5.31.2013

guest post at bound!

maus

This week we discovered Maus knows her name. We've suspected it for awhile now, but sometimes she's stubborn and ignores us, so we thought maybe we were just getting lucky. But then Joe started testing her...calling out random words in his kitty voice while she's sleeping. Sure enough, her name is the only thing that gets her to lift her head from her nap and give a little coo.

I know...you care.

Really, Maus was just an excuse to get this post going and share some awesome news. My friend Julie over at Bound is featuring a guest post from me today all about books. We're both voracious readers, and she's got some great posts on the subject herself. She's also paleo, and funny, and in amazing shape...so she has awesome recipes, and jokes, and exercise routines that I will read and never, ever try.

Hop on over, read my recommendations, and say hi to Julie. I consider her a blogger soulsister, and I think you'll like her too.

We'll be enjoying this weekend by my friend's pool. Even though I don't feel quite swimsuit ready (where did you come from, June?!), I'm counting my blessings to have a healthy body and a cool place to dip it! Have a beautiful, sunny, hot one!

xoxo

5.27.2013

lately

Happy Memorial Day, all! I am so thankful for the many men and women who have given their lives for the privileges that I enjoy today.

Though I wish this weekend had been filled with sunnier weather, we've also been thankful for a quiet and restful long weekend. I've been in spring cleaning mode, making my way slowly through the apartment, getting into all the nooks and crannies that spend the whole year collecting cat hair and cookie crumbs. It feels good.

I tend to do more cleaning than Joe does, and it's during these cleaning binges that I realize why. It is just more important to me. After I've gotten through a room, I'm constantly saying, "Doesn't this feel good? Isn't it just so nice and peaceful in here?" And Joe is like, "Yeah, sure..." Cleaning brings me peace of mind, but it's just a pain for him.

Ah well...at least I am able to bask in my freshly laundered couch cover and spotless kitchen table.

currently spring

I love this weekend, because it is one of those beautiful transition weekends. Even though the heat is actually on in our apartment right now (!), I think it's safe to say that we are in the midst of spring, and summer weather is just around the corner.

I love this feeling of freedom from winter's grasp. Here's how I've been celebrating it lately...

[exercising] My heart. Inspired by my motivated friend Eileen and memories of my runner's legs, I've gotten back onto the treadmill and am loving the feeling of pumping legs again.

[enjoying] A new haircut. A bob that cuts just below the ears is one of the most freeing feelings as the summer begins. (Highly recommend my salon, if you're in the area...)

[reading] The Millenium series, by Stieg Larsson. Cannot stop...

[craving] The spicy pickled vegetables from the Salvadorian place down the street. Want. so. bad. Does this mean I'm missing some essential nutrient?

[watching] The entire new season of Arrested Development. We're on marathon mode. We've made a huge mistake...

[eating] Homemade vegan butterscotch banana ice cream made in the brand new ice cream maker I scored for $10 at the thrift store. Win win win. Need to tweak the recipe, but will definitely be sharing.

[moving to] And We Danced. Almost guaranteed that you will be offended. 100% guaranteed that you will be pumped up.

[feeling] Warm in my heart every time I look at this or this or this.

I have a busy summer ahead of me, so I took a day on Friday to enjoy some shopping and quiet 'me' time. Sometimes the best thing is strolling through a lux mall with a Godiva chocolate in your hand and a bag or two on your arm (better when filled with free items). I was lucky enough to burn through a couple of major coupons and score a gift bag (plus a cupcake!) at an anniversary celebration, so I felt like a lucky girl indeed.

Enjoy this lovely gift of a day, my darlings.

5.24.2013

hsb's low-carb pb cookies

I recently had to pass up the opportunity to attend at tasting at the Harvard Sweet Boutique in Hudson, MA, both due to being ridiculously busy, and the fact that I am constrained to visiting bakeries that are easily accessible by public transit. It was maybe a good thing, because I think there are certain items I might have eaten until I got sick.

Luckily, Sue George (the founder) really wanted to make sure my tummy didn't get too comfortable, so she shared her recipe for low-carb peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies with me.

Um, I might have had four in one day. Maybe five.

hsb pb cookies

And now I've happily unfortunately discovered that HSB's sweet treats can be ordered online, and they are currently selling Boston Strong cookies with all profits going to the Boston One Fund. The next time Joe and I head out of town for a special trip, this is a business I'd like to go support...their store location serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, and I can only imagine how delicious they are.

