Blood orange margaritas with rosemary salt

There so much joy to be had in rolling around on the floor.  

As we progress into adulthood, we learn to control our bodies ( to an extent), especially when out in public. Children, however, are different. They see their bodies as tools to express, things that reveal play and power using flurried hand motions and skips and dives and rolls. I see it all the time when nannying; these five and six year olds fling themselves off the playground and into the sand, allowing their bodies to make all sorts of contact with the earth. Maybe it's the excessive amount of sugar from a dunkaroo or choco-taco...who knows!! Regardless, I like it when Ashley, my yoga instructor, tells us to take happy baby. I look at my legs and toes and think "WOW, these things are COOL!" I feel like one happy baby!!

We began Ashley's class the other day by recalling something that filled us with pure joy. For her, it was a baby goat that she used to sleep with in her family's barn. For me it was a baby crane. 

Before my Ammie and Poppop died, they lived in a condo in Florida that overlooked a forest of tropical trees and a flat golf course. Their home was dusted with lemon yellow furniture and potted plants and the pantry was filled with the same staples that my father had grown up enjoying: TandyKakes, peanut butter, and english muffins. 

One year we spent our spring break at the condo. My brother and I slept in twin beds in the guest room, while my mother and father camped out on the pullout in front of a console TV. In the morning we'd have breakfast out on the veranda. Poppop would drink coffee and read the paper, his grapenuts topped with a sliced banana. I'd do the same, but swap the newspaper for a Judy Blume book. In these early hours of morning, occasionally a family of cranes would gently plow their way through the palms and the brush. The babies followed their mothers, trusting they were being led to nourishment, and opening their mouths in a hungry "KAHHH!" The orange trees held the fruits as if they were planets, floating among the green and bursting with their acidity. My brother and I would eat them and let the sweet citrus explode onto our skin. It was the definition of happy place.

Now that I am older, I still read Judy Blume and coo over baby animals, but I've found ways to adult-ify my citrus. This includes adding tequila, triple sec, and rosemary salt to blood orange juice, in order to create a beverage that feels like happy baby and vacation. Citrus is crazy in season right now, and we have about a month left, so get juicing! If you end up laying on your back, remember to admire your toes. 

blood orange margaritas 

Ingredients 

4 ounces of blood orange juice(about 4 oranges, juiced)

4 ounces of silver tequila (i like Milagro, but you do your thing)

2 ounces of fresh lime juice (about 1 lime, juiced)

2 ounces of triple sec

1 teaspoon of agave nectar 

rosemary salt for the rim 

blood orange wedges to garnish 

rosemary sprigs to garnish 

 

Directions

Run a wedge of lime around the top of your serving glasss. Dip the top of the glass into the rosemary saltat a 45-degree angle and roll it from side to side to catch the salt. Add ice cubes and set aside. 

Fill a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, triple sec, agave, and juices. Shake for 20-40 seconds and strain the liquid into the glasses. Garnish with a slice of blood orange and a sprig of rosemary, if desired.

*I got my rosemary salt from my friend Alyssa, who got it from The City Farm.  You can find a recipe here. 

-Stay cozy

Gluten free s'mores blondies

It's S'more Season!!! This is something I've just made up, so technically any month will do, but August seems rather appropriate. We're entering the time of year where summer starts to fade (not yet though), and so the amount of camping trips and outdoor bonfires hike on upward.  I made an insane amount of s'mores the month before I went off to college; my high school friends and I would drive out to camp off Route 7 in Virginia, where we could stay up as late as we wanted and come home well after the sun rose.  We simultaneously felt very young and very grown up. 

Our s'mores mostly consisted of the traditional honey graham cracker, Hershey's chocolate bar, and large marshmallow, though we would occasionally get crafty and sub out the grahams for two Keebler Elf Fudge Striped Cookies. They were amazing, and perfect for the last moments of freedom before we all bounced off to our respective universities. 

Wes and Dylan might not be heading to college, but they are well on their way to kindergarden and the 3rd grade! S'mores were definitely in order. 

