Sunday, December 15, 2013

Behind the Eight Ball.

The idea of this blog is to chronicle my life, share the ups the downs and the things that inspire me and bring joy to my life, and hopefully yours.  It’s my canvas and as you can see from my last post, cough, cough, in September, this post should come as no surprise, as I am, well, completely behind the eight ball.

September was busy we were savoring the last bits of a delightful Summer and getting ready for an amazing two week trip to Maine and NYC, which was all kinds of crazy, wonderful fun.

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And when we returned it was hectic, I was super busy at work.   I love selling Real Estate so that's fun busy.  Our Vintique and Handmade handcrafted soap business was busy with many people ordering ahead for the holidays, thank you all so much for your orders.   Busy is good and I love being busy, but before I could catch up the holidays began.   

Thanksgiving was a beautiful day.   

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It was a day filled with gratitude and Pomegranate Martini’s.   We shared this lovely holiday with our very sweet, camera shy, friends and I was grateful for every moment of it.   Turkey good, rutabagas good, gravy great and the BEST-EST friends, which all added up to a perfect Thanksgiving holiday.

And then, as if someone was playing a cruel joke on us all,  Thanksgiving was late, rendering Christmas only 3 ½ weeks away.   I am still waiting on an answer as to how that happened, and all of this has left me whining and completely wedged behind the eight ball.

Soon I found myself trapped here, behind this big black orb, and the panic set in fast.  I decided not to host my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange and rather attended one hosted by a friend.   It was fun to see how someone else hosted their exchange and I left with many delicious treats and a lovely ornament and gift card from a “white elephant” gift exchange.   But I did miss catching up with some of my friends and may have to host another type of winter get together after the holidays settle down. I’m thinking a Valentines chocolate cookie/candy exchange, to give your Sweetheart, in lieu of the traditional commercial boxed candy.   But wait.  We have another holiday in the mix and I must get back to that.   It’s a big holiday; in fact it’s the busiest holiday of the year.   Are you ready?

Remember that eight ball I mentioned, it’s still here.   My tree is not up yet, I only have half of my Christmas cards sent, some gifts still to get together, all gifts to wrap, and many to get in the mail to ensure they reach the East Coast by the 24th at the very least.

Yes, it’s getting a bit tight back here, along with panic the sweats have arrived and at times I fear I am about to have a full blown breakdown.   Breathe, deep breathing helps to slow the heart rate, right?  

So as I sit here, breathing and wiping the mist from my brow I have been looking around.   And through my panic-y haze, I have noticed a few of my friends and family back here with me, they are stuck too.   And now I find myself saying, “Hi Mom”, “Hi Sister”, “Hi friend with the new baby”, welcome.   And like in all dilemma’s, we are supporting each other.   “Don’t stress, it will all get done and what doesn’t get done won’t matter”, “Do you really have to put a tree up this year?”, “How can I help?” and the best advice of all, “Take a few minutes to just do something else, take time to recharge, when you get back you’ll have a clear head and be more focused.”   And so that is just what I did Friday night, and it was magic.

Friday night I took a few hours off from Christmas.  Clyde and I met some friends in Seattle to welcome back Matt Brown and the Connection who were making their return to the Pacific NW for a few shows.   Matt has been in Nashville working on his music career and it was great to see him, hear his new music, which is wonderful, and enjoy a much needed date night.

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And on Saturday morning I was ready to rock this holiday out!  My behind the eight ball combined with a little friendly support has become a Magic 8 ball and as I shook the bejesus out of it this morning, it read, “Outlook good”.

I may still be on the wrong side of this eight ball, heck I may have even pulled up a chair and propped my feet up, but my family and friends are here, we are toasting with some brandy and eggnog and with 10 days till Christmas as I wonder, will I be ready… all the “Signs point to yes”

So today I am wishing you all a lovely and manageable pre-Christmas holiday rush.

PS: And let me not forget to mention the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, came to town and I just had to go see her. 

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She was warm and lovely and very funny.  She chatted and connected and gave everyone as much time as they wanted.  Well, I would have loved to have had a drink with her but the hundreds behind me in line may have taken issue with that.

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She signed her newest cookbook and a photo I brought, of her delicious Mango Margaritas that have now become a Summer staple around this home. Yum!

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So that's almost like having a drink with her!  She said she could use a pitcher of those at that very moment.  Ahhhhh, we will always have Mango Margaritas Ree, come back soon!

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... and that was my date with the Pioneer Woman. 

