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Got Tenacity?

  This sunflower inspires me.  I’ve planted these cheerful blooms in my garden a number of times, and they haven’t come up—maybe, because the birds ate the seeds.  I really don’t know. But, two summers ago, this little sunflower sprung up in the backyard of its own volition.  It didn’t just grow….it thrived.  To my surprise and joy, it bloomed and bloomed and bloomed…all summer.  This eager little flower, in its simplicity and loveliness, grew into a flourishing plant.  And, it accomplished this feat despite a lack of proper planting, no fertilizer, and without consistent watering.  I admire this sunflower for what it symbolizes to me:  determination, perseverance, and tenacity.   “Tenacity”   by Tonya R. Hengerer   Tireless Effort to resist Negative thinking And overcome difficulties, while summoning Courage In spite of Tough times—never Yielding.     “Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ~James A. Michener   “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” ~H.G. Wells

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Friday Farm Favorites: A Beloved View

  “Sunset on Green Hill Farm,” 36 x 48 acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas Original artwork by Tonya R. Hengerer   This coming May 8th will mark fifteen years since restoration was completed on my family’s circa 1790s ancestral home.  My family’s home place was purchased by my great-grandparents in 1912. The reference photo that inspired this painting was taken from an upstairs window, and it’s the view I see first thing every morning.  I have marveled at countless colorful sunsets from this vantage point, and one of my favorite scenes includes our sheep grazing or lying peacefully in the pasture. When I look out at the mountain and fields, I have a sense of calm that I only have when I’m at home.       “I hear the mountain birds, the sound of rivers singing A song I’ve often heard, it flows through me now So clear and so loud I stand where I am and forever I’m dreaming of home… It’s carried in the air, the breeze of early morning I see the land so fair, my heart opens wide…” ~Philippe Rombi   Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

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Wine Basics: The Five Ss

Wine requires two assessments:  Subjective and Objective.  Just because we like a wine, doesn’t mean it’s a great wine.  One way to illustrate this point is with art.  You may not want to hang a reproduction of a Claude Monet painting in your home, but you agree that Monet is a great artist. So, getting to the point where you have both a subjective and objective opinion is one of the most rewarding stages in developing knowledge and comfort in wine; thus, allowing you to separate your liking of something from its quality. So, the point is this:  You can love a wine but understand that it’s not a great wine.  For example, I have weekly wines and weekend wines.  Weekly wines are inexpensive wines ($15-25) we enjoy with our simple evening meals; however, weekend wines are the special ones ($50 or more) we may take to a favorite gourmet restaurant that has a corkage fee. Most of us know what we like, but having an objective opinion means increasing our knowledge base. So, let’s get started! The Five Ss: –See –Swirl –Sniff –Sip –Savor All together, they’ll enable you to maximize your enjoyment of your next glass of wine. SEE A wine’s color can tell you a lot: Taste, intensity, condition, and most likely, its aromas and flavors. The best way to examine the color is to tilt the glass over a white surface, such as a white table […]

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This Old House

When I think of old houses or antiques, I’m reminded of the Japanese philosophy called wabi-sabi.  Loosely translated, it’s the art of finding beauty in imperfection, revering authenticity above all. It celebrates cracks and scratches and all other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. A good lesson in appreciating old houses, and…life in general. Some of the things that I love best about old houses are the creaky, uneven floors, the lack of right angles, wavy glass windows, hand-planed woodwork, and hints of the lives of those who lived there long ago.  It’s this character, charm, and history that attracted me to the idea of restoring a 200-hundred-year-old house that’s been in my family for over 100 years—my family’s ancestral home or homeplace.  I relish the sense of continuity; I literally follow in the footsteps of my ancestors as I walk through this house and around the farm. As one can imagine, caring for and maintaining this home is of the utmost importance to me.  So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the other thing I love as much as an old house is a well-appointed, everything in its place, clean house.  I know that it’s mainly because I’m wired this way.  However, the other view is that restoring my family’s homeplace was a significant effort and expense, and I value and want to take care of it.  So, messy, unclean rooms, scratches on the floors, and dings […]

