Halloween 2012!

When we got back from Portsmouth on Saturday, we put away our bottled water and cans of tuna and wondered what else we needed to brace ourselves against the storm. Pumpkins! Of course! Last year we carved pumpkins too early in the month and they rotted through before Halloween. This year we waited a little too long, and when we went to Shaw's, there were only two unnaturally large pumpkins and these two mini pumpkins. So we went with the mini ones so we could each carve it and so Mike wouldn't have to deal with the disgusting mess of a large pumpkin. 

Our little pumpkins weathered the storm and they're all ready to light up our stoop for trick or treaters tonight! I've lived in a building for the past few years, so I'm pretty excited to finally live in a house with a doorbell in a neighborhood. What are you doing to celebrate? 
Update: I tied for first place in the costume contest at work! 


Made | Pulled Pork & Hurricane Provisions

It's very rare that things get shut down here because of snow, so when Mike's school and conference were canceled, I decided it'd probably be best for me to work from home today. We lost power a little bit ago for a good 20 minutes, and all I could think about was all of our precious frozen foods. But don't worry, the power's back on and the work day is almost over. 

Our preparations for the storm were as follows: 
Warm drinks. We have a stockpile of coffee, pumpkin-spiced teas, and hot chocolate. And regular sized marshmallows because those dried out mini things that come in the hot chocolate packets are a joke. This is serious hurricane business, people!
Pulled pork (recipe below!). We threw this in the crock pot yesterday afternoon and had it for dinner last night and lunch today. We keep saying to each other, with mouths full of pulled pork, "Why have we never made this before?!"
May I highly recommend getting Grillo's Pickles pickled red onions and hot dills for any ventures into pulled pork territory? You won't be sorry.
Romance lighting. Last night we lit some candles and plugged in our Christmas lights and pretended like the power was already out. Because, why not? Oh, we also got candles and batteries and water and candy and the latest of The Best American Short Stories 2012. 

A Crock of Pork

2 1/2 - 3 lbs of pork tenderloin or shoulder
1 - 1 1/2 c water or chicken broth or a mixture of both!
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp Texas Pete (the only other acceptable hot sauce to use here would be sriracha, but just get some Texas Pete already)
1 c BBQ sauce (we used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 c white vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

1. Slice up your onions and garlic, and place half of them at the bottom of your slow cooker. Layer your pork on top of that and sprinkle with seasonings.
2. Add the remaining onions on top, then pour water/broth and vinegar on top of that. Turn your slow cooker on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
3. After the initial 5 or 8 hour period, open the crock pot and get excited at how delicious it smells. Then pull the pork apart with two forks until well shredded. Add the BBQ and hot sauces and mix it up. Replace the lid for another hour or two.
4. Assemble on soft rolls with cole slaw and pickled red onions. Serve with salt and vinegar chips or potato salad!

Other ways to serve it...
Tonight we're making quesadillas with the pulled pork and red onions, and tomorrow we're going to make a BBQ pizza with it! Stay tuned...

Made | Apple sauce + then some.

It's always pumpkin this and pumpkin that, but what about the other Fall flavor? Apples! The pork to pumpkin's chicken. Everyone's all gung-ho about apple picking until it's three weeks later and the bottom half of their fridge is still entirely made up of apples. Or is that just me? If you have a ridiculous amount of slowly wrinkling apples in your fridge as well, I have an idea. Peel, chop, and throw all those babies (3-4 pounds) into a pot with brown sugar (1/4 c), regular sugar (1/4 c), cinnamon (a stick or 1/2 tsp), nutmeg (1/2 tsp), water (1 c), and hell, even some pumpkin spice if you feel like it! This is a rescue mission; there are no rules. Only survivors. The point is, apple sauce is real easy to make, makes your house smell like Martha Stewart's soul, and provides you with breakfast and dessert for the next two weeks in one fell swoop. That's my kind of recipe. 

