Valentine’s Day Cake & Amarena Cherry Mocktails

We had my Valentine’s cake for lunch and my Valentine loves it! I’m really happy since I had never baked with beet juice before so I had no idea what the result would be. I’m also glad to have discovered Fabbri Amerena cherries which was a direct result of my planning for this cake when I was doing an ingredient search for delectable red edibles. Since we don’t consume alcohol it’s wonderful to find something that can turn a simple sparkling water beverage into a sophisticated mocktail in addition to making a dessert shine.

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Hot and Steamy Valentine’s Day Preparations

I’ve just set the table for Valentine’s Day weekend (we can stretch that day out!) after I ironed a vintage red and white gingham linen tablecloth. I enjoy ironing old linens and the sound of the steam, it’s relaxing. I’ll be pairing red-colored cake decorations that are absent of artificial coloring: ruby chocolate and wild Italian cherries that come in a beautiful ceramic jar I plan to save and reuse. This morning I crafted my recipe for our Valentine cake that will use organic beet juice for coloring the batter. I’ve also been admiring some old Valentines…

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Thrifty Yankee Health Saver: 30 Cent Device & Tinnitus

I don’t hold a grudge against Michael Stipe for the hearing loss in my right ear and lifelong tinnitus that is the result of an REM concert in 1989. I was only a few yards away from the speakers on the far right side of the stage. After the concert my ears were roaring for days which gradually lessened but never completely went away. I habituated to it and I only noticed it when it was very quiet, and because it was a low pitch it wasn’t too bothersome. In fact I didn’t know it was called tinnitus until many years later. I thought everyone heard something when it was quiet! Because of that experience I’ve been very protective of my hearing.

There are things we are all exposed to on a regular basis that can damage our ears, but for this post I’m going to focus on the home and a tiny expense that can save your hearing, peace and quiet and possibly thousands of dollars in medical bills. I’m also going to share a very personal cautionary tale about how I recently suffered further hearing damage which has negatively affected my mental health. I’m now ready to write about it and hope it will help someone.

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In Defense of “Cottagecore” (aka Simple Living & Homemaking)

Oh dear. Simple, beautiful living is being pathologized by the media, natch. Granted, Instagram influencers can take an authentic way of life and turn it into an unattainable aesthetic which is part of their charm, I suppose, for those who find that aspirational. #cottagecore, which I had never heard of before until this morning when I read this CNN article, “Cottagecore has us yearning for a bygone era that never was” that prompted this blog post, is once such ideal. Apparently much of the way I’ve been living since I left NYC in 1985 (as well as millions of people without hashtags) share a lot of the cottagecore values. I do live in a cottage with two acres of woods, for starters!

Here’s the problem with the critics: They embrace a toxic “ideal” that’s out of touch with a healthy reality while denouncing simple living as being irresponsible and a form of cowardly retreat:

As much as a life filled with gallivanting across the countryside picking berries and baking scones might sound ideal, most people have responsibilities at home.

OK, rant on:

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Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Oven Roasted Rebel Chicken

Pictured is the dinner I made last night and it was outstanding! The breast meat was exceptionally tasty and tender as were the legs. The carrot’s sweetness was enhanced and the potatoes were soft and rich. As a bonus there was a nice pan gravy to pour over it all. I used a 4 1/2 pound LaBelle-Patrimoine Heritage chicken, organic carrots and organic yellow potatoes roasted in a vintage 13″ cast iron skillet. The chicken did not come trussed (legs tied together) and I didn’t have any twine on hand so I decided to wing it and prepare the bird in her un-lady like position. This ending up working to my advantage and you’ll see why in my recipe I’m sharing with you here.

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Frank Sinatra: Dark Songs for Enlightened People

My vinyl gets the most play in the wee short days of the New Year through early spring, and yesterday I spent the afternoon listening to Watertown on repeat. Of course with vinyl you can’t just set it and forget it; you have to pick yourself up to flip it or start it all over again. It’s a good preventive measure for becoming glued to one’s couch.

I first heard Watertown while driving up north to the Maine Wildlife Park two Novembers ago. I was surprised that it was new to me since I own most of Sinatra’s albums and have been a fan for decades thanks to my father, a life-long fan. Sinatra is the only artist who can bring me to tears and I love him for it!

“Dressed in memories, you are what you used to be…”

The common theme that runs through his darkest of albums is vibrantly alive in Watertown only the heart Sinatra shares is of a small-town variety vs the glam larger-than-life man. Both ache just as deeply so does it matter? This album has all of the beauty and sadness of a warm late fall afternoon in Maine. You know as you listen to the album that the hope of being reunited with his wife who left him alone with their two kids is all going to be blown away, like those past peak sepia-tone November leaves still hanging on…

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The Spiritual Lessons of Abuse and Overcoming

Our guinea pig Tiny Tim aka Timmy passed away January 2017 but I still miss him daily and draw inspiration from him. His lessons were so powerful that I wish to share them again. I originally posted this in my old blog.

Prompted by a “calling” that came without any explanation, I picked up the phone and dialed (literally since I still use vintage rotaries) the local shelter early in December 2013. I asked if they had any elderly or hard luck guinea pigs. I’ve adopted and rescued guinea pigs since I was ten years old.

“As a matter of fact I have just the pig for you.” He was in need of a foster home, she explained. His background, quoted directly from his intake papers:

“G. Pig surrendered in last 24 hours with history of child in home rough-housing with animal.”

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