Love at first bite.

I dated a lazy hippie for 7 years. He was delightfully entertaining, but perpetually broke. He was pretty & funny… and when you’re a divorcee in your twenties, that’s enough.

Not so much in your thirties.

He was still cute, but aged rapidly in a smoky haze, and his stoned view on life was boring. I was sick of paying his way and sick of being ignored while he talked politics with random stoned strangers.

I extricated myself from our friendship… and the breakup was as miserable as the worst days of our relationship. I’ve been able to miss his sense of humor lately- but I’d probably still roll my eyes at him one last time.

I came to terms with being single again, at the same time as my mother was going through a messy divorce. I decided to take her out for Halloween, we dressed up… and someone drugged our one drink. The last thing I remember was a 22 year old boy leading my giggly mom out to dance, and me kissing the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I woke up with my mom, a hangover and a business card with a number.

Aaron was a great boyfriend, and showed me some of my very favorite things. I will never smell a fresh bay leaf and not think of him. It was old fashioned romantic, and he was quick to introduce me to his amazing family.

He took me on a business trip and introduced me to his mom and dad. He showed me the natural beauty of his beloved Santa Cruz and surfed while I wiggled my toes in the sand. I fell in love with every new and exciting element of him and his mom was amazing enough to overlook every last one of his personal flaws. His family was the one I’d always dreamed of having.

His Daddy took us to dinner at Alexander’s Steak House, where I ate an heirloom tomato salad that would change my life.

Simple tomatoes, balsamic, sea salt and black pepper. So phenomenal I asked for a paper napkin and saved a few seeds.

And the rest is history…

2015

He married a friend of mine, I cut back to 150 tomato plants and adopted a kitten. ♥

rainbow

In other words… I lived happily ever after.

Write on…

It’s been a long year. In fact…it’s been a long decade.

I finished planting my garden earlier than ever last year. My corn was a huge success for the first time! The pumpkin patch of my dreams, was a reality. Through morning and afternoon baby naps, I managed to get it planted and weeded. It was actually beautiful… but sobering. I CAN grow an acre of vegetables and bottle enough to feed an army, but I don’t NEED to. I’ve given up on the fantasy of my children loving to garden, and I remember clearly how much I hated it as a child. I’m determined to cut back this year so that it’s a blessing, not a burden.

I figured it may be relaxing to write again, if only for myself. I get the nicest emails from people, asking me why I don’t write anymore. I’m not sure how to answer that?

I’m a different person than I used to be. Growing up, and more importantly fucking up; changes you. I guess you could say that I finally learned from my mistakes. As a result of my relationship failing, finding myself as a single mother with a teenager AND a newborn and a side of heartache… I grew up. I’m slowly finding my footing again, while carefully choosing each step with the knowledge that the wrong one can have lasting consequences.

I’m a little sad to see my tiny one grow so fast and I miss her infancy when I see newborns. She lights the whole world up with her constant smile, hilarious laughter and baby chatter. I don’t know how we ever lived without the joy and love she brings to everyone and everywhere. She’s nothing short of magical. I’m that annoying friend on Facebook who shamelessly inundates everyone with baby pictures and videos.

The teenager is absolutely frustratingly normal. Most days I’m the stupidest person in the world and live purely to thwart her plans for part of the day, and her best friend the other half. I am proud of the young lady I know that she is, and hopeful she’ll escape our small town after graduation to pursue her dreams. I’m grateful for the friendship I have with her dad and step-mother.

All in all, and in every aspect; life has calmed down. The custody war has long ended and my relationship with my baby girl’s dad is peaceful and friendly. He’s dating an old friend and has moved back to Colorado to live with her. He calls regularly and I hang pictures of him around the house so she sees his face. She’s just begun to say Daddy. I’m grateful she will grow up surrounded with love, not hostility. I never dreamed in a million years that I’d be raising a baby alone, but I treasure every single second and appreciate that he does everything he can do from thousands of miles away.

We’ve learned to coexist, sleep, love and make the most of every moment in the last year. We’ve weathered financial devastation, laughed through a lot of creative pasta and rice dishes and have found a new-found peace in being carnivorous vegetarians. We all love a good steak but we can afford veggies, and I grew enough to feed us all winter.

Life has changed and it isn’t what I thought it would be, but it is absolutely joyous and full of everything simple and sweet that I treasure most.

The last vestiges of babyhood have been hard to pack away. A long-outgrown bassinet stands in the corner of my room, because I love it too much to part with it. Baby shoes, pacifiers and miniature socks clutter the top of my dresser. It’s a strange mix, no matter where you look. My black work apron, a few pens, a wine key and wilted gardenia still hooked by the bobby pin that held it in my hair all night. A school progress report for Little Red, lipgloss and an antique jar of buttons. My latest knitting pattern, some industrial foot cream for my mangled server feet and a stack of bills. As always, my crafts create a happy clutter that reminds me to take time to create. My vices are all healthy, and I am definitely guilty of being a little boring these days. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m only growing three varieties of tomatoes this year. I did away with my whimsical round garden and have practical, straight rows. I wouldn’t say I’m disenchanted… more so that I’ve gotten an epic reality check. I don’t want to be bitter and jaded, but my fairy-tales turn into nightmares when I least expect them to and my heart is not a good judge of character. Consequently… I have taken myself out of the pool, entirely, and permanently.

Never. Another. Boyfriend. I have two cats… and I’d be delighted to adopt a dozen more.

IMG_7334Being boring is awesome. ♥

Fresh Butternutty Goodness

I love love love seeing 10 hits on my blog. I feel like celebrating.

Gone are those 1000+ days. Amen.

I deleted all the baggage and cut all my ties.

I’ve been watching Hoarders lately and felt the same way about my blog. It had piles of shit I didn’t like, recognize or want anymore. It was so infested with douche bags and liars that the clean up would have been exhausting and endless- so instead I just burnt the whole fucker down- like most of the people on that show should do with their houses!

🙂 Ahhh. Peace. Clean sheets, new socks and your favorite sweatpants, sort of cozy freshness.

I’d documented my midlife crisis and sad attempts at having faith in the worst of humanity and took the last, very necessary response… and threw it all into the fire.

When you don’t like the view in the rear-view mirror anymore, you need a change of scenery and a fresh perspective.

Now I don’t mind writing anymore, though I may bore everyone to death with recipes, teething woes and too much gardening…

but at the very least… you’ll get to eat great food because I’m a domestic whirlwind these days. Behold! The perfect butternut squash soup, in my not-so-humble opinion… to celebrate this nice clean house.

My Better Butternut soup

8 cups good chicken stock. I make mine- you can do the same easily or buy it pre-made. Buy the organic one, really… because commercial chickens are perhaps the least respected meat raised and you should do your part to stop it. Even if your part is lazy- it counts. Ish.

1/2 c. Butter

2 c. Shallots. They’re the Filet Mignon of onions- trust me- spend the extra $.

3 cloves Garlic, minced, and while you’re at it- plant some! Garlic goes in to the ground this week and it’s so delicious home grown!

3.5-4 lb Butternut squash. Peel, seed and chop it into cubes. It’s a smooth textured winter squash and its glorious if you’re type A like me and want to see perfect orange cubes in a big white bowl.

2 c. Pumpkin puree. Finally something to make with all those pumpkins from the garden or in a can from the store- it all tastes the same.

1 c. Half & half

Just typing this recipe up makes me want to go make some more, and I just finished the batch I made this week for breakfast this morning.

s1

Dice your shallots and garlic while the butter melts in your stock pot. Let them soften over low-medium heat until they’re translucent. Add your chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add your butternut squash cubes and pumpkin puree.  Simmer until the cubes of squash are soft and use your stick blender (don’t tell me you don’t have one. Go buy one!) until roughly half the cubes of butternut squash are blended. It will be a creamy lumpy texture and smell like heaven. Salt & pepper to taste.

s2

Add your half & half and stir, stir, stir. I usually make some naan or croutons to go along with it, but it’s good all by itself too. Enjoy a fresh & happy fall!

mmm

Foundation

I have an old cedar deck on the front of my house, and in one spot, the boards are being pulled a different direction by the house. I know a problem when I see one. Thankfully after 37 years I also know when it’s a problem I am not equipped to repair by myself. It’s a foundation issue.

Such was my life. Being pulled in a million directions results in you neglecting the priorities you really want to prioritize. I was scattered. Flailing. Desperate.

Not at all how anyone would like to be described.

And just like these boards of mine, I started from the top and have worked my way down. Ish.

I had faith in love again and was disappointed when it went sour. It happens. I’m definitely jaded at this point and have happily burned my V card. I intend to live out my life with a houseful of happiness. (and a dozen cats).

I’ve learned to recognize when I’m not good at something and let it go. I realized how much I needed my mom in my life, and we’ve never been closer after realizing that it’s time spent, that counts. She’s given me a million things over the years, but the week she spent with me after my baby was born wove the frayed ends of our bond back together again.

Ripping down the foundation means you have to put it back together brick by brick… and you only use the bricks you know to be the best. You pick your favorites and leave the broken empty bullshit in the pile.

