Friday Favorites: {Guest Post by Amy}

Friday, September 28, 2012

Amy is a children’s librarian, avid reader, wanna-be novelist, traveler and seeker of adventure. She blogs over at Happiness is….

I consider myself a very sensual person.  No, not that kind (otherwise I wouldn’t spend quite so many Friday nights catching up on TV reruns).  Rather I find myself very affected and inspired by my senses, as I'm sure many of us do. Memories are always stronger when there's a sense attached to it and experiences are richer when one takes the time to attend to how your senses are affected. While it's hard to choose one favorite or outstanding item I've picked a couple of things that stimulate each of my various senses.

Touch--Interestingly enough (given my use of the word ‘sensuous’ earlier) this is the one that affects me least (or maybe it's just the one I attend to least). I have been known to wander into fabric stores on occasion to caress the various satins, flannels, velours… Blankets are purchased primarily by feel however and my nephews don't get a stuffed animal from me that hasn't passed the touch test.

Taste--I’m about to start a nutritional cleanse and in thinking of all the things I’m not going to be able to eat for a while, those are the things that come first to mind…fresh baked bread, dark chocolate, cheesy pizza, chocolate chip cookies, a super thick milk shake. Too often in our American culture we eat on the go, in such a hurry to get to the next place that we fail to taste what we are eating (though in the case of the majority of the fast food and crap we ingest in the name of food that's probably not such a bad thing). I challenge you to slow down and truly savor the next thing that goes into your mouth. Take small bites, chew it thoroughly, let it linger on your tongue...and if you don't like the experience maybe that's an indication that you should be eating something different!

Sight--I’ve always been drawn to color. As a child I would pore through my mother’s Avon book looking at all the various shades of eye shadow, lipstick and nail polish. When making childhood trips to the hardware store I’d come home with pockets full of paint chips (confession, I might not have grown out of this). I wrote papers on the emotional and psychological effects of color in college, took art and design classes in high school spending hours combining paints, swatches and samples to create just the right mood or feel for a room or piece. And now I scrapbook, crochet and craft so that I can wander the aisles taking in the rainbow of papers, yarns and images. I've also just started reading this book which is a fascinating look at the history of colors, dyes, paints and such. 

Sound--I spend a lot of time talking music on my blog but for a slightly different track let's go with the more natural route. We spend so much of our time begin bombarded by sounds, some pleasant and some not-so-much that sometimes just the absence of sounds is the best sound of all. Who doesn't get a bit of a thrill out of hearing the ocean crash? Or listening to rain spatter against your window as you're drifting off to sleep? Or better yet hearing the chirping of crickets and the crackling of a campfire on dark summer nights. When I was visiting the coast of Maine I was entranced by the sound of the ocean in a particular bay. The beach was littered with rocks about the size of my fist and as the waves came in you'd hear the initial familiar crash followed by the sound of the rocks rolling and tumbling against each other as the water retreated back to the ocean. It sort of sounded like a million wraps popping all at the same time. 

Smell--Most people associate smell with taste and they definitely correlate in my world (the aforementioned bread, and chocolate topping the list as well as vanilla and citrus) but my fave smells are also often tied to my fave sounds; the music of nature if you will. The scent of pine and campfires, the dirt or even a concrete sidewalk just after rain, and the ocean. Always the ocean.

So tell me, what turns you on? 

Las Llaves

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I currently have in my possession a set of shiny new keys.  Keys to our new home. Which means tomorrow is our pushed up move-in day! As much as I adore eating out I've missed cooking. While I get a kick out of hotel shower caps (I may have stocked up on a few of these), I'm ready to spread out in our spacious new bathroom. And as nice as covered parking is, I'm happy to trade a parking garage for the luxuary of our own assigned spot.  The movers will deposit boxes tomorrow morning and then the unpacking frenzy begins. I'm wondering if we should do something special to dedicate our new home. What do you think? Do you have any traditions when moving into a new space?

Being Brave

If you've ever taken one of those Myer-Briggs personality tests you know that there is one indicator that measures levels of extrovert vs. introvert behaviors. This isn't as straightforward as you might imagine. Having higher extrovert marks doesn't necessarily mean you are the most popular person at a party. Similarly, having introvert tendencies doesn't mean hanging your head, averting eye contact, and not talking to anyone. Like any psychological test, when defining the scope of human personality it is nearly impossible to be 100% accurate. After all, being human is complicated. 

