July

July 23, 2014

Today has been my Saturday as well as Sunday, though the logistics of time dictate that by “today” I mean yesterday, since I’m technically one hour and fifteen minutes into Monday.  Monday Monday.

I’m still up because, frankly, I never hit the point where I was ready to say goodbye to the “weekend.”  I really didn’t do all the things I needed to do, or wanted to do for that matter.  It’s hard to turn the page on a day that wasn’t long enough.  If this sounds like a vicious cycle, it’s because it is one.  Sometimes the busy part of your life becomes the boring part of your life, and its frenetic stagnancy steals energy and time for anything else.  Variation of “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

I’ll possibly re-read this very blunt post in December and be all like what?!, I have nothing but fond memories for the busy summer season! (hahaha not), but until then.  I’m going to keep on keeping on with killer playlists and inappropriately late painting sessions.

And so this post won’t have been a complete waste of your time, how about a recipe or two?  Or four: I’ve recently paired this almond brown-butter cake with whipped mascarpone and beaaaaaautiful fresh raspberries.  I also had this gateau basque on the menu for bit, with blueberries as the fruit component.  This strawberry buttermilk cake has become a quick go-to lunch dessert staple.  Also, voila: the best pizza crust, in the event that you’re called upon to contribute to a staff family meal–it’s magical and fail proof.

So many other restaurant favorites!  That I’ll get around to sharing at some point.  For now I really just care about the following.

This song, that movie-

The Pixies, mellowed out-

Actually, I did have the pleasure of catching the supermoon–I went for a drive, wound up in Acadia, and joined two nice guys and their tripods on the side of the road for this particular view.  I only had my macro lens, so was unable to get a good shot of the reflection as it was without some tilting etc. but-

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“you! you are a lone reed–” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzBHap2QFAs)

One more,

Other piano favorites!–these two by Yann Tiersen, the first of which I recently repeated at full volume at work, prepping solo on a day off.  Nonstop all day and I think that the meat delivery woman thought I was a bit crazy; she had to shout to say “THIS IS BEAUTIFUL,!” I was like “ISN’T IT THOUGH.?! HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!”

Annnnnnnd it might be time to re-read some Eliot.

Today, and Light

July 10, 2014

Today; today I worked and I worked, and then I left and I drove and I drove until I got so near Biddeford, to Target, that it made no sense for me not to go to Target.  Curtains and a fan, a shopping list formed in between and inside of music that was actually inside of me, more so than every feeling and every thought I’d had previously this day.

I’ve not manually chosen the music on my phone, and somehow the randomness that’s tripped its way there is hardly random.  Out of context yes yet specific and poignant, at a given moment.

Music, traversing time, reverberates not only air waves–but also rides a stream of sub-consciousness that you neglect, though it stays in tune with you.  It keeps up and remembers, and when you hear that song by Cat Stevens, or Rage Against the Machine, or ABBA, your old self says hello.  And you recall the great and the small things that your existence hinged upon, and either recoil or have a joyful resurgence, like of that time you passed the St. Louis arch on a road-trip with your mom and were discussing Cat Stevens, which triggers standing in Barnes and Noble, all the time, Friday nights first half of freshmen year of high school even, until they closed, with mom, choosing CDs to scan and listen to, for hours.  You’d split up and accumulate a huge stack and then share.  (somehow and somewhere along the lines of 8th grade Nirvana became a huge presence, which I think she may have regretted)

And then in the car together, grade through middle school, you’d quiz her on 90’s bands that her older children listened to, too, and regardless of if she knew it was REM or Counting Crows or whatever, it was a dialogue.  And now you have that dialogue with yourself, as you drive to Target on a Wednesday night that’s really your Monday night of a 6 day work week, for the curtains and the fan that you half-way need that will go in your messy living space.

The living space that has u-haul pods in the driveway, a phenomenon of possessions that you don’t necessarily care to deal with; you came home one night last week and were greeted by their orange-ness and then, that is when it hit you that you just didn’t even care.  But sometimes after you’ve been moving for 14 hours, it’s easier to keep moving than it is to sit down.  So you ripped open the velcro and were met with a padlock, which awoke the stress from your inner core that you’d been suppressing all day, and the nerves surged into your head en route to your hands, as you upended every conceivable vessel wherein a set of keys could rest.  They surfaced and you couldn’t not open a damn pod.  And then you couldn’t not bring in the things.  The things.  The things.  So many things.  Five boxes of kitchen things, to be precise, when a single box of sentimental trinkets or books was all you wanted.

You wrote a light-hearted blog post about it in excruciating detail, but passed out from sheer exhaustion before publishing.  This happens a lot actually.

Target.  In the same strip mall as the B’s–Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond, and then there’s the equally catchy Panera, Starbucks, et cetera.  And similarly to how you felt in Tennessee, while also living in a beautiful secluded part of America, it was nice to reunite with the country at large, including the brands people love to hate.  The ones people blame for the downfall of so much.  Not actually going to go there right now–simply…  This.  It’s quite simple.  You walked into the place, thinking you were doing it right, but the glass didn’t open, and suddenly you caught your reflection in the exit doors and despite the huge circles with red slashes through them you saw yourself, and registered what you’d presented to the world.  You were not thinking about presenting yourself to the world this morning; you were practically still asleep and hadn’t retrieved your laundry.  So you’re sporting an inside-out Flour Bakery t-shirt and cargo khakis, and kitchen shoes.  A messy hair situation and altogether it’s a bit of a wake-up call!  You truly have been asleep at the wheel, mis-navigating doors and laundromat hours and what not.  Regardless.  Thankfully Target has clothes, articles that would be better than what you’re currently wearing, but the pods!  You remember the pods!, and really the last thing you need to do is purchase superfluous clothing, things, et cetera.  So why are you there?

A fan, yes, so you won’t might-as-well-have-gone-for-a-run when in fact, you’d only taken a shower.  It got hot.  Kind of.  Maine hot, and in closed spaces, that’s still hot.  Ish.  It’s not bad.

You’re walking the plastic clad aisles in a hurry, because you realize you need to get to the laundromat in Camden by 9:00.  You’re booking it and juggling a million things because you didn’t grab a basket (because you weren’t going to buy many things@!!)  and feeling all kinds of ridiculous when, suddenly, an old couple walking toward you is just beaming.  Just absolutely beaming right at you.  And it’s like, hi, why, and hi? do I know you?  And there’s nothing to do but beam back.  Like hey, we’re just loving Target right now, aren’t we? I’m good, how are you??

It was nice.  Those interactions!  Are crucial!  And are what keep you un-isolated in the world at large.  I think the loneliest thing could be, to not be part of the world at large.

I got home and plugged in the fan and instead of folding laundry, I did what I do every single day.  I lit a candle (I’ve gone through four since I’ve lived here) and put on music, grabbed a bottle of wine and did some yoga.  This is usually an afternoon/early evening ritual, and I missed seeing sun shadows on the walls.  They set a particularly pleasant atmosphere, and I know that while the actual sunset it gorgeous, its beams through the blinds projected onto my walls are equally so, in their own way.

Sunsets.  I kicked my driving photography back into gear today, as I came across one of the best sunsets I’d ever seen.  I even stopped, turned around to get better pictures.  And then did that again.  And then panicked because I needed to get to the laundromat and I was doing laps on route 1 to take pictures of the sunset.  It made the entire trip worth it…as did the music, the old couple, the inspiration at large to be taken and had by the world around you, when you take time to actually see it.

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High school discoveries, that are twice as powerful now (today.) for having been so then-

(when the levee breaks = summer + pressure + heat)

And this.  I fell in love with it in 2012, but it resurrected itself this week.  The first minute thirty or so sounds exactly the way that light looks.  When it’s in and out of focus and too bright, really, to see clearly.  But it’s there and you register the overwhelming pleasantry.

I thought about finding an instrumental version to share, but then realized that the raw petulance going on here is part of its greatness.

Things

June 24, 2014

The thing is, is that no matter what time I go to bed, how I’ll feel the next day hinges so much more on what I did with pre-bedtime time than whatever the clock said.

That’s my lesson learned as a night owl with an opening shift schedule.  It’s no stretch to say that I’m literally exhausted these days, but it couldn’t be further from how I consciously feel (usually. until I hit that air mattress).  Because sleep doesn’t eradicate restlessness as totally as a fulfilling endeavor.  Which brings me to…

The things that make you tick!  The things you brush off as indulgences, or wouldn’t actually spell out on a to-do list, no matter how badly you want to do them.

I didn’t do these things for the first few weeks after I moved, and tonight(!) is the first night I actually opened my paints.  Hence the ensuing 4 hour time lapse, and wee hour bedtime post.

Things! I’ve repeated that vague dumb word to encompass the very tangible activities we do, situations we embrace.  The ‘things’ that keep us rooted and centered in ourselves.  The lights that flicker at the back of your brain when the front grows dull, whether by routine or shade.  The things that give us enough focused energy to lose track of time for awhile.  Favorite things.

These are a few of my recent favorite things.


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chamomile pannacotta! + strawberries + shortbread + candied chamomile flowers–

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Faulkner, despite overwhelming Sewanee nostalgia.  “When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o’ clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” (the sound and the fury)


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sylvan esso still, loudly anywhere and anytime. preferably where/when I can sing along.


brown-butter honey pie + sea salt. one of those sweetheart desserts that strikes you as a real nice, if plain, situation [person].  until you taste the sea salt and like it so much better for the bit of sass.

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laundry,

it is the laziest of errands,
but suddenly you’re there, where
louis armstrong and trumpets
charge the atmosphere
above the rhythmic drum of dryers–
lullabies in rounds, cycles in circuit.

clothes tumble against each other
with reckless abandon; dancing like
popping popcorn, spastic and surprising
motions at large in contained spaces.
the detached somersaulting towel
is especially lovely, if lonely…

an ant crosses the floor in a zig zag,
drunk perhaps
on warmth and cleanliness–

the scent of fabric softeners
is the gentle purple of the sky outside,
backlit by a disappearing sun
the trees are dark against it
as they wave goodbyes

the drier stops.

everything is too vivid then–the small
tasks of people overwhelm the space.
flip flops shuffle loudly, and, there suddenly,
the gum ball machine’s gross colors–!
it is time to go.


seagulls in the morning,

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this song, in the wake of resurfacing thoughts and friendships from high school (and I love that piano)–

gold in the air of summer

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and thick thick paint

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Energy

June 14, 2014

It’s happening! I’m doing it! I’m posting!

Nothing demands instantaneous action like a dying computer (probably false but), and I figure that I’m on a roll after catapulting myself up the ladder to the loft where my charger resides.

Right, so I’ve moved into a cottage!  A small structure with one main room–basically a studio–with a bedroom loft.  It is no less and no more than I’ve ever wanted–it’s perfect.  It’s in the heart of Camden, but has a tree-house feel to it.  There are windows along every wall, though the only thing to be seen through them is green.  No matter the weather, just green.  Which is fantastic because it’s my favorite color (much to my niece’s everlasting surprise–she knows, but I think chooses to believe that I have better taste in the heat of color conversation. pink, for example, is superior).  But! then there’s a skylight above the air mattress, that my landlord (/next door neighbor) has generously supplied.  So, when I wake early early in the morning, the weather is a multi-sensory ordeal.  It’s literally in my face.  I see it, I hear it, I feel it.  Either pattering hello with rain or else inviting me into sunshine.  To be honest, it’s been a rainier and colder summer than I’m used to.  You may find that something worth a condolence or several. But I love it!  How else could this green be so green–the surroundings so verdant.  Rain.  Like now!

I’ve been keeping the skylight open, despite the various guests that find their way inside.  Of the insect variety–wasps specifically.  I’ve never been stung, but at this point kind of want to be.  I figure it’ll either confirm or counter my lack of fear of these creatures, and either course will be a healthy development.  Until then I can just feel lucky.  But luck doesn’t teach you anything.  I had a weird standoff with the first one; we played hide and seek for awhile, until way past my bedtime, and I was at the very height of aggravation when I finally saw it, still, on the wall, above my pillow.  I was armed with a broom (a final weapon decision), and instead of automatically killing it I just.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  They’re insane.  They’re so grotesque and so beautiful.  Powerfully detailed and so very foreign–what is this thing?  I didn’t want to sleep with it so I killed it (Tori Amos was playing, it was creepy–almost necessarily), and then I somehow lost the body.  I know.  How does that happen?  I don’t even know.  I spazzed when I attacked–I really didn’t want to kill it, though I meant to do so firmly and responsibly, and it like semi-lived, I guess, and crawled between floorboards.  I figured it was a goner, but I actually woke up with it in my bed.  Thoroughly alarming, but also, whatever!  That was the first.  There was/is another, buzzing overhead when I woke needlessly early on a day off this week.  I threw covers overhead and went back to sleep.  Consequently I’ve lost it and can’t help but look for it whenever I climb the ladder, increasingly cavalierly.  It’s fine.  If it’s still here, I suppose we’re friends now.

Here!  Maine!  Some of you have inquired as to whether or not I’m still taking pictures.  I am, kind of.  When I can.  It’s not my focus right now.  I’m making breakfast.  And desserts for lunch and dinner.  For an increasingly exciting restaurant–was featured in the Wall Street Journal a few weekends ago!  New England goodness!  So.  There’s lots to do, lots to think about; lots to do and plan on doing.  Always!  Always in motion.  This is what I wanted and didn’t have last year; this has erased the void that I’d previously filled with art.  My spirit is decidedly satiated, though I have to admit that I do miss that corner of my old apartment.  And there are afternoons/evenings after work where all I want to do is open a bottle of wine and paint on the floor.

It’s important, I’ve realized, to recognize the marriage between need and want to a certain degree.  It’s hard when you enjoy what you do for a living, for then, what you must do is also what you want to do.  And it’s hard to stop doing what you want to do, even if you need to rest.  Almost especially if you need to rest.  And then, time off isn’t really time off–work masquerading as fun, or fun masquerading as work will always be on your mind.  So instead of being perpetually carefree, you’re actually the opposite–the wheels of work will spin nonstop.  And even if and even though it’s enjoyable, it’s overwhelming.  I’m really good at overwhelming.  Like, really really good.  I do it to myself and to other people on a daily basis, possibly even you! right now with this weird post.

There’s so much! So much that’s happened that would have spurred long and numerous posts but months before.  I’ve thought about posting several times, specifically about my favorite desserts that I’ve concocted.  And some savory excitement breakfast-side.  But that’s a lot of coordination for a tired brain with an early alarm…

The take-aways are these.  These things:  I can’t believe I was  so close to abandoning pastry, the kitchen in general.  I love it.  And I can’t believe I’m here; I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it.  I left work the other night and saw slivers of yellow above mountaintops, the sun’s parting words.  I followed it!  I drove around trying to find a picture to take of it.  I didn’t, but don’t care.  That’s how it is here.  You don’t have to snatch at beautiful opportunities.  There’ll be more, you more know than hope, and everyday is an affirmation of this newfound faith.

Faith; my faith is energy, the give and take between action and consequence, the befuddlement of which comes first.  The good decision or the lucky outcome?  The latter defines the former, but the former dictates the latter.  So, a null question in my mind.  More constructive to think circularly–however vaguely, relatively, it renders an answer–instead of linearly.  Energy recycles, it doesn’t start and stop.  I believe.  Lest I get too intensely pseudo-anything and amateur everything, I’ll stop there.  Happy Friday the 13th and full moon! …which came first?!: the crazy energy or the societal admonition of these mood-swinging factors?!  I certainly knew something was up when I got entrenched (ensnared?) by the darkest of the darkest of Massive Attack the other day.  Powerful song, which seems good in moments of relative weakness.  But not Good.  If you know what I mean…  Hopefully you don’t?

Pictures and music; music and pictures.

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megunticook ascent

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shortcakes! rhubarb compote + whipped mascarpone

 

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foxy moxie

memorial day–argentinian asado (lamb!)

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alfajores!

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loft sans wasp

I don’t have all my furniture and household THINGS shipped and moved in yet.  What I have here is what I brought in my car.  A few kitchen gadgets (like, my ice cream machine bowl but not the actual machine?! what is that all about?!?!), way too many clothes that are fit specifically for a non-Maine summer, and…sigh of relief, my record player.  Recently I’ve been seriously zoning out with Vangelis.  Instrumentals in general, actually.  Aside from the occasional Massive Attack attack.

This is my favorite from Opera Sauvage (Vangelis).  Working 10-ish hours on your feet will make this and the floor, post-yoga, the best thing that has ever happened at the end of a day.  And yeah, I don’t really get the album cover–something to google:

I’ve also been hooked on an old Chieftains album I just bought in Boston, though unfortunately I’ve been unable to find a lot of my favorite songs online.  This though, is just always the best:

And back to the present day–Sylvan Esso‘s debut album.  Is unreal.  A nice way to break the instrumental silence–

Things Fall.

May 15, 2014

Oh geez, do I remember how to do this?

Is there a way to catch up quickly without sounding glib and absurd?  Probably not, and decidedly I don’t care.

I moved to Maine!

This morning I woke up at 5:45.  Got to work at 6:10.  Baked off scones, biscuits, buckles, hand-pies & cookies, cut into the quiche of the day, and assembled breakfast sandwiches.  I planned and prepped weekend dessert ideas, and was off.  I swung by my temporary home, strolled through the beautiful garden by the sea (chock full of planted herbs, vegetables, and fruit–), and then met a friend for an afternoon hike.

This!  All of this goodness is what I found when I wasn’t looking for it.

I’ve struggled with how to put it, how to even begin explaining–not only the past few silent weeks, but the full extent of my decisions and actions this year, which by now has come full circle.  The 2013 merri-go-round kept me spinning for a bit, continuing as a perplexing, dull ache in my psyche.  And then suddenly, as with most moments of clarity, I was blow-drying my hair when the words hit me:  “things fall apart.”

Things fall apart.  The poignant weight and vague familiarity of that phrase have rendered it rather popular in the world at large–I can think of both a book and a song of that title, but to my knowledge, it originates from Yeats‘ poem, The Second Coming.  Terrifying poem, really.  The first stanza is fraught with wonderfully aggressive terms to pull your mind into the same chaotic, “blood-dimmed” tide that’s loosed upon the world, preying specifically upon innocence.  Things fall apart.  Innocence drowns and things fall apart.

I don’t think I’d ever really considered innocence until recently.  Sure, I dabbled with it, conceptually, for a quick minute or two in an 18th century literature class, all in the vein of Blake.  My approach now is different–as in, not relegated to definition by age.  I’m interested in innate innocence.  (I can hardly take that sentence seriously with that alliteration, but seriously:)  I think that innocence is fundamentally beyond the black and white terms dictated by the world today–innocent isn’t just something you are or aren’t.  It’s something you always are, but rarely choose to be.  Clash of innate vs. influenced states of being.

Innocence is purity; it’s being bare in natural light without blemish.  It’s beyond the imperfection of perfection; it is clean, free, peaceful, and personal.

Forever existent, within; too seldom present, without [a person].

Things fell apart last year.  Err, started to.  Unlike Yeats’ poem, there were no widening gyres or lost falcons.  There was a tide, of sorts.  I instinctively hit the road before it got higher, and then.  And then!  Instead of falling apart, things fell into place.  Literally, a beautiful new life fell into my lap.

I knew as soon as I got to Maine in early April that I was on the right path.  I’ve never felt so connected with a place, and actually started a blog post on just that subject before my excitement rendered everything ineffable. 

Everyday on the phone, I’d tell my best friend how much I loved wherever I was, and how I could really, like actually LIVE in that place.  “Of course Juju!” she’d say.  “Until tomorrow.”

I laughed with her at my constant over-excitement, but I was adamant that Maine was different.  And then, while joy-riding one day in the Camden/Rockport area, I stopped for coffee at a restaurant that was in need of a pastry chef and…well, here I am, at Salt Water Farm!  Truly more than I could have ever imagined, professionally and personally.  I am so happy to be here, and happy to have met such fascinating acquaintances!

(this!!, too, is right down the street.)

