Green of a Different $ort

Hello, world. I hope everyone is finding some peace during these chaotic times. Good grief! Has the year 2020 been one heck of a roller coaster! Personally, I was hoping for a comeback of the flappers, for Gatsby-esque parties sans Prohibition. But nope. We got a pandemic and pandemonium instead. Ah well. At least wine, beer and liquor are considered essential. Cheers!

I haven’t been on this site in quite some time, but I feel compelled to resurrect it now. As you may have guessed from the title if this post, I will not be discussing plants in this article, but in fact the other kind of “lettuce”: money.

A few years ago, I discovered a financial coach who is based out of Nashville, Tennessee. His name is Dave Ramsey. Some of you may be familiar with him, but I will wager that many of you are not. His philosophy about money has gotten millions of people out of debt and living their best lives, using his “Baby Steps” and other tools.

My own personal journey with money is not terribly complicated or dramatic. But I was frustrated with feeling as if I could not get ahead of my finances. I knew about saving money, about 401ks and saving for retirement,  but each and every time I thought I was starting to tread water, I would sink below the surface.

Finding Dave Ramsey and applying his tools to my finances has been a real game changer for me. I have a budget that I have set and am (working on) sticking to (I can be an impulsive buyer). I have an emergency fund that I am currently building up for 3-6 months’ worth of expenses. This in particular has been such a relief to have during these uncertain times. I have been furloughed since April, and I am so grateful to have this cushion to fall back on.

Far too many people are without a safety net of any kind, and I can only imagine how scared they must feel. I feel particularly compassionate toward those single parents who are now both bread-winner and professor. This is what is compelling me to pay it forward. I want to help others to get to that point with money where an emergency situation arises, and instead of panicking and feeling trapped, it’s more of an inconvenience than a nail in the coffin. Just knowing that the four walls of your home are protected is such a profound feeling.

I have only just started my journey to becoming a financial coach, and I will be honest; I am a bit nervous about putting myself out here. But here I am.

I am starting slowly. I would love to hear from you about your own experiences, particularly about money, finances, job and career changes before and during the pandemic. Have you had that moment of “That’s it! No more! I will never be in this situation again!”, or, “Now what”? You are not alone.

I am here for a discussion, and to answer what questions I can. If I don’t have an answer, I will do my best to find it or direct you to a source that can help you.

I hope you all stay healthy and safe during this time.

Lots of love.



Not Resigned to a Life of Quiet Desperation Just Yet!

Hello, world. Long time. I will cut directly to the heart of the matter.

I find myself at one of those potentially life-altering crossroads. On the one side, I could go the traditional route and simply do as I have always done, which is going from one job to the other after the old one has gone stale. I can continue to do that for the rest of my working life and possibly make a decent living for myself, but be so profoundly miserable that life simply loses all of its flavor.

On the other hand, I can take a leap of faith–break out of the square-cut, gray blandness that has been my life up until now.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I have many talents, and I have thought long and hard about how to put them to a profitable use. But I come up with half-baked ideas and the spark fizzles out. One thing I do know: while I still LOVE food, I have absolutely ZERO desire to work in the food industry any longer. I am still open to working with food in other aspects; conservation, sustainable farming, co-ops, etc. I also have a background in business administration. Additionally, I love writing–I have notebooks filled with all sorts of scribbles. I can knit a mad-awesome sweater! I am learning French (I’m only on plural pronouns, but it’s progress), and I read investment books and the Wall Street Journal–for pleasure!

I have a burning desire to go and travel the world. This isn’t a coming-of-a-certain-age crisis; this urge to go abroad has been at times both an unreachable itch and a jabbing thorn in my side and it is becoming more and more tenacious as I get older.

As a 30-something, single, white American woman, I’m not sure what my options are. And I want a real cultural experience, not some two-week pub crawl. I have been looking into living abroad, gap years, etc. If anyone out there has any recommendations, suggestions, or warnings about world work and travel please leave a comment!