This is what I think about whenever I am faced with a new social situation. Especially when I'll be meeting people for the first time. Putting myself in a vulnerable spot, where I have to be both engaging and reflective at the same time. Which camp do I fall into? People often see me as gregarious, but in truth, internally, I often feel the antithesis. And this was the case last night, when I made an honest effort to attend a gathering of women in my new ward (church congregation).

I arrived right on time and found the cultural hall already full with women of varying ages. Most were right around my age, early to mid 30s. I was handed an auction paddle, since the activity was a service auction, and I then submitted a couple last-minute service contributions on index cards. I was excited for this activity and had high hopes of learning about the women and their various talents. 

Then I started to talk to people. I was the new gal and many people kindly acknowledged this fact. The next question I was prepared for. But every time it rushed forth What brings you to the area?, a little piece of self-identity died inside me when I answered My husband's job. You see this is the first place I've ever lived as a married lady. This is the first place where I have an identity other than just myself and that's an adjustment. It's okay, but it is still an adjustment. These well-meaning women would then ask what GH did and then the conversation moved on. People didn't ask me what I did. Ever. And whenever I asked one of these smart women what they did, they responded with their husband's occupation or scholarly pursuits. My mind raced to keep up. NO, I thought. I didn't ask you what your husband does, I asked about YOU. About YOUR interests and pursuits. About how YOU identify yourself as an individual. The evening progressed and I continued to get glimpses into the lives of these women. Women that were new to me, but fell into a familiar cultural pattern. 

After the initial socialization we moved into the auction phase of the evening.

How did we bid on items? I'm glad you asked. We received a certain number of points for things like: showering before noon today, attending a wedding reception in the last three months, praying, and other "righteous activities". I sat back and waited for the male auctioneer to begin. (In recounting this story to GH, he couldn't understand why a guy was assigned auctioneer duties. But that's a discussion for another time.) The auction started and it didn't take long to detect a pattern. Babysitting and baked goods. This was nearly 85% of the auctioned items. Startled, I wondered what else would be offered. Surely these smart women could provide service that didn't involve babies and bread pans. To be fair, there were two different instances where people offered resume/writing coaching services and one instance where someone offered five French lessons. Classy, right? You better believe I bid high on that last item, eventually selling out to the women who was actually taking her family to France this January. But overall, the trend remained consistent. 

I was pleased my two auctions received high bids. I mean who wouldn't want someone to wrap all their Christmas gifts?  The second item I offered was auctioned as a service, but it was purely motivated by my selfish desire to meet new people. I offered to host a dinner party with one other couple. The couple didn't have to be a husband/wife combo, in fact when I wrote my index card I specifically wrote "A dinner party with us, you, and your companion," which was somehow still difficult for the auctioneer to process. I knew there were women in the audience who didn't have a spouce. Heck, I've been one of those women for the majority of my adult life. I knew there were bright women who had solid girlfriends that would have made lovely dinner companions. I wanted my auction item to be inclusive, but instead the auctioneer said something along the lines of "Oh, this must mean for the missionaries."(I had to speak up and quickly correct him.) And as the evening wore on I worked hard to continually push back the thought you're not like them. This is a fresh slate and I desperately want this to be a positive experience. A place where I can find associations and friendships that enrich my life. A place that I can find a community rather than just a congregation. I'm a believer in the power of women needing other women. And somehow we need each other with all of our differences. I just wish we didn't have such obvious boxes of which category defines us. After all, being human is a complex business.  

UPDATE: Turns out I published another post with the same title about two years ago. Must be something about autumn and change. 

