09 April 2014

a case of maple brain


It's springtime, and I've got maple syrup on the brain. Every time I see a sugar maple- or at least, every time I think I see a sugar maple, because I'm not actually a very good tree identifier- I want to tap it. And make maple syrup and put it in an adorable tiny jar and then pour it over a stack of fluffy pancakes. It's an automatic, gut reaction.



Which is an interesting gut reaction from someone who has never tapped a maple tree. I've sort of seen it done, and I've read all of these From Scratch Club posts on it, so I think I'm ready.

Do you have a sugar maple in your yard? Great, let's tap it and produce something like an teaspoon of syrup to share. Right? Doesn't about a thousand pounds of sap equal a teaspoon of syrup? I think that's what I read :)  Anyway, in lieu of this great guerilla maple tree tapping campaign I will be stocking up at the farmers' market, drinking maple coffee and eating maple walnut ice cream. This doesn't bode well for my thoughts on cutting back on sugar, does it? At least it's not refined sugar?

Top photo from Syrup Souvenir Shop Second photo from this blog. Bottom photo of a great t-shirt I found a few years ago.

Related
The only thing better than maple syrup? Maple cream!
Maple-sweetened applesauce
Back to basics with maple sugaring

31 March 2014

thanks, gloria


My mom and I met Gloria Steinem. What?! If I didn't have this super blurry, crazy photo you wouldn't even believe me, would you?

Earlier this month, we stood outside in the cold for an hour waiting in line to see Gloria speak as part of the fantastic Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. The topic was “The Progression of Feminism: Where are we going?” Good question, eh? We listened and whooped and nudged each other and soaked up some serious wisdom from a serious role model. Closing in on her 80th birthday, Gloria was just as captivating and well-spoken and inspiring as ever.


She lit a fire in me to write and speak out and advocate. I just need to figure out how to do it. This post was originally nine rambling and far-reaching paragraphs long, trying to cover everything from leaning in to fighting double standards to reclaiming childbirth and whether or not to take your husband's name or how to correct the leadership vacuum in Fortune 50 companies. Maybe a bit too much to tackle in one post? Yes, I think so.


Here's to college internships at feminist organizations, to reminiscing about protest marches in DC, to self-publishing as a feminist act and to Ms. Gloria Steinem. As I continue to voraciously consume essays and articles and books and tweets, I'm re-energized and reactivated.

So thanks for the reminder, Gloria.

If you're interested...
Makers profile on Gloria Steinem
Feministing, one of the best feminist blogs out there
The most spot-on article I've read about Beyonce & feminism (worth it, if you have some time)
Ellen Page asks, "Why are people so reluctant to say they're feminists?"
And a great interview with Gloria from a few years ago

20 March 2014

tiny house daydreams










Something strange:  whenever I daydream about homes, they are tiny. Sometimes they are round. Sometimes they are built in the trees, or underground like a hobbit hole. They are often wooded, though sometimes they are adorable urban homes. Sometimes they float. I guess it's no secret that I love houseboats (like this and this) and yurts, but now any tiny little home in an exotic location catches my attention.

As you know, we used to live in a tiny apartment- not even 600 square feet of space. We had a tiny kitchen and our storage situation involved near-daily careful re-organization of stacks and piles and tightly-packed closets. We were anxious for more space and so we are now in a much bigger apartment with two whole floors of square footage to pack with odds and ends.

You may call it nostalgia but I look back on our four years in the tiny apartment with fondness. And so I think, if presented with the chance to live in a houseboat or a yurt or a treehouse... well, I'd be tempted. But first I need to get serious about that simplify & clean-out challenge I started awhile back. It has... stalled a bit.

Photos, top to bottom:  
  1. Tim & Hannah's Affordable DIY Self-Sustainable Micro Cabin from Apartment Therapy, by June Bhongian
  2. ESCAPE, a 400-foot RV that looks like a beautiful cabin in the woods! designed by architect Kelly Davis at SALA, for Canoe Bay Resort (found via Treehugger)
  3. Houseboat in Victoria, BC from this person's Twitter feed
  4. Yurts at Treebones Resort, Big Sur
  5. From this tumblr, I think... all the clicking around couldn't get me to a solid original source, so if this is your photo, let me know :)
Am I crazy? I love having more space at our current apartment and it's possible I'm romanticizing the tiny home thing... some of the photos above are extreme and off the grid and totally ridiculous. Yet... here we are.

