about bliss

Monday, March 30, 2009

daily bliss: toast and tea

The first food I ate after my recent illness was cinnamon toast and tea. There's infinite comfort in a cup, mug, or pot of darjeeling, sweetened with extra sugar for a little bit of caloric intake and energy. Now, my body's beginning to clamor for something more than simple carbs but my mind is wary of any food more complex.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

daily bliss: challenges

I have several posts to catch up on, as my vacation derailed my blogging. I have a few bliss bits to share, but they will have to wait. I'm currently recovering from some kind of gastrointestinal bug that caused me a hellish night alone in a hotel room in lake geneva, where I was going to attend the yoga journal conference. Instead, I managed to drive two and one half hours home yesterday between the worst bouts of the bug. Today, I'm weak and slowly supplementing my body with something more than pop and tea. So far, a single piece of cinnamon toast and a small portion of cappellini with olive oil, salt and pepper are sitting fairly well in my rumbly tummy.

Feeling ill is never good, and this time was particularly bad, as I was away from anywhere I call home. But, Mom and Dad were a phone call away and kept me company in the early morning hours at the hotel, during the long drive home, and a painful evening back at home. The kindness of neighbors and friends once I made it home sustained me through the worst of it--neighbor B was kind enough to run to the store for more pop, and friend B has offered to bring provisions as needed.

I hope to catch up on bliss soon, and to use this little illness as food for thought--about how I live my days, particularly how to live in the moment rather than fearful and anxious of the future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

daily bliss: college town coffee shops with wireless internet

Good morning! I'm live blogging from lemonjellos, a funky little coffee shop in Holland frequented by "Hopies," i.e. Hope College students. As I walked towards the flyer-plastered double doors, I couldn't help but think what a different town this is than the one I grew up in. Signs for literary journals, concerts, and the Young People's Socialist League (!) allude to a certain liberalism and radicalism that was not at all visible in the 1980s and 1990s when I was a young person in this town. Now, there's also a sign for a Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith tour, which is a remnant of the past Holland and the past dharmagirl.

This morning, I fight for a table against prospective Hope students, a smattering of faculty, and students, everywhere students, sipping coffee and being brilliant.

My question is, how do I help bring this college culture to my town? To my two-year school that still has a reputation of being the fifth year of high school, even though students return and tell us we're harder and better than the 4 year schools?

Begin with the coffee shops.

And now, I must stop procrastinating and work on *my* scholarly article, which I'm presenting in two weeks. And which is largely unwritten. Gulp.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

daily bliss: book discussion

This past summer when I was visiting my parents, Mom and I both read The Memory Keeper's Daughter, and then used the book discussion questions to chat about the story. Today we chatted about Ruth Ozeki's delightful, complexly charactered and plotted novel All Over Creation, which my Multi-Cultural Literature class read the past three weeks. What fun to talk about literature with my Mom, and to share our love of stories over a cup of coffee.

twd: blueberry crumb cake

a real high riser!

My fingers are dusky and stained, my face ever so slightly sunburned, my flaxen hair in a tangled ponytail, my old pair of nikes encrusted with smashed berries.

It's summertime in the 1980s, and I'm finishing a long day picking blueberries. I tally up how many pounds I've picked, multiple by the wage per pound (somewhere around twenty cents), and sigh to realize that I'm pounds and pounds away from having enough money to buy the pair of Calvin Klein jeans I've been coveting but are much too expensive for my family's budget.


Saturday I drove a good 6 hours to spend part of my Spring Break with my parents. The first afternoon I was home, I laced up my "mud shoes," and walked out into the blueberry fields with my parents, traversing the 2 acres directly behind Mom and Dad's home, and then many, many acres that my Dad, Uncle, and Grandpa farm together.

Monday night I sifted through my Mom's well-stocked chest freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen blueberries for this week's TWD creation, Blueberry Crumb Cake, chosen by Sihan of Befuddlement.

Despite baking in a different kitchen, and despite having to bake the cake in the old oven in the basement as my Mom's oven is having temperature issues, and despite adjusting to the awesome power of Mom's professional model KA (who easily outwhirls Blossom), the baking experience was smooth, languorous, and fun.