When you only foster and encourage the best parts of you, every day counts. I’m living proof of the power of having faith in yourself and the ability to change your life.

I had a beautiful baby in July and she lights my life in more ways than I can describe …while she grins and poops at the same time. I still pinch myself every time she wakes me from the four hour power naps I survive on. She wakes up with a big smile and we get our routine on with a little Biggie Smalls. She’s my little Muffin.

muffin

My day begins with a diaper to change, diapers to wash. Jammies to hang up. Smiley baby to nurse. Lunch to pack.

Her big sister is a full fledged teenager, fighting me when she spots my weaknesses. I love her to bits and remember what it was like with her big brother and realize it’s just how they are. I’ve had a baby in each stage of my life. My teens (19), my twenties (24) and now my thirties (37). It’s all so different and similar at the same time. I have so much more patience now- and I feel bad for my older kids because they had the drill sergeant asshole mom.  The midlife crisis mom. Muffin gets the best of me. The weathered, hardened and tempered steel strong lady I’ve grown into. The mom who know knows dessert for dinner is healthy sometimes. The everything-can-wait-let’s read-another-book mom. The mom who makes the damn kids help in the garden. I’ve learned through success and failure to focus on what’s important and leave the rest behind.

I miss my coworkers. I miss having something to talk about beyond baby smiles, infant milestones and canning…. but I’m loving my life these days. I’m living in the moment and treasuring each one.

yarden2013

I grew that damn enormous acre of vegetables and it’s downright terrifying how many heirloom tomatoes I have. A thousand pounds, perhaps? More? It’s beyond epic. It’s a biomass.

toms

Gardening while growing a human is not for the faint of heart. I pulled off the impossible. It was spectacular- and froze last week (Thank GAWD) It wasn’t bad while I was pregnant, and actually helped my back feel better. It was soothing while I was nesting and needed more to clean. It’s amazing how many weeds I pulled with a 45 inch waistline. Muffin was born right when it started to produce and things got a little crazy. You can’t take a newborn into the blazing sun and the weeds grew right along with the plants, which I never found time to fertilize.

somanyheirlooms

Thank God, all the angels & saints too… because I would have had to call the gleaners to help take some of it away.

pantry

I’m canning with a newborn, which is intense- to say the least. I dice tomatoes… then sing patty-cake. Nap time for baby means running a few dozen jars of sauce, salsa, tomatoes, etc through the canner. My pantry is beautiful, and I treasure these months I’ve been devoting myself at home, full time. I love having all the laundry done. I smile when I see a fresh tablecloth on the kitchen table. I like cleaning light fixtures. I’m contemplating painting. It feels good to make home feel cozy and beautiful again. Getting rid of the excess and only keeping your favorite things results in a nice tidy home full of everything you love most. All bets are off where my crafty stuff is concerned.

One cannot own too much yarn, fabric or buttons. These are facts.

I’m baking again which is sinfully good and terrible for my ass at the same time. I roasted a baby sugar pumpkin from the garden yesterday and I’m making a few pumpkin rolls today. The house smells like a mom lives here again. I can’t even get a thigh in my old jeans. Damn. Pregnancy at 37 doesn’t go away as fast as it does when you’re younger… but I’ll get there. Right after this pumpkin roll… 🙂 I really don’t care, to be completely honest. I’m focusing on being a great mother, being a better friend and appreciating the people and season. There’s plenty of time for working out when this baby isn’t so tiny and new. If this sweet chubby babylove of mine is any indication, my breast milk is more like heavy cream.

hat

I spent nap time sewing for my baby sister yesterday. Her baby is due any day and they did not find out their baby’s gender. It’s fabulously exciting, but a pain in the ass when you’re buying or making gifts. I hope like crazy it’s a girl because her and Muffin would be so close in age. Either way, it was so nice to fire up the Pfaff again. I padded her presents with baby potatoes and actually managed to get it in the mail in time to make it there for her shower… I hope.

I started running again this week after trading a years worth of garden produce for an awesome jogging stroller. Muffin loves it and I’m happy to resume a healthy habit that makes me feel so much better.

Rebuilding a foundation takes time and patience but having strong footing makes all the difference. Ridding yourself of the junk that holds you back and drowns you out, frees up a lot of time to focus on the things you love.

So I’ve cleaned the house, put away enough food for a damn army and knit 4 hats, a sweater and one bootie.

homegrown

I grew a baby, grew a garden and kept stacking away on my new foundation. I’ve only used the bricks that make me a maternal bad ass with a black belt in organic gardening. I threw out the bullshit, burned the trash and life has never been more peaceful.

One of these days I’m going to get around to fixing that deck.