And I bet she's back here too, ya know behind the eight ball.  Four kids, a blog, a television show, cookbooks to sign, and a ranch to run, yes, I am sure she is around here somewhere I just need to look around.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Matt Brown Concert at the Creek.

Last Summer I saw a post on FB from a small restaurant in La Conner Washington. It went something like this:

"Come join us for an intimate summer evening of soulful blues with singer/songwriter Matt Brown on the deck under the Beech tree,  August 1st from 6-10 p.m."

I was intrigued, I'm not exactly sure what it was or if it was a combination of the whole thing.  But the idea of soulful blues, under a beech tree sounded so fabulous, plus August 1st 2012 was a Wednesday and I like doing things mid week.  Mid week events break up the work week, venues are less crowded and we have had some of our best times mid-week.   So I called our friends to see if they were up for it.  We met on the deck, under this giant Beech tree, ordered dinner and when Matt Brown started singing, we were all instant fans.

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We chatted with him during the break and purchased both of his cd's.  He was gracious as he chatted with the crowd and really seemed to love what he was doing.   After the brief intermission we sat back down and enjoyed the rest of his set.  Soon we found ourselves saying, "this guy is really great!", "what a great idea this was", and my favorite, "the only way this night could be better, was if he was playing out on the deck at our friends home".

Our friends have a lovely home on 16 acres along the banks of the Pilchuck Creek and an amazing partially covered deck in the middle of it all.   They agreed it would be "over the top" to have him play at their home.  And then like all good things, the evening came to a close but we succeeded in having yet another great mid week evening and now two new amazing cd's to listen to.

I think it was mid January when we saw him again, this time at the Edgewater in Seattle. And by now  I knew all the words to his songs and have shared his music with many of my friends.  I mentioned to him, during the break,  that we had seen him at Seed's last Summer with friends and we really enjoy his music.  He asked my name and said "Wendy, thank you so much for coming out tonight". 

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So soon it's April, and after a few more discussions with our friends, I thought I'm just going to email him and see if he does private concerts.  It was only a few quick emails back and forth and then another quick call to our friends and the wheels were in motion.  A surprise phone call from Matt confirming schedules in May and a few text messages later,  the Concert at the Creek was set for August 24th, 2013.

We planned a yummy taco bar, invited a small group of friends, and were super excited for our intimate Summer Concert at the Creek.

And let me just say, this evening exceeded all of our expectations.

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The guests had a great time, Matt was wonderful and as hosts, we could not have asked for a better evening.  In fact the only thing that I would have changed is, I did not take enough photos.   I wanted more photos of the venue the details and the guests enjoying it all.  But I was too distracted, it was like Christmas morning.  We had an over the top idea, took the steps to make it happen and after months of planning he was here.  He was playing his beautiful music out on our friends deck.  This deck that has held farm to fork dinners, pumpkin carving parties, cider pressing celebrations and leisurely evenings that were special just because we were there with friends.

I did however manage with the help from a few guests and with the few photos I took, to put together a video of this most special evening.

MB Concert from WA Nutting on Vimeo.

Now, I must add here that the next few days that followed, Brenda and I both received numerous facebook messages, texts, etc from guest saying, they had the best time, they love Matt Brown, they hope we do it again next year, next week and so on.  And Brenda ran into a neighbors Mom, who happened to be visiting her kids the evening of the concert.  She told Brenda they came over for a short visit and ended up staying the entire night, sitting out on their deck enjoyng the music.

And isn't that what this is all about spreading joy, connecting with people and making memories.   I'd say that's the Matt Brown unicorn right there.

This life is a gift, don't waste a single moment of it.

Thank you to all the friends that attended, thank you to our dear friends John and Brenda for sharing their wonderful home and thank you to Matt Brown for an amazing evening.

Matt Brown is a beautiful songwriter and has an amazing crystal clear voice.  He has played all over Washington and Oregon, toured college campuses around the country, opened for some big names and made a few trips to Nashville to work on and record some more music.

We wish him all the best and look forward to following his career.  If you ever get a chance to catch him playing in your area, by all means, go see him and for more information on Matt Brown click here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Buckling batter and puddles of jam, behold the Strawberry Summer Cake!

So Saturday morning I picked 'em, Saturday afternoon, I gave some away, and Saturday night we ate 'em.  Yum, so good, Summer sweet strawberries. 

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...and I still had a lot left over, a lot.   And now I was in a dilemma, what to do with them, I knew Monday after returning from work they would be well, not so fresh. 

