra pep to your step on your walks the day after a bath.  You were so so pretty and your Poppy said you walked like a parade float.  

I hope heaven is bath free, my baby bunny.  I hope every day is like the day after a bath, with you feeling all sorts of pretty and prissy and sparkly.  

I love you and miss you so much, sweet girl.  

All my heart, 
XO Momma

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Falling Fruit

The other day I needed to run to Walmart for something.  Well I could have gone to Target, but that was out of my way and I needed to get what I needed ASAP.  Anyway, I was in Wally World.  And our store now sells groceries.  Do all Walmarts sell groceries or just certain stores?  I don't think it qualifies as a Super Walmart but...oh this is getting off track...I was in Walmart and not buying groceries.

Since I was there though, I walked through the produce section to see if I needed anything.  And I noticed they had boxes of fejoas.  I've only ever seen photos of them so I reached for a box to get a closer look.  The boxes however were stacked too tall and on a slant.  I didn't even pick up a box...just touched it...when the entire display of fancy boxed up tropical fruit came crashing down.  

My gut reaction was to lean my entire body forward to sort of body block the falling boxes of fruit.  So visualize the fullest possible fruit display and me leaning in and hugging the heck out of it with my arms reaching in either direction to catch things.  Another customer was standing right there and we caught eyes and did the only thing two humans can do in a time like that...laugh hysterically.

There was a time in my life when that would have sent me into hives and tears out of embarrassment.  And oh don't you worry, I am still plenty embarrassed.  But it was also hilarious.  So I laughed at myself.

I also put all the fruit back and didn't buy any because I realized I have no idea how to tell if they are ripe.  

So all that fuss for nothing.

This is also why as a child, my stomach would churn when I had to use the restroom in Burdines or Saks or any other department store in our beloved Fort Lauderdale Galleria Mall.  All the restrooms were just behind the fancy pants crystal vase and breakable China areas.  I lived in fear of breaking something.  {Side note...I never did break idea why that was and still sort of is a big personal fear.}

But falling that's something to laugh about!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Best Gift: I Voted Stickers

It's no secret, I am a big fan of participating in the process.  I firmly believe that you either show up or shut up when it comes to just about everything in life.  So I show up.  To everything.  Even my little library election.  I'm there and I vote.

Do you know what I don't do though?

I don't put on an "I Voted" sticker.  

Do you know why?

Because my part of North Pole, NY doesn't give them out.  And I whine about it to no end.  Every.  Single.  Election.  I complain.  To the point that sometimes the pole workers offer me a cookie (that they made and brought for themselves mind you).

After some deep talks on my passion for voting while I was down in Florida a few weeks ago, Bestie Florida got on Amazon and ordered me up the very best gift I have ever received.  Truly.  It was equal parts hilarious and touching.  And quickly became a prized possession.

A giant roll of I Voted stickers!

I wore one that night.  Because I'm weird.  But also because I was excited about what is honestly the most perfect present.

I truly do love voting!  Almost as much as I love my best friend!  Xo

Monday, August 15, 2016

Homemade White Pizza With A Twist

This is my favorite time of year.  Summer, Fourth of July, traveling, sunshine, no snow, warm weather, sunshine, gardening, being outside, hiking, walking, sunshine, and harvesting garden veggies!  Also sunshine.  I like sunshine.  A lot!

While I am not at all a vegetarian, I often go days and weeks in the summer eating only vegetables from my garden, farm stands, and of course the farmers market.  So I have a few quick and easy meals in my back pocket that get repeated, but with a twist, based on what I have in the house at that moment.

Enter pizza.

You can put anything on pizza dough and call it dinner.  It's the perfect end of the week way to use up what's in the house or what you just pulled out of the garden.

This week I harvested garlic.  While it's not my first time growing garlic, it is my first time with a good harvest.  And I use good with a grain of salt as I only had four heads grow.  I think I planted about a dozen and until three weeks ago there were four growing strong and one that was growing but smaller.  I went on vacation and came back to find the small one just mysteriously disappeared.  I'll take what I can get though and am completely excited about these four heads!

So excited that I caramelized an onion and then chopped up a head of garlic to add at the end to go on my pizza.  I added the lone leftover ear of cooked corn in the fridge, some shredded Italian cheese blend, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  

It was just that simple.  Nothing fancy about it but let me tell you bob, this pizza was insanely delicious!  The corn added the best little sweet crunch!  I will definitely make this combination again when the ingredients permit.

Do you make homemade pizzas?  What are your favorite non-typical toppings?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Moment Of Inspiration And A Confusing Story

So a few days ago I found out a bit of information that is just sort of, under normal circumstance, passing information.  Just a tid bit that a friend might share.  Not gossip.  Just oh hey did you know or oh hey did you hear or oh hey this thing took place.  And the information has literally zero to do with me.  Not one part of the info actually touches my world.

Like imagine your life as it stands now.  Look to your left, in the distance, and imagine a big bubble of new information.  It's very far away and in no way has a bit to do with you.  Did I just make this too weird?  I'm very visual but sometimes I lose people in these little exercises.  My point is, info came to me that had nothing to do with me.

Still with me?

Because here's where it gets weird.  Er.  Weirder.

It has made me so happy and changed my little life in such a bright and profound way!

I can't really explain why.  Actually...that's not true at all.  I can absolutely explain why but I'm just not going to right now.  The timing feels off.  

But let me attempt to use this as a reminder that you just have no idea when and what will spark a smile in someone else's life!  You just being you could very well be the thing that inspires or changes a life for the better.

And this concludes today's deep but very convoluted and blatently veiled thoughts by KK.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Community Garden Update

As many readers know, I live in an urban city and am without much space to grow anything at home.  So I take advantage of my amazing community garden program locally.  It gives me the ability to grow vegetables every summer, despite living in a concrete jungle of sorts.

The community garden program in my area actually has 50+ gardens in 4-5 different cities.  This means that people all over this region are able to lease garden space for the year in an area that's either near their home or office.  So many options.

Each garden is different.  Some, like mine, are quite small.  Others are very large.  It just depends on the available space in various areas.

While every community garden program differs, I think they are likely similar.  We sign up and pay the yearly fee in February.  We are also allowed to pick out seeds for free, something I look forward to every winter as I start everything I grow from seed!  At sign up time, we also sign up for a garden task.  For the past three years my task has been to collect excess produce from the gardeners in my garden (with their permission of course) and donate it to the program run by the community garden headquarters.  They sell donated produce in low income food deserts at very reduced prices.  It's a program they started several years ago and has had great success.  Others are assigned to weed whack the outside of the fence and such tasks like that.  Four years ago when I got my first garden plot, my allotment was small and in the lower end of the garden on a steep slope.  Last year I was able to get a plot that was 50% larger and on less of a slope.  This year, I increased it again, making it double the size of my first plot.  I still manage to use every square inch of space allotted to me!

So now let's talk about my garden.  It's growing so well this year (knock on wood)!  Not everything is a success of course, but I can live with what is thriving and be happy and grateful for it all.  

Last year was a disaster year in my garden for tomatoes.  Between weird weather, blight, and human theft, I didn't end up with much.  This year though, things are much improved!  I've been eating tomatoes for two weeks and am happy as can be.  Tomatoes are what gardeners live for!  I grow all heirloom varieties.  My philosophy with gardening is that I don't grow what I can buy in a supermarket. What's the point?  I grow unique flavors and varieties.  That's my game!

For fun, let me see if I can list (in no particular order) everything I am growing this year...  Tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions, summer squash, winter squash, watermelon, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, strawberries, sage, rosemary, chives, scallions, thyme, basil, ground cherries, tomatillos, carrots, bush beans, climbing pole beans, peas, celery, peanuts, peppers, rhubarb, mint (in a tip...only ever grow herbs but especially mint IN A POT!), broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, chard, French sorrel, Brussels sprouts, bak choi, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, okra, leeks, endive, artichokes, beets, eggplant, sunflowers, Shasta daisies, and zinnias!