Related...
Houseboat paradise in Victoria, BC
That time we stayed in a yurt in Big Sur

14 March 2014

out of hibernation

I'd like to report back that I've been running strong through the winter. That I bought myself some new cold-weather running gear and have been hitting the streets, bundled up and tough as nails. That would, however, be a lie. Winter hits me hard and despite best intentions, I've only gotten outside for a run a handful of times this season. Because running outside in the bitter cold makes me feel sad. Sad and maybe a little hopeless? Yes, sure, afterwards I'm walking around all full of myself but I'm not sure it outweighs how sorry I feel when I'm out there and my lungs are burning, tears are stinging my eyes and I'm watching every step so I don't slip on ice.

If it's a mild winter day, then maybe. I'll take advantage of a sunny Saturday in the 30s perhaps, but 7pm in the single digits? No, ma'am. I'd rather putz around downstairs with my weights, get on the yoga mat or even, if I'm desperate, hit the treadmill at the gym. In winters past, I'd get really into group fitness classes- kickboxing, BodyPump, Zumba or whathaveyou. I've phased out of that, but this winter we joined another gym for its indoor pool and I've been occasionally cutting a few laps there after work. Tricky business, swimming is. On the one hand it's great to be splashing around in a warm pool in January. On the other hand, you're in a bathing suit in public in January. But afterwards we like to pick up some veggie rolls at the local sushi joint, so it's become a nice ritual.

Despite the unwelcome snowy weather this week, we've been enjoying small bursts of spring lately and I'm finally starting to feel that itch to get back out in my running sneaks. Cruising around the city on foot and getting some Vitamin D. Crawling out of hibernation.

It's a balance between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and listening to your body. On getting out there for a run even when you don't want to... and respecting the internal changes that happen with the seasons. On deciding to push through or choosing to change your goals and expectations. For me, this winter, I didn't feel much like running outdoors. So for the most part, I didn't. Instead we snowshoed with friends-- including a full moon Adirondack adventure through the woods leading to bonfires with hoards of bundled-up snowshoers and skiers huddled around drinking beer and roasting 'mallows. I've stretched and danced and worked on building strength. I've snuggled and read a lot too. No need for shame to accompany that decision, right? 

Related...
The transition to winter is tough.
Sometimes I like running for fun.
If all runs were like this one, I'd be an ultra-runner :)
I can't believe I trained for and ran a marathon!
Ok, just get outside and run.



28 February 2014

dehydrating citrus

We came into a large box of delicious winter oranges awhile ago. Try as we could, we just didn't get through them all. I thought, "Why not throw them in the dehydrator?" So I did. And then I realized that I didn't know exactly what to do with a bunch of dehydrated orange slices. They were too tough for me to happily snack on- maybe a shorter drying time would have created a chewier orange chip, but these weren't good snacks. Then I thought, maybe I should have dehydrated just the rinds and then ground them into a powder and used it in future cooking and baking recipes. And then, all of the sudden, a flash of lightning came through my kitchen and struck our beautiful home bar, smashing full bottles of spirits and leaving a tiny glowing halo around our Tanqueray and I thought "Oh my! The universe wants me to use these oranges in a gin cocktail!"


In fairness, the lightning part didn't happen but I'm sure as shit that the universe wants me to explore dehydrated citrus in my cocktails. And also, more responsibly, in my water bottle. Why isn't this a huge fad?! Why hasn't anyone told me about the pleasures of dried citrus slices? Yes, fresh fruit is better but who here hasn't found the remaining half or third of a lemon in the back of their fridge after using just a few slices in your water or gin?! Let he who has not cast the first stone. Because here is the reality:  I love having limes and lemons on hand, but I rarely remember to use the whole thing before it goes bad. Give me a jar of dehydrated citrus slices, though, and I am set.

Imagine the possibilities. You will always have the proper garnishes at your home bar, even if you forgot to run out and buy a lime before your guests came over. You can plop a slice right into your cocktail, like we do, or if you have a little more time you can re-hydrate it first in a glass of water and then add to your drink.

You can keep a stash of dehydrated citrus at your office! In your bag! Anywhere! And then you will always be able to spruce up your water without any fuss. I've been tossing a few slices in my water bottle in the morning and enjoying spa water all day long, never having to worry about moldy oranges or slimy lemons being left behind in our refrigerator. I'm going to start stashing them in my desk at work, too. This is a game-changer.

