Saturday, November 19, 2011
Have I been short on words recently?
With winter fast approaching, my piano students & I are busy practicing our Christmas carols for an upcoming Holiday Recital in December. Not only will I be performing a few duets with some of my students, but I'm also busy organizing all the details (programs, invitations, gifts...) I'm very excited to be able to give my kids an opportunity to share what they've been learning and to also give them a chance to hear their peers perform. It's going to be so much fun!
On a different note, I've been really inspired and obsessed with movement in photography lately. Only three weeks remaining for my film class and I'm trying to get some images using long exposures & double exposures that express the idea of Time/Mystery. As a means of helping finish my assignment, Christopher bought me an early Christmas gift: a tripod! It's already opened up so many new possibilities that, until now, I haven't been able to experiment with.
I feel like a whole new world has opened up.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Somewhere between starting a new part-time job and enrolling in my first-ever photography class, the pace of life has picked up dramatically over here. No longer do I have those sacred mornings-afternoons to myself. No more can I consider myself a completely free agent.
Having spent this past year solely teaching piano lessons in the evenings, I've gotten used to living slowly and adjusting my schedule according to my own wants and desires. I had gotten used to mornings without the alarm. Taking a leisurely walk before taking a shower. Cooking a delicious breakfast every day and eating outside whilst reading a good book. Talking to my mom every morning at 9:30am as she drove to work.
Those days are gone.
I'm in the midst of a small time of mourning. Being a perfectionist is stressful when you're put into a completely new situation with completely new tasks for completely new people. But I'm starting to get used to things and can hopefully feel really good about it.
Besides that, I just started a Black & White film photography class at the University of the Arts here in Philly. I've been spending what little free time I now have shooting with the Holga 120N (though the above photo is digital). I'm excited to get into the darkroom and to start learning about the whole film process. It's going to be completely new territory and I can't wait to get into it!
So, here's to being busy. Or making extra money.
Or to plastic cameras.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
While the rest of the Paleo-community is taking part in the Primal Blueprint 30-day Challenge or giving up sugar for a year, Christopher & I are right here going against the grain and indulging in rich & yummy goodness. It's not that we wouldn't like to be better, healthier people or anything.... we're just weak human beings. As much as we try to put those cravings out of our minds, we somehow end up with these amazing homemade desserts on our plates. Last week, we made the most delicious Carrot Cake ever, another batch of Iced Ginger Chai, and Gluten-Free Bread.
We're having trouble keeping ourselves under control over here.
The Carrot Cake disappeared in a matter of days (doesn't everyone love having cake for breakfast?) and although we made these Double-Chocolate Cookies just a few days ago, I should admit that they're already long gone.
To their credit, however, they are grain-free. (When you can make such amazing & delicious desserts with almond flour... why on earth would you ever use regular flour again?)
Double-Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
- 3 cups Blanched almond flour
- 1/4 cup Cacao powder
- 1/2 cup Virgin coconut oil, unrefined
- 1/2 cup Maple syrup
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 1/2 cups 72% (or higher) dark chocolate chunks/chips
- 1 cup Macadamia nuts
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.
- In a small mixing bowl beat eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat with hand mixer until combined.
- Melt coconut oil, pour into batter, and continue to blend until combined.
- Stir in chocolate and nuts.
- On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop balls of cookie dough, about a tablespoon in size.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Let cool.
- Grab a glass of almond milk (or a cup of coffee) and enjoy!
Have a happy weekend everyone!
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
With dark and heavy clouds already looming in the skies as we rolled out of bed this morning, and with the promise of residual storms from Hurricane Irene to continue throughout the weekend, Christopher and I decided to make our way down to the farmer's market a little earlier than usual this morning. As we reached in our pockets to purchase our last few items on the list, those raindrops we had been anticipating made their debut appearance, causing us to walk 5 blocks home in the pouring rain. It was a beautiful start to the morning, believe it or not. And it only got better when we arrived home and decided to make poached eggs for the first time ever.
Poached eggs have intimidated me for a while, but Christopher was all about trying it, so we gave it a go! We followed Thomas Keller's directions from ad hoc at home. As you can see from the picture above, our first try was a success! Woooo-oooooo!
