Facebook Groups and Meeting New Friends (how to expand our communities)

20180205_091100We are in a new town.  Our lives have changed quite a bit; Doug is working full time and I am not working every day.  I thought it would be nice to have some people over to play cards one evening or to ask a girlfriend to coffee.  Then I realized we don’t know anyone here!  I knew a few people from my classes and from the fairs and markets.  But if you do not know people well enough it is hard to just say, “Hey, you wanna go get some tea?”

So I started two facebook groups.  Facebook is my nemesis and saving grace all in one.  I get easily trapped in the negativity but it is also the only way to properly build and promote my business and writings.  It is also a great way to meet new people.  A private Facebook group can be easily made (it can also be made public).  I made two of them.

One of them was Doug’s idea.  His original name for it was the Black Hat Society but it turns out there are several chapters out east so instead the Purple Door Society came to be.  A beautiful woman who was in my herb and shaman classes and supported my little farm encouraged me to put the idea into action.  We sat down one day at a coffee shop and ironed out a rough idea of what this women’s group could look like then invited four other girls.  Who invited a few others.  We had our first meet up at another coffee shop last week.   Four free thinking gals, most of them healers, not wanting anyone to need something from them, just wanting to be themselves.  We sat and had tea or coffee and realized that most of us hadn’t been out with girls in a long, long time for conversation!  Next month the group (a little bigger now) is going to Florence for shopping and lunch.

We wanted to meet couples as well, like minded ones.  I created a vegan supper club called the Plant Foodie Supper Club for Southern Colorado.  Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and the curious all welcome.  The other night we hosted two other couples for a potluck style feast.  Homemade pasta and sauce, pesto stuffed mushrooms, a vegan cheese board, French bread, and chocolate mousse.  The food and wine great, the conversations amazing, the game filled with laughter, and the evening wonderful with new friends.  Next month a young couple that we haven’t met before is hosting the dinner.  It’s wonderful to be getting out of our 24 hour a day working habit and getting out there to see who is sharing this beautiful city and planet with us!

I always say that what we learned from our adventures in losing everything was that we were so busy trying to be self sufficient that we ended up becoming completely dependent on others.  We were made to be communities, our success, joys, and health depend on it.  In a world that values media and overtime, let us make a bit of time for new friends and time with others.  Maybe start a facebook group of your own!

The Entertaining Farmgirl’s Yuletide Gathering

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The breeze blew mischievously as Doug continued lighting the luminarias that lined the walk, the oil lanterns, and the dozens and dozens of tea lights.  The house was ready for a party.  And so was I.

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Luminarias are prevalent in New Mexico where they light the way for travelers and carolers alike.  Simply fold down a few inches of a paper lunch bag.  Pour in three inches or so of sand and place a tea candle in the center.  

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An oil lamp makes a lovely welcome outdoors and adds whimsy to the lighting indoors.  Remember, no overhead lighting allowed!  Twinkly lights and tea candles work beautifully to create drama, softened features, and enchantment.  

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We haven’t thrown a Christmas party in four years.  It was wonderful being able to send out invites to a Yuletide Gathering with a few friends.  I chose to serve soups and had my guests bring either wine, bread, or dessert.  Soups are easy to prepare in advance.  They are always delicious and hard to mess up.  Alongside, I served a platter of garlic bread for the Sherry Tomato Soup,  corn chips and sour cream for the Three Chile Mole, and green olives for the Italian Lentil soup.  Friends came bearing garlic and cheese breads, sausages in raspberry chipotle sauce, and lots of divine desserts.

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Make sure you put out little cards stating what each thing is.  The key is to free up as much time to mingle with guests and join in the festivities and you want your guests to feel at home.

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Before guests arrived I put out a platter of my homemade manchego cheese and crackers with roasted orange-parmesan olives (almost all of these recipes are in my new cookbook, From Mama’s Kitchen With Love).  I don’t wait too long after guests arrive to serve supper but something to snack on quells early dinner pangs and gives folks something to do.

