Through the Looking Glass

the butterfly chrysalis of Covid-19

So we have stepped through the looking glass, we have gone through the viscous window of reality and come through to the other side. We are disoriented, exhausted, and covered in primordial goo. Is it a birth of some kind? Or a metamorphosis? A chrysalis of change and connection, and we are indeed in it together, and it is changing constantly.

All of humanity is connected through one biological truth of vulnerability, a virus, and it will take all of humanity to conquer it. Every soul will be remembered, and not forgotten, their names said every day and blessings of love sent to them as they ascend and we remain, mourning constantly and sending love and light.

I am of the mindset that there is form to the seemingly random patterns of existence, and that humanity is now facing a darkness that reflects it’s own actions on this planet, and our abusive dynamic with the Earth is ending. It is a difficult truth to face, and we must be patient with ourselves and others.

As I stand here peering through the looking glass, at the old world we all once knew, I sigh as I accept this as the only moment. There could be a million thoughts, or just one, and it all seems just as daunting. I fluctuate between feeling the world’s pain and feeling some focus or purpose or joy. I know in a concrete manner that I have light to share and love to shine, thought the details may still be faint silhouettes in the distance. I have full confidence like so much else in life, that things will become clear, so keep going, keep being, because that is the meaning of life.

The things that bring joy to me I will continue to bring to others. I may only be feeding my husband and our fur kids, but I hope to also feed your hearts with my words about making and baking, my images and adventures, and I promise to keep writing and sharing it all here, if you promise me you will keep moving forward, and laugh and dance and empower yourselves with knowledge and spirit. We are transforming into butterflies and must trust this chrysalis state, however strange it feels.

I am on a quest now, with this specific task, to lean into the focuses I had planned on doing for this blog in relation to our lives, with an emphasis on our extended interests. The timing of all of this resounds with me daily and amplifies my faith that it is the right direction. I will track the doings and projects of my husband Gabe and myself through this time of quarantining and social distancing in the era of Covid-19 here in the United States in the year 2020.

As two unemployed un-insured individuals, we are now more than ever, intent on building a new self-sufficient life in this new world. Our necessities in these strange days will be the mothers of our inventions and all of our creations and masterpieces. My making and baking adventures will also include outdoor skills, campfire cooking, and our venture to grow food so that we may thrive, ultimately finding our own land with our own home.

Just some of our food storage, because I am a pack rat that likes to be prepared!!

So my days at the food bank over the past few years have unknowingly blessed us beyond belief. Yes I am a Prepper and collecting lentils and beans has admittedly been a tendency of mine, one which has just proven itself to be very worth while when our world was faced with this pandemic.

My challenge, my quest now, is to make some of the best home cooked meals with frugal sensibility wrapped in creative limited conditions dusted with magic! Cans of chickpeas and bags of lentils, limited spices and fancy items, rationing materials and supplies, and of course leaning heavily into growing our own food!( I just made some dog treats for our dog Cheveyo with a can of chickpeas some carrots and bits of bacon! mm yum spoiled pup!- I will share pics and the recipe next time as I get back to it all !! secret awesomeness the liquid from the can replaces an egg !!)

The biggest challenge for me is mastering the art of canning and processing foods. It is my goal to grow food from seed (in Maine in a very short growing season!) and can and process as much as possible to begin building my self-sustainability skills with a proper food pantry to feed my family. I have a book of my mother’s that she gave me years ago all about canning and I have read much of it ( lots about botulism which is one of the scary elements of it !). I remember the pressure cooker on the stove top back when I was a kid, and my mother with the funnels and jars and the resourceful strength that she instilled in me with such things. In times like this I feel her lessons and sturdy-stock mentality more than ever and I keep it within everything I do.

Present circumstances absolutely beg me to finally learn to do this, to be self-reliant, and so here I go, through a looking glass of my own, bringing me closer to my ancestors and family and the core of what it means to make a home. I will go back to what most people knew how to do in this country just a hundred years ago, before the days of grocery stores, when gardens grew strong across the land and organic was the only way. I am ready to get back to being good to the Earth, and ourselves, to connect with the ways of our ancestors and the planet. May the butterflies we are becoming be as vibrant as the souls who have left us, may their spirits be in everything we do moving forward, for the sake of humanity let us do right and finally learn from the past, let us be good and be love.

