Currently

looking forward to my parents’ Thanksgiving visit…

contemplating what to cook for my first time hosting a holiday dinner…

thinking about my grandma a lot…

missing my siblings….

failing at returning calls and responding to emails…

working really hard on my letterpress project…

wishing I could take a break to relax…

resisting buying myself a sewing machine and/or new camera lens…

trying to be content with what I already have and not what I can’t afford…

planning out the homemade Christmas gifts to give to family and friends…

avoiding eye contact with the giant pile of laundry I didn’t do this weekend…

worrying about my family and friends who might be affected by Hurricane Sandy…

hoping you all have a safe and happy Monday…

Friday Thoughts

This week went by so quickly! I cannot believe it’s already Friday. I am so ready for the weekend. I can’t wait to sleep until 9 tomorrow. I had a few blog posts planned out in my head for this week, but obviously I never managed to get pen to paper. It was quite the busy week, so finding time just didn’t happen.

One reason for my radio silence, was that I added babysitting on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to my schedule. I hang out with two really awesome kids on those three afternoons. I really enjoy it, and it’s giving me some extra money to help with these things called bills, but it’s exhausting!

I also spent all my nights this week at the University working on a letterpress project that is due next Wednesday. I haven’t even started printing yet- I’ve just been setting type, sizing my paper, and doing some planning. I’m really excited about it so I hope it turns out as awesome as it is in my head.

This weekend is going to be a busy one as well, but hopefully it’s as awesome as I imagine it could be. I’m definitely going to be working on my letterpress project some more but I also hope to hit up the farmer’s market (possibly for the last time this season), do a little bit of painting or knitting, carve a pumpkin, and find a new book to read. Additionally, I have tentative plans with some new friends (who are a few of Jon’s students- Is that weird?). We’re supposedly going to watch some Disney Halloween movies and make some Mexican fare. If it ends up happening, I’m positive it will be the highlight of my weekend.

Anyway, life is really good. It’s busy and chaotic and full and positively awesome. I feel so much better when I focus on the now, instead of worrying about the future. What are your weekend plans? Any one else going to butcher a pumpkin?

I hope you have a happy weekend no matter how you spend it!

Some Letterpress Love

One of the first few days after our arrival in town, I was hanging out with Jon in the glass studio when an older woman entered. Jon introduced us. As she asked me about my interests, I examined her necklace: an image of Jesus with two sparkly red gems where his eyes would be. My attention returned to her face when she said, “You should sit in on my letterpress class.” Not having a clue what exactly letterpress entailed, I enthusiastically responded affirmatively, because I wanted to get to know the woman who wore such an outlandish necklace. 

In the short time since that day, I’ve learned quite a bit about letterpress, art, and generosity. By allowing me to actively participate in her class, she has made me feel so welcome and so capable. In the past, one of the things with which I struggled, is feeling accepted in Jon’s artistic world; I’m often embarrassed by my lack of experience, talent, and ideas. I’ve not once felt that way being here, and my letterpress friend has been a big reason why.

Before this letterpress class, I had never been to, let alone participated in a College Art School Critique. In our third critique last week, I felt at ease discussing my work and others’ works and I was actually excited to share what I had created. I feel like this class and my friend have helped me to tap into my creative capabilities.

Unlike almost every other craft in which I’ve dabbled, letterpress doesn’t allow for a great deal of spontaneity. It requires a high level of patience, planning, and meticulousness. Despite (or perhaps because of ) the fact I don’t possess those traits in droves, I am inspired by the parameters of letterpress; I am enjoying the push to think and create in a completely different way.

I’m not sure that I’ll pursue letterpress very much after this class ends, but right now I am loving it. I relish having due dates for my creations. Knowing that others are going to be examining and critiquing my work forces me to push myself to create to the best of my abilities.  I know it won’t last forever, but I’m kind of high on letterpress right now.

The Great Pumpkin Sale

Since early September, Jon and his students have been busy making glass pumpkins. This weekend, their efforts culminated in a glass pumpkin sale. I enjoyed hanging out with them as they sold their work to raise money for the student sculpture organization. They ended up making over $10,000 total and at the end of the sale, only 20 pumpkins remained. It was definitely a success! The only damper on the day was the weather; I don’t think it could have been chillier.

One of Jon’s students borrowed my camera for a bit and took some really nice photos. She managed to snag this one of me as I was texting my mom. It might just be my new favorite picture of myself.  My hair got so long!

Jon worked really hard to make this fundraiser happen. He taught his students how to make the pumpkins, spent countless hours making them alongside his students, organized the marketing, and presented the idea to do a sale in the first place. During the sale on Saturday, a customer asked the students about why the sale was happening and how it came to fruition. One student responded, “Well it’s basically because of him,” and casually pointed towards Jon. Needless to say, I remain quite proud.

