pumpkin spice waffles, good bubbles + how to make a holiday wreath

Well, we finally got a Christmas tree a little over a week ago. If we are lucky, maybe we’ll even decorate it before the 25th! Not a likely story. So far, the potted evergreen bears only a loosely hung string of LED lights on its small branches. But it is so adorable just as it is!

This is the first year that Steve and I purchased a living Christmas tree. We even have a spot in the front yard dedicated to its earth-bound arrival in late spring. I scoured the rows of now-small evergreen trees at City Floral and found the perfect one. It’s a little crooked, but its trunk is strong and solid. On the way to check out, I spied some loose tree trimmings in a box and was instantly inspired to create a handmade wreath.

Luckily, one of my favorite garden bloggers, Erin of Blackberry Burrow, had recently posted a beautiful evergreen wreath tutorial, so I took down a few of her tips and made an adorably wild wreath happen.

Armed with an obscenely large cup of coffee, alongside my new Christmas tree buckled in the passenger seat of my car, I set out to find a sturdy wreath frame and some floral wire. And some bubbles for later. Because I love bubbles.

That was last weekend. My boyfriend and I were gifted a day off together, which never happens in the month of December, when life is blowing by at full-speed at the restaurant. Late nights, late mornings, baggy eyes {thank God for concealer!}, and copious cups of coffee are all commonplace this time of year. But those wouldn’t bog us down that day. Not one bit.

Steve and I have an annual tradition of compiling a holiday playlist and even burn it out, old-school-style, on a CD. Kind of a “best-of” compilation of music that catches our ears throughout the year. While Steve was mixing a first-pass at the computer, I set out to make my first-ever evergreen wreath. But first, more coffee and some pumpkin spice waffles. I’ll get to those in a moment.


how to make your own evergreen wreath


  • floral wire
  • evergreen boughs, branches, or pieces
  • a wire wreath frame {found at craft stores or a floral shop}
  • yard scissors or “pruners”
  • wire cutters
  1. Forage for stems and boughs from evergreen trees or grab some from your local florist. Erin suggested gathering branches after a winter storm, but since we had been experiencing 75-degree weather, that wasn’t an option for me. I found some at City Floral here in Denver. I even saw that Whole Foods sold evergreen pieces for only $5 a “bouquet” – not a bad price.
  2. Bunch together a few branches of evergreen and tie together with a few wraps of floral wire. Depending upon the thickness, I used either three or four branches. You may also trim the branches along the way, if you want a more uniformly sized wreath. You can always trim it later, though.
  3. Set out your wreath base on your working area. I used this 18″ wire wreath base from Michael’s.
  4. Using your wire cutters, clip a long piece of floral wire. Take your first “bouquet” that you tied together and tie it securely to the wreath frame. In the third photo below, you can see the back of the frame and notice how I secured the groupings of evergreen pieces.
  5. Stagger the next evergreen bouquet a few inches away from the first one, sort of layering each time. Continue in this fashion, until you reach the place, where you began. It’s really that easy. Now you can decorate it or leave it in its unruly, woodsy glory!

So, yeah, I was super stoked with my results! I actually ran out of evergreen pieces during the wreath-making process, so Steve kindly trimmed some of our overgrown bushes in our yard and came to the rescue. The little blueish pieces and the long, wispy pieces are from his handiwork!

We took a break to make some pumpkin spice waffles from Cookie + Kate. I made only a few adaptations from her original recipe. You can find her detailed post here. I am constantly inspired with her vegetarian cooking and creative ways to make healthy treats taste delicious.

