Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Water babies

Swimming Pool
photo by Mira Shemeikka

I found my way home tonight. Submerged, cloaked in stillness with chlorine stinging my eyes.

I've been eyeing the pool at the gym for a couple of weeks now and decided to spice up my workout tonight by taking the plunge (ha). It was like being reunited with an old friend I hadn't seen in years. The fact of the matter is that it really has been years since I've hopped in the pool and swam laps. I used to live at the pool...at least until I hit that sensitive age where I suddenly became aware enough of my body to become self conscious.

Well, tonight I pulled on a simple one piece and a pair of black swim shorts and was a happy fish swimming lap after lap after lap.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Molly's Banana Bread with Chocolate and Ginger

gluten-free banana bread
banana bread served here with a bit of rhubarb compote

I have always liked the idea of cooking, but for the past couple of months, I've been practicing this thing called follow through. This has resulted in way more time than I'd like to admit searching for recipes that meet this criteria and that are actually interesting.

One of my new reads is A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette fame. In the book, she weaves stories of her life with recipes she grew up with. I actually haven't finished yet (it's kind of annoying to read something that makes you hungry), but I have already tackled one of the recipes. The recipe below is for a banana bread adapted (to make it gluten and cow milk free) from Molly's book.

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate (> 70% cacao) shards
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup plain sheep yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of your dry ingredients, including the chocolate and ginger.

Melt the butter. I cheat and use the microwave. Combine all of the "wet" ingredients, including the bananas, in a separate bowl. You're now ready to mix your wet and dry ingredients. Molly recommends not overmixing and warns that it will still be slightly lumpy.

Bake for about an hour.

I love that she came upon the recipe because a friend was gifted a loaf. I've already given one of these away myself and am very much enamored with the thought of continuing the tradition.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Full circle

window at the Whitney

I was super stoked to see Glenn Ligon has an exhibit at the Whitney. It's the little things that get me giddy. Also, another reason to head back to NYC (and actually go in this time).

You here that, SVR? Return. Trip.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Discovery of Witches

boxed beauties

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with what I want to write about except for the fact that I imagine witches must have amazing gardens. As a girl who hails from the arrid west, I'm naturally drawn to succulents. I snapped a picture* of these beauties as I walked into a local Whole Foods.

On to the matter at hand. I fell in love with a new book last week. Discovery of Witches had me nervously fretting as I waited to see how this story of magic, alchemy and story of forbidden relationships played out. It allowed me to escape into Oxford's Bodleian Library and ancient texts, all the while giving me the tension and push-pull of a steamy relationship. She weaves a supernatural world effortlessly among the human populations and creates family out of the oddest pairings.

History. Science. Intrigue. Romance. What more could a girl want?

I really want to say more but don't want to spill too much! I will say that you may want to avoid reading this right away if you need immediate resolution. Turns out this is going to be a trilogy (had no idea) and definitely left me in need of MORE as I sped through the last pages.

*I swore up and down that I wouldn't start taking all my pictures with my cell phone once I got one with a better camera. Then, a funny thing happened. My camera got a scratch on the lens and started acting wonky. Next thing you know I'm taking more cell photos. I'm disappointed in myself but will hopefully remedy this soon with a new camera.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Consumption Junction

As a conservationist, I struggle with consumption. I think we tend to have too much stuff in our lives, but beautiful, well-designed things do make me happy. At the very least, I want to ensure I'm curating a collection of things I love and will use in my life.

So, to help you fully embrace the bipolar nature of my personality, I'm hoping to strong arm you into watching this enlightening video encouraging you to drink tap water. As many of you know, I am a HUGE tap water advocate (if you're going to drink water). I came across this lovely water bottle during a recent trip to Paper Source and immediately fell in love with the message and the typography.


When I did a bit more digging, I found a company all about tap.

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More items tickling my fancy (but haven't purchased)...

gold label recipe box

hipstamatic iphone case

Friday, May 06, 2011

Bones and book plates

American Museum of Natural History, New York
AMNH photo by Sean Ng via Flickr

I've been developing a preternatural obsession with the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Public Library and the amazing hidden collections they hold. I love stories of dark hallways, historic treasures and rooms filled with historic documents waiting to be rifled through. I like to think I'd have the research stamina to pour over documents in search of that one piece of evidence that would make my argument. There's also a little part of me that likes to dream that one day my personal papers will end up at a place like this and be part of someone else's research expedition. I even draw little doodles throughout my notebook specifically to entertain future generations ;-)

American Museum of Natural History
AMNH photo by Charlyn Wee via Flickr

My fascination has partly been triggered by the Special Agent Pendergast series I've been reading by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. While working at a bookstore for years, I continually passed these books by with no more than a glance. Thanks to a free e-book included with another purchase (great ploy, guys) I was introduced to their writing and the series. Fun! The two books I've read involve mysteries surrounding the museum and take you intimately inside various nooks and crannies of the building. There are even a couple of trips to the New York Public Library for research.

New York Public Library
NYPL photo by Timo via Flickr

My desire to make my pilgrimage to the New York Public Library (NYPL) was further fueled by a couple of recent articles. Did you know NYPL has over 40,000 menus from around the world? I never would have guessed they catalogued seemingly arcane bits of paper; however, they make an intriguing case about how analyzing these menus can tell us a lot about different regions and the eating habits of people. I love it. Anyway, they're looking for help in transcribing some of the menus they've scanned in, and you can help. The second article was one of The Paris Review's cultural diaries. The writer Amelie Nothomb was treated to a private tour of NYPL and got a chance to check out some of their treasures, including unpublished letters written by Marie Curie, a chemistry paper written by a sixteen-year-old Hemingway, the desk where Charles Dickens wrote, and Virginia Woolf’s cane that was left on the banks of the river where she drowned herself.

New York Public Library #5
NYPL photo by an untrained eye via Flickr

Seriously interesting stuff.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Working It


I don't even know where to begin. Part of me wishes I had started writing this six weeks ago. Still, it's been such a big part of my life these past six weeks that I can't really not mention it any longer.

The basic gist is that I finally decided to take my health into my own hands and start living the way I've wanted to. This wasn't an overnight decision but one I've been thinking about for a while. One morning shortly after I moved away from home, I remember thinking "I'm an adult who can eat whatever I want, whenever I want!" Haha. I definitely owned that adult philosophy for quite a few years. Still, in recent years I've been wanting to eat more organic, locally based food but never thought I could afford it.

Turning 35 this year felt a little too adult. Things like creaky knees started to freak me out a bit more, and the fact that I couldn't buy any of the really cute thrift store clothes just got really annoying. Knowing that my mom and grandpa were now going to the gym (after never being gym people) was just another reality check. Paying off my non-existent car proved to be the final bit of motivation I needed.

In March, I joined a local gym and have been in apocalypse training* three to five nights a week. I'm finally taking time for me and leaving work at the right time most nights. I also started meeting with the nutritionist at the gym and agreed to give their metabolic tune-up program a shot. This nutritionist is a perky beast, but we share a very similar food philosophy, so it works. I also like that she can give me a scientific reason for everything she asks me to do (i.e., give up sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol and many carbs).

Six weeks is most definitely long enough to form a habit, and I'm pretty okay with the way things are going. Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I even look forward to going to the gym. I've been trying to convince myself it's my new hobby. I also can't complain about the fact that I've lost 24 lbs since I started. Weight loss was never my goal (health is), but it's a nice side effect.

This is most definitely not going to turn into a health blog (shudder), but with so much of my time now being spent at places like the gym, it'll probably warrant a mention every now and then. Besides, I kind of need to tell you how I tried to take on the treadmill and lost.

*how to out walk a zombie, strength training for post-apocalyptic ass kicking, etc.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Heart of gold

Would you date the kindhearted criminal? The benevolent bad guy with a bit of a Robin Hood streak?


I saw Fast Five this weekend because who I am to resist muscular men driving fast cars. I think there's something attractive* about the archetype that Vin Diesel and some of his crew portray. While these characters clearly don't operate within the bounds of the law, their targets are often considered even more evil, and the results of their action often benefit the greater good in some way.

So, how do you feel about the kindhearted criminal?

Fast 5

*Judging by the popularity of this archetype, I'm guessing I'm not the only person these characters appeal to.