Find Me

I’ve just started marketing my services through a wonderful site called, “Thumbtack”. If you are interested in my services; catering, cooking classes, cleaning, etc…go here. There are all sorts of service providers on this site, check it out. I love it. It’s been an amazing source of new business for me. And, you might find just the right professional for your needs. I highly recommend it.

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Time for a few recipes…..

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Creamy Pasta With Kale

This, was a hit with my semi-resident, Vegan Boy. Translation, my son who comes home from college often, and has started to forward recipes to me prior to his arrival. So thoughtful…….This was really good.

For the creamy sauce

2 cups cauliflower

1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

2-3 table spoons of olive oil (I use more than necessary because I like the added richness and flavor)

4 garlic cloves sliced

1 large shallot, or 2 smaller ones

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Other ingredients

Pasta cooked according to package. 1 lb box.

2 cups kale, rough chopped

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in oil or roasted tomatoes from a jar

Put cauliflower in saucepan with an inch of water or so, cover, bring to boil and steam for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in saute pan, add garlic and shallots, sauté for 10 minutes or so.

Place the drained cauliflower, almond milk, sauteed garlic and shallots along with the oil in a blender or vitamin. Blend until creamy. Season to taste. Toss with cooked pasta, kale,  and tomatoes. Voila, that’s it. It was great! Us non-vegans also had broiled chicken along with it as we sat in front of the TV and watched a new episode of , “House of Cards”. Nice….

 

 

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Stay Busy and Create

Image 9This is not going to be one of those posts, the “I’ve been absent a long time and feel bad about it” posts. It is what it is. I’ve been writing like mad, just not here. I committed to getting out the stuff that’s been swimming in my head for too long. So, every morning I’m up about 4:30. And, after some wake-up time, I write. Yesterday I got 2 solid hours in before I left for a job. It felt good. Anne Lamott says there is no magic, you have to sit your butt in the chair and write.

I have a notebook next to my computer – yes, paper. I have three columns; writing, business, art. Every week I have a time goal for each of the columns. Every day I do something to reach that goal. Then, I write it down. It helps me try to stay on track with the things that are important to me. I’m not perfect at it, but it seems to be a good tool.

I got the idea for the notebook from Lisa Call. She’s awesome. She’s a software engineer by day, a textile artist at night. She shares a lot of her organizational techniques, which is incredibly helpful to me. The way her brain works is different than the way mine does, so she makes things easy that aren’t as obvious to me. Creating systems and organization being her strong suit, IMHO.

Where is food you ask? It fits into all three columns at any given time. But, now that I’ve typed that, I’m thinking I’ll add a fourth and fifth (exercise) column next week. Hmmmm, I’ll think on that. I like it……

ImageI’ve also started a new blog, which has captured my time for awhile. I’m just building it up and getting some writing done, so I’m not sharing it openly just yet. It’s directed at a whole different audience; women starting over in midlife. The picture at left is a hint at the title, though not necessarily the subject matter.

I took a leap and let a few of my biggest clients go. I love my clients. I really do. I love them, I appreciate them, I become friends with them. So, letting anyone go was a first for me and tore me up. It cast a shadow over a few weeks. If there was ever evidence that I’m not a cutthroat business person, there you have it. I’m a softy. I want to please people, not hurt them. But, what these customers wanted was taking me away from where I wanted to go.

I hung on because, of course, who walks away from business, right? Sometimes you have to, when it starts directing you, instead of the other way around. And, it was all going in the wrong direction, not what I wanted. I began to dread it. So, I ended the business relationship. It hurt. But, it made room for the things I wanted to flow in. That’s important. That’s how things work. The good stuff can’t flow in, if you are hanging onto the bad stuff, or the stuff that isn’t working out. You have to let go. It frees you up. Good things flow in. It doesn’t work to hang on to what you don’t want until what you do comes to you. There is no room for it. You have to make the room by letting go of what doesn’t work. That was a hard lesson for me. I tend to hang onto things longer than I should. I like my comfort zone. But, it’s something I’m determined to get better at, letting go of the wrong thing.

ImageThis blog/site itself. I want to change it. I have a vision that isn’t quite jelled for changes I want to make. It’s the “not quite jelled” that has kept me away from it. It’s time to plan, make the changes, and move forward. I’m ready. I’m thinking something more elegant, more variety, cleaner design, etc……Of course, it will be food, among other things. The photo at left. So beautiful! It’s a chili paste I made with a variety of dried chilis. I used it as part of a fajita assemblage. I’m on the fence about it. Interesting flavor.

Video. I’ve been having a wonderful time making videos. I’m creating a series that is near and dear to my heart. It’s been a long time in coming, but my video capabilities have made it possible, finally. This iMac of mine came with a video creating/editing program. I was so excited when I discovered it. It’s amazing! It opened up a whole new world for me. It was the missing piece for some things I want to do and a wonderful discovery. I started making videos during the last cold snap a few months ago in my studio. But, it was so uncomfortable, and I had to be bundled up, then my computer had a problem and the video board had to be replaced. It’s almost new?! I’m convinced it was the cold, even though SirG doesn’t believe it was….In any case, it’s fixed. I’ve moved my computer to a nice, warm office in the heated part of the house, so I’m back in business.

The picture at the top? That’s my son with his “GoPro” video camera on his helmet. He’s also been having great fun creating videos. I’m using it myself for some future projects. Creating is good. Creating while skiing, well, is there any greater joy? So many things are a tie in my head regarding what brings me joy. That’s one of them; skiing with my son while he pushes himself to try new things. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Today, it’s minus 8 outside. Right now. It’s like a winter wonderland out there. I wanted to stay in the warm bed for a few extra minutes and talk to God. God often talks to me in pictures. And, I wanted another one. I’ve been asking for guidance, wanting to see a picture, so I could move toward it. And, I saw myself with a series of canvases, then in the kitchen welcoming a group for a class, then writing at my desk…..(God manages to say so much to me with a few snapshots…usually in quick succession) And the words,“Stay busy and create” popped in my head. Okay!

So, here I am, 874 words later. Enjoy your day!

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“Win The Battle” Fundraiser Event

Image 4Here are a few photos of the event I just catered this past weekend. I’m notoriously bad at taking photos of an event, I’m way to busy to stop and snap. I should have someone come with me to take a few pictures so everything doesn’t just become a blur. In any case, this is what I have…..

This was an Oktoberfest themed event, which helped me zero in on some initial ideas for the food, but in the end, people want what tastes good. All the sausages I brought didn’t go over nearly as well as, say, the olive oil dipping sauce I made, which was all mediterranean; garlic, kalamata olives, capers, oregano…..This was a last minute addition to the menu on the day of, when I Imagewas in my groove and feeling creative. But was so popular I’ve decided to make a batch for every event I cater. It’s become one of my “signature” touches along with fresh flowers, gratis, for every customer, every day…….

I cooked every day for a week leading up to this event. It is the only way to go. I get the plan in my head and keep thinking of “What’s next?” and how I’ll put it together at the event, how to prepare and store parts of a recipe so that it’s easily transported and assembled, if need be, on-site.

Calculating quantity of food is more of a crapshoot, Image 1even though there are rules of thumb and industry standards you can turn to; ounces of meat per person, pieces of appetizer, etc…In the end, they’ll eat more of what tastes good and less of what doesn’t and you don’t always know what the crowd with gravitate to. So, you come prepared for anything, which means, in my case, an abundance of everything.

Image 3The organizers were very pleased with the food, which pleases me. I do take it personally, how can I not? After every event I think about the flaws, what I could have done differently. And, it bothers me a lot to think that way, but I try to use  it as a way to do things better next time. Even if everyone is extremely happy, I do see what could be better. I’ve accepted that this is how I’ll always think and it’s probably a good thing. I do want to do a great job for those who trust me with their events. The next person benefits from my introspection, so I’m okay with it. I should have browned the sausages, okay? It would have been so much better…..Okay, got that off my chest.

Now, I begin to plan a holiday party for 60. Fun!

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Asian Appetizer Cooking Class/Party

553049_372102842921867_216393434_nI have been remiss, not posting pictures of some recent events. Here are some pictures of an Asian Appetizer Class/Party I did recently. Gorgeous home, fun group, gracious hostess, good food….. What could be better.

An old high school friend of mine saw the picture on the left, of me and the party Image 2hostess, and created this fun juxtaposition. I decided to wear pearls to all my events from now on, for the fun of it. :  )

For this class we made: spring rolls, sushi rolls, chicken satay with peanut sauce and chicken lettuce wraps. There was a lot going on, but we did it. I can create a custom class for your group to suit your own tastes. Give me a call. 303-549-3417.

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Amen

Image 10I had to share this beautiful message, from Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, my son’s favorite childhood comic.

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My Garden is a Cliche´

Image 21I almost hate to write this, because it feels like a tired topic. My garden is a metaphor for my life. I know. You’ve heard this before. But, since I’m experiencing it myself, it feels new.

When I moved into this house almost 4 years ago, I longed for a garden. I had been living in a condominium for 5 years and the pots on the balcony didn’t cut it for me. It’s just not the same.

There was an area that had clearly been a garden at one time, but by then it was a pile of rock and weeds. When I tried to scrape off the rock, or use a shovel to dig down, it was like cement. Under the rock was Image 16plastic, under that was clay. It was impossible. I gave up. I settled for pots again that year. I tried to dig again the next year, same thing. Nothing budged. More pots.

