Thursday, February 26, 2009

I have a magic blog

Do you remember? I posted this photo not too long ago...

And look what showed up via Mr. UPS...
My saxophone

It's definitely magic.

Thank you mom and dad. I've been practicing, er, squealing. And I about have The Saints Go Marching In down. I promise I'll post it on the blog soon.

But to make sure, you're not also sending that pecky cedar via UPS, right?

And to all my blog readers, this saxophone was my dad's: he played it in junior high, where he first met my mom. If I remember correctly, she played percussion. Snare? I love having it back in my life, though I'm not sure my neighbors love it too. Tenor saxophone is loud.

Oh when the saints, oh when the saints, oh when the saints go marching in....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chats with Rudy: about gardening

Rudy's thoughts about gardening from LeloNopo on Vimeo.
Rudy has the most beautiful azaleas in his garden. And isn't that what all gardeners do in the garden? Diddle around?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chats with Rudy: his thoughts on sunshine

Rudy likes Spring sunshine from LeloNopo on Vimeo.

I can't wait 'til it's here permanently either, Rudy.

Had a chat with Rudy and my camera was handy. In case you need a refresher, Rudy is our 95-year-old friend and neighbor. He walks every day, and stopped by recently on a sunny day. Here is one of three I'm posting this week. Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy our chats with Rudy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When you just know it's the right thing to do

I haven't gone a day without hearing how the economy is effecting friends, family, colleagues and clients. And it's not just about tightening belts: lost jobs are impacting communities deeply, and the impact to food banks is harsh.

I read this today. And you should too. Demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008.

You have a chance to help, right now, and right here.

I've teamed up with a whole roster of other bloggers this month to help raise funds for the Oregon Food Bank. And with one simple click, you can make a donation, even if it's for $5, and be a part of the solution. (Just put Blog for Food in the tribute line so they are able to track the impact of the blog campaign.)

If you'd rather donate food, you can do that too. Locations, as part of the Blog for Food campaign, are:
-Saraveza in North Portland (1004 N Killingsworth)
-Vino in Sellwood (1226 SE Lexington)
-Gilt Club downtown (306 NW Broadway)

Thank you to Tami for making this happen. I hope you'll join in, too, and be a part of the solution.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A commitment to limoncello

lemons + everclear
I say commitment because making it requires one. A 90-day commitment to patience. And it all started with two bottles of Everclear in the back of my car on Valentines Day. Aaawwwww, isn't it romantic?

Actually, it started with reading Diane's post here, where she invites her readers to join her in making limoncello. Timed with an upcoming trip to Southern California during high citrus season, I knew I could get my hands on some organic, reasonably priced Meyer lemons. So between babies and family and outings to the Wild Animal Park and In-N-Out, I stopped by a produce stand and picked up 20 or so Meyer lemons.

And I'm proud to say TSA did not confiscate my Meyer lemons. Once in Portland, I read up on limoncello making, and discovered two things:
1. It's traditionally made with grain alcohol. However, this high proof booze is not available in most states. Lucky for me, it is in Oregon. Thank you Oregon! Even though we have to buy our booze at state-run liquor stores, thank you for providing me with 190-proof liquor. Phew! That stuff stinks like rubbing alcohol. But I have faith. The higher the alcohol content the better the flavor extraction from the lemon peel.
2. When zesting the lemons, don't get any of the white part of the peel. You only want the peel. Zest carefully!
careful zesting

And in the end, you'll have zested lemons that look like this:*
zested lemons

In my huge infusion jar, I've combined the zest with the booze, pop in a sprig of rosemary, and now I wait 40 days. I trust Diane will blog about what to do then. (I think it's about adding a simple syrup and straining the peel.)
the first step of making limoncello

Patience is a virtue, right? Right. Patience will also help mellow that grain alcohol. Hopefully.
limoncello making
*I juiced the lemons and froze the juice in ice cube trays: I now have a bag of lemon juice cubes in my freezer handy for cooking or adding to smoothies.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Doing some work

Doing some spiritual work here. For me, this includes art, gardening, meditation, laughter, as well as some thoughtful rituals.

