Wednesday, November 28, 2012

on food:: 28 november

(pardon my lack of camera, i left it at a friend's over thanksgiving!!)

this week it's three days in, and food-wise, it's been good::

monday: mostly vegan daiya cheddar pasta bake with mixed veg

tuesday: sweet-potato and black bean soft tacos on whole grain spelt tortillas with lime cream sauce

wednesday: tuscan soup (tomatoes, chickpeas, a TON of cumin and turmeric, spinach)

and soon: pumpkin-quinoa white bean chili! YUMMMO.

These are easy recipes to put together in under an hour on weeknights. On Friday we're just doing a platter with crackers, veggies, dip. Maybe some stove-popped popcorn. Easy peasy!

I also made my first bowl of steel cut oatmeal of the season, i mixed in honey, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pecans, and hemp seed. and some homemade vegan nut cream made with soaked cashews and dates.

Tomorrow night is knitting night at the yarn shop up north of me, good, I've been slacking. I don't like to knit weeknights when I'm tired, usually I make it to the gym and to my bedside novel.

What have you been cooking lately? I'm always looking for inspiration! Remember, we are going vegan for two months Jan. 1!



Friday, November 23, 2012

thinking about waste and saving :: 23 november

I'm in the Christmas spirit this day after Thanksgiving, and for some reason I'm even already thinking about some New Year's intentions that I'd like to start putting into practice a bit early.

Particularly, I'm talking about food waste here, which, for we two on a tight budget, is money literally thrown away (that could be saved!). I believe I have a tendency to overcook for two people who work full-time and aren't at home a whole lot weekdays. I will often bake something, only to throw half of it away a couple weeks later because there's no room in the freezer or we just got tired of it. John is just not a big eater, probably if left alone he'd subsist on takeout and snacks. While I'm not entirely keen on the takeout (also for budgetary, but also health reasons), I do like the idea of a dinner of snacks. Raw veggies, hummus, olives, bread ... you get the idea. Serving smaller, healthy, but filling, portions. And these are meals that are much easier to prepare.

Ideally, I'd be home seven days a week, but that's just not my life right now as I work to save a boatload of money for the first time ever. I love to cook and bake from scratch, but right now I live 25 minutes from my job, I get home way before John, and I end up taking my dog for a walk, and then sometimes I try to make it to the gym. Then, I'm exhausted, and John is home, and we're all starving. All of these things are important, but leave little time for cooking up more elaborate, healthy, from-scratch meals.

So, thinking about this, I realize::

it's winter:: soups, stews, and chili are our friends right now. if i make a loaf of bread though, generally we eat one or two slices and then wind up throwing it away. so, yeah, we just don't really need to do that as nice as it is. even quick breads can be time-consuming, too.

taco night once a week is a must. so easy.

i could always halve baked goods recipes.

we could always have a mashed potato or salad bar night, too.

i do. not. need to cook every night, it might be nice to save real cooking for saturdays and sundays. i'm most tired wednesday through friday nights, so those could be snacks nights where we just eat off a kitchen platter. it would actually be a good day to get raw veggies in.

i know people are super excited about freezer meals, but quite frankly we have a small fridge/freezer combo in our apartment and it's usually filled with bags of frozen veggies, frozen bananas, and flours, etc. that will go bad at room temp. still, i'll be giving it a clean/organize in the coming weeks, same for the fridge.

we could also just do a smoothie with nut or hemp protein for dinner, too. why not?

we are going vegan for two months starting jan. 1 and i'm slowly starting to phase out butter, cheese, and yogurt and replace them with vegan versions. i'll move salmon and tuna to the nether regions of our food storage cabinets.

overall, i think i will be happier cooking just on the weekends, and there are usually leftovers if a big pot of whatever is made.

i just talked to john about this, and he's onboard :-) yay!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

on turning 33:: 19 november

Another trip around the sun!!

Here is the laundry list for 32::

got a new tattoo on the actual day, a banjo with "Louisville" in script on my left shoulder. I miss this city all the time ..... it's so very special to me, and I can't wait to drive out there and visit it and Asheville, NC this summer!
started dating the love of my life
got engaged on New Year's Eve morning
finished my master's thesis
lived in three states
worked at two Montessori schools (including my first AMI school!)
got officially proposed to on remote, unique tangier island with a beautiful ring blending old and new (my love of vintage played a part!)
survived a nasty hurricane

This year, I am looking forward to continuing to improve in certain areas of teaching, planning our simple, rustic wedding, and making a semi-permanent plan to put down some roots in a place that will benefit both of us (also our mini-honeymoon, hopefully in nova scotia/prince edward island!). Learning how to sew and continuing to improve my knitting. Also, creating my healthiest self with having a baby in mind! Saving more money, too. I'm finally saving, at long last!

In January I have decided to go vegan for two months and see what happens. It just feels like the right thing to do. I have eaten "good" meat (pastured/grass fed, with a few slip-ups, one of the downsides of sliding back into omnivory) occasionally for the past six months (mostly curious about this recent craze/trend?), as well as seafood (we live in coastal VA, so everything is local, or I'm eating wild-caught atlantic salmon), and realize I'd grown so used to 5.5 years of vegetarianism (with one mostly vegan year somewhere in the middle) that really ... it still feels best for me to eat a plant-based diet with minimal soy or processed vegan products (like tofurkey). I have some real ethical issues regarding the way animals, yes, even grass-fed "happy" ones, are killed for the pleasure of our palates. I never feel quite right after eating them, regardless of taste. Jury's still out on cheese, greek yogurt, and eggs, I don't like the way cheese ever makes me feel, even though we eat the best (amish-produced) from a local market. I only eat yogurt and eggs at home due to concerns about sourcing at restaurants. But for two months, I can do it. I think the key thing is variety, unprocessed stuff, and lots of healthy sleep, exercise, and yoga. Best thing is, John has said he will go vegan at home to support me! Yay!!

We are looking forward to spending a quiet Thanksgiving at home with a few local outings planned. Our one-year anniversary is Sunday. We will go out for Indian food and watch Lincoln and maybe get fro-yo on the way home. Sounds perfect to me. Knitting and reading in my craft/yoga space. I love a long span at home to regroup and rest. I'm not ready for Christmas yet, for me it starts in December no matter what. I've really pared down the gift-giving to spend it reveling in the magic of giving to those in need, baking yummy-smelling treats, looking at the decorated world around, drinking yummy coffee concoctions and spiced cider, and watching snow fall (hopefully!).



Sunday, November 11, 2012

nesting:: 11 November

There are 8 days left until my 33rd birthday .... have I really traveled around the sun that many times? I'm starting to feel the difference in age a bit physically. just pain that takes longer to recede and bruises that take longer to heal. I'm fine, energywise pretty good if I get enough sleep (still an 8-10 hour girl!) and feeling like I want to be active, active, active. (gym, hiking, yoga)

Last night, I started taking St. John's Wort again, I do this it seems like most years when daylight savings time ends and the clock turns back and the nights come on so quickly. I went to bed at 8 pm the other night! There has been a bit of a crying jag and some scary moodiness within me, so I am honoring myself and remembering to slow down. As an introvert, this is my time to withdraw into the shell, and create peace and comfort within the home. The herb appears to be working so far.

This weekend has been me getting back on track in the kitchen. I've been keeping up with the dishes, deep cleaning some neglected corners, organizing the fridge (I'm very OCD about the way things are laid out so things don't get forgotten and go bad). Here's what I've made::

homemade granola
basic baked tofu (double batch)
baked fruit with homemade nut cream and hemp seeds
veggie burgers from scratch (one to eat, the rest to freeze for quick weeknight dinners)
tuscan soup (spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes, and a TON of cumin and turmeric)
curried quinoa and veggies with tofu

I would love some quick bread recipes, if you have one could you pass it on? Thanks :-)

Crafting-wise, I am knitting two scarves, one for the American Red Cross' Sandy recovery efforts and one for my DF's mom for Christmas. They are coming along, slowly but surely. I'm making time for them.

