Sunday, November 3, 2019

November Thoughts, Grateful

Oh November, just the mention of the month and my mind registers on one word…. grateful.  It’s a beautiful concept and of course, I am thankful for the good in my life, but the weird thing is I am more grateful for all the hard lessons and dissatisfaction of situations that forced me out of my comfort zone and to have to take action. 

It was from those difficult times that I learned either from others or found in myself what it meant to be true to your own self, to forgive, to have faith, and to know from those oh-so-hard life lessons to look for the silver linings and to know that they will  emerge and you will come out stronger. To always stay hopeful and not settle for ordinary, but to go for what is the best for you. For it was those changes,  some forced, some voluntarily made by me that brought me to the here and now.  I found a wonderful man who has truly shown me the meaning of “help-mate”. He is my rock.  The special bond that I share with both of my daughters as after we had our worlds shaken up,  we support each other as we have re-created our new worlds.  And that the new world for each of us is a much better version that what we had before.  Having a close-knit large tribe of crazy family, they are my kind of people.  Having true kinds of friends, which you unfortunately find out what kind they are when you have a major life event.  The true friends are the ones who are  there for you and you for them.   My little piece of heaven that I get to call home which come next year, Rod will share along side me.  And having a job that I love – but truly it’s about being surrounded by the stellar people I work alongside some who have become good friends. 

With that I wanted to share pictures from last month that I consider the good people in my life, who are my blessings.    So if you are a glutton for punishment, I uploaded just a few.  I had planned on writing more about the apple press party... but life got crazy so I've lumped all of October events into  one short blog post.   All my best, Gayle

Kaitlyn & Soren's wedding.  I adore my new son-in-law and the added bonus of those three adorable kiddos.   The pictures are below of the wedding and apple press event - 

The wedding was set just before Dusk, purely magical

Daughter Jen and niece, Sarah, and all the grand-angels

My handsome guy and me
 Earlier in the month we did a couple of trial runs on our hydraulic apple press.  This year the applies weren't abundant but we had plenty to make gallons of apple juice.
Friends cutting up the apples to feed into the grinder

Rod and his daughter Chelsea picking apples

Rod pouring the "end result" So yummy

Expert help with Miss M running the hydraulic jack
We got a short but sweet visit in with Chelsea and boyfriend, Dylan.  So before everyone left, we got a quick picture, and then sent them home with apple juice. Plus we had so much that we froze some for the holidays.  =)
Zach, Rod, me, Chelsea and Dylan

Friday, September 27, 2019

Honoring the Past Helps with Living in the Present

Early morning sky.  Just like life's journey, after the darkness there will be light
It’s weird how the body remembers trauma.  Our mind may forget or our memory may slightly become blurry in time, but the body remembers.  This week has been more mentally and physically fatiguing than normal.  I was wondering why as the workday chaos wasn’t really anything out of the norm.  I was tired, but weirdly I wasn’t sleeping as well as I could.  My house was quiet and there were no distractions of grand-angels hanging out.  Rod was working in Spokane and we hadn’t communicated much except for a few texts.  And then…. a  Face Book memory popped up…. And there it was.  The  memory that my body was remembering. It was 7 years ago this week that my then 24 yoa daughter Kaitlyn went from being a newlywed to a widow in the span of 10 weeks.  I went from being a content farm-wife to finding myself single 9 days later.  Both were sudden and unexpected events. I wondered how I could have forgotten to take a moment to quietly remember those events.   Perhaps it is because both Kaitlyn and I have fully recovered, and she is happily and busily getting ready for her wedding next month to the most wonderful man.  And I have been in a happy relationship with Rod for over 2 years and we are making plans for our future as well. So last night as the memory hovered from the past, I poured myself a glass of wine and baked a red wine chocolate birthday cake for Rod’s daughter Chelsea, who is coming for a quick visit this week-end. (recipe at the end of the blogpost)

So when I awoke at 4:39am this morning and it dawned on me that our body remembers trauma even when the mind has it in the dark recesses.  And what I realized was that my body was saying I remember the hurt and was taking life down a notch to take a moment of silence, to remember the past and honor it.  Lessons learned from the past are good beginnings to move forward with the promise of beautiful new beginnings. So at 4:40am, I made myself a glorious cup of coffee flavored with pumpkin, put on some Brently Gilbert as his music is written from some very soul riveting experiences that just speaks to me and I knew I had to write.

Taking stock of life now, it is different, I am different and I am more in tune with me and focusing on living an authentic life. A life that matters and is lived on my terms. While blending my life with another, I still am staying on my course and my heart and soul whisper that the journey was what it was needed to be, lessons learned and new beginnings are ripe with so much promise.  Kaitlyn has found this out too.  And now my other daughter Jen is at the beginning of her journey of reconciling her past from an emotionally abusive relationship and that she is now on her solo journey and is the captain of her own ship. She is navigating towards living an authentic life on her terms.  She knows and sees how Kaitlyn and I have arrived safely in our harbors and that she will find her own safe harbor as well.  We are there to help her on her journey, but ultimately it is a course that only that person can chart.

