Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meet the Gochstine Farm Birds

Every home should have a bird watching corner. 

Because I'm kind of a lunatic, I've been naming the birds that visit our backyard feeder. They all have very colorful backgrounds. 
His name is Oscar. He thinks he's God's gifts to women because of his super cool haircut. He thinks all the bird songs are about him.

This is Woody. He keeps to himself and doesn't make friends easily.

Her name is Josephine. She's addicted to sunflower seeds. She's been in and out of rehab a few times but she's come to the conclusion that she really cannot live without the seed. 

Betty used to live in Florida. She barely tolerates these imported oranges, but anything's better than the birdseed her friends gobble up like commoners.

And finally, this is Elton. He keeps his nest immaculate, has great fashion sense, and could listen to Barbra Streisand day and night.

Peace out.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Joie de Vivre, Personified

This Christmas, I went back to my roots. 

Some of my cousins from France were vacationing in the U.S., so we all gathered for a holiday family reunion. They are such a lovely bunch of people. Inside and out, and in between. I mean it. Every single one of them. And they enjoy the hell out of life. They personify a joie de vivre that is infectious. 

While the French, in general, have a passion for food, we Gochtovtts are epicureans to the very core of our souls. Our lives revolve around it. Our lives depend on good cheese and crusty bread. And wine. 

The men spent a lot of their time cooking delicious food. 

Holy Mother of Cheesus.
Speaking of cheese. I'm going to share with you this secret recipe I recently learned from these fine people.

Here are the ingredients:

Brie and Marscapone

Olive tapenade and black truffles.
My cousins used a truffle tapenade, but I couldn't find it in Fort Wayne.
So I improvised and used whole truffles and olive tapenade.
I happened to have truffle salt, which I'd received as a gift last Christmas, from a friend who really gets me.
It was perfect to season the marscapone cheese mixture.
Once you have the ingredients, it's easy:

1. Mix the marscapone with two to three tablespoons of olive tapenade and two very finely chopped truffles.
2. Add truffle salt (optional).
3. Cut the brie length-wise and spread the marscapone mixture in the middle.
4. Voila!

It's the best damn cheese you'll ever taste. I promise. (Serve it at room temperature, or I will cut you.)
And if you have to choose between paying your electric bill or buying a jar of whole truffles at The Fresh Market, choose the truffles. You won't regret it. It tastes great in the dark.

Live your life.

The U.S. cousins.

That's a hell of a lot of Gochtovtts.

I love this moment.


Yo, what's happening here?
We went on a Christmas day hike.

Cyd told us today that her wish didn't come true, even though she blew out all the candles.
She wished it would rain cats and dogs. Seriously. 
Cyd, the birthday kid.

Look at all those French people on a bridge. 

This is the adult table. It took a long time to serve everyone. 
I was going to take a picture of everyone sitting at that giant table, but by the time we sat down for dinner, I had lost my camera. In other words, I was drunk.

Back in Indiana, I got to hold my newest American nephew. My ovaries cried with joy and love. 
After the long 12 hour drive back to Indiana, we were all tired. The kids were tucked in but Cyd kept getting out of bed. After the third time of getting her back to bed, I gave in and layed down next to her. She said, "Thanks. This is what I needed."

She laid her head on my shoulder and I asked her if she needed a pillow so she could be more comfortable. She said, "No. Your bones are fluffy.  Your bones are made of cotton." My little Cyda is a poet. A POET.

The moral of this story is we should strive to enjoy the moments that make up our beautiful life. Prepare food with love. Be kind to people. Splurge. For the love of all that is good in the world, splurge when you can. You almost always can.

New Year's Day smoked salmon eggs benedict. 

Peace out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Am Alive

A few days ago, I was on my way home from a meeting and just as we were getting on the highway, a giant bald eagle flew right over us. Low, glorious, potentially symbolic of my death.

Holy. Shit.

