Friday, November 18, 2011
Its gloomy here, and while I usually love that type of weather, it feels a bit too cold for my taste. Holidays are a weird time of year, they conjure up so many different emotions and yet I don’t think that we are all honest about how they make us feel. Let’s get real here for a minute. Families can be messy. Holidays can be stressful. There can be pressure, hurt, fears, and insecurities. We want to give perfect gifts, be the perfect hostess, make the perfect turkey, and all for what?
Don’t get me wrong, I get trapped here too, and frankly I’m in the thick of it. My husband and I have been married for three years, and this is the first year of the holidays with our son. Last year he was a week old at Christmas, and I hardly remember what that day was like. And so I find myself this year longing to make our own traditions and am hopeful for what these next few months bring.
Oh, and I’m always crying. Not really, always, but enough to mention it. Because Chip is turning ONE next month and I can’t figure out where this year went. Because I realized that when I was in high school, college, and grad school, there was always a deadline of finals, of the quarter system that signaled the ending of a season and the beginning of a new one.
And even when I was an editor of a magazine we existed and thrived on deadlines. My time spent in the marketing field was the same: seasons, sales goals, and social media campaigns. Now, I am in a world that is so far from these deadlines, that I find that I am stopping dead in my tracks.
Because my world now is no longer defined by these types of deadlines. It’s by first steps, finger foods, sleeping through the night, a new tooth, a smile, a tear, play dates, holidays, birthdays, and
These deadlines are much less stressful, yet they take a whole different toll on your heart. These deadlines cause my heart to grow fuller, my joy to be more infinite and for the first time to feel like I am really, actually living.
Don’t get me wrong, there are hard days and there are rough days and even harder nights. But even the hard times are the best times, and as this year is quickly ending and the holidays are so very fast approaching, I am choked up, trying to take it all in, and doing my best to find the right words to put what it’s like to watch someone grow up.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
And I’ve taken up yoga for this very purpose.
And I take breaks in the day and make things like a Pear and Pepper Latte. I just sit, and I reflect, and I Thank, and I marvel.
I treat myself so that I am rested. I get rid of distractions.
And I relish in not being too busy.
Because deadlines can pass directly over our heads and in the world of words, marketing, money, and finance, we can always make new ones. But in this life, the life that involves our loved ones, people, humanity, we can’t make new deadlines.
When they pass, they pass.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Sip. Enjoy. Reflect. Repeat.
Pear and Pepper Latte
Yield: half a dozen cups of coffee
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15
Total Time: 20 minutes (only the first time)
By latte, I mean cafe au lait. I like coffee better, but just substitute espresso if you'd like a true latte. And this is a Bonnie the Baker original.
A pot of your favorite coffee, brewed
1/2 ripe pear
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3-10 white and black pepper kernels
milk if you so desire
1 loose leaf tea infuser
Brew your favor pot of coffee
While brewing, or perhaps right before depending on how fresh you like to pour your joe, slice the 1/2 pear (remove seeds) and place in a small saucepan with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and let boil for about 5-10 minutes, allowing syrup to thicken and sugar to dissolve completely. (If you want extreme pear flavor, then use a whole pear in this same sugar water ratio.)
Remove from heat.
Place pepper kernels into tea infuser. I like mine super peppery because I love that kid of stuff. But I would start small and increase for strength, you don't want to be overcome with the pepper flavor if you are unsure about it.
Pour coffee into favorite mug, and scoop as many tablespoons of pear syrup into mug while coffee is still hot, and stir. The more Place tea infuser with pepper kernels into hot coffee and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Again, start small here, you can always steep more for a stronger pepper flavor. Remove tea infuser, add milk or cream as usual.
Put left over syrup into a mason jar or left over peach jar (pictured) and then store at room rep for up to two weeks. If you go to re-use and it's become hard, use a double broiler to heat it up again.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Y’all. I had a birthday! The big 2-7. And I made a boxed cake and decorated it and got a smudge of frosting on the side. Whatevs. Messy tastes the same.
And on my birthday I put a shot on Instagram of my cake and sometimes I think that my Instagram shots are better than my real camera shots. Because I don’t really care about much besides being in that moment when I am using the ol’ iPhone. I’m not worried about who will really see it, nor am I worried that the lighting is right. I’m just stoked that I get to photograph my life and keep a record of it, so that I can look back and be pleased with the things I’ve seen.