Moving On

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday is on hold this week as I am writing from the Business Center of our temporary quarters, where hotel management thinks blocking YouTube makes people safer and using IE as a web browser is somehow acceptable. Huh?
We arrived last week and I'm happy to report that I've learned a few things:
1. Fuel is $3.51 a gallon here. Did you catch that? Did you do the math? That's a bargain!  
2. Living in 200sq feet with your significant other is kind of like being on a deserted island, only with wifi and room service. It also makes for interesting conversations about the cultural significance and value of the arts vs. sports, which then morphs into how hosting a dinner party with a Jackson Pollock theme might be the best way to make friends in our new home.
3. Going to church doesn't have to be painful. Fortunately, our new congregation has some getting-to-know-you activities scheduled for the week, which means I'll be making an appearance at the ladies gathering. (Can I auction off friend-for-a-day passes? That way I can vet folks for foodie tendencies, music tastes, and political leanings before I commit to anything more serious?)
4. Pumpkin pancakes in college town dives taste AMAZING. Add a side of scrambled eggs and home fries all for $7.60 with tax and you might just have the best breakfast money can buy.
Stay tuned for more insights on our new digs and new life.

Notes from the Road

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's Thursday morning and we've been on the road for less than 24 hours, heading west on our three day road trip. We left a day ahead of schedule, which means we can take our time about things. Thanks to the magic of scheduled posts I'm sending a little blog love via the road. The movers arrived early Monday morning and it was a mass of cardboard, paper, and packing tape. Two women did what would have taken me an entire week in four short hours. (I guess that's what happens when you're a professional and all.) The moving guys came Tuesday morning and loaded up the truck with most of our worldly possessions. We had to pull out the big guns and work with the city because a couple cars had parked in our paid reserved spots, but thankfully law enforcement was on our side this time. And what did I do during all this chaos?  Sat around and ate Mexican chocolate truffles and filed my nails, because I'm awesome like that. In my sloath, I couldn't help thinking how having professional movers is a bit like flying first class, it's hard to ever go back once you see how the other half lives.

We don't really have an itinerary for the next few days, but figure with a full tank of gas, a road atlas, and John Denver we've got all we really need for driving halfway across the country. So if this space gets quite for the next couple days you'll know we're frequenting chain hotels and scouting out local dives along our route. Suitcase living and travel sized toiletries is our gig for the next little while; which isn't so bad when you try to imagine relocation to be like some exotic adventure. Wish us luck along our journey.

Words: Seasonal Poetry

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly
about the earth seeking 
the successive autumns. 

                                                                                   George Eliot

Music Monday: Laura Marling

Monday, September 17, 2012

Good things come out of the UK, and Ms. Marling is no exception. Her voice has a raw and ethereal quality to it. I especially like this version with just her, a guitar, and a mic. 

Let it always be known that I was who I am. 

Ps. This was just one of many amazing songs to come out of this weekend's music swap

Sky Meadows State Park

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spending time in nature nourishes my soul. Going to the mountains or escaping to the woods, much like Thoreau, has a way of healing the broken parts and restoring a sense of peace and balance to my life. Two years ago, when GH and I were newly dating, I decided it was time to test the waters of our relationship compatibility. Which, in my mind, meant only one thing. Road trip. We settled on a day trip, with the prospects of hiking and evening star gazing—talk about a winning combination! Soon this peaceful getaway (only an hour and a half drive outside Washington, DC), became one of our favorite spots to visit. Yesterday, we spent the day soaking in the beauty of this gorgeous park; remembering our engagement day that happened one year ago today. 

Our route consisted of a stop at the Upper Crust Bakery in Middleburg, VA before reaching the park. After that we hiked from the parking lot up the North Ridge trail, which is a bit of a steep climb. (Bring plenty of water.) At the top we turned right onto the Appalachian trial, which opened onto a breathtaking golden meadow. Finally, we ended on the Ambassador Whitehouse trail, which took us back to our starting place. The entire loop was about 4.5 miles and took us around 2.5 hours. If you have never experienced Sky Meadows State Park I'd highly encourage you to plan a weekend outing. 

Playlists: Round One

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Remember all the angst surrounding my first music swap? Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Two friends and I gathered last night for a mini feast  (pesto pizza and peach pie), then launched into tales of timbre and voice quality. 

Okay it wasn't that intense, but we did talk about music. A lot. I'm especially glad Katie suggested we share stories of why we chose the songs we did. Until she mentioned it I hadn't even considered the why behind my selections. Some songs had more developed stories, while others were still finding their voice. But mainly we just shared the songs that mattered to us on one level or another. After our discussion, we listed to one selection from each of the three playlists. 

In case you are interested, here is what my ears have been happily listening to. 

