Monday, May 22, 2017

rocking chairs

There's still much decorating to do, plus the porch needs to be painted, but Robert and I splurged and bought the rockers we've always wanted.

The other morning he put one of them together and I happily claimed it and was almost late for work!

* Yes, that is the cone of shame.  Ella has an ear infection.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Geometric Zen

I just finished another embroidery piece, which is for sale on Etsy:

Friday, May 12, 2017

honored and thrilled

We are pleased to announce that Hannah Jane Weber has won the 2017 Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize for her poem, "...
Posted by Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

And because I work at such a thoughtful library with amazing coworkers, they brought me a cake. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

2 delicious recipes

I finally tried Susan Branch's hot milk cake recipe from A Fine Romance, and it was excellent and very comforting (just like the book).  I made it with Robert in mind, because he likes simple desserts. I wasn't sure I would like it because it has zero chocolate in it.

But I loved it.  And unlike other desserts without chocolate I didn't feel the need to stuff a chunk of dark chocolate in the middle and melt it.  Though Robert thinks an orange hot milk cake would be a delicious experiment the next time I make it... 

Today I tried an amazing recipe that I created on the fly. One of my favorite salads in Kansas City is from a place called Beer Kitchen. The salad has kale, apples, cheddar cheese, pretzel croutons, dried cranberries and raisins with an apple vinaigrette.  It's stellar.  But I never considered making a version of it at home until this morning. 

I usually buy a couple boxes of greens every week for work lunches, mix mayo, pickles and fish (usually tuna or kippers) together and plop it into the box with the greens.  I always buy my greens based on sell date so that I'm not just buying spinach all the time. Every once in awhile I get stuck with kale or arugula, and because it's so bitter I rarely look forward to eating it. So instead of adding some fish to it I dump the bitter greens in a blender with some kefir and bananas to mask the flavor.

Today, I had a small epiphany.  There was one lonely granny smith apple left in the fruit basket, dried prunes and pineapple in the pantry, and freshly shredded cheddar from a meal earlier this week. These things sounded suspiciously like the Beer Kitchen salad.

So I got out the dreaded box of arugula I bought earlier this week, and instead of dumping it in the blender I came up with this recipe:

for the salad:

3 handfuls of arugula (about 1/2 a box)
4 dried prunes chopped finely 
a healthy pinch of dried pineapple chopped finely
1/2 granny smith apple chopped into bite-size chunks
sprinkle of cheddar cheese 

for the dressing:

​1 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil 
pinch of sea salt

for the fancy topping:

a handful of pretzels!

Because I was biking to work I tossed everything into one container (except the pretzels) and hoped it would still be tasty a couple hours later.  The bumpy ride tossed my salad perfectly, and chilling it for a few hours helped, so I'd recommend vigorous shaking and chilling before you eat it ; ).  

When I sat down to enjoy it I discovered something was missing. This is where the handful of pretzels come into play. They were definitely the missing ingredient. With the pretzels thrown in, it became one of the best salads I've ever eaten.

This recipe is sadly missing some protein, but I'm not sure how well chicken or tuna will go with it. Perhaps ham? But today I just grabbed some greek yogurt, ate it separately, and called it good.  

All modesty aside, this was a damn good salad. Better than the one at Beer Kitchen, though it always has a place in my heart. 

Now if only I had some leftover hot milk cake!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

the book smells almost pleasantly like bouillon

I am reading an excellent book, My Life in France by Julia Child. 

There are many stains throughout my copy. 

This strikes me as strangely appropriate because:

1. it's about Julia Child.

2. it's a library book that has been cherished by many people.

3. each page is packed with deliciously detailed food adventures, making it impossible not to feel hungry every second spent reading it. I finally gave up and started carrying around a jar of olives with a fork tucked inside so I can stave off hunger.

4. apparently every person who's read this copy has felt the same way. There are so many stains I eventually grew numb to the filth. 

Interestingly enough, if I flip through the pages really fast, the book smells almost pleasantly like bouillon. 

One person was even kind eccentric enough to let future readers know (sort of) what they ate while reading the book:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

dear so and so, you're not worth the right card. love, jo.

I found this in the book drop today:

Inside was a long rant about a dissatisfactory haircut, and that was it.

I wish I knew who the recipient of the card was, because I would give them a copy of this book:

Friday, May 5, 2017

predator: golden retriever, prey: drive-thru ice cream

One of the best things about life are golden retrievers.

Ella, one of our goldens, would like to add that going for a car ride to get drive-thru ice cream with a best friend is number two on the list.

I haven't posted any of Rachel's awesome assignments over the past year. Mostly because there are so many. She really puts 100% of herself into her schoolwork, especially art and science.  

I love this biology assignment so much I can't help but share it.  

Look at all these cute animals she drew!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

going to meditate... right after I watch Jaws.

When I put up the book, "Just One Thing," on my my library's staff picks wall, I did a double take when I saw the movie next to it. 

But really, it's a perfect book to read after watching Jaws.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

All the Colors Unite

I store all of my thread by color in a storage cart.  In addition to the drawers reserved for each color, I have two other drawers, one for wackadoodle thread that is many colors, and another for leftover thread from projects.  A few months ago, as I made several attempts to close the drawer that holds leftover thread it became apparent that it wasn't going to close.

So I decided to gather up all the threads from recent projects and make this:


I had so much fun making this piece, which is for sale on Etsy, and using up some of my leftover thread.  Like my other zen embroidery projects I randomly selected the colors and relied on repetition to guide me.  I ended up using about 40 different colors, which is the most I've ever used.     

Hopefully it can bring someone as much peace as it gave me to create it!

Monday, May 1, 2017

flipping through the colors of a rainbow

April wasn't a great month of reading...

Thankfully, I did read two gems that I'll share with you. 

The Gardener's Color Palette by Tom Fischer

As someone who knows very little about gardening, I thought this book was very helpful and easy to understand. It's organized rainbow-style and gives information about how much sun, water and light is needed for each flower. 

Also included are color combinations that work well for each flower and a little information about additional care required. For example, poppies are gorgeous, but their foliage disappears as soon as the plant finishes blooming. So maybe this isn't an ideal flower for beginner gardeners like myself. 

This is a great book for any gardener, but especially those of us who are beginner gardeners needing help choosing not just a palette, but one that works best for our yards and lifestyles.

Callings by Dave Isay

Yesterday I finished the latest StoryCorps book, Callings, and loved it.  For those of you who haven’t heard of StoryCorps, it’s “a very simple idea. You make an appointment to bring in anyone you want to honor by listening. When you arrive at the booth you’re met by a StoryCorps facilitator who takes you inside and sits you across a small table from, say, your grandmother. You face one another, a microphone in front of each of you, and for the next forty minutes you ask questions and listen.”

David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, has done a marvelous thing by taking a handful of stories centered around a theme – in this case job stories – and pairing them down to just a few pages.

My favorite people in Callings were Sharon Long, a forensic artist, Storm Reyes, a library assistant whose life was changed by libraries and Al Siedlecki, a science teacher who received a very touching surprise call from a former student.  I loved Callings for all the same reasons I loved other StoryCorps books.  You get a sneak peek into lives that are inspiring, nearly every story is incredibly touching, and if your life is crazy you can just close the book after a story and come back to it whenever you have another free moment.

As much as I love the idea of StoryCorps and am thrilled that so many stories are being recorded, I am partial to the books. Besides preferring books to audio, I also like the brevity of the stories in the books and appreciate the bit of distance the book format gives.  So many of these stories are such an emotional rollercoaster that hearing the conversation with the voices and tears is way too much emotion for me to handle.

After reading Callings, you will want to ask others what they do for a living, about the circumstances that brought them to their line of work, who initiated their interest in that job, and whether they believe it’s their calling.  And just like every other StoryCorps book, this one will change your life and leave you feeling connected to every individual you come across.