Make, Mend, GO!

This week I am turning Make, Mend, Grow into Make, Mend, GO!  I spent 10 days on the road with the family driving through Yellowstone, as well as taking side trips into Montana, Idaho, and other areas of Wyoming. We took our time driving to explore, do some critter watching and to eat some amazing food. Kiddo and I went on hikes, swam, and relaxed and it was a great trip over all. My car, which I bought two months ago, now has over 4,000 miles and I think it’s safe to say it’s officially broken in.

The weather was all over the map-sunny and warm, raining, hailing, sleeting and snowing often changing within 15 minutes. I am always in awe of Wyoming and Montana, how big the sky is and how far you can see, which makes for impressive storm watching opportunities. While we were waiting for Old Faithful, we watched a storm roll in-the weather changed from sunny and warm, to a light rain, and to snow, all in the short time we were there. I was quickly reminded that layers were my pal on this trip!

This wasn’t my first time to Yellowstone. Last time we were here, I was newly pregnant with Izzy and was just starting navigate the hunger, tiredness and uncertainty of what I should and shouldn’t eat on vacation.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was one of our last big trips as a couple and just the two of us, but this time was by far the most special trip I have had to Yellowstone. Being able to see the park through Izzy’s eyes was amazing. We walked slowly on the boardwalks, looking at every crack and fissure in the ground around the pools, every bison had to be named, and every tiny chipmunk had to be talked to. We had to see if the snow in Yellowstone was different than the snow in Seattle (yes), and if the puddles were more puddley and jump-worthy than at home (jury is still out). Having her with me, being forced to slow down and be more mindful made me appreciate the trip so much more. I noticed so many tiny details and had more conversations about why things were the way they were, turning the trip into an educational opportunity since she was so fascinated. This kiddo, she makes every adventure so much more exciting.

I can’t wait to go back and see the park through her eyes as she gets older, but for now, I’ll cherish this trip and all of the memories we had! What is YOUR favorite part of Yellowstone?

Bison Yellowstone National Park Bison herd Yellowstone National Park Isabella Yellowstone National Park Elk Yellowstone National Park bull elk Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park chipmunk waterfall thermal pool, steam, Yellowstone National Park Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park IMG_1491 IMG_1493 bear bear wolf wolf Grand Tetons Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park hiking Yellowstone National Park chipmunk bear homestead barn

A glimpse

airforce dad

Driving home from work Wednesday, I caught a glimpse of a man who I swore was my dad. Same salt and peppered wild and coarse hair, unkempt and growing out from his usual military haircut covered slightly by a fisherman’s cap.  The same clothes too big, on a small and too-tired frame, wild-eyed and wandering with a slightly medicated walk. I slowed and came to a stop, staring. It wasn’t my dad, of course. He’s been gone 4 years later this month, but for a few seconds I found myself resisting the urge to park and run after this stranger, just to make sure.

That’s the thing with loss, especially tragic loss, years later it still doesn’t seem real.

My light turned green, and the Dad lookalike moved on, swallowed by a sea of people, heading home from their jobs or to wherever they were headed. I thought about it on the way home-was it really that he looked like my dad? Sure, there were similarities, or was it that haunting stare of mental illness that shadowed his face that made me think of my Dad? As much as I try to keep the good memories in front, the sad and dark ones creep in. Memories of pain and terror in my Dad’s face, his muscles strained, as he tried to make sense of the flashbacks that were haunting him as I tried to help him understand that it wasn’t real, that he was in his hallway at home and that I was there. Feelings of complete helplessness as he spiraled further down into mental illness, unwilling to accept help, until the very end.

I kept thinking about that man; did he have someone who was there for him? Was there a daughter like me, tired but wanting to try, expecting to finally get that call that he was gone, after so many attempts at ending his life? How was she holding up?