1.       A Song for Amy Jack Ingram
2.      To Build A Home Cinematic Orchestra
3.      Life Is Beautiful Vega4
4.      The Piano Has Been Drinking Tom Waits
5.      Eyes Peter Bjorn and John
6.      Let’s Dance M. Ward
7.      I’m Your Man Leonard Cohan
8.      Duerme Josh Rouse
9.      Sister Kate The Ditty Bops
10.    Got to be Real Cheryl Lynn
11.    Runs in the Family Amanda Palmer

1.      Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise Avett Brothers*
2.      River and Roads The Head and the Heart
3.      Land of Dreams Langhorn Slim
4.      Rambling Man Laura Marling
5.      Eloise The Lumineers
6.      Feel the Tide Mumford and Sons
7.      Working Titles Damien Jurado
8.      Halo my Old Heart The Oh Hello's
9.      Take 'Em Away Old Crow Medicine Show
10.    Take Care of All My Children (Tom Waits cover) The Changing Colors

1.      I Got Rhythm Larry Adler
2.      If You Find Yourself Caught in Love 
3.      I Do Adore Mindy Gledhill
4.      Struck By Lightening The Wooden Birds
5.      O'England King Charles
6.      Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk Rufus Wainwright
7.      Love Will Come Through Travis
8.      Dance Me to the End of Love Madeleine Peyroux
9.      Let My Love Open The Door Sondre Lerche
10.    The General Dispatch
11.    Five Minutes of Fame Act of Congress
12.    Song for Whoever The Beautiful South 
13.    Shasta (Carrie's Song) Vienna Teng
14.    Birds of a Feather The Rosenbergs
15.    Dig Gravedigger Dig Corb Lund
16.    Caroline Noah Gunderson
17.    Annie Jonatha Brooke
18.    Blues Run the Game Simon & Garfunkel
19.    M.L.K The King's Singers
20.    Waiter, Make Mine Blues Anita O'Day
21.    Witchcraft/Love Me Tender Frank Sinatra with Elvis

*Bold indicates new favorites. 

Friday Favorites: Autumn

Friday, September 14, 2012

For as long as I can remember autumn* held all the magical charm of returning to school. A season of learning and hunkering down into more disciplined days. It meant Sunday drives through the canyons of my youth, where my dad would pull over at that perfect spot and arrange us into a still image among the glorious foliage. (A tradition I continued in college. Gathering roommates for an autumn photo shoot surrounded by hues of pomegranate and tawny.) My grandparents had a giant apple tree in their backyard, which meant we would rake mounds of leaves, and then jump haphazardly into the pile. Autumn is a season of transition. Of seeing what was always right before our eyes, the pigment becoming visible. It's the time of year I am reminded of renewal. Not in the way spring reminds me of that feeling, but in a more reflective and perhaps somber way. 

I've been lucky to live in various places that celebrate a quarterly shift in seasons. I can hardly imagine not having that change throughout the year. Harvest season reminds me to collect my experiences and memories of the past year and celebrate my abundant life. It reminds me of meeting GH two years ago and his special request in the autumn of 2011. It reminds me to celebrate friends and those I hold dear. It reminds me of how good life truly is. Some of my favorite ways to bask in autumn's glory are pressing ginkgo and maple leaves between piles of books. Baking. Making and mailing cards. Sipping ginger tea. And apple picking. And, of course, Sunday drives hunting for vistas of vibrant color. This season, more than the others, reminds me that there's so much to inhale and enjoy and such a fleeting moment to do it. 

May you live in it fully. 

Apple picking at Homestead Farms.   
Tea and muffins. 
Scarf inventory. 
Back to school/work supplies. 

* I believe the grandeur of this season is far too beautiful to be called fall. 

Summer Reading and A New Hobby

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I don't know about you but this summer seemed to go quicker than they usually do. Maybe it was the flurry of major life events, both anticipated and not, that speed things up, but here we are, on the cusp of autumn, and my bookshelf-favorite deserves an honorable mention. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round was just one of the fabulous wedding gifts we received. It was perfect because one of our goals this year was to bottle something together.  