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Place all plates, silverware, and glassware out so that friends can help themselves.  Use china.  You can do dishes tomorrow.  

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The couches and the easy chairs are set up in a circle for ease of conversation and it was very easy to pull up other chairs so that everyone could take part in the games and laughter.  I invited an eclectic group of people.  A surgical tech, a Reiki master, the owner of a metaphysical shop, a veteran and her older three children who homestead and homeschool, my oldest, great friends-Rod Sr., Rodney, and my dear Pat.  Everyone had things in common and the conversation stayed lively.

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Start with an ice breaker.  We name all of our animals after movies and so we named off our eight cats and dog to create a fun ice breaker where they had to name the movie.  

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From walking up the illuminated path, to having wine and hors d’oeuvres, to the ice breaker, than dinner, a ten dollar gift exchange, then the game.  We played a fun game called “Catch Phrase” that required no boards or teams, just an electronic device that we passed around that gave us a word and we had to get the group to say it with clues.  It created a lot of great laughter and fun.

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The White Elephant game where people bring odd gifts and people trade and such just creates more items that folks don’t want and may end up in a landfill.  Everyone brought a nice ten dollar gift, such as small oil burners, and salt lamps, crystals, books, and candles, and everyone was delighted with what they received.  

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Pour leftover soup into pint jars and send them home with friends!

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New friends were made, great food was had, joy was spread, and I do believe that is the best party I have had.  Such a beautiful way to celebrate the season of light.

A Wedding to Remember

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Renewing our wedding vows and inviting friends and family to help us bless our new home was amazing.  There were just enough chairs, even though the air turned cold and windy, for the hour or so before and during the ceremony it was clear and a touch warm.  The sun shone down on us with approval as bagpipe music filled the air transporting this little blue collar town into Scotland.  People I expected didn’t make it and those I didn’t expect came with smiles on.  It was all quite perfect.  My husband looked fine in his kilt and sporran and his vows touched my heart, his eyes filling with tears.  I read him mine.  Maryjane was adamant about being the wedding planner.  She stayed in our bedroom as we dressed, ordering my friend, Pat, around as she fastened Doug’s belt, and zipped up my dress.  Maryjane declared herself both ring bearer and flower girl.

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Our friend, Cliff, a blacksmith, member of the Renaissance Scots, and a respected police officer, told the story of the anvil.  The blacksmith was usually educated and was the judge in many matters.  Young people went to the blacksmith to be married.  After our vows and exchanged rings he rang the anvil.  Then the kiss.  Not the giddy kiss of a new couple just getting married, but a sincere kiss of passion and friendship from years spent forging a life together.  We were grateful that Cliff performed the ceremony.

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At 8:00 in the morning our daughter, Emily, showed up with bags and serving dishes and prepared to cater the event.  My children are grown now and this is the first time that I did not have to do anything.  The house smelled so amazing and the aromas of chilies and spices wafted through the door welcoming guests.  Her tacos and salsa were amazing.  I have never had tofu tacos that tasted so wonderful.  At the end Kathleen and Ingrid donned a few of my vintage aprons and set to work cleaning up everything.  Our good friend, Alvin, takes amazing photographs and we were honored that he was there to take all of these.  Shyanne made a cake to remember.  My daughter has been baking our cakes for the past decade.  This one was my favorite.  Lemon cake with lavender frosting.

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Many of my favorite people were there (I missed my son) and it was a fun time for all.  My brother and his family, my great uncle and aunt Norris and Pat, family, children, great friends, all wishing us good will and helping bless the new life in front of us.

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‘Twas a lovely day and I will leave you readers with the blessing that completed our ceremony with a link to see a clip of our amazing bagpiper, Neil, at his finest.  May you all experience the love and support that we received on that special day.