Thank you in advance!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like…Cold Season

“Listen, I’m sniffling, and I’m not really awake, and I’m taking echinacea and Vitamin C and sleeping practically 24 hours a day. I have a temperature! And uh, um, I think I’m contagious. So I would, I would really appreciate it if you would just go away.”—Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail


How is the cold weather treating all of you out there? We just had our first snowfall here in Virginia. I’m from New England, so my reaction to snow is a little less, “The sky is falling!” and a little more “Bring it on, snow gods! Give me a Nor Easter to plow my car through!” I’m a fair driver in the snow, but when push comes to shove, I’d rather be at home, wearing cozy sweats and curled up with a good book. Ice is another thing entirely. No one likes ice. Black ice, wintery mixes, sleet, melted snow that refroze into sheets of opaque slides of death—not a fan of that.

Another accompaniment to cold weather is germs. Everyone stays indoors longer during the colder seasons, and germs tend to like to gather and procreate and spread their delightful selves all around in such an environment. I just got over a cold myself, and I was interested to find that the homeopathic remedies I tried worked significantly better than the over-the-counter drugs I bought.


I’ve almost completely stopped taking any kind of pain reliever or symptom alleviator. I’ve always been super-sensitive to most of them—give me one Benadryl and I’m out like a light! I took one Vicodin after having a tooth pulled several years ago, and I thought I was going to turn inside out. I also read recently that ibuprofen can have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. I don’t know about you, but I love my heart, and I intend to take good care of it and the rest of my body for a very long time. It’s all natural for me from this day forward. I prefer to grow my pharmaceuticals. There are some things that humankind simply cannot duplicate in a lab. Science has a long way to go in that regard.

I will say this first and foremost: sleep—getting an ample amount of rem sleep—is paramount to a healthy immune system, and good health overall. Think about it. I know I usually get sick after a combination of high stress over a length of time and not getting enough sleep. Going to bed at a decent time and getting at least 8 hours helps improve one’s health overall, from strengthening memory to giving you a longer lifespan.

Whenever I get a cold, it always starts in my nose and throat and travels to my upper respiratory system through post nasal drip—ugh, disgusting. Phlegm is obnoxious. I like being able to breathe, as do most of us, so being clogged up is just a complete and utter nuisance. And I loathe having to take that putrid, nasty, gag-worthy cough syrup that makes me dizzy and groggy and only lasts for four hours. What use is that? I already feel miserable, so why make myself feel worse?

This time, I tried something different. Every night before I went to bed, I drank one to two mugs of tea with lemon and honey and brandy—my version of a hot toddy. I used a decaf chai since it contains all the powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like cinnamon and cloves and cardamom—anything to bring down the swelling in my sinuses. Honey is a natural antibiotic, and lemon is a natural antiseptic. All of that combined with hot water and a little alcohol alleviated most of the symptoms, including bringing my slightly elevated temperature back down to normal. And best of all—I slept like a baby.

I also found a recipe for cough syrup in an edition of Mother Earth News. It combines honey, hot water, and fresh thyme. It works, it doesn’t make me groggy, and it tastes a hell of a lot better than the store-bought junk.

I’m also trying their recipe for skin cleanser. This is my first day trying it, so stay tuned if you want to know if it really does work. I can already see a difference, but I live with my face every day, so what I see not everyone else will. It was a little astringent, and I’m thinking of adding aloe vera to it as a moisturizer. Other than that, I am happy with the result so far.

I do like being able to pronounce the ingredients that go into making these products: thyme, water, honey, soap. Yes, the skin cleanser contains honey, which sounds weird. But think on this: archeologists discovered pots of honey in some of the tombs in the pyramids—it was still edible, even after 3,000 years! 3,000 years! I don’t know who was chosen to test its edibility, but apparently, it was still good. Honey is an amazing natural preservative, and it was used for many things in ancient Egypt including embalming. And if it was good enough to be offered as a gift to the Egyptian gods, then it’s good enough to go on my face.

Another great alleviator of chest congestion for me is coffee. Did you know that if someone is having an asthma attack, and their inhaler is missing, having them chew on coffee grounds can help open their airways? The caffeine in black coffee helps stimulate the bronchial tubes to expand. This should be used in emergency situations only. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. I know for me it certainly helped keep my airways clear and working productively while I was sick. And again, coffee tastes much better than cough syrup. Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day can also lower one’s risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease.