Time that keeps like root vegetables

Sharpening this old tool was amazing, how many years am I shaving off of this blade!?? It has a center part for carving as well as a nice hook blade at the end, on the other side there was something there but it broke off, oh if this tool could talk the history it could tell !!!

I have been working with my hands since childhood, always making something, with paper, or wood, or even soap when I was a kid (I used to take Ivory soap bars out of the bathroom cupboard and carve them with steak knives!). Sneaking onto the porch in the summer time to have a good carve where I could make a mess and easily clean it quietly. I am fairly certain my recollection is that my mom didn’t favor that behavior, ahha sorry mom!.

I just had to make, it was a drive, a push, a pull, all at once, and that desire never left me. Even in my darker times, when I was depressed or alone. Even when I was lost at sea metaphorically on every single level, that drive to create, to manifest anything, always stayed alive, no matter how small the embers.

In fact it was something that saved me more than once, rendering my entire month’s rent in just a few days by making necklaces out of old square nails I salvaged from a burned down house behind where I lived. Or making post cards for a Mardis Gras parade and selling them to everyone on the streets. Making more loot than I could imagine with just crayons, markers and some poster board. I had pushed when I needed to and it had always worked, my drive with my will and my Muse always came through. It was coming through for myself and not some immediate need that ultimately, I had to tackle.

This green wood working tool was something that I got in a pawn shop when I was living down south a number of years ago, many years ago in fact in the same sweet town where I sold art at Mardis Gras and connected with more artists and creatives than I ever had in my life, the magical town of Eureka Springs Arkansas.

I was actually bringing my mixer, my wonderful barely used Kitchen Aid mixer to the pawn shop, because I needed the money. So that was then and this is now, and finally last week or so, I got a sharpening stone and have begun to get back into green wood working, something I studied in college. A hundred years ago! haha!!

Though it may have felt like a hundred years since I had worked with sharpening metal, my hands took to it like I had been doing it For a hundred years, remembering the angles, the feel of the edge of the blade across the ridges of my fleshy fingerprints, every little shard of metal noticeable to my senses like it was connected to every nerve in my hand.

I am at home with this work, I am contented, and I am psyched to get back to what I always knew I wanted to do more of, back to the me I was before so much trauma and heartache filled my heart and my hearth. I am home now, in all senses of the metaphor.

Potatoes, Carrots, Beets oh my!! These are some of the root veggies we were blessed with from the food bank, and most of it came with dirt still on it, yay farmers of Maine!! A chocolate cake is in the distance there, awaiting icing, and oh is that icing amazing! I just had a piece of that cake, I will share that recipe with pics soon! ps it’s made with Speculoos !! say what!?

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

How a fantastic mistake turned into the best chocolate chip cookies in the world!!

The photo I mentioned of me with my trusted wooden spoon and my backyard kitchen, I mean log. Ha ha !! The true root of all of my baking and making sits right here in this image, with my childhood friend and neighbor, happily playing “life” in the mud.

A number of months ago I was making some cookies to send to my dear sister who lives in upstate NY, a care package full of love was my goal and super chocolate was the way to go. I had purchased chocolate chips, Hershey’s, only the best for my sis, and I decided to make the recipe they had on the back of the bag (totally not something I do often, but it was a super chocolate recipe that was not a standard cookie recipe and for the life of me I do not recall what it was exactly for nor can I find it!!).

I had mixed everything together when it occurred to me that I had somehow missed one entirely key ingredient. In my wonderfully distracted ways I had managed to omit the cocoa, the very chocolate essence that was to be the base of the cookie. I had also, in my frugal ways and means, already replaced half of the butter with peanut butter, (something I do quite often – partially just working with what I have, partially because it is a bit healthier and can make for a fudge-like consistency). My chocolate plans were quickly sliding into peanut butter land.

So when I noticed I had left out the cocoa but the consistency of the cookies seemed fine, nice and sticky with a firm heft, they tasted divine (the peanut butter was just barely noticeable), I went with it. They went in the oven and when they came out, low and behold, what had I done?? I had made the best chocolate chip cookies in the World !! They were perfect, in every possible way. They were chewy but firm, sweet with just a hint of salt, playing off the sweet warmth of the chocolate chips, they were, to be blunt, perfect. I have made lots of cookies in my time and I have eaten just as many (or more!!) but all those who ate these cookies agree with me, they are epic, and they are, The Best !!!

My Grandmother on my dad’s side, my sister and me, rolling pie dough, back in the 80’s.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (any kind organic is best!)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (the better quality the better)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup (this is the secret!)
  • 2 Tbs. water (this is also secret and not normal cookie ingredient)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (use sea salt and they will be extra awesome)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (milk chocolate is the best!)
  • Beat the eggs
  • Mix eggs with sugars
  • Add butter and peanut butter (room temp so nice and soft)
  • Add corn syrup, water and vanilla
  • Mix dry together (flour, baking soda and salt) in separate bowl well and evenly to distribute the soda and salt well.
  • Add the dry mix to the wet mix
  • Pour in the chocolate chips & mix
  • CHILL the DOUGH in fridge for like 20 minutes at least
  • Roll 1/4 cup size balls (go smaller if you like just adjust bake time!)
  • place them (on non-greased pan) 3 inches apart from each other so they bake right!
  • Bake for approximately 13 minutes (ha seriously tho) or there abouts @ 375 degrees on the top rack of the oven.
  • Totally watch them to see that they just turn a light brown on the edges, because not all pans and ovens are created equal !! They always behave differently than one another so be aware !! I personally love to sit on the floor in front of the oven and watch things bake!! ahah just me?? I doubt it!!
  • ps there are no pics of these cookies because they always get eaten too fast !! aha I will aim to make more and take pics!!

Mud Pie Memories

I love to bake, I have my entire life. There are photographs of me at the wee age of 5 with a wooden spoon sitting by a log in the grass by the trees in our backyard, playing in my outside kitchen. I remember it well, I had a fire pit a pot and a wooden spoon that seemed like it was an extension of my hand, just holding it at all times. I had two kitchens in our yard in fact. One was in the back yard, and I had two logs set up with an old grill grate set across them, like a basic outdoor fire. Then in the front yard on the side where a hill rises up and a large hedge bush with plump red berries wraps over the hill, was a small nook that I had a smaller kitchen in. I spent much of my days and time there, making and baking with saw dust and wood chips, leaves and acorns, sharing my creations with whomever would enjoy them ( my dad loved mud pie!! haha I have a piece of writing about this from my college years, I will look for it and share it at some point). My imagination clearly ruled and still does, as those memories are clear as day, but knowing what the date is or remembering to pay the electric bill evades me regularly. These whoopie pies sort of look like mud, dark, rich, moist delicious chocolate cake earth, yum!!! Cheers to the dreamers, and cake, we can have it all !!

Mint Magic Chocolate Whoopie Pies with traditional marshmallow filling and bits of mint cookie mixed in !! These were epic when I made them over the past two years and they sold out every time! Last summer we sold them along with blueberry baked goods at a small local Blueberry Festival here in Maine!!
This is me making the chocolate cake part of the Mint Magic Chocolate Whoopie Pies, I love an assembly line!! As long as I am the one controlling it of course!! haha
This was our very last market event of any kind selling baked goods, oh how I do miss it all !! There are many things I don’t miss though!! Ah well, onward and upward, this was a wonderful day, and it was topped off with seeing some of my family as they were traveling to Bar Harbor on vacation! What a day packed full of abundance and sweetness, the best parts where seeing kids and adults alike biting into these treats made with love and loving them instantly! I live for that moment !! I still look for the sign of approval when my husband takes a bite of something I make, a quiet smile and “Mmm” of approval is all you need to know you have done your job well !!!!
My Very Berry Pies were epic too!! those went Fast! I had 2 sizes, Mini & Jumbo !! hahaha & samples of course! with wee little strips of my awesome pastry pie dough made Catherine’s Crust style with about 10 thousand layers of buttery flaky goodness to dip into samples of the Very Berry Pie filling. and the Cinnamon Sticks were Addictive !! made with bits of pie dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar mix. Yah I go all out. What an epic day and memory, I can’t wait to make these treats again this year!!