I followed the recipe as shared with me (below), except that I used palm sugar for the white sugar, didn't pack the brown sugar, and used whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour. (If you do the same, be sure to use a little less flour than what's called for.) The cookies are so delicious. These aren't of the chewy variety...they're just sort of soft, and almost melt in your mouth a little. Delicious.

hsb pb cookies

Harvard Sweet Boutique's Low-Carb PB Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients:
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Cream butter, peanut butter, light brown sugar, and sugar with mixer.
4. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
5. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to mix.
6. Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture and stir until just blended.
7. Add chocolate chunks and mix well.
8. Bake 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

5.22.2013

yarn along - the new jim crow

My yarn and books are all over the place lately. Reading and crocheting were both major stress relievers for me during my crazy last month of the semester. But with all the hopping from job to job, place to place, I was hopping all around my projects and books too. I currently have three crochet projects going and have finally gotten my reading list down to two books.

And for the record, I am the sort of person who likes to finish one thing before moving on to the next. I have been embracing the diversity.

yarn along

One of the projects has been to clothe our second hot water bottle in its own cozy, continuing on my quest to use up the miscellaneous yarn in my basket. I tried to make this one match Joe's personality a little more. He rarely uses a hot water bottle, but I figured it would be a nice gesture, since the first cover has my name written all over it.

yarn along

The book I'm sharing this week is a very sobering read, but it's so important and incredible that I had to share. The New Jim Crow basically presents the argument that our present criminal justice system is inherently racist and results in the systematic oppression of men of color. It's a serious argument, and I've tried to approach it with skepticism. But every time a doubt arises in my mind, Michelle Alexander's next paragraph explains it.

I highly recommend it for everyone. It's a heavy read, but I can promise you will be stunned.

There are so many jaw-dropping statistics...

The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
Three out of every four black men in Washington, DC are in prison.
White people are equally likely to be involved in drug activity, but black men are more likely to be arrested for it.
In Chicago, young black men are statistically more likely to go to prison than to college.

And Alexander's very convincing argument is that these things reflect a broken system.

yarn along

I promise I'll be back soon with something a little more lighthearted. But I think these tough issues deserve our attention too, right?

Linking up with Ginny. Happy Wednesday!

5.19.2013

a saturday for listening to the birds

I think, as we grow older, we have to make a choice...

We can become stubbornly rooted in the people we've always imagined ourselves to be, falling back again and again on, "It's just the way I am."

Or, we can continuously redefine ourselves, holding on to the things that we've come to know and love, and letting go of the ones that we eventually recognize as hurtful to ourselves or others.

I hope to be the second kind of person.

And I am happy to have found a life partner who thinks the same way I do. We share a long history of perfectionism, an over-appreciation for structure, a resistance to relaxation. And we both know that those are not pieces of ourselves that we want to hold onto.

So on Saturday morning, we ignored the voices of work and dirty dishes and sensible meals at home, hopped on a train, and instead listened to the voices of Fenway birds on a little hike to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum.

isg museum

We finally exercised our free pass privileges (yes, you heard right) to the ISG, and spent a couple of hours breathing in the beauty of that old house...its lush courtyard, dark wood rooms, and canvasses from lifetimes ago. It is absolutely the place that everyone has told us it is, and now that we know we can go as often as we'd like for nothing, we might just adopt it as our second home. We spent this first trip just being in all the rooms, but we'll likely grab the audio tour next time so we can actually know what we're looking at.

Saturday was truly the most perfect day for spontaneous adventuring. I can't tell you how happy I was to don boat shoes and my cropped pink pants again, and get a little sun on my whiter-than-porcelain skin.

Our adventures took us past the Harvard med campus and then along Boylston to one of the tastiest places in Boston...

isg museum

isg museum

isg museum

Tasty Burger veggie burgers are my favorite (don't worry, meat lovers...most of the menu is for you). Sometimes I am actually a little disappointed with healthy veggie burgers...they seem to miss the point. But I can assure you, Tasty Burger veggie burgers are decidedly not healthy. Infused with a barbecue flavor and sporting the crackliest grilled edges, they are a vegetarian sinner's delight.

Eaten in the sparkling sun on a bright red picnic table? Even better. So good, it might make you pull a Gollum...

isg museum

You can bet I'm holding on tight to those sunny memories (my precious) as clouds are now sneaking their way across our sky, enveloping us in a week's worth of rain.

