Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Honey Mama’s 12 Step Program for an Awesome Turkey Day

Read this list and check it twice!  
Here are some fresh, fun ideas for savoring the holiday, finding a way to be in the moment, and relaxing while spending time with the people you love.  

1. Did you make a shopping list for the big day?  Well then, pull it out and check it twice.  Make sure you have the important things on your list.  It will save time and energy and help keep things running smoothly.  

2. Have you picked out a good wine to complement the meal?  If not, try Pacific Rim Rieslings.  They offer sweet riesling, dry riesling and a blend between the two, which is their standard Riesling.  Their wines are crisp, light, and refreshing.  The flavor balance between sweet and dry in the "Riesling" creates the perfect glass of wine to compliment a turkey dinner. Turkey needs all the help it can get in terms of compliments, this wine does the job and won’t break the bank in the process.  My favorite is the “Pacific Rim Riesling”.  It’s available at Brown Jug, Fred Meyer Liquor, and Carrs Liquor, bottles run $11-$13. 
3. Are you feeling adventurous and want to try out a new cranberry relish recipe this Thanksgiving?  Check out Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish (NPR), complete with 12 photos and recipe to walk you through each step process along with the story behind the recipe. 

4. Now get ready get set, get your fat pants on!  Slip into a hideous holiday sweater, find those bunny slippers Great Aunt Ellen sent last Christmas and get comfortable.  Real comfortable.  
5. Then sit back and take a moment to put the whole meal in perspective with Tante Marie’s entertaining instructional cooking segment to help you get your turkey on the table with your sanity in tact and your heart and mind in the moment.  You’ll learn how to prepare a turkey and focus on the things that really matter “Just put the fu*cking turkey in the oven!” 
6. Head out on a walk, go for a ski, take the kids sledding - have fun, just make sure your oven is turned ON! 
7. When you get back inside from your outdoor adventure take a moment to select some music to put you in the holiday mood. Here are a few of my iHeart Radio
“Favorites for Thanksgiving”:
8. Now why not fix yourself a drink?  Mix up some one of these tasty holiday beverages and get some holiday cheer going on!  

Honey Mama’s Cran-Apple-Ging Tini 
An adventurous cocktail that takes a few 
minutes to prep, but is well worth the time 
spent concocting it.  

The Drink:
¼ C Vodka 
2 T Angry Orchard Apple Ginger Beer 
2 oz   Cranberry Juice Cocktail
1 t Lime Juice 
1/8 t Ground Ginger 

Sugar and Spice Rim Frosting:
1/4 C Raw Organic Sugar
1/4 t Ground Cinnamon
1/4 t Ground Ginger 
1/8 t Ground Nutmeg 

Apple Simple Syrup:
1 C White Sugar 
1/2 C Water
1/2 C Apple Juice 

Crystallized ginger and/or 
fresh cranberries 
  1. Freeze martini glasses and vodka.
  2. Mix Sugar and Spice Rim Frosting 
  3. Make Apple Simple Syrup 
  4. Prepare the martini glass:  Remove from freezer, dip rim into Apple Simple Syrup, then dip the glass in the Sugar and Spice Rim Frosting (I spread it out on a small dinner plate and dip the glass in the mix.  
  5. Blend the martini: Add ice to a cocktail shaker and shake and strain into a finished martini glass 
  6.  Garnish:  crystallized ginger and/or two fresh cranberries 
  7. Cheers! 
Honey Mama’s Pumpkin Hot Cocoa 
A deliciously decadent beverage that is deceptively rich and filling. 
 A perfect early afternoon prelude to the big meal.