And while I may take photos with my phone, I’ve turned a new leaf in my 27th year. I’ve deleted Facebook and Twitter off my iPhone, because it was becoming a bad habit. I kept checking them without thinking about it, and it was driving me crazy. I was driving myself crazy.
Hold down. Shake those icons. Delete. Done.
Do you know how good that feels? I’ve rescued the sound of the coffee machine as it brews early in the morning. I’ve gotten back the feeling of using my imagination. I’ve re-trained the art of conversation between strangers. And I’ve made my whereabouts and tasks at hand sacred information, something that has been lost on so many of us.
But I still Instagram. Because I want to document what I do each day. And I want to look back and remember how I was feeling and what I did to really live that day.
And that’s also why I have this blog. Welcome! (Do you like what I’ve done with the place? If you are reading in RSS, click out of it and check out my new design!) I want my blog to be a chronology to thoughts I’ve had, emotions I’ve experienced, things I’ve eaten, photographs I’ve taken, fears, joys, and failures. I want baby Chip, when has inevitably grown up way too fast, to be able to look what I’ve written and get a glimpse of what we did, ate, saw, and talked about when he was growing up.
Oh, and my husband got me that necklace for my birthday from The Vintage Pearl. Those three rectangular charms are the longitude and latitude coordinates of places that are important to us: the place we had our first kiss and he proposed, the place we got married, and the hotel we stayed in for three weeks before Chip officially joined the clan. Places are important. Landmarks are essential.
But because I’m 27 and finding numerous gray hairs each day, I’ve made a list of “20 Things to do Before I Turn 30″ so that I truly keep living. Drumroll please:
1. Learn to play a song on the guitar
2. Go with my husband to Hawaii
3.Make a music video as a family
4. Run a half marathon
5. Finish first draft of book
6. Buy a stranger’s groceries
7. Visit a bee farm
8. Make a Baked Alaska
9. Make a chandilier
10. Spend the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
11. Visit the pier in Ocean City with my family
12. Take dad to the Kentucky Derby
13. Wine tasting trip with the ladies
14. Go luxury camping
15. Take a rose petal bath while sipping champaign
16. Take Cy on a date to see a band perform at Red Rocks
17. Become true, real life pen pals with my dad
18. Cook a live lobster
19. Make a mix CD of all my favorites that everyone HAS to hear and send it to those closest to me
20. Knit Chip a sweater
Happy Birthday indeed.
P.S. I’m still formatting posts etc. I’m human so it’s going to take me awhile.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Before you freak out, my child is pictured here in a play yard. Get that? Play yard. Meaning, he is playing and that thing, in a size comparison to his little body is an entire yard. So I’d say it’s a sweet deal for him. I’d even throw in a “you’re welcome, Chip.”
But can we talk about being grounded for a minute? I distinctly remember being grounded when I was little for talking back to my mom. My punishment was to sit in my room and not be able to watch Duck Tales. I was so mad at myself for getting grounded that while I was wallowing in self-pity, I took my favorite eraser and I ripped it up. At age 5. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
And dissection of the psychological issues from that story that I clearly have with being an extreme Type-A and a perfectionist, let’s begin by clearly understanding that I had no idea how good I had it.
Grounded. Sent to my room, ALONE for an extended period of time. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET BACK HERE?
This week, I have talked back with tons of sass, spilled milk all over the floor, swore at the spilled milk, raised my voice, ate dessert before dinner (multiple times), was snarky for no reason, made a mess and didn’t clean it up, was rude, was self-seeking, cried and threw a tantrum, and, to top it all off, got a cell phone while driving ticket.
AND NONE OF THIS WARRANTED BEING GROUNDED.
Do you even know the fun I would have being grounded? I would read. I would tweet. I would Instagram. I would sneak cookies in there and then shove them all in my face while laughing about it. I would scream behind closed doors to make it seem like I was in true, true misery. I would nap. I would dream. I would write. I would look out the window and pretend, for once in my life, to be bored.
And then I would pin point what got me in that
delightful miserable situation and I would do it over and over again.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I’m sitting here, feeling a bit under the weather. I’m drinking tea, watching a film on Netflix, and life is good. And that’s how fall is. There are pumpkins, and hopes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which of course means cold weather, warm treats, and perhaps a bit more vulnerability on our part.
Baby is in bed because it’s not even seven, so daylight savings or not, we are learning this new routine. I’m insisting on it. MUAHAHAHAHA!
