Thursday, July 30, 2015

Canada: The True North

I went on a trip to Canada! three weeks ago.... Better late post than never post, right?

Anyway, so I headed up to Calgary (where I experienced a magical rodeo/fair known as the Calgary Stampede) and then off to Banff for....well, you'll see the pictures below. THAT'S what for. Yes the water really is that turquoise. This is a real place.

Canada was fantastic! I ate ketchup chips! I sat on a chesterfield! I hiked up a mountain to a magical tea house! All good things!

Oh and then maybe I ended the trip with some kind of awful food poisoning/stomach flu, thus delayed my flight 24 hours until I felt well enough to get on a plane, and then spent the next few days in bed either working from home, popping zofran (bless you, nausea medicine), watching Netflix and/or bargaining with God to just take me now dammit. (Vomiting makes me dramatic.)

Canada was gorgeous, and Calgary was very homey. I felt like I could live peacefully on a farm somewhere up there.....except then winter would happen and I'd come crawling back south and west. You know how I do.

And now, los fotos!

Henna, a Canadian tradition. Or something.

Canada, where Christmas trees grow in people's backyards...and everywhere...

Morning view was hard to beat....

Our first stop in Calgary for some classic local burgers/shakes/fries...

Girl fronds...sure do love these faces!

When my body turned to jello on the Calgary Tower glass floor and my friends were really supportive...

And finally, my one true love during my days of illness...

Canada, you're a beaut. Let's do this again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

We need a little Quatro de Julio now!

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. It never disappoints!

My weekend was everything I wanted! Food, friends, fireworks, patriotic apparel. I even had the coveted experience of hanging up red and blue crepe paper streamers at my friend's brunch party! And if there's anything I'm passionate about when it comes to party planning, it's crepe paper streamers. Symmetry is key, kids! That and an appropriate amount of twist. And ARTISTIC VISION.

Anyway. My day was lovely and included just the right balance of socializing and alone time. A patriotic 2-hour nap is where it's at, kids! The day culminated in a cold/clammy boat ride on the bay with a ride under the Golden Gate Bridge and a view of the fireworks......through the fog....ha! Good ol' fog. I wore a long down coat and STILL felt somewhat cold. But that's San Francisco for you! Home of deceptively cold summers on the California coast :)

Oh and of course, my day included my annual 4th of July viewing of The Sandlot. IT'S TRADITION YOU GUYS.

Hope your holiday was good as well, for you American readers! (Oh and don't worry, I celebrated Canada Day a few days before as well....this girl doesn't discriminate! This girl is also going on a trip to Canada verrrry soon so consider that fire fueled.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

"You may say I'm a dreamer..."

There are a hundred things I could say about the events of the past few days.

Gay marriage. SCOTUS. Facebook debates. Rainbow profile pictures. There are a hundred things I could say about my (strong) opinions on this or that sticky point, on what constitutes bigotry or religion oppression or intolerance or logical fallacies or what have you.

But all I feel like doing right now is celebrating.

All I feel like doing is rejoicing and letting the gratitude bleed out of my heart that we are finally here, in one big way. There are more steps to take and more goals to reach, but this one feels momentous. Ever feel like you're born to care about a cause? This is one of mine. And my heart has been so full the last few days. And I've been tempted to jump in on Facebook debates here and there, but mostly I just want to dance in the streets and cry a little and give fist pumps to the sky.

Super lucky to live near SF at a time like this! I went to the Pride parade on Sunday and it warmed my heart. All the signs held up by couples who've been together for decades and finally, FINALLY, are having their day. Finally, finally, marching through a crowd of people who are applauding and cheering and not throwing stones.

My heart is so full. My soul is healed a little bit. What a beautiful time to be alive.

"...but I'm not the only one." John Lennon

Friday, June 19, 2015

Always Stay Rooted

I went to a meditation class earlier this week.

I've never been much for meditation, because....well the long and short of it is that my attention span is dismal, and my body doesn't like to sit still. These are actually the exact reasons my mama homeschooled me for kindergarten and half of first grade. Ha. Some things never change. (But really, those homeschool days of reading books, practicing math, learning to write and watching Shining Time Station may have been the best semesters of my life. I also think I went through a phase where I built villages out of mud in the backyard? Did I dream this? It feels real.)

Wow I rambled way off track. Which I guess proves my point about the dismal attention span. I'M JUST LIVING MY TRUTH

So this meditation thing I attended. It was different than other meditation, because it was less about being still and quieting the mind, and more about love/kindness. I actually think it is technically called "loving kindness meditation." The instructor talked us through various things, from learning to love ourselves by looking at ourselves the way someone who loves us looks at us, to taking positive feelings toward someone we love and directing them at someone we have difficulty with. I liked those parts.

At one point, the instructor said something that stuck with me...

"Always stay rooted."

Honestly, I couldn't tell you what the context of that statement was for her. But it stuck out to me and got me thinking about roots. And planting myself.

I think we all know how it feels to wander a bit. We all know how it feels to lose our footing sometimes, whether it's because we stumble or because the rug gets ripped out from under us. These things happen.

So how do we stay rooted? For me, it means a few things. The people I care about are my anchors, for starters. My constants when nothing else feels permanent or constant. Then I have some basic principles/beliefs that I can stay rooted in, also, like "be kind" and "be honest" and "be dependable" and stuff like that. The simple truths.

I don't think your roots have to be a physical thing. I don't think they have to apply to one specific age range, either. For some people, those childhood years in their town/city of choice are great roots. For other people, the very best thing you could possibly do for yourself is forget that plot of land and start fresh.

It reminds me of Forrest Gump (oh how I love that movie) and how his friend Jenny grew up in an abusive home. Jenny didn't need those roots. Jenny needed to bulldoze that mother effer to the ground. Which, she eventually (literally) did. You see what I mean?

I also think you can pick and choose pieces of memories to be part of your roots, and abandon others. There are some places/times/relationships in my life that feed my soul in some ways and simultaneously cripple me in other ways. I'm always working on how to hang on to the good without letting the bad sour those experiences for me.

Whatever your roots are.....wherever your roots are, if it's a where....dig 'em deep. Hang on to something. And like little plants that outgrow their plastic starter containers, never forget that it's ok to uproot yourself if necessary and move on to a better environment. (See here.) You can settle in tightly and grow from there.

But the point is, do some settling. Invest yourself. Anchor yourself down into something and make it clear to yourself, and the people around you, that you're staying put for the things that matter most. I think there's real power in that.

...these pretties are from my kitchen. All but one are dead now. Aren't succulents supposed to be the sturdiest plants of all? Chronic gray thumb over here...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Choose Pie Heaven

“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy.” Jack Handy

I'm not much of a baker. Or a cook in general. I eat all my meals at work, so any semblance of kitchen prowess I used to possess is loooong gone.

Plus, my real problem with baking is that I sometimes get a little too.....flexible. Like, soften the butter? Sure, I'll just melt it. Save some stirring time. Apparently decisions like this affect the outcome of the recipe? It's all a little tedious for my taste. EFFICIENCY IS ALL I ASK

A few years ago, I went through a brief pie-making phase. It appears to have made a return lately. What I like about pie is that it has built-in room for creativity. If I can create a caramelized filling from peach juice...I can do the same thing with strawberry juice, right? Or raspberries? Or all three? Pie is lovely because so many of the flavors are interchangeable. You learn a few basics (thicken with corn starch!) (universal crumble topping that works for all kinds of pies!) and suddenly you can make ALL THE PIES. It makes me feel competent and creative all at once.

Plus.......when you make pie, you get to eat pie. So that's a primary motivation right thurrr.

Pie is pure summer food to me.

I know it's often associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for some reason I get the hankering to crank 'em out come warm summer temps, bare feet and open windows. That could be because I'm ultimately destined to live a simple life in a quiet farm town somewhere, in which case I'll be well equipped to be that old woman who puts pies out to cool on the windowsill. And then knits on the front porch. And decorates with random knick-knacks and quilts. ....Guys, these are already my hobbies. #80yearsyoung #cantwait

Anyway, here's a few photos of what's been coming out of my kitchen lately. The peach-raspberry pie is loosely based on this recipe, and the blueberry-raspberry-blackberry (snozzberry?) crumble pie is invented but uses the crumble recipe found here, and that nutella strawberry-raspberry concoction is entirely an original. (With a shout out to my baking buddy -- you know who you are and I can't take all the credit!)

Next I just need to get good at making crust, since the dough in these ones is all store bought. And admittedly, my most favorite part of pie making is creating a design for the top crust. OPTIONS FOR DAYSZ! I think I'd feel even more satisfied if I made those pretty braids/weaves/twists/cutouts/crimps from my own homemade dough, you know? Feel free to pass along your best crust recipes and advice. I'll be here.