Tag Archives: cheese

Shenanigan Report-40th Birthday Edition

Saturday night was my birthday party. As per usual, I took almost zero photos. However, I did get pics of the important things: the pre-party shower wine, the Parmesan cheese I made, and the most epic cake in the history of cakes.

Bendy straw wine! Perfect for showering.

Seriously the best cheese I’ve ever made. It was perfect for snacking and now will be utilized as a grating cheese…I am super proud of myself.

Look at this magnificent cake that my friend Melissa made for me? How could it get any better than this?

I’ll show you how it can get better…

Seven-layer rainbow cake. Melissa is a goddess.


I had such a wonderful party and it was so good to have most of my favorite local people come out to celebrate turning forty.

We ended up not doing the piñata, because doing something like that inside sounded dangerous and outside it was pretty soggy and dark. Current plan is to destroy Trappist (the unicorn piñata did get a name at the party, and you can decide for yourself whether or not it refers to a star or a monastic order) sometime this summer. Although I might just keep him forever. (The beer guy might have something to say about that, I suppose.)

Trappist is hard at work earning his keep.


Now that I am 40 years and 3 days old, I’m feeling infused with wisdom. The main focus of that wisdom is that I need to make self-care a priority. I started my day with a fruit and spinach smoothie. I will go out for a walk/run in about an hour. I will eat lunch today and every day. I will get to bed at a reasonable time so I can get up and be productive at a reasonable time.


Last, but certainly not least – guess what tomorrow is‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽


That’s right – tomorrow you can get your grubby little hands on a copy of The Cardinal Gate. (You can also pre-order today, and the ebook will just appear in your Kindle app tomorrow like magic! The paperback is also now available for pre-order, but that doesn’t probably appear like magic in your home tomorrow. Probably.)

The Cardinal Gate is also available on Nook, iBook and Kobo.

Buy it, rate it highly, tell your friends, and – if you must – read it.


2016 – The Wrap-Up

I’m just going to pretend that this year is over. I really can’t take any  more 2016. The next couple of days are interstitial days – they belong to no year and nothing that you do on those days matters. This is a new rule I just made up, but I’m keeping it.

Fuck you, 2016!

This year was tough. My marriage ended. I moved into my own place. I got officially divorced. My job ended. I have been – as yet – unable to find a new job. A lot of celebrities I especially liked died. A celebrity  I don’t particularly like not only lived, but was elected president. Money is tight and anxiety and depression are high. My kidlet is stressed out. I’ve had persistent shoulder issues that have prevented me from doing as much as I’d like.

Lots of shit.


(Sometimes, literally.  Motherhood is rewarding AF.)

Seriously. Fuck you.

But you know what? It wasn’t all bad, was it?

I’m in a fantastic relationship. I have a great kidlet (even if he is not only a four-and-a-half-year-old, but also the source of that literal shit I have to deal with from time to time). I really got some quality time with a lot of wonderful friends – and made some new wonderful friends, to boot!

Being four is serious business

There was a lot of good travel this year – I was in Vegas in April for the RT conference where I got to meet IRL my friend Elizabeth Hunter as well as make new writerly friends! In May, I went to Bend for the weekend with the Beer Guy. I was in Seattle a couple of times (July and November). In August, I was able to take the Bean to South Dakota to meet my grandmother (his great) for the first time (and not incidentally got to sing karaoke with my three bestest besties from the good ol’ college days!).

Me & my marshmallow goo proving that being 39 is also very serious business.

AND – I was able to go to Iceland. ALL BY MYSELF. Sometimes I remind myself that if I could do that (which required a lot of overcoming of my anxiety issues), I can do almost anything.

I waited patiently in Bifrost for a divine visit, but unfortunately, the gods overlooked me this year.

I got to meet some other personal goals as well. I’ve really reconnected with my domestic badassery – my garden wasn’t much to talk about this year, but I made jam, and just canned festive simple syrups, and made some pies, and started baking bread again. Also – cheese. I made a cheese. Soon, we will know if that cheese is delicious. CROSS YOUR FINGERS!


I finished writing two books and a novella, completed edits on one book that’s currently in the last look-through by my editor on its path to publication.

I found out that I really, really enjoy being a writer, and if someone would actually pay me, I’d be okay doing this for a living. (What I need is some freelance editing/proofreading work to supplement my as-yet non-existent writing income. Apparently there’s no six-figure advance for self-publishing.)


I’ve worked through a lot of things this year and I hope that I’m coming out on the other side stronger than I went in. I lived on my own. I single-mommed. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve stopped procrastinating and started achieving my dreams. I’ve traveled internationally alone.

All of the things I thought would be the hardest have been the easiest. The only thing that makes this year still shite is that pesky lack of funding issue. (I am open to paid companion positions, all eligible sugar daddies reading my blog…I’m sure there are a ton of you out there. Call me.)

