Tag Archives: garden

palisade peach, basil + tarragon spritzes | rituals

I don’t get up at a regular time in the mornings, even though I know it’s good for me. My restaurant-dictated schedule is consistently up-and-down, so when faced with either getting up at a predictable hour or sleeping in to get my full eight hours, I’ll take the eight hours, please.

Right now, I’m typing on my laptop, sitting outside in the backyard with Steve, my cats, a bowl of sliced peaches, and my coffee. An entire French press’ worth, in fact. I only have a couple of hours until I drive to work, and I’m soaking in the peace. After tonight, we’ll only have three more Friday nights left {out of nine} in our summer concert series at the restaurant.

I’m dancing inside.

palisade peach + tarragon spritzes | rituals | holly & flora

palisade peach + tarragon spritzes | rituals | holly & floraI always joke that I’ll document an entire Friday night there from beginning to end on Snapchat, but I end up getting too busy. Plus, it’s just too, plain raw. And I would probably get into trouble. I still might do it, though. It would definitely be entertaining, nonetheless! Except for the part, where they find me cowering over in the corner of the wine cellar, rocking back and forth.

These nights are such a strain on everyone – the wait staff, the chefs, the valets, the hosts, even the guests. We’re cranking out 600 entrées in the same kitchen that normally serves 300, and everyone expects the same fine dining experience. I’ve mentioned it before, but we expand the patio, doubling its size, and nearly all of South Denver comes out to dance. It starts out calm, classy, and fun, but around 7:00, all kinds of crazy starts to happen.
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palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | my inspiring time in portland

Sometimes, you’ve gotta just shake things up and get on a plane. And fly out to Portland to a creatives meet-up, where you don’t know anyone at all. Because you’re that thirsty for change.

That’s exactly what I did last weekend, when I attended the Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon. This event for creative entrepreneurs was founded by Joy of Frock Files and Melissa of LuLu the Baker. I found out about the one-day workshop via my IG friend, Bobbie Pinto, writer of the blog, Even If Nobody Reads This. I followed her link, perused the lineup of speakers, fell in love with its vibe, and signed up that very day. I didn’t even know what to expect; I’d never attended a bloggers’ conference before. I just knew that I wanted some serious inspiration, a good kick in the ass, and a renewed sense of creativity.

That’s what came my way, full-blast, and I took home even more than I ever thought I would.

palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | holly & flora palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | holly & flora Continue reading

swiss chard from the garden in fall leaves

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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coconut + raspberry + spring peach freezer pops

Is it possible to still be jet lagged after a week of being back home? If not, I must be the exception to the rule. Last week, at this very moment, I was flying over Kansas, making my way back to Denver from the most memorable and exciting trip I think I have ever had. I spent a week in the Burgundy region of France and made the towns of Dijon and Mâcon my home for much too short of a visit. I ate, drank, photographed, walked, explored, documented, and relished all that France had to offer, during the limited time I was there.

The trip was thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting, life-changing…what else can I add to this train of hyphenated descriptors? Joking aside, I did come back changed. And not just circumstantially changed, as if change were a byproduct of my experiences. I was intentionally and purposefully changed. If you let it, travel can open your eyes to compelling sights, contrasting cultures, and different means of thought. It can also focus and open your eyes upon yourself: how you think in a completely different context, why you act the way you do, how you react when out of your element, who you truly want to be, and why you care so much about what people think. And why you deem others’ opinions so important.

As I sit here this late afternoon, poring over my notes and tweaking hundreds of photos, while the rain pitter-patters outside my window, I am reminding myself of how free I felt overseas. How alive and observant I became. How intensely focused upon my senses I was. Why do we so frequently become complacent in our daily lives and routines? Why is it that we so often need a big change or slap in the face to make us see things differently?

I didn’t speak French, save the seven or so pertinent phrases I taught myself on the flight over {thank you, SpeakEasy French app!}. Despite the language barrier, I let myself open up to chance, meeting interesting people along the way, finding myself in unfamiliar circumstances, and forcing myself to react the way I wanted to. I slowed my pace, I listened more, I tasted with intention, and, eventually, I sighed deeper than I’d sighed in months. I wanted to take this feeling home with me and perpetuate it. Live it.

Greeted with a severe case of exhaustion from a delayed flight, a lengthy layover and an immediate reentry to my job, I quickly, but temporarily, lost my post-vacation buzz. I am finally feeling more refreshed today. Memorial Day was filled with bustle for us. We visited the garden center and purchased replacement plants for our garden. A recent hail storm decimated most of our newly planted seedlings. We pouted for a short moment, dealt with our sense of no control, and chose to replant, even if it costs us a bit more money. What more can you do? The trip to the garden center revived our excitement, and we came home ready to fill the backyard with veggies and herbs.

All of that hard work made us thirsty for something sweet and refreshing. A quick peek on Instagram at Fork Knife Swoon‘s photo of creamy coconut and blood orange ice pops propelled me to the grocery to grab some fruit and make my own. These turned out pretty darned delicious and were super easy to create. Another lesson on taking the time to make and enjoy something beautiful and satisfying. Thank you, France, for the much-needed tutorial on those subjects.


Coconut + Raspberry + Spring Peach Freezer Pops


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 1 heaping cup raspberries
  • 1/8 cup agave nectar {sweeten to taste}

In a mixing bowl, whisk coconut milk, vanilla, and agave nectar until incorporated and creamy. Set aside. In a blender {I used my trusty Vitamix}, purée the sliced and pitted peaches until smooth. There is no need to remove the skins. Set the peach mixture aside. Separately purée the raspberries until smooth and set aside. I had to add a little water to the berries to get the action going. You may also use frozen fruit, if you do not have fresh fruit at your fingertips.

For a creamy freezer pop, as Laura suggests, combine all of the ingredients until incorporated and divide evenly into six molds. I chose to layer my three components for a striking presentation, but I think I will combine them all next time, for a smoother and less icy consistency. Evenly pour the coconut milk into the molds and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Slowly pour the peach mixture next, followed by the raspberry mixture. I used a chopstick to drag some of the color down to the bottom of the mold, where the coconut milk was resting. Freeze for another 30 minutes and then add the stick or top of the mold. After 4 more hours of freezing, my 6 pops were ready.

These fruity freezer pops turned out to be the most delicious part of our day, along with reviving our vegetable and herb garden. We eventually graduated to a more adult form of celebration and drove down to my favorite wine shop, Divino. We found a couple of gems, and cracked a bottle of Richard Betts’ newest wine, “My Essential” Rosé. Refreshing, crisp, and satisfying. It was an essential component to a very memorable Memorial Day.


Richard Betts’ “My Essential” Rosé, Grenache, Provence, France 2013


  • On the eyes – a delicate kiss of pale salmon.
  • On the nose – floral, freshly picked red berries.
  • On the palate – dry, crisp, lean, with racy acidity and balanced fruit.
  • On the table – enjoy alone or with a friend, in the garden or on the porch, with some chèvre or simply solo.
  • On the shelf – about $13.
  • On the ears – paired with Empire of the Sun’s “Alive” from their album, Ice on the Dune. This song seriously makes me happy and makes me feel, aptly, more alive. “Loving every minute, ’cause you make me feel so alive. Alive.” That’s pretty much how Memorial Day went down this year, with so much gratitude.

“quickling” – the gateway pickling method | paired with frog’s leap chardonnay

Quickling.  It has become a favorite activity {and all-around awesome word!} here at my house this summer.  You need not let your vegetable harvest go to waste, simply because you feel you do not have the time, space, or know-how to preserve or can your garden goodness.  Quick-pickling, or as I affectionately call the process, “quickling,” is easier and faster than driving down to the grocery to purchase a jar of mediocre, store-bought pickles.  And it is simply more tasty and rewarding!

I hear your hesitation, “I don’t know how to can, and I don’t have one of those fancy pressure cooking devices…”  Well, the process of making refrigerator pickles is simple and does not require a large stockpot or a pressure canner.  “But I only have a small amount of vegetables on hand,” you argue.  Quickling solves that dilemma because you can make a small batch of brine to suit your present demand.  I put off pickling for years because I thought the process was daunting.  If you are a beginning preserver, the quickling process will initiate you beautifully:  simply heat, mix, and pour.  And, if you are a seasoned pro, quickling, as you know, is an excellent time-saver, when you want to quickly preserve and readily enjoy.

I picked these Kirby cucumbers from the garden first thing this morning, when they were at their prime for taste and texture.  I have also heard to pickle or preserve your picked produce {by the way, this sentence was sponsored by the letter, “p”…} as close to the time you picked it, so that its optimal flavor is captured.  I sliced each one, depending upon its size, into either halves or quarters, making sure to cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.  Cutting off the blossom end ensures that an enzyme, which causes sogginess, is removed.

I also avoid commercially bought pickling spices and choose to make my own.  This particular recipe is quite simple:  the spicy, dilly, garlic notes shine through.  I snipped a few cayenne and Thai peppers, several bay leaves, and some fresh dill seeds and flowers.  Some black pepper corns and garlic cloves completed my blend.  Feel free to add other spices, such as coriander, mustard seed, ginger, or even juniper berries.

Spicy Garlic Dilly Quickles  –  adapted from Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars and the amazing blog of the same name

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, sliced with ends removed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher or “pickling” salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in halves (2 cloves per jar)
  • 3 spicy peppers, sliced in halves (one per jar or use 1/4 dried pepper flakes per jar)
  • several fresh dill seeds and flowers (or 1 teaspoon dried dill seed per jar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper corns (1/2 teaspoon per jar)
  • 3 bay leaves (one per jar)
  • 3 medium-sized or pint Mason jars (really, you can use whatever size you have on hand, and I have found that regular-sized mouth jars keep the pickles in line better)

Steps:

  1. Wash and slice the cucumbers into quarters or halves, depending upon the size and your preference.  Cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  3. Add spices to each jar.  Squeeze the cucumbers in as tightly as possible, without damaging them.
  4. Pour the brine liquid into each jar and leave about 1/2 inch head-space at the top of the jar.
  5. Tap the jars carefully to release any trapped air bubbles.
  6. Cover with lids and let cool.  Once the jars are cool, place them in the refrigerator and let them sit for at least two days before you enjoy them.  These pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month, but I am sure that you will enjoy them long before they spoil!

I am super excited to try this batch of refrigerator pickles in a couple of days.  Be sure to keep these pickles refrigerated at all times, for they are not shelf-stable like pressure-canned pickles.  You can also adapt this recipe for other vegetables that you may have on hand; however, if you decide to quickle tougher veggies, like carrots, beets, or asparagus, blanch them for one minute, so that they are able to absorb the pickling flavor more readily.  This afternoon’s garden chores also included harvesting sage leaves, basil, and parsley.  After writing this post, I will be washing, sorting, and clipping the leaves to place in the dehydrator for the dried herb blend.  And an herb-clipping session like this can only be enhanced by a refreshing glass of California Chardonnay!

The wine  –  Frog’s Leap Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2011

  • On the eyes – pale straw with golden reflections.
  • On the nose – bright citrus with notes of apricot, wet rock, and faint spiced vanilla.
  • On the palate – dry and crisp mouth-feel, with notes of stonefruit, lemon balm, and green apple.
  • On the table – pairs perfectly with an afternoon of gardening or halibut, oysters, or roasted chicken breast {that’s for tonight!}.
  • On the shelf – about $25.
  • On the ears – paired with Wild Nothing’s “Counting Days” from the Nocturne album.  This lazy and dreamy shoe-gaze track captured my sunny, toasty afternoon perfectly.  Through the wispy vocals and hazy keyboards, I can almost see myself driving past an open field with the windows down, hands outstretched the window on a sun-drenched afternoon {while someone else is holding the wheel, of course!}.

Happy sipping, gardening, and quickling!