Another Birthday And Another Cocktail Creation

November 21st, 2014

At the risk of you all thinking I’m a total lush, I’m going to share another cocktail recipe with you. Because this week I made a cocktail that won my husband’s complete and utter approval. In fact he called this cocktail his “new favorite.” I can’t not share that!

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Plus, it’s Bryan’s birthday week, so it seems especially appropriate to share the cocktail that we are drinking to celebrate.

This time last year we really weren’t sure if Bryan would have another birthday. We hoped, we prayed, but we had a doctor very clearly tell us that there was a chance Bryan wouldn’t last more than four months. This week we celebrate another year and we are so grateful, so very deeply grateful. This year has been such grace to us.

But, we celebrate this birthday again under the threat that we won’t have another one to share together. Our gratitude is mixed with whispered fears. And somehow it makes it all the sweeter.

So, we toast a lot and I think a lot of a toast from the book A Severe Mercy. “If it’s half as good as the half we’ve known, here’s hail to the rest of the road.”

Wanna toast with us? Yeah, I thought you would.

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But, before I introduce you to the star of the show, a note about one of the key players.

Absinth.

Absinth has gotten a bit of a reputation over the years. It’s been called a hallucinogenic and has been said to make some people go blind. The truth is that the early absinths where made with what essentially amounted to rubbing alcohol and the poor quality of the alcohol did cause hallucinations and even blindness in some cases. Absinth that you buy in the store definitely won’t do that. So, mom, yes, it’s perfectly fine for you to enjoy this cocktail too! In fact, I think you’ll really like it.

IMPORTANT: Don’t buy cheap Absinth.

I don’t often care about labels and brands, but this is one case where I’m going to tell you it absolutely matters what kind of absinth you get. The cheap absinths that are bright green are NOT good. Especially not for this cocktail. I recommend getting St. George absinth. Here’s a picture and a link to their site.

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No, I’m not an affiliate of theirs (I’m not even sure they have an affiliate program). I’m not getting anything for recommending their absinth, but I have to recommend it, because it is GOOD. Like seriously good. It’s full of complex herbal flavors with a perfectly balanced licorice undertone. A good quality herbal absinth like St. George’s will work great in this cocktail. The cheap stuff…well, not so much.

Orange Absinth

1/3 shot Absinth

1/2 shot Triple Sec

1 shot whiskey

Mix and serve over ice, or shake in a cocktail shaker and serve straight up. That’s it.

If you like a stronger licorice herbal flavor use a 1/2 shot of Absinth (in other words equal parts Absinth and Triple Sec). If you like your drinks a little sweeter use a little more Triple Sec.

Hope you all enjoy! CHEERS! And here’s to Bryan’s birthday – a day truly worth celebrating!

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany

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Blushing Pilgrim: A Holiday Cocktail Recipe

November 10th, 2014

I’m really excited about the holidays this year. Maybe because I feel like I missed out on them a little bit last year. Bryan and I spent Christmas in a hospital room, away from our kids, away from most of our family. It was what we needed to do last year, and we made the best of it, we really did. We decorated our room. We played christmas records on a portable record player. We did what we could. But, it still wasn’t the same.

Last year I carried so much pressure around the holidays. I really feared that it would be Bryan’s last Thanksgiving and Christmas and that fear made me act a little crazy.

This year feels different.

I am not approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas carrying that same fear. This may be Bryan’s last Thanksgiving and Christmas, it could be any of our last Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I’m not going to carry that. I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on myself or others. I’m not living in that fear anymore.

And this year the holiday season can’t seem to get here fast enough. I’m excited. Not with a nervous, it-has-to-be-perfect, kind of excitement, but just with a genuinely open feeling of anticipation.

I started listen to Christmas music today. And I am not ashamed to admit it.

And as part of this excitement I decided to create my own signature cocktail for the holiday season, using the homemade cranberry bitters and cranberry liquor that I told you about yesterday.

So, here it is. Let me introduce you to the Blushing Pilgrim. Enjoy!

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Blushing Pilgrim

1/2 shot glass Cranberry liquor

1 shot glass whiskey (I used rye whiskey)

1-2 dashes of cranberry bitters (I used two because I like it a little more bitter and a little less sweet)

1 teaspoon orange marmalade (if you like it sweeter you could use 2 teaspoons)

Put all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake. Pour in a martini glass and enjoy.

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Now, who wants to come over and have one with me?

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

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Cranberry Liquor and Cranberry Bitters

November 8th, 2014

Alright friends, you have just enough time to make your own cranberry liquor and cranberry bitters for thanksgiving and plenty of time to make some for Christmas. And can I just say… this is YUMMY! Maybe I’m a little partial because I love cranberries, but I think this turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

Best part is it’s EASY.

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Cranberry Liquor:

Fill a canning jar with fresh washed cranberries. Now add whatever add-in you think would taste good. I did one batch with just some orange peel and cloves and it was very yummy. I did another batch with some cloves and cinnamon, which I haven’t tasted yet, but I’m sure it’ll be delicious. You can add a vanilla bean or two, cardamon, nutmeg, ginger, lemon peel, or whatever other warm spice you want (think chia tea type spices).

Once your jar is full of your cranberries and your add-in pour in some vodka until everything is covered. If you want a little warmer, richer flavor you could do half vodka and half whiskey. I haven’t personally tried that yet, but I think it would be nice.

Then let your jar sit somewhere for about two weeks (a little less or a little more will be fine – it’ll have a stronger flavor the longer you leave it). Shaking it daily is ideal, but it’s not that big of a deal if you miss a day or two or three. You get the idea.

