surprise! i was in knoxville for most of last week. i actually pre-wrote all of my posts before leaving because i wanted to keep you all entertained throughout the week. did you know?
knoxville was pleasantly surprising. to be fair, i had modest expectations heading down there, and our hotel was located in a great part of downtown. we were just across the street from market square, which was full of cute shops & restaurants. cayla recommended a great print shop nearby, and i got some awesome cards and other items there.
twice a year, i coordinate a gathering of folks who support us at each site with the grantmaking and volunteerism programs. in september, they all came to vermont to join us for a couple days of learning and getting to know each other (it was our first live gathering all together). this time, we headed to this warmer climate where our second largest site is located. it was great. i'm lucky that i work with good people- both here in vermont and remotely across the country. we had good conversations about the work we do, enjoyed good meals, and even got out for a two hour volunteer activity at the ijams nature center.
i packed our agenda incredibly tight, and we got through almost everything. but on friday morning i had a little time before departing for the airport, so after a great workout in the tiny fitness center, i walked over to market square to enjoy the morning sun and heat. i returned to my favorite spot that we had dined to pick up a latte & a morning glory muffin and then sat out in the square and relaxed for a bit. it was the perfect ending to a busy week, and start to the weekend!
these two sweet sisters have brought me some serious smiles this week. lex and i have had the most lovely email exchange over the past week. i have too many people who i take for granted, who i love so dearly but keep in touch with so loosely. a quick text or email can make this country (in this case- california) seem so much smaller, and i love that. this morning i'm drinking my coffee and internet perusing while listening to lex's playlists on spotify! i feel like she is on her way over to join me. and kate (lex's twin sister) is actually on her way over to join me! kind of. kate's moving to maine this summer! i literally teared up with joy when i heard this. we used to share the state of colorado, and enjoyed infrequent but delightful visits, hiking trips and shopping dates. i am so excited to have her in the same corner of the country again so we can do all of these things (hello, ocean & freeport & green mountains!) again.
both of these absolutely spectacular photos have surfaced in the last six months. the photographer of each of them is unknown, and they individually capture the unique beauty of these two special places i've called home. they each take my breath away, make me homesick, and expand my heart simultaneously.
Silver-Lined Heart By Taylor Mali (www.taylormali.com) I’m for reckless abandon and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all, like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses! Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between. To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking wet and smiling breathless;
... That’s why I’m for best friends, long drives, and smiles, nothing but the sound of thinking for miles. For the unconditional love of dogs: may we learn the lessons of their love by heart. For therapy when you need it, and poetry when you need it. And the wisdom to know the difference. The solution to every problem usually involves some kind of liquid, even if it’s only Emergency Champagne or running through the sprinkler. Can’t you hear it calling you? I’m for crushes not acted upon, for admiration from afar, for the delicate and the resilient and the fragile human heart, may it always heal stronger than it was before. For walks in the woods, and for the woods themselves, by which I mean the trees. Definitely for the trees. Window seats, and locally brewed beer, and love letters written by hand with fountain pens: I’m for all of these. I’m for evolution more than revolution unless you’re offering some kind of solution. I’m for the courage it takes to volunteer, to say “yes,” “I believe,” and “I will.” For the bright side, the glass half full, the silver lining, and the optimists who consider darkness just a different kind of shining. So don’t waste my time and your curses on verses about what you are against, despise, and abhor. Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you, put your precious pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!
my friend jess shared this article last week and i just loved it. in my life and my blog, i strive for appreciation and enthusiasm of the moments of my life. i hope you like coming here to enjoy those moments and thoughts with me. please do go read this article!
right now i'm reading both "inside of a dog" by alexandra horowitz & "the tiger's wife" by tea obrecht. depending on my mood, one of them gets my few minutes for reading before my heavy eyes close before bed. i'm enjoying them both.
what are you reading these days? what books do you recommend?
one of the best things about our apartment is the wonderful front porch. last summer we didn't spend nearly enough time on it, but this year we are starting out strong. for the second weekend in a row, we had a nice little happy hour on the porch. this week we were joined by jen & al, plus some of the onion river kids. we feasted on local delights and drank ginger beer/vodka/lime cocktails. here's hoping this becomes a frequent way to relish a warm summer night.
my good friend kat has been traveling the world since january. literally. she's an intern on semester at sea and has been visiting the most incredible places while living on a giant boat. just recently she got to ride a yak in tibet. this might be my favorite picture she's shared so far on her journey. isn't it amazing?!
a coworker introduced me to king arthur flour's granola bar recipe last month, and i am loving it. these bars make the perfect mid-day snack and each batch can be different based on what fruits/nuts/treats you throw in. they are super easy. i don't have sticky bun sugar so i have just been mixing up 3/4 c sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and they hold together okay. I omit the 1/3 cup sugar in the recipe then. I also just process oats for the oat flour, and that works fine. Make a batch and let me know what you think!
*So far I've used various combinations of dried cranberries, raisins, chopped pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, chocolate chips and coconut. All delicious.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
1) Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, syrup or honey, and water.
3) Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
4) Spread in the prepared pan, shaking the pan to evenly cover the bottom and patting down gently
5) Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're golden brown around the edges.
6) Remove them from the oven, loosen the edges, and cool for 5 minutes.
7) Use a knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars while they're still warm in the pan. Carefully remove warm bars from the pan, and cool on a rack. Alternatively, remove from the pan before cutting into bars; it helps to cut in half first, then loosen the bottom of each half with a turner/spatula before turning out onto a sheet of parchment to cut into bars.
8) Wrap bars individually to store; or place in a single layer on a plate, and cover with plastic; or store in layers with parchment in between. In humid weather, it's best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
starting the day out with a super hard workout, catching both storycorps and the writer's almanac on npr on my drive, crunchy peanut butter on montpelier-made oatmeal toast, coffee and ingrid michaelson in the background as i work away. it's going to be a great day.
the internet often proves to be a great source of inspiration-- for recipes, fashion, images & words. pinterest is a wonderful way to gather inspiration and to "bookmark" things i enjoy around the internet. i have a recipe page, which i will actually visit as i'm making my grocery list and i have a "words to love" page where i store quotes and visual words that i like to use on the blog. i also have a fashion page, but i rarely seem to put the images i appreciate into action. this morning, i actually used my pins to get dressed!
i saw this image on one of the inspiration blogs i follow. the combo of the stripes & jean jacket, along with the colorful bracelets and watch on one arm appealed to me. i pinned it to pinterest.
a bit later, i went to get dressed. stripes. jean jacket. patterned scarf (my own touch). and while my wrist wear may not be so colorful, i did source the inspiration of actually wearing bracelets on the same wrist as my watch. and i love it.
"how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea... all that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart."
as part of cayla's thesis show, she wanted to have an extravagant, over-the-top, visually appealing cake. her mom & i were tasked with this project, which was both time consuming and adventurous! we spent hours creating a mass of swiss meringue buttercream frosting (23 cups to be exact!), jill spent a night baking cakes that were unsuccessful, and we spent another day creating new cakes & putting the masterpiece together. i had a great time documenting our process.
i've got all sorts of things to catch up on here, but i wanted to start with cayla's mfa thesis art show. it was an installation show titled "give me enough and i'll ask for more." i was fortunate enough to be able to travel to ohio to be present for the opening of her show. it was a whirlwind trip as we were busy baking up decadent treats for the opening, playing with the many visitors, and celebrating! i was so happy to be able to see the life she & jj have created in ohio over the last three years. it was a very exciting week to be there as cayla successfully defended her thesis, learned she was awarded a fulbright to study in india next year, and opened her show! i couldn't be more proud.
yesterday was one of those great days when i felt totally in control of things. the day flowed just right-- starting with a great training session at the gym, enjoying a book on tape both directions of my drive, a productive day of back to back meetings, interspersed with productive bursts of work, immediate action items, good team energy, even an outfit i felt pleased to wear. i got out of the office nearly on time, drove home, changed clothes, and headed out on a quick walk with the pup. dinner was already made (yay leftovers!) so the night was open. we came back for brett and headed over for some quality time with jen, al & OD. i mean, really. totally in control of my time and my day. it was great. i was already writing the blog post in my head of how wonderful it felt to feel on top of my game.
and then. while jenna and i chatted inside as she made dinner, and the boys hung out outside with an evening beer, our furry little friends played in a pile of fertilizer. [insert here the part where we try not to question what was going through the boys' heads when they deemed this an acceptable activity...]. before we knew it, jenna and i were greeted at the door by two soggy and smelly dogs. natural fertilizer = poop. and my goodness, did our little black dog smell like poop. so much so that i had to walk her home in the rain while brett drove his truck home, because there was no way she was riding inside. upon arriving home, i kept her on her leash all the way to the bathroom where brett scrubbed her diligently. after a good dry and plenty of pouting puppy, i deemed her too smelly still, and after dinner back in we went for round two of bathing. my day of feeling so incredibly in control was shattering, and yet the good fortune of the day stuck with me and i managed to laugh (generally) about the ridiculousness of the events and not get too stressed. it was as though the universe was tapping me on the shoulder, chuckling, and reminding me that in fact i don't get to control everything.
"there's something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else's site. it's like visiting a friend's house for a quick meal 'round the breakfast table. it's personal- you're in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. in many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. be welcoming & gracious when you host, and kind & respectful when visiting."