3/25/2013

at the noon day, I will complain and lament

I woke up with curlier than usual hair, and when I dressed for my coffee date with a BFF I decided to put on a skirt and long johns instead of my usual jeans. I grabbed a scrumptious rumply scarf, and drove off to a new-to-me cafe. My usual test drink is cappuccino. I figure if the baristas can craft an excellent cappuccino, then the place must be alright. But since we went paleo and cut down our caffeine, I'm super sensitive to it. One cappuccino and I'm wired for days. Woooooooooo! So, I went for a latte. Good number two test, and often has fun foam art as a bonus.

Cafe passed the latte test. Delicious. Pretty foam art. Snooty baristas that eventually smiled, though it almost broke their faces. Ha ha. I win, you little pretentious dweebs. Life is full of awesome, and you can't pretend its not! Neener neener.

~ ~ ~

My BFF had to cancel at the last minute (sick kids), so I sat with my foam art and my King Arthur book at my little outside table and spent an hour, taking Vitamin D the old fashioned way, and just pretended I was in France. Sometimes that's the only thing to do.

~ ~ ~

By the way. How much does Guinevere suck? Seriously. Maybe she's bipolar.... I mean, Lord, how many times is she going to flip out and kick Lance out of the kingdom, only to flip out again and beg him to return. Guys. Stop jousting to see whether she should burn at the stake and just get the woman some meds. And Arthur. Come on, man, how clueless can you be?

Bah!

Oh, I complain loud, but I'm having fun revisiting these stories. I've got several versions to read after this. It just cracks me up that we get all sorts of powerful, inspiring, romanticized tales of Camelot (Crystal Cave, Once and Future King, Lawhead's Pendragon cycle) from these insipid junior high soap opearas. That's really what they are. If these were being invented now, they would be on the CW. There's not a lot of difference between this and Gossip Girl. "You know you love me, xoxo."

~ ~ ~

MM and I had a delicious Nothing Weekend. Philosophy breakfasts and long walks by the river, following secret trails to new-to-us places. Saturday we lunched at a favorite park, watching various family outings, birthday parties, and frisbee players. A couple dudes played some role playing game in the sun. Odd choice for a spring day, but at least they got out of their moms' basements for a few hours. Ba-dump-cha! Just kidding. Best sight for us was some people zorbing. Too cool!

After Outdoor Adventuring we sipped Americanos or Manhattans and wrote and read and stared into space. We had a nice little nerd moment last night when our bartender came up after he'd delivered our drinks specifically to inquire what we were reading, "Thats so great. You don't see it much, but I love to read in bars too!" We all smiled and did our secret Nerd gang signs, happy to know that we are all part of the weirdo fellowship.

~ ~ ~

I keep complaining to MM that our town does not have the right place for us to go. We have coffee shops, restaurants, and lounges, but none of them really have the right vibe. They all cater to 20-something singles, and are LOUD LOUD LOUD. We are old. We want some place that is classy. Where there might be jazz or acoustic something-er-other live music instead of bumping beats or whiney modern pop rock. A place we can get really good coffee or really good wine. A place where people can be alone or with friends, a place where they can work or write or read or sketch. Indoor and outdoor seating. A simple menu of good, seasonal food - soup, small plates, salads, pastries.

It occurs to me. What I want is a European cafe. Or the sort of lounge that are only found in ritzy hotels in big cities. My town just does not know how to do that in-between, both/and kind of place that is classy AND casual at the same time.

If I were an entrepreneur, I would open this sort of place. But I am not. So, I will have to go to Europe, I guess. Qu'elle domage.

~ ~ ~

Also if I were an entrepreneur, I would create a line of lingerie that actually makes sense. With measurements that are actual measurements, not "measure yourself and add 2 or 3, then subtract the second measurement and divide by 9, but only on Tuesdays." And that takes into consideration ALL the aspects to be measured and considered (height, breadth, distance, girth...). And makes stuff in reasonable colors - I personally don't have a lot of clothes that work with a neon orange and lime green polka dot bra - but that are still beautiful. How disappointing to go through a laborious search and fitting and testing and trying only to find that you have a choice of beige and beige with no trim or embellishments or anything pretty. It's like neon orange or nothing. Lame. And don't get me started on night gowns. Or swimsuits. S/M/L/XL just doesn't work for this stuff.

Anyway. I have some peeves on this score, and I had any idea how to go about it, I would make Real Lingerie for Real Women that Makes Sense and Doesn't Suck. I would, of course work with a PR firm to come up with a catchier tag line.

But again, I am not an entrepreneur, so instead I will complain and lament. Or maybe go to Europe where they have better measuring and design for this sort of thing. Centimetres are our friends.

~ ~ ~

Lunchbreak is over. Back to my job search and house work and whathaveyou for the day. Thank you for listening to me complain about stuff. Have a beautiful rest of your day.

3/11/2013

lunchbreak

Glorious spring today. Wow. The whole city bloomed last week. Not just trees, but gardens, parks, bushes, empty lots, fields by the freeway. The sun feels delicious, and my thoughts have turned to flip-flops, summer jewelry, flowy skirts, and tattoos.

I always think of tatoos when the weather gets warm. I've decided what I want, finally. Sort of. I just need to figure out what it will look like and where to put it. Unlike men, we ladies have to consider aging skin/muscles, etc. That sleeve that looked so sexy at 25 will just be a wrinkled, saggy blur at 80. Think about it, honey. Ankles, inside wrists, shoulder blades, the cliche "tramp stamp" on the lower back - these spots are pretty good cuz the skin doesn't get so saggy. But - less fat/tissue = more pain. I don't like pain. So. There's that.

Anyway. Spring. Newness and life.

~ ~ ~


Speaking of newness and life - its all babies, babies, babies right now. Three expected in my social circle. A girl and two boys. Yippee! I've got one quilt started and need to buy fabric for two more.

And, there are now giraffe calves in my neighborhood zoo. This morning I walked past their enclosure and visited with a mama and her young one. How beautiful are giraffe eyes. Those lashes!

(I will not be making the young giraffes quilts.)

~ ~ ~

On a whim, last night I grabbed Anne Morrow Lindberg's Gift from the Sea for my bedtime reading. I've always enjoyed this little gem of a book. Such lovely language to adjure us toward simplification, solitude, investing in deep relationship, growing into each season of life, etc. But now that I am married, and middle aged (ahem), I just get it so much more.

And really, this bit makes the whole book for me:

Before we sleep we go out again into the night. We walk up the beach under the stars. And when we are tired of walking, we lie flat on the sand under a bowl of stars. We feel stretched, expanded to take in their compass. They pour into us until we are filled with stars, up to the brim.

Spring/summer always stirs up the longing in me for that bowl full of stars. I want to be filled up to the brim with starshine. The beach is calling me.

~ ~ ~

The other book I'm reading, as a followup to Merlin, is my King Arthur and His Knights - Selected Tales by Sir Thomas Malory. Here's the deal. We've romanticized and idealized these guys, but truthfully, they are all a bunch of selfish, immature, ding dongs, getting their feelings hurt and lopping off heads or stabbing each other or doing some pointless feat of arms to no good end. Grow up, guys.

~ ~ ~

This week in paleo eating: Plantains. Yum. We dice them like potatoes and fry them up with onions, bell peppers, and spices. They are weird, and they are awesome.

Also awesome: GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES ON PALEO BREAD! Oh, Lordy. One lament we've had is our loss of grilled cheese sandwiches. There are just times when that is what a person needs. Period. I do a lot of paleo baking, but bread is expensive and time consuming and tricky. So, I just haven't tackled it yet. Someday I will, but I've got bigger fish (plantains!) to fry right now.

Our local gluten free specialty market mentioned in their latest newsletter that they had paleo bread in stock. Yippee! I saved some of my "entertainment" money from our buget and got a loaf. (Pricey stuff.) I also threw caution to the wind and got Trader Joes tomato and roasted red pepper soup and some olive oil potato chips.

We ate our sandwiches. Freaked out. And watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And it was good.

~ ~ ~

We watched the Johnny Depp version. Weird and fun. I don't remember much of the original one. Only that it scared me. Creepy Gene Wilder, scary Oompa Loompas, kids dying in horrific ways, freaky LSD colors. I don't know. Maybe its awesome. As a kid I didn't like it at all. We may put the old one in our queue just to compare.

This one had little Freddie Highmore, who is just the cutest, sweetest little English boy. I teared up more than once at his little self. He reminds me of my nephew that I took care of as a child, so I think he stirs up maternal nostalgia in me. The freckles! And those ears sticking out of his head! Gah.

My nephew is now a giant, hairy fire fighter man, and father to the expected baby girl I mentioned above. But my heart remembers him as a little boy, and when I see Freddie Highmore, my heart just squeezes tears out of my eyes.

Also, loved all the grandparents. Three sweet, one cranky, and one with dementia. I smiled at her exchange with Willie Wonka at the end:
Her - "You smell like peanuts. I love peanuts!"
Him - "You smell like old people... and soap. I like it."

So yeah. Freaky. Weird. And oddly heart-warming. Plus fun music. (Go Danny Elfman.) Cute, non-scary Oompa Loompas. And little Freddie Highmore. (Who is also now grown into a nice young man. Oh, Time. Just stop already.)

~ ~ ~

And that's all I have to say about that.

3/04/2013

mondayboook - my brownies are awesome edition

It's been awhile since I've done an actual daybook. Bless you folks for coming and reading my little weird posts. I will check out those resources for Downton this week!

This weekend was good. A mix of rest, work, giving, and receiving. We had a Philosophy Breakfast that lasted til 2:00! And then ran errands, discovering a great gluten free pizza on the way. Sunday we took our first communion in what may become our new church - woah, man. Just in time for Easter. I had a networking meeting, and got a lot out of it. And we ended the weekend with a cozy dinner and small pre-birthday celebration with some dear friends. Full.

