December 8, 2014
November 18, 2014
I'm working from Oklahoma City this week, missing my husband... and just now realizing we totally missed our six-month anniversary a few weeks ago. What better excuse to post some of our "portraits" (the more candid, the more I like it) from our elopement in May? Here's to another six-and-a-half-ish months (AT LEAST) of boozy adventures and insuppressible laughter.
Additional viewing: part one and part two.
November 1, 2014
I've been hearing about fire cider for a few years, but always assumed it some sort of secret folk medicine that was too complex or arcane for anyone but like, Appalachian witch healers to make. Turns out, it's basically raw apple vinegar cider, infused with all kinds of powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, decongestant, and circulatory-assisting plants and herbs to literally and figuratively warm your ass up and protect it from illness during the cold winter months. And all it really takes to make, is patience.
There are a lot of recipes out there, but they all center around a base of chopped horseradish, onion, ginger, garlic, and citrus. I followed the basic proportions of this recipe, but didn't add some of the "extra" herbs like thyme, parsley, or the peppercorns (though those all sound like awesome additions). Some of the more esoteric recipes also call for making this on a particular moon phase, and burying the jar in your yard for a month for extra... potency. I happened to make mine on the new moon in Scorpio (also known as grocery day), and it sounds badass, so it can't hurt. I'm storing mine in a cool dark cupboard, and shaking it whenever I remember to. There also seem to be a lot of differing opinions on how long the cider needs to "steep" – from two weeks, to two months. I think I'll wait a month (or a full moon cycle), then strain out all the non-liquid, and add raw local honey to taste – and for additional health benefits.
Fire cider can be taken straight, as a shot, or in a tea with hot water and more honey; some even use it in salad dressing. I think I need to taste it first. I actually like the taste of vinegar (and garlic, and ginger, etc, etc), but horseradish is a different story; even chopping that was a sinus-clearing, nosehair-burning experience of its own. Luckily, I've still got a few weeks to get my courage up.
October 30, 2014
A few weeks ago we celebrated the one-year anniversary of buying our house. We strung globe lights around the patio, and continued a tradition that we started last October... or did we only "start" it now, the second time around?... semantics. Anyway. One of the first things we did after getting the keys, and crossing the threshold for the first time, was crack open a bottle of 2012 Fullsteam First Frost, that we had been saving for almost a year. We had kept it through the long home-buying process, and promised ourselves we would open it only once we got a house – or the first frost came. Luckily it was the former.
So this year, on an unseasonably warm night, we enjoyed a bottle of 2013 First Frost. We talked about all the work we've done on the house, and everything we'd still like to do. The top of my personal list was painting the kitchen cabinets, and buying a new, comfier, larger sofa. Since then we've started a "couch fund" (there is something so satisfying about putting cash in an envelope and watching it get fatter and fatter as the weeks pass). I'm planning on tackling at least the upper cabinets over my Christmas break (which is actually the week after Christmas).
And of course, the 2014 First Frost will be released within the next week or two – and we need to stock up for next year.
October 21, 2014
I'm a big believer in celebrating everything, big or small. Sometimes it's obvious, like planning a weekend away to celebrate an anniversary or birthday with my husband. Sometimes it's as simple as buying myself a $50 bottle of wine to celebrate making it through a "wildly productive and living the dream" week (...like I did last Friday), or scheduling a massage for yourself after a long weekend of yardwork. This fell somewhere in between.
I follow Marble & Milkweed on Instagram, and am totally entranced by Briar. I think it's because I'm becoming more and more interested in plants: growing them, eating and drinking them, and being healed by them. It all feels cyclical and honest and connected and just the right amount of magical. She's made a beautiful business (and life, really!) out of that. Her Autumn Getaway Kit seemed like the perfect way to try out a few of her products, and reward myself for making it through the first three quarters of what has turned out to be a very volatile year (in the best way!, but still).
The nourishing body oil and solid perfume (IN AN ACORN CAP) smell like some sweeter-yet-spicier version of one of my all-time favorite scents. I still haven't tried the chai, but I love that she offers different, "modern" translations of it from time to time. I think I'll try a tea sampler next. Spicy masala chais are my favorite tea. Plus, I've been wanting to make my own tea blends for some time now – so I think it's half about actually enjoying the teas, and half about being inspired by their differences, and getting my gears turning around that.
...which is, in the end, what celebration and reward are all about for me. Anyone who has spent a birthday or New Year's with me knows I'm all about capturing the highs and lows of the last year, and then setting an intention for the next (whether it be conceptual or very, very literal). Sometimes "celebrating" is as simple as saying out loud, "I did this rad thing / I made it through this hard time / We did it our way" and really hearing yourself. Acknowledging what you've learned and what you accomplished, and letting it guide you (without weighing you down) to where you want to go. Just don't forget to treat yo self once in awhile.
October 3, 2014
I just tried to recreate the before photos for ease of reference.
So now our bedroom is black, and has a larger bed. We love it! – it gave the room instant personality, and now it somehow feels bigger and cozier at the same time. I also love the transition from dark bedroom to bright bathroom. It's the sexy sleep cave our gothy inner teenagers (and badass outer thirty-somethings) always wanted.
October 2, 2014
Micah planted some Crimson Sweet watermelon seeds in the spring, and I honestly didn't think anything would come of them. Watermelon just seemed to big for us to successfully grow!, I don't know why. But, vines sprouted, and snaked through the monkey grass... flowered... and started putting out tiny watermelon babies. We planted them where a wood pile used to be, and I think they were getting some primo organic matter.
When I realized it was October (and saw the stem was drying up), I thought it might be time to pick. We ended up harvesting two; this one was the largest. They were both sweet and juicy and actual real-life watermelons, that we grew, somehow.
September 27, 2014
Ever since I got back from Michigan, I've slipped into a new Saturday morning ritual.
Micah is out the door by 4:30am (to prepare for the Durham Farmers Market), and usually doesn't get back home until about 1:00pm. The mornings have cooled down, too. I don't set an alarm, but I usually wake up at about 8am, make coffee, and enjoy it on the patio while I see what Instagram has been up to during the night. Then, because I'm sitting there staring at all the plants around me, I'm usually compelled to pinch a few weeds, trim off a few dead flowers, etc. I mean, feel compelled to do it during the week (I can see most of the patio from my desk), but usually can't prioritize it – or enjoy it – as much as I want to.
This morning was no different. Some of my annual herbs were done for the season, so I pulled them up; I trimmed back some of the monkey grass border to keep it in check; I swept away the first fallen acorns; I laughed at how far the mint has shot out runners, but did nothing to stop them (can you see that purple vein stretching all the way across the top of the bottom photo?). I think I'll plant my new fig bush in the center-back of our patio square (best seen here), but give it enough room to really bush out and soften that corner. Basically, I'm slowly making this space a Secret Garden / of Eden. One fall Saturday morning at a time.
September 21, 2014
I say it every year: the man can give a gift. This year, Micah got me a "Brown Turkey" fig bush (including two of the tiniest hidden fig babies, already plumping up!), and a huge shimmery chunk of North Carolina quartz-bound mica.
He also wrote me a letter, detailing information on the metaphysical and healing properties of the mica. Even though he may not believe in it personally, I love that he gathered and presented that to me as well, simply because he knows I enjoy and appreciate it (plus I just love his handwriting).
September 18, 2014
This is what the end of summer looks like: roasting (or drying) pan after pan of must-go tomatoes and peppers from our garden and the farmer's market. Stockpiling them in the freezer, next to all the berries and peaches. Leaving the windows open at night (and in the morning, but only until I'm done with my coffee and the sun strengthens). Making the first soups of the season, with the first squash. Planning where the kale, carrots, and autumn greens will go. Cautiously removing sweaters and coats from their off-season storage to air them out.
Fall doesn't officially begin until next week. But sometimes the end of one thing can be just as fun to celebrate as the beginning of the next.
September 15, 2014
Today is my thirtieth birthday. It's a number that throws many people in to a quarter/third-life crisis, but I'm relieved to jump up to the next decade. Maybe it's an over-achiever, oldest-child thing, but I feel like thirty means I'm finally sitting at the "big kids'" table, like my number finally reflects more of the age I actually feel (which has always been, very old).
The last year has been... full. Full of change and growth, lots of questions, and a few less answers. I bought a house with Micah, celebrated a year working at Braid, got engaged, became the primary breadwinner for our little family, successfully grew my first root vegetables, became a godparent, learned how to tile, eloped, and spent a record-breaking six weeks in Michigan.
I bought myself the most adult birthday present ever: a new (larger) mattress set, and all-new bed linens. !!! It hasn't been delivered yet, but it's already improved the quality of my life. I spent yesterday painting our bedroom black in preparation, and deep-cleaning the house. Tonight Micah is taking me out to eat and drink at all my favorite Durham spots. We'll do what we always do: recap the last year, dream about the next one... and then get to work on making it happen.
September 13, 2014
We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of buying our house, and it's made me reflect on how much we have – and haven't – updated / renovated / changed since we moved in. One room we've kind of neglected, is our bedroom. We painted it white... and that's about it. It's always felt clean, but kind of... meh. Even more so once that the master bathroom was re-tiled and re-sinked.
So, change! I've decided to spend the last day of my twenties (more on that soon), painting the entire bedroom... drumroll... BLACK. Sexy, warm-cool, sleep-cave pitch black. I can't wait to see the subtle contrast created by all the dark grey furniture. And then the crisp contrast of walking into a white bathroom.
I'd eventually like to layer in some rugs, plants, wood, etc... but it begins with black walls. It begins with these meh "before" photos (today was overcast with equally "meh" light, but time is of the essence, and these will just make the "afters" look that much better). And it begins, tomorrow.
September 10, 2014
My favorite part of staying in Michigan for six weeks, was all the quiet moments. The "off times," when the beach was deserted (more so than usual), when there wasn't anything going on, when I could just truly absorb and enjoy the place, and accompanying mental space, for what it is.
August 30, 2014
I wrote about it last August, and don't really think I can improve on that post (I did, however, improve on how much I brought home: 17 cups, to last year's 13). The zen flow of picking, the reward of highly-seasonal, highly-regional, highly-FREE food, and just the very miracle of this place – literally rising from the ashes.
I used the blueberries fresh for about a week in salads and parfaits, then froze just short of a gallon for use over the winter. I've got big plans for them: ice creams, tarts, sauces, popsicles. But regardless of what I make, they've already done their job – reminding of my six weeks on the lake, and allowing to relive a bit of that whenever I want, throughout the year.