Summer is here ~ It’s time for some Sangria!

I had never been a Sangria drinker, not until I created the best recipe ever! Prior to that, I drank it perhaps five times in my whole life. And for some reason Sangria called out to me a bunch of years ago; not white wine, beer, or any other beverage that I might have enjoyed during the hot days of summer.  Regardless, something told me that that summer was going to be a Sangria summer. I had a feeling that is was going to be a very hot summer and we were going to be swimming in the pond or hanging out on the porch, grilling and a nice cold beverage was going to be in order.  Therefore, I set out to create the best Sangria ever. I pored over recipes on the internet and thought I would try a bunch and adapt them to make the best Sangria ever. The first one I tried was by Emeril.

Amazing as it sounds, I just about nailed it on the first try. I did adapt it over the course of the summer, but the basic recipe is Emeril’s. Not it has become a staple to music festivals and nights grilling.

The Best Sangria Recipe ever!

1 bottle of cheap red wine, I use red Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon

¼ cup brandy

¼ cup triple sec

¼ cup cane sugar

¼ cup orange juice

2 tbsp lime juice

Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour in the fridge.

Shake vigorously and pour over ice and seasonal fruit.

ENJOY!

 

The EARTH without ART is just EH

Last week was particularly stressful for me. I had too many thoughts running through my head and very few solutions or good options available. My house was a wreck and I had some long overdue projects to complete. I decided to run away from the housework and work on the projects.

I always forget how creating something returns balance to my world. Some people get this feeling from cooking and nourishing their loved ones. Cooking has never been a creative outlet for me. No matter how hard I try, cooking is only functional for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating and trying new things, but it always is more satisfying when someone else creates it. Thank goodness, Mike loves to cook and is very good at it. What satisfies my soul is making something beautiful and utilitarian from material that would normally be thrown away; for example, mosaic light-switch covers made from broken pottery or candles  from leftover candle wax.switchplate

I have wonderful childhood memories of going into NYC, riding the subways, walking the streets and going to museums. I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the mosaics everywhere. For years I thought about making them, how I would go about it, read about making them and then I finally made one. To get started, I asked local potters and asked them for any broken pottery and they were more than willing to provide me with an ample supply.

My first project was a family name sign that I gave my husband for our first wedding anniversary. Although I made some mistakes, I simply love my first mosaic. I love seeing it hang outside our house. Unfortunately, after 16 years of marriage and being exposed to the elements, it has developed cracks along the seams. Construction of the frame was one of my mistakes – never use unsealed wood – ever. As a gift to Mike for our 16th anniversary, I decided to repair our family sign so it can weather the storms once again and hang at our new home.

BiltonenAlthough I was not creating something new, it felt so good to get into a creative project again. I haven’t made a mosaic for a couple of years. When we moved cross-country, I decided not to take ten boxes of broken pottery with me. I kept telling myself, I could get some wherever I go, which is true. When we moved back to the east coast, I started talking to potters again and they were more than happy to give me their broken pieces. In fact, some shops said they would sell my switch-plate covers. Nevertheless, my head wasn’t in that special creative place anymore, or at least I kept telling myself.  My focus has been on creating herbal remedies for the past six years. It seemed like a new creative outlet for me but now I realize it is not creative enough. I must go back to creating utilitarian art. Perhaps it will be mosaics again or something new. I just acquired an old wooden love-seat that needs some attention. Perhaps, once it is reinforced and stabilized, I can adorn it will some lively colors. Regardless, I must create; I must remember to feed my soul.

switchplate What do you do to feed your soul? Please share and I will continue to share.

Such a little flower with so many names

I call it Dog Tooth Lily (Erythronium americanum), but you may call it Yellow Trout-Lily, or simply Trout-Lily, or Dog’s-Tooth Violet, or Eastern Trout-Lily, or Yellow Adder’s Tongue, or Adder’s Tongue, or  Fawn Lily, or Thousand Leaf, or Deer Tongue, or Yellow Snowdrop, or Yellow Adder’s Tongue Lily, or perhaps Yellow Fawn Lily. Nevertheless, it’s simply one of those beautiful flowers that screams “SPRING is here” while you are walking in the woods. dog tooth lily leaves only

There are perfectly good reasons for all those names. If you’re like me and love hiking in the woods, observing the daily changes, at first you see all these little single leaves that appear on the forest floor (ergo Thousand Leaf name). Each day, they get fuller and the green leaves start to develop brownish contrasting pigment that resembles the marking of a Brook Trout, a deer’s tongue or the camouflage coat of a fawn. On the other hand, perhaps another reason to associate it with Trout is that they start to appear the same time as trout season.  Adder’s tongue refers to the appearance of the emerging stamens of the flower, protruding like the tongue of a snake.

The name “dogtooth” refers to the tooth-like shape of the white underground bulb known as a corm, which looks like a dog’s canine tooth. The corms are edible raw and apparently taste like cucumber. This plant is not a violet nor related to violets, so why the name? Well, it’s simple guilt by association ~ since the leaves emerge in the spring at about the same time as the violet, the silly association was made.

Regardless of the name ~ it’s a welcome sight on hike through the woods.dog tooth flower

 

I like milk

Yes, I like milk, more specifically cow’s milk. I do enjoy goat’s milk from time to time but I drink cow’s milk on a regular basis. There are people out there that feel humans are not designed to drink another animal’s milk, because it is created to nourish a specific baby animal. Nonetheless, I enjoy it and have never noticed any negative effects.

Okay, now I made my declaration – but what type of milk do I buy? I prefer whole milk. Why whole milk? I believe the world’s healthiest foods are whole foods — foods that have not been processed. The nutrients in whole foods have a natural synergy with one another — that is, they work best in and are most beneficial to the body when they are taken together. Therefore, when you pull some or all of the fat out of milk, you throw its nutritional profile out of whack. Basically, you discard some of the health benefits when you discard the fat.

I used to buy local organic raw milk in glass jars. This made the most sense to me; cows were fed a healthy diet, so there was no antibiotics, no rBST hormones, no heat that would kill the nutritional content in the milk, no BPA from the plastic leaching into the milk.  Another benefit to glass containers is that they tend to keep the milk fresher longer by the nature of a tighter seal and glass holds in the cold better. Unfortunately, Mathew stopped drinking it because there was too much cream in the milk. I tried skimming it off, but that was not good enough for him. I do not push Mathew to drink milk because I think he gets his protein, calcium and fat from other foods. Nonetheless, I know milk compliments a healthy diet. Therefore, when I needed to find another milk, three factors were important to me: local, no rBST hormones, and glass containers. Antibiotics are not an issue with milk, because it is tested and the farmers cannot sell milk from cows whose milk contains antibiotics.  I would love it if organic played a role in my decision, but to buy a local organic milk, I would have to eliminate one of my other three needs. Maybe you’ll have better luck in your area. Luckily, I do have a local distributor – Byrne Dairy. They sell their milk in a reusable glass bottle and do not give their cows rBST and get their milk from local dairies.

When shopping we have many choices. These are my choices, what are yours?

 

Join Know Your Roots at the 7th Annual Herbal Hoedown!

For the past six years, I have had the honor to help coordinate the Herbal Hoedown. It’s a wonderful herbal conference in the Finger Lakes, which brings together a whole spectrum of people, from herbalists to the phyto-curious ~ those who want to dip their toe into the world of our green allies. The day is filled with classes and walks; we even have classes for kids and an herbal market, where you can buy a whole range of products and plants. This allows everyone to fully immerse themselves and broaden their knowledge base. I am always impressed with the class proposals, as we always receive an excellent assortment of diverse topics for all levels.

Mike is even getting into the herbal swing and will be teaching at his second Herbal Hoedown. I guess the herb loving bug is catching on. He is approaching the topic from a cultivator’s point of view and will be teaching,  “Building Biodiversity Through Biodynamics,” where he’ll be discussing the use of the biodynamic principle that our land is a living organism and will look at practical ways to build a stronger, more resilient farm & orchard. For example how to invite greater insect and animal diversity at all trophic levels, which awakens the seen and unseen life forces all around us.

I’ll be teaching “Soothe Thy Skin,” since everyone’s skin needs attention. We’ll be discussing how to make herb infused oils and salves that can heal the roughest of skins. The class will focus on the magical healing properties of calendula, comfrey, and plantain.

I hope you will be able to join us for the 7th Annual Herbal Hoedown on June 3, 2017 at the beautiful Six Circles Farm on the shores of Seneca Lake in Lodi, NY. Space is limited so you better pre-register today.

Bring the whole family, I am! Mathew will be selling Know Your Roots products throughout the day.

 

 

The second year is much harder

After my brother died of cancer, a close friend who had suddenly lost his mother told me that the first year was going to difficult, but it was nothing like the second year. I thought I understood but I really didn’t get it until I entered the second year. The second year after the loss of my brother I experienced the heart wrenching pain of permanence. Sure, in the first year, there’s pain but you are preoccupied with settling and taking care of business for at least six months or even a year. So, the emotions jump around between loss, pain, anger and the empty void that the person used to fill in your life. But you are still super busy trying to figure things out and managing everything. There are so many firsts too. The first birthday you don’t hear their voice wishing you a happy birthday, the first holiday, the first time you did something new and couldn’t share….yes, there are tons of firsts.

Then, you experience the anniversary of their passing and that is when it gets real. They are gone and those moments you shared are done, cemented in the past. I had one of those heartbreaking moments when I recently arrived in Florida to visit my Mom. I’ve been traveling to Florida at least once a year since I was six months old, so for over 50 years ~ that’s a lot of arriving. When I was little, I visited my Grandparents yearly. Then I lived there from the age of 15 until I left for college in New York at 18 years old. And I continued traveling there at least once a year to visit my folks. Until about five years ago, my Dad & Mom would pick me up at the airport, greeting me with hugs and smiles. Before 9/11 they would be waiting at the gate as I got off the plane, afterwards at security, and then in the baggage area. After a long trip, it was always a warm and welcoming sight to see my Dad’s loving and relieved face that I made it there in one piece. Sure, my Mom was relieved and happy too, but there was something so deep and loving in my Dad’s eyes that I can see right them now as I am writing this. And even though he hasn’t been at the airport to pick me up in a while, this last trip just ripped my heart apart with the realization that I will NEVER see his warm, relieved smile again. And it was more than I could bear. This year I arrived 22 days after the anniversary of his death; April 2, 2016, the day he took his last breath. That day, I arrived and hour and half after he passed. I missed that one last smile then and forever.

Yes indeed, the second year is definitely harder than the first.

 

It’s my birthday and I can hike if I want to

For over thirty years, my favorite thing to do on my birthday has been to go on a hike in the woods with loved ones. I started this ritual years ago to get family who didn’t seem share my intense enthusiasm for the great outdoors. Hey, it’s my birthday and no one could refuse my simple request. Quite frankly, I have been blessed with a fabulous day to be born ~ May 4th. There is nothing better than having a birthday in May, when everything is breaking out of its winter slumber and painting the woods with a rainbow of colors. Years ago, I commented how lovely the day was and a friend said, “It’s always beautiful on your birthday.” And folks, 95% of the time it really is; ever so often there are more clouds than sunshine, but I really cannot remember it ever raining.

This year, we visited one of my favorite trails, Upper Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY. Although, a few of flowers had already bloomed, we caught just about all my favorites.

Check out all the lovelies along the trail.

Wild Geranium

Bloodroot sans flowers

Dutchman’s-Breeches

Forget-me-not

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Trillium

Wild Ginger with flower

Bird’s eye view of Wild Ginger

Large-flowered Bellwort

What do you like to do on your birthday?