Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holidays Traditions

Fall Colors in the Northwest

Thanksgiving is long past and the Christmas holiday is in full swing. Here in Kingston traditions remain intact and enjoyed. Kingston Hardware had "Ladies Night" with fiddle music and food for all- such a funny event! The lights are up around Tulin Road and the pictures tell it all. Pictures tell more that my words about the traditions of Christmas on Tulin  Road. Still I am prompted to add words because Christmas is such a personal and community occasion. In the past I occupied myself with the projects of Christmas to recreate my childhood fantasies in my own adult life. I wanted my children to enjoy the enthusiasm and fun I remembered. Now children are out of the house but still I go on. Why? I  never really ask myself this question because I always know the answer. I really enjoy all of the parts of Christmas that I put in my Christmas box!

I love putting up decorations that I have seen for 35 years and counting.

I love the mystery of choosing a tree and seeing it become a Christmas tree when I set it up in the house.

I love going out on a carefully chosen, rainless day to gather greens for wreaths and assembling them slowly while I listen to a book on tape.

I love looking at old recipes to find the favorite, old cookies to bake.

I love the creative challenge of  trying out ideas for a Christmas card to send to friends and family. Some cards go to friends I seldom see and talk to only annually, through a card. Recalling the past moments of shared lives makes those cards especially precious.

I even love assembling my collection of little gifts into piles to see who gets what and making gifts bags to hold them. Sometime I worry "is this the right gift?" but I try not to. I love that old feeling of the Christmas tradition- when we are given the gift of sharing ourselves with others. Most of all, I have learned only to do the things I love without putting too many expectations  upon myself. I listen to Christmas music, watch old Christmas movies and rejoice that now we are on the road back to summer.

So, enjoy this holiday in the way you WANT to celebrate you own life and love ones. Have Fun!
Love to all,
Mama Llama

Saturday, November 12, 2011

... And I'm already home!

Since I am still a little on New York time, I thought I would write before life becomes far too busy. It is November, after all. Soon there will be holidays to celebrate, great food, friends and family to enjoy and where will the time have gone?

Manhattan from Brooklyn
That is entirely how I feel about my week in Brooklyn. Where did the time go? There was great food every where I turned. We even discovered a few new places. There were old friends to see and Erin introduced me to new friends. It was a fun look into the craziness that is her life but with glorious weather and excursions to see great art.

High Line Walk
I did lots of walking in just a "wandering" manner but also saw the great De Koenig exhibit at MOMA, as well as some great parts of their standing shows. Erin and I took in an exhibit of Arthur Stieglitz and his artists. It was a great and inclusive show and worth seeing several times. There were other bits and pieces: a show at FIT displaying the collection of Daphne Guinness, a style icon since the 60's . The couture was astounding and all the more so pared with the standing collection of woman's sportswear through the century. Lost of fun! I also took in the anniversary collection at the Neue Galleria- some Klimt and Matisse with fun textiles form the Middle Ages, as well.

It was with some trepidation that I rented a car again for a weekend drive to Silver Spring, Maryland to visit Marjorie and Jamie. (Jason was out of town or we would have visited him as well.) It was great meeting Jamie, who really is just a cute and amazing as I had heard. He is an advertisement for parenthood but could be charged with fraud because he is not a typical baby boy- too good-natured and cute.
Walking in Silver Spring
We walking in the fall leaves and relaxed in the Maryland peace. It was a wonderful visit and felt like being home.

So, now I am home. I had such a great time to refresh my energy and to understand a little more about the life of a Brooklyn working girl with wonderful friends and lots of commitments.

Really, it is not so bad! Lots of energy especially on warm November days, but isn't that always the case in New York? Oh- I guess I did just miss the October snow storm! Well, it was good luck for me and a wonderful visit. For now, good bye to New York and Thanksgiving here we come.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Can a small town girl make it in the big city?

What is That! Why did she put that picture there? Because I want you to guess at what has been going on in Kingston.

Actually, October has been a pretty busy month. We had a great trip to San Diego, which I know you have all heard about. The wedding in La Jolla was an event of a lifetime. Joyous and amazing but really- I was lucky to survive it without a major fiasco. We had lots of nice visiting with Ralph and Judy, then back home to fall in the Northwest.