Set my thoughts adrift…

She wears one of my favorite symbols…The bee… a sign of resurrection and natural potential…. The symbol of Kings… and the loving seal of Napoleon when he wrote letters to Josephine… She wears them with pride… they are beautiful tattoos…and I’m a huge admirer of them…

The incredible persona that is Jenni is who I’d like to fill this space with…she fills the roles necessary to make the world seem right… she’s a mother, a cook, a farmer, a lover, a beautiful temptress, a wildcat, both in the sack and out of it….she’s a tempting bit of Mormon-meets-Catholic yet in the wild ways all boys love to hear but really don’t want to know….beware of the claws… in a moment of passion they can drive through your shirt like it’s soft icecream on a midsummer’s day…

Jenni is a girl who sets my thoughts adrift… creative bits of small emails litter our respective inboxes with tidbits about the day’s ability to break a person down.  She and I share addictions….we are addicted to the opposite sex…however, our selection process is very different…  I look for life….vivacious…mezmerizing…..  She, on the other hand, looks for vice, for Mr. Now wmixed with a possibility of lasting a couple of weeks, but those boys aren’t strong enough to work with the tools God gave them to shape something that could be a beautiful relationship.

So what is it that Jenni craves?  My view is pretty simple…  She craves what all humans crave….appreciation.  Honestly at times she’s more than a little drama filled, yet I can’t take my eyes off the impending crash that is coming.  The boys that she chooses are more about her personal eye candy than what they will do for her.  Her real type of man?  Strong, clean lines, takes care of himself and shows pride in what he does.  He’s a little angry but he’s too mysterious to let you know what he’s angry about.  She deserves something different….she deserves something that shakes her foundation to the core and allows her to realize she’s got what many others don’t have…  she has vision of what she could be.  I’ve seen more stories about men who have treated this girl in such a dire wrong way, that I want to beat the fuck out of them and go nap to rest my weary arms then pummel them once more to show her she’s worth the effort to stand up for… 

If you say that she’s not craving appreciation, but she’s craving something less than that, I’ll let you know that anyone in this day and age can go out to any bar out there and hook up for the sake of hooking up.  Jenni is not some dime-a-dozen kinda girl.  They just don’t grow on trees like this one.  She’s got a lot of people from my blog reading her material and living vicariously through her dating adventures.  Me?  I’m on the opposite side of the fence…  She needs someone strong enough to hold her….restrain her from the ways that I’m so guilty of myself and allow her to relax and feel like she’s worth so much more than the moment of ecstasy in sex….she’s the kind of girl who wants the adventure that’s never been afforded to her.

She’s at the razor’s edge with me…  I’m a guy who will tell you how I feel and I’m sad on one hand and I’m excited on the other.  She’s got the drive that I love…always on the go with a fire and some drive in her….she dresses like I can appreciate the figure underneath the clothes…the men she has chosen?  Well they’ve stripped her dignity along with her boat, her finances, and her hope.  I want to  give her all of those things.  You should help her rebuild hope too… 

I am capable of being all things to nearly all women.  I’m never sure if I’m going  to hurt a girl or not, but one thing I have down pat…..she’s going to feel like she’s the most important woman in my amazing life.  That’s the kind of love that she deserves….someone soft…and if she complains a little about going to slowly or being a bit bored, be a man and give her the attention she seeks and then return back to the person who starts his night by asking her to come closer….leaning in ever-so-softly and telling her, she’s beautiful in a voice barely distinguishable to make the words hit the hardest impact on her soul….it’s her soul that needs the love and attention…it’s her mind and ego that deserves to be loved ever so gently. 

She works so hard to have so little.  She reminds me of how I am….a lot of heaven mixed with a smidgen of hell.  I love her attitude and she’s not my ideal Mormon version of purity, but she’s got something most girls don’t have and that’s a ton of heart.  She gives and wants to please and be accepted for the incredible person she is.  She makes me smile by simply reading her thoughts on paper and wishing that I could be there to wipe away her tears.

Sure she’s volatile…we all can be, but one thing’s for sure….with an effort that is strong, and determination that males mules green with envy, and a heart that needs nurturing,  she’s not on the highway to hell….she’s on her way to being loved for everything she brings to the table… 

Men, If you’ re going to date her, be strong enough to rein her in, on the flip side, be strong enough to love her with the same amount of attention you gave her before she ever laid a finger on you…date her, don’t bore her….respect her and let her understand where real strength comes from… 

Oceans between us….yet she’s just a thought away… a beautiful opportunity that makes me wanton….but I’m not weak…she makes me strong, she knows I’m sincere and  want only the absolute best for her and her little family.  Thoughts of who she is in a sun dress walking down a row of grapes in Sonoma…yes, the girl who no man could turn away easily…Living so far away from Vacationville, makes it difficult at best to ever know if we will ever meet, I do want more than anything for her heart to be free and find that man who makes her complete.  I search honestly for something much bigger than myself…yet I have everything I’ve always wanted….including the belle of the ball..yet I don’t feel it.  Jenni makes those thumps in my chest move a bit more upbeat and she’s got nothing to give other than herself…which is the finest gift any man could accept from her. 

