Two years (yet almost 14).

Our rings (on an F. Scott Fitzgerald book)

Exactly two years ago today, I up and got married to my one & only. Suited in black (both of us) & wearing wingtips (again, both of us), with my grandmother’s ring on my finger, photos of our departed loved ones closest to my heart and with my great-grandfather Tom Rooney’s tie clip on his tie, we stood in front of our family and closest friends and made it official.

Then we went and partied with about 100 more of our closest friends ’til the wee hours of April 4th.

Life is funny. Twenty years ago, hell, even fifteen years ago, I didn’t even want to ever get married. Marriage seemed like a thing that might happen in the distant future if I was old & bored enough. I never thought it was a real possibility; I was far too edgy. However when you’re with someone you genuinely love, genuinely want to spend time with… the reality of it hits you. And what is marriage? Becoming family with someone. Officially, legally being connected with someone. The magic doesn’t fade when you’re with the one you’re meant to be with. After being in each other’s lives for almost 17 years, through 2 years of marriage and almost 14 years of being together as a couple, I love him more today than I ever thought possible. Thank you Jay, for being my guy.

If you’d like to read through the post I wrote about our wedding way back when, here it is.

Our 2-year wedding anniversary!

(oh- and P.S.; most people do photos like the top shot using the Bible. Not our style. That’s actually an F. Scott Fitzgerald book, conveniently open to the story “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz.”)

“I don’t believe in marriage. I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it’s a happy delusion – these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other. But, but, when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous and very romantic.”  – Frida, 2002

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Hot Vampire’s blood cocktail… aka hot cocoa.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Ahhh, welcome to October! It’s finally time! I’ve been waiting for this for over a month. It’s time. IT’S TIME. It’s time for Halloween!

It’s my favorite time of year. And this year, I’ve been watching a lot of creepy stuff on TV and Netflix. I love creepy stuff. I AM creepy, really, so I watch creepy stuff all year ’round. And I’ve also been watching my old favorites: Beetlejuice, Interview with the Vampire, Frankenstein, etc. I’m such a horror movie fan anyway… but this time of year it’s even better.

I got inspiration for this because I saw these delightful creepy little candy fingers made by Wilton and I thought, “Oh my god I know exactly what to do with those!”

Get your minds out of the gutter, y’all. I put them in a vampire’s blood cocktail.

I mean, when your hot cocoa starts giving you the finger, you know it’s Halloween.

Hot Vampire blood cocktail... aka HOT CHOCOLATE. PERFECT FOR HALLOWEEN!

Hot Vampire blood cocktail... aka HOT CHOCOLATE. PERFECT FOR HALLOWEEN!

This is just white hot cocoa dyed red. Topped with whipped cream and some candy fingers. It’s so incredibly easy- but it will also dye your fingers and clothes and face so make sure you save it for a Halloween party. It’s only appropriate to have red teeth, lips and fingers when you’re dressed up as a vampire or some strange sexy witch/vampire combo.

Hot Vampire blood cocktail... aka HOT CHOCOLATE. PERFECT FOR HALLOWEEN!

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Homemade canned tomato sauce.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we’ve been getting some insanely large tomatoes this year from our garden. Insane. I already used a bunch to make that hot tomato and peach jam, I gave some massive 1 1/2 lb. ones away and then I found myself with another 8 lbs. of them. And in this heat we’ve been having, you can’t just be lax and let them sit around for a while, you have to use them or they’ll get mushy and it’ll be a waste.

Last year I showed you all how to make my favorite simple tomato sauce. Well, this one isn’t quite as simple, and takes a lot longer to make. But the benefits are that it’ll keep all winter long and you can store it in your cabinets until you’re ready to use it.

Canned tomato sauce.

I have always wanted to do this, and either didn’t have enough tomatoes at once to make it worthwhile or used up all my tomatoes making salsa (I love salsa, guys. I really do). So this year when Jay mentioned that it was the one thing he really wanted to do, I agreed.

I found this recipe over at An Oregon Cottage. It’s from the old Ball Blue Book’s seasoned tomato sauce, and while it’s not included in current prints, it’s still safe and fine to be used.

What I did- since I didn’t have 23 lbs. of tomatoes- is I altered the measurements for my tomatoes. You can do the same. Just be sure to use the measurements exactly as given and divide them by what your amounts are, and not just use whatever measurements you want if you’re going to actually process them for shelf-stability.