Growing up my mother canned everything from homemade grape juice, to salsa, to whole peaches and more. The cement storage room in our basement contained row after row of colorful jars; preserved food that would last us through winter. For years I wanted to learn this ninja-pioneer-like skill and kept asking my mother to teach me, but for some reason the timing was always off and I just couldn't muster the courage to teach myself. To be honest, the entire process scared me. Buying a pot larger than a cow's head and boiling glass? No thanks.  

Enter amazing friends that had been canning for years. I determined that this was something I could learn and GH and I started off with a strawberry balsamic black pepper jam. (I may have called Ms. J about a dozen times during the process, but she offered great moral support during our inaugural jam session.) We decided to use a low-sugar option for our first batch (you know, trying to be healthy and all), which meant not only did I have to follow the jam recipe, I also had to master the complicated Pamona's Universal Pectin directions. The first batch was a disaster. We dumped the entire batch and immediately started over. Eventually our efforts paid off and we had a tangy sweet spread.  I won't lie, canning is a bit of an investment. Not only do you have to acquire the produce (buy market seconds whenever you can), but you have to take the time to process in a timely fashion. Fortunately, you can always freeze peak season fruit and use it later. This year I focused my efforts on jam. Blackberry sage jam, blueberry basil, peach plum ginger, and a peach cinnamon lemon that basically tasted like pie in a jar. Yum! I used Ball Mason jars and pretty Weck canning jars in the various batches and found that Mason jars sealed better, while the Weck 1/4 L also did a nice job. 

The best part of this process? Having lovely little jars to give away or stocking your shelves to be prepared for the next zombie apocalypse. Maybe next year I'll venture into the tricky art of pickle making. 

ISBN: 0762441437

Art Exhibit

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One of the best thing about living in the Nation's Capital is the accessibility to art. Free art and gallery exhibits are as abundant as politicians. Spending time at the Hirshhorn Museum is one of my favorite DC activities and I never tire of this gorgeous modern space. This past week I ventured downtown, mainly to take exterior shots, but figured it would be a waste if I didn't at least peek inside to see what was new. 

Downstairs the walls, floors, and escalators were covered in a text-wrapped vinyl. Enormous black, red, and white letters ensconced the space, creating an alphabet cocoon for visitors. Barbara Kruger's exhibit, Belief + Doubt, is a "long-term installation that will be on view through 2014 and explores themes of power, desire, money, and faith." The artist's objective is to "introduce doubt" and how that impacts certainty and reality in the viewers' mind. Some of my favorite quotes from this exhibit were: "Don't look down on anyone." "When was the last time you laughed?" and "You want it. You buy it. You forget it." 

Modern art speaks to me on a level that no other art form even comes close. I generally find myself lost in the nuances of meaning and complexity of thought that these exhibits evoke. This art form can often be controversial and isn't necessarily a favorite among the masses, which might be part of the draw. Regardless, I seek out modern artistic expression as a means of both defining and creating more questions about my own existence. 

"Whose Belief?" 
Open-ended questions. 
Colbert/ Stewart rally?

Music Swap

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Somehow I got myself involved in hosting a music swap this weekend. Huh?

I've never done anything like this and honestly, I don't considered myself a connoisseur of the universal language. Lately though, I've wanted to make music more of a priority in my life. And while our little music shindig isn't really that big of a deal, I'm completely stressing over it. What if I choose the wrong songs? What if my friends don't like my selections? What if they already own every tune I choose (because I kind of have a habit of being a few years behind the trend)? Will I select enough genres to make the playlist interesting? How many foreign language songs are acceptable? What should the male to female artist ratio be? 

Ugh. That's A LOT of pressure. 

What about you, have you ever attended or hosted a music swap? 

Music Monday: Gogol Bordello

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hold on to your socks folks, you are about to get a BIG dose of awesome this Monday morning.

Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello

And that is why listening to steampunk podcasts are worthwhile. An accordion AND a Eastern European influence. Listen on, my friends.

Notes from my Father

After a particularly difficult week I pulled my father’s journal from the bookshelf and opened its pages. The black and brown volume was given to him by my mother as a Christmas present in 1976. He was 21 at the time. His last entry is dated May 10, 1981. I try to imagine him during this time, a young 20-something doing his best to figure out life and going through the various phases of schooling, employment, marriage, and parenting. The journal is just over half full and at times is difficult to read with his uppercase penmanship, but the words, his words, are a connection to a past I never knew. A man I still miss and look forward to knowing better.  