I'm reading The Red Leather Diary, Education for a New World (Montessori), and The Hobbit. Flying through books always feels good.

John and I are taking this time to decide what we want for ourselves as a future. We are both looking for somewhere semi-permanent (finally!) that suits both our needs. I need to make a list of things that are important to me in a community! I need to remember what this time is for when I feel frustrated living in such a remote place.

The wedding planning I have set myself a "start planning" goal of Dec. 1. It feels tremendous but some organizing and coordinating with the very best bridesmaids on earth should help lessen the feeling of planning burden. In the end, we want it kept very simple (think rustic, seasonally-themed fall meal of soups/stews, crusty breads, oils, cheeses, wine, coffee ... mason jars filled with sunflowers and pumpkins on the tables).

I'm trying to save some money, I already have a few hundred dollars. I'm proud of this. It's amazing how quickly leftover bills from broken bigger ones add up, that and every coin i have in my wallet goes in there too! My first goal is $1,000. I am of meager means, but that doesn't mean I can't save some, too!

November is a tricky month, things can start to feel very busy but I am purposely keeping the pace slow. Nesting here in VA instead of traipsing home to CT (I would spent parts of four days traveling) for Thanksgiving. I'll stay home and make soup and maybe a sweet potato pie. Not shopping for Christmas until Dec. 1, and then just for parents, brother, John. I'm sure there will be holiday baking involved, but really, my words for this fall/winter season have always been::

go easy (thanks grandpa).
slow down.

after all, we're only here such a short time. let's enjoy what we have without always turning outward for more.

blessings and light,


Saturday, November 3, 2012

happenstances and on being:: 3 november

i am not a super blogger.

i do not have time or money for a fancy camera and all of its light and angles.

i am a teacher of very modest means with a whole lot of student loan debt, and very meager (just started!) savings. really, i can't even buy a vitamix on my savings. nor would i. i have no idea what this money is for. i just want it to accumulate. then i'm going to stick it in a bank (NOT the bank where the man called me "young lady" more than once -- yes, it happened) where it will accumulate more through interest. only time will tell what it's for. i hope it's good.

in my ideal world, i do not work. i knit and sew all day, and have an online store. when i'm not knitting or sewing, i'm cooking and baking. or napping. or taking super super super long walks by the beach, around the town, on the treadmill. i LOVE to walk. i swim, too. i also write and paint. in my ideal world, full of time.

i do not have perfect hair. i am not fat, and i am certainly not skinny. my left side hurts. a lot. i have no idea what i did to get random sore spots poking out between my ribs.

i do not currently belong to a yoga studio, or a CSA, or a co-op. these things do not exist where i found a job.

i am getting married in less than a year and have absolutely nothing planned.

still, i enjoy being on here and i realize i do not envy those of you who have the things i do not, even though my life would certainly be happy with them.

i strive just to live each day as fully and as mindfully as i can. sometimes i do all the things i love. sometimes it's enough to get the dog walked and tacos on the table (easiest from-scratch dinner ever) and roll into bed with a few pages of my current book read.

i've been struggling lately, inner. a lot. fall does this to me. i'm not yet done walking this path, but i'm closer than ever to knowing the terminus. there where, the with who, the how.

we all want to be the best version of ourselves. it's an everyday reality for me. i strive, yet i strive harder to be mindful in the moment. this is not easy when your mind tries to do time travel for you, taking you to places and times that don't exist.

when it comes down to water and wind coming your way and you're forced to leave it all behind you, you are reminded of what's most important. and you work hard to keep what you've got not only alive, but burning alive. when your soul feels lost, you do your best to keep the water out, keep things level, keep things above. you turn to joy in a sea bird, a deer, a tub of organic salad greens, hope for a child. hope for a president. hope for humanity. you buy real watercolors, and watch with joy as they transform a blank white page. work -- love made visible. you begin to really, truly feel the soft, warm wool between your fingers, how sturdy the lace sits on the bamboo needles. you are comforted by a pumpkin's orange, a dog's trusting gaze, your lover's embrace. you are not what you feared you were, and yet you are everything you've ever dreamed of being.

i guess, for now, that's all i have to say.