Potatoes,Carrots & Introductions

This is our Blue, he is no longer with us, on this plane, but he is forever with us in spirit, he passed away last summer (2019) at the wise age of 16 years old. This pic is from the off grid cabin we lived in for a year back in 2017. He loved to walk in the woods with me like a dog, hunting all things everywhere ( he caught a minx once!) , and he was the best familiar a witchy lady like me could ever ask for. This blog is dedicated to you Blue, my Muffin Man, my Blueamagoo, Muffleupagus, Ruthless T. Miserable, my Blue I love you, thank you for showing me how to be good to myself, and for being good to me. I Love you.

So I have been going to food banks for most of my adult life, generally living at an income level that requires such support and qualifies for it. I have always enjoyed being resourceful ( being “frugal” totally a trait my mother gave me), it brings out my creativity and I always find the positive and blessing within the situation because of it. My cooking skills have been strengthened throughout my life because of this, in my opinion.

When we lived in the cabin here in Maine ( in pic above!) I literally cooked on our wood stove for about a month because our propane one was busted. (It was epic I really enjoyed it!!) I do have a somewhat old-world mindset and perhaps I do fancy the late 19th century a bit more than present day ( haha!!) I love putting together what I can with what I have and making a feast fit for a king!! This most certainly is a trait I derive from my ancestors and I am often thinking of them in such situations.

I will totally be sharing many tips, tricks and for sure many recipes of my own design, many alterations of classic recipes and then just weird creations of the Dede variety!

So, right now I am staring down about five pounds worth of beets, five pounds worth of carrots, and potentially ten pounds or more of potatoes. This is all much thanks to the food bank ( and yes many other items of course as well thanks to them!).

The challenge becomes then, what do I DO with twenty pounds of root vegetables???!! Some will go straight to salads, some will get cooked and pureed for soups, and much of it will store quite well in a dark cool place/the fridge for a good solid few weeks!! I absolutely love making pickles ( and my hubby does too, just today he made a “quick pickle” with some left over sweet pickle juice and a lone cucumber!)

This is our Cheveyo!! he is 6 years old, he is 100% energy and he has been my fur kid since I have bottle fed him after getting him in a parking lot at just a wee 4 weeks old !! His name means spirit warrior and he indeed is just that, he is our Chev and he is our world.
This is our Skywalker!! she is also 6 years old though she just came to us last Christmas!! We got her from the humane society after seeing her in a bird cage at a pet supply store! omg , seriously – She is a Sweetheart of a creature , she is silly, playful and super shy in general, when they got her she was matted and neglected and her behavior at first of hiding etc with us for sure reflected that history. We are so glad she now is so interactive, she is chill with Chev ( mostly ) and she loves her wee bit of milk in the mornings ( and has become rather insistent of it!!) We are so glad to have her as a part of our family!
This is US !! Gabe and Dede, our wedding pic printed on a lovely stone as a gift from family! I love this pic of Gabe holding up the gift and his wedding ring on the edge there, this was the Christmas after we got married, just going on 4 years ago. !!

So there you go, potatoes carrots and introductions!! I have tons more to say and look forward to connecting with those out there interested in listening !! I am having a blast with this and so like many things in life, the adventure has begun!

Boho Nuvo Begins!

I am starting this blog, I am typing these words and as I do so I sigh a sigh of relief. I have been a writer ever since I could hold a crayon. I have loved stories and communicating through writing became my mechanism of survival, when I reflect back on it all, now, at the divine age of almost 42. I have always been creative, though it took until I was in my twenties to even be able to say out loud “I am an Artist”. Confidence is indeed a thing of seasoning.

My husband Gabe and I aim to own our own land ( a shared combined dream we have both had our entire lives). In our first year of marriage just a few years back, we lived in an off grid cabin here in Maine, and it was an epic wonderful and challenging experience. It was a rental and so it was a great first dose of what it would be like and we really found how capable and in love with the lifestyle we were. It really ignited and confirmed our shared path in life and we are psyched to share all of it with the world through forums like this. We just opened up an Etsy shop last fall and that is something I have wanted almost as much as writing a blog!! So here I am, finally doing some things I have always wanted to, and I am contented and I look forward to this new adventure, this journey that will always be as important as my destination, and will always show me as I tread it, where I am meant to go. Cheers to the dreamers!

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