A Meandering, Winding Path


Where will life take us? Or is the question where will we take our life?

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It’s a question I have been pondering as of late. You see, one of my long time dreams was to open a cafe; not just any cafe, but a cafe with healthy choices and welcoming homey vibe.

I did!

I worked as hard at it as humanly possible, and used every cent I had. I loved being there and loved our regular customers. I met wonderful people from all walks of life.

As much as folks and patrons loved it, and spoke of our delicious food; it couldn’t sustain itself. The Community could not support it, and we were not on a road traveled by tourists, nothing in town to pull them off the main road and into our quaint village.(well, that will be another post, another time)

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Grateful, for having the chance to try my wings and live that dream; to try, to step out in faith.

I am left with the question, what now? This question weighs heavy. Surely, I am not alone in questioning life’s path.

What is my plan B? Or C-Z for that matter? Is this a mid-life crisis, e-gad! Surely not. 50(ish) is the new twenty,right?

Everyone I meet now is at least ten years younger than me. I feel like Rip van Winkle with breasts!

Now to find where I left that path of mine…or should I let it find me?

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Be Well,
Jess

It’s almost March…It’s almost warmish (almost)


Although the shortest of days have gone by and whatever nastiness of weather we have before us; the month of February passes.

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March is near, and each day we ebb out a few more cherished moments of sunlight.

Minute by minute, the days lengthen out, almost imperceptible, even as the growth of a child. All at once the moment comes as if by epiphany; we notice we are out of doors in twilight for another quarter of a precious hour.

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The air is still bitingly cold.

The sun shines strong enough to cause icicles to drip, that is hope.

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My fingers ache to dig in the garden’s soil. To feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on my neck.

I think I will spend some time today sorting and gathering seeds saved, seeds bought, clay potting pots, and all of the thingamajigs, and whatchamacallits a gardening crazy girl could wish for.

I wonder how many seedlings will survive a Walker Hound 3 month old pup? Maybe I should hold off on that.

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Be well,

Jess

To Begin Again…Let’s start from the very beginning. Winter


The sun is rising over our little home. It will be a day like most days around here. Not much changes from day to day; I take solace in that.

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As the year progresses and seasons change a subtle shift is created in our lives and routines.

Before we even realize, the tides have turned. We are sitting on the far edge of winter~ a brutal, beautiful, cold, white winter.

Blasts of cold and snow temper our outdoor exploration driving us, in retreat, back to mugs of tea and steaming bowls of stew.

I don’t mind.

It’s cozy and comforting to sit, gazing out into the postcard that is my yard, pencil in hand, waiting, hoping for something to write or an idea to sketch.

My eyes wander out at the farm yard, llamas stepping gingerly into the billowy mounds of snow. Goats swaddled in their winter’s growth, content to linger beside the barn, soaking in the the late winter sun’s warming rays.

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The chickens have found a course of fence long enough to hold the lot of them. Clever those chooks, as even with the stiff north wind, they bob and sway in unison never loosing their grip on their uncertain perch.

The dogs curled up at my feet, resting, waiting for me to stir, a signal of the afternoon’s work ahead. Richard, the Yorkie; settled onto the top of the over-stuffed chair safe from errant drafts.

I reluctantly move from this moment of reflection. I don layers of armor against the bone chilling winds.

It’s chore time.

There are mouths to feed and barns to freshen, An extra ration of grain fed to each in hopes of warding off the the biting cold.  Water buckets are filled, heaters checked  ( to keep the filled buckets from freezing), and hay is given freely.

As I close the gate, I turn back to be sure our youngest cria’s (Revie) warming jacket is securely fastened. It’s going to be a cold, bitter night.

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My thoughts turn to warming my families bellies, a hearty vegetable barley soup with homemade biscuits should do the trick.

With the veggies chopped, sautéed, and the soup now simmering gently on the back burner; I find my seat by the window. The dogs follow suit.

I have a  precious hour to write…the sun is setting far too early for my liking.

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The biscuits are in the oven, the coffee is brewing… Let’s eat.

Be well,

Jess

Memorial Day, Remember why.


A day to remember those protect our nation and our freedom.
A day to connect with family as summer casts it’s golden spell on our country.
A day to enjoy company of friends and neighbors at the Village Parade.
A day to re-invent what all of this means…my youngest daughter, my son, my husband, my baby sister, her daughter, and my adorable neighbors were one family today…remembering, connecting, and enjoy all that the day had to offer here on our small farm. If you can’t be with all of your loved ones…remember them as you enjoy your re-invented family.
I love you all.
J.

as part of the Boston Holocaust Memorial, is a gathering of neatly placed cobbles…each one signifying a child”s lost life ~ when the Nazis murdered as many as one and a half million Jewish infants and children.

