house/life updates

If you haven’t noticed, my “schedule” for these updates is totally dependent on a) when I think to pull out the camera and take some photos of the house and b) when I have my laptop near a wifi signal and remember to upload photos.

Which is the first life update – that I’m still internet-less at home. Have I mentioned that here? It’s been a bit of a social experiment, to see what my home life would look like unplugged. I thought it would only last the first month – which nicely coincided with Lent – but the superfast fiber internet that I’m waiting to be installed in our neighborhood is taking a bit longer than anticipated. (So, in addition to the social experiment, it was also a desire to have the best/newest technology, which is surprisingly affordable.)

Being unplugged has been mostly good. No more middle-of-the-night shopping. Less Facebook. Those are both hugely positive! I missed watching movies and television online, though breaking my addiction to mindless binge watching was one hoped-for outcome.  But then I realized that a moderate amount of mindless entertainment was a good way to keep me from obsessively working on projects, and wearing myself out. The workaround is that I bought a kindle fire – I can pre-download shows/movies onto this device somewhere with internet, then watch them at home.

OH RIGHT I MEANT TO SHOW YOU SOME PHOTOS.

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Things to notice:
-I finally made some coasters! From one of my first quilt samplers, which I’ve been carrying around for quite some time now. (The fabrics are leftover from my Hex Quilt.)
-Those two pillows on the right are going to be covered in something neutral. I love having some pops of color/pattern, but those two are just a smidge too much. (I just recently decided this, so stay tuned!)
-The coffee table base is no longer filled with quilts, because I SOLD A BUNCH OF THEM! (For real – check out the online store.) It’s been very exciting to send my quilts to loving homes, particularly since those homes belong to dear friends. I also think it’s good for my creative mojo to have less inventory – I want to make new quilts to fill that space!

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ONE of the quilts (which wasn’t even posted in the store, because I wasn’t willing to consider selling it) was traded for this giant painting from a local artist – I sent a crazy email suggesting the trade, and within a week we’d decided on the size/colors/vibe and she’d painted and delivered the work. As someone whose art takes MUCH longer to make, I must say I was impressed by that speed. As the owner of this painting, though, I am thrilled that it’s already mine!

That’s all for today!

recipes I have loved in the past month

What is this world we’re living in where I am blogging about ALL THE THINGS?

Mostly one where I realize my current method for keeping track of recipes is…no method. Or maybe too many methods. I have some pin boards, I have some emailed lists to myself. I also have a NUMBER of recipes printed out and sitting on various surfaces in the house because I’m currently internet-less at home so pinboards and emails are useless in the kitchen. (I should clarify that I’m internet-less AND a real miser about data usage on my phone. I’ve loosened it up a bit, but my friends might stage an intervention before long.)

Okay, so what am I cooking?

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Let’s start by admiring all of those beans and lentils in the kitchen! I inherited this gorgeous display system from an old housemate – who upgraded to prettier jars when she moved into her own space – and in the process I also inherited the contents of some of those jars. Some which have sat in those jars, looking so pretty, but underutilized, for many years. When I moved, I inspected the contents of every jar (sniff test) to determine which were still worth saving. Thankfully, dried beans are nearly indestructible!

But my determination to use them, mixed with my desire to cut down my food budget in this new home-owning reality, means I get to try new recipes and return to some old faves.

1. Chana Masala from Orangette – since I’m intimidated by both chickpeas and indian cooking, I thought I’d try to tackle both in a simple recipe. Molly’s recipes tend to focus on making magic from mundane ingredients, so I thought she’d be a trustworthy source. (She has some other bean recipes that I plan on testing soon – especially when I tackle that giant jar of brown beans.) The verdict? DELICIOUS. Though I realized, as I was cooking, that I have no idea what chana masala is supposed to taste like. But I’m a fan of this recipe and will definitely make it again. (Disclaimer: I used canned chickpeas as recommended in the recipe.)