February 15, 1981

Today I got upset at Wendy for telling me not to scold Miranda. We sat down after church and  talked it out. I guess we both have our separate ideas on discipline and we have to come to some sort of compromise in raising our children.

Neither one of us write down that we have arguments or write down too many negative experiences in our journals, because we believe we should focus on the positive. But don’t let that mislead you into thinking that things are always great between us, they’re not. Boy have we had some good fights. We can look back and laugh, but it wasn’t all that funny when it was happening. But we still feel that our journals (if I ever have more than one) should reflect mainly the positive experiences in life.

Reading this made me laugh. I don’t doubt that my parents, during 18 years of marriage, always had it rosy. But such sage wisdom is what I hope to reflect in my life. In this blog. Does that mean I won’t encounter difficulties or have occasion to rant into the void? Certainly not. But finding the silver lining is something that takes practice. I appreciate this attribute in so many people close to me and it is a constant reminder for me to choose happiness.

Homemade: Grandma's Pancakes

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I have a secret. A secret that I'm going to share today. Seven simple ingredients that warm hearts and make mouths happy. You all know pancakes are always a win. They sometimes come in creative Star Wars shapes, can be eaten any time of day, and are easy enough for a six-year-old to make. Which means this little recipe really needs no further introduction. Only this: they truly are the world's best pancakes. And since my mother's mother hails from Swedish heritage, I generally slather these bad boys up with a layer of sour cream followed by a layer of my favorite jam. (If you aren't feeling so adventurous syrup is also acceptable.) Either way, these fluffy pancakes will melt in your mouth and definitely have you craving more. 

Golden Pancakes
makes six

1 c. white flour
1-2 T. white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup melted butter (yes, use the real thing)
2-3 eggs 
1 c. buttermilk (plus more to get the batter to the consistency you like)

Mix the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Mix by hand or with an electric mixer and fire up the griddle. These can be served with traditional syrup or my favorite, sour cream and jam. 

Local Color: Union Market

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Today was the grand opening of the historic Union Market in Washington, DC. The market is located in a somewhat questionable neighborhood, but is a fine example of the diversity of real (read: tourist free) DC. For example, I walked over from my parking spot on 4th Street, just two blocks from the market, but a world apart. Immediately, I found myself in a vast industrial warehouse district with all the pungent ripeness of an unsanitized urban setting. It reminded me of Naples, Italy and not in a good way. I think that's what they call revitalizing the neighborhood. 

Union Market has an extensive history, opening in 1931 and closing down for a number of years. The interior is a white industrial dream complete with a gorgeous array of lighting fixtures. Clean subway tiles and long wooden tables give it a gourmet kitchen feel, with ample space to browse and converse easily with vendors. While it was the official Grand Opening, I learned from the Lettuce Man, it was in reality a soft opening; meaning local food artisans were given three additional weeks to have their shops set up and running. I was also there early, which meant the vendors I saw included the artisan bread shop, juice bar, produce stand, lamb counter, coffee bar (where all the hipsters were mingling), honey shop, Italian store, and a couple other counters. The entire market is slated to have around 80 food vendors, which means it will be a happening spot in just a few short weeks. (Probably something along the lines of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.) For breakfast I snagged a smoked salmon salad with capers, dill, and cucumbers, a sourdough roll, and fancy soda. I also caved and bought a bottle of creamed honey.  

Union Market will be open six days a week from 8am-8pm and is definitely worth checking out.

Housing Update

I'm back from the Show Me state and happy to report we have a place to live! Actually, I've been back for a couple days. Turns out, quitting your job, looking for a new job, moving to a new city, and finding a new place to live is a stressful proposition. Translation: I  took an early leave in an effort to restore sanity and hope to our relationship. That was a good decision. 