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Freedom isn’t Free.
Each May, the United States celebrates a day called Memorial Day.
Does Memorial Day have meaning? I sure do hope so.

This weekend, as my husband dresses in his Fire Fighter’s Uniform, dressed in their best, they ready to march in our town’s parade in honor of those who gave so much for OUR FREEDOM . Across the country children and their parents gather for their Town’s Memorial Day Parade ~ little ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a BBQ or a picnic at the lake or beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember
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“And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.
…..We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does.
Ronald Reagan,40th President of the United States

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”It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Abraham Lincoln,16th President of the United States ~ Gettysburg Address
Thank you all, who have given so much to preserve our Freedom and the Freedom’s of others.
God Bless America!
Pray for God’s blessing on America. Ask for God’s protection over all branches of our military
Be Well,
Jessica

Just One Tiny Seed…


Spring, opportunity, hope, I think these three words belong together. It all starts with one tiny seed, sown with hope, and if by magic, it becomes a towering sunflower, a a clambering vine of beans, a 40 pound pumpkin, or a sweet smelling sweet pea, isn’t that hard to believe?
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Yet, it happens; reminding us with hope, and determination anything is possible. Nurture your even the tiniest seed of a dream, and with work and perseverance it can be. I still have to pinch myself at times as I look around this Shoppe. It was a lot of work, and many, many hours of work; it still is, but, is worth it.
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If a seed can burst into life in NYC, it can grown anywhere!

Following your dreams is not for the faint of heart, if your want it, really, really, want it. You must put in the work. Some folks, think if you dream hard enough, it will fall into your lap. Nope, that’s not how this works. [Well, I guess you can dream of winning the lottery. That’s not much work..] But, you get what I’m saying right?
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Right now, I’m dreaming of making a really fresh sweet dessert. I noticed this morning there are lots of rhubarb stalks ready to be picked. So, I’m thinking Strawberry- Rhubarb Squares, a shortbread type of dough… I will work on the recipe today, pick the stalks tomorrow…and I am a little excited now. I will share photos tomorrow.

Be Well,
Jess

You may need a weed. or dandelions, not just sunny face.


At the start of this years garden and yard cleaning season; I am thinking of all of the chemicals folks think they need. To have perfect lawn is not so perfect anymore, it come with its fair share of guilt. Doesn’t it? Round up, the most publicized weed killer, kills more than just the weeds, so we are finding out. It has been doing a number on bee populations as well. I was never one to use chemicals much anyway. Have you ever sat and watched your toddlers and young children frolicking on your freshly mowed lawn; only to have the sinking feeling come over you with a gust of hot air? Oh how lovely, look at my children rolling around in the poisons I just spread all over, is not a picture of parental bliss. Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah, weeds. Some how we have the silly notion that nature has this all wrong, and we need to correct this mistake. . How dare Mother Nature throw weeds willy nilly all over our lawns! For crying out loud.

Weeds need love too and weeds can be beneficial; they can add fertilizer to your soil, increase moisture content, attract insects, and repel insects. Some are good to eat, some have medicinal benefits, some have both. Take the dandelion for instance, honey bees love them, they are a natural diuretic, and they can be eaten in salads or cooked. You can even use the to make dandelion wine, for goodness sake. THey help less hardy plants as well, their tough tap roots bring nutrients to the surface for neighboring plants to use.
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Dandelion greens are packed with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E, & K, and calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium & copper. Dandelion greens are also about 14% protein, which is MORE protein per serving than spinach, Popeye’s favorite muscle-building food. Dandelion greens are especially beneficial for the liver and aid in flushing out toxins and remineralizing the body. It’s high beta carotene and flavonoid content also benefits the immune system and cardiovascular system. Dandelion greens are also one of the richest sources of plant-based Vitamin K and Vitamin A . If you pick them from a back yard, just make sure they have not been sprayed with any pesticides and wash in cold water before using. The leaves can also be dried and later used as a medicinal tea. So, go ahead, add a few dandelion leaves to your soup, salad, green juice, or smoothie.
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Or how about Purslane? I swear this stuff can grown in concrete! Purslane is eaten throughout much of Europe and Mexico. It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. It can be eaten in salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach. Widely used in traditional Chinese medicines to treat infections and topically to soothe and heal sores. A great companion plant for tomatoes and peppers. It breaks up hard soil and hardpan, brings nutrients and water up from deeper than crops can reach, provides healthy ground cover, stabilizing soil moisture.
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Alright, could someone please help me down form this soap box? I’m done, I’m done, I swear don’t leave me here…
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Pint Sized Gardening.