It took me a minute to register the moment. It was so perfect and needed at that specific time. I have a thing for eagles, hawks, owls. They are the wild that is etched in the palm of my hand. My heart.

That evening, I came home and I was alone with my cats and my dog. Laura had taken the kids to their Girl Scout meeting. I was home alone, which seldom happens. Let the reveling begin.

I've been reading "Wonder", by Raquel J. Palacio, mainly because Fiona loved it and I wanted to have something to talk to her about that didn't involve apps or Minecraft or can you please clear the table and I love you.

I poured myself a large glass of Chardonnay and sat down to finish this sweet, heartbreaking book.

Scout was sitting on my shoulders, as she likes to do when she's being freaking adorable. I scratched her under her neck and she made eye contact and rested her head on my arm. She's still a puppy and her first priority is to run fast and be high energy, but when she relaxes near the end of the day, she sinks into a sweet puddle of beautiful beast.

I sat in my silence and fretted that everything was just too perfect. The eagle. Scout being so attentive and loving. This silence. Obviously, I will breathe my last breath tonight.

How do I deserve this?

A couple of days later (I was still alive), Matilda or Olive laid their very first egg and I was so thankful for its beauty.

The universe is either fucking with me, or loves me. Either/or.

This weekend, we went to pick out our Christmas tree. We were going to chop it down like the pioneer family we are. But the Fraser Fir trees that were available for chopping were sold out. Still, we found a beautiful pre-cut Fraser tree and we loaded it up on top of the Subaru. The kids were downing hot chocolate. (I think Cyd had four or ten servings). They were feeling the spirit. Or, at least, the sugar.

As Laura and the girls were securing the tree on top of the car, I looked up and high in the sky was a bald eagle, circling over us.

Two in one week.

I will surely die tonight.

It's not that I associate eagles with death.

I get anxious when what I want deep to the core of me actually happens. What if it's a sign that I got my way so I can be done with this life? Game: over. It's weird. It's not a fully fledged thought, but it crosses my mind like a fleeting shadow of perhaps.

As I wring my hands with this crazy superstition, I want to ignore what it is within me that hinders the acceptance of beauty and wishes coming true.

I want to continue.

Peace out.

Monday, August 24, 2015

We Went to the Mountains

Laura and I went on vacation. By ourselves. I generally believe in vacationing with our children. I love being a family of four. We travel well together and I strongly believe that giving them the experience of things outside of their realm of home enriches them. But this time, we were on our own. And, well, it was super awesome. 

I worried about the kids more than was reasonable. But now that we're home and they're still alive, it is obvious that I need to chill much more often. 

I won't bore you with any further exploration of my neuroses. Instead, here are some photos. Also, I LOVE CANADA. Everything about it, especially its people. They're like French people, only friendlier. And they called me "Love". i.e. "Can I get you another drink, Love? Oh, you're welcome, Love."

I'm not even kidding. 

We took a train from Vancouver to Whistler. The scenery was so lovely that I had to put down my book.

I conquered my fear of heights and braved the gondola to experience Whistler's "Peak to Peak." I'm glad I did. I was sweating profusely, but I still got a photo.

Once we got to Blackcomb Mountain, we met this adorable little marmot. We didn't believe he was real, at first. I mean, what are the odds, that the official mascot of Whistler was just sitting here on the edge of a mountain, posing for us. Turns out, he was real. We lead a charmed life. 

Oh, the room service. It was impeccable. The salmon was the best I've had in a really long time. "Would you like anything else, Love?" No, this is everything. 

We went on a bear watching tour. We saw nine bears. Our bear guide was passionate. He knew where the bears hung out.  He knew their names. Their story. I don't typically like strangers, but I liked him.
This photo is blurry, but I'm posting it because of the two bear cubs. How adorable are they? (Very.)

Her name is Ella. And her adorable baby on the left doesn't have a name yet but I'm going to name her Anna. 

Go further. It's my new motto.

Peace out.