25 July 2014

squirrel siege

Squirrels are little jerks. In our last place, we had squirrels in the walls. We had squirrels on our window ledge and squirrels that would violently assault each other right outside our window. In our current apartment, we have a lovely back deck where we keep a few containers of potted plants- mostly decorative, shade-friendly ones. The network of backyards on our block is squirrel paradise. Huge tree branches cross over from yard to yard and it's basically a secret squirrel jungle gym behind these city rowhouses. So these little jerks dig around in our plants. We've tried cayenne pepper and other suggested remedies, but here's the insulting thing: I swear they deliberately mess with whatever is most important to us out there.

For instance, at our newlywed celebration, we gave out little Blue Spruce saplings as favors. Chris warned that if our guests let their trees die, they were letting our marriage die. Harsh, but motivational. So then, out of all the plants we had outside, these squirrels targeted our love tree and ripped it from the pot just to throw it on the ground. Rude. (Marriage is still fine, thanks for asking.)

Then, we decide the only edible we wanted to plant on our very shaded deck this year is mint. For mojitos, you see. The squirrels dug around at first, then left it alone. The other day I suspected our mint was a bit root bound, so I undertook the anxiety-producing task of root pruning to save them. Then what happened, you ask? Those nasty squirrels came back and messed with the mint. Have they no shame?! No respect for the summer mojito?

Discussion question:  Do you think the Albany squirrels are out to get me? Why or why not?

PS- Enjoy the weekend!

17 July 2014

float on

We've been trying to squeeze every ounce of awesome out of this summer and part of that means getting in the water. Any water. Lakes, oceans, pools. I lamented one recent summer how I had barely spent any time in my bathing suit and what a shame that is, because summers are for swimming.

Well for me, it's mostly floating. I think I got it from my mom, but if you put me in a body of water all I want to do is float on my back and gaze up at the sky. This summer I've paddleboarded, paddleboated, tiptoed, waded, bathed, swam, lounged, jumped, dove, boozed and floated in bodies of water all over the place. I've been in Adirondack lakes and off the shore of Jamaican beaches and at private villa pools... fancy! Everywhere I've been I've found myself lazily floating and staring up at the sky. Watching the supermoon and counting off all of the people that I love. Sending my trippy blessings to people in different states and on different continents. Squinting into the afternoon sun and grinning, with periodic breaks to reapply my SPF 30. Life is never free of all stress and commotion, but floating sure makes me forget about the stressful bits.

Are you guys all getting some good pool, lake or ocean time in this year? In the past I haven't always been into it, but I'm totally back in action. Don't worry about whether or not you have a "bikini body" or what your bum looks like in your bathing suit, just get in that water and splash around. Or float, your call.

27 June 2014

the passionate pixie

Pixie cut update! Yes, I'm still rocking it. The 'do is a little bit longer than it was over the winter, with longer bangs and a different shape. It's also quite dark from the long winter, having just emerged from hibernation and having chopped off all of the lighter sunkissed bits!

I answered a few questions about the ol' pixie cut over at It's Just Hair!, including what inspired me to go short and some of my favorite styling products. And of course, I riff a little bit about society's obsession with long hair and how you can still be pretty and glamorous with short hair. I couldn't resist. Thanks, Erin, for the opportunity to wax poetic about the pixie cut.

Read the full interview here.

Related Posts
Part 1: Chopping it all off 
Part 2: Rocking the pixie 
Part 3: Growing it out 
An Update- 8 Months Later 
The Pixie Cut Series: Even Shorter 
& The Asymmetrical Bob, just for fun

22 June 2014

maple lemonade

Now you've purchased a new citrus squeezer device and are wondering what else you can do with it besides making a tall mojito, right? I wouldn't leave you hanging like that. Your $7 investment shall not go to waste. Here's another way to use it...

I'm over at From Scratch Club this week with a recipe for maple-sweetened lemonade, inspired by the thirst-quencher I picked up at the Burlington Farmers Market the day before our marathon relay. If you are in the mood for a fresh, otherwordly summer drink, check it out here! Boozy additions provided, though the lemonade is special enough without the alcohol.

14 June 2014

mojito season

We've been making mojitos recently. Usually we would just walk a few blocks to our favorite Mexican restaurant, but it suffered a small fire months ago and is closed. Disappointing, yes, but we weren't about to let early Mojitos On The Patio Season escape us entirely. So we've been making them ourselves and perfecting the house recipe.

Here is my take on the mojito. I think there is some authenticity in this recipe, but if not, forgive me and let me be.

House Mojito
Makes one tall, refreshing cocktail

You'll Need
A bunch of fresh mint leaves (at least 3 sprigs worth, but the more the merrier)
1 lime, halved
3 tbsp simple syrup
3 oz light rum

Also Helpful To Have
A muddler
Citrus press

Then You Just...
1.  Add the mint leaves and simple syrup to a glass. Take your fancy muddler, and really work those upper arms and shoulders to give the mint a solid crushing. Really muddle it with all you have. Just pound away at it until the mint smell is bolder than when you started.

2.  Use your new citrus press (like this one) to juice the lime halves directly into your glass. I just recently bought one after Alex made me an outstanding G&T with freshly squeezed lime juice during my Portland trip. I usually just garnish my gin with a slice of lime, but a squeeze of juice makes it even better. These presses work like magic. I used to have a vintage glass juicer that I really liked (like this one), but I couldn't find it so decided to take the $7 plunge and by this gadget. It was the best decision I've ever made, at least the best decision I've ever made regarding citrus juicing tools.

3.  At this point, I add in the ice and rum. Then I top off the rest with seltzer, pop a straw in there and then shuffle out to our own private patio to enjoy a crisp, refreshing and extraordinarily satisfying house-made mojito.

Over the past few years we've been experimenting more with herbs in our cocktails, and what better or more classic place to start than with a minty mojito? Don't fear the greenery in your drink, embrace it. What summer drinks are you mixing up these days? The beauty of the mojito is that it stands up even without the booze. A minty, lime-infused seltzer sounds perfect! No rum required, though it will kick it up a notch if that's what you're looking for. On the topic of mint:  I know everyone complains about it because it takes over entire gardens and yards with its aggressive antics, but I would love to have a mint aggression problem on my hands. I would pick baskets and baskets of it and then put it in my water, seltzer, tea and rum. I'd chew on it and add it to every one of my smoothies. I'd let it massacre other herbs like marjoram and thyme. I would be a mint enabler, the likes of which has not been seen.

Summer Thyme Cocktail over at From Scratch Club
My summer to-do list from a few seasons ago, including a promise for more herby drinks

29 May 2014

running in skirts

Last weekend I ran 13.1 miles... in a skirt! Chris and I had a beautiful, if very quick, trip to Burlington where we fueled up on sunshine, local beer and running. As a two-person team in the Vermont City Marathon (yep, we've done this before), we each tackled 13.1 miles and then scurried home quickly to attend a beautiful, relaxed wedding with a big red barn and lawn games and champagne.

I have harbored such mixed feelings about the running skirt, including, but not limited to:
  • "I don't get it."
  • "How cute! I'll buy three."
  • "So just because I'm a chick I need to run in a SKIRT now and I mean whatever happened to equality and being able to be female and tough and not princess-ify everything."
  • "I am a divine feminine goddess and I am going to crush it in this running skirt."
  • "Isn't it really more of a skort?"
  • "Hating on running skirts is so anti-woman... so you have to dress like a man to be taken seriously?"
  • "Oh come, on... a running skirt?! Really, Christine?"
  • "I look really cute in this."
  • "I feel like an idiot in this."

I see women wearing them and I love them. So chic! So hip. I've always been squarely in the camp that appreciates cute workout clothes. If I wear schleppy clothes, I feel schleppy. If I wear cute clothes, I feel cute. I make no apologies. If you are going to work yourself into a sweaty, red-faced mess you might as well have great sneakers on and a snappy outfit, yes?

This is my still-sleeping-and-about-to-run-a-race face.

The running skirt always seemed like a step too far though. I worried about looking silly, about attracting too much attention and about looking like I didn't belong with the "serious" runners. But then I would try a skirt on and think, "This looks good!" So what was my problem?

I think there is a bit more in here about patriarchy and gender roles and embracing the feminine and something else important, but what it should come down to is this:  Do you want to wear a running skirt? Do you feel good in it? Is it comfortable and practical? If yes, do it. Rock it. Get it. It's kind of like the short hair thing- not everyone will understand it or like it, but if you wear it with rockstar confidence then you will be unstoppable.

Last weekend I was high on life and about to crush half marathon #6. Chris told me I looked cute in the skirt, so I wore it to the race. I'm glad I did. A lot of other women wore running skirts too. We all looked awesome and we all ran good races. You can be fierce in a running skirt, you really can.

What do you think? Do you think running skirts are ridiculous? Would you ever wear one? I know I'll still have to talk myself into wearing them out on training runs. Races are more comfortable, because you are surrounded by supportive runners, but the solo run is where you really need to summon your courage and throw your shoulders back. I'm on a mission to convince others to give the running skirt a try, because it might help me have the confidence to wear one more often.

PS- Does anyone care about the technical specifics of running skirts and apparel? Like, which ones I like and why and all of that? If so, let me know and I'm happy to share.