Pictured above, a new favorite:  Gin, ginger ale & a slice of orange. Add a splash of St. Germain if you are feeling fancy.

14 February 2014

how we make coffee


When we used to live in our tiny apartment with our very tiny kitchen, our coffee maker occupied part of the precious and limited counter space. Then we bought a Vitamix. My dear, powerful Vitamix. Our coffee drinking habit had slowed down a little bit anyway and our smoothie habit was kicking up, so we reasoned that the blender really ought to have prime counter space. In an apartment of our size, the coffee maker couldn't just be moved to storage. There was no room for storage. So out it went. We picked up a one-cup pour-over thing and figured that would do just fine.

Fast forward to our current, normal-sized kitchen. We still haven't replaced our coffee maker. There's no need. Here's what we use to make coffee.


Electric kettle. This one is particularly lovely because it is sleek, quick to boil and has an automatic turn-off feature. There's no whistle, but I actually prefer that because it saves me from sprinting through the house to turn off the kettle. When the water is boiling, it just shuts itself off. If I've forgotten about it, no worries, I just heat it up again.



Ceramic pour-over thing. Some places call it a coffee dripper. Ours fits just one mug. There are two of us, but only one pour-over thing. We figure the other person can wait a minute or two to start brewing their cup. Not a big deal.

Coffee. Sometimes we grind our own beans, sometimes we buy them pre-ground. I don't have a preference. Gasp! We have a charming coffee scoop with a maple handle that makes even the simplest grinds seem elegant.


It's the simplest method and the one I grew up with at home and at my Nan's. Assuming you already have a kettle of some sort (and I hope you do), it only requires one extra tiny piece of clutter and doesn't take up any additional counter space. Put one kettle of water on and then you can make either coffee or tea without any fuss. From what I gather, the pour-over method has also become trendy. The famous Blue Bottle Coffee uses this technique and has built a fiercely loyal following and somewhat confusing air of mystery and intrigue around their brand. I don't know about all of the frenzy, but they do offer helpful detailed instructions here, if you are interested in hopping on the bandwagon.

The only thing I might add to our coffee kit is a larger pour-over thing for times when we're brewing for a crowd. Or a fancy Chemex so we can pretend we are brunching in Vergennes. But even those practical items would be used rarely enough that they may not warrant the storage space. For now though, if you come over for coffee, we will brew you your own personal mug just as you like it. It's like a Keurig, but way better.

And that's how we make the coffee here. We don't drink it everyday, but I do enjoy a mug a few times a week. This basic method doesn't take any longer than a regular coffee maker, but it does require that you slow down your morning routine for just a moment while you pour the water over the grounds. I'd say it takes a minute or two to add in the water. It's meditative, simple and surprisingly satisfying. 

Happy Snowpocolypse & Valentine's Day to you! Make a mug o' coffee for a loved one today.

13 January 2014

cookbooks lately


A good cookbook is a treasure. I love scouring food blogs and Pinterest as much as you do, and in our kitchen you'll often find us hunched over the laptop consulting the latest bookmarked recipe. But holding a book, whether brand new or covered in food stains, and flipping through pages of recipes and menus and little notes about preparation... well, that's something entirely different. I don't read cookbooks on my Kindle. No, I prefer to flip through the pages with my hands covered in flour and something bubbling behind me on the stove.

Here are three books that have been in heavy rotation recently.

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation by Mollie Katzen. You all know Mollie, right? She's the queen of delicious yet simple plant-based food. I can't get enough of her recipes and her writing. She wrote a book called Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without and it's a knock-out classic. I'd been eyeing this at our local co-op one day, thumbing through its pages and fantasizing about all of the new cooking it would inspire me to do and! lo and behold, it found its way under our little Christmas tree this year. Husband knows me well.

Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special by the Moosewood Collective. Mollie was part of the original Moosewood Collective, but I'll leave this one in its own category. This one was also a Christmas gift, this time from the Doc, and it is extra special because it shares all of the beautiful daily soups, stews, salads and extras from the famous Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. And actually, I've never been there so it seems I should put that on my 2014 road trip list.

Whole Grains for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. I'm still loving this one from a recent round of the FSC Book Club. Lots of hearty recipes with new grains (actually, they're mostly ancient grains, but you know) and lots of flavor. She shares an oaty biscuit type recipe that's weird and sublime and a host of other side dishes, entrees and extras that have become regulars.

What cookbooks are on your kitchen counter these days? I'd love recommendations!

02 January 2014

intentions for the year

Update: I had this post all ready to go for January 1 and then something spectacular happened... my beautiful sister gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl! My niece, Samantha Catherine, arrived on New Year's Day and has already stolen all of our hearts with her full head of hair and her squishy face. One of my most important intentions for this year is to be the best auntie possible for this little one.

---


Another new year. Another great chance to set some goals and wild dreams. I know lists of resolutions make some of you anxious. I see why. A list of to-dos staring you in the face, reminding you to always strive to be more, be better. I'd like to look at resolutions as intentions. As grounding reminders of the type of life you'd like to lead, rather than a list of prescriptions to fix your perceived shortcomings. You don't have to be so hard on yourself, you know.
eggsandpicantesauce:

You’re imperfect, and your wired  for struggle, but YOU ARE WORTHY  of loving  AND belonging. -BRENÉ BROWN
Instead of pledging to lose the weight, to stop squandering your money or to be a better spouse, try reframing the goal. Promise to honor your body as the rockin', unbelievable, miraculous vessel that it is and to find a form of exercise that doesn't just get you moving but that really moves you. Vow to spend your money in ways that support and reflect your values, rather than as a way to pass the time or fill a void. When resolving to be a better spouse, remember that you and your partner are both imperfect but both so worthy of love. So take the pressure off yourself, stop trying to fix fix fix and just ease into a new year of possibility and excitement.

Three words for my new year are mindfulness, strength & adventure.


I want to start a regular meditation practice and bring mindfulness into all I do. I want to listen more and I want to write more. I want to reignite my passion for mindful cooking and eating as a way to nourish myself. I want to savor the moments and the seasons as best I can. I want to be mindful but not obsessive! Make good decisions and then once they are made, that's it! Quit the second-guessing. And a big part of mindfulness for me is gratitude, so I will continue to grow my practice of pausing and being grateful.

2014 is the year I cultivate my own strength. I've run my first marathon and surprised myself with my mental toughness. I'd like to become physically stronger too through yoga and tossing around some weights. I want to be a strong wife, friend, family member and leader. Strength in heart and mind, in all areas. Not being boastful or showy, nor bottled up and cold. Just strong. I will know that to be strong, I must also be open and flexible. I will gain strength, but I won't confuse vulnerability with weakness. I will be strong, flexible and wholehearted.


Now I'm not what you would call a big adventurer. I've been known to toss out road blocks and obstacles to adventures:  it's too dangerous, that's too impractical, it's much too expensive. I know I'll continue to do that, because every party needs a lovable curmudgeon, but I want to at least let myself be dragged along on grand and small adventures alike. To know that life is itself an adventure, one with twists and turns and ups and downs and lots of laughter, always. Go with the flow, enjoy the ride, carpe diem and all of that.

Oh, and I'd still like to remember to take my vitamins every day, to run 1,000 miles this year and to drink more water. Happy New Year!

Affirmations & wisdom from some of my faves, top to bottom: Brené Brown, Gabrielle Bernstein, Kathleen Shannon & Danielle LaPorte.

Related Posts:
happy new year / 2011
resolve / 2010
obligatory new years post / 2009
& in 2012 I was too busy swooning over our wedding to post resolutions

24 December 2013

my new red hat


I knit myself a new red hat using the Jul Hat pattern by Wiksten. It fits a little big for me, likely on account of the thicker ply yarn I used, which could have been pre-empted by checking my knitting gauge first. But, let's be honest with each other, you guys don't really do that either, do you? Anyhow, people keep calling it my Santa hat which wasn't actually what I had in mind, but oh well.


And here's my contribution to the fashion blog world. A full-on denim outfit, cardigan and worn-out mauve slippers. I expect to see this on the runways soon. Merry Christmas from this floppy hat-wearing elf!

Knitting is one of my attempts to embrace the winter season. It's permission to be sedentary and wonderfully complements a hot toddy or cocoa. The dark winter nights and cold mornings only add to the click clack of the knitting needles and the feel of yarn slipping through your fingers. It's a good way to pass the time. Plus, you have a nice new hat to show for it. So long as there are the winter blues, there will be a lot of handmade hats. 

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