Monday, October 28, 2013

Hello Olympia

As I said before, it's good to be home. Just a little walk through of some of the things I missed the most.

Taking my dog to the beach.

Walks with my brother in the woods.
     Hanging out with my mom.

Enjoying excellent local produce, purchased or found. (What a season for 'shrooms!)

Soaking up beautiful gray afternoons.

Reading and drinking something hot downtown.

Hanging out on campus and feeling strangely nostalgic about my college days.

Stumbling on evidence of people not taking things too seriously.

Being outside and seeing more trees than humans. 

My next post will be some sort of recipe or project, but I'm not sure what exactly. I'd really like to make some new batches of soap, but most of my supplies are still packed away in boxes from the move. Maybe I will mix up something for the face, like an herbal infused facial oil for the colder months ahead. I'm open to suggestions too...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where I Am and Where I Was

Ah, it's so good to be home. I mean it really, truly is. There is so much I missed about the Pacific Northwest during my 3 year stint in the Second City. Whether it's true or not, life just feels easier here. The people I see around town are generally happier and friendlier than the average people I would encounter at an L stop in the South Loop. Small talk between strangers is relaxed rather than guarded. I feel like I can be silly and crack jokes and not feel like smiling at someone is an invitation for harassment. I really love being able to walk around in public places without having on my "game face."

That is to say, when I would walk around in my Chicago neighborhood or around school I was very self-conscious and defensive. Only now am I realizing how stressed out I was just getting from point A to point B. I got tired of feeling generally distrustful of strangers, then feeling guilty about being distrustful and eventually I was just left wondering how the heck I got to be so pessimistic!

And one night in particular several months ago, when I was muddling through this mental rabbit hole, my boyfriend came home and I asked him about his day. He told me about walking down the sidewalk and seeing a man in a wheelchair cross the street. A car hit the man in the wheelchair and threw him out of his chair and into the middle of traffic. When the driver realized what happened, she got out of her car and yelled at the man about needing to watch where he's going. He had been in a crosswalk. She did not help him back into his chair.

Of course there are great things about the city as well. Personally, I loved school which is good since that's about all I did for the past three years. Chicago was the perfect place for me to geek out on late 19th century American type history, experimental poetry, and artists' books. My print studio was blocks away from the historic Printer's Row and just a few train stops away from the Newberry Library and the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection. That city is chock full of fantastic printers and book artists and I am so thankful for the friendships I made.

But I am not trying to tally up all the pros and cons of my urban experience. I'm glad I did it, I learned a lot about other people as well as about myself. Most importantly perhaps, I learned just how much I love my personal neck of the woods. For example, these woods.

More about "these woods" in my next post. Until then, have you ever tried living somewhere that just never clicked? Or you always felt like an outsider, even after a few years of living there?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Creamer

Yes, I know. Blogging about pumpkin anything during the month of October is about as rampant as cat videos on youtube. But don't worry dear reader, though I could go on and on about my favorite season, I'll stop now before I get all squishy about the way the air can smell like wet leaves and chimney smoke. But I do recommend trying out this pumpkin creamer recipe. Instead of using an artificially-flavored syrup or store-bought creamer, this one uses actual pumpkin to give it that lovely color. It's delicious with coffee but my favorite way to drink it is to mix it in equal parts with a cup of simple slow cooker chai (instead of milk). This creamer isn't especially rich, so you really need to use a lot of it. So brew your coffee or tea extra strong and leave plenty of room for the creamer, maybe 1/4 or 1/3 cup. It's more like you're making a latte than adding a bit of cream to your coffee.

I adapted this recipe slightly from Girl Makes Food's Homemade Pumpkin Creamer.

2 cups vanilla soymilk or water*
3 heaping tablespoons pumpkin (cooked and pureed or the kind from a can without the spices added)
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
scant 1/4  teaspoon ground ginger

Throw everything in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. For best results, heat the creamer before adding it to your cup so you don't have a lukewarm pumpkin latte.

*10/22/13 revision: When I first posted this recipe I used water, but have since experimented with vanilla soymilk which I think is even yummier. The downside to using any kind of milk instead of water is that the final creamer won't be such a nice pumpkin-y orange as it is in the picture above. If you eat with your eyes or don't have any milk on hand use the water.