I was asked a few days back for ideas around children’s gardens and gardening with children. Do reserve a space for “their” garden, do they help with small parts of the whole shebang, or do they have specific tasks? time to pull

My children helped with the whole thing. they helped start the seeds, they helped plant; well until they got tired. or hot, or thirsty, or hungry, or a butterfly fluttered past. You get the way things worked, right?
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downMy eldest daughter adored sunflowers, many were planted at our home and in her Poppa’s garden. She could not wait to pose for a picture with the humongous flowers towering over her diminutive, but oh so coordinated person. She was all of about 26 pounds upon entering kindergarten. Tiny but make no mistake – there is not a person or thing she was afraid of and she had a patented mad-walk to prove it.I think she could have registered that, holeh.

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Justin loved the berries, luckily they grew wild, I could never have planted enough for him. WHen we went pay per pound berry picking at a nearby field, I always thought they should weigh him as he entered and disregard the basket he carried. The blue smile and belly clutching upon exiting was a tell tale sign.

garden carrots Jenn’s favorite was carrots, and we rarely had a carrot grow to maturity, she checked them so often to see if they were ready for her soup creations. These soups [and keep in mind at this point in time she was 4 – 5 years of age], contained any number of things, though not very much of anything, an underdeveloped string bean, a carrot the size of a pen cap, a few peas, some water, and maybe some lettuce. I always was granted a taste. You can only imagine the look of guarded enthusiasm as I partook of this culinary delight.

I think my point here is ,isn’t every garden a child’s garden if we let it be. If we let go of the controls for a bit, let them dig in, as little or as much as they wish. No your rows won’t be as straight, your harvest may not be the envy of the neighborhood; heck you may have tomatoes in your squash! Sometimes I stressed more than now I think prudent..with age comes wisdom so they say. I will be planting many raised beds her at the PIcasso’s , and I am yearning for those eager little hands to help. Childhood passes so quickly,but, I don’t wanna grow up!
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We did have some child-like structures in our gardens over the years, like sunflower forts, pole bean tee-pees, and plants to attract butterflies, there was one year this was particularly important. 097
Fairy gardens would be fun for little ones to create, I think. Or brightly painted tires, filled with salad or salsa fix ins; easy to weed and fun to do!

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I am eager to start spring specials, put the soup pots up to rest; fill our plates with spring’s fresh bright culinary delights. Peas anyone?

Asparagus. Asparagus? Yes, Asparagus.


An aphrodisiac. Yeah, you heard me; Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century herbalist, wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.”
In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served 3 courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinners (not absolutely necessary, I hope, but asparagus lore nonetheless) to, well, you get the picture.

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Can you tell I’m in the mood ~ for Spring!

What is spring without asparagus?!Do you have asparagus growing in your garden? If not, it’s not hard to get started, you just have to be patient, well. for a couple years!spears

You can get asparagus crowns at most garden centers.
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Dig a furrow about 10 inches deep and wide and as long as you want your row to be. Fill the trench about halfway with compost and place your asparagus crowns on top, about 10 inches apart and cover loosely with soil and water. This is best done in the springtime as soon as the danger of frost has past.
You won’t get any spears your first year, but the fern-like foliage will still be pretty. Make sure you mulch well every autumn to keep weeds down and a steady stream of nutrients coming. Asparagus is a hungry plant.
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Do not harvest your asparagus until it’s at least three years old. This allows the plant to have time to build a strong root system. When your’s is ready; gather the asparagus and leave at least one stalk in the ground, for good luck, so the lore goes; actually it is common sense, it leaves seeds for sowing.
Asparagus is great for permaculture because it can live 15 years or more and keep providing you with tasty spears each spring.
It grows best in sandy, alkaline soil in full sun, but it’s not picky. It can handle a bit of shade and less than perfect soil too, as long as you fertilize it well.
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Your plants will start sending up shoots shortly after the frost has past and may continue well into June. Cut the shoots near the base when they are about 10 inches long and about as thick as your finger. If they are thinner than a pencil, your plant isn’t ready for harvesting yet, or it’s gotten tired of being harvested and needs to be let alone. Make sure the heads of the spears are tight and haven’t started to feather out. Once they’ve started to get ferny, it’s too late to harvest them.
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Asparagus is best eaten fresh, but if you want to save some for later, put it in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers and store it in the fridge. If you want to save some for a long time later, steam the stalks for about five minutes and then freeze them in a freezer bag.

Asparagus is a good diuretic and is full of nutrients to help build up strength. Asparagus is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you’ll find. It is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamins B6, A, C and thiamin, contain no fat or cholesterol and are low in sodium.

It is best lightly steamed so that it is tender-crisp and bright. I like to serve it with a tangy lemon butter sauce.
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PS. It’s a good food to eat when you are doing a bodily cleansing, a great “spring tonic” kind of food.