I visited with my favorite intuit recently. She's not a formal intuit, but when we talk, we both are hearing things from each other that don't come out in words. For me, this completely makes sense. Because I'm intuitive. I pick up the thoughts and feelings of others around me, whether or not they're said out loud or even directed at me. It's a gift. It's also a pain in the ass. Because it effects me in ways that can be confusing. When I acknowledge and give time and energy to my intuition, I am stronger for it.

So I'm doing a little work right now. It includes a little of this...
Dousing with florida water

And a little of building my shrine...
My shrine

And surrounding myself with more of this (art AdRi and I recently purchased)...
art always makes me feel good

It feels good to do this work. I used to think I needed to foster my gifts through organized religion. As a child, my parents allowed me to go to whatever church I wanted. And I did. Methodist, Lutheran, Evangelical. After college I was a devout member of the Church of Religious Science. But I realize organized religion was a way for me to deal with listening to my intuition in a formal way. I'm finding the way to my intuition now on my own, and with a little help from my friend here. It's my magic. And it smells like rosemary, orange blossoms and frankincense.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Things I've seen recently

A whole of wall of TV's airing the commercial for the snuggie.
wall full of snuggie

A car covered in fur.
pretty pet my car

flamingo central

The family that lucha libres together, stays together.
the family the lucha libres together, stays together

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pucker up for Kumquat Vanilla Marmalade

tastiest marmalade ever
On the street where I grew up, the houses were built in what was once lemon and avocado orchards, and a few old jacaranda trees dripped their purple blooms onto the road. Our property was thick with established lemon and avocado trees, and my parents added to these wonders with kumquats, limes, tangerines, and the neighbor's persimmon tree gifted us each year with orange fruit my mom made into moist cookies. Growing up in Southern California you take these things for granted: doesn't everyone have lemons right outside their kitchen window? The scent of citrus blossoms and cut grass mixed with lemon continues to be one of my favorite smells. But I digress from the topic at hand...
washing kumquats
Escaping Portland's cold grey winter and traveling to Southern California recently I knew kumquats were in season. I've been known to begrudgingly and infrequently pay $6/pint for kumquats here in Portland. But buying local when in the locale of their growth? A San Diego County roadside stand offered them for $2/pint, and I snatched up 3 pints of the mini orbs of tartness, and stashed them in my suitcase for travel back to the land of cold.

I knew I wanted to make marmalade: marmalade is a jam with bits of citrus peel in it, and since the sweet part of the kumquat is its peel, kumquat marmalade is puckery and sweet and sour all at the same time. Add some vanilla bean to the mix and you have a concoction of sinful wonder.
processed jars of kumquat marmalade
I researched different recipes and techniques both in books and online, and discovered that you don't have to use pectin in the making of this if you reserve the seeds and use them in the production of the jam since they naturally create pectin. That means the marmalade is just fruit and sugar. And speaking of no way did I use anything close to the amount of sugar called for in most recipes. I just can't bring myself to pour that much processed sugar into the fruit. Plus, I prefer it tart. Pucker up!

Here's how it's done...

Kumquat Vanilla Marmalade
3 pints kumquats
5 cups sugar
8+ cups water
1 vanilla bean
Wash and scrub your kumquats. Get comfortable and start slicing. You want thin slices, and remove and save the seeds as you go. It may take a while. With the reserved seeds, create a cheesecloth bag and add it, the sliced kumquats and water to a large pot. Bring to a quick boil and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit overnight.

The next day, bring your pot to a quick boil, and cook until your peels are tender. About 10 minutes or so. Remove the cheesecloth bag of seeds and add in your sugar. Slice and scrape the vanilla bean insides into your pot. Stir well. Cook, while stirring, until your jam is cooked down. This may take a while. Mine took about an hour and 20 minutes or so. It may get steamy...
steaming it up with jam making
As the jam thickens, make sure you're stirring and not allowing it to stick to the bottom of the pan. Skim foam. You can test the jam for jelling point by putting a spoonful of the liquid onto a small plate, and setting in the freezer for a few minutes until it comes to room temperature. Turn the plate sideways to test if the liquid drips: if it's still runny at room temperature, keep cooking. If it gels and does not drip, it's done. Ladle into hot jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 jelly jars + 1 pint of marmalade.
the finished product

Monday, February 16, 2009

Witch Hazel blooms

witch hazel bloom
Hello February.
Hello Winter sun.
Hello brisk.
Hello tiny hiding violets.
Hello witch hazel. You're one of my favorites.