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All That Sparkles

I absolutely love fizzy and sparkling wines!  And, since New Year’s Eve celebrations are fast approaching, I thought it may be fun and helpful to share some information about Champagne and sparkling wines. Champagne: First, all that sparkles isn’t Champagne.  Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region of France and made in the traditional method (méthode champenoise). The traditional method is a labor intensive, multi-step process (two fermentations) that contributes to the expense.  Champagne can be made from three grapes:  chardonnay and red-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier.  Sometimes the label will use the terms “blanc de blancs” meaning the wine was made from white grapes, or “blanc de noirs” indicating that the Champagne is a white wine made from the dark pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties. There are also different levels of dryness/sweetness in Champagne: Brut Nature/Brut Zero:  Bone dry.  No residual sugar. Extra Brut:  very dry Brut: very dry to dry Extra-Sec or Extra Dry:  off-dry to medium dry Sec:  medium dry Demi-Sec:  sweet Doux:  super sweet *Special note:  More Champagne houses from France are opening vineyards in California: Roederer Estate (by Champagne Louis Roederer), Domaine Chandon (by Moët & Chandon), Mumm Napa (by G.H. Mumm), and Domaine Carneros (by Taittinger) are a few of the French producers in California. Sparkling Wines: Crémant:  French sparkling wine that is made outside of the Champagne region in France but produced using the traditional […]

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More Than A Memento

In life, we often go through our days interacting with others, but not really connecting.  It’s just the way it is.  Most days we are busy, stressed, and distracted—replaying yesterday and worrying about tomorrow.  It can be difficult to be in the moment, to observe and listen, to be present—to look and actually see.  Not that we mean to or want to, but sometimes we operate on a superficial level.  This is partly because we are so engaged in our own worlds, disconnected and unable to relate to something outside of ourselves. I’m reminded of an experience I had one summer while visiting my favorite place—England.  My husband and I were spending the day in a Cotswolds market town in Gloucestershire, a charming place with honey-colored, stone architecture and baskets full of colorful, cascading flowers adorning the front of every other building.  As we made our way along the busy highstreet, a courtyard with shops and galleries caught our attention.  We walked into the brightly lit space with sunlight streaming down from the skylights above, illuminating the shops before us.  I immediately noticed the simple but stunning jewelry in one of the galleries.  I walked in and began to browse.  My gaze landed on an understated, wide, silver band with an anticlastic shape. It was lovely.  I wanted to try it on, but I didn’t see anyone.  I looked across the hallway, and sitting opposite the gallery, in a studio, […]

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Peanut Butter Spice Cookies

I. LOVE. Peanut butter.  So, it makes sense that I would also love peanut butter cookies; however, it’s not just the taste that endears me to this special treat.  It’s also the memories.  When I was a girl, peanut butter cookies were always the cookie I wanted to make with Mom.  I so enjoyed rolling the little balls of dough in my hands and using a fork to make the crisscross design atop the cookie.  And, very often, peanut butter cookies were the treat awaiting Santa Claus on Christmas Eve at my house. This recipe for peanut butter cookies is unbelievably easy, only requiring four ingredients:  sugar, peanut butter, an egg, and vanilla extract.  The peanut butter flavor really shines through, especially since there isn’t any flour.  For such a simple recipe, the taste is amazing! A few years ago when making these cookies, I decided to modify Mom’s recipe a bit.  I really like ginger.  So, for a twist, I added ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and crystallized ginger.  Oh, and I also placed a few chocolate chips on top for good measure.  The result: yummy, yummy cookies! These peanut butter spice cookies turned out to be delicious; and, if you’re looking for the perfect wine to pair with them, a Malmsey Madeira works well.  Enjoy!   Peanut Butter Spice Cookies: *Use organic ingredients when possible. Ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup raw cane sugar & 1/2 cup […]

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