Sunday, August 29, 2010

If Walls Could Talk

If our living room walls could talk they would tell you of the eternal jumble of stuff, carefully edited from evidence with framing and shallow depth of field. A jumble that re-emerges moments after it is cleared; an onus like Sisyphus rolling his ball.

If my newly declared *office* walls could talk they would tell you how happy they are with a generously donated desk, large enough to house all the accouterments of working from home. Glad for the relief their owner feels at the sheer beauty of a space to herself (and a door with a lock).

If the hall bathroom walls could speak they would tell you that the toilet desperately needs scrubbing.

If the walls that house the sons' of the home could talk they would boast of the honor of guarding small sweaty boys that dream sleep under their protection all night, every night.

If the kitchen walls could talk they would rave about the wonderful food that they host... then rant about the dirty windows and the non-functioning stove that can only broil things.

If the walls of his wood shop could talk they would tell you of vigilant organization, the sultry smell of tung oil and wood and hope. So much hope.

If my shower walls could talk they would marvel at the delight of a warm evening shower when 3 days ago it would have been ludicrous in the 100 degree heat. Then they would marvel at the unkind thoughts their humans have for their unclad bodies, bodies that house them and harmonize them with such loyalty.

Our bedroom walls do not talk here ... the only thing they will say is that they are glad their residents have decided to reclaim said walls from boy snack crumbs and hemorrhaging piles of laundry. Glad indeed.

Home = Heart = Love = Me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Eating 2010

The late summer heating slamming us is sapping my will to do a lot of things. I am not quite done with New York (truth is I will never be done with NY) but I am taking a little break from that vein of posts. I am trying to focus on the things that I am actually doing, which is really not much. As the heat churns on I find no impetus to knit or craft or clean (or work, ooooh, it is hot in some of my patient’s homes without air/con). But I have been cooking.
garden gives
summer basil veg pasta

Over the years I have posted my favorite summer recipes in one place and this year will be no exception. I know some of the world has already plunged into Fall but I will leave these for my Aussie friends who are approaching their warm weather soon. Or for the Southern Californians that can anticipate another two months of this heat. Each of these has been made multiple times around here and if you have read my food posting before you will know that I do not actually give recipes. I am a lazy and experimental cook and therefore rarely follow anything rote. Rather I try it and then find my own way to prepare each dish.

These three recipes happen to be vegetarian as we just have been eating a lot less meat around here. They are ::

* Homemade Falafel and Tahini sauce
* Simple Basil sauce with Browned Mushrooms and Pasta
* Fiery Green Curry

So First :: Falafel. Do not be intimidated by this, it is super easy. Having said that, you do need a few essential items to prepare this successfully. 1) A food processor. 2) Dried chickpeas 3) Fresh and dried herbs – fresh cilantro and parsley and dried cumin and coriander powder.
Going green

If you do not have these things you are better served buying the box of falafel powder (well, not really; I recommend to get the above things as this recipe will blow your mind).

So, first soak 1-2 cups chickpeas in water overnight in the fridge. Next day, drain and add 1 bunch each chopped cilantro and parsley, 3-5 cloves of garlic (I love the stuff), and 1-2 teaspoons each of cumin and coriander and a healthy dose of sea salt and stir.

Going green
I have a small food processor so I divide the mixture in half and process until it resemble used coffee grounds (appetizing simile, eh?). Then dump into a bowl and form into round balls or flat patties.
Going green

You can deep fry these for maximum goodness but then they lose some health benefit. I tend to fry the flat patties in a pan with a coat of oil. They are delicious either way. I serve these with flatbread or pita, chopped fresh salad and tahini sauce.

Homemade tahini sauce is easy if you procure Tahini paste. This can be found in a can at most stores now. I simply add 1 part tahini paste to 2 parts water, a clove of garlic, fresh lemon juice and lots of salt. Then you use your immersion blender (Oh yeah, another essential item) to make a smooth a creamy dressing. Done and done.