I also had a bottle of Prosecco to taste and review, so I figured I’d taste it in the morning and make mimosas with the leftovers! And just in case you’re someone who needs a little brush-up on how to make the perfect mimosa, I’ve got that covered, as well. This post I wrote at the Kitchn a few months back will definitely hone your mimosa-making skills.


pumpkin spice waffles {gluten-free}


  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 packed pumpkin purée
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.
  3. Now add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir just until combined. There will be some small clumps, and that’s okay. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. Now is the time to preheat your waffler.
  4. Once the time’s up, give your waffle mix one more toss with a spoon. Waffler sizes vary, but I found success scooping out a hefty 1/2 cup onto the surface of my waffle iron. This is the one that I use, but I am dying for a Belgian waffler {swoon!}.
  5. I took Kate’s advice and preheated my oven to 200 degrees, so that I could make the entire batch of waffles and place them in the heated oven, until I was ready to serve them. This was perfect advice!

  • Make your own oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour on hand, simply toss 2 1/4 cups of whole oats into a blender, until the oats turn into a fine flour.
  • Freeze your own pumpkin purée over the summer. Since I grow so many pumpkins and squashes, I always have pumpkin purée on hand. I roast up a batch of two or three, purée the roasted pumpkin, scoop out 2-cup portions, and freeze them in plastic bags. There’s no need to purchase any from a can!
  • Make these waffles ahead and freeze them. I placed them in freezer bags and removed as much air out of the bag as possible. I have enjoyed them multiple times over the past week!
  • Get creative. I infused my maple syrup with fresh thyme and added toasted pecans. I have definitely done this before, and here is the proof.


Nino Franco “Rustico” Prosecco, Valdobbiadene Superiore, Italy, MV


  • On the eyes – bright, pale straw.
  • On the nose – floral overtones, supported by golden delicious apple, green melon, white peach, and orange pith.
  • On the palate – This is a leaner style Prosecco and is great if you don’t gravitate toward bread-like, biscuit-y sparkling wines. It is moderate in acidity, has a chalk-like finish, and definitely showcases all of the aromas listed above. Delicious on its own and complemented with a little grapefruit juice!
  • On the table – Excellent with oysters or shellfish.
  • On the shelf – about $16.
  • On the ears – paired with SOHN‘s “Artifice” from the album, Tremors. I am freaking in love with his sound and am bummed that I missed him, when he passed through Denver earlier in November. The entire album is gorgeously written, and his haunting vocals deliver the words poetically. A couple of his tracks definitely made it to our Best-Of playlist. I’ll post a link soon, and if you would like a hard copy {ie: a compact disc}, I can make that happen, too. I’m all about music swaps!

Have an inspired, authentic, and profoundly creative rest of your week!

XO,

Jayme

Swiss chard has been one of the most rewarding vegetables we've planted in our garden. It is drought-tolerant, delicious, and proliferative.

hello, goodbye

Well, hello and happy….December!?! Yeah, I know it’s been awhile. I just got back from spending a week down in sunny Florida, in my hometown, to recharge, recenter, and visit my family. I had the most amazing and memorable time. The days there seriously flew by, and all of a sudden, here I am back in Denver, just as I was finally beginning to relax and regain a little sanity.

It is good to get back into the swing of things; although, I could easily trade Denver’s cooler temperatures and snow boots for the palm trees and sunshine I’m already missing.

Lately, in the midst of harvesting the last of the garden and preparing for a hectic holiday season, I’ve been meditating on the simple fact that time is truly a gift. We have the opportunity to either waste it, leisurely enjoy it, or make the most of it and squeeze every last drop out of it. Personally, I haven’t been the best steward of my time as of late. I have run myself ragged, been overly self-critical to an almost crippling degree, and not given myself the rest that I need for proper functioning.

So, here are my thoughts on saying “hello” to what I want more of and saying “goodbye” to the stuff that no longer serves a purpose, accompanied by some photos of our garden’s beautiful, final hurrah. And if you need a little reading music, this little song pairs quite perfectly.

Let’s rewind a few months back to summer. That blurry photo above? That pretty much depicts how my summer felt. My job at the restaurant demanded six-day workweeks because of our weekly summer concert series, a revamp of our by-the-glass wine list, and a cocktail list makeover. In the midst of the busyness, I squeezed in a trip to assist with wine-making in Oregon, flew down to Georgia for a weekend family reunion, and took a press trip to France.