I know so many people who will go straight to the doctor’s office for a prescription the moment they know they’re ill. I know people who take so many pills and supplements it makes my own head spin! I couldn’t justify it for myself. Given the research I have done independently on herbs, fruits, vegetables, proteins and holistic healing, I feel very strongly in choosing a more natural approach to sustain my life. I will keep my money in my pocket, listen to my body and what it needs, and use my knowledge of herbs and other foods to counteract the illnesses that seek to wreak havoc on my head and chest.


Sites I used:




Sinterklaas and Pfeffernusse

“Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, Lean your ear this way

Don’t you tell a single soul what I’m going to say

Christmas Eve will soon be here, Now you dear old man,

Whisper what you’ll bring to me, Tell me if you can”—Emily Huntington Miller

2017-12-05 18.04.47

My favorite holiday, besides my birthday and Halloween, is Christmas! No matter what your belief system is, I think we can all agree that it is a marvelous, brightly lit, and the warmest and fuzziest time of the year. No Scrooges or Grinches allowed unless you are prepared to change your tune. Step away from the Christmas lists and the tree hunting and the commercial madness for half a minute. Have a drink (it doesn’t have to be alcohol), eat some pfeffernüsse, and sit back and enjoy the twinkle lights!

Today is December 6th. It’s Saint Nicholas Day! Who is Saint Nicholas? Well, you might know him better as the round, bearded, twinkly-eyed man in a red suit who drives a flying sled pulled by reindeer–known nowadays as Santa Claus!

In many Germanic countries, children will leave their shoes out on the eve before December 6th, and awake the next morning to find them filled with candies, cookies, pieces of fruit like tangerines and oranges, and small toys! This is not to be confused with the tradition of filling stockings. That is La Befana, the Good Witch of Italy, and she comes by on the Epiphany, January 6th. But more on that at a later time.

The tradition of Santa Claus was brought to the New World by settlers from the Netherlands. Sinterklaas, as he is still known by to this day, gets his origins from Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, gift-giving, and sailors. St. Nicholas was a real person back during the “Great Persecution”–Rome’s crack-down on Christians during a time when pagans and newly formed Christians were having at each other. Nicholas was imprisoned for many years for refusing to renounce his beliefs, but was released and then later made the Bishop of Myra in modern-day Turkey. The saint is widely known for his generosity, particularly towards the poor and downtrodden.

We owe quite a number of our American Christmas traditions to these Germanic ones: Christmas trees, gingerbread, Advent calendars. Ever try the pickle game? In Germany on Christmas Eve, the adults decorate the tree and hide an ornament in the shape of a pickle in the tree somewhere. Then the kids come in and search for the ornament. The first one to find it wins a prize! My family went as far as to buy a pickle ornament, but alas we always ended up forgetting about it. I never liked pickles anyway. Too salty!

One Christmas food tradition that was introduced by German and Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania is pfeffernüsse. Say it with me: feffernoose. Think of it as a sibling of gingerbread. This spicy, nut-shape cookie is baked prior to December 6th to be enjoyed the day of and throughout the Christmas season.

Also known as pepernoten, little is known about the origins of the pfeffernüsse cookies. It was particularly popular amongst the Mennonite communities of Pennsylvania Dutch country where many refugees of the Reformation established themselves. Because the English Puritanical settlers didn’t celebrate Christmas (they considered it too pagan, given that it fell close to the Winter Solstice celebrations of old, and there were too much drinking and frivolity happening for their somber attitudes), the German and Dutch communities kept to their own customs of the season. Pfeffernüsse cookies are still baked during the Christmas season in these communities as one of the treats served throughout the holiday, but particularly of December 6th.

I had never made pfeffernüsse before, and I got the idea from something I was reading at work. Someone had sent an email requesting pfeffernüsse cookies, and I had no idea what it was. So of course, I had to try it out!