The most fun part was having a captive audience to drink in the buttery, toasty, cinnamoney fragrance and to follow me upstairs to see if it was time to test the cake yet.

My Dad, who loves most any kind of dessert, declared the cake "really good," and when I asked if he'd like to comment on it some more for the blog he replied, "I'll have to eat more first." I'm still waiting for his follow up comments...

I made a few minor adjustments, using thinned yogurt in place of buttermilk because we didn't have any, cutting the total butter to 1 stick, eliminating 2 TBS in the crumb topping and 1 TBS in the cake, and using pecans instead of walnuts. Next time I may play around with whole wheat flour.

Thanks, Sihan, for choosing this recipe serendipitously when I'm visiting my parents and have access to high quality, local fruit.

molten fruit and toasted nuts

Monday, March 23, 2009

daily bliss: mt. pisgah

the view from the top of mt. pisgah

Years ago, when I was a younger lass, still in High School, my friends and I climbed Mt. Pisgah, the looming sand dune at Holland State Park.

This past year, the county created a park, complete with several hundred steps winding up the dune, leading to steep trails traversing ridgelines and undulating between hills and valleys.

Today, my parents and I bundled up in light layers and faced the brisk wind blowing off of Lake Michigan, and climbed Mt. Pisgah. Looking down at the marinas and cottages, so quiet and empty now, I can think ahead just a few months when summer fun will wrap around the Lake Michigan shores. Oh, halcyon days of sunshine and bliss, you cannot come soon enough!

lake macatawa to the left, and lake michigan to the right

daily bliss: spring blooms

crocuses, michigan, 22 march 2009

Yesterday's post...a day late:

The first blossoms of the season. And, the first bees of the season, which explains the less than ideal photos, as I am a) allergic to bees and b) sans epi-pen, therefore not sticking around or leaning in too close for that perfect shot.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

daily bliss: road trip sandwiches

My Mom makes the best road trip sandwiches--creations of roasted peppers, avocado, cheese, black pepper stacked on good bread and wrapped in wax paper. At a certain point on the road, we unwrap these sandwiches and settle in for a little break from plugging our wheel to the white line (with apologies to Kerouac).

In preparation for my trip to Michigan tomorrow morning, I made a road trip sandwich, following my Mom's "recipe" (although the bread is only so-so), pictured above wrapped in a natural wax paper pocket.

And, for dinner tonight, I made a panini with the same bread, roasted pepper, cheese, and black pepper. The cheese spilled over the edges and bubbled and crackled into a delicious molten mass. I cracked open one of my mini bottles of Big House Pink, dipped a few Frontera lime scented corn chips in the leftover avocado spread, and tucked in for a light Spring meal.

Friday, March 20, 2009

daily bliss: coffee shop concerts

Tonight my neighbor/friend B and I traveled to Stumpjack in TR to catch Pat Di Nizio of the Smithereens in concert. I knew a few of Pat's songs from the mid-1990s--"Only a Memory," and "A Girl Like You." With delicious drinks--Irish Cream Whiskey Latte--and great company--a whole host of friends and friends-of-friends, this was a great kick off to my Spring Break.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

daily bliss: multi-culti potluck

an amazing watermelon carving, crafted by one of our students

I co-advise the campus multi-cultural club on our campus, which hosted our second campus potluck of the year. Last semester we reserved a small-ish room which was overcrowded, so today we filled the larger, and poshest room on campus, with a lake view, and nice long tables for groups of students, faculty, and staff to share a meal together. What a success! Laughter, conversation, diverse cuisine...what's not to love?

Well, the spider that dropped from the ceiling and crawled across my untouched plate of food, for one. It--spider and plate--met their fate in the trash can.

The students made a huge world map, and provided pins with little flags on them so guests could mark out their cultural homes. It's a wonderful testament to our diversity!

the map, before pinning

And now, Spring Break is here. Amidst snow flurries, but I won't quibble with the weather just now because I'm grateful for vacation!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

daily bliss: pink day

Pink Day was awesome. I wore my new pink "Reading is Sexy" T-shirt that H sent me. Be and R wore pink, and Br and his shirts, worn by K and J, filled our hall with pinkness.

Just two more classes before Spring Break!

Just two more days until the Vernal Equinox!

