Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The world keeps turning... the garden keeps growing.

There is no doubt, we are living in strange times amid this virus crisis.  I feel very lucky to live rural where I can walk around my yard and not feel so isolated.

There is a constant in our life that gives hope, no matter how bleak the news of the day is.  Our Garden.  The overwintered veggies are springing to life.  Carrot seeds are popping, same with dill and garlic.  Lettuce, radish and kale seeds are sprouting, and our purple broccoli is showing their pretty heads!
My daily routine is totally changed with this crisis, but I am thankful to be still working from home.  The lack of a commute leaves me more time to devote to our continued sustainability.  Here at Books n Brew, we have always lived by the motto of "why buy it when you can make it yourself", and we will continue that motto long after those who are frantically buying seeds right now, lose interest.  Major plans for a bountiful year are in the works!

Just remember, like grammy told me that the cows didn't know it was the depression, our Gardens don't know we are in a crisis. ❤❤

We did make an investment that will forever change our little half acre, chickens!!
Exciting times are ahead!  The uncertainty of today will not darken the bright light of hope.

Stay safe my friends, be thankful for fresh air, blue skies, good internet, books, and social media to keep us all connected while isolated.  This crisis is not yet over, and this will undoubtedly change all of our lives from this time forward.

Blessings to you.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Irish Feast Week 2020

2020 has had it's challenges.  For the first time ever I planned an "Irish feast week" which started the Sunday before St. Patrick's day and lasted thru the end of Winter. 

It was a challenge only because we didn't have folks to share it with us at our dining room table.  Instead, every day we shared the nightly meal on social platforms -doing a virtual feast of the eyes to our friends and family.   

If you need a good cook book to read, I would totally suggest The Farmette Cookbook.  I used the Patsy's Pies pie crust recipe and it was voted the BEST!

Irish Feast week Preparation

In planning our meals, we wanted to use items more than once, to  utilize leftovers and limit single use ingredients if we could.   We wanted to show that American Irish food was about adapting, using what you have, and being appreciative of simple ingredients.

Our shopping list entailed things such as (not in any order)
corned beef
yellow potatoes
orange carrots
head of cabbage
green onions
Kerry Gold butter
heavy cream
whole grain mustard
dry mustard powder
dijon mustard
Guinness beer
plain beef brisket
beef stock
chicken stock
bay leaf
parsely, fresh
dried herbs like oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, sage
rye bread
irish sharp cheese
sharp regular cheddar
puff pastry
ground pork
sour cream
more chocolate
"leprechaun dust"
dark chocolate cocoa powder
more beer
ice pack for my foot

Our Menu comprised of a Prep Nigh.  I needed to make sure we had all the items as proprotionate before we started.   The plan was to start with a lot, and use leftovers thru the week, ending the week with a flourish and good memories!

Day 1
     Corned Beef, steamed cabbage & carrots, Mashed potatoes, champ, Irish Sausage rolls, craggy cheddar and green onion drop biscuits plus Guinness mustard
** Everything was made with a little extra in mind **

Day 2
    Irish Bangers, mashed potatoes, with grilled onion gravy and parsley carrots
** using leftover mashed potatoes, adding dried parsley to the steamed carrots and microwaving with a pat of KerryGold butter, using up some leftover grilled onions and beef broth to make the gravy**

Day 3
  St. Patrick's day Irish stew with brisket
** using whatever carrots were left, plus more, adding potatoes, a new brisket, mushrooms, onions, in a white broth plus trimmed brisket (not corned) plus a cup of the strained corned beef jous and of course some beer.

For dessert we dined on the beautiful Chocolate Stout cake in the "mini donut form".  I am going to call these super chocolate bombs, and they were good!!!!!!

Day 4
     Leftover Corned beef hash with cabbage, breakfast style; aka with over medium eggs and rye toast!
** the remainder of the corned beef, plus the steamed cabbage, and mashed potatoes, plus half an onion and a clove of garlic made use of most of the leftovers.

Day 5
   The last meal of Winter - Irish Stew Pie
Using a homemade crust (best one i've ever made), we used all the leftovers from the St. Patrick's stew, added flour as a thickener and baked as a pie.   It was devine and so filling!

This was a fun week of meals to plan.  I'm only sorry that more people couldn't be here to taste each one.

As usual, I don't post the recipes for St. Patrick's Day.  I should, but that would make this post really long!  Maybe next year I'll post them as i go along.  If you want to recreate anything I have pictured here, just ask!   Most of these are just an "as you go" recipe meaning that there isn't one way to make them and they change based on what you have available.

My dream is that one day to host a St. Pats Party, with ALL of these dishes for sampling.   My what a feast that would be!!  

But for now we' re shifting into Spring mode.  That means plantingand planning and using the freezer and canned stores to make room for this year's horde.  Looking forward to seeing what i will do with all my  apple sauce and pickled asparagus!!  We have a great garden planned and should see some greens and radish in just a few weeks.   

Peace and blessings from our house to yours. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

End of Winter

If you would have told me early last month that instead of getting pumped up and stretching out in the cold morning, that I would  be blogging in my jammies, I'd have said you would be wrong!  I had a goal to do two 5ks, the first which should have been today.  I was planning on having to cancel today's due to a foot injury - but now due to the current world situation - I'm getting a refund.   Not just on today's, but on the one for next month too.  In the State of Washington, any public gathering with 250 people or more is henceforth banned, as of Tuesday March 17th.  Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

Covid19 has changed our landscape, our present, our immediate future. It has brougt the realization that most folks were not as prepared as they thought to ride out 3 days, a week, let alone the 6 weeks that our schools and other places / events gatherings will be closed.

