Thursday, September 13, 2012

A post-vacation world

So we are back from our Italy vacation. We were gone for ten days, but it feels like three weeks. Just what you want from a vacation!

What is it that I love about traveling? Honestly, this is not the cool bohemian answer, but I love organizing and planning. I love problem solving and navigating. I also love anything that keeps my mind focused in the present moment. All of these things are required when exploring a new place. This was an often repeated scenario on our trip: walking in circles examining our map every two blocks looking for the exact piazza our friend recommended to find the best tonnarelli cacio e pepe pasta. By the time we finally reached our goal, the feeling of achievement paired with the absolute loveliness of the piazza as well as the divine taste of the pasta was perfection in that moment. That's what I love about traveling.

As we re-enter civilian life back at home, these small things don't mean as much. Going to the farmer's market in Italy was an hour long affair - tasting things, attempting to communicate with vendors, marveling at the beauty of, well, everything. Here, it's a quick swing by Trader Joe's and back - not much thought, planning or marveling. Things can just feel a bit duller - like the colors in Italy were vibrant and amazing and the colors here are muted earth tones.

I don't mean to be negative. I don't want to be negative. I am happy to be home. By the end, we were getting tired of all that planning - packing up to get to train stations, driving in Florence traffic (omigoodness, terrifying!), sleeping in strange beds. Home is good and our life is good. I just want to find a way to make the colors here more vibrant. How do you bring a little vacation back with you? How do you keep that sense of wonder in your everyday life?

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Being newly married (just hit one year!) one of my key observations is that while at times you can feel like one cohesive, glorious, in-sync unit, other times you feel very much separate.

You are separate, but not so much so that you can forget about that glorious unit you want to come back to - and so it becomes a balancing act. This is a nuance that I hadn't fully experienced before we were married, and one I'm still trying to wrap my mind around.

As it so happens, I picked up My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme, the other day. I've been devouring every mouth-watering description so far! The thing that is standing out to me more than her lovely descriptions of Paris and more than the delicious details of her cooking is the relationship with her husband, Paul.

He is everything you would want in a spouse, and everything you would want to be as a spouse. He introduces her to new ideas and places. He rejoices in her successful experiments and quietly endures the failed ones. He engages with the world around them with the same curious enthusiasm as Julia herself. And he encourages her, endlessly encourages her, to continue. He sees that for her to not follow her passion is simply not an option.

There are times when he refers to himself as the "Cordon Bleu Widower" he sees Julia so little. Another time he writes in a letter to his brother how amazing it is to watch her work in the kitchen. He adds, of course, if he wants to see her the only way to do so is by watching her in the kitchen.

I wonder if he ever felt that they were out of balance during those times? I wonder if he ever struggled to give her that endless support? I wonder how they kept that glorious unit (and by all accounts, it was GLORIOUS) afloat and healthy.

While I find Julia Child amazing, inspiring and absolutely lovable beyond words, I'm really inspired by the strong, quiet and loving fortitude that Paul Child seems to exude. It's something that I aspire to in my own relationship.

p.s. We just returned from Italy last night! More to come...

Friday, August 17, 2012


I've really felt the urge to be connecting with people lately. I always feel best when I'm with  my close friends or family and really connecting. Everyone is present, sharing what's happening in their lives and listening intently. There is an easy, relaxing flow of back and forth.

I grew up with a community like that around me all of the time. As a young kid my mother and I* lived upstairs from her best friend, Sharon. Sharon had 5 kids of her own and it was a smorgasbord of fabulous kid fun growing up. My mom's other best friend lived across the street, and there were always parties, pot-lucks and gatherings. Us kids spent most of those gatherings doing serious spy-work, reporting back to command and conducting secret missions to swipe more cookies off the dessert table. We lived in a world that felt fully independent, completely our own for the making and endlessly fun.

It's this kind energy in a group that makes me feel most at peace and happy. Everyone is together and at ease. No one is overbearing or dominating the conversation. People flow in and out of conversations with each other. If there are kids**, they are running around with the collective group's eye on them, but no one parent hovering.

I've always been after this elusive community feeling. In my 20's I started "church shopping." This was not so much because I wanted to find God, but I because I felt like church offered a sense of community that can be so hard to find these days. In college, I loved coming home to the knit shop my mom, aunts and grandmother used to go to. All of the women would sit around the center table, knitting, talking and laughing. Even now, I go to regular yoga classes and yoga retreats to see the same smiling yogi faces and feel a part of a community.