Their mom, Cathy, is gluten and dairy free, and so her treats tend to be a bit harder to find recipes for. Luckily, Food 52 offers an amazing recipe for gluten-free blondies. We made two versions: one with chocolate chunks and marshmallows (so not REALLY all the way dairy free...) and one with dried blueberries and dried cranberries.  I"m sure they would work well with a variety of other dried fruits/chocolates/nuts as well, but the point is: they were YUMMY. 

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I also love love love getting this little guy in the kitchen. He spent all morning in his hockey gear, and then promptly swapped into an apron. (Even at five, the process is oh-so-important!) I fed him pieces of chocolate as he stirred, and fell all the more in love. 

S'mores Gluten and Dairy Free Blondies

Inspired by Food 52 Blondie Recipe

1 cup coconut oil or buttery substitute, melted

2 cups light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chocolate chunks (or carob chips, to keep dairy-free)

1/2 cup marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9x13 pan with parchment or foil. If using foil, be sure to grease. Let the eggs and oil/fat reach room temp before using. 

Mix the butter and brown sugar with a whisk until they reach a caramel-y color and smooth consistency.  Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly incorporating as you go. Add the vanilla and stir.

Blend the flours together and stir in. Once combined, add the desired mix-ins and fold into the batter. Once everything is evenly distributed, spread the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are a golden brown. 

Let cool in pans, and then place in the fridge before cutting into squares.

P.S. my awesome friend Maddie is unleashing her self-written music and it's beautiful! I'm really proud of her. 

-stay cozy

Travel snacks

Hello friends! Good morning to all of you. I haven't been outside yet, so I can't say whether it's frosty or not, but for the sake of my drive I'm crossing my half-painted fingers. This evening I will be jetting off in my little yellow bug as I head down to Memphis, Tennessee for the United Professional Theatre Auditions. Not one to deny myself some exploration, I have lengthened the trip by a few days, with plans to stop in Blacksburg, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, and Tyler, Texas.  It didn't really occur to me until I relayed my plans to loved ones exactly how far I was driving. When they asked about my audition, I replied "I'm driving, and taking a little road trip." Maybe because I'm not crossing or reaching an ocean it doesn't seem that far to me. (Although a pit-stop in the Gulf of Mexico doesn't sound too bad...Bud Light Lime on the Sarasota shore sounds quite divine...!!)

So when I took in the length of my trip, my mind went to one thing: food. And gas. And money.  In the past, when I've traveled cross country, I've stopped at Mom and Pop dive-y restaurants, or sought out Anthony Bourdain's favorite dishes.  In New Orleans, I had Alligator Sausage and Shrimp Cheesecake and a Watermelon Mojito.  This, on top of two entrees I split with my boyfriend at the time, we also had an $80.00 bill. Worth it, but also not your everyday kinda meal.

Food is important to a traveler. It allows you to taste the scenery, examine the culture through another sense.  This being said, I will be sure to nom upon several of the local (and thrifty) eats as I make my way southward, in addition to having my epic baby cooler full of amazing travel goodies. 

1. Dry roasted almonds

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If you've been reading my blog, you are already aware of the slightly-beyond-platonic relationship I am maintaining with almonds.  I never thought I'd be one of those women in the opening montage of The Devil Wears Prada, the ones who wear La Perla and count almonds as a snack, but hell, here I am. They taste really good. I even bought dark chocolate covered ones yesterday, but I don't have a picture because I ate them all in the parking lot.

2. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate

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If I could have any job in the world, I'd want to be one of those kids on the chocolate cooking show sketch from All That. Do you remember it? They were called Randy and Mandy or Candy or Sandy or something rhyme-y and on the brink of stripperdom, and they attempted to make chocolate inspired recipes, but it always just ended up exploding into chocolate warfare. One time Chris Farley guest starred as a man who was addicted to ketchup. I miss the 90s.

Here I have regular dark, dark with raspberry (because ya gotta get a little crazy), and dark chocolate covered cacao nibs. If you've never had them, I highly recommend. They're crunchy and bitter, providing you with a slight endorphin kick and leaving your taste buds melting in rich bliss.

