29 February 2012

cutting board class

cutting board pieced together, before it has been polished into its final form

I signed up for a woodworking class recently, and the focus was to make a cutting board. Strangely enough, I have been on the hunt for a really nice cutting board for quite some time. Turns out the really stellar ones—not some little bamboo guy from TJ Maxx—are quite expensive! So when I saw that this class would not only result in what I had been searching for, but it would also teach me basics of woodworking, I figured why not! My grandfather did a lot of woodworking and I grew up playing around in his shop, but never really learned any techniques. I would just find random pieces to glue or hammer together. This was pretty close to what I did during art school in my sculpture class—finding random pieces in the wood bin to build something that might result in a sculpture! Again, never really learning any real techniques. So I suppose it's never too late! I am really proud of how it turned out. This approach to cutting up pieces, gluing them back together and hoping something will result turned out much better with a little guidance! It will be a nice compliment to my counter and my cooking. My grandfather will be proud, no doubt!

28 February 2012

it's the small steps

This past weekend was really lovely. I cannot believe we may have escaped winter with very little snow and intense cold. I have no complaints! I spent a good bit of time outside, a lot of that time, with my dogs. I have been working with a dog trainer for about a year now. E left me with two huge dogs to be responsible for and when the two together weigh about the same as I do, it can be difficult feeling confident walking them! He was brilliant with dogs, so when he was around it never occurred to me that I maybe wasn't. But, I am happy to say that a year later, after letting go of my ego enough to admit I need help with them, and lots of love and time together, the three of us have come along way. It is funny to watch the growth and change of the dogs alongside of myself. Mirror image actually. Anyone who thinks that dogs do not absorb and reflect what is going on around them is crazy. These two have absorbed ALOT over the past few years, and I am no longer sad to say that—and then in turn, do something about it. Both for them and for myself. I had a simple goal of feeling confident getting Oskar out again and walking him by Spring—a walk that didn't involve him pulling me along, or being nervous I wasn't strong enough to handle them, or things feeling out of control. Things sort of spiraled after E died, and there was a lot of fear and self-doubt when it came to stepping in and handling all of the responsibilities myself. Taking care of two very powerful breeds and getting them adjusted back to any sort of normalcy required me being able to feel confident and strong and happy myself. None of these characteristics have existed in me for quite some time now, and only recently have I been able to face this truth. I am grateful I had the pull to go ahead and get started down this path, long before I would be ready to walk it. This is true for any movement forward that I have been able to make over the past two years. In this case, I had one dog acting out by tearing things up in the house and the other being so sad and nervous, I had no choice but to stop and recognize they were grieving with me and it was my responsibility to help us heal. Slowly, but surely, the dog trainer has retaught me how to communicate well with them. She has helped me observe what needs to shift, as well as, the things that had already begun to change. We set realistic goals for my situation. No longer looking at what I should have been able to do, or what every other dog owner was already doing, but only what it was that I needed to accomplish. Just that one lesson, that one approach to changing this situation began to spill over into the other aspects of my life and vice versa. All of this letting go, and healing, and facing fears, and not comparing has turned out to be an avenue for all three of us to heal.

So on Saturday I looked up and realized I was there. I was moving down the road, with a confidence I had not felt in a long time, and my dog walking calmly by my side. It sounds so simple, but to literally SEE a tangible change in my life after working towards it, and waiting for it, well, it was a reminder that I am in fact not doing everything wrong. That maybe, just maybe, things will turn around a bit if I keep at it.

17 February 2012

yummy kale salad

Kale is one of my favorite greens. It is fabulous cooked down and paired with fish. Saute it with loads of garlic and lemon juice and it is a perfect winter side. It appears to be making a name for itself as it is showing up everywhere these days. I am grateful to come across some new ways to use it because it is so packed with nutrients, it shouldn't taste as good as it does! Here is a quick recipe for a salad. I had not really thought to eat it raw, like you might spinach or romaine but this has become my new favorite salad!!

Here is the rough rundown—you will need kale leaves, radicchio, garbanzo beans (canned is perfectly fine), fennel, and walnuts. Chop the kale, radicchio, and fennel; toss with rinsed garbanzo beans and chopped walnuts. For the dressing you will need olive oil, lemon, rice vinegar (or any kind of red or white wine vinegar), salt and pepper. I eyeballed this dressing, but basically 2 parts olive oil to one part lemon and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I recommend using a real lemon and adding a bit of zest to the final dressing. I also recommend adding a bit of heavy cream to make it more of a creamy vinaigrette dressing. Takes a bit of the tang out. Toss all of this together and enjoy! 

02 February 2012

little "hun"

We said goodbye to my grandmother over the weekend. It was a short fight with pancreatic cancer, but in reality it was too long if you ask me. I wish she had not experienced a single day of it. But, in true fashion, she did so with strength, grace, and an unwavering faith in God and what was ahead for her. And so a life well-lived came to an earthly end and I am thankful for the inspiration she brought to my family and my life. I am a few days late in posting this because I have been working out in my head what I wanted to say about her. The truth is, she was never one for bringing much attention to herself, so I will honor that and not plaster everything about her life all over my blog. Instead, I will just share a small, yet big, part of herself that she passed onto me. The love of antique shopping and estate sales. It was here, alongside of her, that I discovered a love for these stores and the inspiration they brought to me. We would spend mornings wandering through store after store, and it became one of the few places that would spark my imagination and get my creative brain going. I would envision how I could use the mismatched china set for an afternoon lunch, or the milk glass vase for my makeup brushes, or the old quilt on a wall. Over the years I collected for myself and began to find my own style. It was a mix of her (the elegant cut crystal, white milk glass, silver, and white linens) and me (organic objects, woods, graphic patterns, plants, pottery). I treasure every summer morning spent this way and rarely do I go into an antique store and not think of her. This was the beginning of what I have begun to realize is a bigger calling—for my career and craft. She will always be the root and inspiration for me. 

There is something so bold about genetics and how we can have so much of a family member in us. It is meant to be this way, written out long before we can know it. In this way, our lives can be beautiful. I cannot say why I always had more of a connection with her than I have with others, but I can say that over the years the line has been blurred as to what is her influence and what is actually me. I am grateful I had so much time with her and knew her in the way I was suppose to, as a grandmother. We all play the roles we are supposed to play—sibling, spouse, parent, grandparent, friend—and they are important for specific reasons. Although I will say, I think we all remember her as graceful, devoted, classic, quiet, and strong. She will always be there when I see red and pink roses, crisp white linens, cut crystal and milky white glass. She will be there when I find myself wandering through my house rearranging my beloved objects and feeling at ease when all is in place. Or when I use my good china for a simple afternoon lunch. When I pull out any of the pearls I have gathered over the years, many from her, and feel suddenly polished. When I find myself putting my family before any wish I would ever want for myself. When I find myself unable to ever sit still and stop doing for those around me. Most importantly, when I sometimes catch glimpses of myself, as I grow older.
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