I'm starting to toy with the idea that instead of looking for community and finding it in something else, that maybe I should start creating it myself. I'm not sure what that means or how to do it, but I'm thinking I'll make it my secret mission - perhaps I can enlist some serious young spies to help me out...

*My mother was a single mom, but don't worry, my dad is the bees knees and rocked the whole dad thing entirely. In fact, I have an abundance of amazing parents. More on that another time.
**For the most part, there aren't many kids at my friend gatherings right now, but I have a feeling that is going to change soon and fast!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Me + coffee

I drank a small cup of decaf coffee at work yesterday and felt crazy jumpy. I kept alt + tabbing through all the open programs on my computer, never landing on one decided plan of action.

Coffee and my personality don't mix all that well. This is too bad, really, because I love coffee. I love the cozy, comforting smell. I love how artful it looks, especially those beautiful lattes you get at pretentious coffee shops. There is something relaxing and luxurious about the idea of drinking coffee.

This is not my reality of drinking coffee, however. I get super jittery and so anxious to do something that I can't actually decide on what to do. Therefore I get nothing done which makes me more anxious. I get impatient with co-workers and start cutting them off to get to the point faster. (I generally feel guilty about this snippiness later and curse that gorgeous cup of coffee!) My former roommate used to say she could tell by my emails during the day whether I'd had a cup of coffee.

The funny thing is if I am on vacation these angsty side-effects of coffee disappear. I can drink multiple cups in a day. I can have a fully caffeinated cappuccino after dinner and still sleep. (The explanation for this may be multiple glasses of wine before said cappuccino).

coffee + me + work = jumpy mess
coffee + me + vacation = relaxed lady of luxury

I suppose this is just another reason to look forward to vacation. Italy, here I come!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is it local?

I recently read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. She is a wonderful writer. I've read her fiction but this was the first non-fiction of hers I had read - just as readable and engaging! In this book, she and her family vow to eat only locally for one full year and she documents that experience. It is very inspiring and surprisingly doable.

Now, I'm super focused on buying local when I can. I've started going to the farmer's market on Saturdays. I buy everything I can there and then head to Trader Joe's to pick up the staple items you can't get at the market.

Not only does it feel good to be eating well, but it's also just a fun experience going to the market. It's always packed with people. Everyone seems so happy. The vendors are happy customers are there. The customers are happy they are making good choices. And everyone is outside and chatting! It's an old-fashioned community experience that is so rare these days.

Of course, one must be careful not to go too far with the local thing. Sometimes I fear I'm getting a little too close to this Portlandia sketch. Enjoy!

Friday, July 27, 2012

On repeat

I've been listening to "Heartbeats" by The Knife on repeat for many days. (See YouTube clip from last post to hear it). This rarely happens to me, but when it does I really don't hold back. When I say repeat, I mean repeat - over and over and over and over... Even when I try to move onto another song, I can't! It's compulsive!

But it feels so good to be SO into something that you can't get sick of it. It's such a pure, un-jaded feeling - like how kids are happy to have the same book read to them a million times. They get pure joy out of it every time and want to do it again as soon as they are done. What is that? And why does it go away as we get older?

There are very few things that I can do on repeat like that. One of them is watching the movie Dirty Dancing. I love that movie - really, any dance movie does it for me. There's something about that formulaic movie arc that gets me every time. Anyway, I can and have watched Dirty Dancing multiple times. One of the my favorite memories was after the 36-hour trip home from our honeymoon in Thailand. We were jet-lagged and exhausted. We woke up up early and turned on the TV to find Dirty Dancing playing. We ate frozen pizza in a daze and watched Patrick Swayze do his thing at 10am. It was awesome.

So I am in it with this song right now and loving every minute. Because eventually I know I'm going to be sick of it. The grown-up inside me will finally say, "Enough! Pick another song!" Until then me and my kiddo self are going to keep up this dance party.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have a seriously embarrassing confession to make. I am by no means a reality television fan. In fact, I find it mostly gross and feel icky when I watch it. Somehow, T and I got hooked on The Bachelorette this season. I know, I know - judge away! I'm not proud. However, the guy that won this season is so freakin' cool and adorable and awesome that I've had a silly grin on my face for two days now.