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2. Oven-Roasted Chickpeas from the kitchn – this was my first attempt on the dried chickpeas, but since it was a mixed bag, I didn’t want it first on the list. The few chickpeas that I managed to crisp perfectly were delicious, but it took longer than I expected, and the best tasting ones ended up looking burnt. Also, it was a failure of execution/planning, because I didn’t realize they’d soften if stored. So this is something I might attempt again for a party treat, or in smaller batches to snack on.

3. Cuban Black Bean Soup from the kitchn – I tell everyone to make this soup because it’s so delicious.I’m unsure how many people believe me, so I’ve started serving it to people so they can TASTE THE DELICIOUSNESS and then ask for the recipe. I love this recipe so much that I made it for my first dinner party in the new house, to combat my dinner-party-hosting-anxiety. If you don’t loathe black beans, you will love this soup.

4. Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Pepitas from Cookie + Kate – I had some sunflower seeds on hand when someone asked me to bring a salad to an event, so this recipe popped up in a google search. I bought some Lemon Vinaigrette from Wegmans, and this has turned into my default fancy salad for the moment.

finding new normal

First, confession time: I AM EXHAUSTED. Of course I am! I bought a house! And I furnished the whole thing, and painted the floors and some walls, and built bookshelves and furniture, and started up gardening like it’s not another whole hobby, and I have to find a handyman, and also realized that I forgot to take my car to the mechanic in 2016 (oops) so now on top of the short-term financial crunch of buying a house (which I planned for) I also have a few car expenses that should not be deferred. Isn’t it exhausting just READING that?

Ugh.

But I remind myself, daily, that “grace periods” are a real thing, and that I am living in one, which means I need to show myself a lot of grace. And if I’m being stubborn and not offering it, I need to TAKE it from myself.

What that looks like right now is paying a lot of attention to my energy and anxiety levels. Not scheduling too much on weeknights so that I have the option to climb into bed at 9:30pm (which is what I did last night). But also, remembering that I’m not an introvert, so being alone in a quiet house for a whole weekend isn’t exactly going to refill my tank.

I made a list of things that bring me joy, and it included: being outside (preferably among trees or near calm water), having good conversations with people who know me (aka people I can be my honest self around), moving my body so I don’t feel like a lump, cooking and eating good food, bringing people into my home (sharing what I have as a form of celebration/gratitude).

Turns out I managed to accomplish all of those things this last weekend, in ADDITION to holding a newborn, which is something that brings me much joy but isn’t on my default list (since the availability of newborns isn’t something I can predict/control).

Here are some photos from my house,  in the prepared-for-company state, plus some lovely views on a Sunday morning hike.

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I pushed the dining table against a wall to maximize space for mingling.

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These photos are merely proof that I am still capable of baking delicious things.

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16 books finished in 2017: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Next

16 books finished in 2017

As I said in the review for book two, I’d lost all trust in the author and wasn’t planning to continue reading. But I didn’t expect a cliffhanger that needed this book to be resolved. Thankfully, the action continued, it became a courtroom mystery, and the story was well-resolved.

Overall, I liked the character of Lisbeth, and probably liked many of the other female characters. I felt neutral about Blom, mostly because he seemed to be over-hyped and I had a difficult time with EVERY woman offering herself to him sexually and then falling in love with him. But I have no desire to continue reading.

15 books finished in 2017: The Girl Who Played With Fire

15 books finished in 2017

Hmmm…same haiku as for the first book, mostly because I don’t want to come up with another.

My enjoyment of these books decreased significantly during the second book. As new characters were introduced and pieces were put into place for a new mystery to solve, there were many scenes that felt contrived and gratuitously sexual – meet a new character, have them hook up with someone, rinse, repeat. Also, though perhaps the author was attempting to present a new-found confidence within Lisbeth after the events of book one, I was unsettled as he kept describing her body in detail – how it looked naked, how it looked in her new clothes, how it looked when she moved. After discussing this with a friend, we also realized that the audiobook version, with a male narrator, might have emphasized this discomfort. But, once I lost my trust in the author, it wasn’t something that could be regained.

Once the story started moving, it was definitely compelling. But I didn’t plan to keep reading the series after this. (Of course, this book ended on a bit of cliffhanger, and the story was wrapped up in book three. I couldn’t resist, but after THAT book, I’m not going to continue with this author.)