And I feel like I need to be rescued from myself right now because I am having an insane thought to go running this morning. As in, when it’s cold and I haven’t eaten anything. That’s insane right?
I’ll tell you what’s really insane: I have a bad habit of making centerpieces for holidays out of fruits and herbs solely so that after the event is over I can chop up the fruit and the herbs and put them in a bath. Fill it with bubbles. Fill my glass with wine. And relax.
And while I wouldn’t not suggest putting this lasagna in a bath, I do suggest making it this Thanksgiving for those of you who want a Turkey alternative. And, I didn’t use all of the sage in my package, so that will probably make it into a bubble bath.
This recipe is lightly adapted from my dear friend, Julia Mestas. She thought of this recipe, and I love her for it. Visit her blog!
P.S. This is a very quick version. As in, I didn’t have all the ingredients the original recipe called for and it was still delicious. However, Julia’s version is a lot more technical, and more true to a real lasagna.
Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Lasagna
2 cans organic pureed pumpkin
1 15 ounce bag butternut squash cubes (I got these from Trader Joes. Or you could just roast your own butternut squash as well, which will be about 3 cups worth)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sage leaves, chopped finely, divided
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped roughly
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 package "no boil" lasagna noodles
24 ounces ricotta cheese
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Toss Butternut Squash cubes, olive oil, half of the sage, and salt and pepper on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place in pre-heated 400F degree oven for about 30 minutes, using a spatula to rotate cubes half way through.
In the meantime, mix basil, the rest of the sage, ricotta and mozzarella in a large bowl, using hands, until combined.
Remove butternut squash from oven when done. Reduce oven to 350F degrees.
Pour a thin layer of pumping puree at the bottom of a large ceramic pan (regular pan, glass pan, whatevs). Just enough to thinly cover the bottom. Place noodles strategically on top so that the pumpkin is covered. If the canoodles overlap, that's fine, but only one layer is needed. Then place another thin pumpkin lair on top of noodles, followed by a thin layer of ricotta.mozzarella mixture, followed by several of the butternut squash cubes, and finally, another layer of noodles.
Repeat these steps until you run out of fillings. Finish with a layer of noodles, spread the remaining pumpkin puree, and then sprinkle with some mozzarella.
Bake for about 45 minutes in 350F degree oven or until cheese on top is bubbling.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
My family has done lots of traveling, and I’ve seen almost every state in the U.S. I have a love affair with the mountains and the oceans, each my favorite scenery when placed in front of it, but I also love wide open spaces, rolling hills, and the great plains. I’m not too much of a city girl, and suburban life is all I’ve ever known. I’d like to live in the country, but people give me energy and I know that after a few weeks I’d be aching to be in the midst of community.
But, of all the places I’ve been, it’s San Francisco that I love. I honestly have no idea why. I don’t like the city, but I like Silicon Valley. Its a small, suburban city with lots of businesses, the technology capitol it seems, but also, and honestly, nothing too special. But here’s the deal. As I grow older (ahem) I begin to like places and scenery and scenes and people and culture much more because of who I’m with and less because of what I’m doing.
And it turns out we’ve been to Cupertino many times on business trips for my husband’s job, have dear friends that live close to the city, and this time last year I was on partial bed rest at 32 weeks pregnant and my husband and I spent 3 weeks up in the area. I went sight seeing all day, read book after book while sipping mayan hot coco and coffee, went shopping, got manicures, and really and truly enjoyed life. Husband was at work all day, so at night we had date nights, split cupcakes, went on trips during the weekends, and visited our favorite food places. All while living out of a hotel.
And it was glorious.
During that three weeks I truly bonded with Chip, the baby inside me, and I look back at that time as so very precious. I know it was a gift given to us; I spent all day talking to him and thinking of him and just resting, in preparation for him to be here. I’ll never forget those weeks and that city, holds a piece of my heart. I guess, you could say, I left my heart in San Francisco.
Ok! ok, super cheesy right? So let’s move on to other great things about that city, including, these cookies!
Do you know my friend Stephanie from Desserts for Breakfast? Well this cookie recipe is her’s, and it’s originally called “Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies.” But I changed the name because this is my blog and I’m the boss of here.
So Stephanie. Another good thing about San Fran. And Standford. Ici Ice Cream. Good Coffee. Winchester Mystery House. Zachary’s Pizza. Apple. Santana Row. The Mystery Spot. Rain. Clouds. Fog. The Golden Gate Bridge. Crab Chowder in a bread bowl. Hills. and Chocolate.
