Monday, March 28, 2011

old scraps. old thoughts.

I love finding & re-finding old things.  Especially old papers and love notes.  I never actually wrote many love notes when I was younger, so they're few and far between.  This little scrap of paper here isn't so much a love note--it's a Jack Kerouac haiku.  But one could argue the former.  I'd always loved such non-sensical thoughts as these and found such great joy in this little haiku that, upon first reading, I felt it necessary to see it in my own handwriting.   A few years after jotting this down, I located it again in an old dresser drawer and, soon thereafter, it made it's way via Post from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, while Christopher & I were living in separate cities.  This morning, I found it once again, this time living in an old cigar box that the two of us share together.

And here's a page from an old journal of mine from 2004.  I can't really tell you why this seemed important at the time but finding it now just makes me giggle.  You can turn the page any which direction and there's North.

And so, today I've added some newer love notes to that same cigar box ("Honey, I'm at the grocery store. Be back soon.", "Went for a walk, darling.", etc.), so hopefully when we're 80, we can look back on these and wonder such questions as, "Which grocery store could Christopher have gone to that day?" or "Which city do you suppose we were living in at the time?"  

O, Life's small pleasures...!  Happy Monday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

simple pleasures.

[and not a whole lot to say]

recycling old jars for new uses.

digging through mom's old jewelry for treasures.

making yums from yums (and for yums).

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's true for us all, there are just some days when you feel like pulling out your hair dealing with other people.  By the same token, there are also days when it's very simple to notice the impact that you can have on other people's lives and well-being.  I'm fortunate enough to teach piano lessons out of my home as my full-time job.  Every week, I see such a vast variety of people walking in and out of my home.  People of different backgrounds, ethnicities and races.  Students of all ages.  Three-olds.  Teenagers.  40-year olds.  People that I, otherwise, would have never met.  Somedays, I come out feeling incredibly rewarded, like there's no better job on earth, while other days I come out feeling frustrated.  Frustrated, either with the students or--more commonly--with myself.  Today was different however.

Caleb (pronounced Ca-leeb) is in 2nd grade this year and just started coming to piano lessons about 2 months ago.  At his first lesson, his mom informed me that he has a touch of aspergers syndrome, but besides a little distraction and not making eye contact, we've done remarkably well together.  

Today, when he walked through the door, I could see a certain sadness written on his face.  He looked bothered, like something was weighing very heavily on his eight-year old mind.

What's wrong, bud?

Oh nothing.

Well, are you sure?  You're looking a little sad today.

No, I'm okay...

Well, if there is anything, I really want to hear about it.

And, without any hesitation, out it came.  The thought, today, that had given this little boy such a forlorn look in his eyes...

I don't have any friends at school.

Suddenly all the selfishness of my own mind, all the thoughts I had accrued over the course of the day, all those things that seemed so important to me this morning... it all evaporated as this little boy confided in me, his piano teacher.

Well you have a friend here.  I'm your friend.

No sooner had I uttered those simple little words did he reach over to wrap his arms around me and bury his head in my stomach.

I'm not sure that I've ever experienced anything more sobering.  Telling a little boy that he does, indeed, have a friend--I'm his friend--doesn't make me feel victorious at all.  These little words made him feel better for the moment, but I didn't do anything spectacular.  All I could do was respond as any human being would--with love. 

Nothing in the world can make you respond with more love than hearing an eight-year old boy utter such lonely words as:   "I don't have any friends at school."  

As a teacher, today was neither defeatist or victorious--just sobering.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grain-Free Granola Bars

With the changing of the seasons fast approaching, I think we're all starting to crave those light and healthy snacks that just wouldn't "do it" for us during the winter.  With bulbs bursting from every garden bed and warmer days ahead of us, how about we start making some granola?  It's seriously the perfect snack for carrying around in your backpack on day trips, bike rides or long car trips.  This recipe for Grain-Free Granola Bars from Joyful Abode is so great and helpful that I just wanted to share the link and lead you straight to the source.

It's super easy and she has very helpful step-by-step photos.  We've made them twice now and the only modification I made the second time was to use less honey than she called for.  I used approximately a 1/4 cup of honey this time and it was perfect.  I would actually prefer even less "sweetness", but I wanted to make sure that the granola still stuck together.

Try it!  You'll love it.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Curled-up kitty paws.

Curled-up kitty schnoz.

Until the day that Christopher and I decide to "start a family," our cat Random is going to be adored, spoiled, and basically treated like the child of the house.  He's the one that gets all the attention.  All the time.  He's the one that has, and will continue to have, his life documented in photographs because "Mommy" just can't help herself.

We'll be able to look back on his "childhood years" and gawk at how small he used to be.  But, actually, we can already do that.... since we took him in two summers ago, he's doubled in size.  Literally doubled in size.  What can I say, he's one of those "food motivated" cats.  He's chubby, no doubt, but we love him just the same.

I'm having a lot of fun experimenting with camera settings and trying to find the "art" of it.  Random just happened to be laying around in the sun the other morning, looking all adorable (as usual) and it was the perfect lighting situation to experiment with both under- and over-exposing.  It's amazing, the wonders that light can do for a photograph.