Canned homemade tomato sauce.

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Rosewater cardamom nectarine preserves. Or jam.

And, for part FIVE of the stone fruit saga of 2016, I present to you…

Rosewater cardamom nectarine jam.

I received 26 lbs. of a mix of nectarines and peaches back in the beginning of August thanks to my Canbassador-ship with Northwest Cherries and the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission. As I said before, this is my fourth year doing it and every year I enjoy it more and more!

For the peaches, I made a hot tomato peach jam and a peach cobbler. The nectarines… well for them I knew I wanted to do something a little different. Something more unique, or internationally-inspired. So I remembered I had seen something in Saveur about murabba, which is a type of preserve from South Asia:

Murabba[1] (from Arabic: مربة‎‎, mirabba “jam”, “fruit preserves”; Armenian: մուրաբա, muraba, Azerbaijani: mürəbbə

Georgian: მურაბა, muraba, Hindi: मुरब्बा, murabbā, 

Persian: مربا‎‎, morrabâ, Tajik: мураббо, murabbo, 

Urdu: مربا‎, Uzbek: murabbo’) refers to sweet fruit preserve which is popular in many regions of Caucasus, Central and South Asia. It is traditionally prepared with fruits, sugar, and spices.

Rosewater cardamom nectarine jam.

I wanted to do something like that, but not exact. So I made a nectarine preserve (or jam) with rosewater and cardamom. I opened my cardamom pods and used the seeds inside. You could also just tie some pods in a cheesecloth and cook it in the pot with the jam, then remove it.

My rosewater is by Nielsen-Massey. You can buy it from a lot of places, and most ethnic supermarkets or stores will have it. I can’t say you’ll use it often, but its one of those things I like having in my arsenal. Even if only for moments like this.

Rosewater cardamom nectarine jam.


Makes 2 -3 half pint (8 oz.) jars 


  • 3 cups chopped nectarines (NOT peeled!)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • the inner seeds of 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons rosewater


  1. Prepare your jars. Keep them warm. Get your lids and bands at the ready.
  2. Cook nectarines, sugar, lemon juice and cardamom seeds at a very mild boil for 30-minutes. I zapped mine with an immersion blender for a few seconds just to break up the larger pieces. I did leave some smallish chunks.
  3. Add in the rosewater (you may not want more than 1-2 teaspoons, unless you really love it). Stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Skim foam off surface, ladle into sterilized jars. Place lids and bands to fingertip tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10-mins.
  5. Remove from water and let sit for 12-24 hours. Any unsealed jars must be refrigerated and used immediately.

Rosewater cardamom nectarine jam.


Suggestions for use: EAT IT!
Soundtrack: The Olympics, duh.
Sources & Credits: Purple and gold tea towel; Williams-Sonoma, all Ball® quilted crystal jam jars;, vintage milk glass
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Quick peach cobbler.

How’s your summer going, everyone!? I hope you’re all eating and drinking and growing (veggies- not your waistline) and swimming and beaching your way through the season. I haven’t had much time to bake, plus it’s been hot. But after having some peaches left after my first foray into the 2016 peach/nectarine portion of my Canbassadorship, I really needed to bake up somethin’ a lil bit traditional. But yet not traditional. ‘Cause you know how I am.

Quick peach cobbler.

What ELSE do you do when you get 26 lbs. of fresh Northwest grown peaches and nectarines from Yakima, Washington?

Well, first you make peach jam and stuff. Then you make peach cobbler. ‘Cause duh.

Peaches (in Pyrex).

Are these not the hugest, most gorgeous peaches EVER? OMGYASSSSS.

Okay, anyway.

Peach cobbler. It’s like a summer staple.

Quick peach cobbler- from scratch!

I’m all about shortcuts, or making things easier for myself. If I can make a delicious three layer cake from scratch and have it not take two hours, then that’s the path I’ll take. It’s not that I don’t enjoy baking. I love it. But I have a life to live, and I’d rather get to the eating part, if you catch my drift.

 This one takes no time at all. The worst part is peeling the peaches. And peel them you must. I mean, MUST. You don’t want fuzz in your cobbler. I know it looks and feels so cute on the actual peach… but it doesn’t feel so good in your mouth while eating a nice hot cobbler with cold whipped cream.

I promise you, it’s easy. And its very, very, very delicious.

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Hot tomato & peach jammin’!