(Seriously. Call me.)

The emotional stuff has been hard, but I feel like I’ve been tempered this year.

A year ago, I declared that 2016 would be the year of me. When I wrote that, I had two very specific goals in mind. I wanted to end the year not married and not in the job in which I started the year. Both of those things have come to pass, albeit not exactly as I’d planned. (Maybe I should be a little more careful with what I put out in the universe.)

I don’t know everything that 2017 will bring. There are a few things of which I’m certain:

  1. I’ll (again) move houses, but this time into a more permanent situation (less than a month now!)
  2. I’ll start a new job
  3. I will publish two books
  4. I will turn 40 and there will be a unicorn piñata (the party is the day after my birthday – Saturday, 2/25 – you’re totally invited)
  5. I will do some travel, even if only a little bit
  6. My Bean will turn 5 (FIVE YEARS OLD!)
  7. I’ll have a great garden and do more canning (I’m out of salsa and it is a travesty)
  8. I’ll keep writing
  9. That crazy Bean will start kindergarten
  10. I’ll keep moving…yoga and walking are where it’s at right now, but I’d like to – just maybe – start running again
  11. I will drink delightful gin cocktails on the back patio in the summer with the people I love best
  12. I will laugh and love and live just a little bit more


40 Before 40 – Update the Fifth

I am very nearly halfway through the year. I feel like my life is settling down into a great routine. Work is going decently. I’ve gotten to spend time with so many friends over the past few month. Alvie is mostly fantastic, and although I miss him when we’re not together, we’re really having a good time when we are together. I hardly ever even feel the need to verbalize my desire to sell him to a traveling carnival anymore (although last night’s bedtime pushed it a bit…kid was wiped out, and a tired Bean is a cranky Bean).

So much trouble, this one...

So much trouble, this one…

I feel like I’m not getting a ton of things checked off my list, but I also feel like I don’t care that much. (Not letting arbitrary goal failure get in the way of my happiness is a life-time goal.)

In the last month…

  1. Host a wine tasting – I had a rosé garden party on the 16th, and it was fun. Pink wine, pink foods, and plenty of people. I failed to take a single picture of anything except the cheese spread.
So many new cheeses for my "drink pink" party!

So many new cheeses for my “drink pink” party!

  1. Become a proficient knife thrower (i.e. hit the target more often than not) – I’ve been practicing! I’m getting pretty adept at getting all the knives to stick to the target! Next…accuracy.
  1. Get back into my DIY habits – I made an utterly fantastic balsamic & vanilla fig jam over the weekend with figs from my tree. I got about two pints of jam and kind of made up a recipe based on other recipes I’d found. It was pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to the next bunch of figs ripening so I can make a larger batch and also write down the recipe as I go. 🙂 My grapes are starting to purple, so there will be some grape jelly in the future, too!
Happy figs, bubbling away!

Happy figs, bubbling away!

  1. Try a new (to me) cheese each month – this continues to be a resounding success. I’m sure I’ve tried at least twelve new cheeses by now, but you know what? I’m going to just keep on keeping on with this one. #overachiever
  1. Get better at self-care. That means eating regularly; exercising regularly; sleeping regularly – this is really coming along. I was averaging well over 9K steps a day by mid-week last week (and a whopping 17K last Thursday) before my poor feet rebelled and became a disgusting, blistered mess. They’re better now, so I’m ready to start getting my mileage back up there again. The walking every day is either benefiting or benefited by my increased sleeping. I’ve been getting an average of 6.75 hours of sleep/night for the last two months! The one area that still needs so much work is the eating. I need to eat regularly (once/day is not regularly) and more healthfully. I started strong today. Overnight oats with bananas and PB for breakfast, homemade dolmas and a peach for lunch…now I just need to keep it going.

In case you care, here’s the history…

Remaining Goals (bolded goals are irrevocably scheduled, italicized ones will likely happen in the next 45 days, and underlined ones are in progress)

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Go ice skating
  3. Go to a book signing
  4. Go to the local nude beach
  5. Take a barre class
  6. Take a dancing class
  7. Take a cooking class
  8. Throw pottery (on a wheel)
  9. Try a pole dancing class at the studio down the street.
  10. Do a boudoir photo session
  11. Do a fun thing with Bean every day of his summer vacation.
  12. Take the Bean fishing
  13. Whale watching
  14. [Redacted]
  15. Become a proficient knife thrower
  16. Become passable in Swedish
  17. Develop a habit of meditation
  18. Learn 100 ASL signs
  19. Perfect the homemade pie crust.
  20. Read one prize-winning (any major prize) book each month
  21. Run a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon. Bonus: run something longer!
  22. Take a good photo and pay to have it framed
  23. Write 150 blog posts
  24. Get a stamp in my passport
  25. Give a $100 tip on an inexpensive meal
  26. Feel good about my fitness level and appearance
  27. Get better at self care.
  28. Meet three ‘in the computer friends’ in real life. (I’m looking at you  Cat, Elizabeth, and…[insert your name here!])
  29. Publish my first book

I need to make some pie, meditate a bit, get my PSM to the west coast, and start running again…

40 Before 40 – Update the Third

I am 1/4 of the way through my 40th year! Things have definitely been going a little better the last month. I’m feeling better (back is better and no more sickness), I’m getting into a new routine (although it’s still hard with Bean…I get to have a routine, and he has to have two routines), and I’m getting things done!

Let’s get started, shall we?

7. Sing a new song at karaoke. On May 6, I totally did this. I sang “Punk Rock Girl.” AND THEN! last week, I sang yet another new song! I am now a new song singing maniac. (I do not have any photographic evidence of me singing, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

14. Try hot yoga. I did this! On May 5, I took a hot hatha class. I hated every second of it. Seriously. Never again.

2016-05-12 17.36.30

19. Make a cheese that needs to age 10 months and eat it on my 40th birthday. So much cheese was made!


My cheese making setup. Please note the small green stool there. I needed that to reach all the things. My kitchen is a bit on the tall side and I am decidedly not. My friend Elizabeth said, “In the kitchen of giants, you are still queen! You have killed the jolly green giant and used his head as your stepping stool.” Pretty much…


Curds and Whey (no spiders here!)


Weighting Games..aren’t you imPRESSed? (Ha! SO MANY PUNS!)


Parmesan ready to enter the cheese cave for it’s long (9 month) nap


27. Get back into my DIY habits – I used to do a lot more homemade stuff. – getting started on that with my cheese. And I have a lot of berries and figs coming, so there will be jam.

This is the face of a domestic goddess.

This is the face of a domestic goddess.

32. Try a new (to me) cheese each month – this month’s cheese was a dry cow’s milk cheese called Cougar Gold from Washington (state).




My 40 before 40 challenge

Update the first

Update the second

Upcoming Goal Reaching!

I’ve already got a few things booked and paid for coming up

I bought tickets to the opera (6), so that’ll be in the June update. We are going to see a Portland Opera production:



My friend Alisha and I are taking a barre class (8) and then drinking recovery beers this week!

I signed up for a knife class, and I think that qualifies as (10) take a cooking class. Besides, I need to figure out how to stop stabbing myself now that I own sharp knives.

Bean’s summer vacation (17) is going to be primarily spent in South Dakota where I’m hoping I can take him fishing (20).

I’m back on track with my Swedish lessons (24) which is not going to help me at all when I get my passport stamped on my trip to Iceland (35).

2016-05-12 21.32.06


As for the rosé tasting (18), this is going to be scheduled soon. I want to limit it to 10-12 attendees, (including the adults that are contractually obligated to be there by either (a) being me or (b) dating me), so if you desperately (or even moderately) want to drink pink wine in my back yard in July, let me know and I’ll tell you the dates I’m looking at.





June is going to be the month of pie and jam and summer award reading books…

Sweet Dreams, Cheesus

I’m gearing up for another #40before40 milestone. I was supposed to be hanging out with Jimmy Carter this weekend, but due to my April back injury, I decided to postpone. Instead, as I have the weekend kid-free, I’m going to make cheese!


I’m planning on making three types of cheese, because I am an ambitious fool.

Saturday afternoon, I’m going to make a Cabra al Vino (or two). This is my favorite type of cheese and I’m excited to make two of them and age them differently! FOR SCIENCE!


Sunday morning, I’m going to start my Parmesan (this is the #40before40 goal cheese). And as soon as I drain the whey from that, I’m going to make a German whey cheese that uses wine.

Lest it seem like I’m getting carried awhey (ha! Cheese puns!), I’ll have you know that when I was inventorying my cheese supplies and looking at recipes last night, I had six cheeses on my list. I totally cut back because I have a day and a half to do this AND because goat milk can get expensive, yo!


The hardest part of making an aged cheese is the waiting. (The weighting is not as hard. Weighting MAKES it hard. I don’t even know where I’m going with this.)


The German whey cheese will be ready immediately. The Cabra al Vino will be ready in three and six months respectively. The Parmesan won’t be ready until my birthday.

Party with the wine-soaked goat!

Party with the wine-soaked goat!

It’s been years since I made cheese – five – and I’m excited to get back to it. I’m thinking of designating one Sunday a month for cheese making and I’d be happy to have anyone over who wants to cheesemaker. I have all the weird ingredients and equipment you’ll need to make anything from a mozzarella to a brie, to a Gouda, to a Romano.

cheese pile

(Related: I’m going to need a cheese sitter in August. Duties include turning my cheese over, checking for improper mold growth, and I guess feeding Mr. Fish and watering my plants. Cheeses are the first priority, though.)


I’ll post pics of my cheeseventures next week when I do my #40before40 update!