I’m going to cut myself off before I start the hyperbolic gushing, and these pictures do it better justice anyway (ooh but not even!–not even close to depicting how beautiful the light is here; the weather, the feel of the colors–!)

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Oh, yikes, the number of good songs to catch up on.  !

Currently, what started as a 70’s music phase has morphed full scale into an America obsession.  Or addiction, seeing as I cannot stop:

Snickerdoodles!

March 31, 2014

I’ve come to view writing as a chicken vs. egg situation, in terms of ideas vs. time.  Do I write because I have the time, or do I write because I have ideas?  Often I feel like a walking backlog of ideas, over-full of phrases I’ve wanted to use for things I’ve wanted to say, but never get to.  Because their moment passes too quickly, rushed into a million others.  I happen to have the luxury of time tonight, and yet…and yet.  Luxury rarely produces much of anything (least of all inspiration).  Sure, perhaps it’d be a good time to reach into my intellectual archives but…I’ve never liked anything involving a backwards sense of motion.  So.  Instead of catching up on New York or New Haven, I’m pulling up a recipe.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of food blogging–there’s not a continual narrative involved.  It’s episodic, the writing about it therefore conducive to meandering thoughts.  Random, organic ideas.  Thus the elimination of the ideas vs. time dilemma, because the specific source of inspiration (the recipe) is static, and its accompanying thoughts are not tethered to time or place.

(necessarily. there’s always a time and a place.)

Also static: my love for snickerdoodles.  It’s really nice when your favorite thing is also the easiest thing–I’ve made these twice while on my trip, in Huntsville, Alabama and again in DC.  This is one of the first recipes I ever tried, as a sophomore in college, using only a fork and a bowl.  (as I did for every baking endeavor back then.)  Oddly enough, five years of experience later, that’s all I’ve used to make them on this trip.

My original post of this recipe is unbelievably boring so I’m just re-posting the WHOLE ENTIRE THING!

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Snickerdoodles

(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)

Makes about 2 dozen.

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

1/2 t coarse salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

—-

2 t ground cinnamon (although I usually end up with at least a half teaspoon more…)

2 T sugar

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

2) Cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.  Mix in eggs one at a time until well incorporated.  Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

3) Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl.  Shape dough into 1 3/4 inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar.  Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

4) Bake cookies until edges are golden and the tops are just beginning to crack, 10-11 minutes (or 12-15 if you prefer a harder cookie).  Immediately transfer onto a wire rack to cool and enjoy !!!!

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Back in Boston!  Funny to think that I had this blog throughout my entire time here; funny to think that I’ve had this blog for four years.

I’m going to stop there–before I get all sentimental, bordering on downright sappy.  And I should really go to sleep–I felt like I was coming down with something in New Haven, and after two straight days of rain in Boston, this cold is beyond a threat.  I brilliantly walked around in the wet blustery weather all day long, wound up seeking refuge at the downtown movie theater, and shivered throughout the entirety of The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Actually I’m still shivering.

Can’t remember when or where I first heard this song (so much for there always being a time and place–); all I know is that I feel like I’ve won the jackpot every time shuffle throws it at me.  That and it belongs in a movie soundtrack.

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lovely day for a walk in the park! (…)

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actually, it was the perfect day for record shopping in Cambridge.

Food!, DC-PA

March 26, 2014

It’s dawned on me that I should have perhaps narrowed a focus, photography-wise, for the trip.  To provide discipline, as well as a single, specific/thematic collection to come away with.  I’m really good at overwhelming myself, and have a tendency to like everything and want to do everything there is to like and do, and though inherently motivating, this mindset renders me totally distractable and a little awol.  SO.  I guess it’s not too late to choose something.  Something specific that varies from place to place but is inherently the same.

For this post, it’ll be food.  I might just tackle posting my pictures that way.  Sort them by subject, rather than city.  Oh geez I don’t even know–I’m feeling indecisive and ridiculous.