Tomatoes and peaches (and a recipe for hot tomato peach jam)

I’ve been harvesting a lot of tomatoes from the garden lately. I know, I haven’t done my annual garden post. I haven’t had the time (yet). But just know that everything is growing like crazy. I’ve picked about 12 tomatoes and so far other than the small Yellow Taxi tomatoes, each one has been around one pound- some have been almost 2 pounds. EACH. Big Beef, Brandywine and Better Boy have been doing just fine & providing us with a lot of ‘maters. And the peppers, too. I’ve got loads of Ancho Poblano’s if anyone wants. Just kidding. They’re mine.

So I decided, when I got my second shipment of the 2016 Canbassador program, to make something different.

Hot tomato peach jam.

This is the fourth year I’ve been a Canbassador, and it makes me love every summer even more because I eagerly wait for these beautiful shipments of stone fruits direct from Washington State. Let me tell you- the fruit from Rainier Fruit and Washington State just gets more beautiful every season. Over the years, with this gorgeous fruit, I’ve made vanilla brandied peach jamnectarine basil preservespeach & pepper salsavanilla bean sliced peaches in syrup, a beautiful (and easy!) peach, bourbon & black walnut crostatamint julep peaches, which were such a hit around here I’ve already had pre-requests for them if I get a batch of fresh peaches. I also made grilled peaches with ricotta cream & honey, which were also amazing and a great use for those peaches not suitable for canning (too many soft spots, overripe, not ripe enough, etc). Last year there was a triple stone fruit crispspiced nectarine jamnectarine & blackberry jam with purple ruffles basilcanned cherries in a light syrupcherry preserves with jasmine green teamini-cherry pies made with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and a cherry sauce I served with vanilla panna cotta. This year alone I made sour cherry jam and canned whole cherries in coconut syrup on top of a delicious almond ricotta cannoli cake topped with fresh cherries (and strawberries).

Hot tomato & peach jam.

So, anyway, the garden. And those big, beautiful tomatoes. I was originally going to just make a tomato jam and a peach jam separately this summer. But why do that when I could combine them both and make one amazingly interesting jam? Add to it the fact that our pepper plants are cranking out some crazy amounts of Red Rocket chilies… and that’s where I got this inspiration from. Thanks to Love and Olive Oil and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for the technical & recipe help.

Hot tomato and peach jam with Red Rocket chili peppers.

Hot tomato peach jam.

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Larimar- my new favorite thing.

I’ve always loved turquoise. I remember as a little girl going in my mom’s jewelry box and playing around with her old silver rings and earrings. A couple of them being her turquoise from the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve always had love for that stone. I felt like it was so earthy- it seemed like it was more raw and true to nature than a lot of other stones. As I got older, I stopped wearing it in favor of other gemstones.

But I had never heard of Larimar until recently.

Larimar Bliss ring.

Larimar is a form of mineral that is only found in the Dominican Republic. It’s also known as also called “Stefilia’s Stone.” It is a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite found only in the Caribbean. Its coloration varies from white, light-blue, green-blue to deep blue.

This is, for me, the *new* turquoise.

It’s not your typical color or texture. Its not just the same old thing. It looks so unique. It’s opaque like turquoise but yet translucent-ish.

Larimar ring.

I find it to be so gorgeous, don’t you?

I happened to get this ring from Larimar Bliss as a gift, and it arrived right before my birthday. I wore it to dinner that night and I got so many compliments on it. The organic shape is perfect for the stones’ quality and the striations and colors.

It’s the perfect birthday gift for a summer baby like me. It reminds me of the summer sky, the beach, and the ocean, which is where it comes from.

If you’re into the metaphysical;

“In metaphysical work, the larimar stone reflects the symbolic meanings of its elemental origins. Related to the sea, it radiates with deep feelings of peace and tranquility, having the power to quell emotions. Water is the element of deep emotions, and the beauty of the Caribbean ocean represents a calm, transcendent place. Few human hearts are not opened to peace and serenity in the face of radiant blue waters.”

Also, Larimar is said to enlighten and heal in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual way. It stimulates the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras facilitating inner wisdom and outer manifestation. It represents peace and clarity, radiating healing and love energy.

Larimar Bliss ring

In this picture and the others where I’m wearing it, it’s not as easy to see the bright sky blue color. It looks more like turquoise. But the above photos are more true to color.

It reminds me of playing in my mom’s jewelry box again. Except this time it’s mine. Alllllllll miiiiiine.

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