Hope your weekend was as beautiful and spontaneous as ours! This weekend, we let go of our inner voices so we could listen to the birds instead. As you've grown up, what parts of yourself have you let go of for happier things?

5.16.2013

brothers

One of my favorite parts about visiting J's family is watching him with his brothers.

Three boys.

They pretend they're only mildly pleased to see each other...pats on the back, handshakes...

But then they gather in the yard with a wiffle ball and a lawn chair to mark the strike zone. I sit on the sidewalk, resolutely unhelpful in catching and returning stray balls. And while I take pictures of flowers and soak up all the sun I can get, I listen to them joking and teasing each other.

Greg is the youngest. It feels like everything out of his mouth is a joke (and he is funny), but at heart he is the sweetest...the least likely to argue and the happiest to see everyone gathering at home again.

Michael is the middle child. We can relate about that, I think. He is a profound intellectual, an artist, and the most likely to argue...but always in defense of truth and rightness.

And Joe is the oldest. He is the big bear, comforting and quiet. Like many oldest children, he appears to let nothing bother him and is always ready with advice for his brothers. I know that the feeling of responsibility has never left him.

brothers

If any of them read this, they will laugh at how sentimental it sounds. Because the truth is, they spend most of their time together reminiscing about when Michael pooped in Joe's bedroom (he was 2) and seeing how many times they can get their mother to roll her eyes.

At the wedding we attended last weekend, Joe and Greg shared a total of five entrees between them. This is their quality time.

brothers

When we're visiting, I get to talk philosophy with Michael while I poke Greg in the ribs, trying to find that ticklish spot. I have to admit, it feels like a little honor that I'll be able to call myself their sister soon.

When it's time to say good bye, they maybe hug, and I tease them for loving each other more than they'd care to admit.

5.13.2013

zevia {review and giveaway}

Update: This giveaway is now closed.

Zevia

Ok, you've seen Zevia here before. And not a lot has changed since I first wrote about their stevia-sweetened soda. I don't drink it regularly, but it's a product I love as an occasional treat, and I am so relieved to be able to find sugarfree soda without all the chemicals.

Then, the people at Zevia very generously sent me another little variety pack to try and offered to send five of my readers a voucher for the six-pack of their choice.

Awesome, no?

It was great to try a bunch of flavors again...some I hadn't had before. And for the most part, I love them. (Strawberry is not my style...waaaaayyy too much like liquid candy.) I do tend to water them down with a little plain seltzer, because the stevia flavor is so strong. But as I said before, if you can handle the taste of diet soda, then I would imagine the stevia flavor wouldn't bother you either.

Zevia does recommend keeping the soda as cold as possible and drinking it from the can. I'm not sure I've kept to those rules as strictly as I should (totally guilty of using a glass), so I bet it would also taste even better if I did!

And again, even though I wouldn't drink Zevia on a regular basis, I love it as a special treat now and then. I've been enjoying the latest batch with our special Friday night dinners and a movie. Kind of makes me feel like a big kid. My favorite flavor has to be the ginger root beer. It's the closest thing to regular soda, and I imagine it would make a great root beer float (with coconut ice cream for a dairyfree and low glycemic version!).

If you haven't had it before, it's definitely worth a try! (And you've got a pretty good chance of getting some for free here...)

There are three ways to enter to win a six-pack Zevia voucher. Leave a separate comment for each one you do, and make sure I can access your email address (on your blog, in your comment, etc.). Here are the three ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which Zevia flavor you would try with your voucher.
2. Tweet about this giveaway with a link to this post (leave a link to your tweet in your comment).
3. Share my facebook post of this giveaway with your facebook friends.

The giveaway will close in ten days, on 5/23.

Good luck!

5.09.2013

solo dating

Sushi

When I was in San Francisco, I took myself out to dinner. It almost didn't happen.

It's not that I have a problem dining out alone. It's more than the allure of the television screen and pajama bottoms in my hotel room almost outweighed the allure of a solo meal at a sushi counter. But in that brief moment after the waitress offered me water, I didn't give myself a chance to say, "Could I actually place a take out order?" and instead took the plunge into the world of solitary dining that I hadn't seen for awhile.

I sat at that sushi counter and read Water for Elephants on my iPhone. After awhile, I glanced up and watched my chef, skillfully skinning fish and wrapping rolls with nimble fingers. And as a group of young women began gathering for dinner behind me, I vicariously enjoyed their friendship, smiling at their laughter and the comparisons they were making between San Francisco and Boston.

