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i have been meaning to do a colorado post. when i came back from LA, everything was green and blooming! i was ecstatic and have been since. it smells like home to me, like summer days growing up in indiana. then there is the mountain air and  that smell of a pine tree under the sun’s heat intoxicates me. i find myself inhaling these huge deep breaths. i love it.

i leave again tomorrow for a work trip. i admit i am a little anxious about traveling, having just gotten back, and i hate leaving my boy wylie, not to mention my battle with flying anxiety! then i come back and its more work here, then a few days off. and then on and on until the end of july really. just about that time, i will have to start really considering my next move. and i have absolutely no clue what it will be. i just can’t even talk about it.

i do like being busy, but when i first got back from the last trip, i really took the time to appreciate my surroundings and the warm weather…as you can tell with all my feet photos relaxing by the river! it has been such a treat. new friends, bonfires and bbq’s at neighbor’s houses, flowers blooming. i am still waiting for a good thunderstorm though! i miss those.

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PicMonkey Collagehwt1. the big thompson river. snow melt/ 2. the view down the road

3. the cabin in spring / 4. i have a new roommate

5. the water is cold / 6. a butterfly wing my neighbor brought me

7. neighbors / 8. flowers on a tree

9. lazy me / 10. lazy wylie

11. decorated the side yard / 12. and the back porch

13. poppies-before / 14/ poppies-after

15. twig teepee at a friend’s down the road / 16. met some baby goats

17. the property / 18. the neighbor’s river beach at night

19. more relaxation / 20. prepping my job at an actual western store in my town

21. a snake skin

 

 

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things are  mountain high beautiful here in CO. flowers are blooming, my vegetable garden is planted, and there is so much green around me it makes me feel crazy with excitement. the smell of fresh cut grass and summer rain, the brightening of spring, the daylight is hanging around a little bit longer. it has me all so incredibly nostalgic for my days in the midwest and the south, that it feels as though i am living it again. i feel that peace i use to feel growing up of the simplicity of life. the rat race of the last ten years had been hiding all these pleasures. i mean, i went to dairy queen the other night and i thought it was just about the greatest thing. i was envious of all the families enjoying the warm evening with cold ice cream, together.

i  received a text from a dear friend of mine from alabama yesterday, reminding me, we graduated 15 years ago from highschool. 15 years ago, holy shit! my initial thought was “where did the time go?” then, as i started thinking about it and looking at old pictures of old friends, it dawned on me that i have lived such a full life. full of so many friends, love, adventures. years of this. so many phases of my life with trails of friendships all over the country.  i have lived out many of my dreams, falling down on the way many times, but picking myself back up and trying something again. it brings up many questions for me on where to go next on this journey.

which, somehow all this nostalgia brings me to this simple recipe (don’t ask really), one everyone already knows, but i wanted to share with this trip down my memory lane.

there were only handful of things i could make in college. one being bruschetta. which i brought to every single party, either that or strawberry shortcake. i could also make quesadilla’s and tofu smoothies. i tried lasagna once trying to impress a dude, but i forgot to boil the noodles. my poor dinner guests. i was more of a creature of habit back then. i’m not sure i fully thought out everything before i did something, and that seems to have brought me more success in my life. not thinking, just doing. i also smoked a lot of pot. i also listened to sarah mclachlan on repeat, and i am currently doing so while i type this post….just for good time’s sake.

i laugh when i think how brave and silly i was back then. how i could give a damn what anyone thought of me.

how things have changed, how some haven’t.

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bruschetta

a loaf of bread cut into pieces. brush with olive oil and grill.

tomatos

basil

olive oil

salt/pepper

i don’t measure these goodies. i just throw it all together in a bowl and eyeball how much i need according to how many people will be eating.

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i am back…after quite the adventure. the grass is so green and everything in full bloom here at the colorado homestead. it is feeding my soul with so much joy and peace.  i am truly learning to enjoy the smallest of  things, the things that i have vs. the things i don’t have, especially when it comes to some of the most important people in my life. on my way back from LA i stopped in park city, utah to meet up with a bunch of girls for a bachelorette weekend. we were celebrating one of my best friend’s soon to be marriage. the one that i love to laugh with the most. i have known larissa since our youngster indiana days in our home town of crown point. our friendship flourished in college and then again in LA. larissa moved to back to chicago a few years ago. though i was sad to see her leave LA, i was inspired by her change, and in my own adventure her bravery has often crossed my mind and motivated me.  a few years after being back, she met a man. since then, i have watched her blossom and fall in love. that man asked her to marry her and this summer they will do the honor in upstate new york. ris is one of the most magnetic people i know. with a sense of humor like no other, beauty, love, and kindness. sometimes, when i think of the genuine love and support in our friendship it brings tears to my eyes.

i also know ris is always up for a photo shoot. one of the first i ever did was in her old apartment building in printer’s row, in chicago. just me and her being silly and creative. it’s my favorite way to do it. i brought some clothes and props along with me, and while i was doing errands in LA, i stopped and got an american flag. perfect for our mountain getaway in this glorious and vast land we call home. plus, i have been wanting one for my wall…nothing like killing two birds with one stone!

i love to watch people blossom in front of the camera, or even be a little shy. i love how it all unfolds on itself with the freedom for it to be anything we want, perfect or not, bad light or good light. this group of ladies was special and it was such a magical weekend. none of us wanted it to end. park city is beautiful as are these ladies. i can’t wait for the wedding in upstate new york!