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A Guide to Renewing Your Vows

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We have been thinking about renewing our vows for some time now.  We decided to wait until we had a home of our own.  A celebration in itself coupled with a renewal of love and new beginnings.  We have certainly lived through all of our promises…through sickness and health…through richer and poorer…and have come out stronger than ever.  There were times of great sadness.  But the times of great joy and a life together lived with excitement and courage has reigned prevalent.  We share a friendship and a bond with more great memories than we can recollect.

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We had a lovely wedding.  As many weddings go, we planned for months, spent our life savings (and a good chunk of my in-laws’ savings), I became Bridezilla (crying bitterly over the greens in my flowers…I plead insanity), and then a snow storm hit and everyone skedaddled out of there promptly after the meal.  It was a blur but we were married.

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This time is different.  A bit of fun, a bit of whimsy, without expectations.  That is what makes things stressful.  Expectations.

1. This time we have no idea who is coming.  We invited to our joint house warming/vow renewal one hundred and thirty people.  Most have not responded.  It doesn’t matter.  Those that want to be a part of the ceremony and stand by us will be there.  I expect roughly forty, but perhaps not all for the vows.  I rented twenty chairs for a buck a piece.  The couches and miscellaneous chairs will fill in.  We do not need everything to match.  Just invite your favorite folks and let it roll.  Do not be hurt if certain people do not come.  We are all on many journeys.  We cannot possibly handle everyone’s schedule.

2. Have fun!  We are having a traditional Scottish wedding.  Why not?  Our friend is coming down with his bagpipes.  Our Renaissance friend is doing the ceremony complete with anvil.  Doug is wearing a kilt.  I am wearing my original wedding dress (which was my mother’s wedding dress when she renewed her vows) with corset, slips, and plaid beneath to show through.  I’ll pick up roses or something from the grocery store tonight.

3. Ask family and friends to help.  Our daughter, Shyanne, is making the cake.  Our other daughter, Emily, is taking care of all the food.  Shyanne is a master baker and has her own baking company, A Witch and  Whisk.  Emily wants to open her own restaurant.  She has been in the business for five years.  She is setting up a taco bar.  My friend, Alvin, is doing the photos.  He is an amazing photographer.  My mother-in-law is making some delicious desserts.  Fruit infused waters make an inexpensive and delicious drink.  Homemade chokecherry wine and beers for toasts.

4. Go with the flow.  It always feels like Spring in Pueblo but it is not going to be particularly warm tomorrow to my great dismay.  Somewhere between 35 and 45 degrees in the morning.  The sun always makes it feel warmer.  We may not know until morning if the ceremony will be outside or inside.  The bagpipes should be outside!  Folks can grab a couple of chairs and we can move them where we wish.  Take weather and the flow of the day with a smile and a heart of gratitude.

5. Gratitude.  That is the key.  Be happy there is a celebration to be had!  Loved ones made a point of being there in a world of busyness.  There is food and drink and laughter.  And bagpipes.  Can’t get better than that!

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Next week I will share with you the celebration in pictures.  Perhaps it is time for you to plan a celebration of your own?  They do make life ever sweet.

 

 

The Entertaining Farmgirls take on Spring

The password to get into the dinner party was “Strawberry Wine” and the guests did hope that there would be a glass waiting.  We did not disappoint!  The guests at Wildflower and Fawn’s popup dinner party were greeted with cold glasses of strawberry rhubarb wine from a vineyard in the Palisades.

Shyanne had the idea of writing the menu on the glass pane of the old door in the dining area with chalkboard pens.  It looked whimsical and illustrated the evening’s fare.  Lots of herbs would be showcased in our late spring supper.

Shyanne and I had a vision for this supper club that would incorporate local, organic produce, preferably from my garden.  Fresh, seasonal food prepared in a unique fashion to give party goers something different, something exciting, and a treat to the senses.

The first course was a cool, refreshing strawberry soup to go with the wine.  In a good blender combine a package of frozen strawberries, or other fruit, with a few cups of milk of choice (we used the last of our local goat’s milk), and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  Process than place in fridge until ready to serve.  Pulse one more time before pouring out frothy, creamy soup.