3. Luna Protein

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One of my favorite things ever are things that are not cookie dough that taste like cookie dough. The raw real stuff will always win, but when it's not around, I find substitutions. Chocolate covered cookie dough bites, cookie dough pop-tarts, cookie dough truffles. I love them all. So when I found Luna Protein offered a "HEALTHY" option, I nearly punched the GNC lady in a fit of joy.  For those mornings when I need to get on the road ASAP and have to skip a proper breakfast (silent tear will fall), these might just do the trick. And then I'll be eating cookies for breakfast, which I was never allowed to do, because Cookie Crisp, while it tasted like a brown unicorn, contained about 60 grams of sugar.

I also bought mint chocolate chip and lemon vanilla, and I'm surprised I stopped there.

4. Kombucha Multi-Green

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YUM! Who doesn't love getting in their daily dose of Algae? This girl does. This is like drinking the cast of The Little Mermaid. There are all these weird green-bits dancing around the bottom, and if you don't think about it at all, then the stuff is amazing.

5. Red Wine

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This is not for the road trip, rather the road trip unwind.  One cannot travel without a way to properly say goodbye to the road each night. You need a comfy bed (or couch, or sleeping bag) and a glass of red. The first, Velvet Moon, is something Trader Joe Guy encouraged me to try.  The second, Red Truck, is one of my favorite wines, rivaling the WalMart Lucky Ducky.  Kate first introduced me to Red Truck when we ate cheese and dried apricots on the floor of our shared bedroom at the Renn Faire.  I brought it to share with one of my good friends, Joshua, and he hadn't had it since college, when they drank it outside of trailers under the Texan stars. It's an easy-going, comforting red blend, that wraps you like a warm cheese and encourages you to sit down and snuggle into an afghan blanket.

6. Granny Smith Apples

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Crunchy and tart, these are the highest one the sour apple scale, and I love them for that.  They remind me of that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan peels an entire apple in one long spiral. I love them for that even more.

7.  Baby Carrots

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Because what's a road trip WITHOUT Vitamin A?!  Like the apples above, carrots provide a solid crunch. I wish I could say, "studies have shown...", but I heard this from word of mouth so who knows if it's true--crunchy foods relieve anxiety and energize you.  Regardless, this bag will approximately last me one hour of this over-a-week-long-trip.

8. Bubble Tape

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This had to come along for the ride, because sometimes, when you're on the road of some Tennessee Highway, and Jerry Lee Lewis starts playing, the one thing that will perfect the moment is blowing a bright pink bubble.

nourishing the body

Image There is a play I love. It’s called “Melancholy Play” and it’s by Sarah Ruhl. Ms. Ruhl writes very whimsical things, beautiful things; things that I would like to collect in a wicker-basket of words and take on a picnic along a Northeastern beach.  Maybe we would eat lobster rolls.

In this play, the main character, Tilly suffers from constantly feeling melancholic. She falls in love with a woman who writes obituaries, and then she turns into an almond.

“Do you ever have the feeling, when you wake up in the morning, that you’re in love but you don’t know with what?

-Tilly, in Melancholy Play

I’ve recently boarded the almond train. I like almond butter, I like raw almonds,  I like almond milk.  They’re all quite versatile, and provide different yummy satisfactions.  And they’re good for you?!?!

Healthy food gets a bad rep. I think this is because healthy eating often seems boring, or like you aren’t “living your life to the fullest” when you turn down donuts in favors of a breakfast smoothie.  (Don’t get me wrong. I love donuts. My favorite is the ultra-unhealthy, saturated fat laden, vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.) But lets not neglect the breakfast smoothie. It’s over there, waving its little blueberry arms, yelling “HEY I TASTE GOOD TOO, OKAY?”

While one type of food nourishes the soul (microwave nachos, I’m looking at you), the other nourishes the body. Like almonds.

