My Story

About me

I garden at 8000 feet, cook from scratch, love anything textile, read books continually, forever curious and learning, write daily, contemplate spirituality, and pursue heirloom arts. I love to paint pictures of living beyond maintenance -- living creatively, discovering beauty in everyday ordinary things. I've been happily married to Monte, who is a geologist, for a long time and still very much in love, even after raising a family and building two houses. Our children are our best friends. I naturally live first-hand and have recently realized that this is how we educated our children and ourselves. I love to learn about everything, teach, and work with my hands. I love my home, but my life has overflowed -- as a teacher, radio/conference/retreat speaker, author, and a MOPS mentor. This blog is an ideal way for me to share my overflowing life with kindred spirits and those hungering to move beyond maintenance -- to be known by who they are, not just by what they do.

My Home

My Old Studio
My Old Studio

My Pantry - I love to cook from scratch!
I love to garden!
  This blog is my combining of three of my blogs back into one. They are still out there . . .

More to My Story

Photo of our back deck by visiting Zsuzsanna Luciano

I wrote most of this post in 2013, summing up the year. But it's also My Story, as I'll add stuff making things current.

Like today (in 2013). It's January 6, Eucharist Day, Magi visited the Christ child on the Church calendar. It's my day (usually) for putting away Christmas decor. Our tree IS brown, so last night was the last lighting of the tree. BUT I also had Sardines mailed to me from I Love Blue Sea - 3 pounds. I'm going to "pickle" them, as you can with all small fish and white fish - typically herring. But I'm planning on doing more of the ferment version, without the vinegar. I still have some cranberries for my favorite wintertime ferment (I posted about it before). I'm not going to ferment all the sardines.

Garden produce ferments - sauerkraut, dilly beans, zucchini relish, and kimchi

I got an electric smoker in November, so going to smoke a lot of sardines too. We're loving the smoker. My reasoning, finally, for getting the smoker, is all the grass-fed beef we have in the freezer - 1/2 a cow! Unless slow cooked in the oven, and the ground beef is out of this world! all the steak style cooking, including grilling, has not been a good experience - it's tough - not enough marbled fat like modern beef (the last century?). So I figured a smoker is slow cooking as well as giving that luscious grilled flavor. I don't use a lot of smoke - usually just 2 feedings of pellets and soaked wood chips in the first hour. Everything has been great! Turkey at Thanksgiving (going to do 2 smaller turkeys from now on - one stuffed and in oven for good stuffing and gravy). The steaks have been awesome. Did some bacon as a trial run before getting a whole pig to add to the freezer later this month - bacon was awesome. Pulled pork, pork chops, and loved the roaster chicken. We even smoked our Swedish potato sausage we make every Christmas, instead of the typical boiling, and it was great.

Thanksgiving smoked Turkey - everyone's preferred meat!

So today - some ferments and smoking (I have a "smoking jacket" and hat which I think is so funny!). Oh, I also have some sourdough started yesterday to form into loaves and bake either today or tomorrow morning. That's the other food thing I'm in love with - making sourdough bread! And the book that transformed the whole process is the Tartine. Chad Robertson just came out with Tartine 3, hot off the press I got it, and am in love!

Sourdough bread

I did mention my health. Quite the year! Things I complained to a nutritionist friend of mine had me tested. I was diagnosed in February, big time, as Adrenal Fatigued. I researched a lot, and still occasionally read along that line and in conjunction with Candidiasis. They can have a connection. Then further testing, is not absorbing nutrients. Hard to take when living and eating so well. Primarily B12 deficient - which is another weird thing when we have chickens and eat tons of eggs, as well as all the meats in the freezers. And oh . . . also diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is not fun - when it's kicking up, it's very painful - checking that out more this year. My mantra last year was "You Gotta Keep Dancing"!!

My kitchen garden

Moving on . . . I gardened big time. I'm thinking I'm done with buying plants, unless a great deal on some fruiting tree or bush that's different from anything I have. Froze a lot of beans and broccoli and kale. Dried a lot of zucchini and tomatoes. And all this living at an altitude of 8,000 feet. Like growing corn and having enough to freeze. That's quite a feat! (Ah, another homophone to tell my grandson: feet and feat - he's collecting them!)(Oh, our 5th Grandchild was born.)

Tail end of broccoli, green beans and kale to freeze

I joined Denver's Botanical Gardens and walked around there a lot with my Master Gardener friend. We also took lots of classes together. Like greenhouse gardening and propagation and seed saving. So that's the new venture - tho that's how I've gotten tomatoes at this altitude in the first place. And I've scattered seeds forever, which is how my wildflower and perennial beds look lush. But on to improving it all and more propagating.

Photo of our sunroom/ greenhouse by visiting Zsuzsanna Luciano

So what will this next year look like? Garden planning and ordering some seeds right now, hoping to do more seed saving. We moved my studio space to a brighter and warmer room, so more sewing and weaving (which ends up involving spinning and dyeing)? Always food prep gourmet with real foods!

A large loom I'm selling - if anyone's interested!

Have a good year!

Currently? All of the above is still ongoing about the same.

Still fermenting a bit, preferring mainly sauerkraut, pickles (referred to as "sours" and even 1/2 sours by some), and the winter cranberry. Our local Natural Grocers is carrying more and more ferments so I can pick up a jar at a time of something different to try for an occasional variety.

Sourdough breads and sourdough anything, is about all I'll eat, since it's grain in a predigested form. Readily broken down by the body. Thus diabetics, pre-diabetics, and even some so-called gluten intolerants should eat sourdough products (real sourdough: usually no yeast and a slow process). When I say products? I'm making breads, crackers, crepes, waffles (freeze for toaster waffles), etc. I've written posts with these recipes.

My Health? Doing great! Adrenal Fatigue was healed, and have healthy adrenals (doctor wanted me to go on thyroid med. This is what a blood test will show, even if you only have tired adrenals. It is the 3rd most prescribed med!). Trigeminal Neuralgia will always be there, but it's manageable (medical marijuana could work, but afraid to try). I just have to watch my caffeine intake and stress.

I'm still gardening, tho trying to limit to what really works and how to avoid the excess need of weeding! I'm getting older and it's a lot of work, tho good exercise. I need to save my hands - got twinges this year from excess weeding that could move into carpal tunnel issues.

I need the use of my hands for all my other loves in life. I still knit and weave and spin and sew. BUT I'm also going for a degree as a Botanical Illustrator through Denver's Botanical Gardens. Started classes near the end of August in 2014. Already done the prerequisites of Pencil, Light on Form, Composition, Botany, and Colored Pencil. Almost done with Pen and Ink, and soon to finish the prerequisites of Water Color. Taking Electives with all those mediums, since we need elective hours as well. Done some Photoshop and Illustrator classes and Bookbinding.

Colored Pencil Orchid

I mentioned a 5th Grandchild in the year 2013, but now I have a sixth. We recreated our old swingset and play yard next to the playhouse, tho now enclosed with a split-rail fence. I still have chickens. Monte's still enjoying his work, tho focused on a new start-up company with an exciting new science! Life is good!

Check out my blog for posts and pics of my life. Still soap-making and some felting. Lots of recipes and "how-to".

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