Friday, May 25, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

it needs meatloaf

green juice for breakfast. pineapple, strawberry, watermelon and KALE!
So, this vegan thing is kicking my butt.  Every time I turn around I'm wanting to eat something with meat or an animal product.  Honey, a little parmesan and fish sauce are nothing compared to my prosciutto break down yesterday in the space between getting home from work and dinner.  Oh, and also?  Yesterday, I could not stop thinking about barbecue and cheesy grits... at breakfast time.  So, I'm taking this vegan challenge with a little caveat. I'm going to try my best, but not punish myself with guilt when I 'cheat'.  The point is to try, and to learn more vegan recipes and you know what?  If I end up at the end of the month having NOT eaten vegan for 30 days, I guarantee I'll still have consumed less meat and less dairy than if I had never tried.  And the vegetable consumption is making me a new woman.  Yesterday, I tallied my vegetable count for the day at 11 servings. What-what!

tasty, but incomplete.

Knowing all of that, it should be no surprise that I sat down with my vegan lunch of sauteed baby zucchini with garlic and rice today and thought to myself, "it needs meatloaf."  Turkey meatloaf (we use this recipe but always add garlic in with the onions), baby zucchini and jasmine rice is one of our favorite meals. I should have known better than to try the meal with a missing component and no substitution.

looks good and green, though!
I added a quarter of an avocado and my dish was transformed. I felt full when I was done, but not quite satisfied. I am not sure if that is because my meal was kind of boring or if it is a mental thing. I'm so used to eating meat and dairy it's entirely possibly that my lack of satisfaction is all in my head. I had a square of sugar free dark chocolate when I was done and that was that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

wild horses

welcome visitors!
wildlife everywhere!
a warning. we didn't see any horses do these things, though.
Assateague National Park has been on my trip list for awhile. Besides wanting to explore the National Parks from coast to coast, this particular park has the allure of wild horses. While we were at the beach several weeks ago (you know, during the whole month of April when I never wrote?), we took a few hours and drove out to the park.  We got lucky because it was National Parks Week (free admission) AND because we saw horses everywhere!

no fees during National Parks Week!
there were several horses chilling on the beach near some campsites.
nap-time: 30!

she needed a backrub.
this fellow may be a horse, but I think you can still describe him as 'emo'.
Horses were definitely a highlight at Assateague, but we saw all kinds of wildlife.  We pulled off on one of the park roads to see a bald eagle snatch something from a marsh and take off.  We saw marine wildlife scooped from the water by rangers giving a demonstration.  And there were several types of birds with which I was unfamiliar.

bald eagle in flight
white heron? egret?
there were clouds of these butterflies.

We enjoyed our Saturday visit so much that we made a visit on Sunday, as well.  We weren't as lucky spotting horses on Sunday, but it was still a beautiful day and we were able to explore another area of the park.

Dave took this photo for us.  I didn't get any photos of Dave and Leslie at Assateague!

so peaceful.

oudoor shower doesn't look so bad... especially when it's on the beach!
Assateague has campsites, and Mark and I discussed going back to camp on the beach. This is just another reason to be excited about the impending summer-- camping is one of the things I have learned to look forward to the most when it comes to seasonal activities.  I am certain we will have a camping adventure at least one weekend this summer!

these look like strawberry flowers

a fresh start for spring

starts are acquired and ready to be planted!

The interspersed cooler weather and rain remind me that while my Texas roots make me think it should be summer already, in the land of four seasons, we are still experiencing spring.  And a good thing, too, because Spring is all about new life and fresh starts after the death of winter.

african blue basil
regular reliable sweet basil
purple ruffles basil

Although it now feels like late spring, it's never too late for a fresh start, so I'm going to be giving myself a month-long fresh start through the fruits of my kitchen!  I am participating in Heather Brueggeman's 30 Day Vegan workshop which begins today.  While I can't claim to be adhering to a vegan diet perfectly, I am trying!  And, I fully anticipate that I will not only learn a lot about redesigning our dinner plate through this workshop, but also that the emphasis on whole foods and plants will help me reset my palate.  The sweets have been a little much for me these past few weeks (although I am happy to report that while I have not made any further progress on my weight loss, I have also maintained the weight I had already lost)!

Today's diet consisted of homemade granola and fresh fruit/veggie juice from the juicer for breakfast, Italian Pane bread from Trader Joe's with some mashed avocado and homemade pesto for lunch, snacks of pistachios and pear sauce, and an awesome version of skinny Thai eggplant curry with jasmine rice.  My vegan slips include honey in the granola (although the next time I make it I will substitute agave nectar), a little parmesan in the pesto, and fish sauce in the curry.  It's not perfect, but it's a much modified diet for a regular meat-eater!  The granola and the pesto were made before the workshop and so we are finishing those up (the pesto was homemade and frozen late last summer- this is the last of it).  The fish sauce was a choice, because I really feel like it makes this curry what it is.

we made this over the weekend from this recipe.  we modified the recipe - no chicken, and a few other things. we did leave in the parmesan :)

I suppose I have high hopes for these 30 days, particularly because I am also still counting my WW points.  Heather's blog has been a delight to follow over the past several years, and I have long admired and been curious about her way of life.  I'm excited to insert a little introspection and further consideration not only in what we eat but how we live our days.  This pairs well with the start of our summer garden-- we've got so many good things going in the ground it deserves it's own post.  We are planting at least three types of basil (so far. I'm still looking for Thai basil).  Here's to the vegan challenge and focusing on sustenance from the ground!

vegan lunch: avocado on bread, sauteed mushrooms, broiled tomatoes and roasted green beans with garlic tahini dressing.

do you know the value of avocado on toast with kosher salt and fresh black pepper? yum. yum.

Friday, May 18, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama

building a blouse, pt. 3

blouse no. 3

I made this several weeks ago, when Mark and I unexpectedly (or at least with less planning than is typical for us) found ourselves in Binghamton for the weekend. We hadn't scheduled our visit that weekend, partially because we were planning a weekend trip the following weekend, and partially because we had just come back from Easter (and have you seen the cost of gas lately?!), but Mark scheduled an important meeting. My parents-in-law were coordinating a 5k that weekend, which we walked together (slowly) on Sunday,  but Saturday I was left with whatever I had grabbed from my sewing stacks on our way out the door.

I worked a little on some older WIP (works in progress), but when my supplies for that ran out, I decided to return to the quest for a perfect summer blouse.  Summer is coming soon, and blouse no. 1 didn't cut it.  Blouse no. 2 is more of a success now than I thought it was when I made it, and after blouse no. 3, I might be going back.

I installed a zipper in a garment without a zipper foot!

In any case, I used New Look pattern 6754, which I picked up at JoAnn's at one of their regular $1.99 pattern sales.  The fabric (while not as cheap) was also a reasonable cost with a coupon.  After I began reading the instructions and cutting out the pieces, I realized I would need a zipper.  Luckily, Mark was headed out to his meeting and agreed to pick up a zipper for me (armed with a swatch of material for color-matching purposes).  He came back from his meeting just time for me to sew it in.  And, it matched!  Good job, hubs.  I now have the confidence needed to send you out to the fabric store again...

this blouse has the same type of arm and neck bindings-- but this blouse has darts!

This pattern was not as simple as blouse no. 2, although this pattern also touted multi-sizing.  There were actually two different pattern pieces for each piece you would cut out-- to accommodate the different sizing.  Unfortunately for me, my sizes spanned both pieces, so I actually had to lay one piece out, mark to a certain point and lay the other piece out and continue marking.  I think the multi-sizing (while necessary for proper fit for me) did not do me any favors in terms of ease of completion in this project.

I was using Leslie's sewing machine (which I may be in love with), and I found that the pieces sewed up together faster and cleaner than on my machine.  She didn't have a zipper foot, so I winged that part (and had to redo it once) but in the end it came out okay!

wearing new blouse with stylish blue skinny belt

The fit of the pattern is a little off for me.  While it fits under the arms and is an acceptable length, the blouse is too wide from seam to seam.  If I were to make this pattern again, I would cut out 1-2" from the middle of the pattern.

back of blouse while on

This blouse is not a complete bust. I love the colors and have a few different other items that match/coordinate well with it (including yellow flip flops with flowers on them that mimic the flowers in the print)!  I like the zipper and feel like I made it well, although the fit is off.  My mission is still incomplete - I think I'll be trying the Wiksten Tova tank next - but I like my new shirt anyway!

Friday, May 11, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama

Thursday, May 10, 2012

a little reorganizing

I'm going to back track a little, since I just emptied my memory card and deposited over a thousand images onto my computer taken over the last month.  There's some good stuff there, folks.  So, I doubt you'll mind indulging me.

Mark and I are preparing to hunker down for another year in our teeny space, much to our disappointment. Every cloud has to have a silver lining, though, so we are taking the opportunity to continue the work we began during Lent by carefully re-considering our things. Just last night I pulled around the furniture in the living room again and listed our sofa on Craigslist.  We've only had it about 8 months (it wasn't new- we bought it used on Craigslist), but our space is constantly cluttered no matter how often we tidy and I'm thinking that if we traded in that huge sofa for shelving space that we'd stop using our love seat as storage (or accumulation, rather).

As part of that constant effort to rearrange and continue to seek the best use of our space and ownership energies, I took some time to rearrange the shelving in our bedroom.  It was a (relatively) quick project and the results were extremely satisfying.

obligatory before photo.
things had gotten really bad. see all those fantastic vintage hand towels? stacked in front of books...
before- the fabric didn't fit on the allotted shelves. 
before- things were really kinda jammed in there...
after- so much tidier!
after- sheets are folded and color coordinated (except for solids)!
after- books have their own shelves, and there are extra shelves for pillow cases and fat quarters.
after- the best part is this basket that I intend to use for scraps and hems.
Our bookshelves have to do triple duty. We use them for books (obviously), storage of sewing and other things, and display for our tchotchkes we might put on tables if we had the space (like the candles up there). In an ideal world, we wouldn't have all those things out on display, gathering dust, making our small space look more cluttered. But, this is what we have to work with, and at least it's looking neat now.

We're redesigning our living room this weekend (Craigslist is my friend) to provide even more shelving and table space for eating, homework-ing (Mark, not me) and sewing (me, not Mark). Maybe if I can find an older photo of how our furniture was arranged before I can do another reveal. Taking photos of the way things are when I am unhappy with it and doing something about it at 2 in the morning is not something I've remembered to do yet, but I doubt last night will be the last time that happens!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

hello, May

So, it appears the entire month of April passed me by. No apologies here, work and life got busy. But I'm back, which means that I haven't failed this blog yet.

We've been up to hand-making at our house since Easter Sunday, but there's much too much to share here in one day. There has been some sewing (another sleeveless top!), lots of cooking (including a granola review sometime soon), and some travel- nothing too far- photos to share.

Be back tomorrow!

sun's already set. more tomorrow!

Friday, May 4, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama