Saturday, December 31, 2016

My December

December flew by this year and I never got around to jotting down a few of my favorite memories.  So before the year comes to an end, let's talk about December.  A month in review.

At the end of November, a few days before Thanksgiving, I popped down to the garden for the final visit of the year.  I collected what was still growing to make my Thanksgiving dinner: Swiss Chard, kale, chives, scallions, one little onion, celery, sage, and time.  It was the perfect final garden harvest of the season!

My little garden is all tucked in for winter.  I never made it back to pull out the plants I mentioned harvesting above so they will be stumps to deal with in May.  But that's not a big deal at all.  Every other bit is neatly mulched over for winter, winter peas are planted, and four varieties of garlic are planted.  I can't wait to see her again in spring 2017!

I met a sweet friend for drinks at a very fun bar in town.  We're both newly on the bourbon bandwagon and had the best time trying some amazing beverages!  Hamilton is practically PH.D in bourbon, whiskey and rye and has been the best personal resource on the subject.  If you're a fan too, what's your favorite?  

I went to a screening of Hamilton's Albany with our amazing local PBS station, WMHT.  It was fantastic and if you can find it online, you should absolutely watch it.  The screening was at the Albany Museum of History and Art, where District and I once again decorated a Christmas tree.  So after the viewing, I popped in to get a photo of myself awkwardly standing in front of the tree.  Classic!

I am in love with this outfit.  For several years now I've been a big fan of white jeans in winter.  They're on trend, yes, but they also just look lovely.  I was pleased as punch with my giant Mermaid pearls, oatmeal sweater, white jeans, and pink ballet flats.  

I was tickled when my dad agreed to come with me to the screening.  We actually spent a good amount of time together in November and December and it was nice to have those memories.  

He's clearly thrilled that I once again forced him to take a selfie with me.  I don't care...just happy to have the snapshot for posterity.

I'm still trying to figure out if I fit in over on YouTube or not.  Writing is more my thing.  But it's fun to be creative and learn new mediums over there too.  I never even promoted this video about things that are NOT better than sex.  {I told you I was growing up my blog!}

I went to an Elf party.  It sounds more interesting than it is.  It was a party for families...and KK...and an elf came to talk to the kids and report back to Santa.  It was so cute and clever.  But as always, I did not fit in.  But I mean, I'm the only person I know without a family.  So sometimes I just have to take deep breaths, put on some antlers, and do my best to talk about kids and schools and family plans.  In the end, I had a great time.  The antlers only lasted a few hours though...they hurt my head.

Another friend and I spent an entire day making 20 dozen pans of cinnamon rolls.  I only took one because I just do not need more temptation in my home.  The rest were for her holiday and to gift to teachers and such.  I just have fun helping her for one crazy, exhausting day before Christmas.  I came home that night to shower, eat, and fall asleep before 9.  

Thankfully, the very next day was one of those dreary, snowy days when I had zero plans.  I was basically in my pajamas all day and it was everything lovely and relaxing!

Christmas Eve was spent with District and half of Albany at their annual Christmas Eve party.  It was a lot of fun to see everyone and of course, see my baby bestie H before Santa spoiled him rotten.  Check out those extra special Christmas pajamas he insisted on picking out himself and wearing.  A random shirt and summer shorts.  His momma knows when to stop picking battles.  He'll probably want to wear the monogrammed Christmas pj's in June.

Christmas morning was spent with just me and my daddy.  It was so sad without my sweet Sadie there too.  But I baked up those cinnamon rolls, real bacon {I rarely make bacon and when I do it's usually turkey bacon so I refer to the good stuff as "real bacon" every time I make it now.}, berries, and coffee. Simple, but my favorites.  Then we headed out to the farm to see the whole family in the afternoon.

I was so nervous and didn't sleep much the week leading up to it.  The stress of imagining the worst from family and being heartbroken still over Sadie had me so on edge.  As is often the case, it all turned out fine.  Everyone behaved, gifts were given, food was eaten, laughs were had, and we all survived another year.

My contribution to the Christmas dinner was this giant Blue Hubbard squash that I stuffed with a rice mixture.  {For my own memory, the mixture included: wild rice, pork sausage, caramelized onions, apples, and dried cranberries.}  I was told by three people that it was a bad idea and that no one would eat it because most people don't like squash.  I was so over Christmas though by the time it rolled around that I was completely out of hoots to give on this one.  I was so set on making this dish and just didn't want to discuss it.  

I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the completely masterpiece for you to fawn over but I forgot to take one.  It looked so amazing and tasted even better.  Everyone who ate it, loved it, and and very little was left at the end of the night.  Two cousins and one aunt split the leftovers between them because they loved it so much.  

And did I mention that I grew this bad boy?  Homegrown from seed!

I consider the whole dumb ordeal a win on my part.  And with that, Christmas was over.

So how was your holiday season?  Did you do anything fun or different this year?  Did you survive family time?  And seriously...if you're a bourbon fan...give me your tips...I'd love to know what I should order next when out for drinks with friends!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Homemade Marshmallows Three Ways

Years ago when I first got my beloved pink Kitchenaid Mixer, I made marshmallows for the first time on a lark.  They were a huge hit, I think more for the novelty factory than anything else.  But years later, they are still my thing at Christmastime. Some people make and gift cookies or fudge.  I make and gift marshmallows to all the tiny humans in my life.

Over the years I've tried several recipes, but the one I go back to consistently is Alton Brown's.  It works every time.  If you've never tried making your own marshmallows, this is the best recipe to use.  As long as you follow the instructions, have a stand mixer, and a candy thermometer {can be purchased for $5 at any local grocery store if you need one or if yours breaks...not that I know that first hand or anything...just you know...hypothetically of course}, it's very easy and can be done with kids.


* 3 packages unflavored gelatin
* 1 cup ice cold water, divided
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 tsp kosher salt
* 1 tsp vanilla {or other flavor} extract
* 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* Nonstick spray

* Place gelatin into the bowl of your stand mixer and add 1/2 cup of water.  Set whisk attachment next to mixer so it's easy to put on immediately when needed.  

* In a small saucepan, combine the remaining water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Place on medium heat, cover, and allow to cook for three to four minutes.  Uncover, clip on candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure the bottom of the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of the pan.  Cook until mixture is exactly 240 degrees.  This can take anywhere from seven to 10 minutes.  But be sure to stand close and check often to be sure you don't go past 240!

* Once mixture reached 240 degrees F, immediately remove from heat, pour mixture over bloomed gelatin in stand mixer bowl, add whisk attachment, and turn on low.  Move briskly but very carefully as you do not want 240 degree boiling sugar to get on you!  Turn the speed of the mixer up to high and continue to whip until the mixture becomes thick, white, and fluffy.  It will feel lukewarm on the side of the bowl and will take about 12-15 minutes.  

* Add vanilla extract {or other flavor of extract of your choosing} about one minute before the mixture is finished.

* While mixture is mixing, prepare your pan as follows.  In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and cornstarch.  Very lightly spray bottom and sides of a pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Add a few tablespoons of the sugar/cornstarch mixture to pan, move it around until completely coated.  

* When marshmallow mixture is finished mixing, pour into prepared pan with spatula.  Allow marshmallow pan to sit uncovered for at least four hours, preferably over night.  Dust flat surface {I do this in a large sheet pan to attempt to keep the sugar dust contained} with thick layer of remaining sugar/cornstarch mixture.  Turn marshmallows out into this surface.  Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut into squares or desired shapes.  A very light coating of nonstick spray often helps the pizza wheel to move easier through the candy.  Toss marshmallows in a generous coating of the sugar/cornstarch mixture so that all outer surfaces of each marshmallow are no longer sticky to the touch.

And that's it!  Really very simple and doesn't take much time at all.  The time in the mixer is almost entirely hands off time.

This year I packaged the marshmallows up in little gift bags, as well as cute little takeout style boxes, lined with parchment paper.

I made three flavors this year: strawberry, pumpkin spice, and vanilla bean.  

While they were all pretty, I have to admit I didn't really care much for the pumpkin spice flavor.  So I kind of considered that one a bust.  Vanilla is consistently my favorite but in the past I have made chocolate, almond, coconut, lemon, cinnamon {probably my second favorite after vanilla bean}, rum, and cherry.  

As a trio though, they did all look so lovely and cheerful together!

What's your signature holiday gift from the kitchen?  Have you ever made marshmallows?  And what flavors do you think I should add into the mix next year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hamilton Is My Election Silver Lining

This morning's post was heavier than I intended.  Which is what happens when I just write and let it flow, instead of planning posts like a good blogger.  I'm not complaining...just explaining.  That said, let me take a moment to share one of my sweetest stories from 2016.  I want this memory in the books to cherish forever.

This summer I reconnected with a college chummy, Hamilton, after losing touch for the better part of a million years.  Give or take.  But by reconnected, I simply mean we started following each other on Instagram.  That was it.  An occasional like of photos was the extent of our reconnection.  

Then the election happened.  And the Cheeto won.  And I cried.  A lot.  I knew that Hamilton was just as overwhelmingly upset, so I reached out and started a conversation.  It was small at first.  But a few days later, it was clear, I had found a silver lining.  

I keep saying we reconnected, but that's inaccurate.  While we were friends in college, it was nothing like the personal friendship we have formed over the last few months.  It's more like the Universe was saving this friendship for the right time.  When we would both be in a very different place and mindset and would be able to appreciate each other more.  And perhaps the Universe knew all along that this is exactly when we would each need a new old friend to talk to daily.

I found myself saying recently that I wished Hamilton had been in my life years earlier.  But I later realized that there's a purpose to the timing.  And it all just makes my heart smile!

From sisterhood to train rides and giggling over every last detail that happens in my head, Hamilton is an absolute peach and my very own election silver lining.

Cheers to bourbon and big hugs in 2017!


Not Wishing Away 2016

As a whole unit, 2016 was hands down my very worst personal year.  I lost my baby, I lost love, I lost trust, I lost direction, I lost faith in humanity, and I lost myself in the mix.

But I refuse to wish away this year.  Or any year.  As much as I pretend I am aching for a change at the stroke of midnight on January first, I am in tears at the thought of leaving this year behind.

My Sadie was alive for five months in 2016.  I had five precious months and 11 beautiful days with her, and it breaks my heart to see distance grow between our last cuddle and conversation.  I fell into a full on panic attack the other day when I started thinking about my birthday in February and her birthday in April of this coming year, without her here in our cozy little home together.  It terrifies me.  I honestly have no idea how I am going to get through those days.

For every minute I felt alone in my lifetime, my Sadie made them better.  She knew all my secrets and loved me anyway.  

I also went through some huge personal breakthroughs.  And even though many of them ended in tears, I've worked hard to find silver linings and lessons along the way.  

But lean in because I am about to tell you the most honest statement of the year...

I don't feel strong enough to leave 2016 behind.

It's true.  I am working on getting stronger.  I am working on everything.  But I'm scared.  Scared about distance, scared about failure, scared about success, scared about the unknown, scared about the inevitable, scared about not being able to figure anything out, scared about moving backwards instead of forwards, and incredibly scared about the thought of more loss next year.

I've let fear rule my little life, though, for far too long.  In part, I've discovered, because I start with a big picture.  The completed project or idea.  And then the daunting fear of not knowing how to get from zero to 100 will paralyze me.  

So one of my goals for this new year is to just focus on the next step.  Just the very next step.  Find my way forward a single step.  The way a child works on a math lesson.  I need to take my personal bubble back under control.  New management.  And we're starting with the basics.  I am only allowed to focus on one next step at a time.

2016 was the year the house came crumbling down around me.  2017 is going to be the year I build it back up, brick by brick, one at a time.  Cracks will remain.  They are always going to be there, in the corners, like battle wounds from days when my foundation came apart.  But the house will be stronger and beautiful in a new way.