Nourishing the body is so important. I don't think eating healthy foods makes me boring.  No, like a nude photograph of David Bowie, it makes me feel alive. It even sometimes makes feel like a beach dancer with a hula-hoop and the enthusiasm to climb a coconut tree.  The taste of raw almond butter comforts me, and yet I don’t fall into a food coma shortly after indulging in its bliss.

I like almonds in Sarah Ruhl plays. I like them plain, and maybe with a bit of salt.

I like almond butter stirred into my oatmeal, making little tidal waves throughout the creamy oats.

And I really really love love love almond milk in my smoothies.

Espresso Breakfast Smoothie

½ cup greek yogurt

1½ cup ice

½ almond milk

1 tbs. cocoa powder or carob powder.

1 shot of espresso

1 large banana

1 tsp. vanilla paste

1 packet of stevia

(I use stevia because I use unsweetened chocolate, yogurt, and almond milk. If any of these ingredients are already sweet, you probably don't need the stevia at all. Or you could use honey. I like things sweet, because part of me is still a child who mixes Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kettle Corn and calls it dinner.)

Blend everything together in a VitaMix or blender. Taste and adjust if needed; smoothies are personal things! Some people like them icy, some prefer smooth.  This makes one medium sized drink, perfect for one.

Enjoy with David Bowie music and then go dance in a pair of knee high socks.

words, words, prosecco.

Maybe it’s because I like to write, or maybe it’s because I cannot dance.  Whatever the reason, I think that words are one of the best things in the entire world. I love letters, typed or in cursive. I love ink, either on skin or parchment or the white tableau of the computer.  I love the words canoe, quartet, and prosecco.

Say it.  Right now.  It’s fun, right? Prosecco reminds me of orange marmalade, Italian tablecloths, and the smell of waffles crisping before a Sunday Brunch.   For those of you who have not encountered its bliss, prosecco is as lovely a drink as it is a locution.  This sparking white wine is the less fussy sister to champagne, and it’s bubbles never fail to disappoint.  (Right now I’m imagining the sisters Prosecco and Champagne in their little wine household. Their mother is a Chardonnay and their father is a Port. I don’t know how wine reproduction works.)   Prosecco is carefree and a little magical.  In the play, Reckless, by Craig Lucas, the protagonist, Rachel, describes her experience with sparkling wine, and how she would turn her head upside down to watch the bubbles fall like snow. I always loved this image.  Prosecco is falling snow. Clean, pure, and divine.

A few months ago my friend Hannah and I enjoyed a prosecco-esque beverage outside The Standard Hotel in Chelsea. We were in New York City on one of our days off from the Renaissance Faire, and had a few hours to kill before meeting up with our friends Kate and Brett before heading back to Pennsylvania.  Being in our early twenties and without any immediate obligation, we decided to drink the afternoon away.

We sat outside, among the young professionals and silver-haired men dining alone, craftily tearing their focaccia and using their napkins to dab at their faintly wrinkled chins.  Hannah and I stood out, wearing out brightly colored sunglasses and talking too loud. I like Hannah, because when I half-jokingly suggested we order an entire pitcher of a drink, she shrugged her shoulder and with casual smile said, “Why not?” It wasn’t like we had already each had a beer and taken a pickle-back shot. (We had.)

Regretfully, I forget the name of our drink. I do, however, remember it coming in a glass pitcher with a wooden spoon placed in the center like a lone oar.  Inside was the dangerous concoction of prosecco, vodka, muddled berries and mint. The bubbles and our Renn-faire personalities made us giddy and attempt exuberant conversation with our waiter, Serge. He disinterested in being anything more than our server, and even that role seemed to cause him mild annoyance. No matter. We had a blast.

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About two weeks later, I tried to replicate the drink. It was a Wednesday night in September, and hot for the mountains of Pennsylvania.   To understand this next part you must understand the Renn Faire set-up; behind the actual Faire, there was a place affectionately known as “The Commons” which consisted of the actors housing and living arrangements. Behind that, there was a small settlement of independent acts, consisting of musicians, gypsies, jugglers, stilt-walkers and knights.  It was a breeding ground for creativity.  One of the artists, a gypsy named Aly, arranged a 50s theme party and potluck, so that the actors and the independent acts could socialize and get to know one another.