4 years and logically I get that he ‘s gone, but emotionally it’s still hard to accept. This time of year is hard for me. I dive into work, keep myself busy with friends and events, but it still creeps in and hits me like a punch to the gut: he’s gone and he won’t be back. I get in a good cry or two and move on, the waves of sadness coming and going. There’s nothing that makes the feelings go away, but I did learn the hard way that shoving the anger, the grief, the sorrow deep down is a recipe for disaster, coming out in the form of reflux, sleepless nights, and the inevitable crying. So I sit with my grief and think about my Dad, cherishing the good times, reconciling the bad and waiting for this to pass.  Here’s to the memory of my Dad, gone too soon; and that man, whoever he was, and him getting to where he was going.

How do you deal with grief?
Yours in love


P.S. Totally confused? You can read about that time in my life here in the lower posts on that page.

Taste Washington – A recap

I. Love. Wine. If you follow my Instagram, or have ever come to my house, you’ll see that I do not have a shortage of wine.  It’s a nice way to wind down a long day, it’s always perfect for a celebration, or a girls night.

Recently I attended the Taste Washington event held yearly here in Seattle and hopefully you did too! Wait, you didn’t?!  Let me show you quickly why you need to plan ahead and attend this event next year.
Taste Washingtoncured meat platedessertstacopearl and stone wine coB. Leighton

That’s just a quick glance, too! Taste Washington 2016 was held at the Century Link Event Center March 31st through April 3rd, and boasted 225 wineries, 65 restaurants, and various food businesses. Each row was filled with groups sampling their best products. It was a perfect opportunity to stroll through the event, learn about the wineries, meet the vintners, chefs, and taste to your hearts content. I saw old favorites, and found some new wines as well. So what did I love?

Let’s start with the old favorites:

Bartholomew Winery

In addition to being an all around nice guy, Bart Fawbush makes some wines that are solid too. Located in the old Rainier Brewery Building, the husband and wife team have an intimate tasting room where you can enjoy a tasting or a glass (or two). I love their Carmenere and the Aligote, and they even make a lovely Rose. The prices range from $17-$38 a bottle, and you won’t be disappointed.

Cave B

Cave B will always have a place in my heart, not just for the wine, but for the resort. I stayed there years ago, pre-baby and had one of the best vacations in recent memory. Located in the Columbia Valley, the winery boasts a wonderful restaurant, amazing grounds, and stellar Cliffehouses. The wine is wonderful as well, particularly the Semillion and the Barbera. The wines, like the grounds can be pricey, but I love them so it’s worth it. You’re looking at between $18-$50 a bottle.


This is one of those wineries that has been like coming back to an old friend-reliable, fun, not dramatic. I had a chance to try their Sauvage Savignon Blanc and instantly thought of pairing it with seafood. So light and fun. Prices here will run you $25-$60.


Oh, Kestral, you remind me of so many trips to Leavenworth with friends, and nights out on Capitol Hill. I love their port, their Signature Series Petit Verdot, and their Raptor House Syrah. It’s easy drinking backyard barbecue wine, that you can pick up at any local grocer, and the price point is also easy: $13-$60, with most coming in at or under $20 a bottle.

I could go on about old favorites (Owen Roe, Scarborough, Nota Bene), but how about something new?

Charles Smith

A recent addition to Georgetown, over by Sisters and Brothers restaurant, is a funky tasting room offering multiple wines. My favorites were the B. Leighton Petit Verdot and the Gratitude. The Secco Pinot Noir Rose was fun and fizzy, and the prices range from an easy to swallow $12 to a totally worth it $45. Some of the labels (Kung Fu Girl, for example), can also be found at your local grocer, but why not stop by their Jet City tasting room?

Pearl and Stone

Last up was a new (to me) winery that was one of the last of the night. Passionate about their wines, and excited to share, the Pearl and Stone team were a joy to hang out with. I tasted their Unemployment Beach (a rose) and Wandering (a tasty red blend). Both were nice easy to drink wines that would pair perfectly with friends and a fire on the beach. The prices were easy too, coming in at $18-$30.

There you have it! I highly recommend attending next year and making a weekend of it. You won’t be disappointed.

What Washington wineries are your favorite?

~Yours in wine~




On holding back

This is one of those posts that don’t really fall into a category, it’s about me and my thoughts and giving you, dear reader, a little glimpse into mommahood over here at MMG.