The second course was an easy salad with fresh greens, pickled eggs and beets (click for recipe), and drizzled with the malt vinegar the eggs were in, toasted pecans, and walnut oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I had a loaf of homemade bread on the table too.  This course was enjoyed with housemade strawberry kombucha.

The next course was a duck egg frittata, eggs compliments of my good friend, Alli (who taught me how to make kombucha!).  The frittata was filled with eggs and fresh herbs from my garden, and grape tomatoes.  Eight eggs, 1/2 cup of milk of choice, 3 Tablespoons of herbs (we used thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, chives, chive flowers, clover flowers, cilantro, rosemary, and sage), and 1/2 cup of tomatoes.  Whisk together, pour into heated oiled pan and cook over medium heat until sides and top are almost set, without disturbing, then place under broiler for five minutes.  This was served with couscous and dried cherries with preserved chokecherry sauce.

This course was served with my homemade chokecherry wine.  How to Make Chokecherry Wine was my number one post last year so those of you who made it may want to know that after sitting on its side for twenty months, oh my gosh, it is sooo good.  Semi-sweet, dry, really good wine.

And lastly, the course we were all waiting for was Shyanne’s cake.  Shyanne took a recipe from the vegan cookbook I wrote some years ago (which is coming back into print) and added minced herbs and lemon.  She deftly minced lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme.  There was a pile of herbs on the counter for garnish.  I asked her if she had put them in the cake.  She replied that she had put a little in.  “It’s mint, right?”

“Catnip.”

“What?!” she said in horror.  With her yummy lemon frosting and a cup of cardamom coffee, it made for a delightful dessert.

We so enjoy having various folks over to treat them.  Our next supper club is in August and will preview many fresh ideas from our garden.  Sign up early so you can be at the next supper club!  We’d love to entertain you.

The Entertaining Farmgirls Supper Club

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We Entertaining Farmgirls had such a good time at the last dinner party.  I love hosting farm to table dinners and though I don’t have a farm to host it on, I sure do have a beautiful place with views and a great kitchen to hold them in!  The next one is Sunday, June 12th and I have some spots left.  Wouldn’t you like to join us?

Shyanne and I are creating a four course beautiful meal with all the bells and whistles.  Organic, local, our own homegrown from the community garden, a blend of amazing culinary treasures.  An amazing late spring meal complete with drink pairings, enchantment, and new friends.  The stragglers can enjoy the sunset on the balcony with us.

We love the element of the surprise menu.  (If you have food preferences, whisper them to me and I will tell you which dinner to sign up for!)  The nice table settings, the glasses clinking, homemade comfort food, and fun.

Contact me for more information, for the donation amount, and to save your spot at table! 303-617-3370

The Entertaining Farmgirls Return

I love entertaining.  That is one nice thing about moving back to a more centralized location.  It is easy to entertain here.  The large kitchen leading out to the dining/living room are perfect to encourage conversation, laughter, great food and memories.

Shyanne and I launched our dinner party club, Wildflower and Fawn, and it was a great success.  (The next one is in May)  Here is a step by step and photo journey of an easy dinner party.

First, pick your theme.  We were inspired by our china, red toile, my wedding plates that Shyanne snagged from the old house.  Red checkered tablecloths on sale created a French look.  So, naturally elegant roses came to the table snipped to twelve inches or less (the guests need to see each other!) and placed joyfully into canning jars for a more carefree look.

Second, prepare the courses as early as you can get away with.  I baked bread in the morning so the house smelled wonderful.  Shyanne came over a few hours early and started prepping her to-die-for dessert.  Mint chocolate puff pastries were all made ahead of time before guests arrived.  The toppings, whipped cream, raspberries, powdered sugar, and mint were ready to go when needed.  The coffee pot was set up near the mugs, sugar, and a clean ready creamer.  The dough was ready for the pasta and already rolled out before I got my nice dress on.  Marinara simmered on the stove.  Wine was opened.  Pieces of the salad, like the dressing, were all ready to be assembled.  The hors d’oeuvres were put out and the drinks were poured before the first person arrived.  The courses came together seamlessly.