Last year, Sir G went out and somehow scraped off the rock, pulled up the plastic, rototilled what was there and brought in new dirt. I swear, it only took him two hours to get through the rock and pull up the plastic. I was convinced it couldn’t be done. I hate that. I thought if it could be done, I should have been able to do it. But, I’m learning in my, how do I say this….I’m maturing. That’s it. I’m learning in my “maturity” and accepting that some people are better suited to some things than I. I can’t do everything, but I can ask for help. I’m okay with it now. He’s stronger. He Imagegot through the rock.

Sir G often manages to do things I think can’t be done. He’s patient, and just does them. This is off topic, but I had a briefcase that I forgot the lock combination to. He sat down with it and proceeded to go through every number combination, starting with 0000. “You are kidding me, right?” And off I went. He got it open in 10 minutes, unbelievable. No way would I have even tried that. I was ready to just break the locks. I’m sure this is a topic for a different post on a different day. Back to my garden….

This year SirG made a frame with chicken wire and sifted all of the dirt in the garden. More, “You’re kidding me, right?” No. No more rocks. He Image 13brought in fresh soil, manure and tilled it again. We were going to have the perfect garden! We planted flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit. We used a mix of seeds, seedlings from the nursery and seedlings we started ourselves. We had visions of lush growth, abundant fruit…

But, it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t growing as we thought it would. Some things just withered Image 4away. Our lettuce wasn’t growing. The berries sent out tons of shoots, but no berries appeared. Some things never broke through the ground at all. The sweet peas didn’t climb. The Hollyhocks didn’t come up. Darn it!

We put so much care into preparing the soil, it was a disappointment. Why was it limping along? I know that all gardens are trial and error. That’s part of the fun for me. I like to plant some things every year, that I’ve never planted before to see how they grow. So, I’m usually in for a surprise here and there. But still, we expected more from our garden. Why did we get tons of shoots for our strawberries, but no strawberries? Why did we have 30 tomato flowers, but only 2 Image 3tomatoes? The pumpkin stopped growing. The sweet peas didn’t creep….It was so odd.

SirG, being SirG, kept at it. He thought about it, tended it, weeded and watered. He’d sit and stare at that garden figuring out how to help it. He devised a drip system. He moved things. Have I ever mentioned his dad was Amish? I can just picture him at 90, among his beloved garden rows. If he goes missing, I’ll know to look among the rows… Neat rows, of course, neat German rows. Contrast this with my right brained, artist rows, which I prefer in round clumps, the flowers mixed up with the vegetables, thinking of color and shape…. Nobody will find me there if I go down…. Anyway, he figured out that some of our seedlings couldn’t break through the fine netting Imagewe planted them in. He dug them all up, freed the roots and replanted. (no way would I have done that) He moved the pumpkin plant to a different spot. He started cutting the strawberry runners, so the plant could put energy into strawberries. He didn’t throw in the towel, he tried different things.

I thought of myself as someone with perseverance, if not necessarily patience. But really, compared to what I’ve seen SirG do with briefcase locks, gardens and cement-like ground, I’ve got a ways to go. He’s relentless. The garden began to turn around. It began to produce.

The, sunflowers started attracting bees, and our Image 20plants were pollinated. Tomatoes started growing. Strawberries began to appear. My first clump of grapes, ever. The basil with the freed up roots grew like mad…The pumpkin began to spread. My lettuce was so perfect, I didn’t want to cut it. Look at that gorgeous picture!

Then, the mammoth sunflowers kept growing and growing, but just before they were going to bloom, the tops were getting snapped off! Darn it! That was a mystery. I’d go out in the morning, excited to see if  I had a giant bloom, only to see another broken stalk. Baaahhhhh! We finally figured out the squirrels were jumping from the electrical wires onto the plants and Image 17breaking the stalks. Now we know. “Next year, over there!”

This all got me thinking how you can do what you think are all the right things for your garden: prepare the soil, plant your seeds, water and weed. But, you just never know what will happen, until it begins to grow, or not. And, you have a choice to walk away and declare it a failure, or roll up your sleeves and see what you can do different. Maybe it will help. I look at these pictures and you’d never know that it started off so dismally. That first month was not promising at all. I began to lose hope for an abundant garden this year.

It’s the same with our lives, with our kids, with our plans. You can lay all of the groundwork perfectly, you think. But there are unforeseen variables everywhere. You just never know. Some things might look like that impossible pile of rock, unmovable. But they aren’t. It’s worth a shot to try. With a little work, it might turn into something beautiful that will surprise you. And, the fact that it didn’t go perfectly right off the bat, will teach you something worthwhile.

 

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