True story: I hold back. I don’t always jump in with both feet. Sure, I make some shit show decisions, but lately…there’s a block. There’s a wall, and seriously, I don’t even know what to do with it. I don’t even know if I would have realized it, had it not been pointed out to me by a friend lately and there was even a perfect descriptor: Tentative.

And it’s true. And weird. When the hell did I become shy; so unsure? When did I start holding back and stop doing what I know makes me happy? When did I start second guessing things in my personal life?

Work? Pfft. I’ve got that. I’m pretty darned confident in my decisions and requests. You need something researched, handled, coordinated? I’m on it. Process or program changes? I’m your gal. That kinda stuff is my strong suit-it’s not about me which really makes it easier. It’s about getting things done and improvements made. It has a start and end. The crazy and flux doesn’t get to me as I know I can handle or control it and happily, the buck often stops with me.

I clock out, and it’s like a light switches off. Call it decision fatigue, being tired from being “on”, or whatever, but I just start questioning everything. I leave work, come home and the house that was just clean is destroyed (as in toddler level warfare went on while I was out). Being a mom is tough, and stressful and I second guess everything and worry that I am not doing enough (who doesn’t!?). Kiddo has been in a phase (ummm…since birth) where I am her favorite person, which means constant snuggles, games, dancing, and at the risk of sounding like a kid myself-constant touching. She’s an awesome side kick, but holy crap, when can a gal pee by herself??

You combine all that with very little “me” time and shit yes, I am tentative. At the end of the day, I have no energy left for decision making as I am in mom survival mode and I am tired.

So. Damn. Tired.

I’ll own it. I don’t need to volunteer for multiple organizations and blog in addition to being mom and corporate job lady. I don’t need to pack my calendar full, but you know what? I do. That cocktail with friends? I am pretty sure that’s keeping me sane. The class I co-teach weekly? I can bring kiddo and she gets to play with other kids. Writing? I keep that around to get this all out of my head.

So where does that leave me? Well…I…huh. I have no idea, but something has to give. I’m starting to bring it back to the way I handle work: delegate, coping skills, and write it down to get it done.

I made the decision that I’m getting a maid-my spare time and sanity are worth the cost. I’m restocking my wine fridge, too.  Those things I want that make me happy, or provide a reprieve from the crazy? Add those to list as I’m doing those too. Is this going to make me less tentative? Maybe not in all scenarios, but something has to give, and dammit. It can’t be me again.

So bring on the wine, the momma’s night out, date nights…it’s time for a change. Oh, and new maid? I’m sorry in advance.

How do you find balance when you have to be “on” all the time?

~Yours in momma craziness~



Back to a moment

It’s funny how a scent can do so much-bring you back to a moment, connect you to someone, remind you of a place. For me, scent is emotive, and I connect so many scents with memory.

Tonight, I reached for soap to wash my hands, grabbing blindly to wash off my kiddos bright blue bathwater after letting out the drain plug. I inhale.

Johnson & Johnson’s no more tears bath wash. I smile. I never buy it. It’s crap, but her dad picked some up.

I inhale and smile again. Instantly, I am at Seattle Children’s Hospital, out of the NICU and in specialty care. We’re being taught how to give our 5 day old baby a bath with an ng tube.

There’s squeals; mine and hers. Laughter; ours and the medical staff. Everyone has gathered around our little amazing baby as they know we’re on our way out of the hospital soon. That smell; that clean, soapy smell reminds me of every passed medical test we had to go through, every exam, every medical team amazed at how strong my baby was, at how strong we were.

I stop and look at Izzy now, post bath. Her hair is slicked down and she’s so big now, reasoning with me why she shouldn’t have to eat dinner or go to bed. She’s three and soon, she won’t need me. I inhale and smile. She’s still my baby girl.