And, honestly, I love that silly grin, and I love the feeling I have because of that silly grin. Yes, The Bachelorette is mostly a ridiculous and brainless show, but thank goodness for the ridiculous sometimes. Last week I had been feeling heavy. There were a lot of heavy things happening around me and in the world and I was feeling it.

So I watch this funny guy charm this beautiful girl and it gives me a little bit of lightness.

I think part of my giddiness is just feeling gratitude, in general. I was single for a long time. If I had watched this show when I was single I would have felt that sad ache of wanting, so badly, to find someone that charming and fun. What makes me all the more giddy watching this show is that all the things I find so attractive and fun about this guy, I have in my husband. Instead of feeling sad about wanting something or someone like that, I feel blissed out because I have my dreamy hunk right here in my house. I already chose him and I got him!!

There's nothing like the feeling of gratitude to make you feel high, to lift you out of that heaviness and make you glow.

Plus there's this awesome YouTube clip of Jef (the winner) with his friends long before being on The Bachelorette. I mean, come on, this has to make you feel good!

Monday, July 23, 2012


My sewing class in fantastic! The woman is a Russian seamstress with a heavy accent. She has all of these intricate stories to help you remember how to do things on the sewing machine. For example, there is an odd story of Pete who lives in the basement and never comes out because he's eating pecans and peanut butter and doing other P things. You have to go down into the basement and ask him to come out and when he doesn't you have to yank him out. In case it's not clear, that's how to thread a bobbin!

Stories like this really help me. It's very childlike, but amazingly clear and simple.

We learned to pivot the fabric to turn corners this week. She described it as planting your tree (the needle) and then dancing around it (pivoting the fabric around the needle). Lovely! At one point my fabric was getting stuck when I was trying to pivot so I raised my hand and said, "I'm having trouble dancing around my tree!"

She also teaches kids to sew, so I think that is where these stories are born. But it just goes to show that what works to engage the minds and imaginations of kids can work the same for adults! Stories add an element of fun and simplicity to our lives.

If only businesses operated in this way - by breaking down the be picture into playful stories that everyone can understand. Life would be so much more fun and clear! My company recently reorganized for the third or fourth time since I've been there. It's never really clear to my why they do these things or what the thought process is. Imagine if the CEO stood up there and explained, "You see, it's like we're planting seeds for a farm. In order for our corn to grow big and tall every year, we need to rotate our crops so that they get new soil."

That's not even that kid-like, but honestly re-orgs suddenly make so much more sense to me!!

Friday, July 20, 2012


We have booked a trip to Italy! I am super excited. We have all of our accommodations booked as well.  We are using for everything. The places look adorable and interesting, and they are significantly cheaper than most hotels. I'm hoping they all work out. I suppose it's a bit more of a risk doing it this way, but could be a huge pay off.

We are flying into Rome and will spend about 3-4 days there. Then we take the train to Florence where we'll only spend a couple of nights. Then we'll rent a car and drive to a Tuscan farmhouse outside of Florence where we'll take a cooking class, explore and relax!

Here are some pics of the places we are staying.

Rome studio

Florence apartment

Tuscan Farmhouse

I'm really excited. Europe means so much to me. I spent a lot of time there in my early 20's and it's a magical place for me. My husband has never been and I can't wait to be there with him and create more magical memories!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I have my first sewing class tonight. I've been curious about learning to sew for a while now. I love to knit, so I figure this is right up my alley. A friend of mine was interested too so we are taking it together. Our projects will be: a pair of pajama pants and two pillows - one with a zipper. I'm really excited. I would love to be able to make simple skirts for myself or dresses.

My aunt sewed her own dress for our wedding and it was stunning. She used a raw silk material. The color was a light minty green. She looked incredible.

She made this dress. Gorgeous.

She was actually the person that married us. I loved that the time she spent sewing that dress together was full of thoughts of our wedding. Like our marriage is sewn right into the fabric of that lovely dress. I feel that way about knitting. I have a friend who is expecting a baby next month, and I just knit her a baby sweater. Really, every stitch of the way you have that new little person in mind. Even if it isn't forefront in your mind, you know that whole time I'm knitting Baby XO a sweater right now. So many things about knitting feel like a meditation to me, I'm curious to see if sewing feels that same way.