Here's how to do it... should you want to do it:
Bring 6 to 8 inches of water to a boil in a large deep saucepan. While you wait for water to boil, prepare an ice bath. Add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small cup or bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edges of the pan a few times to create a gentle whirlpool effect, then add the egg to the center of the pan. Simmer gently for 1-1.5 minutes, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Taking a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the egg to the ice bath. Skim and discard any foam from the top of the hot water. Cook remaining eggs one at a time.
I just happened to bake some delicious gluten free bread yesterday, which was perfect for dipping. And, of course, we just always happen to have bacon from our local butcher!
To all you East Coasters out there, stay dry and let me know what you're cooking this weekend while you're stuck indoors!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A little while back, you might perhaps recall the mentioning of a certain Cuddle Magic photo shoot I did. Well, it's about time I share some of the results from that shoot with you and the rest of the world. This was my first ever shoot with real, live, and multiple people, so it was a real learning experience. Looking back on it, I know some of the things I did right and am now very aware of the things that I didn't do so well. But, nonetheless, I do have a few personal favorites!
And while we're on the subject, Cuddle Magic's Kickstarter Campaign is coming to a close in 8 days! They've already met their goal of $10,000--which is amazing! They're so thankful for the generosity of all those who have donated so far (and thank you! to those of you reading this who have!) Even as they've met their target, they're just now learning of unexpected expenses. They're still hoping to raise a few thousand more.... so check them out! By donating, you'll be pre-ordering your own copy of the album (sweet!).
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Our cooking this summer has been unstoppable. We're grilling, we're pan frying, we're baking things in the oven--making delicious food that we just want to share but always seem to chow down before realizing that we didn't take any pictures. Over the past few months, we've made so many tasty things, I wish I could share it all. Seriously, I'm drooling just thinking about it.
Last week, after a lovely visit with my good friend Kelly (who just moved to town with her hubby and their adorable baby girl Lydia!), I was inspired to make some chilled soups before the summer ends! We made this Carrot Vichyssoise a few days ago and, just this afternoon, I made some gazpacho, which I'll share with you soon!
Chilled Carrot Vichyssoise
One sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 medium leeks, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon (or more) bacon fat (optional, but soooo recommended)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (we used leftover oxtail broth!)
1 lb. carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 cup coconut milk
Bacon pieces (optional garnish)
Walnuts (optional garnish)
Salt and Pepper
1. In a large stock pot, melt butter and bacon fat. Add sweet potato and leeks, sweating over medium heat until translucent.
2. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and cover until the sweet potato is soft.
3. Add carrots and cook 10-15 minutes, until tender.
4. Using a food processor or blender, puree until smooth.
5. Stir in coconut milk and use salt and pepper to taste.
6. Chill for at least 3 hours.
7. Add your preferred garnish before serving. (The first night we made this, we garnished with bacon and walnuts--YUM! Parsley works nicely, too.)
8. Find a seat outside and ENJOY!
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
You might, perhaps, recall a few particular occasions when I've mentioned the band Cuddle Magic. Hopefully you've all had the opportunity, at some point, to bounce over to their website and listen to some of their music.
Cuddle Magic comes up frequently in my everyday thoughts and conversations because I happen to be married to one of the bandmates, but even if this wasn't the case (and I didn't have such a deep bias), I'd still be a major proponent of their music.
As I mentioned previously, last month I spent a few hours doing a photo shoot with the band. It was quite a bit of fun (I learned a TON!) and we came out with a few keepers for them to use as possible promo photos. (The photo displayed in the little widget down below is a one of them.)
Anyway, I could give you a huge back-story, but last week Cuddle Magic started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign and they're in need of help and donations.
If you happen to enjoy friendly people, artistic & thought-provoking music, vinyl records, bass clarinets, penguins, quirky poetry, or even my photo below.... why don't you at least check out their video on Kickstarter. And, if you're able, even a small donation would be soooo appreciated. (Plus, they have "rewards" for each donation amount.... and you could totally acquire the album, should you like. Which I think you'd like.)
Hugs! and thank you.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Maybe it's just me, but sometimes it's difficult to bring oneself to the point of actually opening and using a gift for the first time.
Upon receiving a gift with such beautiful packaging as this, a common series of events often occurs: it starts with a gasp of excitement, proceeded by a moment or two spent marveling at it's artful packaging, followed by a warm exchanging of hugs with the gift giver. After all this, you very intentionally place the gift on the dining room table or somewhere centrally located--a place you can pass by and admire it multiple times per day--a place which appropriately reflects and enhances it's visual beauty.