Izzy pic

Yours in love


Catching the sun

I love craft time with Izzy. Its busy, it’s messy, it’s silly and she enjoys it so much! It’s a great way to spend a rainy day indoors and we have some pretty sweet art on the fridge, although, I do love things that aren’t glitter glue and paint pictures!  Recently, after stepping on yet another broken crayon, I thought about what we could do with all those pieces, and it occurred to me, we needed to work on catching the sun to balance out the rain (and use up some of those darn crayons). See? Snazzy! Please ignore my neighbors truck!

final suncatcher

This craft is simple, isn’t too messy, and uses up things we all have in the house. To make your sun catcher, you’ll need:
Wax paper
Crayon or pencil sharpener
An iron*
A heat proof surface-I used an old cutting board
Thick paper to protect your iron**

First off, take those rogue crayons and start sharpening! You want a fair amount of shavings, so 2-3 crayons worth of shavings should be more than enough. A note: this takes a long, long time. I ended up watching TV while doing it to pass the time. It’s also a good task for your kiddo, if they have the coordination to use a pencil sharpener.

crayon shavings

Once you’ve sharpened all of your crayons, preheat your iron, out of the way of your kiddo.

Next, decide how big you’d like your suncatcher to be. It can be helpful to sketch out all of the pieces on your wax paper, so you have an idea of how big you want your shapes.  Once you’ve got the size, double that in wax paper! You’ll fold the wax paper over itself once you’ve added the crayon shavings.

Lay the wax paper on your heat safe surface and sprinkle those crayon shavings on your wax paper, so you have a light covering of the shavings, leaving about a 1/2 inch around all sides. The goal is not to dump those shavings in a pile-you’ll get thick blobs, versus a transluscent suncatcher. Lay your thick paper down on top of the wax paper, and run your iron slowly over the wax paper until the crayons are melted (**this happens pretty quick, so keep your iron low, and your eye watchful). Pro Tip*: Don’t start ironing until you’ve actually laid thick paper down – you’ll coat your iron in colorful wax, even with the wax paper folks. Not that I would know. Ahem.

suncatcher materials

Set your fused and ever-so colorful wax paper to the side to cool. Once it’s fully cooled, cut to your desired shape, clip a hole in the top, and run your thread through to hang. Put up in a sunny window, and watch the sun shimmer through the crayons!

suncatcher partsholes in suncatcher

final suncatcher

What ideas do you have for color and shape combinations?!

Yours in colorful craftiness!


Love Craft

Hello there! It’s Friday, and I can’t even say how happy I am that it is! I’m ready for a weekend of crafting and relaxing, and maybe another one of those Modern French 75’s from Wednesday! Today’s gift is a fun handmade present that you can make with a lot of things you probably have on hand; it’s a favorite little love craft!

I don’t know about you, but I have a kagillion decks of cards laying around, and there’s no way I am ever going to need all of them. A while back I thought that it could be fun to make a flip book out of it, but make it more meaningful and crafty, it turned into a hand-made valentine. For inspiration, I started out by writing things that made me happy about my guy and went from there. The list came together pretty quickly and as I wrote each item, I remembered a funny story, or time in our life and wrote notes about what each card could look like. 53 cards later (I even used the Joker), I had a fun Valentines Day gift to share with him.

decorated deck of cards

First up, gather your materials. Pro tip: you’re probably just going to want to dump out all of your crafts on a table for this one. You’ll need:

1 deck of playing cards, new or old, doesn’t matter
brown or gold stamp pads (totally optional, I liked a weathered look to my cards)
Colored pens
Craft paper
Scissors-straight edge and decorative
Pictures of the two of you
Vintage ads
Glue dots or tape roller
A Zutter Bind It All and wires OR a hole punch and key rings
**Basically, grab what makes you happy and is fun to play with**

The method:
Start by stamping your cards lightly with the ink pad, all over the back side of the card, and let dry. If you find you have too much ink, or if you don’t like how it looks, you can take a dry paper towel and wipe off.
Next, decide where you want your holes to be. I made the mistake of decorating a few without figuring out where the rings would go, and messed up a card. Doing this in advance lets you know how much room you have to play with. If you’re using a hole punch, go about 1/3 to 1/2 inch down the card, punching one on each top corner, and top middle. If you’re using the zutter, you can use the standard press lines (about 1/3 inch) along the top of the card.