That being said, I'm sure my first project, Fashion-Forward Pajama Pants, will not be a practice in meditation. It has the potential to be a practice in hair pulling. But greatness takes time my friends!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


In an effort to wake my sleepy head up with words this morning, I attempted to free write for 10 minutes straight just like we used to have to do in school. In free writing you were supposed to simply write non-stop no matter what. You aren't supposed to stop to correct typos (whoops!) or fix punctuation (come on, it only takes a second!) Even if your mind goes blank you are supposed to write something like My mind is blank. My mind is blank. My mind is blank. over and over.

I have always liked this activity and found it challenging at the same time. My brain tends to be in thinking overdrive most of the time. Doing anything without really putting excessive amount of thought/analysis into it kind of blows my mind. Of course, if something is difficult for you, that's usually an indicator that it's good for you, right? Here are some excerpts from my free writing this morning:

Mind is blank. Mind is blank. I love writing. At least I used to love to write. When I was a kid I re-wrote the story of Cinderella. I bound the book (with scotch tape no less). The best part is on the very last page I had an "About the Author" page with a little drawing of my author photo. I think my mom still has that book. My major rewrite is that Cinderella's father wasn't dead. He had just gone away, but she didn't know it and at the end he comes back realizes what nasty bitches his wife and step-daughters are and gets rid of them. Cinderella and dad live happily ever after! I'm pretty sure I wrote this esteemed novel when my parents were going through their split. What an obvious coping mechanism! Mind is blank. Mind is blank. Mind is blank. Oh! I'm at 9 minutes already! 

I can't tell you the last time I thought of that little book. Another good thing, in theory, about free writing is stuff just comes up which can be very interesting.

In high school, I was the editor of the school newspaper. I was obsessed with my composition class and my composition teacher. In college, I studied journalism and worked on the college paper. I wrote all the time. I think I miss the structure that school or an activity like the newspaper brings. I always had something to write about handed to me or an assignment carefully crafted that I needed to respond to. In the real world, in order to write, you need to pluck something interesting out of thin air! Then you need to write about it in an insightful, intelligent and interesting way that no one else has ever done before. It's daunting.

In some ways, writing is like going to the gym for me. It's hard to get myself there, but once I'm there it's alright. So, I want to get back to the proverbial writing gym. I need to practice and keep it up and create structure for myself. This blog is a good start, but I want to continue to explore.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clean Simply

One of my living simply goals was to figure out how to clean my house without drenching it in toxic chemicals. Most of the time after I clean my bathroom, I've got a headache and my skin smells heavily of bleach which I can't help but think is NOT GOOD! Our forefathers (or more like foremothers) cleaned house without 409, so why can't I? Plus buying cleaning product for the kitchen, bathroom, windows, and dusting can add up at $3-4 a bottle.

So I set out to learn the secrets of my ancestors - a clean house without killing myself (perhaps literally). 

Turns out, this is really the easiest thing ever. I did a quick Google search and found a zillion websites with a zillion different formulas. I picked the All-Purpose cleaner and whipped it up using ingredients I already had in the house in about 5 minutes. No big secret here, no ancient ancestral recipe - just stuff around the house.

Here's what I did and the website I used:

All-Purpose Cleaner Formula
1/2 cup of vinegar
1/4 cup of baking soda
1/2 gallon of water

Instructions: Mix together.

Brilliant, huh? To top it off, baking soda is about $1 and vinegar $2, and you can get multiple batches out of one purchase of these ingredients. Read - CHEAP!

Once I had my new fandangled cleaner, I was inspired to clean my refrigerator (hurrah another benefit of homemade cleaner!). I wish I had taken a picture of the fridge because it was gleaming - sparkling! Since then, I've cleaned the entire stove (pulled off knobs and all). I have to admit when you look closely on the glass front of the oven, there are some streaks, but nothing life-threatening.

 I also don't worry about kneading or rolling out pizza dough directly on my counter since I know there aren't any toxic chemicals that will get absorbed. Some of you might be concerned about germs or, not so much. I'm of the general mind that germs only make your immune system stronger. (Granted, we don't cook meat at our house, and I haven't used the home-cleaner in the bathroom yet. Those bacteria scare me more!)

 All to say that taking a step back and discovering a simple new answer to a daily task feels good. It feels empowering to choose your own method, even if it's as small of a decision as how you will clean your house. When I pull out that spray bottle to wipe down my counter after washing the dishes, I give myself a teeny little pat on the back and feel a bit of pride.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Land of Domestica

I think I'm in a major nesting phase right now. Honestly, it may not be a "phase" so much as a part of me I'm discovering as I enter into my 30's.

