Thursday, January 28, 2016

Run, Jump, New Year and New House...

Wow, how to even begin to catch up. Life has been roaring ahead over here in this little part of the world. I am beginning to learn that I somewhat like that—in fact I crave change—of course, only good, wanted, purposeful change.

To start we managed to sell our dreamy home we left behind in California. This was a huge step, in that it enabled us to find a new settling spot here in the city of Portland that we love.

To be honest, I had my eye on this house before our California place was even on the market. I dreamed about it, I held my breath about it, I waited to see about it, I didn't even let myself check up about it... On and on for six-whole-months. The second our place in California sold I had my phone in my hand and was calling our realtor to request to go see it. It was love at first sight again! I say again because this was the same reaction I had to the first house we bought in California. It was right in a place inside me that is not really possible to describe.  
I should back up and explain we did drive by it when it first came on the market and I knew it was the place then too, hence the holding breath and dreaming. But the very moment of stepping up onto the porch was such a resounding feeling. It echoed "yes" and I could here my husband's mind saying the same thing.  

The amazing part was, as we stumbled through what we hoped would become the newest member of our family, was that no one had put in a real offer on the house yet, our offer would be the first legitimate one, or so we thought.  The price had come down—which was of absolute importance to make the purchase possible—and it was truly like the house sat waiting for us. But, as stories like to go, hours before our offer went in another couple had put in a higher offer and the owners accepted it. I was blow away. Six months of patient dreaming, hoping all ducks would align, to come to the last three hours? The silliest part being that we had the chance to put in an offer the night we saw the house and me, trying to be "reasonable and less urgent then I usually am" agreed to wait until morning to put our offer in. I tend to have ideas and want to jump on them that very minute before I have time think or let the daisies grow. 

Well it was a harrowing few weeks as we once again waited, hoping somehow our back up offer would make its way to first position. Each phone call I received I would pounce, hoping there was a 303 in the number which would mean it was from our agent. I swept back and forth between frustration of wanting to make it happen and regret that we had miss-stepped, to the satisfaction that if it didn't happen it was for the best, because how could fate have left it to depend on the last few hours unless somehow "fate" was involved. On a mellow Thursday, when I had finally given way to the fact it really wasn't going to happen, I got a call. I didn't jump, I was past the "jump because it might be" situation, and on to the stage of "we're not getting the house, what's our next plan." I had been looking at houses in this area for over two years. This was the first place that had the essence of what we wanted. Portland, being a "green city" tends to have small yards. There are rules about not pushing the boundaries and causing sprawl into the wilderness. The reasonable thing to do is keep splitting larger lots up into several smaller lots to add more and more houses. Logical? Yes, but truly heart breaking. I like space. I like to stretch my arms and know that I am not going to elbow my neighbor in the noes. I like to look out and see trees and flowers. We, as a family, like to host parties and play in the dirt. And so, when I received the call, the one that after I said hello I hear "congratulations!" on the other end, I took a second to let it absorb.

All those months of waiting. And then all those weeks of trying to let go. It was a wonderful moment. And what a feeling, as I have been pulling up carpets and tearing down old mirrors, I have taking the first steps to get to know this new place.  A place that someday will feel so much a part of me that as I said before, it will be a family member. 

Many, many more pictures to come.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

My newest book coming soon!

I am thrilled to shout to the world my newest book will be out very soon. This one had some serious bumps in the process of getting from done to finished. Here is the cover which keeps making me smile. I'll let everyone know the release date as soon as I do.

                                                                All my best!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Snow and a tiramisu recipe...

 We got SNOW!!! They had talked about it coming on Christmas, but no such luck. Still, in some ways this was even better. Right when the after Christmas blues were about to hit, a snowball did instead. Yes, LOTS of snowballs. We had a good, finger freezing, rosy cheeked blasting, snowball frenzy. It was lovely. We played in the day and then by evening when we thought the best of the snow was over it started up again, this time even bigger flakes. The kids headed outside once more and built a snowman by the yellow glow of the street lights.

Thank you mini snowstorm, we miss you already!

