Born Free

Mark  built a “free range” area for the birds to roam within a confined area outside of their pen.  This morning he decided to let them run completely free.

I was greeted by these curious faces on my back patio.

“Got corn?”

Mark is a bit stressed out–over protective if you will–and twice has said, “Well I should lock them up now.”  I’ve talked him down a few times and they are still roaming free.   He is acting like the father of teenage daughters right now 🙂

Life with Mark.

Life with chickens.

PS.  My oven broke down!  Yes, I’m sad.  Times are tough right now, so I bought a little Cuisinart convection counter oven at Costco–I look forward to posting some of the cool things that have come out of it!  Plus, I save on my power bill.

Hey Sean!  Guess what?



Lavender Wine Jelly, Cranberry Conserve, and Mandarin Jam

I love to look into my pantry and freezer to find all the goodies I’ve stored from summer and fall.   I have to admit, the heat  in of summer and the physical demands of gardening can make it a bit exhausting to add canning to the list of things to do.   I have found winter canning is much easier because I don’t have the physical demands of the gardens and cooking actually warms a cool kitchen.

I set out to find great deals on mandarins/clementines, pears, Meyer lemons, and other winter fruits.  I still have a list of more canning to complete this winter.

Although it is not a “winter” choice,  I had dried culinary lavender flowers leftover from this past summer.   While visiting Lavender Hills Farm in Marysville, Washington, I picked up a small amount of culinary lavender to bake in a cake.  I never got around to baking the lavender pound cake , but I did try my hand at some lavender wine jelly.  I’m very happy with the results!

ABOVE: Clockwise from left-  Lavender Chardonnay Jelly, Mandarin Jam, Cranberry Orange Conserve

My entire house smelled like lavender as the dried flowers steeped in hot water.  I had a free aromatherapy session as I cooked.

The recipe called for food coloring, but the pink color was so pretty, that after adding one small drop of purple food coloring, I stopped and decided to back off.

For recipes and more photos, please click below…

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The Day I spotted Curtis Stone “Take Home Chef”

Hi everybody!  This post is a re-post from my old Live Journal blog.  This happened in November of 2006.  I thought I’d share my adventure with you.  I have severeal food blogs to get up and posted.  The holidays and my son’s wedding kept me pretty busy in December.  Hope you are all well. On with the story:

Yesterday I drove into downtown Edmonds for my dreaded monthly eyebrow waxing.   I also had my brows tinted–which is something I’ve never done before.   I left feeling very self conscious about my too dark brows, but life goes on so I persevered.

Afterward, I met my friend, “E”  for lunch.  We had a wonderful meal at Provinces–yummy Chinese food.

After lunch we drove to the ferry park on the waterfront.   E and I are taking a beginner’s knitting course together and she had missed a class, so I was going to show her what I had learned.   We decided to walk to the little coffee shop next door and grab a mocha to drink while we knitted. I   was teasing E about drinking coffee–I don’t think I’ve ever seen her order coffee in the 14 years I’ve known her.   I was joking that she was going to be too wired to cast on the yarn.  I  reminded her we were going to have a pasta making day at my house, when I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a man and woman in heavy makeup–followed by a crew of camera men and giant microphones.

“Hey, what’s with the camera crew following those people?   They must be actors or models….HOLY SHIT  it’s the Take Home Chef guy!”


Yes, my friends, I may be the only person in my town who recognized the famous chef, well, me, E, and the barista!   We all immediately ran out of the shop and stood there staring across the street.   E realized they were heading toward the ferry park, but I was so star struck, I was standing there with my mouth hanging open, and repeating “Oh my God, Oh my God!”

An elderly couple was sitting in front of the shop on a bench. The woman asked me who he was, and I told her he is a famous chef.   Her husband said, “He looks too young to be a chef, looks more like a race car driver”


I always thought star struck groupies were beneath me.   I was one of the people who asked why people scream and get excited over another human being.

I was still staring, when I heard  a voice asking,

“Where’s your camera?” “Anita, where’s your camera?”

At this point I realized it wasn’t a voice in my head, it was my girlfriend E’s voice and she was shaking my arm trying to jar be out of my stupor.   E was telling me to run to the car and get the camera!   As a last ditch effort she grabbed my mocha and yelled,

Run, Anita, Run!”

Immediately I started to run, but soon I realized I was running alongside the crew and the chef.   My short little legs could only move so fast and I couldn’t make headway.   I was also in a long dress, so I was running like a penguin due to the lack of leg room to make long strides.   So there I was running like a penguin with my drastically too dark eyebrows, trying to get ahead of them to reach my damn camera before they left the park.   The crew was staring at me and a policeman on a bike was trying to peddle slow enough to keep up with me.   “What is this crazy middle aged spiked hair lady with the too black eyebrows doing?”,  he seemed to be asking himself.

Finally, the crew stopped right in front of my parked van, and I could hear the chef asking the woman if she lived on the other side (pointing to the island).   It was then I realized they were in the middle of filming an episode.   I slid open my mini-van door and fumbled for my camera, lifted it from the case,  and then immediately started snapping photos. They all looked at me–I’m sure out of concern and for the protection of the poor chef and his guest.   It was as though I lost all sense of humility and kept snapping away, I followed them all the way out of the park, snap snap snap!   And up the hill and beyond the coffee shop.   Snap snap snap!

I entered the paparazzi zone.







I finally returned to the coffee shop , it was then I noticed the pain.  I hadn’t ran very far, but I had been so tense with excitement that I pulled muscles in my back and neck.   I hobbled into the coffee shop and shared the photos with E who was very proud of herself for shaking me into consciousness and helping me score the photos.   As we strolled back to the van with our mochas in hand we had big grins on our faces–we had spotted a celebrity in our very own little town.

“They can never call our town “Dead-monds” again.   Oh no, we live in an exciting little town.”

“Yeah, and we have photos to prove it.”

“Right, we aren’t all old and boring people here.”

We climbed into my white mini- van and pulled out our pink and purple wool yarns to begin knitting, I took some Advil for my muscle pain, and we watched the ferry pull away with the handsome chef –who “looks more like a race car driver”.

Middle age happens.