Monday, January 28, 2013

Well Look At That

See that! The kind folks over at LMU Magazine put our picture from the PCT monument up as in their "Alumni Of The Moment" feature. Thanks y'all! Go lions!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Butternut Cookies

We've been on a bit of a cookie bender over here since the holidays.

Yesterday, instead of bolting over to Whole Foods for our daily an afternoon coffee and cookie (they have a cookies-by-the-pound bar which is an absolute danger zone), I opted to bake some and even attempt something healthy.  We have a real life qualifier in our house (most often used while I'm cooking) on whether things are Actually Delicious or Hippie Delicious.  These Butternut Cookies = Actually Delicious.

I've never shared a recipe here before, but what the hell.  Maybe y'all have been on cookie benders too and need to feel the satisfaction that comes from having squash in your cookie. These little gems come from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health (by far and away my favorite cookbook ever).

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups pureed cooked butternut squash (see notes)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil*
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, almonds peanuts or pecans**
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips**
1/2 cup chopped raisins or dried cranberries**
1/2 cup sunflower or chopped pumpkin seeds**

1. In a bowl, mix together the squash, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla
2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
3. Fold flour mixture into the squash mixture until well blended
4. Stir in the nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, seeds, if using
5. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto two large baking sheets, about 18 cookies per pan. Give them room, they spread a bit as they bake***

The dough is super sticky.  I ended up just using my fingers to drop little goops on the baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 375ยบ oven for 10-15 minutes, until slightly browned on the bottom. Use a spatula to move cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in a covered container.

You can use a 12 oz package of frozen winter squash and let it thaw, then puree.  Use whole wheat flour or pastry flour, but not bread flour.

My notes:
*I used coconut oil
**I used mini chocolate chips, walnuts (untoasted), pumpkin seeds (roasted, salted), and dried crans. They are chocked full of stuff and you can use any or all of these... if you don't want/have/like all the extras, use what you like and add more to substitute.
***Mine didn't spread much, so I jammed a whole bunch on the second sheet.

The cookies are cakey and super good, not too sweet.  They're not pretty (and I realize don't photograph too well) but it's taking everything we have not to eat all of them today.  I had two for breakfast with coffee.

Some selling points/words directly from the book: "Guilt-free treats, high in beta-carotene, omega-3s, whole grains and fiber - they passed the test of our kid testers who thought they were really yummy and are hoping to find them often in their lunch boxes ".

Enjoy! Happy weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

And The Much More Important Holiday This Week

Monday I found my mind wandering to the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument, the words that surrounded us there and the great man that said them.  I took this picture at the monument in D.C. on a visit in 2011.  The words resinate so deeply.  

MLK day is such an important holiday. I hope that teachers, parents and even us full grown adults use it to educate, think, understand and progress. 

(In the vein of my 'career of humanity', I am happy to report that my application for graduate school has been submitted.  I submitted it Monday night.  Here's hopin'. )

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

National Handwriting Day

I opened my calendar today to realize that it's National Handwriting Day! I was pleased as punch that I'd already handwritten 5 letters this morning with out knowing it.  I'm so festive.  I've been loving mail so much lately, that it seemed right on time (write on time?). 

So, here's your public service announcement: go write a letter, make someone's day. 

Some of my favorite cards from around the web: onetwothreefourfive and for just the right occasion, six.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Walkin' And Talkin'

Our little neighborhood here in Wilmington has a wonderful park running right through it.  We walk or run through it often and feel lucky to live by what feels like the woods.  Here are some pictures we took a few weeks ago and a few thoughts on our transition...

All in all, this has been a big transition for us.  And there are so many layers to it.  We're coming off of the most exciting 15 months ever and it would be hard to transition to living anywhere.  We're in a new town were we don't know many people.  Trav has started his new job and things are going quite well, but it's the first time... well... ever... that he's the busy one and I am not.  He tries to surf often and works in his studio daily, making art and trying new things. There is spray paint, wood, paint brush, photography and pencil wielding daily. It's funny because I love being busy and he doesn't love it.  I like having meetings and plans and tasks and work and activities.  I like to juggle. Of course, I could fill my time with all kinds of things, but have you noticed that it's hard to create structure when you have none? That's where I'm at.  

This transition and getting settled and a new job and new place also means that for the first time in 15 months we're not doing everything together.  And it's a little strange.  We have to get re-acquainted to individual schedules. 

And well, the job market is tough here.  I'm pouring over the internet daily, writing and rewriting cover letters.  Next week, I'm taking to the streets armed with a stack of resumes.  I'm also going to approach some volunteer opportunities with hopes of serving my new community and making connections.  I'll let you know how it goes.  

There are days that I miss San Francisco and our old life there so much it makes me nuts.  I miss our friends and community, the city streets and parks and hustle and bustle.  I found a Muni bus ticket in my raincoat pocket the other day and almost keeled over in nostalgia.  I then tucked it back into the pocket to find another day.  There are also days that I miss the trail so much it makes me nuts.  I miss quiet mornings in the tent, fresh air and wide open space.  I daydream about our hiker friends and lunches sitting in the dirt, laughing and resting with our socks off.  I long for the simplicity. The challenge.  And the glory of getting to camp at the end of the day.  

Of course, there have been some fun, exciting highlights in our new locale. Because Trav teaches at night, I have been whipping up all kinds of dinners on my own, trying new things and sometimes making a giant mess in the process. (I then like to clean it all up so I look cool and on top of it when he rolls in.)  It's been an enjoyable task to get our house together, to build a cozy little space filled with things we love.  I also spend a good amount of time planning future adventures in my head (and with help of internet research).  This state offers so many fun places to visit and explore, and I love thinking about the possibilities. 

It's a lot of change and transition. And most predominately there is still the thrilling sense of newness.  We have a fresh start.  Room to build and explore. Which is awesome.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

For a little stretch here, we've been enjoying some serious mail and package goodness.  There is just something so distinct and satisfying about getting paper mail.

Letter-wise, yesterday was golden.  A letter from Cookie, a PCT friend, who I've got a pen-pal-ship going with.  (I also have a solid pen-pal-ship going with Garilicte and always look forward to his next letter. Remember when he guest blogged for me?).  A postcard from Cousin Greta, on vacation in Hawaii. A letter from Jen, who lives in Hawaii. A package from Aunt Tam, with some sweet little gifts and new music. A package from the best mother in law ever with goodies acquired on our trip up North.

I've also had these special cards on the mantle for a week or so. From Meg, Jamie and Wendy. 

Yesterday my mirror made it's way home.  I bought this Mexican tile mirror on the street in Oakland right after moving into my first place in San Francisco.  I remember the feeling I had after bringing it home and hanging it up. Arranging all of my special things around it. I felt like, oh I don't know, like I wanted to throw my beret into the air... So, when we left SF in 2011 I asked Ginger to hold on to my mirror for me until we were settled. Once we got all moved in, I asked her to send it and she obliged.  She also sent with it one of the notes pictured above and a reading about front porches. I was so thrilled when it arrived.  To hang it up and arrange some of our special things around it. 

And, as part of my Secret Santa gift, a beautiful copy of The Little Prince arrived from Hayley. For all the love, hope and starry night skies...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Inspiration From Italy

From National Geographic

Last weekend I got an email from a former Outward Bound student of mine. This student was one of the most remarkable teenagers I met, and let me tell you here and now, I met a lot teenagers...

But in the sea of teens, which can be some pretty rough waters, this one is a GEM.

Born and raised in SF, she has now ventured off to Italy to study for nine months.  Alone.  She's had some sad and difficult life and family experiences, but has grown into one of the best, brightest, and bravest young women around.  I am so inspired by her and the courage it takes to be a teenager in another country.  Taking Italian lessons and working on service projects with Rotary Club, she is keeping busy and traveling often with her host family. She, and two other American students, even cooked Thanksgiving for their host families.  It was the first time she'd ever cooked a full Thanksgiving meal and it was important to her to share this American tradition.

I loved working for Outward Bound.  I loved the long days I spent hiking behind a group of students, with their dirty hair, crazy stories and slang.  I was never more in-tune with pop culture than my days in the woods with students. Which is a hilarious paradox. Anyway.  I think about the long dinners, sitting on the ground, eating spaghetti with spoons,  recapping the days adventures. Laughing or breaking up arguments or telling stories.  All of it (at the time I might have said most of it) was meaningful and wonderful and nuts.  Getting this email from this student sent my mind racing with inspiration and nostalgia.

I've been mulling over some resolutions this week, what with the new year and all.  Hearing from her in Italy reminded me not of *things* I want to do or maintain, but the way I want to *feel* while doing and maintaining. Maintaining a sense of courage and independence, a solid commitment to self reliance.  It's little things.  It's not avoiding asking for help. It's simply doing things on my own accord.  A simple (and somewhat trivial) example: I quit Facebook a few weeks ago which means sitting down and making phone calls or writing letters.  Not relying on FB to carry on my relationships. Self reliance/relaying on myself.

Just some thoughts for y'all today as I, honestly, try to figure out what to do with/how to maintain this blog.

All's well here in Wilmington.  We've had some visitors saying with us, which has been good times. Trav's prepping for his first day at work Monday, and I am up to my eyeballs in resumes, cover letters, and personal statements. To maintain sanity, every now and then I watch Seinfeld clips on YouTube.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Twenty Thirteen

2012 has been the most incredible year of my life, so I have to say it was sad to see the sun set on our epic year.  But the sunrise of 2013 brings so much promise.  We've learned so much. Grown so much. Seen so much. Done so much. There is nothing for us now but forward momentum.  So bring on the sun, 2013.

Photo from PCT in Oregon.  Look back here.