Saturday, July 16, 2016

rose tincture update

The rose tincture from earlier this summer is coming along nicely. I was disappointed with the results of the first infusion (it was more appley/rose hip flavored - the perfume of the rose blossoms didn't come through), so I've continued to infuse fresh batches of rose petals every 3-4 weeks. This is the fifth infusion and the perfume is finally coming through. I may do one more infusion before bottling, just to see if I can push it a little further. Never too much rose perfume!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

high summer

Since I'm sick with a cold, let's just look at some pretty pretty pictures I've been snapping on walks in the park lately, shall we? It's strange to think that the hottest part of the summer is still ahead of us; we had a couple weeks of hot weather sprinkled throughout the springtime and now that we've returned to a normal northwest summer (lingering clouds, a marine layer), it feels like ... okay, that was it! Time for apples and pumpkins!

And then the rugosa hedges are already setting their hips and the rowans are covered in brilliant orange berries and even the haws are coming on (but they're still very green). Which is all a bit disorienting ... are you sure it isn't autumn?  

Summers are still a strange time for me. It's only been a couple years that I've been working them, and despite the length of the days, the season does slip so rapidly through your fingers when you only have the weekends (and as exhausting as it is to learn a new job, I really only have the weekends - I am positively crashing when I come home at night).

See? Apples. Some of the apple trees on campus (somehow I never noticed before that there are apple trees on campus - how did I never notice?) are dropping their apples all over the place already. (Oh. Maybe that's why I never noticed; the apples were gone by the time the school year started.) Walking back to work after a yoga-lunch-break this week, I caught the rich, spicy tang of the decaying fruit, a scent that seemed out of step with the hot, summery sunny afternoon weather.

But I'll be sad when the spiraea fades and the fireweed has bloomed all the way up to the tip of its stalk again. These wild flushes of pink are my favorite signs of summer. Okay, autumn can wait. Let's bask a little longer in this glow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


It's been a crazy couple of weeks. My exciting new job comes with ... a real lack of coherent structure/training/orientation. It's a good thing I'm logical, methodical, and extremely driven. I'm working on training myself as quickly as I can. And then my boss suffered a serious injury on July 4th and I haven't seen her since my first day. We're mucking along as best we can, over the phone and I email her things periodically, but she can't really respond via email, but wow. There's nothing like being thrown into the deep end, eh?

Still, despite the fact that I'm completely wiped out when I get home, and though I may have a had a little moment where I almost cracked today, part of me also recognizes that I'm actually incredibly at home in this environment - I thrive in it. Oh, academia. You're so wacky.

So, sorry it's been quiet around here lately. It's been hard enough just managing to DO anything other than work, sleep, and wrap up my final freelancing projects (I've been ending all those commitments, too) that it's a miracle I documented anything. But I did. And hopefully this week, as some things start to level out for me, I'll have time to go through all those photos and share some things.

We did manage to hit the Farmer's Market a couple weeks ago, just as the tart cherries came on the market. That in itself is such a hit-or-miss, blink-and-you'll-miss-it occasion that I've actually started growing a tart cherry tree for our garden to provide us a reliable source in the future. So I did a completely normal thing and bought six pounds of tart cherries without any plan for how to use them. I spent an evening pitting them and then cooked them lightly with a bit of sugar and pectin and lemon juice to make a perfect tart cherry sauce just like my grandfather used to make - just as delightful poured over pancakes, ice cream, or baked into a pie or a tart. Of course, it's just as likely, I'll eat the entirety of every jar with a spoon, like I used to as a kid!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So many roses

This weekend I had half the kitchen table covered in rugosa rose petals that I'd washed and set out to dry. Some of them went back into the rose tincture for a double infusion (double strength!); some of them were dried and added to the raspberry rose tea mix I'm working on; and a good number of them were pickled using this recipe from Martha Stewart, for eating on a lovely layered beet salad with yogurt and spiced brown butter.

Pickling rose petals does sound a little twee, I'll admit. But it's actually quite fast, and the results are really lovely. After cleaning your petals, you simply measure them out (gently packing them), then make a brine by gently simmering vinegar, honey, and salt and pour it over your petals. I put a resealable plastic cap on the jar and pop it in the fridge and voila! All set for the summer! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

At long last

Finally! This baby gift is finished and gifted ... only a month after the baby arrived (close enough, right?). We gave the quilt (it's Elizabeth Hartman's Fancy Fox quilt pattern) with a copy of Coralie Bickford-Smith's very pretty little book, The Fox and the Star.

I decided to quilt it in a geometric pattern of lines wrapping around a central square. It's all hand-quilted, and the binding is finished by hand, as well (with a line of trapunto machine-stitching to ensure it is durable).

I used two layers of batting to give it extra loft, extra coziness. I almost wonder if this was a mistake for a lap quilt, if now it feels more like a pad for sitting on than a blanket for wrapping around oneself. But my husband proclaims it perfectly snuggly. (Hopefully the new parents like it as much as we do!) I almost think I should make one for our bed ... but I think I need a little break from quilts for a while.

Friday, June 17, 2016


I have a new job. At the University. I'm really excited.

I have a week off first. Time.

I have a week off because I left my old job before my two weeks' notice was up because a.) they were getting pretty abusive once I gave my two weeks' notice (wow, super abusive.. SO UGLY) and b.)  a friend died on Wednesday afternoon and I realized: nothing I have left to do at this point is really that important anymore.

A friend died Wednesday afternoon. She gave birth to her second son on Saturday. She went home Sunday. She woke up sick on Wednesday. She was rushed to the hospital, pumped full of antibiotics, sent into surgery ... and died.

She was a partner at my husband's firm. She got him his job. They went to school together. She was the valedictorian of their Master's class. She introduced me to oilbar, my medium I use for paint. She was soft spoken. She was goofy. She was kind. Always kind.

So many things don't make sense right now. I just saw her two weeks ago. She was getting so big. I exclaimed over it and she joked that she was fat and shouldn't be wearing horizontal stripes anymore. (She wasn't big. She was always slim during pregnancy.) She always joked.

I didn't get to say congratulations.

I didn't know I wouldn't see her again.

None of this makes any sense.

I walked into my husband's firm Thursday morning after leaving my job and hugged the bosses. No words. I just walked up and clasped them each in turn. They sobbed. We sobbed. The firm had a morning meeting before dispersing for the day. Cass and I went to the woods. We walked in the quiet. It was the only thing we could think to do.

The community is mobilizing, organizing support for her widower and two sons. It helps; it gives structure and direction at a time when we are awash. And our own network is here for us: our friends and neighbors are going out to dinner with us, bringing us cookies, going for walks, being with us. As we get older, we get better at grieving, we learn the techniques to process and deal.

But still, there is that moment, when I wake up in the morning, and I remember. There are all the moments throughout the day when I remember. When a character on television says, "I don't understand" in response to bad news. When I see the wetness of my husband's green eyes, and the little twitch of his mouth. There are all these little moments in the day. All the hours to fill.

We sit, and wait for time to pass. For time to pass and make it better. For time to pass and help us find a way to move on, without her.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Midsommar is coming

Our annual Midsommar preparations begin: 2.5 quarts of salmonberry jam. There's a little 8-oz. jar left over tucked into the fridge for eating on toast. Delicious.