3 T Hot Cocoa Mix (heaping)
6 oz Hot Water 
2 T Half and Half 
2 T Honey Mama’s Pumpkin Pie Syrup (see below)

Honey Mama’s Pumpkin Pie Syrup
Originally Featured In: Food Is Love 

 1 1/2 C    Water 
 1 1/2 C   Sugar 
 1 C  Pure Pumpkin Puree
 2 tsp.       Ground Cinnamon
 1/2 tsp.  Ground Ginger 
 1/2 tsp.  Ground Cloves 
 1/2 tsp.  Ground Nutmeg 
         tt      Love and Whipped Cream 
  1. Mix hot cocoa mix and water well, then add pumpkin pie syrup, stir, then top off with half and half swirled in.  
  2. Enjoy! 
9. Kick back, relax and enjoy Throwback Thursday, Thanksgiving style: Thanksgiving on The Muppet Show with Arlo Guthrie featuring my personal favorite, Swedish Chef, who has always charmingly reminded me of my Culinary Arts professor, Chef Robert.  
10. Are you longing to revive family traditions?  Are you “somewhere in the middle” when it comes to saying a Thanksgiving blessing?  Here are some middle of the road options I found, pick something that inspires you and take a moment and write down any thoughts, memories or ideas that come to mind.

Go with whatever you feel, write it out, then take a moment, enjoy your beverage, listen to the music, play a game with your family -- come back to it with fresh eyes and create a new family tradition. 
If you want to give your family a gift on Thanksgiving, you don’t need to run out to the store and buy the perfect centerpiece, or even the “perfect wine” (I really did just say that!).  All you need to do is tell them how you feel, assuming it’s all lovey dovey....if it’s not and you feel like you have something you really need to get off your chest then; 

11. Watch Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. (back in his “illicit-drug-use-on-the-set” days).  He brings a lot of charm and bravado to the movie, directed by Jodie Foster.  Featuring Anne Bannecroft as Holly Hunter’s mom.  This movie is filled with silent questions and pregnant pauses and hysterically hilarious meltdowns with the characters meditating on what all it all means.  

If this movie doesn’t make you want to embrace your Crazy Aunt Cindy, tell your mother how much she means to, and make peace with the fact that your family is imperfectly perfect, then nothing will.  This movie is a seriously underrated holiday classic and I am making it my mission in life to get the word out about this movie for the comedic holiday relief it provides. 

12. Tired of Pumpkin Pie?  Try a new twist on an old tradition, try Honey Mama’s Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (a gluten-free recipe).  Click on the recipe title for the original recipe posted on H.M.R.W. earlier this fall. 

And don’t forget, “It’s just a fu*king turkey"....just stick it in the oven and ENJOY YOURSELF, okay?” 

"Got no checkbooks, got no banks.
Still I'd like to express my thanks -- 
I got the sun in the morning and the moon 
at night." - Irving Berlin
Cooking Turkey? Use a Meat Thermometer (165 F-175 F) 

Coming Soon:  On Sunday I am kicking off a new series “Honey Mama’s Top 25 Wild Ideas to Combat Cabin Fever On A Budget!”.  Beginning this Sunday through the end of March I will be featuring one post a week highlighting an activity from the list with instructions, ideas, and ways to get in touch with the wild, right out your backdoor, whether you live in a cul-de-sac or out in the wild blue yonder!  

I’ll be featuring a variety of ideas for different interests, ages, and weather conditions.  I will also be featuring “Guest Blog Posts” including: a Restorative Yoga sequence with Tracy Johnson, Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor, musical appreciation, and a writing workshop with published Alaskan author Buffy McKay, her recently published novella, Weathered Edge was a first of its kind - a collection of three novellas by three up and coming Alaskan authors.  I will be featuring additional guest blog posts which will be announced later in the season.  

Interested in contributing to this series?  E-mail me at: honeymamarunswild@gmail.com  

Do you have an unusual Thanksgiving tradition?  Share it with me on Facebook at Honey Mama Runs Wild and Follow Me on Pinterest: Honey Mama Runs Wild

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thank You for the Music

     I’ve been listening to a lot of music these days.  It’s like taking the magical mystery tour through my childhood.  Curled up on the sofa sized overstuffed futon in my office with a pumpkin spice candle flickering away in the darkness, listening with my most exploratory ear, to the sounds of my childhood, delivered via iHeart Radio’s “Central Park Leaves Falling”  and my latest obsession, the “sentimental songwriters” station.  
Every time a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song is on a vivid image pops into my brain and I "feel" a memory....sitting up, all wobbly at the core, on a blue blanket with white daisies, unable to crawl very far or walk, less than a year old.  Feeling the music.