It's so beautifully packaged, in fact, that you forget that it's tea and that it actually has other uses besides looking pretty.
After weeks of looking at it, I've finally enjoyed my first cup this morning.
Thanks to my wonderful Mom-in-law!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Besides the photos a few days ago, it's been a while since I've updated you on the status of the kittens. Now seems like the ideal time to fill you in on the goings ons, as we recently said our first goodbyes to two of our little ones.
When Momma Cat happened into our lives in May, we weren't exactly thrilled. We were greeted (or chosen, shall we say) by a cat with a bulging tummy and, quite honestly, we weren't terribly excited about the prospect of having kittens. Our negative perspectives changed, however, a few days later whilst the kittens arrived into the world. Suddenly there were all these small, cute, mysterious little creatures with eyes closed and ears not yet opened. What interesting little beings.
Watching them develop over the next few weeks was incredibly fascinating. During the first four weeks of their lives, our jobs as humans were insanely easy. We really didn't have to do anything besides feed the mom and clean the bedding every-other day. Momma Cat took care of everything else herself, but we watched and celebrated as their eyes opened up, and later as they took their first daring steps out of the box.
Once we reached the four week point, that's when things really started to change. Potty-training incurred, wet food became the new primary food source and the furniture became subject to anxious claws.... As the weeks progressed, I've done mass loads of laundry as some devilish culprit continues to pee on the couch and bathroom rug without witness. It's been an interesting ride.
Last week, we discovered we actually had 2 boys--not just one, like we had thought. Who knows how that flew under the radar for so long...
On Sunday, the kittens reached 10 weeks of age and we said goodbye to both boy kitties at once. Our neighbor Caroline took one for herself, which she named "Keçi," which I believe is Turkish, meaning "Goat." "Ned", the other boy kitty, is moving to Connecticut with Caroline's mom. One by one, our little babies will be leaving us over the next few weeks. There's one little girl without a promised home, which we're tenatively planning on keeping ourselves.
It's such a bittersweet time for us, having said our first good-byes. Momma Cat has been meowing for her little boy kitties incessantly since they left. Searching the house over and over. Calling for them to come out of their hiding places. I shed a few tears immediately after closing the door as Caroline carried Ned & Keçi out in their crates. It feels like the house is a little emptier now without their crazy kitty personalities around. Soon enough two more of them will be leaving us and I can only imagine how difficult that is going to be. But, I'm truly happy that they're going to good homes with people who will love them and give them happy lives.
They grow up so fast, don't they.....
Monday, July 11, 2011
After a pleasant and la-di-da Sunday spent eating out and exploring Valley Forge National Park with Christopher, the week seems to be getting off to a busy start. Busy, that is, compared to my normal schedule. I have three new piano students starting lessons this week and, as it's been a few months since I've had any new students, I find myself with lots of anxious feelings this morning. As I spent my morning hours preparing, photo-copying sheets and trying to organize my thoughts and ideas on what constitutes a "good" first lesson, I feel those same anxious feelings that I always have when I'm preparing to meet new people. People are always such a mystery. How am I supposed to prepare materials for a piano lesson when I don't even know who the person is yet? This is always a conundrum for me.
Anyway, we had a great Sunday afternoon yesterday. These photos aren't from yesterday, but rather from recent explorations. The first one is an "outtake" from a recent photo shoot I did for Cuddle Magic, who has a new (AMAZING) album coming out in a few months. The second photo is from the street behind our house, which always seems to have interesting little things to take photos of. It's where I took this photo in the fall. And I have a few more from this very street to share with you sometime soon.
I have another kitty blog post in the works for tomorrow. The excessive kitty posts will be coming to a sort-of close over these next few weeks as we begin to say our good-byes and pass them on to their new homes. As a courtesy, and as a means of avoiding two kitty posts in a row, I thought I'd throw this post in the midst of it. I was trying to come up with a recipe post for today instead, but since we ate out twice yesterday (gasp!) there weren't any recipes or food photos to share.... ha!
Well, here's hoping that everyone has nice week ahead. Thanks for your patience with this assortment of thoughts I've shared with you today.