I have thought long and hard about this.  I come from Irish_Americans, and this is just one life lesson we have always known.   There comes a time in history when the world becomes smaller - that people need eachother.  This is one of those times.

I would never have called myself a prepper - the term that many of the doomsday preppers - the time when they all thought that shit would hit the fan, i don't have a bugout bag or a cache in the woods.  But I've always believed that we should be prepared in life for any emergency.  I buy an extra bottle of shampoo when it is on sale; same goes for laundry soap, paper towels, toothpaste, coffee, flour, beans, coffee creamer.  My husband is now more surprised when I forget to pickup the one extra spare than when I come home with a trunkful and a smile. 

You see I grew up on stories of the depression from my grandma.  She would say the her father would give milk to neighbors from their cow, as her father used to say "the cow doesn't know it's the depression".    I could never understand why she would freeze a half cup of gravy and mashed potatoes - in a glass jar.  It was a just in case measure.   Most people who squirrel things away, try to use them before the next season.  Too much of this and the effect then becomes a hoarding situation.  I try to not be a hoarder.   If I'm not using it, then I don't need it and out the house it goes! 

Practicality is something that I see lacking lately.   Logic, reason, common sense, self reliance, and due diligence.  These are qualities we all need to focus on, as well as empathy, compassion, selflessness and grace.   Be grateful for what you do have, and if you can help in any way, do.

I placed my new seed order last night. After I do some kitchen prep, my plan is to head out to the greenhouse for the annual end of winter cleaning event.  My lettuce is sprouting in the cold frame. My garlic is popping up, and the leeks are looking fabulous!   I need to pull weeds and dig out the raspberries, transplant the strawberries. 

The world will keep turning on it's axis, no matter how you handle the reality of the  world with covid-19 threats.

Soon the fear and worry of the world will ebb - for now tensions and the unknown are high.  But I have faith in humanity.  I have faith the communities will come together to support eachother.    But mark this on the calendar - this will be a pivotal point in history much like 9/11 and even Columbine.  You will define history as before and after.  Before covid-19 you may have taken for granted being able to purchase such  basic supplies without fear of running out.  It may not cause such devastation, but it will cause a ripple affect and like all other world wide events, will bring out the true nature in others.

My advice to anyone reading this - take a deep breath.  Look around you.  Be thankful for what you have.  Take an Inventory of your own self, your surroundings, and make a list.  Do you have enough for two weeks? Are you being selfish in our needs?  Can you make do with less?  Can you learn to adapt?  What is your worst fears, how can others help ease those fears?  Can you help others ease their fears?  How can you show more compassion in the days ahead? 

Unfortunately when compassion is most needed, greed and scammers come out full force.  Watch out for  your neighbors - please be careful who you gift money to.  Instead gift items like books, food, offer to do a load of laundry, and make sure you validate the source of the monetary request.    Look back thru history - these times are when the rich get richer by buying up stocks and weathering the storms.  And the shady folks thrive in the face of uncertainty.

I choose hope.   My garden will soon be blossoming - and it's my hope to share it with you over the next few months. 

Blessings and peace,

Saturday, February 22, 2020


It's funny how one little thing can change your perspective.     

For me, the last few weeks kept throwing little things at me.  I attended a memorial for one of my mentors.  CK had been a big influence and one my the managers I worked under when I was in my 20s.  When he moves on, I took over his spot and we had always remained friends (the motorcycle industry is small) with him and his wife.  Their relationship was an inspiration to me and I knew that my then current situation wasn't what I wanted.  Fast forward 21 years later and CK lost the long hard fought battle with cancer.   
At that memorial I hung out with some old friends from the industry,  hell they remembered me from those days too!

One of my good friends, whom I used to work with as well, also was there and it was great to catch up.  She was recently laid off from the parent company we used to work for.  A year before retirement, 40 years of experience, the majority of her life the last 10 years has been for the brand she worked for.  
We talked last night about some fun old times, how lucky we were, how our problems or issues are so minute in comparison to the rest of the world that doesn't have a toilet, or even a roof.  

Life sometimes needs to give you a timeout.  It's not fair, it sucks, but you have to get over one through it, gain some perspective and keep trying.
We are never too old for life lessons.  

With all that being said, today I am grateful.  For my husband, my family, my friends, my coworkers past and present, my neighbors, my community, my dog, and this blog.

Have some compassion today, be kind, smile.  You never know when you yourself will be an influence, an inspiration, or just the laugh you share with a friend will give e them the perspective they didn't know they needed.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

View from the Stump house

Mid-winter hasn't been what we've expected.  We have had one snowstorm that lasted over a week.  We have had lots of rain.  Today we've reached 50 degrees, heard the birds chirping and have witnessed new grass growing.  It's a mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest.   It's halfway thru winter, Chinese New Year, and a little less than 2 months before my first 5K. 

Mid-winter is my time to plot and plan my gardens.  To look over my freezer and pantry stores and make plans on what to use up before the next season.   Projects are being planned, wood is being set aside, greenhouse dreams are coming together, and amid all of this, I found time to sit in our stump house and write a few thoughts.   

Today as I look around my yard, I am so grateful for what we have.   I have gardens for food, herbs, flowers, and rocks.  We grow trees from the seedlings that sprout in our yard, and have houses for birds, bats, and lady bugs.  I am sitting in a stump house that shields me from most rain and wind and in a moment will head down to the fire pit to warm my cold fingers.  I choose to focus on what I do have than those things that I can only dream about for now.   

I am content with where I am in life.  But I know that I also will achieve those dreams through hard work.  The view from the stump house will just have to do for now.

Keep moving forward.