Good ol’ Ghiradelli Chocolate is in this fine city, and so I took a few raspberry chocolate squares, good coffee grounds, and then coconut for good measure and made these San Francisco cookies. And of course, while they were still hot, sprinkled them with sea salt.
And then I ate 7 for lunch because I have no self control.
Photo provided by Stephanie Shih Photography
And generally out of good cities and places comes good people who fight for good causes. And Stephanie is doing just this. She’s a wonderful photographer and is selling cards made of her beautiful photos to help support Breast Cancer research. All the proceeds from these card sales go to help fund Breast Cancer Research.
So let’s make a deal here. Grab any sweets you have lying around in your pantry and make these cookies. The recipe supports up to four cups of mix-ins, so don’t be shy. But let’s be intentional. Make a combination that reminds you of someone or something, some place in time, that goes well beyond the ingredients of a cookie.
And while you’re at it, head on over to Stephanie’s etsy shop and think about supporting Breast Cancer Research and purchase a pack of her cards. Because, really, we all have favorite places, memories, and cities. But it’s the people that make these things special. And some of these people need our help. They are hurting and wait for a cure.
And if we don’t fight for them who will?
(Recipe adapted from Desserts for Breakfast, Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies)
Your Favorite City's Cookies (a
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee ( I like the coffee flavor strong. The originally recipe was only 2 teaspoons, so adjust according to your liking)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 cups of mix-ins of your choice!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking power, salt, and coffee and set aside. Using a stand mixer, mix the butter until light. Gradually add all the sugars until it's light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Make sure to mix well after each addition. Mix in flour, little by little, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once well combined, fold in the mix-ins that you've chosen.
Use a small ice cream scoop or just spoons, to scoop the cookies on to the cookie sheet. These are thin cookies, so they will spread out, so make sure to leave room. I did 6 cookies per sheet.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are one step above golden brown. Once removed from oven, if you've chosen sea salt, sprinkle on top while still warm. Allow to cool on pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Repeat until all dough is used, and enjoy!
Saturday, October 15, 2011
My husband is constantly giving me a hard time for eating random things that we have in our pantry. I’m not really the type of person that can dig up any other group of ingredients and then suddenly I am writing a cookbook. Instead, I’m constantly putting together “meals” (using the word “meals” very loosely) that kind of go together, if I’m lucky. Mostly, though, they just sort of suffice and I’m able to choke it down.
Here’s a sample of my weekly eating schedule:
Black Beans straight from the can.
Day-old rice. Cold.
Cold chicken breast dipped in cold mashed potatoes.
You get the picture.
And this, was one of those meals. Grilled cheese and berries. Fresh, seasonal berries from the Farmers Market with sharp Cheddar Cheese on Squaw bread. And actually, it was pretty delicious. See the thing is, is that I just don’t have time to make something. I’m always running around like a crazy person and then suddenly I’m famished to the point that I don’t have enough patience to actually make something good. So, I have meals like this.
I haven’t really thought this was an issue until recently. I’ve started reading the trilogy the Hunger Games, and as I’m reading it, I realize that the two main characters at the beginning of the book are eating a berry and goat cheese sandwich. Awesome right? Wrong. These people ARE STARVING. As in, they literally have no food, live in a town where people die of hunger daily, and this is all they could drum up.
I read on.
I begin to make a list of things in this story that stand out about the way these people live their lives. Is it just me, or do these seem a bit familiar?
1.) They eat anything they can find, most of the time it doesn’t go together and sometimes it’s stale. It’s ALWAYS COLD.
2.) They don’t shower often.
3.) They must walk REALLY QUIETLY otherwise they are afraid that they will wake a sleeping beast.
4.) They make friends with a mocking jay, a bird that sings the same song over and over again…and again…and again…
5.) They look totally different with make up, and it’s a once in a lifetime occurrence.
6.) If a sleeping animal is near by, they sit in the same position for hours, waiting for the animal to wake up.
7.) They are disturbed in their sleep by loud noises.
8.) Getting up before dawn is a normal occurrence.
9.) They name their children after food. (Chocolate chip cookie anyone?)
10.) When they do get a hot meal, they stuff their face because they have no idea when their next one will be.
Moms, can I get an “AMEN??”