There are several variations of this cookie. They are very similar to Russian Tea Cookies and gingerbread. The recipe I found that seemed more traditional in flavor called for margarine and shortening–neither of which I used. I simply doubled the amount of butter instead. I would have used lard as well (my new best baking friend!), but I will be sharing these with my co-workers, and I have friends who do not partake of porcine products.

Not only are these cookies tasty, but they’re full of antioxidants! Cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg are jam-packed with them, and cloves and ginger have their own vitamin arsenal. If you want to boost your immune system this season, eat these cookies! How can you pass that up? They go lovely together with hot cocoa!


Sites I used:

Adventures in Making Mincemeat


“As many mince pies as you have at Christmas, so many happy months will you have.”–Old English Saying

Were you ever threatened by your parents as a child to be turned into mincemeat? I was. Not very often, but the threat has stuck with me. That was a threat reserved for when either my sisters or I were being particularly obnoxious. It was either get ground into mincemeat or be sold to the gypsies. Given the option, I would rather be sold to the gypsies.

Mincemeat pie is, in fact, as old as the Crusades, and it dates to when soldiers were returning from the Middle East to Europe with new foods and cooking methods. It became a way of preserving meat without smoke or salt. Salt was a commodity that only the wealthy could afford, and smoking meat used fuel—firewood—that could otherwise be used to heat your home.

The three spices added to the pie—cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg—were considered symbolic of the three gifts of the Magi—the three kings—think of the song We Three Kings (not the one about the cigars exploding). The pie was oblong shaped originally instead of round, to symbolize a manger. It was considered lucky to eat mincemeat pie for all 12 days of Christmas.

Then came Oliver Cromwell a few hundred years later. Man, what a party-pooper that guy was! No singing, no dancing, no laughing, no drinking, and he outlawed Christmas! What a jerk! If anyone needed to lighten up, it was that guy. I think he was the original Grinch.

Because of outlawing Christmas, mincemeat pies were outlawed as well. Even in what was then the American Colonies, where the Puritans had settled, Christmas was not celebrated; mincemeat pies were prohibited from being eaten as part of the Christmas tradition. In Boston during the late 1600s, you could be fined if you were caught celebrating Christmas. And you think your neighbor complaining about your twinkle lights is bad!

I never considered eating mincemeat pie growing up. It was never part of our Christmas tradition, nor was it ever offered to me by anyone else. It was the foodstuff of old nursery rhymes and Shakespearean tales. To be perfectly honest, it sounded gross. Who wants to eat a pie with meat in it when it’s sweet? Ick!

Well, I finally plucked up the courage to try it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I am extremely glad that I never stooped to buying the canned mince mixture they sell at supermarkets. Promise me that if you do decide to have mincemeat pie on your Christmas dessert table, go the distance and make it yourself.

I had gotten a recipe book from a gift store at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts many years back, but I was intimidated by the types of ingredients (beef heart, anyone?) and lack of measurable temperatures for the oven. For example, the mincemeat pie recipe says to bake the pie in a brisk hot oven. What does that mean?? That is when my baking and culinary skills came in to play. To be a decent baker or cook, you need to be able to improvise and roll with what you’re given. Also, Internet searches help. I used ground beef instead of heart or tongue (doesn’t that sound delicious!), and honey crisp apples instead of pippins. I took a recommendation for the baking temperature from another recipe.

The recipe I took from the book I used calls for suet, which is beef or lamb fat. Most grocery stores don’t carry suet, and the only suet I could find was for feeding birds. So, I got lard instead. And I will tell you now, no regrets on that decision! I believe it may have been a life-changing choice. It worked almost like butter, but with a slightly lower melting point, and made the pie crust the flakiest, butteriest (yes, I am inventing a word there), most melt-in-your-mouth pie crust I have ever made. I can’t come back from that. I am changed. I now know what I have been missing all my baking life!

Another substitute I made in this recipe was Madeira wine. The recipe itself claimed white wine was used. Madeira is technically neither white nor red, but it can be made with either red or white grapes. But upon doing some research into other more modern twists on old mincemeat recipes, I noticed that rum, brandy, and white wine were used, depending on what was available. Cider is an acceptable alternative to alcohol, but who wants to bother with that?

