The time has come! Tomorrow we depart the USA for France and begin our adventures abroad! We’re visiting 3 countries over 27 days (France, Spain, and Italy). Eric speaks only a modicum of French, I speak only a spot of Spanish, and we both can’t speak Italian. Let the adventures in communication begin! I have been practicing my gesturing over the last few days so everything should be okay.
Follow along with our travels over on our new blog 27days3countries.tumblr.com. We’ll post as much as we can whenever we find an internet connection. Bon voyage to us!
Here’s something I’m learning slowly: when a thing you truly enjoy doing becomes a job, you stop enjoying it as much. Maybe that’s not true for all folks, but I think it might be true for me. Here are some examples:
- Knitting. I’ve signed on to knit two of my family members scarves and while I so enjoy the process, the needles don’t call for me to pick them up like they used to. (I am literally LOLing at that last sentence and imagining these sweet little knitting needles calling me up on the teeniest of phones.) It doesn’t help that I feel pre-arthritic in both hands. I’m doing these exercises to help with the pain. Yes, stress injuries from knitting do happen. I am the tragic proof.
- Pinning. Okay, this is by no means a job (oh that I wish it were). But it is something I haven’t been doing much of lately. With pinning, the inactivity came on slowly. When I first joined last year, I’d pin every day, maybe even multiple times a day. I bordered on the fanatic, as my pinners do. Then I got the app on my smartphone and that took things to a whole new level. I’d wake up and pin, pin during the day, and then pin a bit more at night. Okay, I’ll say it: I was addicted. I would be the perfect candidate for an “I wish I was pinning” bumper sticker. And then, all of a sudden I stopped. Now I’ll go for days without pinning! (I know this might sound ridiculous but such is the state of my life, folks.) What an achievement! And it’s not because I’m trying to hold myself back, either. I’m not weening myself from the pin-drug. No, I’m just not motivated to do it anymore. Okay, that’s partially a lie because I still pin (and when I do, lordy lordy, your feed will blow up with my name), just not with the addiction-type frequency of earlier moons.
- Being alone. I work from home, or the library, but mostly from home. And that means I’m by myself a lot. Like all day. Every work day. So when my housemates or the boyfriend come home I pounce on them like the starved for human-attention being that I am. If someone’s in the house with me, there’s a good chance I’m as physically close that person as I can possibly be. Yes, it’s a little creepy. I recognize that. Before I worked from home, spending time alone was a bit of a treat. I worked with other people, I lived with other people, and so I cherished those little moments spent alone, whether I be zoning out or watching TV, or zoning out while watching TV. It’s not like I don’t ever choose to be alone when I have the option to be around people; I am a wee bit introverted (or maybe it’s just occasional shyness? hrmm) after all. But because I spend so much time by myself, I find my yearning to be near others, even if I’m not talking to them, stronger than ever. Basically, I’m saying that working alone is to blame for my not wanting to be alone.
- Eating eggs. Okay, this one’s a bit out there but hear me out. I like eggs, always have always will. But ever since I started life in the real working post-college world two years ago, I have not been much of an egg fan. I think this is because I associate egg sandwiches (I’m talking fried egg on bread here, not egg salad (which requires too much effort, hello)) with having a job and being too poor to buy sandwich meat (and too lazy after a long day of work to make anything more gourmet). I would also eat fried eggs on spagetti. Basically, if I was in need of protein, I’d put an egg on it (preferably poached). And now I’m sick of them. Every time Eric says, excitedly, that he’s going to make an egg sandwich (fried egg), my gag reflex triggers. I just. can’t. eat. them anymore.
- Blogging. Like pinning, blogging is by no means my job. That said, sometimes I treat it as such. A few months back I attended a couple online classes on blogging and branding, etc. and got really excited about blogging every week and doing giveaways and meeting up with other bloggers and finding more readers, yadda yadda yadda. And while at first I was stoked on the whole thing (hello three posts a week and update emails!), I quickly tired of it. I want blogging to be something I do when I’ve found something cool to share. Okay, and while arguably I find something cool every day and want to share it…I just don’t have the time! I work 4o hrs a week, I watch a lot of TV post-5pm to cope, and I like to spend my weekend lounging around the house or frolicking in the park (mostly the former).
All this is to say that I want to approach these things that I’ve so enjoyed in my life (eggs being a stretch here) from a new perspective. Not as work, but as something I want to give to the world and to myself. Something fun and creative (again, eggs are a stretch) that inspires and motivates me. This might mean frequent absences on the blog, but should result in higher quality posts. Let’s hope anyway!
Have things you’ve loved doing turned into chores too? Please share and tell me I’m not alone (pun not intended)!
A product of countless steps of journey through the city streets, this is a collection of windows that somehow have caught my restless eye out from the never-ending buzz of the city. This project is part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up.
I’d love to see something like this for San Francisco or the East Bay! Get on it, designers! (I’m looking at you, Kel!)
Although May is still three months away, we’ve already begun preparing for its arrival. On our to-do list: finding a new home in the East Bay (which entails vetting houses/apartments/neighborhoods, applying, “winning,” signing a lease, coughing up a first and last, etc.), making reservations for our Europe trip (which means finally deciding on our main stops and reserving plane and train tickets and Airbnb rooms), and then, eventually, packing up all our belongings and moving them into our new home before Eric’s graduation and our departure date three days later. In some ways, this process is a bit like the endless staircase we found while hiking in the Berkeley hills over the weekend. At first, the climb seems all too doable and you forge ahead confidently and quickly…until you realize that each new step is a little bit harder than the last and you still can’t see the top of the stairs. Still, while I can’t yet see over the hill of planning and arrangements that we have in store for us, I know that the end will come eventually, just as the month of May will. Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’…
On a more positive note, this Europe trip is going to be the perfect icing on the cake of transition we’re making over here! I can’t wait to share with you all the stops we have planned. If you have any recommendations for towns & cities that we must see while in France, Italy, and Spain, please leave a comment below! We’re still making final arrangements and can certainly be persuaded to visit places not yet on our list!
On Monday, Kelly and I were talking about how crazy it feels that we’ll be turning 23 this year. As she shared with me her “life plan” for the next 7 years of her twenties, I felt this bubble of panic rise in my chest. Before I turned 20 I was so excited for adulthood. I imagined where I’d be living, what work I’d be doing, what kind of fun things I’d get up to. Suddenly I’d be wise and successful. Everything I touched would turn to gold. And while many of my teenage dreams have been realized (college degree, boyfriend, Berkeley living), I don’t feel that balance or togetherness that I also imagined would accompany twentydom. In some ways, I feel much more confused now than I ever did when I was 17. Because now I’m not naive enough to think that by 26 I’ll have it figured out. Or that when I reach my 30s I’ll achieve that zen-like balance that I thought was part-and-parcel of growing up. Blerg-pants.
Today, my good friend Meghan shared this beautiful quote on her blog and the sentiment really resonated with me.
Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and listening to music that for some reason is really getting to your heart. You’re just standing there thinking about going to work and picking up your dry cleaning. And also more exciting things like books you’re reading and trips you plan on taking and relationships that are springing into existence. Or fading from your memory, which is far less exciting. And suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. There used to be the comfort of a number in your phone and ears that listened everyday and arms that were never for anyone else. But just to calm you down when you started feeling trapped in a five-minute period where nostalgia is too much and thoughts of this person you are feel foreign. When you realize that you’ll never be this young again but this is the first time you’ve ever been this old. When you can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done. You’re going to breathe in and out. You’re going to be fine in about five minutes.
As Ingrid says, all we can do is keep breathing. In fact, let’s listen to her and cry/breathe a while together.
Top image via Claire Cottrell
Last week, Eric and I headed out to Daly City to hang with our pals that live right on the bluffs. Though we spent the morning indoors making (and eating) crepes and truffles, we were called to the backyard where hang gliders dotted the sky. It was a surreal moment, sitting right on the cliff edge and watching these people fly past only 100 feet away. Every once in awhile we’d hear a big “Whoop!” as a glider rose higher in the air. The thrill of flying was infectious! Of course, not infectious enough that I have any plans on gliding myself. No no, I’d rather partake in the sport of watching these crazy souls soar.
I was reading Miss Moss the other day, as I am wont to do with utter abandon, and fell head over heels for this post on Lauren Hom. Lauren is a graphic designer living in New York City who started this kick-ass hand-lettered poster series (Daily Dishonesty) all about the little lies she tells herself on the daily. Such as:
Which sayings resonate with you?
Our family friend Kirsten Shockey, of the excellent fermented foods blog One Crock Artist, introduced me to this great new term: fermentista. While my last batch of sauerkraut left me feeling more like a mold-and-botulismista (no? No good?), my most recent foray into the world of cabbage and salty brines has been a huge success! I feel like I can now say, with confidence and a wide grin, that I am a fermentista, bebe.
As I’ve no doubt shared before, I am a huge fan of Farmhouse Culture, a Santa Cruz brand (yus!) that makes the best sauerkraut I’ve ever tasted. The founder, Kathryn Lukas, was featured in Martha Stewart Living in 2011 and shared the instructions for her classic caraway recipe (get it here), which is a delectable gem. But my favorite of the FC flavors is the garlic dill pickle kraut. (What can I say, I’m a Claussen gal.) It’s a crunchy, pickly, garlicky jar of deliciousness and I wanted to do my best to replicate it. Using the recipe from Living, and then guessing about the amounts of the other ingredients, I actually managed to produce a kraut quite similar to the FC fave. And it is so damn good.
Here’s how I did it:
- 1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced or shredded with a mandoline, 3 whole leaves (if you’re using three jars) reserved
- Fresh dill, lots
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced into circles or half circles
- Course sea salt
- 3 glass jars (I used pint-size wire-bale jars purchased at Whole Foods), sterilized (but make sure they’re completely cool to the touch before filling with cabbage)
- Wide-mouth funnel (not at all necessary, but useful!)
- Tongs (again, not necessary, but useful!)
- Large mixing bowl
After twenty minutes, massage the veggies to release the liquid (brine). Do so for about five minutes. If you’re not seeing much liquid, add more salt and let stand for an additional 15-20 minutes, then massage.
Next, pack your jars with the cabbage mixture. As you can see, I used a wide-mouth funnel and tongs. Super efficient. Make sure the mixture is really packed in; you should see the brine start to rise up the jar and submerge the vegetables.
You want the brine to cover the cabbage by at least an inch, so pour any remaining brine into the jars. Aim to leave 1-2 inches of space at the top of the jar. This will keep the liquids from bubbling over and will reduce the amount of brine you need to add in the coming weeks.
Cover the top of the mixture with the reserved cabbage leaves, folding them over until they fit snuggly inside. According to Lukas, the leaves need not be fully submerged in the brine. Their cover will help prevent mold from forming on top of the brine.
Next, close jars tightly and place in a non-reactive container with a lip at least 2-inches high, otherwise you might have a stinky spillage situation on your hands. Store in a cool, dark place for 15-21 days, but be sure to check in on them every five days. At these five-day markers, quickly open and close the lid, releasing any pressure that has built up inside. Do not be surprised if the brine levels have changed. If they are too low, add more brine (a mixture of 1 cup water to 1tbs salt will do the trick). If they are high, be careful not to let the brine bubble out. After 15 days, give the kraut a taste and decide whether to keep it fermenting longer. If you’re looking for a more sour, dare-I-say krautier, taste, let it ferment a few days more. Also, depending on the temperature of the space in which you’re storing the jars, you might want a shorter or longer ferment period. I kept the kraut in a cabinet above the fridge where it stayed around 70-72 degrees. 21 days was a perfect ferment time and the results were sour and crunchy, just the way I like it. I’ll share images of the finished product next week. Your mouth will water!
Thanks to my family, especially Mutti, for supporting me in this endeavor!