Sunset From Balcony, Florissant, Colorado

Author of blog, me

Deer visiting for breakfast outside window

What a ride these past couple months have been. A pretty bumpy one at that. Holidays can really be a challenge. I think I started doing holiday baking the end of October because I was so excited about being with someone during the holidays for once and the kitchen here is the biggest I’ve ever had. It was fun to share the final products with friends and neighbors down the road and I put on a few more love handles from indulging myself. However, love was just not in the air, no matter how hard I tried to spread it. I kept thinking like I always do during the Christmas season; “there will be a Christmas miracle, I just know it, just wait for it.” And yes it was fun to take treats and gifts to a lonely soul down the road and his old ornery self did tear up. And on Christmas Eve when Santa Claus walked into the old historical church holding the baby Jesus and delivered it down the aisle to the 150 year old crèche and picked up a little child and gave her a big hug, that was special. And I spent weeks thinking about the perfect gifts of comfort for a special person in my life and how and when I would present them. And then the day came and it was not so great and all the expectations of a miracle or just a little acceptance turned into melted mountain snow trickling down a slippery slope of pure disappointment and sadness. So I will continue to take pictures of the beautiful sunsets on this other side of the moon, until I find another place to light. I will still have expectations of miracles though, since I live amongst the natural ones in this awesome forest. Miracles of love and acceptance and I will never give up this wish. Ever.

Sunset in the Rockies

Kristin and I at Bill's picking up wheel barrow present we were hiding and delivering food and gifts to him


Rum Cake

Bacardi Rum Cake per my Greek Orthodox sister, Janet

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour – 25 minutes
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1 18-1/2 ounce yellow cake mix
1 1-3/4 ounce (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk or water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum (any rum works)

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum (I’ve been known to use ¾ cups –sic!)

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour – use the toothpick test. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle warmish glaze over top of Bacardi Rum Cake. Use brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.
Glaze: Melt butter, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to boil and boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Note: The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Notes in the Margin: I have made this Bacardi Rum Cake many, many times. It not only is the perfect dessert, but I’ve had house guests who wanted it for breakfast. The longer this cakes sits, the better the taste. This cake freezes beautifully.

My Drive Home Up the Mountain after Borrowing Bundt Pan

After living in Minneapolis and other metropolitan towns, I’m not used to having to drive 15 to 20 miles down a mountain to borrow something for a cooking project. I texted my closest neighbor friend and boss Cyndi, who lives in Divide and owns the stores in town in which I work part time.  She said she would leave it with the manager at the Divide Mercantile on her way to post office and work down the mountain. That’s the way you borrow things up here.

Buck Whisperer and Fig Bars

Twice through the night I got up and turned on my balcony light to see if it had started snowing yet. We have had very little snow up here in Florissant and when the weather jabberers started spreading the rumor of the possibility, it’s been the talk of the town. When I was in the tiny village grocery store last night buying beef and tortillas for fajitas, I told the check-out lady that my sore thumb was predicting snow. The lady behind me shouted, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” in almost a hateful tone. So hateful I didn’t look back and just said as I was walking towards the door, “My joints usually don’t lie.” Wow, she sounded like she had been waiting for precipitation on this range for a lifetime….

This morning when the light of day finally showed it’s face, the tall massive pines were frosted with cake icing like snow.  The snow is so fine coming out of the foggy sky that I have to squint to see the tiny flakes. Come big giant flakes! I got up early again. I can’t sleep late anymore. I started the woodburning stove, made my first fig bars.  They are delicious and rich! I  fed a backyard visiting buck cranberries, fed the birds, made oatmeal, coffee and bacon and said hi to my Facebook friends, not necessarily in that order. I also called my boss and volunteered to work in the Manitou Springs shop, turned down a para-professional job at the school( I prefer the certified teaching jobs because they don’t have to do playground duty and my ear hurts), and talked to Dr. on the phone after she called to prescribe something for my ear and swollen glands and I talked with my sis from Little Rock who will be visiting in a few days.  Swollen glands and earaches are not to be messed with up here on the moon, 9,300 ft. because when I drive down the pass to lower elevations, my ear feels like it’s about to burst. Anyway, thanks for calling doc. My other one I saw on Friday just told me to come back in 3 weeks if I still have a knot on my neck. Geez….

When my niece got up, I told her about the buck and how I whispered to him while I threw down some cranberries from the balcony and he just looked up to me like he was listening or like I was crazy. So I made myself a self proclaimed deer whisperer. I think he would like my fig bars but shall save them to hand out to friends for Christmas. Wow, a busy morning for this girl and it’s only 10:44….Come, big giant snowflakes!

This morning's visiting deer.

This morning's lightly snow frosted tree outside my computer room window.

Feeding the forest songbirds.

Snow frosted pine. I wouldn't know it was snowing if not for the trees.

Whispering to the deer with cranberries.

High Altitude Flour, an important staple on the moon.

Oatmeal and pecan fig bars. My first!