Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Life in 15 Photos

A podcast I love galvanized me to "deal with my photo clutter."

Or, at least, get 12-to-six-month's-worth of photos off my phone and posted somewhere.

Going through a year's worth of photos paints a pretty nice picture of my life today. I found this an incredibly comforting exercise. (It's not too late to be your New Year's Resolution, if you're looking for one!)

Here are 15 pictures that capture who I am today:

1. I moved out on my own in the last year. Everything I own fits in like two boxes. Whatever, independence, whee!

2. Moments of Parallel Synchronized Randomness make me smile. Sometimes you park next to the same car, in the same color, with the same dent, just on the opposite side of the back bumper.

3. Sign from a restaurant I frequent. It reminds me how often I switch back-and-forth between Spanish and English in daily life.

4. Preparations for a Lego Robotics program. Work hard, play hard.

5. Working with kids should be silly and fun. So, like, OINK.

6.A ribbon-rose craft discovered with my mom and sister. So many roses!

 7. Pizza with home-grown tomato and basil. My parents' summertime backyard garden is always a treat.

 8. I don't know why a child made this but I love it. Swag Octopus.

9. Coca-cola. The conundrum of my professional life.

I spend half my time leading Nutrition lessons that encourage kids to NEVER drink soda.

And then the other half of my lessons are science/engineering projects, which require plastic 2-liter Coke bottles (ideal for making rockets) or these glass kinds. Bottle openers are Class 2 Levers, and I should let kids experience that, right? Drink soda! Or don't! I don't know!

10. These two pairs of thrift store boots have changed, and really defined, this past autumn and winter for me. THANK YOU THRIFTED BOOTS!

11. My team at work won an award. Recognition is nice!

12. My sister needed a couch. We got her one. Moving it up a flight of stairs was... interesting. But, COUCH!

13. I am surrounded by people who love board games. Even this one about using the London tubes to get places. Rules are learned; competition is fierce.

14. Refreshing New Year's Day hike with a dear friend.

15. Just some light Saturday reading with my love:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Make It, Don't Buy It: 2016

It turns out grad school is pretty expensive. Especially when you're paying off two other degrees. And a car. And rent.

But that's OK, because mostly, I want to work hard, and read books I already own. And I want to make things.

I've been trying to make every meal and spend my free time writing, reading, using my hands, building things... anything except spending money.

I have been making things! It feels great.


I started learning how to quilt this fall. First project: baby quilt for a high school friend.

First step: cut circles, arrange circles.

Weeks or months later--all is attached!


Optional step: hypnotize baby with fabric patterns.

Next quilt: outlined!

Now that I've finally given this as a gift, I can post pictures online!

Let me first proclaim my love of Pins and Needles yarn shop in Princeton, NJ. Lovely shop, lovely alpaca yarn:


Lovely Christmas gift, from Fringe Supply Co., which inspired me to learn stripes!

Or, at least, juicing and getting to know a food processor. Two ways I've been trying to keep up my energy in spite of dark, cold, and over-packed days: energy balls and fresh smoothies.

Apricot Energy Balls
130g unsulfured dried apricots
2 tbsp. cashew butter
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
3 tbsp. chia seeds (plus more for rolling)
80g ground almonds
Instructions: Throw into food processor, blend up, roll into bite-sized balls.

Yummy Green Juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 cup frozen kale
1 large sweet apple, chopped
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon pea protein powder
1/4 cup frozen mango
1 fresh mint leaf
1/2 tablespoon virgin coconut oi
a few splashes of water

Blend. Drink. Repeat.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What I (Re)Read in 2015

Since 2008 I've vowed to read 52 (for-pleasure) books every 52 weeks. Usually, I keep it.

This year I also promised to re-read some of my favorite books, to remember why I loved them and better learn how they worked.

And I did! ...But I couldn't stick to strictly rereads. There's just too much out there in the world that I need to get my hands on.

All in all I reread fewer books than I first-time read. But I do plan to keep returning to beloved books in 2016.

I put away 65 book this year. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't proud.