After it has sat for awhile strain it. I like to strain it through a coffee filter so that I end up with a really clear liquor afterwards and avoid any little pieces of spice or cranberry floating around in my drinks.

That’s it! See, super simple.

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Cranberry Bitters:

Ok this recipe is a little less of a recipe and a little more of an experiment.

Basically you start out the same as you did with the cranberry liquor. Fill a jar almost all the way full with cranberries. Then you add in bitter herbs, roots, and spices of your choosing.

Traditionally bitters are made with Gentian Root. You can buy it on-line. It’s the flavor that makes bitters bitter. It doesn’t really taste good, but I LOVE it, so I use a lot in my bitters. How much you use will depend on how bitter you want your bitters. So, add some gentian root to your cranberries and then add some other spices. I added juniper berries, cloves, hibiscus, star anise, and some orange peel. Other ideas would be cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, vanilla bean, black pepper, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, etc. Use whole spices instead of ground spices and get creative.

Once you have everything you want in your jar cover it with vodka and again let it sit for about two weeks. The longer it sits the stronger the flavor will be (the alcohol content won’t change at all). And again it’s best if you shake it once a day, but don’t stress about it.

All that’s left is to strain the bitters. Strain it through a coffee filter so you don’t have any of the sentiment from the spices in the finished product.

Add to your favorite cocktail for a more rounded layered flavor and enjoy!

Ok, tomorrow I’m going to share with you one of the cocktails I’m planning to make for our family gathering on Thanksgiving. It’s gonna go wonderfully with my dad’s turkey and stuffing. I can’t wait!

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

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On Birth And Transition

November 5th, 2014

A few weeks ago I stood witness to my sister’s power. I watched someone else give birth. I watched life break forth out of darkness. I watched pain tangle and untangle itself. I witnessed transition and transformation.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

There was a truth that surfaced there in that room, a truth that I’d known and experienced in my own labors, but could only begin to fully understand in observation.

In the midst of the most painful moments we always want to escape, but attempting to escape heightens the pain. When we focus on what we can’t do, on the thwarted desire, on getting out from under the pain, we begin to panic. We loose focus. The pain overtakes us. We contract. And the pain truly becomes worse.

But, when we go into the pain, into the darkness, something shifts. It’s still unbearable. But accepting our place and position in that moment, accepting the pain, even welcoming it, well, that expands us. We find when we breath into that pain, instead of trying to avoid it, that we can hold in the midst of that which we thought was unbearable. When we trust in our bodies ability to birth, when we trust the pain to do it’s job, when we enter into deep trust in the process, we find that we can hold up under it.

We don’t find strength and power in avoidance, or escape. We don’t find it in trying to rush through to the happy ending, to the joy at the end of the struggle. We don’t find it in trying to fake happiness in the midst. We find strength and power when we rest in the pain, when we let the unbearable wash over us and we hold our position within it.

These past few weeks have been full of new questions for me. Full of new fear and new uncertainties. Full of darkness and dissent. But it’s felt different than ever before. There’s a spiraling cycle of peace and fear, but above all else there has been trust. There has been breath. There has been an acceptance of the darkness, a willingness to enter into it and an ability to acknowledge it’s temporary state.

In birth there is no going back. There is no controlling the pain, not really. We try to breath, we have all kinds of techniques for pain management, but really we just have to feel it and keep going. We make it through one contraction at a time. One breath at a time. And that is all.

That is life amidst pain as well. That is life amidst stress. That is life amidst darkness. There is no getting out from under the pain and the stress. Trying to do so only makes it more unbearable. There is only entering in. There is only making it through this day. This breath. This moment in time. Putting one foot in front of the other, doing what needs to be done, and by degrees discovering that you are seeped in ever so much more strength than you ever could have dreamed.

And in the end there is life. Life that was not there before. And there is transformation. A woman who is no longer what she was before.

That’s what I want. I want that kind of transformation. So, I breath and I enter in, and I embrace the waves of fear, and stress, and pain. This is my transition.

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

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Take Me Deeper

October 27th, 2014

Tonight as I chopped onions and made dinner my mind was flooded with thoughts. This is what came out:

 

Feelings ooze out of this hard head.
They drip onto soft cheeks.
The onion releases it’s gas in protest,
As my eyes release fear like water.
It threatens,
Threatens to break my numb protective lining.
Can I take back that prayer?
The one that’s lingered on my lips
And fallen heavy on my back.
The one whispered through lyrics
but felt in every cell.
“Take me deeper.”
No.
No. I know the answer as deeply as I know the prayer.
I don’t want to take it back.
I’ve seen what’s produced in a soul that is pressed.
Squeezed.
Like grapes ripe for wine.
I know what comes from a heart thrown in the furnace.
Hardened as clay.
Set and strong.
I want that.
I’ve tasted the presence of those beaten tender,
Their gentle, melt-in-the-mouth spirits.
I’ve been awed by those who have fallen,
unable to get up in their own strength,
learning the true value of another.
The connectedness we share.
I want that.
I want nothing less than that.
But I don’t want what it takes to get there.
That path of tenderizing.
I don’t want “one more thing.”
One more guillotine hanging over my head.
One more boulder slowly rolling closer to the cliff.
I’ve enough of that already.
Don’t I?
Isn’t it enough?
Somehow I know it isn’t.
Not yet.
Not as long as I’m asking that question.
My heart has yet to be beaten tender.
My eyes still look most often to myself.
My soul still thinks it is unlike the others.
Oh so much farther to go.
So I take one more step.
I look up at that cliff.
I wave,
“Hello boulder.”
And I keep walking.
Bring it.

 

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

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