a girl and her boy

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Category Archives: comfort of home

Okay, seriously Universe. We need to have a talk.

Universe, you know very well how much I want a puppy. I dream about puppies. I dream about them peeing on newspaper. About them running around with my half-knit socks. About them curled up sleeping on my clean laundry pile. About them romping around in the park.

Whenever an L. L. Bean catalog comes in, I circle all the puppies and try to figure out what their item numbers are so I can fill out the order form for them, and the stuff they’re on.

I scour Petfinder and send Gabe emails with a love poem for each puppy on it begging to go and bring the little love bug home.

And THEN today, one of my newly found blogs I adore, Carrots ‘n Cakejust HAD to post puppy-porn. Seriously.

I can’t hold out much longer.

I. need. a. puppy.

It’s a Snow Day. Who’da thunk it?

It’s been a few days since the last post. Those days were spent fighting with my Internet source, battling this cold that keeps hanging on (it’s turned into sore ears, a burning throat, and coughing, but it’s still just a cold according to the doc this morning), meeting with new professional contacts, house and pet sitting, and taking care of life stuff.

As I sit here clicking away at the keyboard, I check over my shoulder every now and then at the progress of the road crews cleaning up this latest storm to hit the Boston area. The snow began early morning and the storm warning stays in effect until Thursday morning. I believe at the last update we’re supposed to get 10-15 inches of snow in this storm, and another is coming in on Saturday. Considering the last few winters were mild, I really shouldn’t complain about the inches we’re getting this year. It goes in cycles.

The snow this winter has given me ample opportunity to think about some of the differences between living in rural Maine and living in urban Massachusetts. When I comment on the weather, people ask where I’m from. I respond that I’m from Maine to which they say, “so, shouldn’t you be used to this?” Well, yes, to some extent.

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Gabe climbing out of the car and over the bank when we ate at the S&S in Cambridge last week.

 

There are quite a few differences in dealing with the snow and cold in Maine and dealing with it here on the coast in Boston. For one, most places I needed to go in Maine were too far away to make walking reasonable; so I drove everywhere. I never dealt much with slushy, snowy sidewalks in central Maine, nor did I have to try parallel parking on a narrow street lined with cars and snow banks taller than my car. As far as I know, there also are not many places that have the wind tunnel effect in Maine in the places I lived, other than when I was on campus at UMaine. That was tough. I’d have to say, though, that the Back Bay of Boston is colder and windier than I remember UMaine being. Anyone else have experience being on campus at UMaine in the winter to chime in on this?

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A few cars on a side street in Cambridge. I snapped the shot to illustrate how lucky I am to not have to try parking in an area like this!

 

In addition to the differences between Maine and Mass, this winter has given me a chance to contrast the living environments I’ve thought I wanted and the one I’m in now. When Gabe and I first started looking for a place in Boston, I wanted a nice apartment with charm and character in a well-established neighborhood. Instead, we’re on the frontier of the city surrounded by new construction and parking lots. If I had it my way, I probably would have been parking on a street like the one shown above. Instead, we’re living in a newer apartment building in the city and the car is in a parking garage two blocks down. Thank you, Gabe, for finding this place and talking me into it’s merits! After this winter, I’m so grateful to not have to shovel out my parking space, the walk, and clean off my car once a week! To those that do, I commend your efforts this challenging winter!

* * *

Gabe and I spent the majority of the weekend in Marblehead house and pet sitting. I used the distraction-free environment to chip away at filling out online job applications and updating my materials at various job databases, as well as make some progress on my novel. Gabe caught up on Modern Warfare:  Black Ops. We both have our priorities, you know. His avatar’s rapid footsteps and gunfire was competition with my typing. It’s hard to say who won.

From Marblehead, we went to Belmont for a gaming party with some friends. The gaming parties are always a blast. There were a variety of games in play, but I sat at the Small World table twice and then played all of the expansions of Playtest (We Didn’t Playtest This at All, We Didn’t Playtest This Either, Blue Cards, Dice, and Chaos)  and then Bang! The Bullet. Great games. I want to buy them all for my own collection. We also played Once Upon a Time with the Dark Tales expansion at the end of the night.

What was interesting about that night in particular is that for most of it, Gabe and I sat at different tables gaming (there were probably 20 or so people there). A few years ago, I don’t know that it would have happened. I used to be closed off and unable to interact with people without a shield. I was very proud to realize how much I’ve grown, and it’s good to know that past decisions in relationships are showing their value.

I just checked:  Yup, it’s still snowing. Thought it may have stopped by some miracle. I hope you have a good and safe day this snowy Tuesday. I’m off to make some ginger and thyme tea to chase away this cold!

Food Love: Pumpkin Chip Pizzert and Kale Crisps.

I love food related blogs/posts. They inspire me to get creative in the kitchen and to explore new ways of providing nourishment for Gabe and me. Here is my recent inspiration from the blogosphere.

THE PIZZERT. MY VERSION:  PUMPKIN CHIP PIZZERT

I came across a drool-worthy post Sunday afternoon by my long-time favorite writer on her blog Berlin’s Whimsy. I devoured the photos of her baked creation through the laptop screen then followed the link over to  Chocolate-Covered Katie where I found the baseline recipe for the Pizzert and encouragement to experiment.

Copyright Berlin Whimsy. BW's beautiful pizzert.

I didn’t wait to try my hand at modifying.

Copyright Chocolate-Covered Katie. CCK's pizzert.

As a modification, as I’m learning grain-free baking and cooking since figuring out my body can’t digest grains, I decided to try using almond flour instead of the wheat flour called for in the original recipe. Except I didn’t have almond flour. I had a 3 lbs. bag of almonds. Without delay, I pulled the Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor out from under the counter and poured a handful of almonds in the bowl. As the blades began whirring, I hoped that I wasn’t about to kill the poor little electronic device! It made such an awful racket and seemed to struggle at first.

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Go, Mini-Prep, go!

 

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Ehh, it might work...

 

The results looked more like paste than flour, but I went with it. I added almond milk for the liquid, a few swirls of agave (though I am beginning to have my doubts about using this sweetener), pumpkin puree, and chocolate chips to round it out. I poured the batter into my newest and favorite pie plate and set it in the oven at 350 degrees to bake alongside the kale crisps I was making at the time of reading the post.

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I love this pie plate! Who'da'thunk it came from Christmas Tree Shop!

I crouched in front of the oven with fingers crossed. When the edges began rising much like those of a traditional brownie or cake batter, I squealed in delight. It was working, thus far!

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Woo-hoo! It's rising! Never thought I'd be so excited about a simple thing. =D

It looked fantastic while in the oven. It tasted fantastic when I dipped into it. Two problems though:  1) I forgot to butter the pie plate so it stuck; 2) the almond paste was a little heavy and the pizzert was only about a quarter-inch thick at best. Next time, I’ll either use almond flour from a mill that I buy at the store, or I’ll talk with Gabe’s mom before grinding the nuts. I know she grinds her own macadamia nuts for pie crust; she must have suggestions for grinding almonds and other nuts.

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Here is my pumpkin chip pizzert, flaws and all.

 

At least it tasted good! I’ll work on it and make the next one even better.

KALE CRISPS

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Yuuuuum! Did I mention how much I ❤ kale crisps?

 

I love kale. I love kale crisps. I love nourishing my body with this super-food leafy green. The process of making kale crisps is quite easy but can be a bit of an oily mess if you’re anything like me in the kitchen.

Today, when I made the kale crisps, I used a bunch of kale, olive oil in a mister, and a little salt to sprinkle on top. In the future, however, I’d use a fat source that is stable under high heat like butter or coconut oil and sprinkle the crisps with garlic powder instead of salt.

Kale crisp making basics:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Chop and rinse the kale. Place the kale on a baking sheet and mist with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven. I honestly don’t know how long to put them in the oven because I’ve never timed it. I leave them in there until the edges start turning a dark reddish brown color and they are crispy to the touch. Maybe 10-15 minutes?

I always buy two bunches when I make kale crisps because I know that the first batch will only result in half of the amount available because as I put it away it’s “one for me, one for the bowl.” 🙂

One of the significant reasons I so heartily appreciate this preparation is that it provides that flavorful crispiness while providing a lot of nutrients. They are as satisfying as a potato chip while packing a body-loving punch! The Gluten-Free Girl wrote about kale crisps as well as Organic Thrifty, as well. I loved their posts and they’ve inspired me to make significant changes in the way I make the next batch.

Happy Monday, all!

Sunday mornings are the best.

Ahhh. Sunday morning. I love Sunday mornings. It’s the one day a week I allow myself to sleep in a smidge, and then read in bed first thing in the morning. It’s lovely.

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I ❤ breakfast now!

 

Once I got myself up and out, I turned my attention to breakfast. In days past, I would reach up over the refrigerator and pull down one of many boxes of cereal and shake some out into a bowl, plop on some blueberries or craisins, or both, and pour on some almond or coconut milk (my dairy milk days have long been over). Since the news from the doctor and personal discovery through trial-and-error that my body cannot process grains, I’ve had to change things up quite a bit.

I’ve been fully grain-free for a little under a week and I’ve realized just how common grains are in my, and most people’s, diet. Changing it up has been a creative challenge.

This morning I was prepared. Gabe and I sat down yesterday afternoon and planned out meals and snacks for the week and went grocery shopping. Pulling from those resources, I started the day with scrambled eggs, made with almond milk, and chopped red pepper, nitrate-free apple-wood smoked bacon, and green and red grapes. A breakfast like this far surpasses the ol’ cereal and almond milk of the past. Today is Sunday, however, and quite relaxed. What to do on the weekday mornings?

Luckily, as I’m presently not working, I have the chance to experiment. Ideas include chopping and prepping veggies on Sunday, or the evening before, for morning meals including sweet potatoes for home fries, peppers and other such veggies for omelets and frittatas, and making nut flour muffins. Do you have ideas for grain-free breakfast items? I’m creating a list of them to prevent frustration and backsliding. Further, do you have ideas for other grain-free meals? I am presently working on modifying traditional meat-based recipes (stews, for instance thickened with almond or coconut flour instead of wheat flour), but am looking for a variety of vegetable recipes that are tried and true. What are your favorites?

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Last night's delicious dinner: roasted chicken and carrots, mashed cauliflower, sweet potato and carrot soup.

 

Lunches and dinners are a little easier. Those meals are more traditionally based on healthy fats and proteins and lots of veggies. For instance, last night I roasted up a free-range organic chicken and served it with mashed cauliflower, roasted carrots, and my long-time favorite sweet potato and carrot soup. The chicken bones and bits are set aside to make chicken soup later today.

I really enjoyed the mashed cauliflower, by the way. I have the idea to make shepherd’s pie using it to replace mashed potatoes on top. The thought of this dish is making me hungry all over again!

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All ready for the week!

 

Now that breakfast is out of the way, and veggies are peeled and chopped for the week, I can turn my attention to knitting the afternoon away.

I hope you have a fabulous Sunday spent the way you like them.

It's a snow day.

Public Garden, Boston. Photo by Sally Chen. From Boston.com’s Facebook album.

We got about 18″ here in Boston so far, and the snow will continue until late tonight. Perfect day to snuggle in under the red fleece blanket I bought freshman year of college and sip on coffee and finish reading The Waste Lands by Stephen King. Gabe’s gone in to the office for a few “freebie” hours.

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A Rose by Any Other Name: A Post on Books, Knitting, 2010 Adventures, Rumination on Names, and Hopes for 2011.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve intentionally held off from posting because of how worked up I was about some specific parts of the holidays. And now that those are over, and I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m ready to write again.

You might want to take a potty break now. Fill your water glass, or grab a mug of tea or coffee. It’s a long one.

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Greetings, December.

Is it really December?

That means my birthday is in a week. The (maternal side) family party is in a little over two weeks. Winter solstice is in twenty days. And then we usher in a new year in thirty.

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A Swirl of Thoughts

The Peanuts gang has been singing to me at the back of my mind starting a few days ago. It’s true:  Christmas/Yule-time is here. I’m looking around for sustainable farms to pick up a tree, pulling out the decorations and getting ready to get in the spirit. The last few years, I’ve put the decorations up on my birthday in the second week of December. That usually allows me to enjoy them well through the New Year.

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Yule Preparations

I’ve been coughing up my intestines for about nine days now, and felt crummy for about a week before that. It’s that time of year. I’ve been through more boxes of tissues than I’ve managed to keep track of. It’s been oh so fun.

While I’ve been sitting on the Queen Anne recliner in the living room working through my Netflix queue, I’ve been working on the reversible cable and lace scarf in Frog Tree Alpaca (fingering weight). I love the pattern. After about five inches, I memorized the eight rows (four really, as on the second row four, you cable twist and that’s the only difference) and it’s knitting up fast. I just attached the second skein and will probably be through it by the end of the day tomorrow. Photos to come.

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Story of a Ladybug

After polishing up the post yesterday on discovering home, I closed my laptop lid, had lunch with Gabe at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and enjoyed the ocean breeze on the open deck of their cafe. It’s been really nice living in the Seaport, all in all, despite the newness of the immediate vicinity and all the vacant parking lots. The best part of living here, though, is finally living with Gabe and enjoying the bliss of domestic life with him.

In the evening, I met up with Gabe to head in to the Apple store to see about getting memory and the latest operating system for Niea, my MacBook. I was shocked to realize that Niea is five years old! Five! And she still runs as smooth as the day I brought her home. I am, however, considering retiring her because the Apple store informed me that they don’t carry hardware for computers as old as mine. That, and it would be about as much money to polish her up as it would be to buy a netbook that weighs far less and is much smaller, convenient for a nomadic writer like me. I’m thinking.

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