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IMG_6689i have been growing herbs for a few years now, and though i am no expert, i find these tips to be helpful.  living in southern california, i could grow herbs year round and it was luxurious! here in colorado, i have been growing them inside for a few months, but have had a few mishaps with bugs, or simply leaving them by a very cold window for too long.  i recently bought a new batch and am back in business with the little gems. they are currently sitting in the front window and so far so good! when i first moved here, i cringed at buying a $4 box of herbs when it is so easy to grow them yourself. there really is no excuse not too!

there are many books or even tutorials online about your herbs. these are just a few simple helpful hints for flavorful herbs.

1. learn where your species are from in order to mimic their preferred environment. lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage are Mediterranean herbs and like lots of sun, sandy soil that drains well, keeping fertilizers to the minimum.  all this will help keep the flavor in the leaves. herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena prefer lots of water and rich soil, maybe some compost. an easy way to distinguish is by the leaves. the softer the leaf, the more water it will want! perhaps, you plant your mediterranean herbs together and your more delicate herbs together so your watering doesn’t get mixed up!

2. harvesting: new leaves tend to have the most flavor vs. the leaves at the bottom. some say harvesting in the morning is also the best time!  when herbs like basil and dill have flowered, that means they have matured…no more leaves. for basil, cut down just above the last branch and new leaves should begin to sprout again!
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rosemary: year round if you live in a frost free area. dry soil, full sun. companions: beans, broccoli, carrots, hot peppers. keep dry.

sage: grows in brisk dry summer, dry soil, full sun. companions: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, rosemary, broccoli, don’t over water-likes it dry!

cilantro: grows in spring/summer.cool nights, sunny days.rich soil. companions: anise. adequate water.

chive: spring summer. well drained average soil, 4-6 hours of sun. companions: parsley, broccoli, eggplant, mustard, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes. water: once a week. these babies will keep coming back!
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thyme: brisk days of summer. well drained, sunny airy spot. companions: everybody! keep fairly dry, don’t overwater.

dill: grow in summer. plant early spring. average light. companions: cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, beets. lots of water. IMG_6692

basil: grow in summer. plant when soil is warm. full sun. companions: tomatoes and asparagus. adequate moisture.

mint: grow mostly in summer. plant anytime. open airy spot with room to grow. companions: cabbage, tomato, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. needs lots of moisture.IMG_6690

tarragon: winter in some zones. well drained soil and sun in the mornings. if too hot, place in shade in afternoon. companions: anything. pests don’t like tarragon. keep well watered.

oregano: spring/summer. full sun and well drained soil. companions: cabbage, cucumbers, grapes.  moderate watering, but more while young.

now, these tips are simple and again, i am not an expert. i just thought this would be fun post to do to inspire those who may be timid to start a garden. there are so many different great websites out there for growing herbs. not only are they great for cooking, but have been used for centuries in many medicinal purposes. one day, we might just discuss that! we didn’t go over a few great ones either like anise, lavender, chamomile, but you can easily find this info online. check your thrift stores too for garden books! it is one of my favorite places to look!

i can’t wait to get started on my garden outside. i was hoping to dig into it before i left for three weeks, but that might not happen.  another tip, is to check about local growing. different areas will have different species of bugs, critters, or animals that will pester your herbs or garden. for example, the squirrels were a pain in the ass last spring in LA. apparently, growing tomatoes here in colorado is best done next to chervil (i believe, i gotta check that one again!) i also can’t plant any fruits or the bears will eat em up! another fun tip about tomatoes, if your leaves are turning a bit blue green, producing lots of leaves and no fruit…clip back your leaves as the plant is being too taken care of. the fruit grows in order to procreate. it is where the seeds are they will germinate the next batch. i found that to be so exciting! sometimes, you want to make the plant thrive in order to get it to produce. but more to come on the garden beds and veggies! i can’t wait!

IMG_6907i love a good cocktail menu and i love how fancy and trendy bars are getting these days. i was certainly getting sick of the old whiskey and ginger, so when i see a fancy drink with egg whites- i am sold!!! i don’t make or drink enough cocktails. i tend to be more of a social drinker. i also tend to be glued to the couch the day after.

for this speciality cocktail i made sugar ice cubes. they slowly melt into the drink so, by the end you get all this sugary goodness. the cucumber is refreshing, the cilantro and mint packed full of flavor. this green cocktail, might just be good for you? well, that is debatable.