Here we have had a particularly nice autumn, to make up for the rest of the years weather experiences; lots of dry days and even sunshine to get things ready for the upcoming La Nina winter (as though I actually believe anything the weather people predict). I have done some plant moving and additions for the coming spring and summer. Of course, I see lots more but am moving indoors now for a rest from dirt under my fingernails. I will all be resting until after the holidays when I will try to jump the gun on Spring and loose- I really don't learn!

The last big garden project was a predator prevention program. The deer are still eating at everything in sight, so I covered some new plants with netting because they are still small are deserve the chance to grow. The chickens have moved to their winter house and are feasting on the garden but in order to do so with security, some eagle proofing is necessary. After some long thought, this is the result. A Christmas package affect of surveyors tape woven across the garden. As Colin queried: yes, eagle are afraid of surveyors and their tape! Or at least I hope so. The down side of this arrangement is that people can not easily enter the garden. Oh, well. Them's the breaks.

Now the apples are in and the food dryer is full. The chickens are happily bedecked with ribbons and treated with "peanut hearts" added to their diet, thanks to the local peanut roaster. The goats are shorn and doused and secured against the rain and I am all set to visit the big city.

I head to New York tomorrow for a change of scene and I hope some inspiration to start me on some exciting projects for holidays and wet winter days. I will let you know what I find. Until then, send brave thoughts to the chickens because the eagles are very noisy around here.

Love to all,
Mama Llama

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Family on Tulin Road

Labor Day has come and gone without my acknowledgment. Maybe I have been unable to face the end of summer or maybe we are finally enjoying summer here in Kingston. In any case, last Friday was my first day back in the schools and this week is a busy week of classrooms and museum days so I guess Fall is really here.

I hope everyone enjoyed the summer and is looking forward to more adventures and expeditions in the coming months. In that vein, I had an exciting adventure this weekend. After communicating extensively with Debbie in Graham, Washington about the qualities of my animal care and environment, she agreed to sell me a momma angora with her 2 babies. Justin, my renter's boyfriend, drove us down in his small  pick-up. Graham is a bit south of Stanwood so it took about an hour to get there. We loaded up Loretta and her 2 kids and were back home without incident.

 We now have a real menagerie with four goats on the girls side of the field. Bucky is still on his lonesome but maybe when the little boy is grown up and a bit more able to hold his own, he will join Bucky and they can be pals. The new friends are a little skinny but I am sure they will get stronger and fattened up soon. Mary seems to be enjoying her new roommates more that I could have expected. She and Loretta have an agreement that Mary is boss which seems to work well. The kids are, as yet, nameless so any recommendations for naming a girl and a boy kid will be considered.

Now THAT was a fun way to move into fall. I just hope I can keep them all healthy. In the meantime there is still harvesting to be done with some ripe tomatoes and lots of "trombone" zucchini, which turn out to be amazingly sweet and tender. I made pickles this weekend and possibly the last batch of blackberry jam.I have become somewhat uninspired in the dinner arena, so if you have any suggestions that are not renditions on sauteed zucchini I would appreciate the inspirations. For now, I am off to the high school. Good luck everyone, have a great week and look forward to an exciting, happy fall. Take time to watch for the falling leaves and walk in the last evening light.

Mama Llama

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It all goes so fast!

Felting by the bay
It is the same old story- summer flies by and we never get enough of it. Still, the month of August did prove we in Seattle can feel the sun, even if we have to go to Idaho. I feel a short flash back is in order to help us all remember the good times .

New look for the screen door
Lots of  projects - new adventures there that keep the neighbors guessing.
Professional Floaters
Lake rats

But best of all there was time to play in the sun at the lake. Kyrsa and Dave made it out for a short, long weekend and the sun was there as well so we had lots of laughter. Dave was taken to task by the resident lake-rat for his alumni status at WSU. He showed his restraint by not  throwing Cameron in the lake. 

Dock time
Did Lynne make that putt?