As to the process of actually finding a suitable place to live, well, that took some doing. We looked at a lot of different homes the first couple of days. Most were not in good neighborhoods. I kept thinking we'd find something with an amazing interior and the neighborhood wouldn't make that much of a difference. Wrong. At one point Gentleman Husband told me he wouldn't be joining me on our bi-weekly three mile walk if we lived in said sketchhood, which immediately made me reconsider our approach. We also discovered that it isn't uncommon for landlords in St. Louis to make tenants pay for all utilities, including sewer, trash, and water. Which obviously impacted our budget concerns. The other big issue was that of laundry facilities. Most washer/dryer units were located in dank moldy unfinished basements; spaces prone to flooding and not really suitable for making anything clean.

Enter magic house number 10. This space was actually listed over a month ago at a higher price and we had briefly entertained the possibility, but figured it would be off the market by the time we were ready to move in. We were happy to see it resurface during our search and figured the reason it hadn't been rented yet was that most people didn't want to live over a business. Since that wasn't an issue for us we scheduled a viewing with the property manager and quickly learned that the business sold wine barrels and only operates a few hours a day. 

Apartment 2A is a gorgeous space. With freshly painted pistachio walls, hardwood floors, tall ceilings, an enormous bathroom with double sinks!, and a back bedroom that will happily fit a king bed. Of course we didn't get everything we wanted and I'll have to sacrifice not having an outdoor garden space or gas stove, but in the end we both know that this will be temporary quarters for us. Plus it is less than a mile to Trader Joe's and Forrest Park (St. Louis' equivalent of Central Park). After all the searching we are happy with our decision and hope to entertain many visitors in the coming year. 

In my maxed out state I didn't manage to take any pictures while we were there. Stay tuned for a sneak peek.  

Words: Wisdom

Friday, September 7, 2012

The greatest gift you will ever receive is the gift of loving and believing in yourself. Guard this gift with your life. It is the only thing that will ever truly be yours. 

Tiffany Loren Rowe

Friday Favorites: DC Edition

Still campaigning to be the 51st state flag.
Eastern Market, Capital Hill. 
Falafel in Adams Morgan. 
Three hours to the beach.
Museums. (especially the National Portrait Gallery)
Huntley Meadows Park.
Colorful murals. 

Homemade: Granola

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are you a snacker? I am. And know what's good for snacking? Granola! About once a week I whip up a batch of this crunchy, sweet/salty goodness. Honestly it is so easy to make AND it beats forking out a bundle for that tasteless bulk stuff tempting you at the grocery store. 

(makes 4 cups)

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
loads of cinnamon (about 2-3 T.)
Mix in a large bowl

Add the following:
dried cranberries or other dried fruit
raw almonds
(about 1/3 cup each)

In a sauce pan on medium heat combine:
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vegetable/sunflower oil
2 T. apple sauce
2 T. chunky almond or peanut butter
Boil together, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. 
Pour liquid mixture over the oat mixture and mix well. 

Spread out on a cookie sheet. 
(Use a silicone baking mat if you have one, otherwise parchment paper works fine.)  
Bake at 325° for 20-25 min. 
Store in airtight container. 

Ps. For bigger clumps, leave granola on the pan undisturbed for 20-30 minutes after baking. If you want smaller pieces, use a spatula to stir it around while baking and immediately when it comes out of the oven. 

Music Monday: Sigur Rós

Monday, September 3, 2012

A couple months ago my brother introduced me to a song from the highly acclaimed Icelandic group, Sigur Rós. The music was so moving I cried in my cubicle.
I mentioned how much I enjoyed the song he sent and how he should recommend other compositions I'd like. As luck would have it my summer birthday rolled around and he wisely gifted me five discs filled with their music. 

These videos aren't much to watch, just some winter landscapes, but the music, oh the music. Try listening when you can really focus. Nevermind that the words are in another language; just close your eyes (unless, of course, you are driving) and let it wash over you. 

Olsen Olsen
both from the Ágætis Byrjun album. 

Pops of Color

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Isn't that the trendiest title? 

It's all the rage right now. 

And while we're on the topic, have you joined Instagram yet? 

Well, before you start an intervention, just hear me out. One of the feeds I follow is @colorsoftheweek. They select a stream of images from weekly submissions where each day of the week gets its very own color; people then tag (#) photos with the appropriate color on the appropriate day. Exciting, no?

This little experiment helps me find pops of color throughout my week. 

Here are some of my favorite images.




Hope you have a color worthy week!

All photos taken on iPhone. 

My Bookbloom All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger