March 28, 2014
Above: I get really excited when people visit. Like, curate-coffee-carts excited.
Tomorrow our house will welcome it's first official visitors! My parents are visiting from Oklahoma, and bringing (via Connecticut) my youngest brother with them. They'll be staying for a whole week, and helping Micah and me start some much-anticipated house projects. Maybe some tiling, maybe some sink installation, definitely some yard overhauling... we'll see. I'm so excited to show them our home, and to learn from their 30+ years of home renovation experience (seriously... you should see what they're doing to their own house right now, in preparation for putting it on the market). But really, even if we didn't get to a single project, and just sat around drinking coffee (and then wine and beer) on our patio, our time would be well-spent.
March 19, 2014
This isn't really Elvis ice cream. This is just roasted banana ice cream with a peanut butter swirl. Real Elvis ice cream would have bacon crumbles on it, I think. (Or be topped with a strip of chocolate-dipped bacon!) But I can't help but think of the King whenever I combine the two flavors, which is often, because they're meant for each other.
It was near impossible to find a banana ice cream recipe that was custard-based (had eggs in it). Banana has recently become a substitute for fat in dessert recipes, which is fine, but I was disappointed to find few recipes that combined the natural lusciousness of banana with the fatty, full-cream-and-egg-yolk righteousness of traditional ice cream. So... I kind of Frankenstein-ed it. MacGyver-ed it. I pulled a vanilla bean ice cream recipe from my Williams-Sonoma book, and referenced the last time I made a banana ice cream for roasting/caramelizing instructions (excluding the cinnamon, because I don't think Elvis would've approved). If I was making this for anyone other than Micah and myself, I probably would've thinned the peanut butter out before swirling it in, but I couldn't be bothered. I couldn't even be bothered to wait to use the kitchen to churn it. I think Elvis would've approved.
March 17, 2014
Above: a moment of unfocused calm from our weekend in Wilmington, just over a year ago.
Like a lot people (I think / I hope), I've become too easily distracted by my phone. Recently I've found myself checking it without any intention - just swiping it unlocked and checking Instagram or Twitter or my email before I even know what's happening. But the kicker is, that I'm usually also flipping through a magazine or cookbook while this happens – and sometimes with the TV on in the background as well! It's too much.
So I've adopted a mantra of sorts, to snap me out of these diffused moments and focus me on the task or engagement at hand:
One thing at a time.
So when I'm checking my phone while reading while watching TV, I can pause and figure out what one thing I actually want to be doing right now. What do I actually want to absorb? (It's usually that magazine or cookbook.) Or sometimes - what is the best use of my time right now? (It's usually not flipping through my phone - especially if there's a new episode of Parks and Rec on and I'm transitioning from work day to downtime.)
So when I'm out having a hard-earned happy-hour drink with Micah, and yet again reach absent-mindedly for my phone, I can pause and remind myself why I'm there in the first place: to connect with my man, to ask him about his day, to dream about our future together. Not to see what everyone else is doing at that exact moment. I've started actually out-loud excusing myself whenever I need to use my phone around him (whether that's to text back a friend or take a photo), to remind myself of the boundaries I'd like to put in place.
So when I'm working on designing a logo or writing a Brand & Business Vision Guide, instead of keeping multiple tabs open so I can know the instant I get a personal email (or be distracted by articles to read and interior design photos to ogle over), I can pause and get rid of all the online white noise that's standing between me and a really stunning project. Now I keep my email and to-do list tabs open, and that's it. (Sometimes if I really need to buckle down, I'll close all the tabs for a designated period of time.) It's a constant battle with my monkey brain to keep from inadvertently inviting overstimulation, but designating chunks of time (if I work on this design until XXam, I can browse Apartment Therapy for XX minutes before switching gears to this other project) has helped.
One thing at a time.
On a smaller level, it keeps me focused and is hopefully resetting my phone-checking habits. It's a reminder that the greatest journeys start with that first one step(/thing). But on a larger level, it reminds me of the kind of person I want to be: a friend or partner who is fully engaged in our conversation, a working creative who is fully focused on her writing and design projects, a person who is fully respectful of how her own time and energy are best spent throughout the day. It's a form of self-care, too; I'm at my best when I feel centered and present, which never happens when I'm unfocused and diffused.
A while back, I wrote a post about how I regulate mindless phone-poking at night, which is a great companion to this one. I've sadly fallen out of this practice – I used to rely on Micah's alarm clock, but now I wake up before him, which has put my phone back on my nightstand. But after writing this post, I've decided to put my phone out of arm's reach in the bedroom, so I can still use the alarm function without being tempted to check it.
One thing at a time.
March 10, 2014
Kind of like the aleppo linguine on Valentine's Day, this was my attempt at making a holiday meal more special with really simple ingredients. Micah had pre-made some amazing meatballs the day before, and I thought a boozy twist on spaghetti and meatballs would be a perfect way to celebrate Mardi Gras. So I consulted my favorite book on pasta-making, and took a stab at red wine pasta.
This may be the first pasta dough I've made without semolina, and I could really tell the difference. The dough had a really velvety, soft texture, but stretched out under it's own weight really easily (too easily!), which prevented me from rolling it as thin as I would've liked. I decided against spaghetti for the same reason, so we ended up having fettuccine and meatballs. My favorite part of the process was watching the color develop. The wine deepened each time the dough rested, going from blueberry to mauve to terracotta to red dirt in a few hours. It was beautiful, and looked masculine and grown-up and sexy with the hearty meatballs and red sauce. I'll definitely make it again.
March 8, 2014
Above: Green Man Brewing's Demon Dweller, and the road out of Asheville.
One of our weekend-in-Asheville goals was to hike a handful of especially fun-looking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway. But as Micah explains here, it didn't work out. No matter; we're already planning another trip in a few months (it's hard to leave Asheville without planning the next trip to Asheville). And one of the things I love about the area is that you don't have to take this long parkway drive to really see the mountains, because they literally surround the city. There were countless times we were navigating ourselves around town, only to take a quick turn, or come to the top of a hill, and be completely taken aback by the view. It never got old, and was just a great, constant visual reminder that we were somewhere Different and Special.
I also can't think of Asheville without thinking about beer. Delicious, weird, sometimes wild craft beers. This time we visited the new and impressively tenacious Wicked Weed taproom – I tried the French Toast Stout, and Micah had the Freak of Nature IPA. We will definitely return there on any future Asheville trips. They happened to be releasing their first bottled beer the weekend we were there, and we were blown away by seeing a hundreds-long line of people waiting hours to simply purchase bottles. I'll love any city that obsessively supports their breweries like that.
We also chilled out at Green Man Brewing, and Asheville Brewing Company. Last time, we hit up Wedge Brewery and Highland Brewing Company... and I can't wait to see where we'll end up next time.
March 5, 2014
Above: the top three photos are from Oddfellows, the bottom three are from Screen Door.
We hit up a few antique malls/stores in Asheville last weekend: Oddfellows, Antique Tobacco Barn, and Screen Door. My favorites were Oddfellows and Screen Door; they seemed more carefully curated, and had more of a mid-century focus. Micah liked Antique Tobacco Barn for the exact opposite reasons: it's literally a huge, sprawling warehouse full of barely organized old stuff. We had fun wandering around all three though - it was also a great way to talk about our tastes, and compare notes on how we see our home being furnished and decorated in the near / moderate future.
I fell in love with a few oversized educational posters, and a pointy-legged chair or two. Micah found some fun emergency water cans (I'm getting serious Dharma Initiative vibes from those), and we ended up buying this little reference book. I love the idea of buying non-tourist-y souvenirs from our trips, like books, or natural specimens, or records, or art. I guess we just started our collection!