Related posts
That first marathon
Running for fun
Get outside and run
It's just a half marathon
His marathon

18 May 2014

fiddlehead season

A quick PSA to remind you that it's fiddlehead season. So go forage them or, if you're lucky, your local co-op or farmers' market might have some. I had a WEEK at work and yesterday we treated ourselves to a cast-iron skillet full of buttery fiddleheads and shallots. And then a fancy dinner out and a few glasses of rosé for me. But really, the fiddleheads started the whole celebration off on the right path.

This website calls fiddleheads "the succulent stalks of spring". Are you intrigued now? There's also a dynamite microbrewery in Vermont named after these foraged ferns plus one of my favorite pieces of artwork is of fiddleheads, painted by the talented Susan Hartley Himmel, also known as my mom. So go find some fiddleheads before it's too late!

29 April 2014

my niece

Meet my niece! Little Miss Samantha Catherine was born on January 1 and has already made 2014 lots of fun. I mean, I'm sure it's also been kind of a crazy transition for her parents, but as an aunt it's been pure fun. She has completely stolen my heart. When I'm killing time, I'll scroll through my phone and just look at pictures of her squishy little face. Sometimes I make my sister send me little Samantha selfies, just for fun. #babyselfie

When I first met the little pumpkin, and for at least the first whole month of her life, I kept thinking I was holding a baby version of my sister. It was trippy. I'd hold this little baby and stare into her eyes and felt a rush of wisdom flowing from her. Like she already knew all of my secrets and spent all of these years with me. She was a little buddha, wise and knowing, wrapped up nice and cute in a tiny little human body. Maybe I've been reading Ina May's Spiritual Midwifery book too much, but I swear it's been this heavy psychedelic experience getting to know this little one. Now she is becoming her own person with her own look and personality, a perfect blend of Kate & Joe. But still, every once and awhile, I'll look at her just right and, Whoosh! A beam of wise baby magic will shoot out and I feel like I've known her forever and that we have all of these shared memories together.

Does this make any sense at all?! I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's awesome having her around. It's amazing seeing my sister become a mama, her husband become a dad, my parents become grandparents and it's been rad to have a little critter in my life as cute and chatty and snuggly as she is. Samantha, you're a pretty cool baby girl.

21 April 2014

more portland adventures

Portland, I can't stay away from you. I just took a quick trip out to visit my friend Al in Portland and, my, it's still such a lovely city. Even its typical drizzly weather charmed me this trip. We ate and drank and visited and ran and I fell more in love with that place. Here are a few photos!

Le sigh. We took advantage of a rainy day and road tripped out through the Columbia River Gorge.  The views were... gorge-ous. We spent some time at Maryhill Museum of Art, then wandered over to the Maryhill Winery where we ended up buying a half a case of wine. Seize the moment!

On our drive back, Al took me to Pfriem Brewers in Hood River and I ordered the tastiest veggie burger and cauliflower soup possible.

One less rainy day, I demanded that we stop at the Moberi smoothie cart in his neighborhood so I could give the bike-powered blender a try! I didn't realize until people told me on Facebook and Instagram that this business had been on the show Shark Tank. All the cooler, I guess. If you're wondering, the green smoothie I ordered has now convinced me to put fresh mint in all future smoothies. And juices. And cocktails. Mint everywhere.

As it turns out, most of the photos I took were of my food. I look back at them longingly, just as one might do with photos of actual humans. One morning we had second breakfast (it's a thing) at a neighborhood French bakery called St. Honore Boulangerie. Buttery pain au chocolat and a Normandy apple toast with two coffees to go, please.

My best street-style photos. I'm re-integrating boot cut jeans back into my wardrobe after years of exclusively wearing skinnies. It's going well, so far. Remember when everyone thought skinny jeans were so ugly? I remember thinking, "I will never wear those." And now here I am years later and I'm balking at the idea of wearing bootcut jeans. They feel so floppy around the ankles! Oh fashion.

On my last night, we went to a new French restaurant called St. Jack for a few nibbles and specialty cocktails. Why do salads always taste so much better at restaurants?! In a restaurant, they feel fancy and special. At home, they feel sad. Sure, in the middle of summer with a bustling farmers market you can put together an attractive plate of greens but other times they are the equivalent of having cereal for dinner. Am I right? 

A fantastic mini-vacation and visit to see my dear friend the doc before he moves back to the East coast! We touristed around Columbia gorge, ate great food, dyed Easter eggs, went for rainy and sunny runs and generally yukked it up.  I even got to meet up with the Portland Habitat for Humanity for a little bit. During the same time, Chris was out adventuring in Colorado. In shocking news, he did not take photos. I suppose we will just have to imagine what all of his lunches and dinners looked like. Thanks, Al, for hosting another great Portland getaway and for waking up at 4am to drive me to the airport on Easter Sunday!

That time we drove up and down the West coast & stopped in Portland
I spent a week taking yoga classes, going to concerts & getting my pixie cut trimmed in Portland


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