 Everyone was excited for this event.  I, on the other hand, was in a state of stress. You see, a few days prior, I had taken another trip to New York City, and accidentally left my cell phone in a rest stop about two hours north of the faire. Dumb, dumb, dumb!   I found the only spare time I had to make the four hour round retrieval trip, which was the same night as the 50s potluck. Originally, I had been planning on using this time to make something delicious and theme appropriate, but by the time I arrived back at The Commons, people were already in their polka-dot dresses and sporting bright red lipstick. I immediately thought of what I could bring that would requite little to no cooking time and then it came to me. Booze.

I had vodka. I had berries; I used them in my oatmeal for breakfast. For some odd reason I also had mint and my mother had recently given me a bottle of prosecco. This was too easy.

So, in a quick flurry of creation, I made the drink.  Due to the fact that we could not remember the name, Hannah and I called it “Coopy’s Cup.”  The name Coopy came from earlier in Hannah and I’s friendship; she was playing a game of Pokemon and needed a name for her Pidgey, so I suggested Coopy. The name stuck, and then we used it to honor an alcoholic treat.  The berries weren’t as muddled as they had been at The Standard, but it would do. 

By this point, the sun had melted into the unseen depths of sky and we all playfully intermingled, snacking on deviled eggs and apple pie, and then washing them down with cold beer or a glass of the Coopy’s Cup. I wore my favorite yellow dandelion dress, which carried a small orange stain from when I was painting a Styrofoam version of the Sun.    The prosecco electrified my bloodstream. With the hanging tapestries and tea lights, I felt as if I were in modern version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, minus the love-struck donkey man.

I think of this night often.  The images, the tastes, and the touches all resonate and remain etched in my mind; but the only way I can communicate the memory is using my words.  I cannot explain the feeling of the humidity, but I can tell you my skin stuck to the cotton of my dress.  I cannot describe the giddiness that echoed down my wrists and into my fingernails, but I can say prosecco.  I cannot even accurately translate the buttery, minty taste of the Coopy’s Cup. I can, however, give you the recipe.

 

Coopy’s Cup (serves 2-6, depending on your thirst.)

 1 bottle of prosecco

1 cup of vodka (I like Absolut. A flavored vodka also does quite nicely, but can make it a tad too sweet for the sensitive taste-budded.)

½ cup strawberries

½ cup blueberries

A handful of fresh mint

Tear and muddled the mint at the bottom of a large pitcher. Add the berries and muddle a bit more, but not to the point where all the berries are crushed.  Pour in the vodka and prosecco.  Stir gently. I like to use a wooden spoon, but this is more for feeling than flavor.

Enjoy on a hot night, or a cold night when you turn up the heat and pretend its summer.

 

**Photo cred to Wallace Bidelspach!! 

thursday night wine night, you will never die

When I graduated college, I had to graduate more than just the university.  I had to graduate a long list of things that one can only deem acceptable as a college student. These included triple helpings of cinnamon toast crunch for dinner, wearing mini-dresses in below freezing weather, and falling asleep fully dressed before your Jimmy Johns arrives. Part of this is because there are no Jimmy Johns that will deliver to my zip code, but the main reason is this: some things we must sadly pack into a cardboard box, label it college, and revisit it only on an alumni weekend or when we are in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Thursday night wine nights are not one of these things.

I loved Thursday night wine night more Jennifer Garner loves taking her kids to the park. I loved wearing my pajamas while clutching the stem of a plastic glass. I love the cackle of my roommate's drunken giggle as one of us reveals a secret. I even loved counting the bottles the next morning as they stood proudly on our coffee table; our trophies from the evening. Said wine night came about when I lived in "The Brothel" my sophomore year of college. The house was three stories tall, four if you included the scary-basement-we-always-avoided, and had eight bedrooms and three bathrooms. Eight of us lived there. Eight FEMALES. We named it, "The Brothel," under the circumstances that in Virginia over five women in a house is considered a "place of sexual business." Please, VA law, there was never any money exchanged. To my knowledge.