Steve and I even did our first radio interview on Wine Life Radio back in September {if you want to laugh at my nervous self, talking about the restaurant, bubbles, and Pinot Noir, you can give a listen here}. As soon as I felt I had a moment to catch my breath, though, I would have a wine article due, or I’d glance out at the garden and realize I had herbs to harvest and tomatoes to pick, process, and preserve.

And then there was the blog.

I would eschew writing a post because I felt didn’t have the perfect photos, or I had gotten behind and felt the post was no longer relevant. And that is when the blog temporarily curled up and died. What once gave me joy became a looming, demanding burden in my mind’s eye. I have had to accept that there may never be a “perfect time” to write, and that the imperfections along the way and the messy reality are, surprisingly, captivating and endearing. I am realizing that it is also okay to give myself permission to actually live my life and not to feel compelled to document its evolution along the way. It is really okay to take a break.

All of this sounds so simple. Why is it always so difficult to actually put into practice? I’m totally chastising myself here.

I am realizing that living a “fulfilled” life does not necessarily mean cramming it full of activities, obligations, and projects. A fulfilled life means feeding ourselves with proper rest, letting go of things {projects, people, objects} that no longer serve a purpose, and making room for what we deem important at this point in our lives. So, yeah, I am ready for some change.

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I don’t know about you, but I am even more excited about making changes in the fall season, than I am come New Year’s Day. I guess it all traces back to my childhood, when I counted down the days until I could buy brand-new school supplies, go shopping for back-to-school clothes, and open those blank spiral-bound notebooks, just waiting for the first scribble. A fresh, new start with endless opportunity. Those memories symbolize change, newness, the learning of new skills, and the implementation of ideas. It was all so invigorating!

So, here are five actions I’m implementing right now, along with five that I’d rather never see in my life again.


5 Things I am Saying “Hello” to Right Now


  1. Being okay with where I am right at this moment. I don’t want to look back at the past or be upset with myself for not being where I think I should be. I want more contentment with the process of becoming. I could also add to this point, “manifesting happiness.” It is a choice. I am choosing peace and choosing to cultivate a positive outlook!
  2. Moving more. I want to run and feel physically strong. When I take the time to work out and fuel my body, my confidence rises. I am setting myself up to run a half marathon next year, and so far, I’ve already peaked at four miles just this evening. I’m still in my running clothes, as I’m typing this!
  3. Spending intentionally. My dear friend, Batya Stepelman, of the Sparrows + Spatulas blog, recently inspired me. She and her husband went on a “shopping fast” for a couple of months and saved an impressive amount. I am going to eat at home, deal creatively with the wardrobe I have, and rent movies from the library. No more absent-minded purchases!
  4. Creating daily. I’m not talking about placing unrealistic pressures upon me, but I am talking about looking for ways create more – sketching regularly, practicing my piano, making a new cocktail or recipe, or writing a haiku. Even rearranging furniture counts!
  5. Getting up earlier. I work late. That’s the nasty truth right now. It is so challenging, however, to simply put myself to bed, when I get home, sometimes around midnight. Can you imagine getting off work at 5:00 and then going to bed within an hour? Yeah, not likely. I am going to force myself to get up at the same time each day. The days are so short right now, and if I don’t get enough sunlight hours, I get seriously depressed.

