One Good Thing

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Growing up we ate dinner together as a family nearly every night. Often my mom would ask us "What's one good thing that happened to you today?" Occasionally she would vary the question and ask "What's one good thing that you did for someone else today?" We'd rack our brains and come up with a suitable answer that helped foster mealtime conversation. As an adult I've noticed how easy it is to become wrapped up in our own lives, problems, interests, etc. that sometimes we forget to look outside of ourselves. We mean well, but as humans we forget. In an effort to combat this forgetting, lately I've taken to asking GH one of these questions at the end of the day. When I do forget, he asks me. I've loved how shifting the focus of my day to finding or doing one good thing makes me mindful of others and boosts my own happiness. Last week I created these gratitude vignettes to thank some of the people in my life for one (of many) good things they've done for me. May your Thanksgiving be filled with good people and good things!

Pie Day 2013 in Pictures

Monday, November 25, 2013

Well friends, another Pie Day has come and gone. What is Pie Day you ask? Katie explains it here. And this year I learned a few valuable lessons. First: a good knife is essential. As pretty as those pies look sitting atop cake pedestals, no one is going to eat them until they are cut.

Second: as hostess you will be tempted to make a million pies. Don't do it. One, maaaybe two is sufficient.

Third: let it go. For a perfectionist like me, that's the hard part. All the prep work, conversing with friends, picking out music, and even the clean up is easy. However when it comes to orchestrating what happens during the party (i.e., when someone brings cookies to a PIE party or when a kid pees all over your dining room chair), well, some things are just out of my control.

In the end, what matters most is that people enjoy themselves. That they leave our home feeling happy and full. If that happens then I think our party has been a success. Until next year!

Music Monday: Streets of Laredo

Monday, November 18, 2013

You guys! I feel like it's been awhile since we've had a proper music shout-out. Quick, before holiday music consumes your every waking moment, you NEED to check out Streets of Laredo. A Brooklyn, NY based indie-folk band from New Zealand. Talk about the international language. They'll even let you download their debut EP for free right here. My personal favorite is track four, Need a Little Help. If you like what you hear, consider supporting the group with a monetary thank you and look for the release of Volume II this Friday, November 22.

Sunday Supper / 2

One of my goals for 2013 was to host people for dinner on a regular basis. Our space is small which means large group gatherings only happen two or three times a year. But that hasn't stopped us from creating a cozy space for breaking bread with new friends. (Interestingly, I've noticed how having other people over tends to expand our living space—as if their conversation and energy holds the capacity to extend walls.) To maximize my hosting experience I try to have meal preparations done the day beforehand. When that's not possible, I focus on creating a simple main course that doesn't require a lot of preparation.

Several years ago, just before I left a job I loved and head off to graduate school, a woman I worked with had me over to her home for a farewell dinner. I was so impressed with the rich experience of that evening and the delicious meal she served that afterwards I left encouraged and inspired to tackle my new adventure. At my request she wrote her recipe down from memory. For years I carried that yellow paper around in my binder. Never taking the time to recreate that special meal. What a shame I waited so long to make this dish. This truly is the perfect autumn meal. While it isn't a visual masterpiece, it tastes good. Simple food that's easy to prepare.*

Harvest Pork with Fruit
(serves 4-6)

1 5-6 lb. boneless shoulder pork road
2 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion sliced
3 bay leaves
2 T. fresh chopped rosemary
1 c. good balsamic vinegar
1 c. dry red wine (I use Cabernet)
1 1/2 c. dried apricots
4 medium granny smith or jonagold apples / peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 325 °F. Rinse pork under cold water. Pat dry. Season generously with kosher salt and black pepper on all sides. Heat olive oil in the pan on medium-high heat and brown roast on all sides for 4-5 minutes per side. Remove pork from pan. Add onions to pan with a little water, reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, chopped rosemary, vinegar, wine and apricots. Bring to a boil. Return pork roast to pan. Cover pan with lid and place in oven for 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 hours. Add sliced apples to the pot the last 15 minutes of cooking. Pork should fall apart with a fork when it is done. Pairs well with a large green salad and crusty bread.

Note: if your guests are vegetarian I would suggest skipping this meal and making something more, well, vegetarian friendly.

Home Tour

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We have lived in our 900 sq ft apartment for a little over a year. Our plan, for the foreseeable future, is to stay put while we save up to be homeowners. When we were apartment hunting last year we looked at a lot of places. Many in the same neighborhood. Ultimately we found the open floor plan, huge bathroom, and natural light to be major selling points in choosing our current location. We spend most of our time in the living room and kitchen, where we can be together while doing separate things. Despite an abundance of natural light I've found our north facing windows and tree lined exterior make getting good interior photos a little tricky. Even so I'm glad to finally share a portion of our little abode with you.

About half of our furniture is new, while the other half consists of pieces I've picked up at antique stores over the last year. Who knew thrifting with a purpose could be so fun?! Since our storage options are limited we have to be creative when it comes to space. For example, the oddly placed wardrobe with the globe on top functions as our food storage/pantry unit. And on the other side of the fridge we have an open industrial shelving unit for dishes. My favorite thing to do at home is cook and entertain guests. While there are still a few things I'd like to get (namely a rug and new coffee table), I love feeling truly at home in our space; where building it with someone I love is one of the best parts. 

Currently | 11.06.2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

READING: A book about friendship and marriage and life. Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety is a literary classic that somehow slipped by me. The rich language and carefully crafted characters will make for a solid book club discussion next week.

WATCHING: Not so much watching as getting my butt kicked. Jillian Michaels makes 20 minutes feel like an eternity. But she promises I'll thank her for it.

EATING: The weather in my neighborhood has been drizzly for the past several days and all I want to eat is soup. Last week I made this spicy chickpea orzo soup, which is kind of my new favorite. Yesterday I let a batch of chicken stock simmer on the stove all morning. Hopefully it will last until the new year. Plus my church is having its annual craft and soup fest this weekend ("Souper Saturday"), so more soup for you.

MAKING: New friends. The other night I met up with a new friend in her home. She invited me over for tea and conversation. It was one of those occasions that made me feel special just because she had set aside a couple hours for me. Kids in bed and phones tucked away, we had a chance to become better acquainted. (Of course it didn't hurt to find out that she uses cloth napkins too.)

LISTENING TO: My new record player! And by new I mean a 1964 Zenith X930 console. Hands down my favorite purchase of the year. Now I understand why listening to vinyl is like hearing music for the first time.

EXCITED FOR: Flying home for Christmas.

Words: Wisdom on Writing

Friday, November 1, 2013

But he won't talk about his poems. He turns the conversation to that banal subject, fascinating to non-writers, of why writers write. Ego enchantment, sure. What else? Psychological imbalance? Neurosis? Trauma? And if trauma, how far can trauma go before it stops being stimulating and becomes destructive? Academic pressures to publish, do those mean anything? Not much, we agree. How about the reforming impulse, a passion for social justice?

Are writers reporters, prophets, crazies, entertainers, preachers, judges, what? Who appoints them as mouthpieces? If they appoint themselves, as they clearly do, how valid is the commission? If Time alone makes masterpieces, as Anatole France thought, then great writing is just trial and error tested by time, and if it's that, then above all it has to be free, it has to flow from the gift, not from outside pressures. The gift is its own justification, and there is no way of telling for sure, short of the appeal to posterity, whether it's really worth something or whether it's only the ephemeral expression of a fad or tendency, the articulation of a stereotype.

— Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

My Bookbloom All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger