Thursday, September 30, 2010

pack light

I'm taking advantage of the freedom of my schedule and visiting a friend in Minneapolis for the weekend. I leave tonight so I had to get packed. When I wait until the last minute to pack it's easy for me to over do it and I HATE it when I pack way too much stuff, so today I am trying to pack light. I think I've succeeded. With this wonderful internet technology I can look up the weather so I don't have to pack something for any possible scenario but can narrow it down and pack what I need. I've also talked to my friend to see if we're doing anything that would merit a 'fancy' outfit so I can make decisions about what to include for that. Since she said yes, I've packed a dress, whole outfit in one instead of lost of extra pieces and have chosen earings and a necklace that will look nice for any occasion. Since I don't really need to 'impress' my friend and it's only about 3 days, all I need is the dress, jeans, 3 shirts, clean socks and underwear and pajamas. I even fit my coat in my bag and a scarf just in case 65 feels colder than I expect it to. And I've stuck in one of those bags that scrunches up small so if we do any shopping or I find anything I want to bring home I'll have space to do that too.
Now I just have to be sure I make it to the airport on time.

Push Yourself

I have run a few 5k races and manage just fine, not much training or anything other than my regular trying to go to the gym... so when I saw that there was a 10k for women coming up and me with all this free time, I decided to register. The first step was that I needed new shoes. I have a hard time swallowing the $100 price tag on good running shoes, especially when the money I have coming in at the moment is minimal, but my physical health is important and the chance of injury if I don't have proper shoes increases exponentially.

Now I just have to get myself to do some practice runs, especially considering that I have 2 weeks to prepare. There's a nice bike path by our house so I decided to take advantage and try it out. I thought a lot about it and spent most of the day coming up with excuses of why I should do other things instead of run so by the time I was going to leave the house it was starting to get dark, instead of letting that be another road block for myself I grabbed my headlamp. The bike path does not have lights and since it is used by cyclists I need them to be able to see me so they don't run into me and I don't topple them over. I wore it like a bracelet and it worked really well to provide some illumination in front of me and make me noticeable to others on the path. Then I also had to push myself to keep going. My initial goal was to run about 1.5 miles out and turn around and loop back but once I hit that point I challenged myself to push farther and continued another half mile down the path before turning around. It felt really good to get off my but and get out there and to go farther than I had expected to. Now to keep my motivation for a few more runs before the 10k.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cauliflower Soup

Saute garlic and onion in a little olive oil
add desired seasonings - for example, turmeric, salt, pepper
add some fresh herbs - we used dill
add chopped cauliflower, stir and let begin to cook
add water and let cook until cauliflower is tender

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Traditions

My family is in town and my sister and I discovered that my parents have never been apple picking. My grandmother has some tress in her yard, so they have picked apples, but have never gone out to an orchard to do it. Apple picking makes me think fall in New England, it's a great way to get outside and have something to show for it so we looked up a farm and headed North. We had a great time at Brooksby and even treated ourselves to fresh cider donuts with a cup of fresh apple cider.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

feels like a summer evening

We have been having nice weather - some days a little too humid for my taste but warm this time of year is nice. I'm babysitting a few nights a week for a very cute little 5 month old girl, to celebrate her 5 months today and get to enjoy some nice weather while we've still got it today I decided to take her out for a walk. My partner said he would join us and surprised me with a picnic. It was a wonderful way to end the week and a great way to take advantage of the end of the season.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

stop for the details

I find myself in a rush for no apparent reason these days. I'll go out to get groceries and then race to the store and back. What am I rushing for? Am I scared to be away from the house? Why do I feel like I need the excuse of a destination and 'purpose' for going somewhere instead of just going to get out of the house and get some exercise, see something new or rediscover something I've seen a hundred times before?

Today I need to pick up some things from the store but I did not rush, I let myself look around and take in the little things.

Today, I noticed a sunflower. I've noticed them before, I like sunflowers but I never really stopped to look at it's beautiful face and today I did
and I noticed that it's made up of lots of tiny flowers around each of the seeds and at the end of the seeds were little loops, I'd never noticed these tiny loops before. This flower, which I like, I suddenly realized that I'd never really looked at, never really seen all the intricate details of it's growth that come together to make it so impressive.

It seems a bit strange to have such a sudden fascination with a flower but I feel like it was a good reminder, to pay more attention to all the details, that there is always something new to see, and that face value is not the whole of anything, everything is worth a closer look.


More work to be done on our house... in preparation for the front porch to be ripped off and replaced we had to make some choices about the plants in front of the porch. We haven't invested much in that part of the yard, aside from some weeding it's all been existing plants. Right in front of the porch that's being replaced is a nice, healthy rhododendron and we decided that was worth trying to save.
Today I tried to figure out how to dig it up and keep it healthy for the two weeks it should take to replace the front porch. It was a two person job, we dug up the rhode, lifted it in to the wheelbarrow so we could easily move it to the back of the house, and then decided that the wheelbarrow is probably the best place to keep it until we're ready to put it back. Now we just have to remember to give it lots of water.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our First Radish

We picked our first radish today!
The red top was sticking up above the dirt so it seemed like it was ready to be taken out and eaten.
And it was delicious!

On a sad note, I also found some of that awful knot weed growing up in one of our vegetable beds. I can't spray it because I don't want to contaminate the beds. I pulled it but I fear there will be more.
Have to get into a regular weeding habit so the rest of our produce can thrive and we'll have more food to enjoy!


We were anticipating 70 people to show up at our party on Saturday but we had no idea how much food to make and always have a fear of running out... we did most of the cooking ourselves - had some help from our families.

The Menu
  • empanadas (some with beef, some with spinach)
  • hot dates
  • sushi
  • kale chips
  • homemade hummus w/ vegetables
  • cheese & crackers
  • chips & salsa
Main Course
  • pulled pork (did two shoulders and two butts) w/ buns and homemade BBQ sauce
  • raw lasagna
  • curried squash (homegrown pumpkin and acorn squash)
  • couscous with cashews and crasins
  • spinach salad with apple, fennel, walnuts and blue cheese
  • 2 - 8" flourless chocolate cakes
  • 2 - 8" Swedish almond cakes
  • 2 - 8" white layer cakes with dulce in the middle, one with butter cream frosting, one with chocolate frosting

We gave away some of the left overs but also came home with some... so, in the interest of using up some of the left over food and wanting to do something quick and simple tonight we had pulled pork nachos. We were so hungry for them and excited to eat them that I don't have a photo to post.

Turn oven on to 300
put a layer of chips on a cookie sheet
chop up tomatoes and bell peppers (we had left that went with the hummus)
chop an onion, cut corn off the cob
mix all the vegetables together and sprinkle over chips, put some pork on the chips, cover with grated cheese
If you're cooking for a lot of people add another layer of chips etc.
Cook until cheese is melted.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

start at the end

I suppose this is cheating a bit but I think it's an important lesson, so I am going to share it...

I've been babysitting a few nights a week. Thursday is one of those nights, when I got home about 10:30 last night, since I didn't have the chance to begin any of the cooking or prep for our party on Saturday I wanted to try to get a few things out of the way last night... then I had a thought... the most important thing to do first was what would be the most easily overlooked today... I needed to start by making Friday night dinner. So I did.

I made peanut sauce from this recipe I found that I've done once before and really liked
  • 1/2 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
  • 1 teaspoon chile-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup water
I cooked soba and chopped up tomatoes, scallions, a yellow pepper and par boiled and chopped broccoli. Then I tossed everything together.

I kept some of the sauce separate so we cooked some chicken tenders on the grill tonight and had them with the left over sauce.

Since we spent most of the day in the kitchen (and ended up cooking until about 1 a.m. when we finally called it a night and sat in the hot tub before bed) getting stuff ready for the party it was great, when we were hungry, to be able to pull dinner out of the fridge and not have another thing to cook.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I no longer have a car. We are a no-car household after both our cars were totaled at once by a drunk driver about five years ago now we never replaced them. We have saved a LOT of money by not having cars and can feel gushy about having less impact on the environment and feel healthier doing more walking and cycling. We also joined Zipcar so we do have access and I do still love to drive when I get the chance...
My parents flew in last night and I met them at the airport to be able to pick up their rental car and drive them home. Usually there's a spot in front of my house (I don't have a driveway) but the cars there parked poorly and there was just not enough space for me to squeeze the rental car in, so I parked around the corner where I could still see the car from the front porch. That was helpful because it meant when I heard the street sweeper this morning I could see that it was going right where I had parked the car... which had be ticketed and towed...

My first time ever having a car towed! Thankfully my parents were both calm about it and there's a taxi stand about 5 blocks from my house. After calling the police department who told me which tow company to call and locating the car we grabbed a cab and recovered the car which thankfully didn't appear to be damaged at all in the process.

It was a learning experience.


I tend to hold on to things... little bits of paper, ticket stubs, brochures... I stick everything in a box and the only time I open the box is to add more little bits but never to examine the ones already stored there. When I got married in May I kept little bits from everything. I made the invitations so I have the first pencil drawings on a torn scrap of paper, I have the receipt from our entrance fee for our four day honeymoon to Yosemite and I have a scrapbook whose pages I laid out so people could leave us message instead of a traditional guest book and those would be incorporated into a memory book.
Since the wedding was in California, where I'm from, and because my husband's family is from New England and could not all make the trip out we planned to have a second reception on the East Coast, an excuse for another party and to be able to include more people in our celebration.
Well, it's coming up this weekend, and I still have all these little scraps of paper that never made it in to the scrapbook so I tackled my project head on today. And it took me all day.

pre- wedding activities
notes from our guests with photos of them at the wedding and some of the cards we received


We'll put the book out this weekend too so we may end up with some more pages to add and it's still lacking captions but I'm feeling pretty good about how it turned out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Document Improvements

There were places in our foundation where daylight came in, places that weren't windows... we wanted to get the foundation repointed before winter. They started working on the exterior yesterday so I got up early this morning to document the process.

interior before...
exterior, foundation dug down to the fieldstone and bricks with mortar cut out

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vacation Zen

I wanted a way to have some of the great relaxing beach weekend I just had with me when I got home. So, I brought back a few things... some sand, and some rocks. I've used them along with a box and a small fork that I found in my apartment to make my own zen inspired rock garden.

After collecting everything, I put the sand in the box and then picked out some of the rocks to arrange in the sand and tracked circles around the rocks with the fork. Now I have a zen garden to go. I also have some free souvenirs to remember last weekend and bring me back to how relaxed I was and remind me of all the love and support I have surrounding me from my friends if they are next to me or thousands of miles away.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Start the Weekend Early - Get Away

I was invited to go to Martha's Vineyard for the weekend with friends. I've only been once before briefly in the rain, so I'm not sure it really counts. So, how could I say no and pass up the chance to go and a house to stay in and kitchen with food to eat... all I had to pay for was the ferry ticket over and back. Also a chance for a boat ride is always nice too.

So here's to the weekend starting early, a relaxing weekend with good friends somewhere I've never been!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden Check-Ups

Things are growing... it's starting to feel like fall. I hope there's still enough time for our plants to grow big enough for a harvest before it gets too cold out. It has been hard to weed before now because it was a bit hard to tell what were the things we planted and what was a weed when everything was a sprout. Today I spent time weeding in hopes that our garden keep growing.

Our mystery squash rescued growing out of the compost is doing well. I wonder what it will be...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Explore a New Neighborhood

Since it worked out well dog sitting a few weeks ago and since his owner was looking for a dog walker and I am looking for some odd jobs... I am now a dog walker.

This is also great because I am getting to explore
a new neighborhood that I otherwise would not hang out in. There are so many places easily accessible by public transportation that I keep thinking I should wander around and explore but I haven't done it yet.

Today on our walk, we found a trail through some woods. We found a great idea for the front of the house.