Now it’s time for fun! Remember that list of reasons you wrote up about how much you adore your special person? Go grab that and start decorating your cards; one for each reason. Here’s a couple of the pages I made, in case you want ideas! Last steps are below the pictures!

image6 image7 image2 image3 image4Once you’ve decorated all of your cards, you’re ready to assemble in any order you want, and then secure, using your clipping key rings, or using your bind it all to secure your binding wire. That’s it!

What’s your top reason you’re in love and how you do you show it?


Gifts You Actually Want

Hello, dear reader! We’re counting down the days until Valentines Day, and we’re back for Day 4 with a list of gifts you would actually want to receive.

We’ve all been there-we get a last-minute card, or some stale candy (weren’t we just on a New Years diet??) and while the intention was good, it wasn’t quite what we wanted. We’ve also been on the other end, trying to figure out what to give someone for Valentines Day-that perfect gift that doesn’t disappoint, and isn’t terribly hard to find. Don’t you worry, I’ve got you covered!  Read on for my top 4 easily found gifts, perfect for foodies!

BeFunky Collage

First up is the Instant Pot. Holy pants, this thing is awesome. It’s a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice maker, yogurt maker and 3 other things; it could probably even clean your kitchen, it is THAT fancy. Aside from cooking quickly and producing meals that are super delicious, it saves me on two important things: time and money. I love that this replaced multiple pieces of kitchen equipment, but i can  throw a whole pork loin in and a few hours later I have perfect pulled pork. It’s like my slow cooker on steroids. Lastly, clean up is a breeze. It’s like this thing was made for me. I have this version of the Instant Pot, and it runs about $115 (no worries, this isn’t an affiliate link, I just really love this thing).

Next up is a Gel Pro Elite Floor Mat, which is the perfect give for cooks, or anyone who has a standing work station.  I don’t know about you, but after cooking for hours my feet and legs hurt-blame sitting most of the day, but it is not comfortable to stand on hardwood floors all day! This is where this awesome mat comes in! I tested it out at the International Food Bloggers Convention, and fell in love. I was sent one to test out, and it’s a very welcome addition to my kitchen. It’s pretty, comfortable to stand on due to the therapeutic gel, and holds up to the traffic of a chef, a toddler, a sausage-shaped dog and me running all over it all day long. You can order them at their site, and they run about $120. They also make one for standing desks that I want to pick up next, it’s that helpful!  While I did receive one in return for my honest feedback, I would recommend this mat regardless; it’s really lovely!

Looking for something a little more on the cheaper side? I have you covered there, too! I love dishes that are unique and whimsical and I am always on the hunt for fun things to replace my old dishes. A few months ago, I ran into Carrie Lane who is The Bowl Maker at a holiday pop up show where she was selling her bowls and cups. She was nice, funny, and her bowls and mugs were incredible! I picked up a salad bowl, a mug (with a cat playing a fiddle-come on!!), and a large serving bowl, and everything was SO affordable. While I had intended to give them as Christmas gifts, I ended up keeping them all to myself! They are just that fun. Another added benefit was that my kiddo actually had fun eating out of her “bear bowl”. Anything that can get a picky toddler to eat is a win for me.

Lastly, is the gift of drink. I really enjoy supporting local businesses any time I can and well, I like happy hour. Every year, I travel to Finn River Farm and Cidery to pick up a case of ciders and spirits and to play in their farm. If I were able to have a full farm, this is pretty close to what it would look like. Imagine acres of gardens, filled with fruits, vegetables and flowers; add livestock and fresh air and blue skies and you have Finn Rivers’ grounds. I really like their ciders-they have a Habanero Cider ($9) that is amazing with pork, or a Dry Hopped Cider ($9) that is plain delicious for sipping. My two new favorites are their Artisan Sparking Cider, which is made in the champagne style ($23) and the Finnriver Cacao Wine with Apple Brandy ($20), which is sweet and outstanding with ice cream. This makes a great day trip get away via ferry as well, if you’re able to go. If not, you can buy these online!

So there you have it-4 fun gifts for the foodie (or yourself).

What’s your #1 gift idea?