5 Things I am Saying “Goodbye” to Right Now


  1. Procrastinating. I think I just might the world’s worst procrastinator. Sometimes it works out great, like when I clean my house, empty my email, and polish the glassware, all because I am nervous about a writing assignment. The procrastination feels justified! I was reading Real Simple recently and had a profound epiphany from one of their articles: if a task only takes five minutes, do it now, instead of putting it on your to-do list.
  2. Comparing myself to others. This one is lethal for me. Comparing my work, life, or ideas to someone else’s is creatively stifling. It kills friendships and prevents any forward movement in my own life. As I reinvent my creative and design career, I tend to look at others, who have “succeeded” and sometimes find myself depressed. I am trying to simply work hard and congratulate myself on my progress, as well as being genuinely happy for the success of others!
  3. Feeling guilty about relaxing. I have a tough time doing nothing. As soon as I lie down on the couch, my mind is racing onto the next project, and I am scanning the living room for my to-do list. I think that I will be a better relaxer, when I stop the procrastinating!
  4. Thinking the world is out to get me. I tend to brace myself, when I venture out into the world. All of that tension and worry is wasted energy, and my emotional state is a product of my own making, not a product of my environment.
  5. Over-committing. This one is a tough one. Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right. The opportunity might sound amazing, but what does it cost me or my family? My health, peace, sleep, and sanity are much more valuable to me. Instead of saying an emphatic “yes” to helping a friend or taking on another project, I am going to say, “I will get back with you.”

 

I will go ahead and close this post with a few more photos. They do speak a million words, and I have already written a little over my norm here already! Here’s to all of us living more intentionally, welcoming more creativity into our lives, respecting boundaries, being authentic with our answers, slowing down, knowing when to say no, and letting old habits die.

I wish you a very happy beginning to the holiday season!

XO,

Jayme

 

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cucumber + melon + white grape sangria

Doesn’t summer seem to be just flying by? Even though fall is soon approaching, I am not giving up this season without a fight. Right about now is when farmers’ markets and gardens start to really pump out the produce, so I am trying my best to capitalize on the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables. At the moment, most of the tomatoes in my garden are plump and green, but give them a few more hot, toasty days, and I will be making and canning tomato sauce on a weekly basis.

I have definitely been enjoying my fair share of rosé and white wine this summer, but sometimes I simply want to sip on something different. Enter the classic, refreshing wine cocktail, sangria. Most traditional sangria recipes call for wine, an additional spirit or two, maybe a little citrus juice, and a bunch of fresh fruit tossed in for a colorful infusion. Ever since I got my new slow juicer, however, I have been experimenting with incorporating fresh juices in almost everything – even in my sangria. This particular sangria recipe is a unique, herbaceous, mash-up of cucumber, white grapes, and melon. It’s just about as garden-to-glass as it gets!

I love sangria, but so many times, the fruit gets mushy, as it infuses. I don’t even end up eating it because of the texture. By juicing the fruit in sangria, you get the freshest flavor without the unwanted consistency. I use a Hurom HG Elite Slow Juicer. It’s one of those kitchen splurges that you won’t regret. What makes it so special? It is a heavy-duty, slow-masticating juicer that cold-presses every last drop of juice from foods, preserving the inherent nutritional integrity. And we all need a little healthy kick, once we add in the wine and booze, right!? I still add freshly cut fruit, but I toss it into the sangria, only when I am ready to serve it.

Wine is the base of sangria, so choose a wine that you wouldn’t mind sipping on by itself. You can make sangria with either red or white wine as a base. This particular recipe calls for a white wine base, and I chose Pinot Grigio, since its citrus and tropical notes pair well with the fresh cucumber and honeydew. Select a dry, un-oaked, style of white wine, with crisp acidity, like a Pinot Grigio, Albariño, or something different, like Vinho Verde.

I am also pretty choosy about the spirits that I use for my cocktails. There are plenty of flavored vodkas out there on the market, but there are only a few that I consider an option. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka is, most importantly, an organic option. It is made “with respect from seed to glass”, and the care and intention behind this product is evident – crisp, summer cucumber with a clean, light finish. This was a perfect addition to this sangria.


cucumber + melon + white grape sangria


  • 1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
  • 4 ounces Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 6 ounces white grape juice {about a half-pound of grapes}
  • 6 ounces honeydew or Galia melon juice {a little less than half a melon}
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • soda water
  • cucumber + mint ice cubes {see recipe below}
  • mint leaves, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices for garnish

Give yourself a day ahead to make and freeze your fruit cubes. You can juice the fruits and vegetables in advance, as well. That way, the juice has time to chill in the fridge.

I tested two kinds of cucumber ice cubes – basil and mint. I really enjoyed the bright subtlety of the mint. Basil is a pretty intense flavor, and it seemed to overpower the delicate aroma and flavor of the cucumber. I say experiment with both and see what you like!

  1. Juice the melon, cucumber, and lemon, following your juicer’s manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Combine the juices and add the Pinot Grigio, cucumber vodka, and elderflower liqueur, mixing well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Pour into glasses, garnished with cucumber + mint ice cubes.
  5. Top with a splash of soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices.
  6. Sit on your back porch, patio, or park and enjoy!


cucumber + mint ice cubes


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 8 ounces filtered water
  1. Juice the cucumber and the mint leaves, skimming any foam off the top of the juiced mixture. This yields about 8 ounces.
  2. Combine 8 ounces filtered water with the cucumber and mint juice.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
  4. Add the cucumber + mint cubes to your sangria {these cubes are pretty intense, so toss in a couple per glass, and fill the rest of the glass with some plain ice cubes}. The cucumber flavor will slowly infuse the sangria, as the cubes melt.

This recipe yields one ice cube tray’s worth of liquid, so plan accordingly.

What if you don’t own a juicer? Don’t fret. You can still create a fresh juice sangria, using a blender. I used my Vitamix for years before owning a juicer and simply strained my blended fruits and veggies through a chinois or sieve for clarity. Williams-Sonoma has a wide spectrum of styles to choose from – cold-press juicers like mine and whole food juicers, along with the high-speed variety.

Cheers to stretching out these last days of summer! I refuse to even think about pumpkins, ghosts, or turkeys, even though the decorations are already up in the stores. I must admit that I did cave and buy a pumpkin candle at Pier One the other afternoon. I couldn’t resist. I’ll just save it for later. And let me know if you have a great recipe for sangria, or if you decide to make this particular green version!

XO and happy summering!

cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}

I made these cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops a couple of weeks ago. They disappeared all-too-quickly – within, like, two days! Or so I thought. I was cleaning out my freezer yesterday and, to my delight, found that one had slipped under some frozen blueberries. It was waiting so patiently for me to find it! Needless to say, I went out to the garden, sat down, and tried to savor it slowly. These are some my favorite ice pops to date.

It was almost like I was immediately rewarded for taking the time to clean out my frozen storage department. I have been following along with the Kitchn’s twice-a-year “Kitchen Cure”, a step-by-step revamp of your kitchen over the course of a few weeks. I am not quite up to date with the assignments, but I have the best of intentions to get my kitchen into shape, since our recent remodel. An upcoming {and long-awaited} blog post on the process and the details will definitely happen in the near future. We are awaiting the delivery of our range hood, and then we can complete the final tiling!

Until then, let’s enjoy some cherries!


cherry + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}


  • 9 ounces full-fat coconut milk
  • 12 ounces ripe cherries, pitted and fully blended
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Combine the coconut milk with 1/8 cup of the agave nectar and the vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
  2. Evenly divide the mixture into six ice pop molds and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, purée the pitted cherries and add the remaining 1/8 cup agave nectar and the lemon juice, mixing together thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. Once the 10 minutes have passed, slowly pour and evenly distribute the cherry mixture over the coconut mixture. Freeze for 30 more minutes.
  5. Now you can add the stick and continue freezing for another 3-4 hours.
  6. Wait patiently, and then eat them UP!