I asked a few ladies picking what their plans were with them and they all replied jam.  And while I do love jam and will graciously take a jar or two if a fine jam maker is willing to part with their homemade gift, but I am not a jam maker.  And I will gladly enjoy a serving of strawberry shortcake, but it's not a dessert that would end up entirely being consumed in our house of two strawberry lovers and one four legged dog-child.  I thought about freezing these little ruby gems but they are so fragile and so perfect, sending them to the deep freeze along with the peas, corn and other cast offs buried in the freezer, forgotten about, did not seem worthy of their greatness.  No offense to pea and corn lovers but they are a little heartier than these delicate berries.

And then I remembered a recipe I saw a few years ago on Smitten Kitchen, calling only for the kind of strawberries found locally and picked at their absolute peak.  

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Deb, from Smitten Kitchen, described the recipe like this,

"When Monday rolls around and the strawberries are on their last legs, if you listen closely to them, they’ll tell you that this cake is how they’d like to go out."

And since I would be working Monday but was home today, I decide to give it a whirl!

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With over a pound of fruit and her comment describing "puddles of jam",  I was well, smitten.   And if you like the term "puddles of jam" as much as I do you'll be quite happy by the end of this post, because it's going to happen a lot. 

"The strawberries take over. Nobody complains. The cake is short on steps but long on baking time, and in that hour that it hangs out in your oven, those strawberries turn into puddles of jam. The batter buckles around the receding berries, which dimple like a country quilt and the edges of the cake become faintly crisp."

I can only say she had me at, "puddles of jam", buckling batter, a country quilt, and faintly crisp,
And of course I had to used my blueberry pie dish from LL Bean's, a gift from my Momma.  I think my favorite part was gently tucking each one into this billowy batter.

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 Just over an hour later, behold perfect "puddles of jam!"

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This cake is yummy!  Beautifully rustic, which I love.  Crisp, delicately sweet, and bursting with the flavor of summer. 

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And by the way, in my last post I ended requesting Summer to stay awhile and as always, in Seattle, just when you have a lovely, sunny, warm day, you can almost bet in less then 24 hours the rain will return.  I wonder if it's Mother Natures cruel joke or a just reminder to be grateful and savor each fleeting moment.  And speaking of fleeting moments, the remainder of my strawberries and this beautiful cake will be gone by the end of the week but we will savor each bite and hope the sun will return soon.  And it may be raining outside but we are thoroughly enjoying our little "puddles of jam" inside, because we are nothing if not grateful.

Have a lovely week!
Many thanks to the Biringer Farm for the sweet berries in this post!

Welcoming Summer.

Roll out the welcome mat, Summer is in da house!  And what better way to welcome Summer in than partaking in some farm fresh strawberries, Summers official fruit.

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Biringer Farm is beautiful, lush green and berry red decorate the landscape...even there tractor is red! 

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The fields were full of fruit spilling out into the path and I had to watch my step to avoid stepping on the little ruby gems. 

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Picking strawberries is addicting, just when you think you have enough you spot the perfect berry, just hanging there sparkling in the sunlight.   And where there is one sparkling berry, there are more, and then you say ok, enough is enough,  but  then you realize the lower left corner of the basket is a little sparse and you might as well even it out right?   Just one more will do it...

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In just shy of an hour I was finally content with my tray, alright maybe a few more went in while I was waiting for the tractor, just to even the corners a bit.  And in the end, my basket was a bit heavy but I thought it looked pretty good, if I do say myself.

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It was just before noon when the tractor came back around and with the sun straight up, a full basket of berries and not much shade I was completely ready to head back to the barn.

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Biringer has a beautiful spot, in the valley, with the Cascade Mountains in the background and I just had to snap a few more photo on the ride back.

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My fingers were stained and dusty, I had a bit of mud on my shoes and I left with over 11 pounds of beautiful sweet, perfectly ripe berries.

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As I was leaving the farm, I rang my sweet friend to tell her I would be stopping by in about an hour.  I told her I was not going to stay long, but I had something to give her.  She greeted me at the door and after the usual hug and welcome, she said she had just sent her hubby to the store for Champagne.  I must add here, my sweet friend is amazing and I just love her!  Soon we were all sitting under the umbrella, on this beautiful Summer day, sipping Champagne/St Germaine cocktails and enjoying these sweet "just picked" Summer berries. 

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Welcome Summer, I hope you plan to stay awhile.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice Sunset Picnic.

Today was a beautiful long day, literally, because today was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and I love it!  Here in the Pacific Northwest we were blessed with 16+ hours of glorious daylight.   So tonight, after a long day at work, we ordered Thai food and had an impromptu picnic at the beach.