For today I am,

Seeing... A sky that doesn't quite know what to do with itself. It feels coastal this morning. Clouds and clean air and the promise of a sunshiney afternoon... buds, buds, buds! Trees all over have burst forth in glorious pollen. This is my 2 weeks of allergies. This year really isn't that bad. Don't know if its because of the weird weather or paleo, but I'll take it!

Hearing... Our dove cooing and wooing. I hope all our homes have doves near them in spring. That sound means something powerful to me now.

Tasting... Tea. We've got 5 kinds now, including a few remaining bags of my unfavorite chai. Today will be a ginger pear white day, I think. Yesterday was a coffee day. We had the very last of our home-roasted beans. MM was able to finally get the perfect City Roast on the last batch. Such a difference to have freshly roasted beans! We will order (a much smaller bag) in a couple of weeks, and keep perfecting our roast.

Working... Well. Things are finally cookin' with my job search. I've gotten good feedback on my resume revamp, and had a really good networking meeting yesterday. I'm working on my cover letter blurbs and my website today and checking out a few leads. Here's hopin.

Reading... Finished Christian Smith's The Bible Made Impossible. It really does offer great insight on ways that Protestants, particularly evangelicals, have lost connection to the actual power of the scriptures they claim to revere by making an idol of the Bible. Its an academic book, and not at all easily digestible. I'm hoping someone pulls a John Ortberg and writes the "Biblicism for Dummies" version soon.

Also dipping back into the Stephen Lawhead Pendragon Cycle. I'm reading Merlin right now. Fun and interesting. Might try to score the rest of the books at a used bookstore, so we have the whole set. MM hasn't read them and may find them enjoyable. (Or they may make him facepalm and roll his eyes so hard he concusses because of factual errors.)

Learning... About me, mostly. Oh Life Transitions, how good you are at making us grow! (Sidenote: Blerg.)

Creating... Well. I've got a quilt, an embroidery project, a new scarf (this one will end!), and two photo projects to finish soon, but I have to tell you about my new brownies. (I realize I could have mentioned this in tasting, but we sent the last one home with the Birthday Boy last night, and I was all dazzled by the coffee.) Anyway. Dude. So freaking good. Got these from the latest edition of Paleo Magazine (which I gave away, thinking I could get another one at our store, only to find them sold out. Hmpf!).

So, I can't tell you who's recipe this is. Or even give you the original recipe, but I can give you this approximation:

Ingredients
1 sweet potato
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c oil (could be coconut oil, melted palm shortening, or like we did, melted butter)
1/4 c honey (I only used 1 tablespoon of honey, b/c we like dark brownies)
2 Tb unsweetened baking cocoa (I used 4, b/c we like dark brownies)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tb coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c dark chocolate chips (sometimes I do this, sometimes not, also, I'll do 3/4 c and melt them and stir them in)

Directions
1 Heat oven to 425.
2 Grease a 8x8 pan and set aside.
3 Poke holes in unpeeled sweet potato with fork/knife.
4 Bake sweet potato in oven til soft (30 minutes).
5 Take the potato out and turn oven down to 350.
6 Remove the peel and place potato in mixing bowl.
7 Blend potato until smooth (I use a handmixer).
8 Add wet ingredients (egg, vanilla, oil, honey).
   - I used way less honey.
   - If I add melted chips this is when I do that.
   - Last night, I added a splash of decaf coffee that we still had in the caraf - yum! mocha!
9 Mix until all ingredients incorporated nicely.
10 Add dry ingredients (cocoa, cinnamon, coconut flour, salt, baking soda, chips).
   - I always add the baking soda last, b/c it reacts with the chocolate and honey, and I don't want
      flat brownies.
11 Mix until all ingredients incorporated nicely.
12 Pour batter into pan.
13 Bake at 350 until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (20-30 min, depending on your oven?)
   - This can be tricky if you've got chips in there, so poke a few times to be sure.

These suckers are delicious. Healthy ingredients. I mean, this is basically a sweet potato with an egg and lots of dark chocolate. Yeah, baby! Potassium! Magnesium! No xanthan gum or soy or grains or weird stuff. If you don't do eggs, use flaxseed and water. If you don't do butter, do palm shortening or coconut oil. Last night we served them with freshly made whipped cream and fresh blackberries. Woah Nelly Olsen.

You just have to play around with the ratios of honey and baking powder and chocolate chips to get the flavor that you like. We like dense brownies, and we like dark chocolate and coffee, so less honey, added decaf, and more cocoa/chips works well for us. You might like something else. More honey. Caramel. Nuts. Whatever floats your brownie boat.

Dreaming... of The Future.

Pondering... The Future.

Thankful for... The Present. My amazing MM and his lifegiving love. The arrival of spring. Coffee. Brownies. Good friends. The possibility of a new church. Trader Joes taco seasoning. Stacks of books. Celtic music. Yarn, fabric, thread, and Netflix streaming. A soul that is learning to speak and believe that it will be heard. Poetry. And the power of good writing to shape a soul. Good art and the people who make it. Feasting in the midst of a lean season. The quiet of lent and that slow stir of anticipation for Easter.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.