Erin was out for a bit longer and Amy joined us for her annual  dock visit. Since she could not entertain us with water sports, she showed us how to control the bat population. THAT was classic lake!

Lynne and Linda  played Mexican Train with us, some golfing kept Anita in shape...

and still there was lots of time for the regular lake sport of dock reading and wine drinking ! Even working at the lake is NOT so bad.

This is really what summer is all about and for that we have to say, we are the luckiest family around.

The past year has been full of changes and challenges for everyone. I think we are all a little weary from the effort but time at the lake helps replenish our spirits and prepare us for the year ahead. My offered mantra for the coming months is this:
     Say what you want out loud- put your hopes into the world energy and they will gather strength.

I hope the summer continues to treat us all well- there is a little more so we must take the time to enjoy it fully. Even though the clouds are back in Kingston, there are still raspberries on the bushes and lots of time to be in the garden and on the beach, so that is where I plan to be.

Good times and laughter to all. Enjoy the moments.
Mama Llama

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July or is this REALLY summer?

I have been putting off this writing for reasons I can't really define other than a sense of inertia and depression. The result of my laziness is that now I have far more to say than I have time to say it. So goes the story of procrastination-listen all or you to out there who might be doing the same!

As you ALL know, summer has passed by Kingston. We had one day of summer last weekend and it was glorious but was followed directly by 24+ hours of solid rain and thunder. My raspberries are finally ripening but they are 50% mold. Still I should not complain because I did have enough for 3 batches of jam and a cobbler as well as some breakfast enjoyment. There is true luxury! The strawberries looked and tasted great but the harvest was affected by grazing deer coming in after the first picking to eat their fill. Huge RATS I call them.

David hauling the wheel barrow of wood
Since we have enjoyed winter for 9 months, the wood is totally depleted  this year. We were starting fires well into May to dispel the wet  air so David had a big task on his shoulders. I had 2 trees cut down- a Eucalyptus and a Willow- because they suffered great winter damage. That started the ax chopping. Then a neighbor down the road offered the use of several downed trees and after a long 8 weeks of hard work, our wood pile is again fat. I sure hope we don't use it ALL this year!
Our new Wood Pile

Tomorrow we are heading off to the lake for our second summer visit. The 4th of July was amazing weather so I hope we get lucky again and Kyrsa can feel the summer sun and water relaxation.

Despite the  lack of warm air,  I have been busy in the garden and with summer projects. I created a new screen door for the front door based on the Nick Cave exhibit at SAM. It is up but still has some additions to be made. It definitely makes a statement as it is- I like to call it the "Witchy Woman " door.
Witchy Woman lives here

Since I need to run to bed so that I can make the last raspberry harvest before we leave in the morning, I will stop talking and send along some garden pictures. You can not even imagine the destruction the deer have done this year. Because it continues to rain incessantly, even the spray does not dissuade them so gardening is dispiriting at best.
Peas and Greens- all

Still, life in Kingston does not include tragedies of catastrophic proportion or even weather events so we are  lucky people .
New York Hot

Love you all and I hope and pray every day that you are smiling.

Mama Llama

Monday, July 11, 2011

A new favorite for the lake porch

Linda and Lynne blessed me with the photocopy, so I thiought I pass on the favor and share out the secret ribs recipe. the Fourth at the Lake was The Best - just what I always wanted, and that's the truth. Will put some photos up later, but thank you everyone for a relaxing, perfect fourth - we even scored a hit with the water balloons. A miracle. Next time, we're planting a mole in the parade so we don't fall for the decoys. I nominate anita - she has the best chance of both convincing people to cruise over to the dock and scoring drinks from other boats at the same time.

From “Celebrating with Julienne” by Susan Campoy
By way of Lynne & Linda

Baby Back Pork Ribs

3 racks baby back ribs (about 6 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Barbecue glaze:
1 cup freshly brewed espresso
1 cup ketchup
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup clover honey
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

To prepare the ribs: Preheat the over to 350. Brush the ribs with the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the ribs on a heavy large rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake until the meat between the ribs is tender, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, to prepare the barbecue glaze: Combine all the ingredients in a heavy large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.

Do ahead: The baked ribs and barbecue glaze can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, then pour off any excess liquid from the ribs and cove the ribs on the baking sheet. Store the glaze in a container. Keep the ribs and glaze refrigerated.

Increase the oven temperature to 450. Brush some of the glaze over the ribs. Bake uncovered, one side up, for 10 minutes. Turn the ribs over and baste the meaty side again with more glaze. Continue baking for 10 minutes. Cut the racks between the bones into individual ribs. Alternatively, these ribs can be grilled. To do so, preheat a barbecue for medium heat. Brush the ribs with the glaze and grill them for 10 minutes. Turn them over and brush the ribs with more glaze. Continue grilling until the ribs are heated through, about 10 minutes longer, brushing the ribs with additional glaze as they cook.
Rewarm the remaining glaze in a small saucepan over medium-low hear and serve it in a bowl alongside the ribs, if desired.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summertime and Easy living?

Happy beginning of a new week to you all and a reminder that this is the LAST week of school. Some of you still get a reminder that life is seasonal and summer is a special time set aside for play. For those of you who have busy lives that do not change seasonally, remember back to that amazing feeling of hope the overtook the first days of summer vacation, when no school days interrupted your choices. Make time for play and for just relaxing with a Popsicle and a good book.
Anita relaxing on Memorial day with a good fire

For me, that seems like it could be everyday but somehow isn't. This week we did have some pleasant weather so David and I  had a quick excursion to Quilcene for harvesting clams and oysters- it WAS feel fishing day across the state don't you know. After that it was a day for garden projects that now seem to never end and are never complete. I discovered last week that my list of projects never includes that ones I actually complete. How can that be? That is just the way of a home and garden slave.

Not Siberian but still beautiful
Saturday I stopped by the Peony Farm at the top of Tulin Rd. The peonies are late this year so there were only a few in bloom, along with the Siberian iris. The sad news is that the Peony Farm is closing. After 10 years, the owners have decided to retire from their 3rd retirement activity. They are selling all their plants and I was lucky to stop by because the plants are being dug in the fall but being reserved and paid for now. Of course I had to chose 6 beauties, as well as some Siberian iris. Both are not appealing to deer so are planned for the A-frame garden. I planted the iris this weekend and prepared the space for the peonies. It will self-decompose during the summer making easy work for planting in the fall. That was exciting and made me feel more enthused to get back to the flowers and sprinklers in the big gardens. I think I need an unpaid intern to keep this place in check!

This week is full of project hopefuls- a new silk blouse for summer, a decorative screen for the front door, repaired rabbit cages and recharged sprinkler systems. All this are in accompaniment with the garden weeding, harvesting and eating. Oh the woes of summer with long days and creative urges to fill. Not a bad life and there is no reason that I deserve its bounty but I am thankful to have the fun of it.
Memorial Day at the lake-not tree!

I hope you are all having some fun as well as you create moments and days with some laughter and smiles. You deserve every happy moment.

Love you all,
Mama Llama

Monday, May 16, 2011

NYC Celebrates US

Northeast Spring
It is the beginning of a new week and I find myself back in Kingston, listening to the frogs and the chickens rather than the human and mechanical voices of  the CITY: all great sounds- so I am very lucky to have time for both. The internet weather reports tell me that we are all having the same day- cool temperatures and rainfall everywhere! I suspect that is the way of our world this year so if you have a chance to escape ANYWHERE, do so for your own sake!

 My escape to the East  Coast was great on all levels. I escaped the rain in Seattle, escaped daily life patterns for awhile and returned with new inspiration in all areas. With enough coffee I will be able to carry through with at least some of the new ideas and creations.

Jim and Carol retired!
Just a little review of the the journey so I can relive it myself for a moment and share it with you as well! I rented a car for most of the week, which was an entirely new way to see the Northeast. Driving into Manhattan during rush hour was my initiation and I must brag about how successful I was. It really is not all that difficult to read the road signs when you are traveling at 10 miles an hour! Driving through Connecticut to see Jim and Carol was a real treat. I saw a new perspective on the space I have visited often. The Spring colors were amazing. Everyone praises Fall colors in the Northeast but the Spring, with its' new greens and pastels is every bit as spectacular. Carol and I shared ideas and experiences in our respective lives and walked through the reservoir park, recalling the high school years when we did much the same thing.

Vanderbilt Mansion
I returned to New York in time for the weekend and a great excursion to the Hudson Valley to celebrate Mother's Day and Erin's birthday. Again, the landscape was gorgeous and relaxing. We stayed in a great little Bed and Breakfast in Hyde Park (for you foodies, across the road from the CIA). We visited mansions from the Golden Age of American industry - the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, etc- and small,old, factory towns now struggling to become scenic tourist centers until something better comes along to aid the economy.

Valkil, Eleanor Roosevelt's retreat, was especially inspirational since we had our own personal tour given by an woman who had known Eleanor and had been Eleanor's guest at Valkil. The DIA Beacon is perhaps the most unique Modern art museum I have visited, largely because of it LARGE size and the thematic curating of its shows. Marvelous-really! And of course, with any successful adventure there was great food that we were able to discover on our very own- ignoring the poor advice locals tried to offer. We returned down the west side of the Hudson River which is more agricultural and rural and therefore more beautiful to my viewpoint.

Beacon, NY
Since we returned on Erin's birthday we made an entire day of relaxing with mani-pedis at the local Williamsburg shop, under the subway. It always offers a great look into the local community and certainly did not disappoint,  with a group of Latina ladies and children getting ready for a celebration and a second group of young Hasidic Jewish school girls getting the "beauty treatment". Really much better than the theater or cinema. Dinner at Bianca's was great, as it always is, both food and experience. I think Erin's birthday was a success.
Jenny and Erin

With all that traveling,  my time in Manhattan seemed very short indeed. I took some time to shop for a shoot with Erin which was great fun. We had eyebrow threading in Nolita, saw great shows at the Design Museum, world renown tapestries at the Cloisters and great art at the Met- more that I can review but less that I wanted to see. Of course there was lots of good food and wine and coffee and treats to keep the energy level up! The wonderful thing about New York is that is it always there for a return visit and there is always something you didn't get to see to draw you back.
Spring HOPE

As a mother, I am thankful daily for my three wonderful children who all live in wonderful locations and let me come to visit!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rain, rain go away...come again some other day?

Just a little shout out to you all before I travel across the country and DRIVE into the Big Apple! Yes, you heard right- I will be driving into Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon. It turns out that it is much cheaper to rent a car for a week than for 3 days and since I am also traveling up to Connecticut, it make financial sense to rent the car to do both the trip to Avon and the adventure with Erin to the Hudson Valley. "Now don't be scared!"

Aside from planning for the next big adventure, there has been lots of garden work in the rain here in Kingston. I have planted everything- including tomatoes and squash on the theory that I will need the absolute longest growing season possible with the weather averages around 50 degrees. All of you in California and even in New York, remember the realities of the Northwest. We are in the rain-side of the 10 year weather cycle. I know the scientific community doesn't recognize my 10-year weather cycle but back in 1970 the medical community did not recognize stress and large amounts of sugar as problematic for womens health issues. I am always ahead of the curve on these scientific findings but no one remembers my first impressions-remember this!

I know you have mostly all heard about the amazing Easter meal shared on Tulin Rd. Radishes and nettles were two of the amazing hits. I will pass on the nettles recipe later, but I suspect no one has the available source that we do here in Kingston, so for now I will share the roast radish recipe which is outrageous and comes to us by way of Kyrsa.

It was also a bit of a birthday celebration for David so I made the celebrated Italian Cream Cake- one of MY favorites. Rather than the traditional cream cheese frosting,  I made the 7-minute icing with coconut topping as a lighter options- we all know that sugar is so much healthier because there is no fat!