And with that, I hope you have found your own safe harbor.  If you are still in the journey of finding your way, I wish you well and please know that those gray stormy days won’t last forever, and that just like our weather, the sun will once again shine.  As always, I’d love to hear your comments, thoughts and stories, so either post a comment or email me at  All my best, Gayle
I have tweaked my Red Wine Chocolate Cake recipe and will repost it on the Cake page… but for now, here you go…. Bake away and enjoy!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake 
3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cup buttermilk or half & half (either works fine)
1 cup red wine (I like a merlot or cabernet ) use a really good wine
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ teas kosher salt
2 ¼ teas baking soda
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a 12 cup tube pan or 12 cup bundt pan. ( I use Baker’s Joy spray and it replaces the need to grease/flour the pan).
In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, eggs, kosher salt and canola oil.  Mix well.  Add in buttermilk ( or half&half) and the wine. Mix well.  Next sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and mix well.  Then add in the ½ cup boiling water and mix well -   The batter will be runny. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let sit for 13-15 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate.  Let cool.

Red Wine Ganache

 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, evenly chopped (or 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips)
 1/4 cup red wine
 2 tablespoons heavy cream
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Make the glaze: Place the chocolate, wine and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for one minute at 100% power until the mixture can be whisked smooth. Whisk in the butter and mix until incorporated. If the glaze is too runny, let the mixture stand until thickened, about 10 minutes . Drizzle over the cake.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Family+Love=Summer Sweetness

A couple nights ago, I BLISSFULLY ENJOYED DINNER OUTSIDE and soaked up the warmth of the fading sun.   I checked my urge to work at my front door and let myself  keep the mindset of being on vacation mode after having just gotten back from the coast. After the sun set, and darkness forced me into the house, the scent of ripe peaches that I had picked the day before spurred me into action to do something with them and pronto! So I made my first batch of peach-butter, canned peaches and made two peach pies.  Yummm.

The recipe for peach butter was simple: 7 lbs of peaches, ½ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp of ginger.  Cook in a sauce pan till mushy and the liquid is reduced.  I like chunks, so I ignored the recipe that said to use an immersible blender and puree it, instead I smashed the peach chunks up with a wooden spoon. Then I put the peach mixture into mason jars and canned them. Summer in a jar.

Peaches galore.. peach butter and canned peaches.  My first on this

Sunny days on the boat, Soren, Rod and Kaitlyn
As much as I love Fall, I’m not quite ready to let summer go and this past August was filled with  family gatherings.  First was a visit from daughter Kaitlyn, fiancĂ©e Soren & his adorable kiddos who flew in from Maryland.  Rod took us out to play on the water and fun it was, lounging on air mattresses, dodging the water fights, sipping drinks and soaking up the sun. 

Who's hungry? My sweet grand angels and mom, Gigi
The following day, I invited Gigi (my mom) and other daughter, Jen & her kiddos over for dinner. There is just something about gathering together over a home cooked meal that is soothing, relaxing and sets the perfect tone for celebrating being together again.   

Pure kiddo sweetness
And just like kids do, there was an immediate bond between them and I ended up with an impromptu sleepover, 5 girls, one boy ages 5 to 13. I was able to squeeze in some grandma time with those sweet kiddos and just couldn’t get enough of them.

Family + love = Summer blessings

What we are like in real life.... what can I say?
As always the visit went way to quickly, and it was so sweet watching Kaitlyn in her role as bonus mom and knowing she was happy. Deeply happy.  Her life is complete. As I took them to the airport, Kaitlyn and I held onto each other for a long time, with both of us tearing up, it was hard knowing a piece of my heart was going with them and how much I would miss them as I watched them  head into the airport. The next time we see them it will be in October for their wedding, which is just around the corner. Yikes… I had better see if I need new cowboy boots to complete my outfit!

Then over Labor Day week-end, Gigi, Jen and I decided that some fresh salt air was the ticket for renewing our minds,  hearts and souls. There is just something about standing on the beach watching the ocean roll in that makes you realize and relish all the good in your life. We invited all the family who could make it to join us on the coast.  We were celebrating the reduction of Denise’s cancer tumor and the new singleness for Jen. Gigi rented the same house we had stayed in 10 years before

Us 10 years ago
and  this time, we combined families, some of mine along with Rod and his kids, Zach, Chelsea and her sweet boyfriend, Dylan. 
A group picture, except Chelsea & Dylan opted to hang out on the beach.  I was sad we didn't get more group pic's, but glad I got the pic's I did
Chelsea & Dylan - from another adventure - but didn't want to leave them out of the blog post

Me, Rod & Jen.  Beach, beer, waves and soaking up the sun

Dylan and Rod flying a kite on the beach - I never could get pic's of Chelsea & Dylan... dang!
Again, gathering everyone around the dinner table was relaxing and created some great bonds. We polled everyone and said - dine out or stay in?  Everyone voted to stay in and enjoy the relaxed dining atmosphere during our stay. (Barry and Rod were great cooks )  After dinner, we would laugh ourselves silly over a few board games and stayed up way too late.

Jen, me, Gigi at Newport on the dock

At Devil's Churn... waves were spectacular. Jen, Zach, Rod

Rod & I
Every morning  Jen & I started our day off with early morning beach walks, with coffee in hand, we searched for cool rocks and had some heart-to-heart talks. 

I think our hats say what was in our hearts
My fav part of the day

My girl

Cool things to look at every day
It makes my heart happy seeing Jen relaxed and watching how she is blooming and excited to create a beautiful and authentic way of living for both herself and as an example for her precious girls.  

August was filled with the warmth of new beginnings, happiness, and realizing each day is precious and to not waste it.  Wish I could capture another month of summer.   

And life, just like the changing of the seasons has prompted change. And I see that each of us in our own way has chosen to move forward to honor the past, take the good parts with us and focus on living life the best way we know how.  And as we move forward to new adventures and beginnings the glorious Fall reminds us to relish those days in the sun, take comfort on cold rainy days and most of all make happy memories.   We know each season both in the calendar month or in our lives has a place in our life.  All my best, Gayle