Mustard Dill Crusted Salmon

Remember when I said that I’d stopped eating fish after reading Eating Animals, well that went out the window less than a month later. I just really enjoy fish. I don’t eat it often but when I do, I make sure it’s delicious. This is my current favorite fish recipe. It’s so easy, and so, so good. It’d make a really lovely dish to serve at a dinner party, because it looks impressive, but is actually really simple to prepare.

Ingredients:  Salmon (fillets not steaks), mustard, panko (Japanese bread crumbs), dill, sesame seeds, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop dill, and mix with panko and sesame seeds. Place salmon in a greased baking dish skin side down. Spread a thin layer of mustard on the entire top of the salmon. Then sprinkle a layer of the panko/dill mixture on top of the mustard. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil over the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes until your salmon is cooked through.

 

I didn’t include measurements for this recipe because I figured individuals would want to adjust the proportions to their own tastes. I think it’s delicious served with a lemon wedge, arugula salad, and roasted potatoes. Whenever I make it, Jon usually makes a mustard and mayonnaise dip to accompany it. It’s a nice but unnecessary touch.

PS: My blog totally turned into a food blog this week, but I was really busy! I try to keep a few recipe posts in my draft folder, and it was so great to be able to post them.

 

Thoughts on Aimlessness

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be veterinarian. I loved animals and I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than caring for them. My father even called me Ellie Mae (like the Beverley Hillbilly); I also spoke to the squirrels in our neighborhood. I was passionate about the animal kingdom.

As I got a little bit older, my interests shifted and I dreamed of being a movie star. I acted in the plays in elementary school and sang my heart out in the shower and while laying in bed at night.  I fondly recall my first (and only) standing ovation for playing Yente in Fiddler on the Roof. I was passionate about the stage.

In highschool, as my friends and I were all deciding on colleges and majors, I was drawn to advertising and communications. I dreamed of writing commercials, designing print ads, and developing entire marketing campaigns. I thought it was going to be my future career.

Then, my freshman year of college, I hated my intro to communications class. It was the worst class I had my first semester and the only one I was subsequently doing below my normal standard (which was all A’s). So I did what any thoughtful college freshman would do, and hastily changed my major to psychology.

I did not have a clue what I was going to do when I graduated. I purposely tried not to think about it. I enjoyed the classes in my major- they were interesting. I never declared a minor, but instead took any and every class that interested me. And I had a wonderful college experience because of those choices.

However, here I am, three and half years later, and I’m still not sure what it is I want to do with my life. I’m working at a job that I’m very, very good at, extremely overqualified for and embarrassed to tell people about.  I feel like I’ve gotten stuck in a rut because I’m not sure what it is I want to do with my life.

Fortunately, I have a highly valuable education, lots of knowledge, a good heap of creativity, decent people skills, and a bit of born-with talent. I’m just lacking direction. I don’t know what I want to do or who I want to be; And this world is so big, so scary, and completely overwhelming.

I’ve always been told that I can do anything I set my mind to. (All parents say this to their children).  I just haven’t been able to set my mind to any one thing yet. And I really wish I could.

Influencing the world in a positive way and being happy with who I am and what I do- that’s all I really want. But sometimes that feels like it’s too much to ask.

Pumpkin Maple Whiskey Muffins

I have a minor confession to make; since the move, I’ve become a bit of a baking fanatic. I still cook most nights, but I’ve started to bake about twice (or thrice) a week as well. And I’ve been baking sweets; scones, chocolate chip cookies, and muffins. It’s not the best idea for my waist line, but it means I have some deliciously sweet recipes to share!

I really wanted to make some pumpkin muffins because as soon as fall hits, I crave pumpkin and squash.  I was determined to use an entire can of pumpkin puree without doubling a recipe. I compiled a few different recipes and came up with this. These muffins are perfection, the only pumpkin muffin recipe I’ll ever use. I put a crumbly oat topping on half of them, and it gave them a nice texture, but they are delicious plain as well. If you don’t have any whiskey available, I’m sure juice or water or even some cooled chai tea would make delightful substitutes.

Muffins:

Wet Ingredients:

1 Can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1/2 cup veggie oil

1/2 cup whiskey

2 cups maple syrup

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat)

1 cup cake flour

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a stand mixer, combine wet ingredients until just blended.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin pans. Bake at 350 degrees, for about half an hour, until tooth pick comes out clean. (I start checking at 20 minutes, and then every five minutes after that. )

Optional oat topping:

Combine 1 cup of oats, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Place on top of muffins before you bake them.

This made me 28 muffins. I sent them to Jon’s students to prevent myself from consuming every single one, but I had about 5 first.  I suspect that my baking addition has a little something to do with why my jeans are starting to feel a bit tighter…