21 December 2009

Home Sweet Home

For my first big cooked meal home, my Mum and I made a huge pot of our favourite vegetarian minestrone soup. This is a staple wintertime recipe in our household, and we alter it continually depending on what's in season and whether or not we want meat. Neither of us can remember where we found the basic recipe, but perhaps it was the newspaper? Anyhow, here are some shots of the lovely heap of produce we put into this pot:

This is why, despite what I say, I love California. Look at these bee-YOO-tee-ful veggies!Clockwise from top left: zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, curly kale, string beans, celery, and spinach.
Even our compost pile is pretty!

The pot filling up with spinach...

Here's our recipe (for this pot--sometimes we add ground hamburger or different veggies)

Minestrone Soup

Chop and add to pot the following:
1 cup onions
1 cup celery
2 cups carrots
2 cups cabbage
1 cup kale
1 cup spinach
1 cup zucchini
1 cup mushrooms
5 cloves garlic
1 cup green beans
1 28-oz can tomatoes
1 49 1/2-oz can vegetable broth
1 15-oz can white beans
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
s&p to taste
Simmer 2-3 hours and serve with a dash of grated Parmesan cheese (or not, if you're vegan!)
And, due to our late start at getting this pot on the stove, we staved off our hunger with a little appetizer of kalamata olive bread and smoked Gouda from our local farmer's market, and a beautiful Cameo apple:

18 December 2009

At JFK--Again.

I am at JFK airport, waiting in the terminal for my flight back home to California to board. If there is one thing in particular that I am rather thankful for right now, it is free WiFi in the jetBlue terminal. Makes my life soooo much happier before a long flight.

I had the lovely fortune today to share a train ride from Bronxville to Grand Central Station with my biggest friend-crush (don't you just love that phrase, "friend-crush"? It's so accurate at a place like Sarah Lawrence where you see all these neat people you wish were your friends) on campus, Emma. We had a wonderful conversation about crafting and cold weather, and played a bout of cat's cradle with the twine wound round my wrist, which delighted me to no end. I though Kevyn and I were the only two people our age who still know how to play cat's cradle! Not the case, to my happy surprise. Anyhow, Emma, if you're out there in the blogosphere, thank you for your company--it was a pleasure.

Still have near an hour before my flight boards, so I'll go dig into my dinner of cranberry Stilton with wheat crackers, radishes and snap peas, and pumpkin seeds. I'm so happy that my cute little reusable snack bags came out so well. The little sailboat print is darling, I think, and they've held up well to washings. Not to mention they're so much more sustainable than Ziploc baggies. Remind me to post pictures sometime...

16 December 2009

Happy Christmas, New York!

Two days from now, I leave New York for 2009. With conference work over with, all my papers and projects turned in, library books returned, and (most of) my household chores finished before I leave, I am just about jumping out of my skin ready to get home for a month of zero obligation. Jamie and I celebrated our holiday together with a "romantic" night out in the city. Here are some photographs of the lovely lights that we saw last night:

Some big fat lights near Rockefeller Square

The Bryant Park Tree... which I may like even more than the Rockefeller one.

The tree at Rockefeller (came from my home Sierras)

Radio City Music Hall...

Saks lights and a bus--

Creepy Saks window display--don't know what they were going for in this ridiculously sparkly animated snowflake tripped-out star thing. WTF mate.

Pretty fresh cuttings on a storefront near St. Patrick's--I love the smell of holiday season. :)

Voted "Best Roof in New York City, 2009" by Jamie. See, she can be mindful--about...roofs...?

I took many pictures of these lovely, colour-changing stars in the mall at Columbus Circle--they are better seen in rapid succession, so that you can see the different colour combinations--but this picture captures it fairly well, I think.

Well, I did my best to record the magic of NYC at Christmas. I hope everyone is "going home" for the holidays soon, and enjoying it as much as I will be. Happy Winter!

09 December 2009

Shameless Plug...