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for the ice cubes. boil one cup of water and one cup of sugar together until the sugar dissolves. let it cool a bit and pour into ice cube trays. i added a small piece of cucumber too to make em pretty.

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add a shot (or two or three) of vodka.

you can also add club soda for some fizz!

add the ice cubes. i did two for extra sugary goodness! garnish as you wish. enjoy!

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my little adventure isn’t quite over yet, but i thought i would get back on the blog and write a little post that i have had pending. my guest blogger fell through and i am sorry about that…i hate to say something is going to happen and it doesn’t. perhaps, the blog just needed a little rest.

my journey the past week has been a good one. one that i will share lots over the next few weeks in a couple of posts.  i don’t feel too sad it is over, because i will be back on the road again very soon traveling to LA for a job.  oh, the wanderlust that feeds my soul…sigh.

today, i share with you some strawberry scones i made a few weeks back.  i use a barefoot contessa recipe and spice it up with a few extra ingredients!

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4 cups of flour

2 tbsp of sugar, plus more for sprinkling

2 tbsp of baking powder

2 tsp salt

3/4 lb of cold unsalted butter, diced

4 extra large eggs beaten

1 cup of cold heavy cream

3/4 cup of diced strawberries and blueberries

1 tsp of cinnamon

zest of one orange

1 tbsp of orange blossom water

1 egg beaten for egg wash

preheat oven to 400 degrees

combine the dry ingredients in a mixer with paddle attachment. add in the very cold, diced butter and mix until it turns to pea size. mix the cream and eggs together and mix in with flour/butter mixture until it starts to turn sticky. add in the strawberries/blueberries, zest, cinnamon, and orange blossom. dump dough onto a well floured board and roll out. i cut the whole thing in a rectangle, then divide that into 4 squares, then halve the squares into two triangles.place on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

the key to these scones is the cold ingredients (butter, eggs, and milk). the cold butter makes the scone fluffy!

serve with clotted cream and tea!

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pickled eggs. it sounds weird, but damn are they good. i have wanted to make these since i saw their beautiful color online somewhere. the first time i actually had one was at one of the famous french dip places in LA, Phillipe. i wasn’t disappointed. so, one snowy afternoon here on the Colorado homestead, i made some pickled eggs.

i love eggs. i love them in every way possible, except raw…i have never actually tried that, but for some reason the thought of drinking raw eggs reminds me of that rocky scene, where he does so.

i actually had some pickled beets in the fridge from a little mom and pop place down the street from my house, colorado cherry company. this place, nestled into the base of the big rocky mountains, sells anything pickled you could ever want. they also make a raspberry juice that is to die for, and pies. they make pies too! it is just one of the many little gems in my country neighborhood.

i used some bay leaves from the tree in my old backyard in LA. i meant to harvest more before i left…it just seems so silly to buy them now, but i suppose one day i will have to again. i might still be in denial i don’t live in that house anymore, that i don’t have that california backyard anymore. sigh.

i also used different herbs from my inside mini herb garden. these would have been even more perfect if i would have gotten eggs from my dog walker and her chickens.

the color of mine did not turn out as purple as i would have liked. let’s not call it a disappointment, let’s call it trial and error.

spring is upon us, even if we still get snow here. one day you wake up to 2 inches on the ground, and the next it is 60 degrees. i can see green grass starting to pop up across the lawn. it has been so long since i have witnessed a spring other than southern california’s…which i don’t think really counts much to the rest of the country.

these pickled eggs just might be the perfect treat for easter!

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recipe

6-7 eggs boiled and peeled

6-10 beets, depending on the size

1 cup of beet juice (pickled)

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 red onion

2 bay leaves

10 peppercorns

a few springs of dill and thyme

1/2 tsp of salt

boil your eggs and peel them. cut your onions.

combine all ingredients together, except onions and eggs and beets, into a saucepan and bring to a boil. simmer for ten minutes. place the eggs, onions, and beets together in a jar and pour the mixture over the eggs. place in the fridge for 48 hours. serve!

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with all that snow last week, i have been craving hearty and hot food. i have also been eating ice cream every night….sooooo, i am not sure what that is about. i had some ground pork in the freezer and was trying to figure out what i could do with it. green chile stew was an easy pick since i had a jar in the cupboard and a can of pinto beans too! i try to keep things on hand like canned goods and chicken stock so when i have  few leftover ingredients in the fridge i can make something up!  i also generally always have carrots and celery…definitely onions!the green chile was something i bought back on that new mexico trip. i bought the hot kind, and it sure was hot. i didn’t realize this until after i took my first bite. guess i should have left out the red pepper flakes! i am kind of a pansy when it comes to spicy!

i made a small batch because it’s just little old me. you could double the recipe if you like.