As a child I was immersed, fully submerged in an incredible, rich musical culture with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Loggins and Messina, James Taylor, The Beatles, Carole King, Joan Armatrating, Blue Oyster Cult, Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell, Prince, The Eagles, Van Morrison, Judy Collins, Jefferson Airplane, Crazy Horse, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers Band, The Who, Led Zeppelin, LIttle Feat, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Grateful Dead, John Denver, Santana, Electric Light Orchestra, Elton John, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Derek and The Dominos, The Rolling Stones, Huey Lewis and The News, The Beatles (and their later solo careers), and many other incredible artists being played with great frequency. My parents didn’t just play a song or two, my parents played entire albums, back to back, one after the next.  It was like having my own personal DJs on hand.  
Somewhere in my deep subconcious I have entire albums memorized.  A secret archive that lies within my brain of all the great albums of the 1970s and 1980s, with some older classics mixed in for comparing and contrasting.  Through listening to these online radio stations, I get tiny gifts delivered any time I listen to the “radio”.  At The Moose Lodge we only get public radio reception on a blue bird day, so any music or public radio has to come from the internet. 
I am so damn thankful for the internet.  If it were not for the internet, I couldn’t be here, doing this.  The connection to the “outside world” that online connectivity provides us is priceless.  The friendship, support, and encouragement we’ve been blessed with has helped us transition here, to this wild place.  Our friends and family sending us messages of encouragement and support, bolstering our faith when it’s -30 with wind, doing outside chores for an hour and feeling thankful for every damn minute of it.  Thankful for every gust of wind, thankful for the cold, because we are living a wild life and sharing it with you.  Just over three months in and this has already been the most incredible experience I could possibly imagine.  I still find it hard to articulate what this experience is about, to answer the “why’s”.  

Prior to moving here I tuned into the traditional radio, which I suspect in the next few years will become a dinosaur in the hall of archived electronics. Now I listen to the radio online, streaming music at random, sampling the buffet.  The online format has delivered “new” (to me) songs by some of my favorite artists.  Somehow even the newly uncovered artists songs sound deeply famaliar, which leads me to believe that early musical exposure had a lasting, life changing impact.  An imprint on my mind and on my musical soul.  Rediscovering these songs is like finding another missing piece to the  musical puzzle that was my childhood.  

This musical appreciation in early childhood helped me to develop an ecclectic musical palate.  If it’s music, I will give it a go with my heart and mind wide open, with my ears tuned in, eagerly awaiting musical harmony and deceptive delight.  I can drink in music all day long and still never tire of the sounds, the words, the stories - the lives of the musicians who devote themselves to their talent, often at a high cost.  
I read an article a while back in The Week news magazine about George Harrison.  I actually saved it and gave it to my mom, as a token of thanks and reminder of the music we’ve shared. A thank you for introducing me to George at such a young age.  