I recently read the book Radical Homemakers and was riveted and inspired. I love the idea of simplifying life and really taking joy in the everyday tasks of running a house.

As a life-long learner (a.k.a, uber-geek), I'm finding this new world fascinating. I don't know squat about how to maintain my own indoor herb garden (more on that fiasco another time), or making my own cleaning products or making bread, but I'm learning. And I'm enjoying it! Yes, I know I can go to Trader Joe's and get a perfectly lovely loaf of bread, but what a challenge to try to work it out yourself (still working on it...). And what a thrill it is when you succeed! It really can be the smallest things that give you that feeling of accomplishment.

When I was in my 20's I lived in a small town in France for a year. When I first arrived, I spoke textbook French, which is to say not much. If I had a successful transaction at the bank, then at the post office and then at the grocery, I would come home feeling as if I had conquered the world! I'm finding this new foreign land of domestic skills just as intriguing, challenging and rewarding.

Stay tuned for my most successful project yet later this week.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Bandwagon

I have fallen off the Morning Lemon bandwagon - both the idea of a blog and the actual act of having my lemon water in the morning. This is telling of where I am at this particular moment in my life - that is to say feeling a bit lost. Don't get me wrong. I love my life. I have a fantastic, funny and adorable husband. My friends are incredible people who lift me up and make me laugh. My family inspires me on a daily basis. So what's wrong? Simply put - I still haven't found my path. What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Who will I become, and how do I get there?

 The practice of my morning lemon was so helpful in centering me before my day. Setting aside a few moments in the morning to check-in with me helped get closer to answering these questions. I'm missing that time. I'm noticing that it isn't there, and I'm feeling lost.

 So, time to jump back on the bandwagon. I want to write and this gives me a focus and a forum to write. I want to move forward in my search and this gives me a plan of action. I'm going to begin the morning routine again and keep tabs on my dreaming self and see where she wants to go!

p.s. I made a freudian typo above when typing out "What am I supposed to be doing with my life?" I accidentally wrote "What am I supposed to be doing with my laugh?" and thought it was actually quite profound.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Sci-fi Confession

I have recently come to the realization that I am a science-fiction and fantasy fan. It has never occurred to me to use those words to describe myself. And yet, I don't think I can deny it any longer. My reading list as of late includes The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. My current TV show obsession is The Walking Dead and one of my all-time favorites is BattleStar Galactica.

I love the pure escape you get from these kinds of stories. They really transport you to another world in a way that realistic fiction just doesn't always do. Two of my favorite authors are Richard Russo and John Irving. Their books are touching, thoughtful and utterly human - totally of this world and often depressingly real. I do love reading something that gets right to the core of being human - the sweetness, vulnerability and cruelty of it. But there is something almost like free-falling when you really get into a work of fantasy. The fact that it couldn't happen (at least in my lifetime) and isn't happening anywhere in the world is liberating to me - even if the content of the story is dark and disturbing (hello, zombies eating people's faces off). The fact that there aren't actually zombies eating people's faces off anywhere on this earth right now somehow makes the story not as dark, not as upsetting. It engages my imagination in a purely innocent way. It's like being a kid and being enamored with brave soldiers at war before you really understood how awful war is.

So, that's it folks. I am a science-fiction and fantasy nerd. Bring on the wizards, mutant wolves, zombies and ancient kings with evil advisors! Take me away with you to your wonderfully complex worlds where I don't have to think about how stressful my job is, or that people can be mean and hurtful to each other, or that our planet is slowly warming and being filled with trash. No, I will take a break from this wonderful, but sometimes heavy, world we live in and join the sic-fi geeks. They're onto something!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Zen and The Art of Knitting

I finished knitting a sweater I have been working on for TWO years! Yes, that's right two whole years. To be fair, I wasn't working on it every night for two years. I mostly knit in the winter and even then I have dry spells. In any case, it is finally done and it is lovely! Usually my sweaters turn out a bit wonky, and I never wear them. They hang on me a strangely or the sleeves are bunchy and weird. But I'm really happy with this one and it is super warm. It's a sweater/blanket. In fact, I think the actual name of it in the book is "Cabled Blanket coat".

I was originally intrigued with the idea of knitting while reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I read it in high school and hated it most of the time until the end where I cried my eyes out. It's one book I'm really looking forward to reading again some day. Anyway, Madame DeFarge, one of the villains in the book, is constantly knitting. She encodes names of people the Revolution will kill into her knitting. How badass is that!? I thought that was the coolest idea - communicating through textiles.  All of the women in my step-dad's family knit and so when I was in college I asked them to teach me. (They are kind gentle, ladies and not murderesses, I can assure you). And I've been knitting ever since!

I love knitting for so many reasons, the least of which is actually the final result. Each stitch in and of itself is really plain and simple, but as you build on them they turn into these complex works of art (well, hopefully they do). I've always felt it's kind of meditative. When I am knitting, my brain loses the thread of all the different stories in my head - work, friends, family, future, finances, etc, etc and just goes along… knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl. I wish I could live my life that way - focusing on each of the steps on your path instead of where the path is going, or which path is best, or who else is on that path. I guess you could say knitting is a practice in being present. I have a difficult time staying present so any activity that cultivates that for me, I love.

Of course, knitting isn't always calm and soothing. It can be infuriating when I have to go back and undo a whole section because I screwed something up. I'll put it down for weeks just because I don't want to deal with whatever problem crept its way in. (This probably speaks volumes about how I deal with problems/conflicts in my own life, but we'll save that for another day). After taking some time away, I usually have built up enough patience that I can go back and undo. And sometimes, frankly, the mistake isn't that big of a deal so I push on!

I've heard about Tibetan monks who create these intricate sand paintings that take days or weeks to complete. And, as soon as they complete it, they destroy the whole thing. The point of the practice was the journey not the end product and to show the "impermanence" of life. Knitting doesn't get me to THAT zen of a place. If I had to unravel a sweater every time I completed it, I think I would move onto another hobby. That being said, I have often thought to myself that if I were on a desert island or stranded in the mountains for months or years on end, it would be great to have some yarn and needles that I could knit up, unravel and knit up again. Maybe I'm more zen than I realize!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Classic Brownie

What better way to begin this journey of living simply than cooking up a good 'ol batch of brownies?

I decided to attempt making brownies from scratch for a friend's bridal shower. And, I discovered, making them from scratch isn't that complicated at all. I assumed since box brownies are the norm that homeade brownies must be complex and frustrating. I'm finding there are a lot of foods that I've always purchased at the store when, in reality, they are amazingly simple to make at home.

In fact, I am 31-years-old and never, in my life, do I recall making brownies from anything but a box. We always got a Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker box, added an egg and some oil and voila! While the steps seem simple, I don't think there's anything simple about the ingredients list for these old-school classics.

To be clear, I'm not knocking Betty or Duncan. This was a rare and precious treat at my house growing up. My mom and I would whip up a batch of them and leave them on the counter covered all night. In the morning, I would lean in to take a sniff of that chocolatey-goodness, reach out my grubby little hand to take one for breakfast, expecting to hear a stern "uh-uh, not for breakfast!" Evidently, brownies were a weakness for my mother too. Instead of slapping away my hand, she would reach in and help herself to one of the perfectly chewy morsels. I remember loving that my mom stopped being a parent for those few bites. She couldn't resist the temptation herself and so we were on equal footing giggling like the true chocolate-fiends we were, age be damned!

OK, on with it! Here is the recipe from Cook's Illustrated with some pics I took along the way. Funny thing is I didn't actually get a picture of the FINAL product (whoops!) I'll just have to make them again, won't I?

Enjoy and feel free to indulge again tomorrow morning…


1 cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces), chopped medium (optional) *I didn't do the nuts.
1 1/4 cups plain cake flour (5 ounces) *Evidently the flour should be cake flour. That's important!
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar (15 3/4 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13- by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My first post

So, I've decided to start a blog.

Why? I like the idea of committing to something creative -- exercising that muscle on a regular basis.

Why now? I'm feeling my life shift in a bigger way than it has in years and it feels good to make sense of it and create stability in it through writing. I really want to focus this phase of my life on living simply and not getting caught up in the big job, the big house, and all the big stuff we are told we need! It's an exciting and empowering goal, and I want to document it.

Why Morning Lemon? As a practice in simplicity, I've recently started a morning ritual where I wake up early, take a warm cup of water with lemon and sit by myself for a few minutes. It's the moment I connect with myself before the day begins. I've found that with just those few quiet moments I'm able to take on the day in a stronger way. From this place I feel inspired to explore my life and the world around me!