Apple Pop Tarts
1 package puff pastry 
1 egg + 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp cinnamon + sugar
Apple sauce! (or really any filling)

Thaw your puff pastry and cut into an even number of squares. You could get fancy here and cut them into hearts or ghosts or the letter x. Whatever you want! Then plop some apple sauce in the middle of half of your squares (or blackberry jam, as seen above), and place the other half of squares on top of your filling. Use a fork to seal the edges, brush with the water and egg mixture (optional), and dust with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Let cool and store for breakfast on the go or eat immediately with ice cream! 

My other favorite way to eat apple sauce is in the morning, heated up with some granola (currently eating Trader Joe's pumpkin spice granola). I was pouring a bit of cream or milk on top of this until I accidentally poured sour milk on top at work and had to throw the whole thing away. Since then, I've nixed it on the milk business. 

What do you do with a surplus of your fall pickings? 


A story for Sunday | River Rock

When we talk about when to tell the kids, we talk more than we have in many months. I have had too much wine; I have spilt it twice and you are looking at me like you are thinking Well, this is exactly why I must go. I am trying to think of reasons you mustn't, but I cannot think of any that will convince you to stay. You are already gone. You have been gone for many months. Everything we do now is only formality.

Later, in bed, we lay together. You suggested sleeping on the couch, said it would be better to start getting used to the way things are. Are. Suddenly I am in the present. In this present tense, I am begging you not yet, not yet and you are relenting. I have a thought while brushing my teeth, maybe on other things he will relent. It is a harmful thought; I squash it as soon as it blooms. I must. We are in the present tense, separately. Our realities have diverged like Frost's old poem. How does it go? I ask in the dark. The present is always moving forward, hopping along from river rock to river rock until it slips and it has crashed into the shallow, cold water.

A Story for Sunday is my weekly commitment to writing fiction, whatever length, for better or worse. 


When in...West Roxbury

This past weekend Mike and I dogsat for some friends who live all the way out in the middle of nowhere that is known as West Roxbury. It always surprises me how far what people consider "Boston" sprawls; how the GPS tells you you're only nine miles away, but it will take 45 minutes to drive there. But there's a Joann's down the street, so I was satiated. We ordered Chinese food and watched The Village while I made up my very first crochet pattern and Mike napped on the couch from a food coma. Oh, and we got to hang out with the most mild-mannered dog you ever did see. It was a great mini-staycation.

On Sunday we made a big breakfast and headed out to explore the little downtown area near their house. It's basically a main drag of Centre street with a grocery store and random other little stores. We bypassed Starbucks in search of something local, and boy were we glad we did. Sugar Bakery is amazing. First of all, they have a wide spread of goodies to choose from, including whole cakes. We chose a red velvet whoopie pie, M&M cookie, and a coffee to start. And we paid under $5 for it! So we went back for more. Mike's family was coming into town for lunch, so we got them some cookies and a whoopie pie as well and a couple cookies for us to take home. The oatmeal raisin cookie that I had two days after the fact was one of the best I've had. A two day old cookie! Blew my mind! Which blows my mind! So if you ever find yourself visiting/driving through/living/stranded in West Roxbury, check out Sugar Bakery, attached to the Real Deal on Centre Street. And bring me a cookie, will you?


Working for the weekend.

Every Monday I do that thing where I'm already thinking about the weekend. This past weekend did not disappoint. Meg took me out for a late birthday dinner to Hungry Mother, and it was amazing. This place is on the fancier end of Cambridge restaurants, but not so fancy that you feel like you're just paying for ambience and decor (I'm looking at you, Hawthorne!). We had fried green tomatoes and gnocchi with the tiniest Brussels sprouts I've ever seen and steak with creamed corn and duck and pear tart with the best whipped cream ever. I told Meg to stay away from my whipped cream. 

But it's Thursday now, so the weekend is within reach! Tomorrow Mike's picking me up from work and we're heading straight to New Hampshire for a concert and a night away. There was quite the debacle with Hotwire last night, and it did not end on a happy note. It always blows my mind when customer service manages to actually make things worse (worse than paying $30 more on Hotwire than on the hotel's website...). But! Today is for working from home and making pizza and having only one day left to the work week. Yes.