So here is what I did in very basic steps:

  1. Make the pie dough. Put in the freezer to chill.
  2. Make the mincemeat filling; combine the ground meat, salt, and fat (lard) first and mix it well together. Cut up the apples, add those. Add the currants and raisins, add the booze, add the orange zest and juice from one orange. Add the one cup of powdered sugar (next time, I won’t use even that much—maybe ½ a cup). Add the candied citron. Give everything a good stir.
  3. Roll out the cold pie dough. Work quickly so it doesn’t stick to either the rolling pin or the counter. The butter warms up quickly out of the freezer and then being whacked and rolled and pushed by a rolling pin.
  4. Place the first piece of pie pastry in the bottom of a well-greased pie tin. Fill this with the filling.
  5. Roll out the second piece of pie dough to fit over the top of the pie. Seal the pie together by pinching the top and bottom together with your fingers or a fork. Cut a slit in the top of the pie to allow it to vent while baking. You can also decide on either a lattice design if you’re feeling ambitious, or go crazy and don’t even bother with the top part. If you really want to be fancy, take a cookie cutter and cut out a hole in the top in the shape of a heart, a star, a leaf, anything at all!
  6. Place in the oven on the bottom rack at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.
  7. Take the pie out of the oven. Egg wash the top of the pie, and then replace it on a middle rack for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

You can also cook the filling separate from the pie, store it in jars, and then bring it back out for making pies when you’re ready. I still have plenty of filling left over from this batch.

I recommend waiting for the pie to cool for about 10-15 minutes before eating it. All the flavors need a minute to blend after they’ve bubbled together in the oven. The first thing to hit my palate was sweet. I ate a piece a little too soon after baking, and none of the flavors had settled down. But once they did and I could taste all of them together, wow! If you are a fan of anything with a lot of spices in it, namely cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. and fruit of the fresh and dried kind, this is a really good pie. And those of you who stick your noses in the air at the mere mention of raisins have no idea what you’re missing!


Sites I used:






I am in New York visiting my mom for a few days. Today, I was helping her with some yard work while she mowed the lawn, and I came across a plant I recognized: marshmallow!

No, the plant does not even remotely resemble the sugary confection that no campfire should be without. Marshmallow is a plant that has been used for ages medicinally in either poultices for cuts and burns, or as a throat soother when someone has a couch or a core throat due to cold or seasonal allergies. Marshmallow leaves look like fans. I have never seen the flowers, but they are either purple or white. You can use the whole plant. You can eat the leaves like salad greens or dry them (which is what I opted for), and you can either extract the sap from the tuberous root or dry it in order to preserve it longer (also what I opted to do).

The sweet marshmallows of modern times were originally invented as throat lozenges for sore throats. The sap from the root can be blended into a thick paste-like substance and honey and other flavors added to it to make a hard candy to suck on. People still make them–although, I don’t know how I feel about adding slippery elm bark to anything. Just the name sounds unappealing.

I chose to dry both the leaves and the roots, for preservation sake. I will be returning to Virginia in a few days, and I want to take it all with me without risk of it spoiling. I will probably leave some for my mom to use as well.

Common mallow looks very similar to marshmallow and can be used in the same fashion. It’s a bit smaller, but it can be found anywhere along rivers, near ponds and lakes–anywhere the ground is constantly damp. Look for a leaf that looks similar to an open fan. The roots are long, slender and pale. They smell to me almost like celery.

I hung the leaves to dry in a place with plenty of circulation, and the roots, which I cut into pieces about one inch long, were dried in the oven for about an hour on very low heat.


The thicker pieces are still a little spongy to the touch, but I will just let them dry completely in the open air on the counter. Once the leaves are completely dried, I will crumble them and use them in tea. I will have to look up a good recipe for marshmallow root salve. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to share!

I am so proud of myself for recognizing such a useful plant! I can’t wait to do more foraging! Goldenrod is past its peak here, but I hope there is still some blooming when I return to Virginia. That is another very useful plant to have for cold and flu season.