Now for that tiramisu recipe: I have made tiramisu for years; this way and that way, with more ingredients and less. Sometimes using Kahlua sometimes with no alcohol at all. But this year I had an idea about using eggs which I usually omit. I don't mind raw egg too much, but when we don't have our own chickens to get them from I am more wary. So, what I did was make a custard instead. I am not a good judge when it comes to traditional tiramisu because I don't know if I've ever had a truly traditional tiramisu. Most restaurants that sell tiramisu bring out something tasty but much sweeter than I can handle. Even this recipe is a little too sweet for me, but a far cry from what sugar load it could have. Sweet or not, it came out wonderfully, and I watched as in disappeared quickly from the refrigerator, nobody really fessing up as the one who gobbled the last slices.

Tiramisu Recipe

In a saucepan whisk until very smooth:
5 egg yolks
1 cup milk
2/3 cup white sugar

Put the sauce pan over medium heat and stir constantly until thick 
about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Once the custard is cool add and whisk until smooth:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Brew 2 cups very dark coffee and dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar into it. 
Let cool entirely then add:
1 tablespoon whiskey

Whip 4 cups heavy cream until stiff then add:
1 tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Grate 2 cups worth of bittersweet chocolate and set aside.

Take out about 36 ladyfingers. Dip each one in the cold coffee and place into a 9"x11" baking dish. Continue until the entire bottom is lined. Now spread half of the custard over the ladyfingers, then half of the unsweetened whipped cream. Sprinkle half of the grated chocolate and then repeat making a layer of dipped lady fingers, custard, whipped cream and then chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. I noticed the next day the tiramisu had aged into the perfect consistency, so if you have more ability to plan ahead then I do, make it a day in advanced.

                                                               Cheers to Everyone ~


Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Feasting...

From late-night cookie parties to Christmas Eve and Christmas day feasts, this was one of the most food laden holidays I can remember. And that's not even including last month's Thanksgiving extravaganza. 

To start I made shortbread and thumbprint cookies. I think shortbread might be one of my favorite cookies of all. They always make me think of my mom because years ago she and I got on a shortbread kick buying the traditional English, quite expensive, shortbread cookies to have with tea every day. Eeks, I miss living near my mom!
Peppermint hot chocolate before opening presents. This was my token of compensation 
to the kids for having to wait until everyone was up... 
 Several decadent breakfasts...

 My first attempt at anti pasto to kick off our Italian inspired Christmas dinner...
 Stuffed onions that our friends came over and made with anise biscuits in the filling...
 Focaccia bread to appease my fifteen-year-old who will eat ANYTHING 
except risotto which was the main course of our Christmas dinner.
Ending with tiramisu, I hope to post the recipe soon...
 All in all, so much good food and good people to celebrate with. 
Missing our faraway clan of family and friends!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
                                                              Cheers ~

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays Everyone!

                                                        Cheers ~

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December December, tea time and soon a break...

Blink, is it gone yet? No, but that's how December is feeling. School is out, I've closed the pie truck for a week and now I'm ready for a calm. But wait, first a tea party. Last year my daughter and I held an afternoon tea for her friends and their mamas just before Christmas. I'm sure I have stated elsewhere in this blog—probably too many times—how much I love tea and baking. Somehow when you add those two together it's hard to get anything but tea party.

                                  Hope everyone is going to get a bit of rest!

                                                          Cheers ~

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Making Stockings from Sweaters and Curly Willow Love...

Ooo, the holidays are so close. I like this part best—the before time. My house smells so wonderful right now. Between the Christmas tree and cinnamon essential oil I've been heating over a candle, it literally smells like Christmas.
I like the cold weather and the cozy feeling of preparing. I bought some curly willow cuttings that have added a burst of festivity to the room. I wonder how long they can live indoors. The lady at the floral shop where I found them said to plant them come spring, but I would love to keep a potted curly willow in my house.

Lately I've been working on making stockings from sweaters. I have only completed one, but a second is near the finish line. My goal is to make five. Imagine one stocking for each person in the family? All the same size with the same essence? Somehow, my youngest never got a stocking made for him, this year I plan to remedy that. Our first born was lucky enough to have great aunts who knitted a stocking with his name and snowman to boot. I made our daughter one, though it didn't come out how I envisioned. Each year I intend to fix this imbalance, but it's taken until now to make it happen. Oh well, that's the way things go...

Hope everyone is having fun preparing for the celebrations to come. 
                              Cheers ~