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It was a beautiful evening and all along Sunset Avenue cars were lined up to gaze at the colorful show about to unfold.

The ferry had just loaded and was about to begin it's journey across the Sound.

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And we sat with our picnic basket and Thai food at the water's edge.

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It was lovely, ferry on the water, train's whistling by in either direction, birds soaring above and the sun dipping behind the Olympic Mountains.

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And after the third train passed by and the sun had finally set, we packed up our little picnic and headed home.

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It was a wonderful Edmonds evening.

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I hope you all made the most of this magical day.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

I am looking forward to the Supermoon.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Las Vegas and a wonderful 43rd Birthday!

Jason Love once said about Las Vegas, "It has all the amenities of a modern society in a habitat unfit to grow a tomato."  I have often been quoted as saying, "Yes, it's fake, it is the ultimate Mirage in the desert, but it's also a lot of fun!

We decided this winter, during the dreary grey days of February, that we would celebrate my birthday with sunshine.  Las Vegas is beautiful in May high 80's-low 90's, dry desert heat, Mai Tai's a plenty and there is always something to do.  We love the sun, the sight's and the show's.

After a quick two and a half hour flight we left the overcast cool skies of Seattle and arrived to the warm breeze and bright blue sky of fabulous Las Vegas.

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Our good friends joined us and we all had a wonderful time.   We love, and always stay at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, it smells like the tropics, it's light and bright inside and the relaxing pools and lazy river are the perfect balance to the intense energy of the Las Vegas Strip.

Our days started early, as we were at the Mandalay Bay Beach before the doors opened, to secure our favorite spot under the palm trees.   We have stayed here before and we know that at about high noon those palm fronds will provide just enough shade to allow us a few more hours before the heat ushers us back inside.

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We also took in the Beatles Cirque Du Soliel show, played skee-ball, saw the Sax-Man at the bar at Times Square, shared an intimate evening with Santana, and even happened upon an Elvis concert in Old Vegas. 

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We enjoyed some wonderful food, met some interesting taxi cab drivers,  played a few hands of blackjack, pulled a few slots, enjoyed a Mai Tai or two by the pool, floated in the Lazy River, body surfed in the wave pool and enjoyed every moment of our mini vacation. 

And for those of you who could not make it here is the video.

2013 Las Vegas-web from Wendy on Vimeo.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Everythng I needed to know, I learned from my Mom.

Happy Mother's Day Mom and thank you for filling my heart with so much love. 

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Love, for family, friends and adventure.  Thank you for pushing me when you thought I needed to grow and consoling me when you thought "those" lessons could wait.  Thank you for showing me the world, in our small corner of it.  

I don't know of any other kids in my class that went to see Gilbert and Sullivan on the weekends.  And while I may not have appreciated it then, I know the importance of it now.  Thank you for sharing with me what you loved because it taught me to find what I love. 

There is a saying "everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten".   
You made sure everything "I" needed to know, I knew well before then.  

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First day of school 1976.

I am so proud to say, "everything I needed to know I learned from my Mom!"

My loving, smart, beautiful, funny, life sustaining Mom.

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Happy Mother's Day!

your Wendy girl.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2013

"Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply wasn't room for any other thought." - Sophie Scholl

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Saturday was grey, it rained, there were a few sun breaks and then I walked through the rainbow known as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  It's stunning, its color breathtaking and even with the sky above 100 shades of grey, the ground was dancing in technicolor.

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It was wet and muddy and I hesitated going due to the weather.  The rain started as I merged on the freeway heading an hour and a half  North and the sky was thick with dark clouds.  I was a week late getting up to the tulip fields but I knew if I waited another week the massive blooms were sure to be diminished.  Last year I hit the perfect time just as the daffodils were waving their final goodbye and the tulips were commanding all the attention.  You can see last years daffodil post here and tulip post here.  I was smitten after last years visit and the thought of missing it this year, well I just could not miss it, rain or shine.

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"The nature of This Flower is to bloom."
- Alice Walker

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Being a bit later in the bloom I happened upon a slightly different landscape, more pinks and purples. And the puddles that pooled between the rows revealed a new perspective,  a peaceful, mirrored reflection.

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I have come to love these tulip fields rain or shine.

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A quick video with some of my favorite shots of the day.

I left with a few bundles to savor some Spring color at home.

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I will dedicate this post to all of you, remember to bloom where you are planted, no matter the weather.  Find a cute pair of rain boots, look for the sun breaks and enjoy all the colors in the rainbow.

Photos taken at Roozengarrde Mount Vernon Washington

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