Set the table early.  It saves a lot of time if you already have your places set.  Remember your etiquette!  Starting from the left line up what the guest will use first.  For this meal it was napkin, salad fork, and dinner fork.  On the other side of the plate was a butter knife and dessert fork.  Wine glass and water above the plate to the right and bread plate on the left.  I like to break up the fanciness by adding a whimsical cocktail napkin.  The table goes from awe to laughs interchangeably.  We want all guests to feel comfortable.

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A fun thing to add for even the most simple gathering is a menu.  We created a menu quickly and printed it out.  It really elevates the whole look.

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By the time guests arrived Shyanne and I were at ease and everything flowed.  I love the moments when laughter, eating, and drinking co-mingle to make the house a home.

The Forest Feast and the Underground Supper Club

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I have found the most beautiful cookbook.  It is called “The Forest Feast” by Erin Gleeson.  You can taste the food and smell the forest and celebrate with friends as you flip the pages.  Cool cocktails and interesting takes on vegetables wooed me into the check out line with it.  I have spent hours lost in its pages.

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I bought it to challenge me.  Sometimes I make the same vegetables in many of the same ways as I always have.  Corn with butter and salt.  Broccoli with  uh…butter and salt.  How about broccoli roasted then tossed with blue cheese and pine nuts?  I served this dish with curried salmon and salad when friends came to dinner and the dish positively melts in your mouth and screams for great red wine.  Cauliflower steaks with cheddar and chives.  Cucumber and strawberry salad.  Paprika and cinnamon crispy carrot slices.  Sangria.

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It inspires me, as so many things out there do.  Shyanne and I have long dreamed of a supper club.  Wildflower and Fawn, after our respective Native names, would be its moniker.  Supper clubs are frowned upon when serving wines and food in a non-commercial kitchen and charging.  But, yet we dreamed.  Four courses, from scratch, organic, local ingredients, wine pairings, my creative take on main and side dishes, and Shyanne’s extraordinary flair for desserts.  A multi-star experience of fresh flowers, laughter, fine china, and delicious food and drinks.  A quarterly event.  A way to express our inner chef/sommelier/baker/entertainer without the restaurant.

The first one filled up in a matter of days.  The next is Memorial Weekend.  The ideas and inspiration keeps gathering force like stardust, and enchantment is all around.

 

A Feast for the Senses on an Urban Homestead

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I put the kettle on. I am oddly consoled flipping the switch to turn on the fireplace. The sound of the dryer after nine years naught reverberates softly. I sip tea and watch the moon drift silently away above the rose hued mountain top in the early morning dawn. What shall I do now in my third floor apartment looking over the city blocks and the glorious mountain range? There are no chickens to tend to. No young lambs following on my skirts. No goats in need of milking. No ducks swimming in their icy pond. What shall we do?

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I positively glow at the sight of my kitchen. It is a beautiful, large expanse of creative space waiting for dinner parties and garnishes. For finishing touches of truffle salt and a sip of local Cabernet. It calls for melting butter and the smell of homemade bread. It speaks of decades of cookbooks and articles, of sustenance and my internal need to cook. Nay, create. Cooking is meatloaf every Tuesday. I have never made the same thing twice. I can be the entranced chef I long to be and still be in bed by nine.

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There are community gardens close by. My bicycle and basket yet to be purchased await and I can already feel the breeze against my warmed cheek as the summer sun heats the pavement as I whir past the buildings. Fresh produce overflows my carrier. I am planning a traditional Cherokee garden complete with language. Sacred sunflowers, the three sisters….more. Agaliha. Selu. Watsigu.

What shall we do here in our third floor apartment? Let’s cook. Let’s be chefs and farmers, shall we? Let’s preserve. Let’s not just can corn; let’s make relishes and marmalades and chutneys and more. Let’s create.

What’s that old saying? I think I have quoted it a time or two, Grow Where Planted!

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