Last night, another Brothel lady and myself indulged in a long-overdue WINE NIGHT. The drink of choice was the same yesterday as it was four years ago: Walmart Brand Lucky Duck Cabernet Sauvignon.

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"I don't know how they do it," Clarissa said as she sipped from her crystal glass. She wore a multi-colored sweater and a pair of shiny, spandex dance tights. (Both items were hand-me-downs, because Clarissa 'hates to buy her own clothes.') "It doesn't even taste like wine. It tastes like juice."

She took a longer sip, like a mermaid inhaling after being out of the ocean for too long. Then grimaced.

"That didn't taste like juice." And we laughed.

We got deliciously tipsy, our legs dancing over one another's as we talked about sex and our dreams. Clarissa had made molasses crinkle cut cookies that sparkled with sugar and tasted like a cinnamon blanket.  The night was very similar to our college days TNWN, with the exception of the other seven beautiful ladies.

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There was Stevie, who would often spend TNWN either with her own bottle, either putting off or writing a paper.  Stevie now lives in Chicago, still roommates (lucky bitches), with the fiery-souled, Macki, who made me a green velvet cake on my 20th birthday, and then forced me to chug a 24-oz Smirnoff Ice. Macki and Clarissa were perhaps the most dedicated TNWN participants, so much that we labeled their constant togetherness a "bromance" and started to question their sexuality.  Also in Chicago is Kristen, or K-Hanes, who currently lives with her boyfriend Chris Palmer, who is the closest thing to being a Brothel member with male genitalia.  Even further across the United States is Kaitlyn, or K-benz, who is currently taking the Los Angeles world by storm. She, being the Brothel Lady that she is, recently discovered a way to open a wine bottle without (!!!) a wine key, a skill that unfortunately came after graduation. Then there was Catie, or C-Hatch, who is currently honeymooning with her recent life partner, Daniel, in Disneyworld . As they ride the spinning tea cups, I hope C-hatch temporarily envisions herself in a wine glass, spinning down a drunken memory lane of eating Chanello's and falling asleep on the couch.  Michelle, our dear Shellster, kept us all semi-in-check by offering her ears and her wit. She was the Maid-of-Honor at Catie's wedding a few weeks ago, and had everyone simultaneously crying and laughing, which I thought was only possible when experiences second hand embarrassment after watching Girls. Finally, Sarah, or S-kys, is now teaching math to middle schoolers, but who once taught us all that you didn't need a bedroom to me a member of the Brothel.

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I loved wine nights, not because I loved wine (though this did contribute nicely), but because it was a guaranteed time and place to be with a group of women who genuinely loved one another. We wore red snuggies and fell on the floor, we watched the cat dance across the wicker shelves and we kissed under the mistletoe.  College roommates like that aren't just college roommates. They're your bridesmaids and they're the ones who ink your address onto your wrist.   They will hold your hand and slap your ass.

Cheers, to the ladies of 1373.

two sisters, part one

I've been reading many fairy tales recently, and find them very inspirational. I like the simplicity of the characters, the brevity of the prose and the way everything tastes like a mandarin orange. Note: the word "bossy" here is not meant to sound negative.  Bossy was an adjective that was frequently used to describe my personality when I was a small child. Some of us need to feel in control.

Two sisters, part one                                                                                                                                                                       There were once two sisters who shared the same hair and eyes.  In fact, they were almost identical, and traded sweaters depending on their mood.  They lived in a cabin deep in the middle of the forest, and though the one would have preferred the beach, she enjoyed the constant smell of fir and that whenever it snowed it looked like Christmas Day.  This sister ate salty snacks, like popcorn with fresh herbs and oils and smoked meat that she would occasionally purchase from the butcher in the town nearby.  The other sister preferred fruit, coffee, and chocolate as dark as the earth.

One of the sisters, the one who liked the saltiness of the sand and her snacks, was quieter than her twin.  She dressed herself in ink and scarves, and stayed inside playing spools of thread while her sister assembled stones to build a pathway from the gate to the front door.

They rode bikes together when it was warm outside and this is when they got along the best.

When it stormed, they were both afraid, and the held hands under the afghan blanket their mother had left them before she went to study rocks in Burma.

The bossy sister, the one who loved the trees and the crinkles in shortbread, told the other sister what to do whenever they faced frustration. They often argued, with sparks of blue and green bursting between the two like fireworks.  The beach-loving sister would go to bed angrily, quietly, until the next morning when she awoke to her sibling making olive oil and orange pancakes, and she immediately forgave her.  Through her bites, she still felt woefully misunderstood. 

...to be continued!!

the year of the fearless

Seeking some familiar faces and simple entrance into the New Year, I spent the 2013-2014 transition in Harrisonburg for a reunion with college friends, Buffalo Wild Wings, and gin with soda water and rose simple syrup. The night was lively, filled with high-heeled stumbles, jello shot genitalia, bottle rockets (a terrible idea), and plastic cup table games. We survived. And more importantly,  enjoyed ourselves.

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So. Hi, 2014.

I've never been good at New Years Resolutions.

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I often make vague ones, and ones that I tend not to really ever end up doing. (Last year, however, my resolution was to drink more wine, which I definitely did.)  I understand the appeal, of course. New Years is a great landmark to assess your life, and decide what changes you want to make.  It makes you feel so much better about indulging in those shots of fireball and late night pizza, because, heck, you will never do that in the next year. The hard part is forcing that change. You're essentially turning on a green light and yelling GO NOW DIFFERENT and then expect a change to occur.  From my experience, there are two types of change in the world. Forced change and decided change. The forced change come from habitat, or things beyond our control. It comes from when you stand outside a bluestoned dorm room, waving as your parents drive back to their house without you in it for the first time. The first time the wrong person says "I love you." When you're working your first job within your field of study and harshly realize "I hate this." When you go to call someone, and realize you no longer can. That's when we change, because we have to. 

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And then there's the type of change that requires a decision. Change from within. I WILL go to Cycling, even if it kills me. I WILL stop making out with thirty year old men when I'm drunk and in a foreign country. I WILL call my parents.  I WILL get over ______. 

I am not good at either.

Perhaps it's because I'm a Libra.  

Luckily for me, sometimes change is unneccesary. Because like some deep intuition, that thing that we crave already exists within us. It's stays, even when untouched, balanced within us like a mustard seed. An ever-present plant that without the proper care and attention, remains deep in the soil.  There's no need to "change," only to observe, listen, and let the damn thing grow. 

A few nights ago, I enjoyed the company of my good friend Stacey, the Pajama Men, and a snowy DC evening. We ate spicy salads. The food was good, but not nearly as delicious as the conversation between Stacey and myself. Stacey had recently returned from a trip to Israel. Over our greens, we traded stories from our adventures across the pond; hers consisting of camel rides and nearly getting married off, and mine of ginjinha and bike rides along the Portuguese coast.

"So," Stacey asked me at one point. "Tell me your favorite thing, your least favorite thing, and the thing that you learned about yourself." 

Favorite thing: everything. Least favorite thing: leaving. Thing I learned about myself: Uhhhhhh.  

It took me a sec. I hadn't really thought about it before that moment. But upon consideration, I found I learned I have a seed of utter fearlessness.  It was always sitting there, like a box of Samoas in my freezer I totally forgot I had.  

In foreign countries (and even the foreign United State), there is no embarrassment. There is no failure. There's NO (!!!) regret! You're surrounded by people you will most likely never see again, in a place that you may never return to. You are only expected to live, learn, and enjoy.  It's a sense of freedom that explains the wanderlust in all of the adventurers of the world.  

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So for this New Year, I want to remember that a little nugget of bravery exists. I don't want to change; I want to remember: fear can be conquered. Fear is weak. Fear should never be a roadblock in our own little Route 66. 

It's much more fun this way anyway. 

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