The article describes Harrison’s only child, Dhani’s interpretations of his father, when he was a child:  Harrison was ecstatic when the couple had their only child, Dhani, in 1978. His advice to his son was to "be happy and meditate," says Dhani, who grew up in Friar Park, the 120-room mansion in the English countryside that Harrison purchased in 1970. The property was beautiful and mysterious, with caves, gargoyles, waterfalls, and stained glass installed by Sir Frank Crisp, an eccentric millionaire who'd owned it until his death, in 1919. Harrison turned his energies to restoring the 35-acre property's gardens, which had fallen into disrepair.
AS A SMALL boy, Dhani says, "I was pretty sure he was just a gardener," a reasonable conclusion since Harrison would work 12-hour days planting trees and flowers. "Being a gardener and not hanging out with anyone and just being home, that was pretty rock 'n' roll, you know?" says Dhani.
George Harrison lived life, as best he could on his own terms without accept being pinned down as any one thing, or person.  He shrugged of the mainstream, he went his own way and did the best he could to be a good person, despite the crazy things that fame can bring.  
Different layers of personality, stacked upon one another - people records.  Each record creates a unique experience that has a certain flair, a specific a musical harmony that compliments your life and allows for the creation of rich, rewarding experiences.  The different qualities that make up people, the uniqueness that lies in every living person, that “something special” we all bring to the world.  We’re going around and around like stacked records of eclectic genres, cultures and respective tastes.  Spinning.  
Harrison was fond of repeating a phrase he attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, "Create and preserve the image of your choice," which is odd, because his choice seemed to be no image at all. He was an escape artist, forever evading labels and expectations.
"He didn't really have a manager or an agent. He was doing what he wanted.” - The Week
While I’ve developed an interest in every kind of music there is, I have never learned to play an instrument.  I’ve hit a few keys on a piano and rocked out with a recorder, with all my might, the occasional harmonica solo, and of course, the slide whistle quartet (my husband’s employer had slide whistles at one of their Christmas parties, and the months that followed left us all a bit hard of hearing).  This week I bought my first guitar, verbally at least, until the next time I come in “To Town” and meet her, my first guitar.  
Another Dream, Realized.
I had reached out to a friend for help in selecting my first guitar.  A few days later he found one and has been kind enough to claim her and hold onto her until I can bring her home.  The simple act of reaching out and asking for help from a friend.  More wild dreams coming true, each and every day.  
Chicken Soup for the Soul 
Simple things really are what matters most.  The little moments in our day that we fill with things we love and enjoy doing.  Those are the things in life that matter.  Music matters.  Hugging your kids good night and really squeezing them -- extra hard, wrapping them with all the love you have in your heart.  
There is nothing in life that could be more important than that.  
Golden Girl
The love of a parent, the unique, special love you have for each of their personality records.  The loud and noisy, the soothing and calm, the imperfect and unusualLoving them up and being thankful for the incredible gifts you have been given in life is about the best thing you can spend doing with your time.  
As I’ve immersed myself in this experience that is The Moose Lodge, I am starting to realize a metamorphisis is underway.  A series of new records is waiting to be released.  New Things. Big Dreams.  Each of us is experiencing a deep personal transformation, by simply being present, in there here and now - together as a family.  
George reading one of my childhood books "Tales of Peter Rabbit and
 His Friends" by Beatrix Potter
There is nothing in life that could be more important than that.  
I was rocking out before I could roll over!
Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching me the important things in life, for making music part of my soul and for giving me heart and faith that even the wildest dreams can come true.  I love you guys more than you will ever know.  
Right before my first heart surgery.
Thanks to my family for giving me my roots and teaching me to use my wings, so that I can fly.  

If not for you
Babe, I couldnt even find the door
I couldnt even see the floor
Id be sad and blue, if not for you

If not for you
Babe, the night would see me wide awake
The day would surely have to break
It would not be new, if not for you

If not for you, my sky would fall
Rain would gather, too
Without your love Id be nowhere at all
Id be lost, if not for you

If not for you
The winter would hold no spring
Couldnt hear a robin sing
I just wouldnt have a clue, if not for you

If not for you, my sky would fall
Rain would gather, too
Without your love Id be nowhere at all
Id be lost, if not for you

If not for you
The winter would hold no spring
Couldnt hear a robin sing
I just wouldnt have a clue, if not for you

If not for you

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Freeze-Up - Part II


Our coldest morning to date marks the official freezing up of the river.  By the time it gets down to -37.7 F, few things stand a chance of maintaining their original character. 