We grabbed some cherries from the Pearl Street Farmers’ Market here in Denver and also hand-picked our own sour cherries at Berry Patch Farms in Brighton. Aside from eating them right out of the box and making a couple of batches of ice pops, we have made a summer fruit bake, baked a cherry pie, fixed some brandied cocktail cherries, and mixed up some amazing cherry bourbon smashes.

I’ll close with some shots from a recent trip to Berry Patch Farms. This organic, family-run farm is about 30 minutes north of our house, but the trip is always worth it. We brought home some free-range, fresh eggs, colorful flowers, herbs, and vegetables. This past trip, we picked cherries {first time ever!}, and it was so much fun. We arrived about an hour before they closed, so we hustled and managed to quickly pick about eight pints. It helps to have a 6’4” boyfriend to score the cherries at the top, that no one else had gotten that day!

XO!

summer berry crumble bake {vegan and gluten-free}

Like most of you out there, I have been hitting the local farms and markets, as often as I can here lately. I tend to bring home so much fruit or produce that I don’t have enough time to deal with it all. It is just so fresh vibrant and super tasty right now; it’s hard to resist. I was immediately inspired by a recent post by another Denverite, Ashlae, of Oh, Ladycakes. She made the most beautiful summer fruit pecan crisp, and I knew it was meant specifically for me {that’s so true!} and my ridiculous stockpile of summer fruit, waiting in the depths of my refrigerator.

I am seriously ready to pump some more life into my, well, life, and this blog. If you are a new reader, you may see some delicious posts or a colorful photo, but you have also probably noticed I have been a little out of sorts, down, and scattered, as well. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I feel like a marionette many of my days. Like someone else is pulling the strings and calling the shots, but I can’t respond or talk back because I am just a doll on a string. I am in desperate need of balance.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my garden, I like my job as a sommelier, I love taking the time to cook a thought-out meal, and I even find gratification in staging shots, photographing, and documenting all of these things. I just miss being able to sit still and reflect, to devote 100% of my attention to a friend over coffee, and to feel like I have permission to escape up into the mountains and detach for a few hours…or days.

I find great peace simply chopping fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Sometimes, I really enjoy following a simple recipe and getting lost in the preparation, not trying to compose a creative concoction or interpretation. This is the kind of recipe that you can get lost doing. You gather, wash, chop, assemble, bake, and enjoy. I’d love for someone to actually make this for me tonight, but instead, I will write about the time I enjoyed it this past week.

I present to you my vegan berry crumble bake, inspired by Oh, Ladycakes’ summer fruit pecan crisp. It’s easy and oh-so-rewarding. And it is completely versatile, since you can substitute any fruits that are in season, when you happen across this post! Be sure to grab a can of full-fat coconut milk to make some extra coconut whipped cream for the garnish.


summer berry crumble cake


  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 20 or so cherries, pitted {optionally sliced in half}
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/8 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you are anti-oven because of the summer heat, you can totally make this dessert in the grill. Just monitor the temperature and place the baking tin on a stone or baking sheet.
  2. Wash and slice your fruit and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss the fruit together with the sugar and vanilla and set aside to incorporate.
  4. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the coconut oil with the coconut milk, just until the mixture is warm.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and sea salt.
  6. Stir in half of the coconut oil mixture into the flour mixture, using a fork to integrate. Add the remaining half of the coconut oil mixture, until the texture looks like coarse crumbs.
  7. Stir in the oats and nuts of your choice. I had almonds on hand, but pecans would be perfection.
  8. Evenly divide the fruit mixture into baking tins. You can use a 9 by 5″ loaf pan or use a mini-loaf pan, like I did. Top the fruit mixture with the crumble mixture.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the crumble is nice and toasty brown.
  10. Let cool for 30 minutes, before serving.
  11. Serve with coconut whipped cream!

The boyfriend and I couldn’t finish these berry crumbles in one sitting, so we scooped out the dessert into small, ceramic bowls and heated them up, when we were ready for more. Topping the crumbles with coconut whipped cream is a perfect match, but when we ran out, So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream was a great stand-in.

