Popping at Travail

There isn't much time left but if you can - go to Umami,  Travail's pop up restaurant.  It closes in a week.  Which will be a sad day but that's all the more reason to buy those tickets now.

There you will have some of the best food of your year, perhaps of your decade.

I trust the chefs at Umami/Travail so completely that I will try anything they put in front of me because I know the chances are that I will love it. This is a night I will eat grains, soy or anything else. Though I still don't like the taste of sweets so I don't end up eating them.  Not many people will have the room for them anyway.

Here is what we had last Thursday night:

Glazed chicken wings, pork spareribs, steamed bun with pork [shared], octopus croquette, shirataki noodle salad, duck medley [pate, prosciutto & sausage] roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and cranberries, bulgogi, chicken dumplings, shrimp dumplings, ham hock dumplings,  ramen with fresh noodles [shared], congee with pepper puree and cauliflower [shared] followed by [if you can stand it - dessert] key lime on spoon, pumpkin bread pudding and chocolate creme with banana soft serve ice cream.

The winners for me: bulgogi, octopus and chicken dumpling
The only 'loser': ham hock dumpling [but my wife loved it]

It's all you can eat. They'll bring you more of what you love. [feel free to laugh]

We found it all we could do to taste every yummy dish which left us stuffed to the gills, no to the crowns of our heads. There were no seconds for us.

It was a fabulous meal. Here's hoping it's the start of a better time.

hmm, that was certainly awful

November 2013 was awful. Not the month as much as my relationship to it. It was the month that contained my dog's diagnosis of inoperable bone cancer and death.

It seems no matter how many sweet end moments I had the over all effect is... it sucked. So time to draw the veil over that month and get on with December.

I was going to jump right in but I am think it deserves its own post.

not the year for a birthday

Sometimes a birthday is about getting through the day and this has been one of those birthdays. I can't remember the last time my birthday was so .... dreary.  So that means I have been having great ones.  Ones where my poor wife was not sick and my dog did not have cancer. *sniff*

A large part of the dreariness is missing Nanowrimo. I am working on my project but it doesn't feel the same at all. I miss Nanowrimo so much. Part of me keeps thinking 'maybe I could' and part of me wants to concentrate on my other deadlines.

Being an adult equals no fun sometimes. Hopefully a nice evening will bring some balance back.

unexpected gifts

Today I received the gift of "Strength to Transform in the Midst of Full Catastrophe". Now I am no where near a full catastrophe but it's nice to know it's there if needed.

warm wishes for smooth times.

zucchini after 7 in the Morning

Pre-birthday, post Samhain celebration included a visit to ArtAttack and a very well acted production of Morning's at Seven. The last showing is November 3, if you can make the matinee I recommend it warmly. 

This was followed by a nosh at the Loring Kitchen. I don't know why but the servings were huge. In the past there was never enough but this time we had ample zucchini fries for 8 people.  We were 2.

Fortunately unlike theatrical runs the restaurant should be there in the future so you can try those fries for yourself at any time.

post gloom

The title is not quite accurate there is still plenty of gloom to go around.

But the sun today was the opposite of gloom. It was bright and kind and showed off every coloured leaf on every gorgeous tree with a golden haze.

It was hard to stay on the road when I wanted to gawk full time at beauty. Have the leaves ever hung around this late before?

Nanowrimo and Samhain 2013

There is a lot to be sad about today.

The worst thing is the news from my dog's vet. The x-rays showed a huge tumor in the hip/pelvis area -- my dog has cancer.  So hard.

A smaller woe, I cannot do nanowrimo this year. I have 2 high priority writing projects due the the first of 2014 and that's where I need to put my focus/writing.

I wondered about doing a smaller challenge but that doesn't seem workable or wise. Still I will miss doing nano so much... although not as much as I will miss my dog.

I know there are those out there who had a delightful day and I rejoice in that. I keep thinking that's the way Samhain should be but that's not reality.

samhain mhaith

when your chocolate cake is too dry

I made a great grain free chocolate cake this week. It was a bit dry though dark and chocolate-y with a nice sponge-y texture.

When I made it I halved the sweetener. Which caused the dryness. Coconut flour has a way of sucking up the moisture. However this situation led to great things.

Add fruit only sour cherry jam and coconut vanilla cream on top and you have Black Forest Grain Free cake!  Fabulous.

I can't remember the last time I had black forest cake but I am feeling it won't be the last one this season. Pumpkin spice is the next on the list for my bday.

Sweetness for all!

Olive and Bronze and Brown

I love colour and patterns. This comes out in my knitting, clothing, home decor -- I get joy in noticing and playing with colour.  Even when it's temporary -  play doh with the little ones.