Cold this intense changes everything it touches, leaving frosty impressions in your heart and mind.  The mighty river flowing free for weeks at or below freezing temperatures finally succumbed to the elements and nestled itself beneath a thick blanket of sparkling white ice.  

A thick layered quilt of boarder ice and grew and grew until the two sides finally came together and formed one solid continuous sheet of sparkling snowy ice. 

This week we finally broke down and tried out the propane heater on the third floor after waking up to another 44 F degree morning, in our bedroom.  The heater is doing its job and keeping the 3rd floor at a cozy and comfortable 60 F.  Prior to moving here 60 F inside would have felt cold, now it feels like heaven.  Curled up in bed, tucked in beneath heavy quilts -- the reality that a 97.7 degree temperature difference is a play, the contrast between life on the inside and the great outdoors.  What a wild life.

The furnace project in our basement gets closer every day to being ready to “fire”, which is good because it’s in the mid-to-upper 30’s in our basement, with the aid of an electric heater.
We are still experieincing random power outages.  The lights went  dark at 5:25 PM last night, 5 minutes before my online class was about to begin.  Parke and the kids went to the community thanksgiving dinner, as planned, while I held a silent vigil by candlelight, waiting for the power to come back on.  Once the power went off, the reminder that our basement is being heated by a small electric heater sunk in and I started to pray for the power to come back on.  

I curled up in my office with Robbie cat and wrote in my notebook, by candlelight with a pen.  Something I rarely do, as I am tied to my Mac Book.  Spell check, cut, copy, paste.  Convenience.  Writing with a pen and paper seems like slow way to write and I generally seek it out as a last resort.  I have carpal tunnel and writing by hand exascerbates things and my handwriting gravitates between being clear and ledgiable to completly indechiperable, even to my eyes.  
The Kerosene Lamp from Parke's Dad has taken up permanent residence in our kitchen due to the frequent, unexpected power outages we've experienced since: What Would Laura Do?
Last night I wrote and wrote until my handwriting became scribble and my wrists began to burn with fire and finally seize up.  Then I sat there, in the dark, watching the big orange moon rise above the Mentastas framed in by black spruce, listening to the huskies howl at the moon.  I went outside for a few minutes, it was -24 F and I bundled up accordingly and was surprised that the cold was not as debilitating as I had anticipated it would be. 

Standing outside on our porch looking out at the landscape -- the five houselights we can see off in the distance - vanished.  The landscape laid out before me, bathed in orange glowing moonlight with a soundtrack of huskies howling and the sounds of silence.  The landscape covered in only natural light, existing in its most natural state.  Wonderment. Awe. Thanks.
Parke Kicking Snow Off the Deck at Sunset @ -24 F, 11/19/13
The occasional traffic that does roll on past The Moose Lodge sounds different when the temperatures are nearly -40.  The sounds is more audible against the silence of the night.  Crunching snow and whirring sounds emitted from vehicles pushed to their very brink of functionality.  Everything is the same, yet completely different at -40.
Sunset 11/20/13 @ -24 F
The river has finally completed it’s freeze-up cycle and now a new chapter begins in our first winter in the wild Alaskan interior. 

Here is a refresher on the definition of “freeze-up”  and the link to "Freeze-Up, Part I" from 11/10/13.
Sunrise 11/20/13 @ -37.7 F

1: a freezing over of a body of water esp. when marking the onset of winter 
2: a period during which the bodies of water in an area are frozen over

1. Frazil Ice: Ice crystals form and mix with river water forming a slush.

2. Pancake Ice: Sheets of frazil ice cluster together and form "pancakes" of ice that float like rafts down the river, bumping into other pancake rafts, creating rough edges along the pancakes boarders.