Signing off with some photos from the mid-July backyard garden. Things are moving along quite quickly, almost too quickly. In about two weeks, we will have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Time to prep all of the jars down in the basement, so we can do some canning!

And let me know if you have any tried-and-true organizational or anti-stress techniques. I will take notes and put them into practice! Cheers to a more uplifting post over the next couple of days. I am working on the up-and-up!

XO

 

garden-inspired sugar scrubs {DIY}

Well, this week has definitely been a lesson in learning to not take myself so seriously, to stop the jealousy and comparison cycle, to organize effectively, and to simply slow down. Pretty heavy, huh? My Friday morning began just as I had wanted – with a great workout, a fulfilling breakfast, and a published blog post. Ahhh. Somehow, however, I lost track of time and realized that I was running late for work. I threw an outfit together, assembled a “lunch” of granola and yogurt, and frantically dried my hair.

Clayton, my ride and another one of the sommeliers at work, sent me a text that he was outside, waiting outside in his car. I needed an extra arm that morning for my stack of necessary work items. I precariously held my yogurt container, black dress jacket, makeup bag, earrings, and handbag, and I slumped down in the front seat. It was a hot one, too. Sweat had already started dripping down my face, as I settled in for the five-minute ride to work. I wiped my brow, took a deep breath, and decidedly declared that the rest of my day take a turn for the better.

My internal dialog kind of went like this: “Sigh. Off to work. But things are good. I think I’ll make it today. I’ve got this. Good grief, it’s hot. Are the cats fed? I need more concealer. I haven’t called my dad in a few weeks. Did I forget to turn the stove off? I like this song. Wait. What is that liquid oozing down my thighs?!!” I flinched and saw that my yogurt container wasn’t sealed properly, so white, sour-smelling liquid was dripping down the front of my jacket and into my lap. Eff. Em. Ell. Clayton asked if I wanted to turn around and grab another suit, but I just {crazily?} laughed and said I’d deal. We were late, anyway. After that incident, I mean, what else could go wrong?

So far this week, I’d already miscalculated a bill and overdrawn my bank account, overlooked an important writing deadline, spilled coconut oil inside my purse {who does that?}, flipped out on my boss, and sassed the neighbors at midnight for stealing “my” parking spot. I am in need of a few days off, and thankfully I have a break until Wednesday. It is like I’ve been directly channeling the antics and mania of Mr. Furious from Mystery Men, and I am beyond ready for a makeover.

I ended up surviving Friday, even though the outdoor summer concert at work was rained out, I took a bad fall in the kitchen, and I didn’t get to sleep until 5:30 Saturday morning. One of these days, I’ll have to post an hour-by-hour account of what it is like planning an event for well over a thousand people, praying for the rain to dodge us, over-booking the dining room {despite the weather concerns}, and dealing with high-profile guests, who expect a free drink because of the out-of-my-control rain issues. All of this, while I am wearing yogurt-laden pants and sporting frizzy, wet curls and mismatched socks. With a quick, slight tilt of my head, a bright smile/smirk, and a flit of my lashes. It is a wonder I don’t drink more than I do.

DSC_0047

Steve and I recently took a week-long visit to lake Burton, in north Georgia, for a family reunion. The humidity worked wonders for my skin. While I can’t take the nourishing moisture back home to Denver, I can make a good substitute. Enter sugar scrubs. I am not talking about the $20-a-jar possibilities at the store. I am all about the simple ingredient, good-for-you versions that you craft on your own, for multiple dollars less. Annnnnnd because cute little mason jars!


energizing citrus + vanilla sugar scrub


Fragrant lavender growing along our driveway. The bees are loving it, and I am trying to capture its aroma in every possible manner!


relaxing lavender sugar scrub


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups almond oil
  • 1/8 cup lavender buds, dried or fresh
  • lavender essential oil

I am sending out a super thanks to my amazing aunt, who basically lectured me and led me through a guided meditation over the phone, well over an hour this afternoon. I am feeling a little more centered. I am trying to let go of any jealousy or comparison to other writers, somms, artists, or photographers; those feelings and actions only rob me of my creative energy and positivity. They are destructive and depleting. I don’t like who I become, when I lose my sense of gratitude and focus. I become stagnant with my creativity and take a nosedive into depression and lethargy. It is a destructive cycle, and I am on my own course.