My sushi was amazing. I noticed that the spicy tuna roll didn't have the pinkish mayonnaise sauce I'm used to seeing. So I shouldn't have been surprised that after dipping it in my wasabi-laced soy sauce, I was hit behind my sinuses with a little sledgehammer in my head, and my eyes spilled over with tears in the middle of that quiet restaurant. Turns out, my roll was laced with red pepper flakes, the likes of which I have never experienced before. But let me tell you...once you've cried in a restaurant alone, you will always feel comfortable on a date with yourself.

At the end of the night, I realized that this evening had been one of the happiest moments I had in that city. I was so fully present with my food and my thoughts and my surroundings. I enjoyed the company of others and the company of myself at the same time. And when it came time to walk home, I felt full of possibility...coffee shops, dessert, an evening walk?

My friend Julie recently wrote about the experience of travelling alone when you're used to spending so much time with your other. And while I experienced some of that on this trip, that night of sushi was about more than just being away from others...it was about being with myself. I guess I thought I was with myself all the time...on my train ride into work or when I'm alone in the apartment. But in those same-old same-old places, I just run into my self that I already know. "Hey there...you again." When I took myself out to dinner, it was more like a first date. "Hey there...you like sushi? Ha ha...didn't think it would be that spicy? Oh also...you look really cute tonight." It's a happy place, that one where you sort of get to fall in love with yourself and the world all over again.

Nice to meet you, self. Let's do it again soon.

5.07.2013

gentle people with flowers in their hair

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

8. Miette

It feels like my whole semester was leading up to this trip to San Francisco...and now it's come and gone. I keep remembering how fully packed all my days were, but still feel that I hardly scratched the surface of that great city.

I didn't get to see Alamo Square...or these beautiful steps...or Alcatraz...or shop at Little Vine...

All the more reason to go back someday, I guess. San Francisco reminded me a bit of Berlin...the charm of sidewalk caf├ęs and green spaces, balanced by a hefty amount of grit. But, as I reported to J, not our future home, I don't think...just a bit too much of that grit...and much too much money.

I'm also a little embarrassed to report how much my New England soul revealed itself on this trip. At the sign of a little bit of friendly conversation, my dukes go up, and I'm ready to defend myself. It was a good experience to learn to accept unsolicited recommendations and directions from strangers on the street.

I spent a beautiful day with my dad's cousin, driving down the zigzags of Lombard Street, walking along the piers, and eating cioppino at the Cliff House while the sun set over the west coast. I caught up with a couple of friends, visiting the exploratorium, browsing Bi-Rite, and picking up some local treats at the Ferry Building to bring home to J. And I managed to snag some alone time when I took myself out for sushi and hopped on the cable cars in the early morning hours.

And naturally, I spent a little time at the conference that got me out there to begin with. Two successful presentations...and the opportunity to be inspired by the work of many, many amazing people.

I remember my parents often saying that the nicest part of being away from home is to remember how much it means to you. And besides being overjoyed to wrap my kitten in my arms, and wrap both of us in the arms of my love, I am also newly enamored of Boston. I remember what it is to see this place through the eyes of a tourist, and we are so excited for another summer of exploring our own backyard.

5.05.2013

happy to be home

tulips

Sorry I'm not sorry.

Truth be told, real life has gotten a hold of me for the last couple of weeks, and worrying about how much the blogosphere would miss me was the last thing on my mind. This space remains my warm, sweet home, only as long as I don't feel accountable to it. And in the midst of all my own busy-ness, it was nice to not feel accountable.

But, I missed it. And I missed you. I missed all my virtual and real-life friendships. I missed the updates on lives that have somehow become such a big part of my own. And I missed having a place to share my clumsy pictures and neurotic obsessions and oh yes, the recipes made in the kitchen I haven't touched for weeks.

Since I last posted...

We spent a day on lockdown.

We went to see The Book of Mormon.

I caught, and recovered from, my first cold in I-don't-know-how-long.

I gave four big presentations (two to go!).

I was in San Francisco for four beautiful and sunny days.

There was an outbreak of the mumps on campus. (Is this real life?)

And I came home from the golden state of sunshine to a city that was finally and fully in bloom. The trees have turned green, the bulbs have blossomed, and somehow, it is May. Somehow, summer is just around the corner. Somehow, our weekends have gone from chilly dates with papers and cocoa to strolls through the park and a healthy dose of procrastination.

Nice to see you again, springtime. Nice to see you again, blog. Nice to see you again, friends.

xoxo

tulips