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Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year- a little bit late, but still with the same good wishes and cheer that 2018 be a year of creativity , “do gooding” , exploration and perhaps a bit of quiet time eased in.

holiday napkin

Cheers napkin for the holidays ( or any day…)


I have had so many posts swirling around in my head for several weeks, but haven’t gotten the gumption ( is that really a word?) to write them down. I hope to change that in the coming months. Like every beginning to a new year, the lists , hopes and dreams are lofty and only some will come to fruition. That’s OK though! It’s OK to dream, to plan, to imagine because that is where ideas live and that is where good ideas float to the surface and become a reality.

As I said good bye to 2017 I found myself with my 2 lovely, talented vibrant daughters. We went out for one last time, prior to taking one daughter to the bus station, along with her adorable husband, to bid them farewell until we see them again. We went to a place that I have walked by loads of times, but never thought to enter it’s door. What a treat! First you see a tiny room filled with vintage glass and barware along with oodles of flavors of hand crafted bitters. Then the drinks come and you are wowed. I ordered the spicy popcorn too- WHAT? this was the best popcorn ever and I am a popcorn lover. My daughter who is involved in food justice in Scotland and who loves to study food in general decided that there might be a hint of truffle oil and minced fried onions mixed in it – whoa – so good!

As we found ourselves a seat at the bar and looked at the menu I marveled at the ease of which the young bartender thoughtfully and earnestly served all of the customers seated there. It is a combination of old time drug store counter and bar scene for millennial’s. There were loads of specialty drinks as well as mocktails and soda fountain beverages. Please take a moment to check out their website – trust me, you’ll want to visit them in person.

mocktail ginger shrub

Vena’s ginger shrub

The ginger shrub caught my eye – it was absolutely delicious! AND I felt great after drinking it! We had all had a stomach virus and a variety of colds. I was dragging a bit but needed (wanted)to come to Portland to send off my UK daughter. Wow- this was fabulous- where have shrubs been all of my life??


I should explain that over the holidays our family had a pie contest that needed to be paired with a beverage and a literary piece to compliment the pie. The stakes were high and ramped up from years past.  My husband and I chose to make a cranberry lime pie with a gingersnap crust. I made a cranberry shrub syrup which could have been non alcoholic or added to Proseco if you wanted. One of my daughters and her husband made a very similar pie to ours- theirs was cranberry lemon with a gingersnap crust. We had held our entries close and were not to reveal them until a certain day- no changes – no going back – so her “team” and mine went ahead with what we had chosen to make. Neither of us had made this before and thought sure that it would be unique and delicious. The other entries were small mince pies (a UK favorite) and a Cloud pie- a mainstay for my son’s  partners holiday celebration. Here are some photos of the “event” that happened in our kitchen and around our dining table.

cranberry lemon pie

cranberry pie with lemon

lemon curd pie

Lemon center with a meringue crust –

mince pie

Beautiful individual mince pie

cranberry lime pie

cranberry lime pie with candied cranberries on top

Shrub- I never had one before, let alone made one from scratch. It was delicious! So I was delighted when I saw the menu choices for shrubs at the bar. I am definitely a new fan of shrubs and have purchased organic ginger to make another shrub syrup. They are made with cider vinegar – the description from Vena’s is below.

Vena’s shrub menu


The Art and Craft of Mixing Drinks

Dating back to the colonial times, before the arrival of home refrigeration, shrubs are best described as drinking vinegars. Shrubs are a vinegar-based syrup comprised of fruit, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Original recipes used vinegar as a natural preserver in place of citrus juices during the off season and were used as a way to rehydrate; a natural gatorade of sorts. Shrubs can be added to seltzers, cocktails, and a variety of food recipes.


So Happy New Year 2018! Try new things – try new recipes – new activities – read new books – try a new craft – visit someplace you have never been to before – whatever it may be, and maybe it is all of the above !

Currently I am working on a rug that I was inspired to design last year after the Women’s March of 2017. I am offering the pattern if you are so inclined…but if not I can change the banner to something else for you.

hooked rug pattern

“Purrsist” rug with 2 cats

Make your 2018 a Happy New Year!

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