Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oh lordy.  It's been ages.  
I'm ready to be back.
Ready to write.
But I'm giving myself some slack.  Taking it easy.  I know I won't bounce back in immediately.  There is much afoot.  Work, school, running the house, petting the cat, school.  School.  

I came across some of my old journals the other day - the NightOwl ones, the best for ideas and sketches and lectures and thoughts.  I think I just ordered my 7th or 8th one.  I love collecting quotes in my journals; here are some I collected in 2010 and one I just added (probably for the 2nd or 3rd time as it's a favorite.

"What is that Heart of Gold, anyway?
The love of your life?
Pure intent?
Courage.
Merit.
An awareness of life span and the ability
to make the most
of all possibilities."

"If I find in myself
desires which nothing 
in this world can 
satisfy, the only logical
explanation is that I 
was made for a 
different world."
-C.S. Lewis

"If you are not leaning into the crowd, then you must be destined to do other things." - Caru

"Allow your plants to co-mingle." - native plant lecture

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise." - Aldo Leopold

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Weekend

Last weekend my parents came to visit and despite the gray skies and chilly March temperatures, we had a grand ole time!  As usual there was lots of food, lots of tasty beverages and lots of catching up and kitty time.  Since I haven't taken time to find the battery charger for my camera, these are all off my iPhone.

Walking around Fells Point.

Under Armor across the harbor. 
We didn't even go into their flagship store down the water because
I was afraid we would never come out! (soooo amazing...)

I finally understand why women get regular haircuts! 
Going to Teri from now on.


Amazing dinner at Fork and Wrench.  That place may get me to start drinking rye whiskey.



Trish time at home.


My wins from a trip to the Book Thing.



If you are a reader and ever come to Baltimore, go check out the Book Thing.  It's a free, volunteer-based and donation-based book store that is only open on the weekends.  I cannot walk out of there without an armload of books....



Instagram pic of the fresh-brewed coffee from Artifact down in Meadow Mill.



Quick glimpse of Artifacts.  Such a good thing I don't live nearby because I would be there all the time!  I love the rustic-industrial look of the interior.



We stopped at the new homebrew store under 83, Nepenthe.  I believe the name is derived from Edgar Allen Poe.  We Baltimorons love our Poe.  Long wall malts and grains.



It would not be a date if there was not beer involved!  We finally made it to the 2 year old Union Craft Brewing for a tasting and tour.  Todd and I will be back in April for the Charm City Bluegrass Festival. Can't wait!



Four taps.



Being silly.



So many cute Easter Bunnies!!  At Trove.


Having fun with Plepleus in the Wine Source.


Hand stained red from dinner's beet salad.


Moose morning coffee.


More Trish time!



Since Todd was leaving for the week I bought some fresh flowers to make myself feel better.  I learned this great tip from Diana's blog and they have not even begun to wilt in 5 days!

Hope everyone has a great weekend coming up!  I am looking forward to taking it easy, running some errands, a bit of homework and a dinner with friends.  And actually getting to spend more than an hour or two with my husband!


Monday, March 11, 2013

In Memory

My eldest relative passed away last night.  Aunt Elsie was my great-aunt, my mother's father's sister, and she lived near Sacramento, California.  I only met her twice in my life, once when I was very young and she and her husband visited my grandparents with whom we were staying in New Hampshire, and once when I was 15 and my parents and I took a cross-country road trip out to California.  The first meeting I don't really remember, I have just been told about.  I know they gave me a piggy bank, which is probably still lurking about my parents' house.  The second time I do remember; it was also the only time I have met my mother's first cousins, Mike and Jerry.  I remember she was very tall, unusually so for a woman born in the early 20th century, I remember the deer fence around the garden at her long-time home, surrounded by trees, I remember the living room of the house she currently lived in, with her exquisite artwork on the walls (she never believed she was any good) and the cats in the small back yard.  It was a bright, sunshiney day.  She was a beautiful artist and extraordinary writer.  As I got older, I would send her letters, and receive back her perfectly scripted hand. 

I continued to write to her when I studied abroad in Rome in 2006, though by this time writing often took her several days to complete.  I was thrilled whenever I received one of her letters.  The line that always made me laugh with a bit of melancholy was this:

"Gosh, didn't mean to bore you with all the above - get carried away with memories once I start."

She had been telling me about her travels as a younger woman - the very thing I longed to hear about!  The least boring thing of all!  Since I don't have any pictures of her, below is one of her letters to me in Rome.  My favorite memories of her. 



God be with you Aunt Elsie.  I hope you find peace.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mail

It's been a great week for mail! Great cards, packages, and magazines that made me smile with new ideas, old memories, and sweet friends.  I especially love when they are unexpected; so much better than the typical bills, monetary requests and junk catalogs. 


The best dates in the world!  When I went to Las Vegas 4 years ago to visit my oldest friend, Karen, (oldest as in I have been friends with her longer than anyone else I know, not oldest as in her age), she took me to the China Ranch Date Farm in Tecopa, California, about 80 miles west of Las Vegas, between Death Valley and the Mohave Desert.  It truly is an oasis in the desert, a working farm with abundant wildlife and incredibly delicious dates.  I have been thinking about ordering them since I was there (I literally brought back 5lbs on the plane with me) and finally bit the bullet last week.  If the only dates you have eaten have been the dry, packaged ones from the grocery store, you have never really had a date.  Forget chocolate, I will snack on these morning, noon and night!

The ranch has some incredible history - check it out here. The picture below is from my trip, 4 years ago.


Can you believe this is in the US???


Hilarious card from one of my best friends, full of love and encouragement.  It now has a place of honor on the refrigerator.  This is kind of how my life looks when Todd is not home.