I'm grateful for my community garden plot.  It's not perfect- it has flaws of course.  But it gives me something I can't find elsewhere; it gives me my sanity back.  I don't just garden to grow food or have fun.  I garden to meditate and sweat that cuckoo back in the clock!  It's my therapy (along with yoga and long walks of course).  It clears my head and gives me a focus and gives me a fresh dinner for a few months if I play my cards right.  It's fun to see my hard work pay off but it's even better to maintain my sanity.  

One day I will have a house with a yard big enough and sunny enough for a garden.  But until then, I just keep plugging along here in the community garden.  

What's growing in your garden this summer?  Are you trying any new varieties of old favorites?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Three Months Gone

Dear Sadie,

Three months ago today I said goodbye to you. Everyone has long since stopped asking how I am doing.  But between you and me, baby bunny, I am not doing great.

I have better days of course.  And then I have cry a lot days.  Last night I made pasta for dinner because I was tired and lazy.  You LOVED noodles and just as I always did, I went to pull out two little pieces of pasta for you.  It's still so automatic.  When I realized what I was doing, I started crying.  Over pasta.  So yesterday was not one of my better days.  

About a week ago though, your little big sister Sophie came to play with you in Heaven.  That's been crazy emotional for me.  Sadie, little's dog, lived with me before and when you came to live with me.  She was there your first moment and you just loved her so much.  I'm so sad knowing she is no longer here on earth but so happy that you two are together again.  I have no doubt she is bossing you around and you are just perfectly fine with it.  

Because I was on a roll with my crying and whatnot last night, I went digging for old photos.  Look what I found!  You and your little big sister Sophie together in Georgia!  You and I drove down from DC for a week to visit Bestie in Atlanta and little and Sophie in Ellijay.

I never get tired of looking at your photos, baby bunny.  You still fill my heart with so much joy and love.

All my love,
XO Momma  

I have so many more things I want to say and write but I have to admit that even just these short posts take me forever as the tears make it impossible to see what I am typing.  The struggle is real.  But I don't want to lose these precious memories and so I plan to continue as my emotions permit to include weekly Sadie posts.  I miss my baby girl and it brings me comfort to have a vault of memories and photos to look back on.  Thank you for being kind and understanding.  

Xoxo KK

Thursday, August 4, 2016

#TBT: Paddle Boarding In Florida

For years now, I've wanted to try paddle boarding.  It wasn't something I knew about growing up as a kid in Florida, but it's hugely popular down there now and as the saying goes, all the kids are doing it.  But you know me, just a big awkward ball of anxiety and self-doubt when it comes to trying new things.  So I've found reasons to say no.  And then flown home disappointed.  And told no one.  As I do.

This year though, bestie Florida asked me if I wanted to try paddle boarding and even though I felt really nervous, I said yes!  I did it. 

Have you caught on yet that saying yes is really my biggest hurdle in life?  Once I say yes, I'm committed.  But saying yes and dealing with all the internal anxiety of not knowing how the day or event will play out is what consumes me.  That's why when I told you that this is my #yearofyes, it was a pretty stinkin' big deal.  This year has been far from perfect.  In fact, a lot of it has been pure crap.  But I won't let that stop me from saying yes to making myself better and that includes saying yes to fun little adventures.

So I said yes to paddle boarding.  

And guess what happened?

It was flippin' amazing!  I bloody loved the entire experience!  

I was nervous and wobbly at first.  We thankfully did not go in the ocean for my first time; rather we were in canals where the water was decidedly calmer.  But almost immediately we had to go under a bridge which meant both going out and coming back we had to go from standing to kneeling and then back to standing on the other side of the bridge.  And then almost immediately after the bridge at the start of our little paddle boarding adventure, there was a boat with a wake and a paranoid KK that I would fall in.

But guess who didn't fall in?

Me. be fair...any of us.  But the girl had all been many times so that was hardly a victory for them.  

Do you know what else I did?  

I wore a bathing suit in public and didn't spend every minute beating myself up that I'm not skinny or beautiful or rocking a bikini or any of the other toxic girl garbage that happens inside my head.  I just wore a bathing suit and had fun. 

It's amazing what can happen when I let go and just live a little!

Cheers to my #yearofyes and saying yes to things that are fun, even if they are also a little bit scary!

What have you done lately that was new or different or a little bit scary?


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