The amazing girl sets my thoughts adrift… an incredible boat without a captain, driving through the night looking for safe harbor…toss out an anchor and set it hard in the sandy bottom and view the serenity around you…breathe for a change and accept no crew’s advances when you only deserve a captain…  For me, I’m always a pirate…yet for you…I would sail in the most gentle of waters, looking out for the integrity of more than just the beautiful moments that we are locked in while sailing….but to places I’ve never seen, doing things you’ve only wished you could do…  it’s what you deserve… 

Incredible girl, my heart is in my chest filled with hope…  that hope belongs to you…take it…

T.

Victory Yarden

My garden, aka The Yarden was overwhelmingly huge this year. Nearly an acre- and completely redesigned this year. With a freaking rake. I was determined, heartbroken and lost. Definitely depressed. Beyond depressed.

My mom brought her tractor over and we tilled the whole damn thing up. Go big or go home, organic farmer style. Like a blank slate… that had to be raked and shaped into the sexy round garden of my dreams. Fuck straight lines, fuck that rotten ex of mine and fuck everyone who told me I couldn’t do it.

I did it, God Damn IT…

Ugh. Wayyyyyyyy too well. I stood in my garden on my birthday in July and it hit me… What on earth could I possibly have been thinking. WTF. If I wasn’t out there at least 4 hours a day, it went crazy… and at a certain point, I didn’t care anymore. Without the sexual tension from the Shark and my iPod it would have been a miserable failure. Oh… and…

My ego.

Because the stupid boat stealing asshole got right in my face and told me I’d never be able to do it without him… and I would have died trying before I let him be right about that. I was nothing but a pain in his ass for the last year of our relationship. Admittedly. I was awful. However… he deserved nothing more than that. Having him completely out of my life is like the ultimate second chance.

Hearing horror stories about how his child is acting now- seeing him in all his scrawny, grey, & bitter glory? It’s all just icing on my ego cake.

He was wrong. I grew 3,200 lbs of vegetables (so far, I still have more to weigh) this year in my garden. I’ve been fine alone… and pretty damn happy with the new men in my life. Mr. Favorite is 19 years younger than him. Ha ha ha ha… and on a completely petty level…I hope it burns his ass when he sees us together at some point. I have a new job I love, a great relationship with my family and wonderful close friends. Life is bliss.

Even better? I was right. He’s content to live in a car. He’s happy bailing on his son to be lazy. He’s old. Lazy. Stupid…. and all washed up before he ever began. He’s a failure- and we were the best part of his life. I hope he kicks him self every day for the rest of his life.

Because like I kicked him out of our lives, my garden kicked his ass. It unfortunately kicked mine as well in the process, and I learned a valuable lesson. I have a huge ego…and it killed me this summer. My acre of healthy vegetables laid claim to my soul this summer and I hated it. The market was a failure and I am literally swimming in veggies. Canning like a pioneer. Spending every spare moment I have, dealing with the biomass I created out of pure stubborn pride.

I really showed him…

🙂

Tomato Hoarder

Seriously. My ego has gotten me in more trouble than I can shake a stick at. One of the last arguments with the dirty boat stealing asshole went something like this:

DBSA- What do you think you’re going to do? You’ll never be able to do it without me.

J- Hmm. You don’t think so, huh? Watch me.

Unfortunately we were talking about the garden. I expanded it, tilled all the rows in and remade/reshaped the entire thing. Fuck that guy, not only would I do it bigger, and completely erase anything he’d done in my garden- I’d do it alone.

I really showed him. Ugh. I was a slave to the damn garden all summer and now the fall fun has only just begun… I have thousands of tomatoes yet to ripen. I’m not exaggerating either. Literally thousands. 180 very healthy plants.

It’s a bit epic- to be completely honest…and a bit of an eye opener. I’ll never do it again. It’s just a ridiculous amount of garden…hell… it’s why we call it the Yarden. With a week of hot weather, and Th, Fr & Sat off- I’m going to be a canning slave. Marinara, salsa, pickled beets, more jam, pears, etc….

I’ve learned my lesson. I admit to being a tomato hoarder and I will never do it again.

I hope.

🙂