We swear most of our young lives that we will never be like our parents.  Then we get older and things change.  Case in point - Country Living Magazine.  I will read this over a fashion magazine any day.


This box was the biggest surprise of the week!  My mother's dear friend sent it to me with some old crafts my mom had made years ago - a patchwork heart ornament and a cornhusk angel - along with notepaper, reminiscent of our time in Rome.  When I studied abroad in 2006, she and my mother came to visit for a week.  We called them Merry and Pippin, after the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings and their many crazy adventures.  The Romans are crazy drivers, and my advice to them when crossing a street was to cross with the nuns - a Roman will never hit a nun, and there are plenty of sisters in the Eternal City to tag along with!  While at first M & P thought I was crazy, after the first excursion into the city on their own, they quickly learned that in this city, we never joke about the roads!

So many good memories, and so many more in the works!  Now it's my turn to make somebody's week a good mail week :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stormaggedon?

More like Storm-a-NOT-gettin'.  It felt like a snowday at work even though we had next to none, so I took off a couple hours early to come home and get some school work done.  Scatterplots and standard deviations anyone??  Prooooobably not.  I thought I would take this opportunity to break and share some Baltimore Love instead.


I want to print and frame this!  It makes me that much more excited for the Orioles season to begin in less than a month.  So I guess I will add two more Baltimore loves!

These Orioles...


 
And these Orioles!
The only place in Baltimore I have seen the latter Orioles is up at Druid Hill Park, around the reservoir.  Being around so many sparrows and starlings all the time, it is out of this world to see these bright orange birds swooping and soaring through the air!  As for the former, it's just a quick 2 mile jaunt down the Harbor to Camden Yards.  Let's Go O's!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Buy what you Love and Love What you Buy

I've been trying hard to be very deliberate with what I buy recently and both my attitude and bank account have been benefitting from it. Though harder to do, I love the quote I read years back that says "Buy only what you adore." That's not always possible (no one except Martha adores cleaning supplies or socks) but it does ring true for me. Clothes do have an effect on your mood and I have noticed being pretty happy the past couple days with my outfits - plus it's nice when people complement you! They key with those days is that they were all things I really love, not just something I purchased because it would do for the time being.

A good example is the gorgeous burgundy leather Latico bag I bought from Poppy and Stella this weekend. I had been lusting over it since November and, while still not cheap, it was on sale at a great discount. I've been wanting a nice transitional work/life bag for several years but stuck with my old (hideous) black 2007 JC Penny college bag until I found what I really want. By waiting and saving I will end up saving more money than getting something new from Target every year or two.

It's about waiting, always looking, and not settling for something unless you have to. Get things that will last you years, not seasons.

Things I love with my outfit today:
- My engagement and wedding rings. So glad I got the wedding band I really wanted and spent a tad more. I will wear it every day the rest of my life!
- Rose gold and crystal Luicen Piccard watch. It matches the bands and I found it for a great deal on Gilt.
- Fossil shoes. Black and brown ballet flats with buckles. I have worn them 3-4 of 5 work days every week since I bought them a month and a half ago. Also on sale via Amazon.
- Pearl and resin flower necklace from Tom's Designs on Etsy.
- Glittery iPhone case
- Essie Cute As A Button nail polish

And of course my sparkly gorilla. :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekend and Donuts

This has been a great weekend, mostly because I finally got to spend a lot of time with Todd, which we haven't been able to do recently (the past month), due to work schedules and traveling.  We did our second neighborhood walk on Saturday, down to Harbor East and Fells Point, wandering in and out of stores, spending some quality time at Max's for beer and tots, grocery shopping.  He talked me into buying a new purse (!!! love that man) and we decided that the new Under Armor store is going to be very dangerous.  Their marketing is spot-on; as soon as we walked in, we both wanted to buy about 20 things and go work out like crazy.  They do need to ease up on the Axe though, I don't need to know what it feels like to be in a body spray commercial. 

Later on we joined some friends for a dino-themed party to celebrate 20 years of Jurassic Park.  I can't believe I was so young when that movie came out!  Men still wore shorts above mid-thigh!  We had fun pointing out the inconsistancies in the movie, such as perfectly clean boots after spending a night running through the mud away from T-Rex. 

This morning I crossed another goal off my 30x30 list - making donuts.  We were given a donut maker for our wedding and I finally took it for the first spin this morning.  I modified the standard recipe a bit for the first try to make it GF and vegan(ish).

Classic Donuts:
makes 10 mini-donuts
1.5 C flour - I used .5 cup each of white rice, tapioca and sorghum flours 
(it has become my new standard mix for baking and I love the consistency)
.5 tsp xanthum gum
1.5 tsp baking powder
.75-1 C rice milk
9 tbsp butter (or vegan butter, or a mix with canola oil)
1 tsp vanilla
.5 C agave 

It took about 6 minutes for each batch in the donut maker.

Adorable donut-shaped donut maker!

My mess of a counter - just had to use the fun-colored bowls to go with the happiest of days!

 
They come out a little nicer if you use a piping bag or bottle, but they taste just as good no matter how they look!


So delicious!  I made a quick maple glaze to dip them in as well.  I have to admit, this is my second batch because after I started the first one, my piping bag burst, only to allow me to discover that since it was probably from the 1980s the lining was coming off into the batter so I threw them all away.  Next time I will get a bottle or something to use so that they are a little smoother and just more aesthetic.  Todd and I had to stop ourselves from eating ALL of them before church.  Now that I know how easy they are to make (way easier than pancakes), they will probably become a regular occurrence around here!