Thank you, New Seasons Market, for introducing me to the best combo ever

I love shopping at New Seasons Market for many reasons...they're local, run by good people, support local farmers, and always have the most gorgeous organic produce. They're not like the shee-shee high end markets: in fact their tagline is the friendliest neighborhood store. Which reminds me: have you read their fine print? They're in neighborhoods, and it's true, their staff is friendly. And no, they're not paying me to write this, though I used to work at the agency who does their PR, so I suppose I'm biased. But I don't care. They're good peeps.

But I have something new to thank them for, and that is this:
The best treat ever

The tastiest cheese plate evah. Yes, I said evah. Because it's delicious. And New Seasons had this out for sampling in-store this past weekend. It's a pool of fragrant mellow acacia honey with a scoop of fromage blanc, and topped with the fine zest of a lemon. Serve with plain snappy crackers, like Croccantini, and you have The Tastiest Cheese Plate Evah.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For my fellow Northerners

The sun as seen over the San Pasqual Valley, California
This here is called the sun. It glows, like a giant yellow orb, up in the sky. It emits heat. I saw it recently, as seen here, above the San Pasqual Valley in Southern California. I hear it may make another appearance. For Portlanders? Look for it in late June.

More about a quick trip to SoCal soon.....I promise.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

25 Things I've Been Doing

Oh it's been so quiet here, hasn't it? Well, here's an update on 25 Things I've Been Doing....

1. Reading more of your blogs than creating at mine. Some really great blogs I've been lurking on include Garden Rant, William Bragg, Dig This Chick, Foodie Tots and Hip Chick Digs. Go check them out and give them some love.

2. Being the busiest I've been since I started my own consultancy two years ago.

3. Working with amazing new clients doing important things in this world.

4. Working with ongoing clients doing amazing, new things in this world.

5. Not getting sucked into the drama of gay community politics but watching them from a communications viewpoint and realizing it's one, big trainwreck. And the things we say and do in moments of crisis are big indicators of the kind of people we are: be gentle.

6. Connecting with long lost friends on Facebook, and posting photos like this:
Yes, I am brave.

7. Not responding to any of the 25 Things About Me tags on Facebook. I have 50 Things, and though they're old, they're still interesting. I think.

8. Experimenting with different fruit and vegetable slurries in the VitaMix: pears are both very popular in our CSA box right now and so they are in the blender. Carrot greens are delicious in a drink, by the way. They make smoothies green.

9. Getting pedicures with my lovah.

10. Going to fancy lady events and talking with quirky guys in light-up belt buckles. And then having people think they need to "save me" from the quirky guy, when in reality, I really enjoyed visiting with the quirky guy. Did you follow that?

11. Watching The L Word on Sunday nights with friends and realizing the show has jumped the shark.

12. Visiting with Rudy in the sunshine and sharing an orange with him. Both agreeing how beautiful that orange is, almost too pretty to eat.

13. Daydreaming about our upcoming trip to Sun Diego. Yes I spelled that correctly.

14. Doing my morning lightbox therapy.

15. Daydreaming about our upcoming trip to Mexico. Researching tequila and cacao production in the area we'll be.

16. Hugging my dog. She's my stress reducer.

17. Watching Gran Torino and getting so emotional I about sob uncontrollably. You know the kind where your throat tightens up and rises high in your neck and you know if you open your mouth there will be no stopping of it all?

18. Watching old Spike Lee movies.

19. Not doing any gardening or canning whatsoever.

20. Staring at the instructions for sourdough bread and wondering if I really have the patience for it all. It may be doubtful.

21. Failing at mexican chocolate sorbet but knowing what to do next time.

22. Trying to figure out how I'm going to do a client conference call in the middle of my master gardener class tomorrow afternoon. I believe it will be from my car.

23. Getting ready for my Sassy Gardener column to start up again in March, and pondering all of the great topics to write about this season and gardens to visit. I'm open to requests!

24. Reading the book America Eats! and learning about the WPA project of the 1930s with writers and photographers capturing the culinary stories of communities across the country. I'm fascinated with chitlin stomps and booya feasts.

25. Using way too much of my favorite moisturizer: A Perfect World. It really is perfect. But it's a cold dry winter and a girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do to get through it.

And that, my friends, are 25 Things I've Been Doing.