I'm going to get there.  And I'm going to laugh and smile along the way.  Because even when life is gloomy, life is still pretty damn funny too.  And next year, I am just not going to lose sight of the humor as much as I did this year.  For more than 20 years, my personal mantra has been, "You have to laugh at yourself, you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't."  {all the bonus points if you can tell me where that's from!}  Fewer tears and more laughter are on my agenda next year!

That said, I'm just going to be here in my little corner of the North Pole savoring what's left of 2016.  The lows might have been low but I'd never trade them in for the highs with those I love so dearly.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday Is A Bad Employee

Oh Tuesday, you have no idea how excited I am to see you right now!  Monday was here yesterday and she is was an absolute disaster.  Just late, lazy, and incompetent.

On top of getting nothing accomplished, Monday seemed to create more problems and more work every step of the way.

But that's not all.

Monday spilled her coffee in the morning and then spilled her second cup of coffee at lunchtime.  Monday also brought our least favorite weather with her, heavy, wet snow.  How rude!  Monday had a headache and a tummy ache and somehow scratched herself.  And'll never believe this...guess what else Monday did around 9PM?


She got into bed with a mug of hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows and spilled it in her damn bed!  In Monday's defense, she was watching political news and got herself all riled up.  She knows better!

But that's a lot of drama and clothing and a change of bedding in a single day.  Oh Monday!

So Tuesday, it's just you and me on deck today.  We have to do all the things and fix all the things and try not to spill any of the things.  We have to right this ship so we can go get drinks tonight with friends.  Tuesday, it's up to you, girlfriend, to be a better employee than Monday.  

I believe in you, Tuesday!  Now show me what you've got...


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sadie Sunday: 7 Months And Daily Yoga

Oh my baby, today is the seventh month without you and that feels impossible.  How have I gone through life without holding your little paw for seven whole months?

I have my good {read: don't break down sobbing} days and my bad days.  If no one ever again tells me that time will heal something, it will be too soon.  What a crock!  Time heals nothing, we just adjust to a new {and weird} normal.

This past week I looked for you a lot.  I can't help it- it's just so ingrained in me to walk into certain rooms at certain times and look for you.  It's so strange because on one hand it makes it harder when I have those split seconds when I look for you and have to remember you're never going to be here again.  It reopens the wound.  But on the other hand, I don't ever want to forget one little moment of your life.  

I thought about doing Blogmas {a daily blog post for the 24 days leading up to Christmas} or Vlogmas {a daily vlog post on my YouTube channel for the 24 days leading up to Christmas} this year.  But instead, settled on challenging myself to practice yoga every day in December.  So far, I've been diligent!  

But yesterday evening when I was doing a yoga video on my bedroom floor, as I often have done for years, I just started sobbing.  I could feel what it was like to have you come in the room and kiss my forehead.  I could hear our little conversations.  And as much as I never want to lose that very tangible memory, I wish I could learn to better absorb the wave of emotions.  

One day I will get through writing more than two sentences in these Sadie Sunday posts without tears running down my face.  Today's not that day, but I do believe it will come.  No matter what happens though, you are and will always be the little love of my life!  

Namaste, sweet Sadie!

XO Momma

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Volunteer Of The Year

Last night was so special for me.  My dad was honored for his big heart and tireless volunteer efforts for the city of Troy, NY.

Dad is quiet.  Hates to be the center of attention.  Content to stand in the back of the room.  He works hard and gives everything to his community.  But quiet kids are rarely seen in life.

No one was more surprised than he was when the BID told him they were honoring him {plus one business and one organization} at this annual event.  I'm not sure either of us knew what to expect but it ended up being an amazing evening.  I'm the proudest daughter ever!

My father volunteers a lot.  He was raised that way and raised me to do the same.  I remember being really young and my dad talking to me about giving your time and shopping local to support your community.  Those were two of my moral foundations I suppose.  

So many of my dad's friends came and it was just so lovely to see his circle of support.  He was so humbled and appreciative and I just know he left feeling loved.

It's not at all news to me that my father loves his community.  But it was such sweet news to realize that this community loves him right back!

My heart is beaming with pride over my kind, loving, and dedicated father being honored in such a big way last night!



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