1/2 lb of ground pork

2 carrots

2 stalks of celery

1/2 white onion

1 garlic clove

1 tomato chopped

2 cups of chicken broth

1 jar of green chile

1 can of pinto beans

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp of cumin

1 tsp of mexican oregano

red pepper flakes if you like spicy

salt and pepper to taste

saute your pork in a pot with olive oil. once cooked remove from the pan. add in your onions and let cook for a minute. add in your carrots and celery. once they have cooked down a bit, add your garlic. you don’t want the garlic to burn, so only cook for a few minutes. add the chicken stock and scrap up all those juicy bits. next add the beans and spices. cook for a few minutes. add the green chile, pork,and tomatoes. let everything simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

serve it up with some feta, sour cream or greek yogurt, and scallions! yum!

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first off, i have to admit that i am listening to Beyonce while typing this, which is pretty much out of character for me. did anybody else watch her documentary on HBO this past weekend? i had to try out one of her albums, which is a first for me, besides her radio hits. i am quite enjoying the change of pace- the girl has got some spunk! and run the world might just be one of the all time best music videos! i kind of think she is whitney houston/madonna/ and hilary clinton in one. i would probably vote for her. i am also obsessed with her choreography, not to mention her costumes. it’s just so good. ok, i am done talking about my girl crush.

moving on to this grapefruit and rosemary almond cake. which, i might say could possibly be one of my favorite things i have ever made. it is moist and light and yummy!!!! i could probably eat a piece every day. since, i can never NOT over do it when it comes to food and entertaining, i decided to make this cake a few weeks ago for my visiting friends just to have around. i told you we would be talking about that weekend for a while. i still have like 3 posts pending on it.

i found a recipe for a lemon/rosemary/creme fraiche cake and it was so pretty i wanted to try and recreate it. i did a spin on it though and changed a few things around with ingredients and flavors. the original recipe called for instant polenta, but i am not always the biggest fan of corn products, so i substituted this for more almond flour, which i am a big fan of. i also forgot to get creme fraiche at the store, kind of a main ingredient…but i had some honey greek gods yogurt and substituted this in the cake and the icing! instead of lemon, i obviously did grapefruit and kept the rosemary in there, which was my favorite part of the flavor. i added in some blood orange for color and just because i had one around. obviously, i took inspiration from the cake i did for the marie antoinette party. i have been wanting to do more fun decorated cakes like this…just another excuse to eat something. i loved this combo so much that i  did a twist on my baked donuts with a grapefruit/rosemary  for the job i did last week and they were a big hit! i will probably put herbs in all my desserts now.

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ingredients

cake

1 stick of melted butter/cooled

1 1/2 c of almond flour

1 1/3 c of flour

1 tbsp of baking powder

1 tbsp of grated grapefruit

1/2 tsp of salt

4 eggs at room temp

1/2 c of sugar

3/4 cup of creme fraiche or yogurt

1-2 tbsp of chopped rosemary

syrup

1/2 c of water

1/2 c sugar

1 tbsp grapefruit juice

glaze

1/2 c of powdered sugar

3 tbsp of creme fraiche or yogurt

1 tbsp of grapefruit juice

combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. beat the room temp and eggs for 10 minutes. add the creme fraiche or yogurt after the ten minutes and then the melted butter, which should be cool. fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in 3 batches. bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

while the cake bakes, make the syrup. combine the water and sugar and simmer until the sugar dissolves. add the grapefruit juice and pour over the cake while the cake is still hot. yum!

combine the ingredients for the glaze. you can add more powdered sugar or juice for required consistency. you can also add a little vanilla for flavor if you like. add the glaze to the cake when it has cooled.

i used a mandolin to slice my grapefruit and blood orange. i then sliced them in half and decorated around the cake. a few springs of rosemary garnish the middle.

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this past weekend was filled with food and silliness with some of my favorite people! sunday, we spent the day on the colorado homestead working on a photo shoot for sun and glory ( behind the scenes to come soon!). that evening we turned on the super bowl, looked at the photos from the shoot, got silly, ate a big dinner, played yatzee, and had yet another dance party. on the menu: filet mignon, potato nests, salad with avocado dressing (a donna special 🙂 ), and for dessert i made cupcakes and an almond grapefruit cake (both of those recipes to come soon on the blog!). donna’s birthday is on valentine’s day and even though we celebrated the night before at oak at fourteenth in boulder, i couldn’t help but to make treats! i love entertaining at my house and having everyone around my table. maybe one day i will get an actual dinning room table that seats more than 2 people! maybe it will even be in a dinning room! there was something cozy about sitting on the floor though, especially with these guys!

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thanks zach driscoll, for sharing photos for this post!

photo credit: zach driscoll, photos 4,6,7,13,14