Recently I noticed some colour weirdness.  

The first was my 'new' trench coat. It's brown, it was brown when I bought it at a local consignment store. I wear lots of brown and autumnal colours and it goes with everything. It stays brown except when I am out in natural light, then it turns olive.  It's a synthetic fabric.

Then I got my new shoes, adorable olive green herringbone suede flats. I love them. The lining is olive green as well. They go with tons of my clothing and they are comfortable. When I wear them out in natural light they turn brown.

If I am in a mixture of natural and artificial light then both are a bronze colour. In-between.

Yet I have lots of brown and olive pieces of clothing and shoes that never change shade. Why do these?

It's the strangest thing.

Dinner Tonight

Tonight's dinner was phenomenal. 

Alaskan salmon [from local farmer's market]
Sorrel sauce [sorrel from my garden]
Cauliflower 'rice'

followed by

Camembert [trader joe's brand is a winner]
Snow sweet apples [local]

Ginger tea
Pear cardamon muffin

It went down easy even with a churned up anxiety tummy.

Happy noshing.

New wallet and a theory

I have had a simple black leather wallet for years.  My sweet wife bought it for me as a 'anniversary of the day we met' years ago.  It's lovely leather, not too big and does everything a wallet should do. It's not exciting which is fine. I never thought about wallets really.

But in the past month someone was writing about choosing a new wallet, It had to be a bright color so that she could find it easily in her purse. This sounds brilliant to me. I hate it when I can't find things in my handbag. So I decided to keep my eye out at thrift/consignment stores for a bright wallet.

Yesterday I found a great snakeskin leather wallet for less than $7 dollars... in chartreuse. It is a great size, good quality and looks like it has never been used. The interior and exterior is pristine. I cleaned out my old wallet last night and put the necessaries in the new one.

So I am ready to test this theory. Will this [obnoxiously] bright color make my wallet easier to find? Time will tell.

Sixth on the Sixth

Our sixth wedding anniversary!

Wow that went by so quickly.

I can remember 10-6-2007,  the humidity and heat and rush and all the love and support so well.  I am so grateful for these memories but also happy that today will be of a much lower stress and task level.

It's a crisp, sunny-for-now, typical autumn day.  My sweet wife has spent most of the weekend sick in bed, we have missed concerts, parties and now we will be staying in for our anniversary.  I will pick up some Indian take out. I am not sick in the same way but I don't feel normal either so it is good to not have to push it. My new dress will have to wait to be taken out.

It is wonderful to remember our first wedding day and be happy with all the extras there are to celebrate this year. Low key is a really nice change.

Magical marriage on Lughnasadh

For years I had assumed I would be getting married a third time in the state/country where I reside. 

Some Day.

Then something magical happened. More than one thing. Many things.

My residing state got together and decided to not limit marriage to couples of opposite gender declarations. Then a group of black robed people, looking like a bunch of Hogwarts professors, decided that if my state said I was married they would not disagree.

What this meant for me and my wife? As of midnight today we are so married. All without lifting a finger. It was like a spell had been cast -- or broken. I didn't need to get married again. 

On July 31st I wasn't and then on August 1 I was.  Magic, we are.

Happy Lughnasadh and congratulations to all the new spouses. 

Here's hoping many more dreams will come true for us all. xox

Summertime 333

Tucked into my first post this year I spoke about my January-February-March 333 project. It went very well. I had a lot of fun doing it but I ran aground when I tried to pick my 33 pieces of apparel for April-June because of the weather.

The weather was so weird April-May, there was no spring really, then summer came mid June and I had two trips that had very different climates....well the end result was that I could not pick clothing. The battle between long sleeves and short was too much for me this year. My cold weather clothes seemed 'off' but I was freezing a lot. [except when I went to Palm Springs]

Now it is July and it is firmly summer and I find that I can make decisions about clothing easily. For whatever reason I feel like I can handle the weather for the next 3 months and I am able to plan. I also went out last month and got shoes for the summer so that hated task is done. I also realized I was short on plain t-shirts and tanks so I picked up a few at various thrift/consignment stores.

My List [always a work in progress]

1-3 Tan Sandals, Black Sandals, Coral shoes
4-9 Black pants, Slate pants, [2] brown pants, [2] green pants
10  Bronze shorts
11-19 Short sleeve tops: vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, [2] black T, [2] brown T, purple T, [2]print
20  Maroon print skirt
21-25 Sleeveless tops: black, slate, olive, lime, brown
26-27 Blue dress, Wine dress
28-30 Summer sweaters for AC: lime, blue, heather
31  Swimsuit

I am at 31 items including shoes.  I don't count exercise clothing or grubby garden wear or accessories. I have a awol purple tank top and my purple jeans are probably too big but my list may shift a bit.  I see lots of fun outfits in this list. It feels spacious almost too much so. If September turns cold I can swap out a bit but considering how hot it is now it seems silly to worry about it.

It feels good to have that settled.

Replacing potato salad

I grew up with my mother's potato salad and I enjoyed it. It was a typical blend of cooked potato chunks, chopped celery, hard boiled eggs and diced onion with a mayo/mustard dressing. Paprika sprinkled on top.  We had it on summer picnics with chicken.

Once I went off sugars and most starches in 2002 I simply replaced the potatoes with steamed, cauliflower chunks and never looked back.

But this week a friend asked me for my salad recipe at our 4th of July cook out and I realized that I make my salad different every single time I do it.  In fact this year's was quite different since all of my celery was bad and I didn't add eggs because there would be yummy deviled eggs on the same table.  I also let the ingredients I had in the garden lead me.

So here for my writing partner is how I remember making my  

2013 Cauliflower Salad.

Combine in a large bowl --
Steam a large cauliflower, cool and chop. Chill in fridge.
3 mild white radishes, chopped.
3 green onions, chopped small.
large handful of garlic chives minced.
large handful of tarragon de-stemmed.
salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together for dressing --
1c homemade mayo [I know made this with olive oil but can't remember the seasonings]
1 tsp coleman's mustard
1 tsp paprika 

Dress salad and chill it in the fridge all afternoon for dinner. Invite a few friends over to enjoy a truly beautiful 4th of July summer night with good food and laughter. I think the occasion and the people added to the taste of the salad. But you may be able to duplicate it.

As for me I am grateful for the normal summer we have had thus far. It has been hot and sometimes muggy but not unusually so. The garden is doing well and strawberries are bearing and the birds are singing along with the waterfall.

Wishing all some summertime joy! xox


Breaking Through

The Silence of May and June seem necessary now though I was in the middle of it before I realized it. The debate around my marriage on the state level and the decisions on the federal level are made of equal amounts of wordless pain and joy.

I can’t really celebrate although there is much to celebrate. Some times I can stare wide-eyed in wonder at the change. Then at times I see my failures as an ally to others so clearly.

I realize how deeply in different ways the rejection has wounded me. I finally feel strong enough to face how painful parts of the past have been. I see that it crippled me in a way, as I tried to guard myself against more pain, more rejection - I limited myself.  

[I bow to my humanity, my 'normalness']

I feel relief that decisions were in my favor. I feel fear when I read about what is happening in Russia or France. I feel anger when couples don’t know how to respond to marriage because they could never dream in a million years it could happen for them.

It is so painful, we deserved our dreams

Words still falling short.

Was that April?

Does is seem like Beltaine to you today? Chances are if you live in my neck of the woods you are thinking 'hell no'.

The idea that spring is half over is ridiculous. It just started last Friday after all.

April was snowy and dreary and cold and odd and I don't know a single local person who didn't find themselves taking the weather very personally at times. I noticed myself doing this but I wasn't able to turn it off. I feel like I spent most of the month accepting the shitty weather and accepting myself for letting it bother me so much. Time for a change.

April contained more than the icky weather. There were volunteer trainings and dining out for life and seeds being planted and a few walks. There was weight-lifting and continued wearing of boots. There were sweet tiny ideas being born. There was healing in the family. Vacations have been figured out.

Unlike so many Springs this one will be remembered.
I am ready for May, although it is snowing out there as I type this. 

Happy Beltaine irregardless. xox

Grain free for a year [mostly]

I can't believe it's been a year since I stopped eating grains. It went fast and I wonder how much I will remember in another year or so?  Blogging to the rescue.

So here is what the this year of grain free looked like for me in no particular order.

[Back story: I was grain free for two years previously the summer of 2002 to the summer of 2004. I have been sugar free for 10 years, this didn't change although I grew more sensitive to sweet tastes]

-I started again at the prodding of my doctor. She suggested it as a way to deal with my swollen ankles which had been bothering me for the previous 4-5 months. 

-My wife volunteered to do it with me as support. Now she does it for herself. 

-The first month or so I upped my starch [potato, quinoa, buckwheat, and fruit] it did not agree with me. There was digestive evidence of this for 6 weeks or so. So I limited simple starches as well.

-About every other month I have Mexican and while I am there I may have 6 corn chips with lots of guacamole.

-I did not gain any weight over the winter holidays.

-My ankles have been improving, maybe an 80% improvement over the year.

-Coconut flour is a wonderful thing. It took a bit to get my grain free baking mojo back.

-I planned days when I would eat grains - on holidays - so about every 6 weeks. I might eat a sour dough pancake or sushi or real bread. No bad effects from this. I also ate some grains while on vacation in Montreal.

-During the warmer weather I missed rice a lot. In the colder months I missed bread. I still have days every month where I miss certain grains.

-The skin condition on my arms which I have had all my life is 'calmer'.

-I have potatoes about twice a month when I eat out. Usually hash browns. 

-I don't make grains or potatoes at home. If I buy some for a party I toss out leftovers when the party is over. Keeping french bread in the house is almost irresistible.

-I have lost almost 30 pounds. My weight stopped creeping up.

-I don't feel deprived. Sometimes I feel short of time to cook.

-I don't stress about small things when I eat out.  The sauce may have a bit of corn oil but I don't worry. I eat at places that serve seasonal, local and organic food. It works fine.

That's all that I can think of right now, if more comes to me I'll edit or have a part II. Basically it has been a good experiment that I am happy about. Certainly eating grains seldom seems to be what agrees with my body the best for the moment.

Now time for dinner. Salad, chicken with carrots and celery, followed by brie, half a pear and grain free crackers. Good nourishment to all!


Spring 2013 Report or saying so long to March

Spring came on the 20th but it is different from last year.

There is no eating outside or marveling at the warmth or being shocked by the 'much too early' appearance of the mosquito this month. Instead it has been snowy and cold.

So on equinox I did the only thing I could think of on my day off. I went and hid in the conservatory for three hours. In there I could sit in a t-shirt, underneath pepper plants and fig trees, and pretend that winter had no hold over me.  Glorious.

Since equinox we have been having some sweeter and more spring like days. Yesterday I wore my leather jacket instead of my winter coat. I am wearing my black unlined boots. There has been sun and a thunderstorm moved in early yesterday morning. The snow is being washed away and the birds are all lining up on the telephone wires ready to jump into Spring.

Any day now I'll be getting the report that the first red-winged blackbird has been spotted and we will know spring is really here. My body is ready, I don't seem to need my light therapy anymore and my plate seems empty without lots of veggies.  New shoots both indoors and out are popping up everywhere. And we found a place that makes the most wonderful zucchini fries.

So onward to April! Here's to a new round of project 333, the pathways [chemistry] of joy workshop, more of those fries, the friend's plant sale and dining out for life. 

It's time to wake up. Good morning all.

Yeoman of the Guard Shuffles Along

There are many plausible reasons I could give as to why I did not review this operetta earlier this week.

-My wife has been sick all week
-Daylight Savings Time and I always need time to get used to each other.
-I've been working overtime.
-That darn Mercury thing I don't believe in, at all,  was happening.

All of the above are true statements but they are not the reason I did not yet review the operetta. 
The truth is --  I didn't enjoy it.   and I didn't want to say it.

The Good--

Went with great friends and had a lovely brunch beforehand.
The cast, crew and musicians were wonderful as usual.
The singing was top notch.
There was a moment at the end of the first act when everyone was singing and it was so beautiful and overwhelming. An ocean of voices swirling every where and carrying one along with them.

The Bad--

The Operetta itself. I don't know if this is the worst operetta Gilbert and Sullivan ever wrote but I shudder to think that anything coming from them could be worse than this and I hope I never find out. They tried to write a tragedy, they failed. 

I sincerely hope there were no first time Gilbert and Sullivan attendees because it would probably be their last time.

Ah well, let us never speak of it again.

Sprouts of Spring

Vernal Equinox is still days away but over the past few years I have learned some new things about myself and Spring.  A season I didn't pay too much attention to as a child. Perhaps because it was my spring then? For instance I notice that I don't enjoy cold or raw food in the winter. Until suddenly at the end of February I find myself wanting to have sprouts, any kind of sprouts, on and with everything.

I use them as a bed for my fried eggs. I put them on top of stews or plates of cauliflower rice. I don't add them to my yogurt yet...but now that I think about it raita with sprouts added sound great.

I love to think of those sprouts as the physical manifestation of all the "coming out of winter dormancy into spring" sprouts inside and with me. Thinking about the garden, IMAD behind me and Gilbert and Sullivan ahead. Having the drive to write fiction again [almost 10k words this week] The whistle of birds to answer outside. Energy rising in all ways. It's delightful to speak with people and find out what the first whiff of spring is to them. 

Here we all are, in this location anyway, knocking on Spring's door.

33st Annual Playford Ball

March is less than a week old and yet so much has happened. It opened with a festive dinner [Indian food] to celebrate my wife's recent career successes.

Then the next day was the first Saturday of March which meant it was time for the annual Ball.  Although I made it to all of the practices during February the ball seemed to sneak up on me. Saturday found me making a small tiara to go with my outfit as I was waiting my turn to get my hair 'done'.

Why so last minute? I had the crazy idea that perhaps a tiara would be too much with the elaborate necklace I was planning on wearing. I did come to my senses. Passing up an opportunity to wear a tiara is not to be missed. I also wore my hand painted silk chiffon shawl, an item I love but don't wear near enough.

The ball was a lovely affair.  Several of the dances were charming. Highlander's Humour, Black Heath and Night Watch were highlights for me. It was disappointing though that Wakefield Hunt got cut due to running out of time at the venue. The video can give an idea of it's charm but our group does it as a double progression triple minor instead of a static three couple set at a slightly slower pace and it is so amusing.  A fabulous dance.

I hope everyone started March out with pleasure.

Waving back at February

March is here and so am I. I want us to meet and have adventures but first I better bid farewell to February.

February contained yet another brutal cold, my third this winter. So I scaled back, way back. I didn't blog for the entire month.  I learned to nap.  I conserved energy for training at work. I let myself feel sick until I didn't any more. I entered dry dock and bid farewell to a dearly loved space. I eased into the unknown and lay fallow.

I had a delighttful Imbolc and we celebrated IMAD on 2/15. I had a day long artist date on 2/18. I started drawing again for fun. I pondered over choices for the spring. I saw a dear friend perform the lead in Shadowlands. [He is fabulous] February was a great month.

And now, welcome March!

Mid January Freeze

We are in the middle of a cold snap and I find myself wanting to huddle by a hot oven bake everything.

With that as my motivation I finally got around to playing with my recipe for chestnut flour cookies. I call it 'my' recipe because I could not find a grain free version of chestnut cookies anywhere. So I made one up based on an old biscotti recipe I got somewhere, perhaps that Italian cookbook translation...

Chestnut flour is great for grain free baking if you like the taste. This is one of the few flours I do store in the freezer, I find that the flour can go off quickly.

As always there are many ways to tweak this recipe, I know I am not done with it. You may need to adjust the dry ingredients if your eggs are smaller. It's possible to swap the butter out with coconut oil, switch the maple syrup to honey, add nuts or chocolate or stevia to make them sweeter... but please enjoy them however you make them.

Chestnut Biscotti

Mix together

1/4 c soft butter
1/4 c maple syrup
2T almond extract
2 eggs [I used 'jumbo' ones]

Stir in 

1 1/2 c chestnut flour
1/2 c almond flour
1t baking soda
1t salt

Chill the dough if it is too soft for you to handle.
Divide dough in half and make two flattened logs of dough, ten to twelve inches long, on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Remove dough logs to rack to cool and turn over down to 300.

Fifteen minutes later slice logs up into short slices and lay them down on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake about ten minutes then flip slices over and bake about another ten minutes. 
They should be dry and crunchy. Typical biscotti. 

If needed immediately hide half of them so that the people you live with do not eat them all the first day. Cozy wishes out to all.

2013! It's here.

It's 12th night tonight [starting from Solstice] and Yule is almost over. The holidays have been wonderful and my month long bout of the flu is wrapping up and I couldn't be more delighted.  I am looking forward to all the joys and gentle lessons of the new year and thanking 2012 for it's many sweetnesses.

I have been an 'anti-clutter' person since April of 2002 but it's a cycle like so much in life. Right now I am in high gear sorting and giving/throwing out stuff. It may have been prompted by holiday shopping or perhaps by incoming presents. I am having a blast and feeling so much lighter.

Related;  I decided to do Project 333 officially for January - March of this year. This has made my closet so wide open and spacious, I sometimes open the door to gaze in it. I am at 27 pieces but I did not count my snow boots or some of my necessary winter weather accessories. I do not have them by choice after all. There may be something in the laundry that I want to add, so we'll see where I end up for this three month period.

I also did not count my jewelry. I cull my accessories often and only have what fits in my hanging organizer but I don't have an interest in limiting myself to 6 pieces for 3 months. Right now it is a joy to decide which piece I want to wear on a given day with a plain top. Although I have had years where I have worn the same stud earrings for months or limited my choice in some other way so that may happen again in the future.

Also this concentrated decluttering is moving many things onto new homes. I may use the spare room as a meditation space this winter. We'll see how it shakes out.