Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Little Trees.

Happy (almost) Spring from Eating & Drawing, where we don't normally feature landscape paintings.
But let's take a break from our regularly scheduled programming & enjoy the view from the hill beyond my house.
(Don't worry, I drew my beer too.)
3.13.12: Evening View From The Hill, With Beer. 
There's one goal accomplished: sit against a tree on top of the hill, drink a beer, & draw. 
It's the perfect spot for sitting in the sun & reading, painting, drawing, & enjoying a lovely cocktail. 
It is a truth of me that I spend my life seeking out such good outdoor sitting spots. My mom's deck & the dock at our pond are two. The Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is another, as was my old front porch on Prospect Street in Noho. Or any curb in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
This one though...there's our cottage, the chicken coop, then the gardens, a small wooded hill, & when you reach the top, a cornfield & a small dairy farm, framed by woods & distant mountains.
I love this spot. I take the hound up here every day just before dark & on the weekend mornings.
On our first full weekend here, back in January, coming home from errands we grabbed some beers & saw the most amazing sunset up there.
I have been looking forward to hanging out here in warm weather since we moved in here in December.
We have had some 70 degree days here recently.
I've been coming home giddy with joy from driving home with the windows open blasting country radio.
It get dark after seven pm now. God that makes me happy.   I love being outside. There's so much post-work time to be outside now.
It's gorgeous out here where we live now. I'm so excited about spring & summer here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where Practical Meets Adorable: The Elements Of A Food Story.

This is what I see when I open my fridge. 
Home brewed beer & an oh so cute little basket of eggs. Broccoli, bagels, & cheese.
Fun fact: I like to take pictures of the inside of my fridge. The collection of foods one has on hand at any given moment tells a little story.
This is totally stupid, but one of the things I disliked about having roommates is other peoples' things in my fridge. That messes up the story.
I know, I'm odd.
3.7.2012: Fridge Contents.
This is one of those realities that is too cute to be believed, but is also practical.
Seriously. I've never had chickens before, & we were just collecting eggs & sitting them loose in the fridge. One night I opened the door too hard & one rolled off the shelf & broke & it was oh so sad because I still appreciate those eggs from our girls oh so much. Plus it made a gross mess in the way back hard to reach part of the fridge behind the veggie drawer & it was terrible.
Being me, I immediately introduced that cute little basket I just happened to have lying around (thanks Mum).
It makes me smile to see that cute little basket with those eggs every time I open the fridge.
 I'm looking forward greatly to more practical adorableness come vegetable harvest season. Nothing makes me happy at the end of a summer day like a basket of gorgeous, dirty, freshly picked produce.
Thanks again to my Mum for keeping me in Peterboro baskets.
It's the little things that make you happy that make everything ok, sometimes.
Here's the elements of a food story:
My groceries purchased at work today: broccoli, an avocado, bunch of green curly kale, two heads of garlic, block of Bridge tofu, bottle of Sriracha chili sauce, growler of Lefty's Brewing Co. Irish Stout, bag of bulk short grain brown rice & one of wild rice blend, & a bulk bag of Pierce Brother's Fogbuster coffee.
Go food produced in Franklin County!
Free slightly out of date food I also took home from work with my groceries: loaf of Bread Euphoria Three Seed Bread, & Blue Ledge Peppered Chevre.
Also present around the kitchen: two old potatoes, bag of yellow onions, half of a cheap Stop & Shop steak, salt pork back fat, two fresh eggs. 
From above will emerge dinner.
I like lists. I like food.
Maybe it's all my years working at the grocery store, but I love grocery lists & receipts. I find lists of food items very pretty. 
While we are in listing mode here at EnD, I'm currently listening to my itunes set on Country & shuffle. Enjoying especially this evening Hank Williams, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn & Taylor Swift. I don't really know where my current country phase has come from but I'm enjoying it. Blame Bear Country 95.3.
Reading Goat song : a seasonal life, a short history of herding, and the art of making cheese by Brad Kessler.
I think we should get goats. I just took Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats out of the library yesterday. What do you think? Goats? Yes? Tell my husband if you agree.
Also, what should I make for dinner? You know the players, tell me the story.  
It was almost 70 degrees today in here Western Massachusetts. My dog & I sat on top of a hill at dusk & took in the warm wind & breathed & waited for spring.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Heart Objects. There, I Said It.

Yeah, yesterday, I spent $20 on a Le Creuset pan at a thrift shop that I couldn't afford & didn't need.
Hey, my sister runs a really great thrift store.
I've been on a strict "no thrifting" policy.
We are really trying to invest in the things we want, i.e. chickens & this year's garden & more potential livestock.
We lead a strange life of possessions, being thrift store addicts both of us, my husband & me, in that we have so many nice things, but frequently lack very basic things that need to come new from real store, & that with our thrifting mentality it is difficult for us to buy.
Owen has piles of ties, Fendi, Gucci, Versace, Armani, Dior, etc, & yet only owns one pair of semi-decent pants he can wear to work.
I have two Hermes scarves & my own pile of vintage Coach bags, but I am in so desperate need of a bra that it isn't even funny.
We both have gorgeous cowboy boot collections, but Owen goes to work at the granola factory in pair of steel toe boots held together (sort of, not well) with dry wall screws.
At least he comes home to a good dinner. 
3.6.12: Cooking Dinner With DR.

 That's my kitchen, you know, where the magic happens. Using my new pan for last night's dinner, an unremarkable but delicious beef broccoli goat cheese cream sauce thing. 
 We have really nice kitchen stuff in general because it matters to me & it's what I want for presents & I take good care of my things.
Sometimes our economy with food seems weird considering our Le Creuset pans & our Wustof knives & our shiny red KitchenAid. 
But most of the ways we save money is what I believe we should do anyway-no convenience foods, no fast food, no snack foods or desserts, just vegetables, meat, & pasta & rice. When we cook a chicken, we always make stock. We always eat or leftovers for lunch. I make a lot of weird dinners to not waste food. We make everything ourselves that we can. The things I spend money on are worth it: coffee, spices, decent rice.
All of these things are the principles I want to live by anyway.
So, so what if I have a quite splendid Le Creuset collection (I am not entirely to blame for our lovely kitchen stuff-we did just get married!). 
I've been really happy lately, happier than possibly I have ever been, & if I want to buy myself a damn pan once in a while, I will.
I will make something creative out of the random kitchen items in it, & I will wake up without guilt, feeling like things are all right with the world in general.
I will never live a simplified clean shiny life without possessions. Neither will Owen. There will always be books & papers & paints & shoes & pets & scarves & ties on all our surfaces. Projects will be in the works everywhere, & the house will never be clean by most people's standards. Cowboy boots will litter the damn floor forever.
But we are ok with that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cake & Homemade Perfection.

A piece of our wedding cake.
Owen & I were married five months last week.
I meant to write this post for Valentines Day, but, you know, the puffballs arrived.
9.24.2011: Red Velvet Wedding Cake. 
Like everything on the blog, & in my life, our wedding was homemade, a collaboration, & we made use of what we had.
We got married on the beach down the road from where I grew up, & had the reception in my mom's yard. One of my mom's friends & co-workers, a Unitarian minister, married us.
Two of my favorite people (Rin & Jed, my old DnD compatriots) & my very most favorite person, my dearest sister Ali, were our wedding party. Our ring bearer was four & charming & the son of another old friend.
Everyone stood in a circle on Cold Storage Beach at Sesuit Harbor, Dennis Cape Cod,  one of my most beloved spots on earth & we were married.
Our families made the all food & Owen brewed all the beer & there was swimming in the afternoon in our pond, even though it was late September, & dancing to Jay-Z & Kanye in the basement.
Our entire outfits (well not my very special treat, my wedding Lucchese boots-a girl needs gorgeous boots to get married in!) came from a thrift shop. 
Then off to our honeymoon in New Hampshire.
Which was another amazing present.
I hate to say perfect, but it was. Owen & I laid in bed that night afterwards & couldn't sop saying, but "that was so perfect."
Sometimes I complain too much, but I get that "it's so perfect" feeling a lot lately.
I love that guy.
I'm a very lucky girl to have found a man who cooks as good as me, sews much better, can fix cars, can fix anything in fact, loves trashy dance music & even trashier contemporary country & is happy to wear a Britney Spears T-shirt & cowboy boots & cares as much about having a garden & chickens & the rest of the farm stuff as I do.
DR liked him from the very first day. 
He also brews a pretty decent beer, which is nice to come home to after farm chores.
The completely brilliant Rin made the cake. It was red velvet, & it too was perfect. A very wonderful friend donated the eggs since we didn't have chickens then.
There's still a piece in our freezer, which I have almost accidentally thrown out about fifteen times but thankfully I have a better half to stop me from such foolishness now.

Meals With Eggs: Cilantro Pesto & A Fried Egg For Lunch.

In honor of my dear friends Lucy, Lulu, Amanda Jo, & Miranda, I bring you some meals made from their amazing eggs. It still feels like magic when I find one. Thanks, ladies.
2.29.2012: Snowy Leap Day Lunch. 
Last day of February. I came home from work around lunchtime due to impeding snow, just in time to kiss my husband goodbye before he left for work.
We had some leftover homemade cilantro pesto from dinner the night before. I try to eat in season, but the local discount grocery store, The Barn, had really cheap bunches of cilantro & I am craving spring tastes so badly. Arugula pesto soon. But not yet. So, the Barn.
There was a fresh egg in the chicken coop, perfect for frying on top of some pesto & cappellini reheated in a cast iron skillet, topped with a drizzle of sriracha & eaten at the dining room table, reading Achewood on my laptop, drinking coffee, & watching the snow. 
Who needs convenience foods! Eggs!
Having eggs seems like such an important step towards self sufficiency. We've had a couple of summers now of pretty much from all our own vegetables, but producing our own protein! That's so cool. With eggs & veggies we could really take a break from the grocery store, especially now that my husband is producing his own (now drinkable) beer regularly.
Seeds are sprouting under lights. one of the pullets is laying, hopefully the other two will be soon. The baby chicks turn four weeks old this Friday. I'm daydreaming about acquiring meat & fur rabbits.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chickens. Better than therapy. (an ode to farm chores)

My dear husband has been working 1-9:30 shifts all week over at the old granola factory, so it's just been me & the animals out here in the middle of rural nowhere when I get home from work myself.
It is really a change here from Northampton that's more apparent when Owen & I work opposite schedules. No more quick walks downtown, no more roommates, no more friends close by.
Surprisingly, I have found the last week very peaceful. Back in Noho I hated it when Owen worked  this shift.
The reason? Chickens.
 3.1.12: Lucy, Amanda Jo, Miranda, & Lulu, my new EnD companions.
Chickens plus the larger picture that includes the chickens.
I find I really like the routine of farm chores.
When I get home around four, I immediately have to check on the baby chicks, feed the outside chickens their afternoon cracked corn & some greens, take the dog for a walk, shut the outside chickens up for the night,  check on the babies again, bring in wood, build a fire, & then feed the dog & cat. That's all before I deal with the dishes & start dinner & maybe do some laundry.
I used to sometimes resent coming home from work to dirty dishes & housework chores when Owen worked these sorts of hours before, but for some reason the farm chores make me feel great, & I don't mind the other stuff either.
In these winter months I miss the summer routine of tending to the garden in the evenings. The chickens are a bit like having a garden in the winter. I like that their care involves me actually going outside frequently.
Not to mention that they really are good company. They make all these great sounds. They run to their fence when I pull up in the driveway. As my dear sister says, they have cool dinosaur feet. The little dudes are starting to really recognize us too & greet us.
The brilliant Jenna from Cold Antler Farm wrote something I read recently about how the absence of farm chores can be really disheartening once you get used to them, & I totally get that. I love my current routine. The chickens go up to roost just at dusk & I am so grateful to be outside when the sun sets every single day.
The view of the sun setting behind the trees that I see from the chicken cop is beautiful, the ladies make all their little good night sounds, & it makes me feel like I'm living my real life.
There is something about keeping living things alive that is fundamental satisfying.
I find that I breath easier after I finish my chores. 
I cleaned out the chicken coop last weekend on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon by myself & finished feeling exhilarated. We found a shovel & fork for $1 each at a tag sale earlier in the day that were just the right size for me, & I couldn't wait to get home & use them.
I did wonder a bit, who am I know, exactly? I sure never got excited about tools at a tag sale before.  But I have never felt so calm & capable before either.
So, thanks, girls.