And we found a swanky place with a beautiful garden. I'm looking forward to more explorative walks with my new friend.

Sweet Treats

I'm trying to do some planning ahead. We're going to Martha's Vineyard with friends this weekend and I volunteered to bring some sweets, so today I'm going to do some baking.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 Tbl water
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 oz chocolate chips (optional)

mix butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg, peanut butter, water and vanilla
mix in flour, baking soda and salt
stir in chocolate chips
drop teaspoons of dough onto prepared cookie sheet
if not adding chocolate chips, press lightly with fork that has been dipped into flour to flatten and make ridges, sprinkle sugar on top

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes

Melt-a-way Bars
These are a no-bake bar that work best kept refrigerated

Bottom Layer
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 squares unsweetened Bakers chocolate
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup nuts (I used walnuts and almonds this time because I didn't have enough walnuts)
melt butter and chocolate and let cool, chop or food process graham crackers and nuts, mix all ingredients together and press into bottom of a pan, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Middle Layer
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp cream
cream all ingredients together and 'frost' the bottom layer in the pan, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Top Layer
  • 1 square chocolate
  • 1.5 tsp butter
melt chocolate and butter and spread over frosted layer, put back in refrigerator, once it's hard it's ready to be cut and eaten

Monday, September 6, 2010

Get Together

A nice end to a holiday weekend. It was nice to be back my own bed last night after 5 nights away from it. From weekend festivities in New Hampshire to a trip to a night before wedding celebratory dinner in Maine Saturday night to a wedding in Massachusetts Sunday... this morning was groceries, cleaning up, laundry and getting ready for company... since family was in town for the wedding yesterday we invited them to come see our place, so were anticipating about a dozen people to come over in the afternoon. So I wanted to make some food in case anyone was hungry and also so that we would have something to eat. I made a batch of brownies, cold soba salad with peanut sauce (broccoli, tomato, scallions), salad (arugula, blue cheese, figs, sabra) and some snacks - cheese, crackers, olives, walnuts, dates and made kale chips. And we had a great time having everyone over and eat all the soba and salad.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apple Picking

Today we celebrated the coming of fall... the weather has been beautiful, even with the predicted effects of Hurricane Earl. Since we're up in New Hampshire with an apple orchard a few miles away we took Gram and headed out. It turned out it was the first day the orchard was open for picking and the earliest that they have ever been open for picking, all that we could pick was Macintosh apples. We were the first people there and had the whole orchard to ourselves. We were enjoying ourselves so much we picked 20 lbs of apples! When we'd filled up our bucket and decided to head out was when the next few cars pulled in. Perfect timing!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Weekend Starts Early

Labor Day Weekend is huge party every year. We head up to New Hampshire to camp in the yard and enjoy time with family and friends. This year is a smaller group and the weekend is going to be cut short for a family wedding on Sunday so we came up last night. Today we did some cooking because we're in charge of dinner for about 20 people tomorrow night. We decided to do gazpacho, tabouli, hummus, baba ganoush and do some lamb and chicken on the grill. We wanted the flavors have time to meld and tomorrow to be relaxing so we spent a lot of the day in the kitchen. With all the food done - except for grilling the meat which we'll do tomorrow, we can spend tomorrow relaxing.

Friendly Fun

Take advantage of time with friends. I got to spend some time with two of my former coworkers, one who is moving to DC on Friday (so this would be my last chance to see her for awhile) and one who had also quite and just today, actually, got offered a new job.

After a hectic morning of picking up a rental car, baking 3 batches of cookies to take with when we leave for New Hampshire tonight, and trying to finish the last 60 pages of the book I borrowed from my friend moving to DC I was feeling a little crazy. But spending time with people you care about seems to take all of that away somehow.

We had the best of intentions to go for a walk around a pond but met a series of distractions - including the oppressive heat of the day - so we ended up getting ice cream and then sitting by the pond instead.

When I made it back home it became a frantic whirlwind of packing and trying to grab a bite to eat and packing everything up... stress levels rising... but it was worth it to get some time with friends.