3. Boarder Ice: Solid ice that forms as the temperature drops, the water at the rivers edge freezes first creating a frozen boarder framing in the river.  
4. Freeze-Up Ice: Rapidly dropping temperatures cause the pancake ice, frazil and/or boarder ice to freeze together and create a mass of ice, which can create ice dams and lead to flooding.  There is a spring that enters the river just down from our boat launch, that combined with the beaver family that shares our river frontage has meant through the process of freeze-up the bend in the river in our back yard has grown wider and wider.  A cycle of flooding and freezing has created a wide bend in the river.

5. Sheet Ice: At first blush the river appears to be covered in a thick sheet of ice, but the thickness varies widely making the river an even more dangerous and unpredictable force than it usually is, “the flow is turbulent, slightly warmer water is upwelled from the river bottom which melts away at the underside of the ice. As a result, the ice will be unpredictably thin in places, making walking on the river extremely dangerous”.  

 6. Candle Ice
 7. Break-Up Ice

The completion of the first five steps of freeze-up marks the official start of our first interior Alaskan winter.  By the time spring arrives and the river ice goes out we will rejoice and give thanks for our survival.  The cold, -40, just sounds intimidating.  You need not step outside to gain an appreciation for how delicate and ill-prepared humans are to survive in the wild, without the aid of wood heat, a structure with 18 inch thick walls, and a cache of food to get you through the long, cold winter.  
Sunset, 11/19/13, -24
Last night Parke went to let the dogs out before bed.  Petzl took one look at the door and ran in the opposite direction.  We were finally able to coax her outside for a quick bathroom break.  When the dogs are outside now, they move with swift persistence, no dawdling.  Honey generally wanders around, impervious to our calls, and does her own thing.  Now she runs shoulder to shoulder with Petzl, huddling together to stand up against the cold, employing the buddy system to ensure survival. I’ll take that their lead as sage advice and huddle up shoulder to shoulder with Parke and the kids, and stand strong against the cold and endure the darkness, giving thanks for the freedom the cold has given us.  

What’s the coldest weather you’ve endured?  
How did you manage? 

Share it with me at:  
on Facebook!  

Black and White Sunset, 11/19/13

Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.” 

Full Color Sunset, 11/19/13

When it’s your first time in Tok and you’re broke and just limping down the line
And it’s forty below and you know that they know that you’re a hopeful from Outside
And people speak distinctly as if you’re foreign
And you forgot to plug your car in
And you’re clearly overdressed, even for winter
And your self-assurance slowly starts to splinter
Oh it takes a little effort to keep your head on straight
To laugh as if you mean it, to whistle while you wait
It takes a little effort to warm up one more smile
To bear another stare, to brave another mile

When it’s the first time you could get to West Hollywood and you’re slathered in sunscreen
And you drive really slow, so you know that they know that you’re another Joe with a dream
And you’re wearing your old secondhand blue jeans
And you keep turning your head at limousines
And everybody else looks so damn pretty
And you’re feelin’ extra grungy and extra indie
Oh it takes a little effort to hold your head up straight
To dress just like you want to, to whistle while you wait
It takes a little effort to not avert your eyes
To trust that you belong there — it might just be yourself that you surprise

And when you’re hopelessly lost in downtown Austin and the crowd’s too cool for words
And you don’t wanna go but you know that they know you’re one of thousands of songbirds
And you can’t hardly be heard above the racket
‘Cause everybody there is tryin’ to hack it
And you’ve never been compelled to sleep outdoors yet
So you’re feelin’ all establishment and corporate
Oh it takes a little effort to keep your head on straight
To laugh and really mean it, to whistle while you wait
It takes a little effort to sometimes plug your ears
To play without pretensions, but also without fear

Because some of us will never quite feel the thrill of being safe in our own skin
When it’s your first time around you might flounder a bit ’til you fit in
And although I do heartily admire
Folks whose natural graces seem inspired
I expect the truly confident are fewer
Than I am generally inclined to think
And it’s worth a little effort to look ‘em in the eye
To whistle while you’re waiting, to flutter ’til you fly
Oh, it’s worth a little effort and a lot of honesty
It’s worth some work believing

It takes a little practice to learn to be