Whether it's relaxing or hectic, I'm hoping you and your family have a wonderful weekend.  We're going to be doing some early Spring cleaning over the next few days.  We're invading our closets and drawers and hopefully sending most of it off to Goodwill.  Sometimes it's crazy, the things we get super excited about.   Cheers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rosemary & Lavender Almond Meal Biscuits.

Before I say anything, let me just say that these are super tasty.  Who can go wrong with rosemary and lavender?

I found this recipe a few months ago and made them a couple times, as is, before making some of my own adaptations.  When I just happened to see lavender at the farmers market last weekend, I knew right away that these biscuits needed it. And later on, as I reached in the cupboard for the Grape Seed oil, my hand went straight for the Walnut Oil, instead.  So I decided to go halfsies on the oils and use both.  Tell me, is there any oil--in all of existence--that tastes better than Walnut Oil?  Oh, please.

If you plan on making a batch of these for yourself, I suggest also perusing the link above.  She has an excellent recipe for Clementine Marmalade that perfectly compliments these yummies.

Without further ado.....

Rosemary & Lavender Almond Meal Biscuits

makes 4 larger or 6 smaller biscuits

2 1/2 cups almond flour, plus 1/3 cup for dusting the dough
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup grape seed oil
1/8 cup walnut oil
2 eggs
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary
1/4 tbsp lavender
1/2 cup water (for adding moisture to the dough mixture, if needed)

Directions: Combine almond flour (2 1/2 cups), salt, rosemary, lavender and baking soda in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the oils, eggs and honey. Mix your bowl of wet ingredients into your bowl of dry ingredients until a nice dough forms. If dough seems too dry and clumpy, add extra water (1 tbsp at a time) as needed.

Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, sprinkling extra flour to avoid sticking. For larger biscuits roll dough to about 1 inch thick and cut biscuits using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a mason jar. For smaller biscuits roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Shape dough biscuits, by pinching the sides a little to give them a nice curvy shape.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake on 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Portabello Pizza

Since changing our diet a few months ago, Christopher and I have had to get pretty creative with our meals.  In January, after doing some research on the causes of inflammation and disease, Christopher dove head-first into the Paleolithic diet--which is, in a nutshell, grain-free, dairy-free & sugar-free.  I, on the other hand, chose to participate only in part, at first--what I called "Half-Paleo"--but now I'm all in, eating just like a caveman.

This "pizza" recipe is a creative way of getting around the two "essential" ingredients of crust and cheese.  The crust?  A portabello mushroom.  The cheese?  Well, there is none.  But what it lacks in cheese, it makes up for in delicious meats and veggies.

Portabello Pizza
(serves 2-4 people, depending)

4 large portabello mushrooms
4 oz. no-sugar (or low-sugar) marinara sauce
1 red bell pepper
1 onion
6 oz. lean Sausage
6 oz. Turkey Pepperoni (or any other pepperoni with no additives)
1 handful of Basil leaves (chopped)
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 handful of Spinach

Directions: Remove stems from mushrooms (save for other use).  With a spoon, scrape out the underside of the mushroom caps to remove the "ribs" (black scales).  Saute the Sausage until nearly-cooked and remove from the pan.  Saute the onions and red pepper until desired.  On a greased baking sheet, lay out the portabello "crusts" with undersides facing upwards.  Spread with marinara sauce.  Top the mushroom "crust" with the rest of the ingredients.  Add any other topping or herbs you'd like.  Bake at 350• for 15-18 minutes.

I mean, seriously.  I know that's not the best photo I could have taken (we were hungry!) but look at how stacked those things are.  They're falling apart all over the place.  It's definitely a fork-and-knife type of dish, not finger food.  But whoa.  Yum!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

a bit about food.

{or an Ode to Spring}

Personally, a change in weather could really do me some good, how about you?

In February, we had a handful of beautiful days.  Days that caused me to believe that Spring was here early and would stay for more than just the weekend.  I'd washed the sheets, cleaned the tub and made extra room in the dresser drawers for Spring to unpack its bags and make itself at home.

Well, it seems I was fooled.  It's not here to stay quite yet.

On days like today, when it's cold and Christopher's not around, all I can really muster the energy to cook is the simple stuff.  Like bacon.  And hard-boiled eggs.  You know, stuff that's warm and tasty but you don't have to spend a lot of time messing around with in the kitchen.

Instead of cooking something fresh and new for myself, what do I do?  I pull out the most basic items in the refrigerator, stick them in a pot, set the timer, and run back into the living room where I throw the nearest blanket over myself whilst shivering. And then I sit waiting very impatiently for the food to finish doing it's thing.

Okay, so I got up a few times to flip the bacon.  But that's hardly worth mentioning.

Spring, when are you coming back?!  When you dropped in for a few days, I kicked Winter out.  But now you're gone and Winter's back at my doorstep!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

morning tea in the window.

Anyone who owns a cat very well knows that the second you put an object in an unexpected place, it must be inspected and quality-checked.  The reason?  Nobody truly knows.  But, rest assured, your cat will undoubtedly commence with the investigation and hopefully come to some sort of conclusion as to the best course of action.

What's this?  I've never seen this here before.  Sniff sniff.

 I mean it seems okay.  I just don't really understand why it's here of all places.

I guess I'll ignore it for a few minutes and make sure nothing suspicious happens.

Seems fine, I suppose.  But does it have to be so obtrusive? Perhaps I could just kick it off this ledge here...