My Top 10 Reads from 2015
1. Euphoria - Lily King
2. The Chronology of Water - Lidia Yuknavitch
3. Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth - Xiaolu Guo
4. The Turner House - Angela Flournoy
5. Bad Girls, Honey: Poems about Lana del Rey - Megan Falley
6. Breathing Machine: A Memoir of Computers - Leigh Alexander
7. Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth - William Bryant Logan
8. Mary Oliver forever, just everything, always.
9. The Star Side of Bird Hill - Naomi Jackson
10. Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

2015 Rereads
Eva Luna - Isabel Allende (fiction)
The Tiger's Wife - Tea Obrecht (fiction)
Body Bereft - Antje Krog (poetry)
Room - Emma Donoghue (fiction)
Sabriel - Garth Nix (fantasy)
Before I Forget - Andre Brink (fiction)
White Oleander - Janet Fitch  (fiction)
Saga, Vol. 1 - Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
Saga, Vol. 2 - Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
Saga, Vol. 3 - Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
Saga, Vol. 4 - Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz (fiction)
The World Shared - Dariusz Sosnicki (poetry)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg (children's fiction)
The Phantom Tollbooth - Norman Juster (children's fiction)
Sula - Toni Morrison (fiction)
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros (young adult fiction)
Maniac Magee - Jerry Spinelli (young adult fiction)
Cavedweller - Dorothy Allison (fiction)
The Red Tent - Anita Diamont (fiction)
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (fiction)
One Day - David Nicholls (fiction)
Daytripper - Fabio Moon Gabriel Ba (graphic novel)
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan (fiction)
The Vampire Lestat - Anne Rice (fiction/horror)
The Queen of the Damned - Anne Rice (fiction/horror)
Dream Work - Mary Oliver (poetry)

2015 First-Time Reads
Saga, Vol. 4 - Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
Logicomix - Aposotolos Doxidas (graphic novel)
Euphoria - Lily King (fiction)
Ex-Machina, Book 1 - Brian K. Vaughan (graphic novel)
Clariel - Garth Nix (fantasy)
Woods and Chalices - Tomaž Šalamun (poetry)
A Worldly County - John Ashbery (poetry)
The Chronology of Water - Lidia Yuknavitch (memoir)
Walking - Henry David Thoreau (essay)
Freud - Corinne Maier and Anne Simon (graphic novel)
Scott Pilgrim, Vol 2: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Bryan Lee O'Malley (graphic novel)
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood (fiction. I put it down after 100 pages. Woof.)
Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth - Xiaolu Guo (fiction)
Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey (science fiction)
Native Guard - Natasha Trethewey (poetry)
Save Twilight - Julio Cortazar (poetry)
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins (mystery)
The Merchant of Venice: A Graphic Novel adapted by Gareth Hinds (graphic novel)
Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan (pretty trashy fiction SUE ME)
Adulthood Rites - Octavia Butler (science fiction)
Breathing Machine: A Memoir of Computers - Leigh Alexander (essay/memoir)
The Turner House - Angela Flournoy (fiction)
Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey (science fiction)
The Star Side of Bird Hill - Naomi Jackson (fiction)
Scott Pilgrim Vol 3: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness - Bryan Lee O'Malley (graphic novel)
Scott Pilgrim Vol 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together - Bryan Lee O'Malley (graphic novel)
Reinventing Yourself: Overcome you anxiety and fear when faced with life's problems and challenges - Mario Alonso Puig (self-help)
Saga Vol. 5 - Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
Bad Girls, Honey: Poems about Lana del Rey - Megan Falley (poetry)
The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolaño (fiction)
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr (fiction)
Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth - William Bryant Logan (creative nonfiction)
All are Welcome Here - Elizabeth Berg (fiction)
Naming the World: And other exercises for the creative writer, edited by Bret Anthony Johnson (essay collection)
Versed - Rae Armantrout (poetry)
In Light of India - Octavio Paz (nonfiction/essay)
Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl - Donald Sturrock (biography)
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates (creative nonfiction/essay)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crazy Cook Week: A Different Recipe Every Day

I accidentally planned a week where I cooked something from scratch every day--mostly for work. I took pictures when I could. It seemed like a daunting prospect--but it was fun!

Thursday, December 10, Almond Sandies. Just because:

Tuesday, December 15, holiday party for Teen Council club. Mac'n'cheese is life.

Wednesday, December 16, Kiddos do a final (and very late) garden harvest, and Miss Laura cooks for them.

For our final Science of Soil program, I brought in baked turnip chips and spinach bread. End-of-program evaluations include lots of surprise at how much 5th graders enjoy turnips. It's the most impressive heist I've ever pulled off.

Thursday, December 17, staff holiday gathering leads to vegan ziti hot dish:

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Road to Shenandoah

On the road south and west to the Shenandoah Valley, people tell you all sorts of things.

In Southern Pennsylvania, a woman walked up to me and complimented my (recently thrifted) hiking boots.

For that brief drive through West Virginia, after two Jersey girls struggled to pump their own gas and finally succeeded, a man called to us, "Ya'll a long way from home, ladies!"

First Light

Visitors, on the river

And then, hiking through this national park of streams, mountains, valleys and waterfalls, the silence is most striking. Once you've made it to Shenandoah, it's quiet.