Kyrsa will be visiting the Pacific Northwest this weekend and I will be sad to miss her but know she will have fun seeing other family and good friends. There will be lots of  laughter going out into the universe so be sure to add to it where ever you are. It is the needed relief from all the rain we in Seattle have been enduring and all the fear mongering the media seems to be pursuing. I think the wet weather has made me realize the paralyzing affect that constantly negative message has on people. I am REALLY walking away from the media news and deciding to live in a small cocoon of my own making. What is wrong with wrapping yourself in silk (unless you hatch into a tent caterpillar!-ugh)?

So that is the word from the home front. I will report on the garden progress when I return in a week. I hope the mildew has not taken over the roses by then ! Have a great week and weekend. I am sending you tons of love and reminding you that you make my life more hopeful every day by your creative living and your positive energy into the universe. You are the examples of  hope and change that I give everyday, to counter the negative message people absorb so easily. Go-Seek-Laugh!

Love you always but especially this Mother's Day.
Mama Llama

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Eggs

Just a moment of Spring sharing but you will have to imagine the view. I  spent the best part of the afternoon in the vegetable garden planting and tilling- tilling and planting, then covering the tilled areas with black ground cover so they would warm the soil for later tomatoes and squash. That was all an unexpected treat because the rain held off until evening.

The other unexpected surprise was the second egg laid by Ping. Ping, you will remember, was attacked by an eagle. Though she was rescued, she was seriously torn up so has been in rehab for the past 6 weeks. It has been almost 6 weeks since she laid an egg so I was becoming worried about her recovery but yesterday she gave us a lovely buff colored egg and today another. Hurray for Ping. She received lots of weed-treats today and will be able to join her friends again in a couple of day.

That is the news from Kingston. I hope you are all happy and well.

Mama Llama

Anita on the move!

Click on the photo above to go to the video of the bikers' homecoming.
Despite grandma's unceasing fear and continual warnings - do NOT crash - a beautiful day for a ride around Davis. Here's prep time:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Showers bring ?

I am back home in Kingston with California stories to tell and pictures to share.

Since enjoying sunshine for 10 days in California, I should be better prepared for the rain and cold weather that greeted me in Kingston but that just isn't how it works. I did get 2 great afternoons this week to catch up with the weeds a little bit and hope for more time soon. The spring is moving slowly so at least I did not miss many blooms. Spring is always so hopeful, with the season ahead to watch plants struggle, get eaten by deer and slugs and languor from the lack of sunshine-but for now we hold high hopes.

Where's Anita?
The real news is the fun Anita and I had in California. We stayed in some great places and ate great food everywhere. We visited art museums, listened to symphony orchestras and walked all over San Fransisco. We road the buses, as well! Anita became a professional public transportation passenger, chatting with fellow riders where ever we rode and learning lots of new information about San Fransisco as a result. We even took the bus in the evenings, to dinner and to the symphony. Real city people!

Mary Ann, John and Anita
But as much as we enjoyed visiting the Bay area again, our highlights we clearly the smaller spaces. Anita is ready to move to wine country as soon as she wins the lottery. It didn't hurt that we had cocktails every night, wine tastings and beer tastings and then wine with dinner!

Along with the great meals and fine wines, we had excursions all over northern California. After visiting Jack London's Ranch (now a state park) I was greatly inspired to write at least 500 words each morning. Jack London wrote 1000! You can see by the lateness of this posting how long that inspiration lasted. The walk through his 140 acre ranch-park was spectacular and a real look at what California has been and is today. We also visited Old Sacramento and the State Capitol building and drove the gold rush trail. It is astounding the breadth and scope of California's natural and historic treasures .

Probably the most adventurous activity as far as Anita was concerned would be her ride around Davis with Colin on the tandem bike. We took a LONG ride but she was rewarded for her courage and balance with a beer tasting at the new beer stube in town.

 There were so many high spots I can not keep you attention and mention them all. Seeing Kyrsa and Dave and Colin and Susan  made everything fun. It was also nice to visit Mary Ann (Anita's sister) and John. It had been several years since I had seen them. There home is in a beautiful area just blocks from Folsom State Park. It is hard to believe the trip is over and California is so many miles away. But such a fun visit just reminds us all that visits do happen continually. There is always one to look forward to in the future. Thank you everyone for great times, great food, great laughter and always lots of love,

Mama Llama