I can at least now laugh at the yogurt incident. I know I need to take more time to plan ahead, schedule out my day, and not take myself too seriously. Until I become more proficient with these skills, I will indulge in sugar scrubs and long baths and good rosé. Those are good lessons to adopt, as well, right? I hope that you have a restful and rejuvenating weekend and that you find the humor in the rough and edgy spots. And let me know if you’ve had one of those yogurt-in-your-lap moments lately. How did or didn’t you effectively deal?

Cheers!

summer cherry bourbon smashes {2 ways}

Yep, here I go again! Posting more about summer cherries {with at least two more cherry posts in draft form!}. I cannot get enough of them right now. In fact, the boyfriend and I headed out to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, Colorado, to pick our own pie cherries. I had never picked cherries before. It proved a little time-consuming, but we had so much fun! I even ended up befriending a chicken, temporarily losing my debit card, and coming across some snap peas along the way.

I have also been researching how to perfect my lattice crust technique for a possible cherry pie and dreaming up ideas on how to make adorable, miniature cherry pies in jars. Too bad work and gardening and laundry get in the way. Those cherries will have to wait until tomorrow. Until then, I am sneaking little handfuls of those sweet, red spheres and tossing them into glorious summer bourbon cocktails. Bourbon is not just for the cooler months. I’ll prove it.

A little less than a month ago, the season’s first cherries started to trickle in. They weren’t grown locally and tasted a tad sour, but I just couldn’t wait for Colorado cherries. So, I grabbed a couple pints and set out to make some brandied cherries. The process was messy but ever-so-delicious. As I mentioned before, when you decide to pit cherries, grab a friend, pop a bottle of wine, turn on some music, and cover yourself in a towel. Gloves help, too. I actually remembered those this past pitting adventure, thankfully. For once, I planned ahead and actually followed through!

I have come across some resourceful ways to preserve summer cherries, but sometimes it is tricky to find creative means to incorporate them later on. Enter the brandied cherries. I have used the cherries in small tarts, in bourbon smashes, and as a garnish in Manhattans. I even ventured out and used them in a glaze for a pork tenderloin. I am suddenly contemplating a boozy cherry popsicle right about now.


brandied cherry bourbon smash


  •  2 ounces bourbon {I used Tin Cup}
  • 4 brandied cherries {see my recipe}
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar or 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • dash orange bitters {I used Miracle Mile}

Toss the brandied cherries, raw sugar, and lemon juice in a double old-fashioned glass and muddle well. Add ice, pour in the bourbon, and give a shake of bitters. I like to pour the cocktail into a shaker tin and pour it back into the glass to incorporate the cherries. A good stir will also work.

What if you don’t have any brandied cherries on hand? No worries. Just use the fresh cherries you have and make this adaptation. I made another version of bourbon smashes last summer, when we were remodeling our kitchen. Whenever I make this cocktail, I am reminded of that crazy time, when our house was full of boxes, and we had to do our cooking, dish-washing, and dining on our back porch. So, a good cherry bourbon smash makes me feel grateful!


fresh cherry bourbon smash


  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce Cardamaro {or amaretto, for a twist}
  • 4 fresh cherries
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar or 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • dash orange bitters

What are you doing with summer cherries, while they are in season? Later this week, I’ll be posting that cherry pie I mentioned, as well as some cherry coconut milk popsicles that were amazing.

Cheers to a great weekend!