Soup’s on…at Picasso’s: chicken noodle with kale, corn chowdah, and creamy carrot curry (vegan)
try a citrus salad on baby kale, or grilled pear and pork on mixed greens.
Turkey burger with vidalia balsamic jam!

Be well,
Jess

Pretty little things…


Spring is all about new beginnings, don’t you think? New growth in the garden, new babies in the fields, maybe even new ideas. Does spring rev you up, kick start a new verve for life? All I want to do is throw open the doors and let the fresh air blow through the house, and clean the windows to let the streams of sunlight shine through! Breathe deeply the warmth and freshness. It has been a long cold and dreary winter. Maybe we should just enjoy these moments, go ahead sit in the sun enjoy very blissful minute; we’ve earned it. I am not certain, old man winter has yet to relinquish his grip just yet, but, I am paying no attention to his snow squalls and bitter temps.
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OK, so he’s not a baby, But he is lovely. Sachema lives at our friends farm, Dakota Ridge Farm; as do all of the other cuties shared to day. With one exception, Ruby.
This is Ruby, I don’t believe you’ve met. She was born in late October here at Picasso’s.
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I see spring. I can feel it. My hands ache for the warm soil. My feet want to run in the grass,( ok run might be an exaggeration).
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It can be an exciting time. We aren’t expecting any cria or kids this season, but I did get to visit a few yesterday. kinda makes me giddy. baby chicks and ducks will be coming soon though.
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The raised beds at our little shoppe will be built and filled with fresh soil and llama fertilizer (the absolute best). An arbor is being constructed for our open air farm to fork dinners. Can’t you just feel the excitement?
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Our soups and Specials here at Picasso’s :
Butternut Squash Bisque, no it’s not typical spring fare, but is sure has pretty and scrumptious.
Corn Chowdah, cuz, I must, I tell ya.

Roasted pork tenderloin served with a tangy-sweet mustard sauce on a bed of greens sitting atop a kaiser roll.
Turkey burger slathered with vidalia balsamic jam, on mixed greens piked on a soft buttery croissant. “nuff said here. moving on…

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Say good bye Sachema.

Be well.
J

Floating with the season, or hang on for dear life!


Seasons come and seasons go..with them come their own particular adventures, challenges, and foods. Yes, foods. Just because a particular vegetable or fruit is in our local supermarket, does not mean it is ion season in our neck of the woods. Your strawberries or lettuce may have traveled thousands of miles and many days to get to this market. And it may have been cultivated with Lord knows what synthetic fertilizers and under what ghastly conditions. The paradox of the day is available vs healthy. no?

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Our diets were, in the past dictated by the seasons and what we could grown, and “Put By” for the coming months. Does any one remember when peas and strawberries a late spring early summer treat? Sweet and succulent, juicy dribbling, red berry goodness. Pick warm from the garden and popped in your mouth. Fresh feet peas, stolen from their pod and eaten raw before they every got to Mamie’s kitchen. Potatoes, squash, and other root vegetables told you that fall winds were here, and leaves would turn beautiful colors, and fall, just for you to rake up and jump in. The brisk day inviting you in at supper time to a hearty stew, made from natures bounty.

Now, produce is transported around the world! We have all of the blessings of any season at our finger tips. Not necessarily a good thing. Local, organic fruit an vegetables are grown with age old techniques tab maintain its natural flavor, water content and growth rate. They ripen naturally, and retain their natural vitamins and minerals.

But, I digress, I was talking about seasons wasn’t I; rediscovering the joys of the seasons. Finding a rhythm, re-creating how we plan and shop for our food.
Discovering,nearby farmers markets, a local CSA, or discover a new talent by planting your own garden, or learning the new, but age old skill of putting food by. Use the changing seasons to to guide us to set more thoughtfully, mindfully, and more healthfully, you become naturally inclined to experiment and maybe discover a new favorite.

Let’s make mealtime special again, let’s slow down enjoy your meal. Isn’t that what its all about anyway? Finding joy in life. Our growing season may be short, so why not enjoy what delights it offers, take asparagus for example, luscious when eaten fresh from the garden, limp and tasteless from a can. When this season is over, what fruit or veggie are you eagerly anticipating? For me it is berries! Raspberries, blackberries, blues, and strawberries, I love them all!

Ok, so here are our specials at Picasso’s today
Soups” Vegetarian vegetable with butter beans, Creamy steamy Corn Chowdah.

Salad: citrus,and pecan salad served on fresh mixed greens, served with homemade citrus honey vinegarette. ( insert lip smacking noise here)

Have a wonderous, wondrous day! Hangon to your hats! It’s Windsday.Miss Daisy