So, I must inform all of my readers that my lovely gentleman friend has likewise started a blog, which will eventually have pictures and information about his art, as well as about his life. I've added him to my blogroll--he's under On Clocks and Transience. There are no pictures or anything yet. but there will be shortly enough. Unfortunately, he has limited internet access where he lives, so they may be a little time in coming. In any case, please check it out once it gets up and running for good. If you like me, you will like him. :) Back to conference work now, but I thought I'd let everyone know.

08 December 2009

New Owl Boots!

I got these in the mail when I got back to the city, and I couldn't be happier with them! Fossil brand owl rain-boots:

They look equally cute with tights and a skirt as they do with jeans, even on my skinny chicken legs.

06 December 2009

Snow Angels

The tyrannical sun has nearly melted the two inches of snow we received last night. I've never been so disappointed to see nice weather in my life.

Last night, with the snow as deep and as pretty as it was, I met up with a few friends and acquaintances for snow-angel-making and a bit of a snowball fight. I love winter so very much. When I come back to New York after break, all will be whited out. I can hardly wait.

I'm off the brunch with Jamie now, while my camera charges for some more pictures of the snow. Happy winter, all...

05 December 2009

Nothing Short of Magic

I was blissfully surprised by the first snowfall of the season this afternoon, while I was bundled up in my room, reading for my conference work. I've seen snow. I've seen it snow. I've even lived in now for short periods of time. But I've never seen a first snow. Nothing on Earth could have kept me from putting on my wool coat and Wellies to take a walk. I put on my big headphones and pumped Amiina's songs "Hilli" and "Sexfaldur" through them as a pretty soundtrack to the season's first bit of white.

It was really difficult to get any of the action on camera, but here's a try:

Here's the view out of my window.

Tomorrow morning there should be a pretty blanket of snow on the big Tudors across the street from my window--I can hardly wait.

The Trees Speak Riddles

Just wanted to let all my faithful readers (ahem) out there know that I've begun a new blog. Frustration with all of the disgustingly sparkly animated ads on my Livejournal account has persuaded me to post all my poetry on a Blogger site. The site is called "The Trees Speak Riddles" and you can reach it through my profile or by clicking the link. Hope it works out for the better. All my final draughts are posted there, and I hope to keep it fairly reasonably updated. Enjoy!

03 December 2009

And the Dreaded Conference Weeks Begin...

Stopped in for a quick lunch between conferences and its coziness on this blustery day felt worthy of a picture:

This is some organic butternut quash soup from my cute little local health food store, a slice of thick wheat bread, and some chunked-up provolone. Those are my cute little s&p shakers there on my laptop.

Almost done with my poetry conference project, a series of poems on quiet things called Tree Songs and a Second Winter, a title I'm raw-ther happy with at this point. All the poetry I've written this semester has finally been put up on my stubborn Livejournal, so please take a gander? Tree Songs isn't up yet, but expect it sometime next week.

Well, must be off to work on my History of Photography conference paper. Twenty pages, due next Friday. Eep. Prayers, zats (and ducks, if Amina is reading this) are all welcome, if anyone has any to spare!

30 November 2009

Leaving Home

A few last-minute chores here in California before I leave on a red-eye tonight for New York City. All of clothes to wash, a skirt to mend, an essay for Art History to finish writing and to print out, embroidery floss to pack up (I daresay I may have discovered a new favourite hobby!), pictures and music to transfer to my Macbook form the family computer (all the Europe pictures and my Decemberists albums somehow missed the summer media transfer), a mix CD to make for my Papa for his guitar students, a set of wonderful Grandparents to visit and say goodbye to, and a lunch to pack. I don't really want to be leaving home, but I comfort myself in knowing that I'll be back in California in three weeks or so. It's going to be a hectic three weeks, too. Conference Weeks have begun.

I wonder if it will snow in New York before I leave.

The beginning of December always makes me feel a little strange and melancholy. I just want to isolate myself with massive quantities of lavender tea and the Sigur Rós () album on repeat. But I have too much to do to do said isolating.

For the record, one of my favourite bloggers has just published a wonderful list of homemade holiday gift tutorials. I plan on using a couple of these this holiday season...

29 November 2009

Pozole Verde (Another Recipe, I know--but I'm a Mad Cooking Fiend)

Last night's dinner was an old home favourite or mine that my mom and I invented by combining some recipes a few years ago. Being from California, Mexican dishes are a staple in the household, and pozole--a pork-hominy soup with fresh veggies--is a favourite this time of year. This a leaner version of the traditional, with chicken breasts instead of ham-hocks, and a little prettier, as all the ingredients are white and green. Especially nice when the cream cheese melts into the broth. :) Also, this recipe easily feeds 6-8 people--but the broth base freezes well! I wish I'd thought to take another picture with the bowls full of all the fixings, but this will have to do--

2 lg cans chicken broth (49-1/2 oz each)
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 lg onions, cut into large chunks
1 lg can (29 oz) yellow or white hominy

chopped green onion
cubed cream cheese
toasted tortilla strips (flour tortillas cut into thin strips and toasted dry in the oven at 400 for five-ten minutes)
green salsa
fresh cilantro
lime wedges

Combine broth, chicken, oregano, cumin seeds, and onions.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Strain broth and return to pot; reserve the chicken, toss out onions and herbs.
Shred or dice the chicken, and return to the pot with the can of hominy.
Heat ten-fifteen more minutes.

We serve all the add-ins in bowls or on a platter on the table and add them directly to individual bowls of the hot soup.

24 November 2009

A Culinary Adventure

Had a quiet day at home today with the Mister, reading and lazing about. We decided to invent a way to use up the excess of persimmons that my family has been receiving from a neighbor with a producing tree (the "hachiya" variety, which are nearly impossible to use unless they are near-rotten) and our results ended up fantastic. Here's our new (and highly successful) recipe...

Persimmon Tilapia on a Salad of Fennel and Fresh Herbs

For the salad:
Roughly chop a head of fennel into fork-manageable pieces, along with a handful of fresh herbs (we used basil, cilantro, and flat-leaf parsley). Toss together and dress very lightly with olive oil.

For the tilapia:
Dress fillets with a little garlic-infused olive oil (or just plain), some lemon zest, a little bit of lemon juice (no more than a half-teaspoon per fillet) and some fresh chopped fennel fronds. Bake at 400° F for about ten minutes, add a couple teaspoons of butter, then bake for five more minutes. We put it under the broiler for two minutes at the end, but this is optional.

For the persimmon sauce:
Start by melting 1 tbs butter in a pan over medium. Add about 1 tsp brown sugar, and let it melt. Add 2 tbs hachiya persimmon flesh (very ripe) and 1 clove minced garlic. Turn the heat down to medium-low to let the garlic soften, and andd a pinch each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper, and a smidgen (maybe 1/2 tsp red-wine vinegar). Let cook down, then add 2-3 tbs white wine (we used a Bogle chardonnay). Finish with 1-2 more tbs of butter.

Lay the tilapia fillets on a bed of the fennel salad, drizzle with the persimmon sauce, and enjoy with some rice and/or crusty bread with a hard white cheese!

20 November 2009

Serendipity in NYC

Well, I've finally made the long journey home to California to spend Thanksgiving with my family, friends and sweetheart. It was a long flight (after a long, networking journey on public transport in NYC and before a long journey home from the San Francisco airport in my parents' car) but so nice to return to my home and eat a long-awaited soft-boiled egg on buttered toast--a small luxury that gains worth with the inaccessibility of a kitchen to in my residence at school. However, before I record my domestic joys, I'd like to mention a wonderful experience I had the night before I left the city.

Thursday night, I attended a fabulous show in the city, at Webster Hall, on the prompting of my favourite blogger, one Mary Catherine Garrison, with whom the opening act was staying for the time being. I'd heard of the Watson Twins before--although I was admittedly unfamiliar with their music--and I'd certainly known about Joshua Radin, the headliner, for many years, so a few lady friends and myself took the train in for the evening to enjoy the music. Although Dana, India, and Annette were newbies to all of the performers' music--and did not share my underlying hope to meet the blogger I'd been following for nearly a year and a half--they became quick fans of both acts, and I have to admit that the show was, in effect, one of the best I'd been to. The Watson Twins were so much fun, and Mr. Radin turned out to be much more of a charismatic charmer than his introspective, moody whisper-rock suggests. Despite the fantastic time I was having with the music itself, my night was made truly special when one of the Watson Twins girls was kind enough to introduce me to Mary Catherine.

I was so excited with the warm response I received from her--reading her blog for so long, I've always felt she was a kindred spirit of sorts, and I was excited that she was so warm and happy to meet me. She looked adorable--but, then again, I always love her taste in la mode. We traded thoughts on the "blogosphere" and haircuts and parted with a hug. Anyone who reads (and likes) my blog should definitely investigate Little Red Fox. She writes about all things artsy, craftsy, domestic, delicious, and vintage--her life is a beautiful one to feel a part of through her blog. I hope to bump into you again, soon, Mary Catherine!

Well, 'tis time once again to don the apron, as I have radishes to pickle and artichoke-crab dip to bake before my dovely arrives from his long journey South to meet me. I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving feast--to be sure, this Holiday is the only dedicated to eating, of which I approve with all high opinions!

18 November 2009


I have, through the wonderful Gourmet magazine website, discovered a food blog unlike any I have ever seen. Check it out for yourself:

Scanwiches Blog

It's just scans of delicious-looking sandwiches. Bizarre and entrancing. Try clicking on one of the photos in order to make it bigger. So worth it.

14 November 2009

Etsy Storque's Ten Ways to Change the World!

1. Decline plastic bags wherever possible.

2. Plant something.

3. Shop locally.

4. Give your change to charity.

5. Try watching less TV.

6. Turn off unnecessary lights.

7. Eat more meals together.

8. Use a mug, not a disposable cup.

9. Buy fair-trade products.

10. Write to someone who inspires you.

The Power of Joseph Campbell

I've been spending what little free time I've had this week watching the Joseph Campbell-Bill Moyers interview, The Power of Myth, and I must say that anyone--ANYONE--who hasn't seen this series already should do so, ASAP. A brilliant and deeply spiritual man who is also a wonderful story-teller and engaging speaker as well. Would that I had been alive to attend Sarah Lawrence while he still taught here. Conference work with him must have been fascinating.

Today is Prospective Students day, and my dorm is on show for them, so I'm just going to keep my door open and read this afternoon whilst they pass in and out on their tours. It's cheerfully wet outside today, so there should be nothing like snuggling up with some more reading, a pot of tea, and some soft piano music. My conference reading is slowly, slowly disappearing, amd I should be able to begin writing my paper soon. Good, good news. :)

I'll try to post a picture later, if I'm out and about with the camera. If not, more soon one way or the other.

08 November 2009

An Image from a Particularly Lovely Sunday...

Reading for my conference project (Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible 1840-1900), one of my saddle oxfords with a cup of herbal tea from the TeaHaus, and the edge of my purple pic-nic blanket. Does it get any better then this for a balmy November afternoon?

Went to see the play that my roomie was in this evening, as well, a beautiful production of The Children's Hour. So tragic and beautiful, and set in the gorgeous 1930's. Sarah Lawrence puts on a wonderful open-stage play. Lauren was wonderful, as well, and it was great to see her on stage. Hats off to the ladies and gentlemen in our theatre department. (Isn't it awful that spell-check doesn't recognize "theatre"?) Not to mention that I never mind an excuse to dress a little more than usual (tonight, in a teal babydoll dress with fine black polka-dots and lace at the sleeves, navy wool trench, black, back-seam stockings, and my dark red patent t-straps). Anyhow, the play was definitely one I'd recommend for someone who wants something tragic--apparently Audrey Hepburn starred in its film adaptation in 1961. Worth checking out? Certainly perhaptual.

Goodnight, all, and off to Hartsdale to the craft store there tomorrow morning. Looking for fabric paint and cherry-printed gingham. Wish me luck.

Happy Birthday, Annette! We MacCrackers Love You!

Today is Good Buddy Annette's birthday, and the girls and I had a night out on the town last night in celebration. Here's a collage of our evening in words and pictures:

Exhibit 1: Massive quantities of Thai food at Aura on 9th Ave. consumed: Tom Ka, a soup of lime and coconut juice with herbs and mushrooms, Pad Thai, lemongrass chicken with green papaya salad, beef salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots of chili, cashew nut chicken, and Thai iced teas and coconut juice. Here are Annette and Dana with the leftovers. They actually had to pull over another table to accommodate all our food. :)

Followed by coffee on Times Square's Red Steps. India provides Dana with her caffeinated sustenance.

My abnormally high body temperature regulates Jamie's abnormally low one. So does my scarf. I look like I'm giving her a power headlock, though.

Bright lights, big city.
India looking like a villain on the subway. Jamie looking pensive. That's Annette's arm in the red.
All of us on the Red Steps in Times Square: me, Annette, India, Dana, and Jamie. I wish Parisa had been there, as well, but she's home in California for her cousin's wedding. Sound familiar? Anyhow, that was our fabulous celebration of Annette's eighteenth in the city (New York is The City for me now. So intensely strange) and we had a lovely time. Happy birthday, my friend!

07 November 2009

Good Morning, Lovely Readers, Whoever You May Be!

Woke up feeling raw-ther optimistic this morning. Got the essential Good Night's Sleep (slept almost ten hours, woot!) and have much much much reading for the weekend--have a formal project proposal due for my Scientific Photography paper due on Thursday--but I've got a fridge brimming with Fage Greek yoghurt and cheap brie and I've been finding new blogs of which I thought I'd give you a quick tour...

wish jar -- the delightful blog of writer and illustrator and guerrilla artist Keri Smith, who is pretty much one of my favourite people in the world. I buy all her books like a mad fiend, and her blog is just as good as they are.

We Love You So -- a Keri Smith recommendation--the blog of Spike Jonze for his production of Where the Wild Things Are. Mainly a collection of the things that inspire him and such. I love the aesthetics of this blog as well.

I'll update with any more that particularly catch my eye, but for now... :) Hope you enjoy as much as I do. It's gotten silly how much I look forward to seeing what these people have to say.

Well, it's breakfast time in Bronxville, so I must be off for yoghurt with honey and dried fruit and nuts on top.

04 November 2009

Most of the Leaves Have Fallen Now

Mornings in November may just be my very favourite things. This morning I rose a little after eight to find the cool sunlight pouring into my East-facing windows and a lilting Debussy piano piece drifting up through the floor from the dance studio on the lower level of MacCracken. There must be a ballet class there on Wednesday mornings--on some mornings it's tribal drums I hear, which are fun, but not as gently awakening as the old piano whose notes tinkle and sway.

The perpetually bored Jamie has asked the perpetually entertained Juli Anna for ideas for things to do (of which she only likes one of every thirty or so :)), and the only thing she's really liked the sound of so far is altering clothing with paint and thread, so we may take a walk into town to visit the Bargain Bin this week, a charity thrift store attached the hospital, to look for appropriately alter-able clothing. I'm going to show her how to make stencils and such. should be a fun crafty time. Speaking of which, I still have a bag of gathered buckeyes, acorns, and autumn leaves that I haven't the faintest idea what to do with. If anyone has a suggestion that is not making jewelry, please let me know? They're too pretty to let rot.

I'm off to my Epics class this morning, and then some marathon poetry writing for my conference with Dennis tomorrow. Oh, Muses, ye shall not forsake me yet!

01 November 2009

A Happy Samhain to All, and to All, a Good Night

Yesterday was Halloween, the overwhelmingly favourite holiday of myself and my peers. The holiday this year was made particularly pleasant by the presence in New York of my own darkling, one Mister Michael Benjamin Herndon. We spent the day at the New York Botanical Gardens, in the Bronx, with a couple of all-garden passes and pic-nic for two. It was a beautiful, mild, drizzly day and we ate a delicious lunch of goat's milk brie, baguette, tortellini salad with cherry tomatoes, and Bartlett pears before we meandered about the garden taking in the phenomenal autumn colours. Here are some photos--

You can see how bleakly beautiful October is here. I wish I could just bottle it up.

And, of course, it simply isn't Halloween without a party or two! My lady friends here on Campus invited me to a party at the Harlem apartment of a friend of theirs, so M. Benjamin and I dressed up (he as a Red Hat Lady, and I as Artemis, the goddess of the hunt) and went with Jamie into the city for the evening. We met Dana, Annette, India, and her boyfriend Nick there and stayed till nearly one before heading back home. Here are more pictures for you:

There's Michael Benjamin as a Red Hat Lady. Stunning, don't you think? I particularly like the post-menopausal whiskers he has going on there...

India and Nick getting sexy with the pizza.

The MacCracken Ladies, from left: Dana, India, me, and Annette. Jamie had already left and Parisa hadn't come along, but with those two, the six of us plan on living together next year.

So that's it! Hope your Halloween was as much fun as mine!

25 October 2009

L'Automne Vive!

Today was the most beautiful autumn day that I have just about ever seen. It was brilliantly sunny and clear, around 65-70 degrees all day--just perfect for a light cardigan--and the colours were all freshened and brightened up from yesterday's rains. I enjoyed some lounging about on the North Lawn, reading The Poetics of Natural History, and feasting on a sack lunch of first-crop California almonds (thank you, Grandpapa and Grandmama!), figs, radishes, clementines, ginger-lemon cookies, and a petite peanut-butter-and-strawberry-peach-jam sandwich. I sipped oolong from the TeaHaus (don't you just love it when you can pay for something entirely in coins? It makes me feel one part starving artist and one part Regency maiden...) and reclined at a pic-nic table to enjoy my reading. I've finished the first essay, on father-and-son naturalist duo John and William Bartram, who lived in the Eastern US during the later half of the eighteenth century. I daresay this book is a fantastic read, and turning out to be a perfect source for my Photography conference paper on scientific illustration and photography.

Anyhow, I must say I indulged myself once again with the foliage through my lens, so here are a few more photographs--

Here's the leftover compost of my lunch:

Overall, a lovely afternoon.

Jamie and I went to see Bright Star at the Bronxville Clearview Cinemas last night. It was an indulgently beautiful film, one which entranced me from the opening close-up of a needle and thread weaving carefully in and out of a sheet of fabric. Bring hankies, ladies (and gentlemen). It's lovely, but tragic...

24 October 2009

Oh Rivulets, Oh Juniper, Oh Dipping Sparrows...

I awoke to a mild, grey morning, with everything all silvered from last night's rains. Seeing as Bronxville is smack dab in the middle of a season's change, I thought I'd take advantage of the cool, wet light this day had to offer me. Here are some of the results of a walk about campus, under the cover of my umbrella, as it began to sprinkle--

And then, the rain began...

I may take advantage of the rainy campus to gather some natural materials for some sort of craft project. My world is swimming with acorns, berries, leaves, and chestnuts presently! In fact, my literature professor gifted each of us with freshly gathered chestnuts yesterday--it's said that they have a bit of magic in them. I plan to drill a hole in mine and string it on a cotton ribbon woven with twine. We'll see how it turns out...

For now, I leave the warmth and comfort of my dorm for another foray into the wet weather. Dear reader, wherever you might be, enjoy your own autumn, and begin your gathering-up for winter-time!

21 October 2009

A Journey of a Thousand Miles...

I spent this last weekend (an extended one, at that) in California for the long-awaited wedding of my cousin Wendy and her fiancé, Chris. It was a beautiful affair in Three Rivers; intimate, simple, classic, and celebratory. This ceremony was not only an exchange of vows for Chris and Wendy, but also the union of a family, with Wendy's eleven-year-old son, Scotty, an integral part of the marriage. We all had a wonderful time, and I was even the recipient of a happy surprise when my own dear one, Michael Benjamin, caught the tossed garter! Don't worry, though, everyone--wedding plans have a few more years ahead of them.

Here are some photos of the happy event:

My family's table...

Michael Benjamin and myself, taken by Scotty...

Max gets his groove on before the ceremony--he does a mean Jerk.

Remembrance table for my Uncle Marc, Wendy's Dad...

Wendy, glowing just after the ceremony...

The cake!

The first dance--and hopefully some adorable ginger babies soon!

The whole wedding was a beautiful success; everyone had a wonderful time, and I've never seen Wendy and Chris so happy. Best of luck to you two, and all my love!