Recipe Deux :: Simple Basil Sauce with Browned mushrooms and Pasta.
Yum, right? This is best made if you have a crazy huge basil plant in your backyard and a ton of mushrooms (from Costco).

First slice all the mushrooms and place in a pan over medium heat. Here is the thing; they will cook, release their juice and look flabby and THEN they start to brown. Leave them there a long time, check them a frequently and per Tim DO NOT STIR them too much.
summer basil veg pasta

As those shrooms cook, prepare your basil sauce. You need the immersion blender for this step.
summer basil veg pasta
Add about 2-3 cups of basil leaves to cup and a few healthy glugs of olive oil, salt and a clove or 2 of garlic (notice a trend here?) and use blender to liquefy it all. A first it will not work and then it will and you will end up with a awesomely green sauce.
summer basil veg pasta

Do not forget to boil water and make pasta somewhere in there. Then add sauce and pasta to the pan and stir and serve with fresh gratings of your favorite hard cheese.
summer basil veg pasta

And Last but certainly not Least is the Fiery Green Curry.

This is my favorite curry; I have had an amazing version from this restaurant in our town (if you are local please try it. Get the curry). And then in Fairhaven, WA I had a wonderful green curry featuring sweet potatoes at this place. I have been making it like a madwoman this summer using a few key ingredients that make it a success (almost) every time.

So, most areas around here have small specialty stores that feature tons of Asian/Filipino goods and ours happens to be called Ho Bihn. There is where I pick up my supplies. You need ::
green curry makings
Green curry in a Can (buy a lot).
Coconut Milk (buy a lot).
Bamboo Shoots (not so much).

Then what I do is chop a ton of vegetables, what ever the garden is giving.
Also you MUST add sweet potatoes. If you only have one, then you can add a regular potato too.
garden bounty
garden beans, cukes and basil
taters and other stuff
The adventurous should try the bamboo shoots, but you have to wash them thoroughly out of the can because they always taste a little funky at first.
bamboo shoots

First sauté the veggies in a LARGE pot until softened, add the potatoes and sauté again until a little soft, add the can of curry (or just half if you cannot stand the Whoop Ass) and sauté until that is all soft and then add TWO cans of coconut milk. TWO. Otherwise it is not the super silky rich taste that I crave. If you go with only one can, sub the liquid with a little stock. Bring this to a simmer, add your softer vegetables like beans and squash, cover and simmer until all of it is cooked through and serve over quinoa or rice.
wa-lah! green curry
If your basil plant is still giving, I chop up a bunch of basil until fine and stir in a minute or two before serving. Oh, and a dash or two of sugar in the pot too, it really brings out the hot and tangy qualities.

I love these recipes so much because they are super cheap, challenge you to use what you have on hand and they taste really really good. Try them and if you do, let me know how it goes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Year of Pennies and Yarns

Traditional 7 Year Marriage Gifts :: Copper and Wool. Appropriate.

Today marks 7 years since the day we were married. 7 years sounds odd, in truth we are fast approaching 16 in total. But, man, that weekend 7 years ago was just spectacular.

This weekend we sat down together and rifled through years of photos and old letters and laughed at the youth and abandon with which we once lived. The years have not taken that away but seeing it in print, seeing the words and ideas and endless amounts of song lyrics written in lieu of letters (ahem. Tim) struck something so deep. It is not often you get to grow up with, marry, then have twins with your best friend.

Today also brought me something in the mail ... a perfect gift for the people that have given up gift giving. I have never been a sucker for flowers, even less so for jewels ... doing the dishes is the way to my heart. This year money tight and time even tighter, we are eschewing stuff for a nice bit of Italian food and a overnight stay at my brother's cute little home which is currently empty.
Present from the Universe
Awwww.... they set this up to greet us at the house. Heart melt.

But today brought me a letter from the Universe and it felt like the best gift ever.
Present from the Universe

Months back when I signed on for the first ever Dream Lab, I wrote this letter to Me from the Omnipotent Universe (but, uh, really from Me, you know). And today it came back and filled me up just as I was feeling a little bit of deflation post-exciting solo trip, a little bit wobbly from the years and the Monday and the heat. The day that I wanted to feel special-er had not hit its stride yet.

I will write out the letter because it makes me happy. Then I suggest you do the same. It is not often we can receive a personalized missive from the Universe, especially right when we need it.

Dear Amiee,

I adore you. I see how hard you work, how big your heart is, how much you love and feel ... And I want yo remind you that it is okay to REST. It's okay to PLAY. It's okay to STOP. Seriously, you are enough just standing still. Did you hear that? You are enough.

I think you are amazing. A precious gift. It's a miracle that you are here.

These are some things I love most about you ::

1. When you move your body you morph into pure beauty.
2. You seek to try new things, make and share, acquire new knowledge because you must.
3. You know how to love and smile and give what you can when you can.

Here are some ways to be kinder to yourself ::

1. When you look in the mirror see the beauty not the bumps.
2. When you are lonely, tell someone.
3. When you miss out know it is for a reason.

This summer you are given permission to ::

1. Go to the beach and make sand castles (check)
2. Work out for yourself every day you can (check)
3. Make stuff for You and not only others (check).

With boundless Love for You and Your Gorgeous Heart,

The Universe.

It is like really good lip balm for the soul.. that letter. And it was a template given as part of the sweet and special Dream Lab, run by the ladies of Mondo Beyondo.

So, only one PSA on this my anniversary day. If you want to feel like this, and do things like this, and dream in bigger and more special ways, ways that make the next 7 and 16 years seem amazing, please check out the Mondo Beyondo course. If you click on the sidebar link, you will be taken to the place where you can try this dreaming on for size. I say this because it quite literally changed my daily life .... urged me to move my inner Self and outer Self. And in the doing of this, it is moving my marriage and my choices and my ideas in directions that feel so so great.

And MCD? You already know how much I love you. So very very much. O

Present from the Universe

P.S. Thank you Mom and Dad and Jim and Carol for the candles and wine and dessert ... you made the special day extra special. And thanks Mama for guiding the card making process. This and this are priceless. xoxo a

Friday, August 20, 2010

Brooklyn Love

It would be remiss of me not to speak of Brooklyn as a huge part of this trip. It is where I stayed for the week, where a lot of good things happened and where I found sanctuary when the wailing rush of Manhattan got to me.

The neighborhood where I stayed felt like an old song that I know how to sing.
clothes hung

Not yet gentrified with just a smattering of wine bars and whole food restaurants mixed in with the corner bakeries and bodegas. Still diverse and open to all with Peurto Ricans/Russians/blacks/whites/Hasidic jumbled up in the streets and homes. It has its own rhythm; where I was just a few stops up from Coney Island. And I loved it so. It is funny how you can slip back into a skin you thought you had forgotten how to wear. And it was a little disconcerting how comfortable I felt once I found my way about.

Brooklyn, she was the recipient of my Hope Notes mission. I first learned about Hope Notes in my Mondo Beyondo class. It is an exercise in signs, in letting the Universe speak a little through a Sharpie pen and a stack of Post-Its. Since then, and especially when I am feeling off my game, I try to have my supplies on hand to leave little notes behind to be found by someone who might need to hear them.

The first day I did it in Brooklyn I got caught. I felt clever slipping that little note onto the door of the elevator at my friend's building.
Elevator Love
Then I, ah, forgot something upstairs on the 7th floor so I had to ride all the way back up. With this guy who got on at the 1st floor.
Not sure
Who read the note from behind me and I think whispered, "What the hell". His face was too good not to photograph.

But the second go round felt much more successful. The day before I left I wandered off the F train through the streets looking for good opportunities. It sounds weird but they seem to present themselves.

The train stop at Ditmas... an old elevated platform with wood grain and shadows abounding...
F train @Ditmas
F train @Ditmas
F train @Ditmas

An open door waiting for someone to come home...
open door
open door

A school bus waiting to pick up a load of lovely little people...

But then the Universe started throwing signs at me and it freaked me out a little bit. As I left the train station on this, the day before I was to leave New York, I glanced at the ground and found a sticker with my child's name on it...
universe says go home
Yep, that is his name. I laid down on the ground to take this picture, that is how much I wanted to see him.

Then as I walked down the street, approaching my destination (which happened to be an air-conditioned apartment which I was pretty desperate to reach by that time) I was cut off by an ambulette that stopped in my path to unload a passenger. Here is what cut me off...
2nd mesage from Universe

So I took it as the Universe telling me I better get my ass home as there were some people who needed me more than Brooklyn needed hope notes. I heard you, O'Universe of wonderful signs.
(This kid was running fast down the street...he just looked so free and happy. Be-zeep.)

As a last note, I always feel weird when I do not have the twin thing happen with basically everything in life (when it comes to them) so I was antsy to find something to do with Owen. Later that night I sat on the fire escape looking out at the street below, the Brooklyn street so different than the City.
Brooklyn night

I always used to sit out on my fire escape because just a few hours inside make me feel a little breathless; even more so now 12 years later and 7 floors up. I looked up at the building across from me. And here is where I let you in on the crazy that is my brain...

I was looking at two windows with keystone accents. You know what a keystone is, right? The mark of a good mason. And centered right between the two keystones was a big white round O. The whole time my boys were with me, watching me from across the street.
brooklyn night

Yes, it was good to find that part of Me that feels like she has not breathed for years and years. Yes, there were moments when I felt sweet relief to be sitting listening to loud music while scrolling through Twitter without any small persons demanding attention. Yes, I feel more whole than I have in a long time.

But, oh, how I felt dismembered at times during that week. And the Universe, well, she was just reminding me that I am not.

* and just to be totally clear, I scroll through Twitter and listen to loud music all the time at home it is just that the banshees like to interrupt that action. A lot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Sound of The City

You would think from all the previous posts that my trip to NYC was all about Blogher. It really wasn't, just 3 of 7 days were spent traveling to and from the Hilton in the City. It was the traveling that my trip was really about. That and the sounds of the City.

It all started on the plane ride out when two funky cool kids sat down next to me for the cross country flight. I noticed him on his Macbook playing with Flickr and Twitter and was intrigued. We eventually talked for a few minutes and he invited me to see him play with his counterpart Sam. Friday night in the Lower East Side, my old neighborhood. It seemed like a good way to get back down there and he left me with a CD to check out.

I think I listened to it 10 times Thursday morning while trying to screw up the courage to venture out into the City... it was that good to me (and the City seemed that foreign). His name is Jim Hanft and he sings with Samantha Yonack and they really do make some alchemical magic up on stage.
Good Music
Jim and Sam

It was really really good. The show was intimate and lovely and I am sad because they are headed to Sweden to record their next album. But I am happy because that means more of his music and an eventual return to L.A. where I can hear them again.

And then they were followed by a female Tom Waits/sex bomb who played some rocking good tunes with her Daddy playing harmonica and mandolin and an upright bassist named Ben who is a new Daddy himself.
Juliana Haltigan
They are Julia Haltigan and the Hooligans and they are NY based and you can find out more about her here. Her voice kills it.

So the music part fell into place and then I started looking for it everywhere.
Street side
Street side
Street side

There was just so much of it around; the street drummers and the African dance class I took in Chelsea, the people all around with their ear buds, insulated from the screeching of the city, the Mason Jennings I silently mouthed words to on the train. It was a balm and gift that I totally did not expect from this trip.

And the traveling? Ah, the trains.
F Train
F train
Waiting for the F
(This is my scowling subway look waiting for the F train)

I spent half my trip on the subway, not the most pleasant of places when the city is steaming. If the outside temp is 95 you can safely jack up the underground temp 20 degrees or so and add some smells and have the Metro transit in summer. I rarely rode the trains when I lived in the City, preferring the totally free option of walking. But this time I was way out in Brooklyn and the places I needed to be were a good 45 minute train ride in and the cars are air-conditioned so I spent a lot of time there. I actually liked it for the first 6 days. It is a great place to people watch.

On the 7th day I had a nightmare train day where we got stuck on a bridge for awhile, then underground for a longer while, then my train went express to 125th when I needed to get off at 72nd and then the train down took forever and stopped totally get the idea. A 45 minute ride turned into 2 hours during which I felt like I would have a panic attack and I was done. Which was perfect because so was my 7 day Metro card. It cost 27 bucks and got me to every corner of NYC. I don't think you could catch a cab from the L.E.S. back to the Hilton for that price.

And how did the music and the train meet? A few times...

In the form of a gypsy seeking some coin...

And another time in the chanteur of the sax (right there at 42nd Street where I thought all the magic had gone)...

Ah, New York. You are making me miss you now. At least I brought a bit of you home in my Itunes.

My L.E.S. solo night on Flickr.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Words ARE Power

I mentioned that I had an opportunity to meet Karen Walrond. She photoblogs at Chookooloonks and uses it for much more than photos. I first found her because of Andrea Scher from Superhero Journal. Andrea is my personal dreaming Muse, an example of a person dreaming in action and sharing it every step of the way. I love this group of blogging women for their ability to harness and share their energy and I find endless inspiration in their message.

When I realized Karen was at the conference I got a little giddy and nervous. She happened to be part of the Friday night Gala event, a interactive party with stations for people to participate in the art showing. I love stuff like that, when we as viewer are drawn deeper into the experience via sharing. Karen was writing messages on the arms and necks and hands of women and I slipped into line to wait.
Karen paints

I was not having a good day. Bad hangover + city dwelling + nerves = Not so great. There was a woman in line ahead of me and I remember thinking I have to talk to someone or I am going to start sobbing (thanks to the Keynote, I had already released the floodgates). I asked her if I could take her picture while Karen wrote on her and she was lovely and said yes.

Dana is Beautiful

Her name is Dana, I discovered she has twins plus two more and I know now she is my friend for life and that it was no accident that I turned to her. She blogs at FeastafterFamine and absolutely shone under Karen's hand.

this is joy
dana and karen

Then it was my turn and I got the hug I so desperately needed but when Karen asked me what I wanted on me I could only think....Shit, I am going to start crying. shit shit shit. Her energy is beyond and it was like a embrace from my mom and I could not find words.

Then she asked me what I like to do, what I am and I said .... "I make things". And that is what we went with. And by the last letter, I somehow felt better.

My turn
My turn

I had been telling people all day who had no idea what I do, where I blog, or who I am about my online space. I always just ended up saying, "Ah, I make a lot of stuff". Articulate, I know. But it was articulate when it was placed on my arm.

Rosie the Riveter

I did not stay much longer at the Gala. I grabbed a few more shots of the art and places that were set up so lovingly for us.

The Gala

Katie loves U2

Bloggess types

Kate makes her Magic

And then I scooted to the lobby to catch the train downtown. But before I was out I ran into Dana by the exit doors and we had a few more minutes to find that connection and acknowledge that we are part of the same tribe, I felt it click in my heart when the words " twins garden tribe cameras " tumbled out of both of our mouths.

And then I went back to my old neighborhood, my old apartment at 151 Ridge Street below Houston between B and C and I marveled at the gentrification of a place I once called home.

Ridge Street

Ridge Street

Me @ Ridge Street

But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

(Just realized my one week in NYC has given me fodder for weeks and weeks of blogs posts.... sweet).

P.S :: If you have time please follow the link to the Community Keynight blog posts. They are literally stunningly breathtakingly good.

P.P.S :: The full Flickr set is HERE for Blogher10 FRiday.