back at it.

so here i am. over a year after abandoning this little corner of the blogosphere. it seems i have accidentally developed a pattern.

the problem is, i love to write. i want a place to share what i’m writing, to share what’s in my head and in my life. but i don’t always love blogging. last time around – and maybe the time before that – i was too caught up in blogging instead of just allowing this to be a place to write. i don’t have a target audience. i’m not trying to claim a certain market and never diverge from it. i am just writing, as an extension of my interests and of myself.

i’m sure i could have a niche – in fact, i have many. whole foods, advocacy, health, environmentalism, veganism… entrepreneurship, Pinterest pinning, homesteading (to borrow a friend’s term), and all that fun stuff… my faith in Christ, marriage, my life as a new mom. i bet i could even be clichéed if i tried a bit harder. but the truth is, i’ve never put on a gorilla suit and protested outside of a science lab (even though i was invited to do so once). and i don’t own a Chemex. and i probably wash my hair more often than i should and it never ever looks perfectly messy, just messy messy. and although i do love to dance in the kitchen with my husband and baby, i’m absolutely certain it never looks as pretty as something in the pages of Kinfolk magazine.

i could probably try to market myself to any one of those categories above, but then i would be “blogging”… and i would be marketing, for that matter. not writing. not just sharing myself and my life here. and it would eventually – or quickly – become contrived and i would become dissatisfied and overwhelmed by it all and lose the joy.

so, i will stray outside the lines of this niche or that. i will most likely write things that may or may not interest you at times. (granted that i get the knack of maintaining this blog at all, while still growing and raising a tiny chubby human.) but i hope that what i do share will be meaningful. even if only to me and my family.

so, here we go. 2014. let’s get to it.


going against the grain

“If you go against the grain of the universe you get splinters.”
– H. H. Farmer

[found this inspiring quote via twitter]

why tea is magical

love this illustration from THIS FOLDEDMIND, found via the Kitchn:

…and even more cutesy, illustrated tea info: global tea etiquette.

p.s. we ate lots of sea vegetables yesterday at NGI. here is a peek at my smorgasbord of sea veg. (and that’s right, sea vegetable, not sea weed. these guys have enough trouble gaining popularity without being called weeds.) 

an oatmeal day…

…is a good day. there’s something about it that just makes me feel extra productive. like, i know i’m being responsible by taking the five minutes to prepare it or something. i went wild this morning and prepared the “chewy” version (by waiting to add the oats until the water is boiling) as opposed to the “creamy” way (starting the oats in cold water). that simple change makes all the difference. it was one of the first things we learned at culinary school… and that lesson alone may be worth the tuition… maybe. well, even if not, it’s really good that i learned it. i thought i preferred the creamier-style oats – and i often make it that way – but i realized that the chewy version brings back a wonderfully distinct taste memory of eating oatmeal at my grandparents’ house. i love that memory. [grandmom, do you make it that way? by waiting until the water boils? it definitely tastes like that in my mind.] my very own madeleine de Proust.

also, now that i’m taking part in my friend ann marie’s challenge to go thirty days without refined sugar, having my oatmeal with a bit of organic grade A maple syrup has been nice. (natural sweeteners get a pass for this challenge, in moderation. and by the way grade B is good, too, but A is a bit less refined, so less processed/concentrated and therefore less sweet.) husband discovered that there is “evaporated cane juice” in his otherwise healthy-looking granola, so it turns out there is some sugar sneaking up on us. anyway… i’m not really a sugar-all-day kind of person, but i do have those intense moments when all i want to eat are cookies and ice cream. so there’s that… and i’m hoping this challenge will help me quit those cravings. or at least, learn how to substitute the majority of refined sugar with less-processed, healthier alternatives (maple or brown rice syrup, blackstrap molasses, maple crystals, and sometimes agave, to name a few). oh and in case you were wondering: i also added raisins, ground flaxseeds, a tiny bit of unsweetened light coconut milk, and a few almonds to my oatmeal. i’m sure you were totally wondering that.

happy weekend!

p.s. interestingly – and fittingly – that cute ceramic zebra that sits on our dining table came from my grandparents’ house. a nice visual complement to my taste memory.

p.p.s. i’ve been tweeting more these days.

what’s been going on

there is so much to update… august was a very busy month, and i am still in denial about summer being over (although i can’t help but be excited about fall weather), but in a large nutshell (like a walnut-sized shell?), here’s what happened:
culinary school took a break for a few weeks, but that vacation was filled up very quickly – celebrating family birthdays in princeton, lots of meals from the garden and many prepared by mom from these cookbooks, my cousin visiting from upstate NY (a fun week of picnics, a trip to Philly, The Dark Knight Rises, and running to get my cousin ready for cross-country season), as well as the daunting task of moving into our new home in Philadelphia. the latter event took much longer than anticipated. there was the actual moving-truck-and-friends-wearing-workout-clothes-getting-our-stuff-in-the-truck day (and we are so very very grateful for said wonderful friends and mom and dad), but there was also that long lingering, gradual transition (the “oh, on second thought, maybe we should bring that step ladder / box of scarves / cologne / other thing”), which i guess inevitably happens when you are moving out of your parents’ home and there is no concrete deadline. there was also a lot of “homemaking” to be done, including cleaning, re-touching the paint, organizing, and a handful of do-it-yourself projects.
but once all that settled down, we realized, “oh wow, we just moved to Philadelphia. we are starting new jobs, a new phase. even bo (the dog) has a new park.” even as i write that, it still surprises me. there are moments when i feel very used to this new phase already, but other times when it still feels new and temporary. i think my opinion of culinary school is already pretty clear: i absolutely love it. i look forward to waking up at 5:20 am on sunday mornings to commute to manhattan. and this city, dear philly, i am learning more and more of each day, and quickly developing a real soft spot for it. i kind of gush nostalgically about our neighborhood whenever people ask (e.g. the other night, on one of the first beautiful fall nights we’ve had, there were even a few guys camped out around a mini fire pit on one of the cobblestone half-streets. and teaching at community college (no, i don’t watch community, but i love how that is one of the first things i am asked when i mention my job) has been interesting, terrifying, enjoyable, and overall rewarding. i am grateful to have the experience, especially since teaching has always hovered in the back of my mind as something i might be good at and/or enjoy. i love encouraging people to push themselves to think outside their normal parameters, to follow a thought process through to its logical end, and to engage in discussions they didn’t even realize they were passionate about. these have been the positive aspects of teaching, so far. the same qualities i love about teaching could also apply to my passion for food and for community development. it’s all a bit connected, really. i do look forward to to the day when i can channel my energy in one general direction, but i think having varied interests and causes will always be part of who i am. and with that, i need to go prepare for tomorrow’s lesson and bake up some okara chocolate chip bars.

p.s. okara (or soy pulp, a.k.a. the stuff left over from making tofu or soy milk) is just one of the many leftovers from culinary school that i’ve been cooking with recently, and i plan to post some of those recipes here soon!

I’m a bit frightened by…

“I’m a bit frightened by the prospect of a world where being a professional and having a home-cooked dinner are incongruous, or at the very least, considered a lifestyle luxury.”

[read more here from Sarah at The Yellow House.]

now that the olympics have begun…

we can unleash our patriotic spirit.

and on that note, today i participated in my own olympic sport: packing. at least it felt like an olympic feat because i was exhausted and just wanted to sit on the sofa and watch the games in London (and not go through boxes and drawers and everything and decide the fate of our belongings). but since i did clock some good olympic-watching, it was probably a good idea to get a move on with the move (on) since it is approaching so quickly. also, despite having lived in (basically) one room with my husband in my parents’ home for the past two years, it hit me that somehow our Philly apartment is going to be more compact than i realized. but, it will all work out… as my suitcase instruction manual once said: “don’t stress, compress.”