Until next time!

Remembered Always

This is my memory–as far as I can remember it–of September 11, 2001. Every year at this time, I feel strongly pressed to remember what happened that day. For me, it’s a form of catharsis. The events of that day sixteen years ago I am not likely to ever forget.

A normal Tuesday morning in a sleepy commuter town in Connecticut, I rose groggily from the comfort of my bed to get dressed for school. I was looking forward (not really) to another long day of monotony and boredom, with not much else in the way of excitement, or even enthusiasm. The only cloud with a silver lining on the horizon was my first period English class with the teacher I harbored a crush for.  Other than that, a big fat yawn.

My class had a way of getting loud and obnoxious by the end of the period. The teacher always had a difficult time getting us to quiet down as he tried to explain the assignment he had for us to complete. He was young (and cute), and very wet-behind-the-ears. He was trying to shout over the raucous voices in the back of the classroom, while I stared dutifully towards the white board at the front of the room (while surreptitiously peeking at the teacher) when the intercom crackled. There was a collective “Shhh!” and a few, “Shut ups” as the principal’s voice traveled through the now-dead-silent room. “There has been an accident at the World Trade Center in New York City”.

Every breath in the room stopped.

And then the bell rang.

There was an explosion of movement. I made a mad dash across the instantly packed hallway, as everyone else seemed to be doing the same thing in every other direction. There were television monitors in every room, including the cafeteria, and everyone moved ten times faster than their usual lethargic, I-am-in-school-and-I-wish-I-was-anywhere-else pace to get somewhere where they could view what was happening in New York.  My next class–ironic as it was–was Middle East History, which was right around the corner from where I had been.

I walked in, mildly breathless, and the teacher had the TV already turned to CNN. The image that met my eyes was one for the movies. Billows of smoke were coming from one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. I barely remember sitting down. I hardly noticed the other students filling in around me. And we all just sat or stood and stared at the screen as history and horror unfolded right in front of us.

As the news rolled, we learned about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania as well. By then we knew this was definitely no accident. There was no definition for this in our adolescent minds at the time. We all gasped as we watched the second plane hit the South Tower. We saw people leap for their lives, choosing to take their final moments into their own hands, rather than be choked and burned alive. We watched in horrified silence, dotted here and there with moans and muffled screams, as first one tower, and then the other fell. Many were crying. Others were inconsolable. There are no words to describe the utter shock and trepidation we all felt that day.

There was a lot of shaking heads and utterances of “Oh, my God”, “What the *bleep* is going on”, “My (fill in the blank) works there. I hope they’re alright”. There was a flurry of cell phones as those who had them dialed home, demanding answers about relatives’ or friends’ whereabouts, or begging for a parent to come pick them up from school. Phones were shared, and all the pay phones were in constant use–yes, pay phones were a thing if you didn’t own a cell phone–like me.

All I kept thinking was, My Aunt works there. Where is she? I don’t remember if I borrowed someone’s phone or used the pay phone, but I did call home and ask what was happening. I was told to stay put and come home at the regular time. My parents encouraged me to stay with my friends and stay together. So I did. One teacher tried to get us to do actual work, but that didn’t last long. No one could escape what was happening.

Meanwhile, my mom had gone to pick up my sisters at their school. The pick-up line was a mess. One little girl was in hysterics asking where her dad was–he was a pilot. He was not, as it turns out, one of the pilots killed that day. But in that moment, no one knew anything beyond the fact that something major, completely unprecedented, and absolutely terrifying was happening in our country, no more than a two-hour train ride from us, in one of the most powerful cities in the world.

A family we knew had been flying back from Germany, from a world-class German Shepherd dog show, and when the order came to land all the planes, they were faced with a huge problem of how to get their dogs the care they needed while stranded in a field in the middle of nowhere. Cell phones were not what they are now. The reception was spotty at best and there were very few available social media outlets to speak of. They were barely able to call home and inform their loved ones that they were safe–stranded, but alive.

I was in complete and utter shock the entire day. It felt surreal. My fourteen-year-old brain couldn’t, or wouldn’t fully comprehend what was happening. My thoughts kept coming back to my aunt and her unknown whereabouts.

My aunt had been a school teacher when I was younger. She got into the world of finance later on. I remember when I was young she would talk about her students quite a lot. She absolutely loved teaching. We have a shared love of books–a common theme in our family–and she has a wonderful, bubbly personality. Not knowing where she was for an entire day, not knowing if she was alive or dead, was one of the worst feelings I have ever had in my entire life.

It wasn’t until I finally got home that day that I learned about what had happened to my aunt. My dad had been at work, and a co-worker of his alerted him to something happening in New York. My dad immediately phoned his sister’s office at the World Trade Center. She answered. She told him that the building was being evacuated (the South Tower) and that she would call him if she could, later. And that was the last time they spoke that day–until almost midnight that night.

I spoke to my aunt either that night or the day after. She hadn’t seen what we had seen all day until she got home that night. There are no words for the relief I felt–the relief we all felt–when we knew that she was alright. I won’t even begin to imagine the relief that my grandmother felt when my aunt walked through that door, alive and safe. I won’t begin to know the intense shock my aunt felt when she realized her office–the whole building–was just–


The days following 9/11/2001 were some of the most difficult we have ever faced. My parents made me go back to school and back to a regular schedule. Everyone in the community made a concerted effort to make sure that everything remained virtually the same. Bullies only react to strength, and strength is exactly what we gave them in the days that followed. Charities were donated to. Volunteers went down to Ground Zero to help with search and rescue. Firefighters collected money in their boots at intersections to help fund the first responders in New York City. Candle-lit vigils were held for the fallen victims in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Prayers were sung. Hands were held. Shoulders were offered. We all stuck together.

It has been sixteen years to the day, and the shock and veritable grief I still feel to this day for all those who died, who lost loved ones–it lingers on, as does the fierce pride for those heroes who rose up to the ultimate challenge and did their ultimate best to save innocent lives. The names of the fallen are emblazoned on the wall of Ground Zero Memorial, remembered always. ♥♥♥

(I own neither of these pictures.)




Making Grandma Proud and Making Things Fizz

Hello! It’s me again! Fall is on the horizon. I hope everyone has their apple cider or pumpkin spice latte at the ready. I prefer cider myself. Pumpkin spice was a novelty when it first became a fad. Now it’s too hyped up. Try chai tea and hot cider. The chai tastes like mulled spices (essentially, that’s what it actually is), and it’s delicious! A splash of whiskey wouldn’t hurt, either.

I decided to make homemade gnocchi last night! No, sorry, I don’t have any pictures. But click the Pinterest link below to find the method I used. I’m a visual person, so videos and such are super helpful for me. I was a little concerned about making this pasta–last time I tried making gnocchi a few years ago, the pasta turned out more like potato mush, and I ended up turning the clumps into pancakes instead. It turned out to be an ok compromise, but it made me shy to try again. But I did! And what a success!

I sauteed my gnocchi in butter with garlic, sage, fresh thyme, and threw in a diced tomato for color. Very tasty! My Italian grandmother would be extremely proud! Both of my grandmothers would be proud, truth be known, but since this pasta is Italian in origin, I thought it a tribute to mia famiglia.

If one were so inclined, gnocchi could probably be used as the dumpling part in chicken and dumplings, depending on the recipe. They’re about the same size. It is that time of year when all of the heartier foods like stews come out. Guiness stew will most certainly be gracing my stove sometime in the not-too-distant future. I will definitely be sharing that recipe.

In other news, I have decided to give home brewing a try! I got a mead brewing kit from a vendor on Etsy. So far, so good! But now I’ve got the bug! I want to try cider next! Yes, you heard me. Hard cider is wonderful this time of year. It will be a couple more weeks until the mead is finished, and I cannot wait to try it!


Etsy kit I used.