Yours in food and sweet gifts,


Modern French 75

We’re back with Day 3 of Valentines Day Gifts that rock! You’ve made it half way through the week folks; you deserve a reward! I don’t know about you, but I love, love, love something that looks fancy, tastes fancy, but is really easy to put together. My modern version of the French 75 is just that, fancy enough for a date night, or a treat to get you through the week.

What makes this different than a normal French 75? I use limoncello from Letterpress Distilling, instead of lemon simple syrup. It adds a little more kick, but a nice lemon taste, without the extra sweetness. I really love the folks at Letterpress Distilling, a local Seattle distillery; they focus on simple, quality ingredients, avoid additives like fake color. I had a chance to visit with them and sample their vodka and their limoncello. Both have a clean, crisp flavor, and the price point is low enough ($34) that you can pick up a bottle (or three) without feeling guilty. To make it better, Skip and his staff are genuinely kind and love what they do. I can’t say enough great things about these guys.

Ready to treat yourself and your loved one to a special treat? Let’s do this!


Wet the rim of two champagne flutes, and dip in sugar (optional, but oh, so pretty)

Per glass, use the below ratios, but feel free to tweak as you want.

1/2 shot limoncello
1/2 shot gin (I recommend Hendrix)
Pour carefully into your flutes, and top off with champagne.

That’s it! Simple, pretty, and delicious.

Standard disclaimers: use sense when drinking and avoid driving, lifting heavy things, texting those you shouldn’t…you know, the basics.

We’re one day closer to the weekend, folks!

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Balsamic Reduction

I love food and for me, nothing says love like a home cooked meal. I also really love things that come together quickly and don’t require a lot of work, but still taste like I spent a lot of time cooking everything. Day 2 of Valentine’s Day Prep is just that; an easy to make, delicious recipe for Slow Cooker Meatballs with Balsamic Reduction!

This recipe is special enough for a date night, but it’s perfect for a relaxing get together with friends. The flavors are also mild enough that I can add to a pasta sauce for spaghetti, or add more BBQ sauce for a messy, delicious sandwich. You can also make them smaller and put them on picks, for a quick and convenient appetizer. They are that flexible. This recipe was also featured on Sidetracked Sarah as a guest post, and has received a lot of awesome feedback from Pinterest and plain hungry people! I also love that I can use my Instapot for one more tasty recipe!

slow cooker meatballs

The Recipe:

1 lb ground turkey-although you can use any meat you choose
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs or panko (I love using panko, the end result is a little crunchier)
1 large onion, sliced
1/3 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 pinch each: rosemary, thyme and oregano, rubbed between your palms to break them up
2 TB red wine, or beef stock if you prefer
1 TB barbecue sauce (trust me here guys! The sugar breaks down SO well!)
Balsamic vinegar – 1/3 cup you’ll need this a couple times

This is a pick your own adventure recipe, guys!! If you want to make the meat balls up in advance, start with the meatball step and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

Not waiting? Here’s where you start: Place your sliced onions in the Crockpot-this will act as a little raised nest to keep your meatballs from swimming too much in the yummy liquid! Add your wine or stock and a good splash of the balsamic-about half.

Next, make up your meat balls. To do this, add your beaten egg, your minced onion, the garlic, your panko or bread crumbs, your ground turkey, and herbs and mix. The key is to do this all quickly and not handle the meat too much-you don’t want the fat to start melting from handling. Once everything is mixed, you’ll form the balls-I grab just enough to fit in my palm and roll. Place those on top of the onions.

Now, for the glaze! Mix the remaining balsamic with your BBQ sauce and brush the sauce over the meatballs.

Cook on low until you’re ready to eat (I find it takes 4-5 hours on low) or cook on high for 3. Check to make sure they are done by cutting one in half. That’s it! Easy, right?

Drizzle the liquid from under the onions on top of the meatballs, as it should have thickened up some from cooking! If you want to add another step, you can reduce the liquid even more and slather that on like a hearty, thick sauce. Don’t forget about those onions, either, they make a great addition!

Now for the last step-go enjoy those bad boys!

How will you eat these?

Yours in food,