Food.  Has been amazing on this trip.  After seafood and the downright bonanza of pie making in North Carolina, I moved on to DC…where, beyond anything else, food was FUN.  I stayed with a friend of mine that I met at Le Cordon Bleu, so one of the first things out of his mouth was…what should he make for dinner?!  Roasted chicken over root vegetables ended up being the perfect thing for a cold night.  DC WAS SO COLD.  And quiet!  Walking around their neighborhood towards the store that night, I felt like I was living in the lines of my favorite Stevens poem– “it was evening all afternoon.  It was snowing.  And it was going to snow.” (from XIII in Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird)  It didn’t snow until the next day, but the city already had that mute, impenetrable stillness in the sky.  God I love snow.  The calm of it!

The next day, we (my friend, his roommate and I) dragged ourselves out of our hangover haven of homemade waffles and snickerdoodles to go to the Main Avenue Fish Market, which turned me into a kid at the candy store.  I adore seafood–of every kind, prepared every way.  We went with oysters, mussels, and clams destined for a traditional seafood linguine.

Anyway.  It was such a treat (I had to think about that phrase–it seems very un-hip to call anything a “treat”…but it was,) to be amongst the hustle bustle of kitchen prowess again.  No matter what scale or volume–the preparation of food is beautiful.  The raw colors, the fast precise movements, the sound of the knife on the cutting board, etc.

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Baltimore! was centered more on drinking than eating.  So by the time I got into Philadelphia, I was craving health.  And some peace and quiet…there’s nothing easy or convenient about driving or parking in any of these cities.  It had been awhile since I’d had a night alone, and I was frankly kind of excited to turn in early…  This was my attitude while scouring a few “Best of Philly” lists before deciding on The Pub and Kitchen for dinner.  It struck me the right way, as being relaxed and fun.  …maybe too fun of a bar, I kind of had to throw the detox idea out the window.  AND, the address was the same number as my hotel room.  While I don’t necessarily believe in signs, it was totally a sign.  Because everything that followed was weirdly perfect.  My phone died as soon as I sat down at the bar, so I started to pull out my book but…it wasn’t in my bag.  So I had to go to plan C, which was my neglected poetry notebook.  And as I settled into writing and the best beer I’ve had for awhile (Sprecher winter lager), the song I’d been repeating all day came on.  And then the bartender turned it up.  10 minutes of sublime serendipity.

And the food!  Was as colorful as it was delicious, and because I was solo and therefore feeling especially anonymous and bold, I shamelessly took pictures.  (kind of shamelessly, I still like to get public food photography over and done with a minimum of clicks.)  The anonymous feeling fell away once the bartender and I started talking; he asked me about what I was writing–I really might have looked insane because I kept laughing about this or that, alternately staring into space and writing in gushes.  So yeah, great night in Philadelphia.  And I cannot recommend the Pub and Kitchen enough!

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beets + carrots!

AH.  It’s definitely too late to start in with New York.  And this post is already probably too long.  So–it’ll have it’s own.  Signing off with a song I discovered today, and I like it enough to break some rules.  I don’t put stuff on that I haven’t listened to a least one million times, enough to test quality of staying power…and let’s be real, quality means staying power.  But whatever I couldn’t stop with this one–I was in a coffee shop that had a really awful jazz piano going on overhead, and I had to have this full blast in my ears to drown it out.  So, there’s some kind of test.

But really though what has this city done to me?!  I never like pop music this much.  I’m leaving tomorrow for New Haven!  Back on the road means back to shuffle; can’t really wait.  I’ve missed my car, which was safely nestled into a lucky parking spot close to my uncle’s apartment…until I had to move it early yesterday morning for street cleaning.  Overall though, driving in Manhattan hasn’t been that bad.  The street set-up is so easy, it’s really just the other drivers, aggressive pedestrians, and the seeming absence of lanes that’s weird.  I tend to be an assertive driver myself, so…I find it kind of fun.  Before this trip I don’t think I’d have felt that way.  Actually, I’m probably less innately nervous about a lot of things than I was a month ago.  Ah, but so my nerves did spike when I was first driving in and saw a police car (obviously); then I realized I was in a bus lane, and then couldn’t even find a coherent lane to merge into.  (quel clusterf***)  But the beauty of it is that, unlike Prairie Village Kansas, the cops here have better things to do than pounce on innocuous errors.

And then there’s this, a fling from this time last year–staying power:

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