November 1, 2012

I know it’s arbitrary, but I am glad to welcome a new month.  October was a tough one for me; I am ready to leave it behind.

I feel ready to start a new decade, too; my birthday is this month—the big 3-0.  As I approach that milestone, I have been thinking a lot about what I have built or acquired over these last (nearly) three decades, what I’ve seen and where I’ve been, what I’m proud of having accomplished and created.  What I keep coming back to are my friends.

A recent Newsweek article I read quotes a study out of the University of Chicago about human development; according to the findings, we choose most of our adult friendships between the ages of 22 and 28.  The relationships we establish in that time period end up being our most solid, dependable, and joyful ones, and much of the important “work” of our twenties is figuring out how to manage, negotiate, and commit to those relationships.

Isn’t that the truth?  I had never thought about it in exactly those terms, but there is something really affirming about reading about this work as a necessary and right stage of our development.  I remember so distinctly those years that my friends and I were trying to figure out what it meant to live on our own terms, as adults, and trying to determine what our friendships meant outside of the context of high school or college or graduate school.

Some of this work was really difficult.  I had to come to terms with some of the nastier parts of myself: my tendency to judge, my defensiveness, my habit of acting like everything was fine, even when it wasn’t.  I had to be really honest and really vulnerable and trust my friends enough to let it all hang out (and admit that I had been previously holding back) and I’ll be damned if that wasn’t scary as hell at the time.

But oh how grateful I am for that work, and for the people who were generous enough to do it with me.   There is nothing I am more proud of than my relationships; they are my true accomplishments from this life so far.

Of course, it’s not as if I’m all done and closed for business just because I’m about to turn thirty; I know there will be plenty of other work ahead, and it will be just as important to be open and honest and willing to work on my relationships as it’s ever been.  But I do feel, especially in this past month that has been rough around the edges, how blessed I am to have a solid foundation of friends with no shortage of empathy, humor, and generosity.  They offer me advice, bring me back to myself, make me laugh, feed me dinner, send me home with good books, push me, and mock me lovingly.  I’m biased, but I think they’re superstars.


adapted from Garden & Gun

Friends are especially great when they come with a lemon tree.  We visited our friends Vicky and Lois (whom I was lucky to “inherit” from Jill) on their farm this past weekend and they sent us home with these beauties, which taste and smell like a variety close to Meyer.  Since I sliced open the first one, I have been hoarding them for only the highest uses—of which a bourbon cocktail surely is one.

If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy this cocktail as-written.  If you’re like Jill, you’ll want to add a good bit more lemon juice for it to suit your taste.

I know there’s a good potential name for this drink out there, but I couldn’t manage to come up with one.  Any ideas?


1 oz. bourbon
1 oz. fresh apple cider
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. honey syrup*

optional but highly recommended: pinch of ground cardamom
purely ornamental garnish: apple slice

Pour the bourbon, apple cider, lemon juice, and honey syrup into a shaker, over ice, and shake.  Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with cardamom and/or apple slice.

*For the honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until the honey has dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool.



  1. This looks divine! I may be making one of these later tonight to reward myself for grading midterms.

    Comment by Elizabeth Jemison — November 1, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

  2. Great insights. I celebrated 30 last year and this very much resonated with me. Happy almost birthday. What about a Cider Sidecar for the name of this drink?

    Comment by Elisha — November 1, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

  3. This older friend can assure you that you will continue to make very close friends after age 30, but as the Girl Scouts say, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”

    Dick suggests “leaf peeper” as a name for your drink (which I think he
    will try out), but I like Cider Sidecar. Very poetic.

    Comment by carolyn truedell — November 1, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  4. Nishta – I have a name suggestion: the Honey Bou Bou.

    Comment by carolyn truedell — November 1, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  5. Happy Birthday!
    As always I love reading your thoughts.

    Comment by Lisa Brooks — November 3, 2012 @ 7:17 am

  6. Elizabeth–I hope you tried it and that it was a worthy reward! Midterm grading = yikes

    Elisha–thank you for the birthday wishes. I LOVE the name Cider Sidecar; it’s perfect, thank you!

    carolyn–ha! I think I will stick with Cider Sidecar 🙂

    Lisa–thank you for the birthday wish and the kind words! I really appreciate it.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — November 4, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

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