Also, Christmas is coming. Giving people homemade gifts is always great, especially if it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

My herbs are beginning to turn themselves in for hibernation. It may also be because the weather has been so damp lately, but the mint especially is becoming limp and brown. So sad. I did take clippings of most of my plants to propagate in water so I can grow them indoors during the winter. There are some plants that will regrow roots after being cut if they are placed in water for 2-3 weeks: thyme, mint, lavender, rosemary, and sage are a few. So, fingers crossed. It’s only day two, but I really hope this works. If not, I will simply have to start over from seeds next year.

That is all that I have for you at the moment! Stay tuned for further adventures! Until next time!





















Backyard Pharmacy

Hello All! Long time! I wish I had a good excuse, but I don’t. I will say that writer’s block combined with procrastination is never a good mix. But all that aside, who is excited about viewing the solar eclipse in the northern hemisphere today? I certainly am! I have my pinhole camera all set and ready to go! The last time I remember there was a solar eclipse, I was in kindergarten, and I didn’t get to see it. Bummer. But as long as the clouds stay out of the way, we will be good to go! Remember, DO NOT look directly at the sun, unless you want to go partially or even permanently blind.

I have been recovering from a summer cold–ick. I don’t get sick very often, or for very long, but being any kind of sick makes me feel miserable. Colds always like to settle in my chest and sinuses, and so decongestant and expectorants are my go-to. I go with the cheaper version of Robitussin, and that sees to the expulsion of mucus (ick) from my lungs.

During this last bout, however, I supplemented my medicine with some yarrow tea brewed from my fresh fern growing on my deck. I added dried lemon balm and spearmint to the tea as well. It was amazing how well it worked to alleviate the symptoms of my cold! Not only did it soothe my sore throat, but it also helped me breathe a little easier.

There are plenty of herbs that assist in boosting your immune system response when you’re sick. Dandelions–yes, those pesky, fuzzy yellow flowers sprouting up all over your yard–are used to treat everything from gas and indigestion to the common cold, to warding off cancer. The whole plant, from root to stem to flower, can be used either topically or ingested. Plantains–not the cousin of bananas, but the green weeds that are also growing in your yard–can be used to stop bleeding from minor cuts, can be used in salves and poultices, or brewed in tea and eaten in salads. Plantain has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

One herb that I have not managed to try yet is marshmallow–not to be confused with the puffy, sugary, s’mores-building confection sporting summer campfires. Marshmallow plants can be found in damp areas such as near marshes (hence the name) and along river banks. Common mallow is within the same family. The confectioner’s version of the marshmallow got its start medicinally. The sap from the root of the plant can be whipped until it’s stiff, and sugar and other ingredients added to it, making it a lozenge of sorts for sore throats. The leaves and stems of the plant can be eaten as well.

Nature’s abundance is truly unlimited. Plants that we take absolutely for granted are the ones we ought to pay more attention to. I know I am gaining a much higher respect for what are known as common weeds, and learning to put them to their proper uses.

That’s all that I have for you today. I hope you all enjoy your day! Until next time!


Deep Soil

Brown. Black. Rich. Earth. This is where life begins. Life emerges from beneath the surface to sustain the world. Wet. Crumbly. Loamy. Volcanic. These geological phenomena occurred over hundreds of thousands of years. They burned, they cooled. They flooded, they dried. They thrived, they starved. All of these events created the soil of which we so often take advantage.

We don’t need to travel to a museum to see history. History is right under our feet. The earth we stand on tells more stories than a tour guide.

In wine, the French call it terroir, the essence that the environment gives to a wine. Wine grapes absorb the nature of the soil their roots live in, and that in turn lends itself to the finished product. That aroma of fresh rain, or minerals, or the hint of fresh herbs–that is the soil talking, of the work it did to create the perfected silvery-white to purple-red liquid in your glass.

Soil is the ingredient that gets the least recognition in any recipe. The dirt that we plant our edible plants in is the reason why we have plants in the first place. We live off of it. Animals live off of it. Soil is the most necessary tool in the earth’s design. Without it, roots would have no place to anchor themselves. Without plants, animals (and us) have no food source.

Granted, this is all a little deep, but it’s nevertheless true. And also, I am about half a bottle in to some very nice sauvignon blanc. So I will leave it there. Until next time.