So many good things.

M and I went to Georgia last weekend for a friend's wedding. It was a short trip—Friday night through Sunday afternoon—but it was such a nice interlude. It reminded me that just because we live so far away doesn't mean we can't be a part of each other's daily lives. We Facetime a lot, but I think come spring, M and I are going to pick some random cheap weekends to just fly down and hang out. I so miss that ability to just hang out with my family. It's always with the background bustle of the holidays, worrying about Boston's weather or at whose house I'll spend Christmas morning. I think those kinds of unnecessary stresses will seem smaller when I can say, I was just here a few months ago. 

I guess we're at that age now, where close friends are tying the knot and having babies. It's funny, I felt older than I've ever felt, but it felt strangely okay. Peaceful even. Like we're all right where we're supposed to be. Even if it isn't always fun or planned or affordable, we're always on our way someplace else, so we might as well enjoy where we are because it won't be this way forever. Going back to Georgia always reminds me of that.

Pictures taken with my iPhone. Photobooth pictures taken with the Pocketbooth app on an iPad. 


This is my home | living room.

There is not much better than a cozy place to come home to, is there? I've always been a bit of a homebody, so I tend to make my home—whether that means a room I'm renting or a whole apartment I'm sharing with M—a place that feels like a big hug. In my last two years of college I lived in the tiniest room I have ever seen. I could barely fit my twin bed and my desk in there, but with the right lighting and by shoving everything into my closet, I managed to make it a little cove. I loved writing and reading in there, waking up and falling asleep in there, and despite its size, I was proud to show it off when people came over. Look what I did with this space, I thought. I made it a space I belonged. So that was our goal when we moved into our apartment. My first impression was that it was too small. I had grown so used to sharing three bedroom apartments with roommates, the thought of downsizing that much and paying more seemed unfair. I'm glad I came around. This place is the perfect size for the both of us, and even when we entertained about 20 people a couple of weekends ago, sleeping 5 people here overnight, it was comfortable and cozy.

Our living room is where we spend the most of our time. Isn't that funny how that changes? I went from working from home at a desk in my room, from stuffing everything to my name in one room in an apartment of three, to having an entire living room to do my living! And a bedroom that primarily serves as a place to sleep! Such novelty! Such luxury!

My favorite part about our living room is our vintage camera wall, hands down. But there are other little details that I love, like these prints from Etsy that I got M for his birthday our first year together. Or his collection of View Masters on the windowsill. The crates we bought at Brimfield (one of them has the name of M's hometown on it!) that now serve as a bookshelf. I love every little bit of this room because we spend so much time in it, but also because it's ours. It's a perfect mixture of our tastes and personalities, and I'm proud to show it off when people come over. Look at this space we made.


Staring at leaves.

Words don't come easy these days. They haven't been coming easy for a while; I can't remember the last story I wrote. I've been giving myself a break, taking time to delve into other interests and hobbies, but I miss the feeling of a sticky mouth in the early morning, hunched over notebook. The anticipation of my writing group talking about a new story. The feeling ofwriting a sentence and being onto something. And so what do I have to show for myself? Two almost finished crochet blankets, two piles of quilt squares/triangles, an embarrassing amount of baked goods, and a new interest in Pinterest. But most of all, what I have to show is the lesson that I can be easier on myself, that I can keep trying without ever having to fail.


Currently | Friday

Buying everything pumpkin-spiced from Trader Joe's. Up next is macarons! Who knew?!

Inspired by crochet. I've been checking out books and Googling all kinds of patterns and techniques.

Reading Little Bee, as recommended by C. It's intense (as promised) but also full of wonderful little gems and heartaching moments of humanity. It's funny in that way that really sad books often are.

Looking forward to heading down to Georgia tonight for a wedding. We get barely 48 hours to see my family, snuggle, and go to my friend's wedding then head back in time for dinner on Sunday. There are no plans for sleep in my future.

Enjoying all things fall. I know, shut up about it already, but I love riding my bike in the crisp air, snuggling under a blanket while watching New Girl, the fact that New Girl's back on... so many things to love!

Making everything crocheted. I just checked out Pretty Crochet! from the library and I plan to use my plane time this weekend making some gloves. Wish me luck! 


It's fall, y'all.

This weekend was perfect! My best friend C came up for the birthday/housewarming party on Saturday. It was such a good weekend with cake baking (and minor meltdowns that come along with baking cakes from scratch...), pizza eating, dance partying, and gathering so many people I love into our new apartment. A housewarming, indeed! Now M and I have more leftover lasagna than we know what to do with, two cake halves that we are begrudgingly devouring, and less than a week before we head to Georgia for a wedding! October is shaping up to be one busy month. I haven't told my mom that we're coming down this weekend, so I'm most looking forward to the look on her face when we walk in on Friday night. At first I was a little upset at the sky high price of the tickets to go to this wedding, but the random chance to see my family—if only for a weekend—trumps any amount of money left in my savings.

How was your weekend?

1// M and my reflection in the dirty window at the Biodome 
2// Piles of pumpkins at Marche Atwater


Mont Royal

When we got into Montreal on Friday, the weather had cleared up completely, so we were free to wander around the city without umbrellas or coats in tow. We walked down to the Old Port for some lunch and then up (literally up) to Mont Royal. It's a busier area that had all of the restaurants and one ice cream shop I'd read about, so it was exciting to happen upon those places. We got an ice cream cone and sat on a bench people-watching before heading back to the hotel. Later we went for dinner at a little hole in the wall Thai restaurant, and it was perfect. There was soup and Coke in a can and perfectly grilled chicken and rice. Something about being on vacation makes it okay to eat a big dinner at 10PM.

It was great to get a feel for the city by getting around on foot (though I was exhausted and took a three hour nap before dinner, whoops!). So much of our life in Cambridge is walking around and taking the T, so I always appreciate those things in the places I visit. Their metro is very easy to navigate, probably because it's similar to the T, which also made getting around stress-free. I would definitely go back to Montreal, but I think my next Canadian city to visit would be Toronto, though that's a bit more of a hike. I loved being able to get out of town (out of the country!), explore a new place where people don't speak our language on a daily basis, without having to shell out for plane tickets and hotels. Definitely in the top 5 birthdays.


Eating Montreal.

As Jenna put it, the more food we can eat in Montreal = happiness. It's not a proper equation by any means, but there is definitely some wisdom in there. M wanted a "giant crepe with Nutella" and I wanted a bowl of coffee, so we spent our mornings at two of Montreal's markets: Marche Atwater and Marche Jean-Talon. Jean-Talon was farther from our hotel, so we saved that trip for when we were on our way out of the city. We stopped at Fairmount Bagels for hot fresh bagels (the car smelled like garlic the whole way home!) then went onto the market. M and I got a little carried away, getting all of the veggies for the party and for dinners this week. It was so cheap! All of the vendors had samples and after I took a bite of strawberries and tomatoes, I couldn't say no. Unfortunately you're not allowed to bring citrus back over the border, so Ron had to surrender his oranges. Who knew? 

We had one fancy dinner on Saturday for my birthday. The company, appetizers, BYO wine/beer, and dessert (homemade amaretto ice cream! chocolate mousse cake with a sparkler for a candle!) were the best part. It's funny, the most memorable foods we had were small holes in the wall and open air markets. I guess it's the same whether you're home or somewhere else. 

I used this as a loose guide for places we should check out, and while we passed on the fancier options, we managed to hit up most of the others. 


Well, it's October.

Tonight I made this soup. It was simple and delicious and made our whole house smell like Fall. We went grocery shopping for the party this weekend, and came home to the toasty smell of tomatoes still in the air. Our counter is overflowing with veggies from Montreal and our fridge is stocked for multiple big family meals. It's only Monday, and I can't wait.

I love birthdays that go on and on, piggybacking on other birthdays and occasions. This season just has that feeling, like we should all be together at a big sprawling table with barely any room for our elbows, food in the oven and candles burning. Don't you think?