Just 6 more essays to grade tonight!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I'm a little bit Irish. I know that on St. Patty's Day, everyone claims to be a little bit Irish, but if I look back in the family tree, some Irish links do exist.

I had hoped to make soda bread this year, but ran out of time. Inspired by a bunch of Lacinato/Black/Tuscan Kale I bought at the co-op in Milwaukee last week, I made Colcannon, a traditional Irish dish.

According to Ireland Now, a website of questionable credibility, Colcannon, though often made with cabbage, is more traditional when made with Kale. It was a fast dish, eaten on Hallowe'en. and originally included various inserts--thimbles, rings, coins, and such, to symbolize life changes for the lucky lads and lasses who found the trinkets in their portions of the dish. Wikipedia, another website of problematic credibility, confirms this story.

I made my single serving of Colcannon as follows:

Boil 3 small Yukon Gold potatoes.

Meanwhile, saute 1/2 small shallot and one clove garlic in olive oil until just lightly browned. Next, add several handfuls of chopped Kale. Cook until Kale is slightly wilted.

On another burner, heat milk until scalded.

Add potatoes to kale mixture and mash with a potato masher, or, if you inexplicably lack such a handy utensil (as I do), a fork works just fine. Add the scalded milk, a pat of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and a nice grating of parmesan cheese. Mash some more. Pile on a plate and enjoy with a side of roasted chickpeas and a splash of Shiraz.

My version is more of a post-modern rendering than an authentic Irish or even Irish-American concoction. It is hearty, delicious, and easy.

daily bliss: a bit o' green

In honor of St. Patty's Day, today I celebrate my Ivy Geranium plant! I purchased it last summer at the Flying Pig, an awesome gallery cum nursery in Algoma, Wisconsin. With pleated leaves and rose-like pink blooms, the plant bespoke dharmagirlness. However, my plant faltered as I forgot to water it regularly, and when my parents' visited in late July, my Mom took pity on the plant and escorted it home with her to re-pot and nurture with a little tender love and water. The plant revived, and Mom brought it back to me in October. I set it on a white, wrought iron porch table also brought inside for the winter, and waited to see if it would survive the winter, if the weak winter light pouring in through the East-facing windows would be strong enough. I diligently watered it, and look! Not only is it surviving, it's thriving! I'm now wondering how tall and leafy it will be before it's time to harden it off and move it back outside.

twd: french yogurt marmalade cake

I love the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams, especially his variations on a theme; "Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis," and "Variations on Greensleeves" are among my favorites (though nothing will top "The Lark Ascending"--pure ethereal splendor). There's magic in playing with variations, riffing on a well-established theme and making it your own. This creative process also provides a nice web of interconnection between the original texts and the subtle variations--a way of honoring others who forged ahead of you.

If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then today's post is dedicated to Nancy, who inspired me with a thyme variation on Dorie's Riveria variation of the French Yogurt Marmalade cake chosen by Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction. What a web of creativity!

This loaf cake eschews butter in favor of oil--in this case, a flavorful olive oil. Add in lemon, yogurt, and herbs, and the cake walks the line between sweet and savory, proving versatile, adaptable, and all around delicious.

I glazed my cake with a simple lemon juice and confectioner's sugar mixture, and delighted in the graceful drips along the sides.

When the glaze was just set, I cut into the first slice--the coveted end piece--and reveled in a crunchy brown crust and moist inner crumb. The thyme and lemon scent was subtle the first night, but the second day the flavors asserted themselves in proper balance. Now, I'm trying to save the rest of the cake for a little work gathering tomorrow morning--one of my colleagues is bringing in treats to celebrate in advance the Persian New Year (which brilliantly coincides with the Vernal Equinox, oh blessed of days).

I will definitely bake this cake again and play around with sweet and savory scents, finding endless variations on a classic cake.

Monday, March 16, 2009

daily bliss: pink week

Last week, I hit a proverbial wall.

Winter was back: slush, ice, snow.

Culture wars simmered.

News was bleak: job losses, senseless violence, dire predictions.

My spirits were low, low, low.

And somewhere amidst a conversation about state budgets and their effect on the University System, R, Be, Br, or I came up with the idea to declare this coming Wednesday PINK DAY. Okay, it was probably me.

Now, as if PINK DAY could alleviate any of these woes...as if PINK DAY isn't retro-girly to make even a third-waver, well, waver.

But, the testament to how awesome my friends are, is their immediate and enthusiastic support for PINK DAY. R spoke of unmentionables in shades of fuchsia. Be, who was wearing PINK that day, was all smiles. And Br declared that he would supply PINK shirts to K and J, dudes for whom PINK is just a little too, you know, metro.

And so it is that Wednesday is PINK DAY.

I decided this morning that if one day of PINK is a morale booster, just think of an entire week of sartorial salvation! I ironed my PINK pants, a lightweight chino, and incongruously paired them with a long sleeve tissue tee (brown) and shawl collar wool sweater (cream). As I floated into work, I arrived just after the handing out of the shirts, and amidst conversation such as: "Do I have to teach in the PINK shirt?"

Tomorrow will be a prepster paradise, as I must don the obligatory Irish Green in honor of my non-Germanic ancestors. Add a splash of PINK, and it's 1988 all over again, minus the ribbon barrettes and whale t-necks.

And, well, as for my PINK DAY garb, if my PINK "I ♥ Mr. Darcy" shirt doesn't arrive from cafepress in time, I may need to wear my PINK "reading is sexy" shirt.

PINK + English Major T-Shirts = Bliss.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

daily bliss: iPod-less walks

It's easy to automatically slip the iPod earbuds in as I head out the door for my daily constitutional. Today, however, I wanted to listen to the world waking up, rather than Lynne Rossetto Kasper dispensing culinary wisdom on Splendid Table podcasts or Neko Case's newest alt-indie-country CD...

I heard a cacophony of geese, flying in huge V's and splitting off into tell-tale twos; the insistent screeches of sea gulls, so novel now and so annoying come August; children laughing as they walked beside their parents out by the lighthouse; cars splashing through rivulets of water racing towards drains; waves crashing up against nearly-bare sand.

In short, signs of life, of change, of motion.

Sounds of Spring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

daily bliss: brownies

I brought brownies to the little soiree last night--brownies and ice cream. The brownies were homemade, of course, but the ice cream was not, though it was Hagen Daaz and free of fake weird stuff (have you seen their new five line? just five real ingredients!). It was surprisingly good, if not homemade.

But I'd like to ask readers to indulge me in a little Brownie Manifesto...

Brownies are quintessentially American, and the default snack for many a harried baker who shares chocolatey goodness with others. As such, I feel positively evangelical about from-scratch brownies.

People, boxed brownies are a sad, sorry imitation of the real thing. A slight metallic twang *always* lingers, even if the brownies are laced with cream cheese, or frosting, or caramel, or peanut butter.

I beseech you, give this recipe a try. It's so simple that *anyone* can make it in about the same amount of time it takes to make brownies from a box. You need to have a few ingredients on hand, but honestly, life is better with a bag of flour and a tin of cocoa at your disposal.

The Best Brownies
from my Mom's small Hershey's chocolate cookbook, circa late 1970s/early 1980s
with a few small adaptations by yours truly

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa (I like Valrhona or Ghiradelli, but Hershey's is just dandy)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. espresso powder (optional)
as many chocolate chips, chunks, or discs as you want to toss in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I melt the butter in my 8 inch square baking dish as the oven heats up. Once it's melted, I combine it with the sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl--stir by hand, with a spoon or spatula, until combined. Next, add the eggs, and once they're incorporated, add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chocolate bits if you'd like, pour into the pan (which is already greased from melting the butter in it--how clever is that?) Pop the pan into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the center is just set.

* I suspect you could mix the whole business in the baking dish if you wanted to save a dirty bowl--my Moosewood 6-Minute Chocolate cake can be mixed in the pan to no ill effect.*

How simple! And how impressive and delicious they are a la mode or naked, with an icy glass of milk or a steamy mug of coffee.

Won't you give them a try instead of reaching for a box if you're a box brownie fan?

daily bliss: pizza party

In H and J's cheery kitchen, presiding over pizza

I see that this is my third pizza themed daily bliss post...seems this simple food brings much joy to my life! Tonight I joined friends T and J at H and J's home for a little make your own pizza party. We created pizzas and took turns slipping them into the oven until at least 10:00 p.m., sampling small wedges throughout the night, washed down with Nero d'Avolo and Syrah and an abundance of laughter. As the evening wound down, we discussed gardening and summer plans--too much to report in this post, and some exciting new ventures on the horizon for dharmagirl!

My favorite two pizzas of the evening featured, inexplicably, potatoes. Not just any potatoes, but creamy organic potatoes from T and J's large garden. One was a Greek creation, with oregano, olives, and feta, and the other was a swoon-inducing creation with rosemary, pancetta, and rosemary. T made the pancetta from pigs raised by his friends, pigs that lead happy lives, he assured me. I selected the slice with just a hint of pancetta, but the smoky sweetness permeated the whole pizza with glorious flavor, and I enjoyed every single bite without a smidgen of vegetarian guilt.

pancetta + potatoes= perfect pizza

Friday, March 13, 2009

daily bliss: latte art

I'm tempted to mess with the date on this post to make it look like I wrote it Thursday night since yesterday was my first missed day since I began daily bliss over a month and a half ago! Here's my excuse..I was in bed, reading a foodie novel, *Entertaining Disaster,* when I realized that I hadn't posted. My trusty iBook was already asleep...and it seemed a shame to awaken it.

So, a post for yesterday...latte art. Here's a view of today's large, non-fat honey latte from Alterra Coffee in Milwaukee. Gorgeous and delicious. A little flourish of aesthetics that made me smile even brighter on a happy afternoon spent out-of-town.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

daily bliss: mr. darcy

dharmagirl with Mr. Darcy, pink Ph. D. graduation party, August 2003, Auburn, Alabama

The fog has lifted and the cold has descended. My Mom and I were emailing today about a general crankiness that can only be blamed on winter weariness. My patience has worn thin, and believe me, some of my students require overflowing patience. My zeal to accomplish anything more than the daily minimum has evaporated. My craving for delicious Dorie treats has increased along with the number on the scale, which I'm trying to decrease through greater discipline and control.

Is pinning all my hope on Spring and sunshine and blossoms to right the balance ludicrous?

I would argue no.

Irrational, perhaps, at this moment when Spring is still a month away.

And so, my friends, the answer is simple: FITZWILLIAM DARCY, as portrayed by one COLIN FIRTH.

Six hours of searing looks and battles with control and chaos.

Oh yeah.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

daily bliss: fog horn

Now, a gray-white, rainy, foggy day is miserable sandwiched between a winter storm and another cold snap. As my friend B. said today, we wouldn't mind the damp fogginess if we we're in Seattle because, well, we'd have much better food (and coffee). But, we're here in NE Wisconsin at the end of a long winter. The only highlight of a foggy day is the steadying rhythm of the fog horn blowing through the mist, warning ships approaching the harbor (not that there are many ships this time of year). That sound echoes deep within my bones, and drives me to moor myself on the couch with a fat novel and a hot drink, dissolving the fog into another kind of oblivion.

twd: chai spice custard

I almost sat this one out, as the most repeated word describing Lemon Cup Custards in the P&Q section of the TWD website was "eggy."

I've been experiencing egg issues. Namely, as a vegetarian the more I think about eating eggs, the weirder it seems. The last two times I've made veggie scrambles, I've been a little put off by the egginess. Now, I'd never stop using eggs in baking, but to eat a dish that is primarily "eggy," well, that's a point of contention right now. I hate to give up quiches and frittatas and such glorious, nutritious, protein-packed dishes, but if I can't overcome my aversion, they may go the way of all the other delicious foods like ham and bacon...

But I digress. After sitting out last week, I felt a gaping hole in my kitchen. It just wasn't the same without TWD participation! And so, I bravely set forth to make the custards, choosing chai spices--cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, allspice, and black pepper--to overwhelm any possible "egginess." I used 2% milk to lighten these up a bit, and steeped it with one cinnamon stick, a small chunk of vanilla bean--split and scraped, several green cardamom pods, a few allspice berries, and a few whole tellicherry black pepper corns. I didn't measure the spices but tossed them in randomly. As I whisked the eggs and sugar, a fleck of egg flew off my whisk and landed on my face, much to my amusement... I worried that the custard would scramble, but I did a fine job of tempering the eggs, and the custard was smooth and silky. I made a half recipe, which fit into 4 small ramekins. Nestled in their bain marie, they cooked in 40 minutes.

This morning I tested one small bite, concerned that the chai spices would be too subtle...rather, they're *almost* too strong. the custard has a taut skin, and a creamy voluptuousness. I don't catch any pronounced egginess, but with one small bite it's hard to tell. This recipe was utter simplicity to make, and a versatile canvas to paint with any creative flavorings.

Thank you, Bridget, of The Way the Cookie Crumbles, for this week's selection. You'll find Dorie's recipe on her blog. For other eggy tales, check out the rest of the TWD bakers!

Monday, March 09, 2009

daily bliss: signs of spring

This morning I trudged through 6+ inches of snow where sidewalks hadn't yet been shoveled, giddy because the snow that had made me so SHOUTY yesterday was transformed into a sparkly wrap that was quickly giving way to the sun's persistent rays. In fact, at the end of my walk I had unzipped my down coat, my fleece coat, and my thermal zip t-neck. I carried my gloves in one hand and unwound my scarf from my neck as the sun warmed the side of my face.

Perfect V's of geese honked loudly as they flew North, a single sea gull's cry filled the air, and tree buds outnumbered icy drops on tree branches.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

daily bliss: cornbread

Friday H. and I walked for 3.5 miles in light layers, soaking up the sunshine, glimpsing green grass under all the snowmelt, and slipping through standing water and mud.

Today the wind has been hollering for hours, the ice and sleet turned to all snow this afternoon, and about 6 new inches are draped over trees, porches, driveways, like a suffocating shroud (I realize this simile is not only hyperbolic but also redundant).

This snow is making me surly and SHOUTY.

To alleviate the aforementioned negative emotions, I turned to an old favorite: Cornbread, Southern style, cooked in a Lodge cast iron skillet.

I use my Mom's recipe, which she copied from the local newspaper years ago when they ran a feature on Southern cooking. As I've mentioned before, I lived in the South--Auburn, Alabama and Carrollton, Georgia, to be precise--for seven years during my doctoral program and my first job. And, although I grew up in the Midwest and have since returned, my Southern roots go much deeper--my Mom's parents moved to Michigan from Arkansas in the 1950s, but the South always loomed large in our foodways, conversation, and mythology. Cornbread is a staple around our homes.

I generally halve this recipe, since I have a smallish--6 inch, I believe--skillet.

2 c. cornmeal (regular, not stone-ground. I tried that once and, well, it had an odd texture and taste)
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
4 TBS canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour the oil in the skillet and place in the oven while you quickly mix up the rest of the batter. Don't forget about the oil in the oven, and don't leave it too long either or you'll have a situation on your hands...

Mix together the dry ingredients. Make a little well in the center; crack in the eggs into the well and beat lightly. Pour in the buttermilk, and whisk the batter together until just combined. Pour in the hot oil, stir to combine, pour batter in the hot pan, and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center is set and the edges just start to brown. Remove the pan from the oven, tip the bread out onto a plate, and cut into wedges. Slather with butter and enjoy the steamy, creamy interior and the crisp edges. If you're part yankee like I am, you may also like your cornbread drizzled with maple syrup.

Tonight I skipped the butter and topped my split cornbread with a quick "stew" of fire roasted tomatoes, black eyed peas, seasoned with carrot, onion, celery, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Delicious, different, and hearty for a night when winter's dancing around outdoors.

(and, as a side note, I apologize for yesterday's incredibly lame post. no inspiration other than the lingering effects from the day's conference=less than stellar topic).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

daily bliss: synergy

Okay, I know synergy is one of those hackneyed corporate phrases, but it nicely expresses what happens when my colleagues and I from across the state gather together. today we had a min-conference to discuss strategies for engaging students, especially first year students. At these events, ideas are shared, connections are made, and possibilities are celebrated. It's a nice escape from the tiny little bubble that forms over my campus, and a good reminder that positive energy can flow from many sources.

Friday, March 06, 2009

daily bliss: thaw

This morning my neighbor and I spent over an hour chipping away at the inches of melting ice lining the driveway. By this afternoon, the sidewalks were filled with water, glorious water, left behind as the ice and snow melted under 40+ degree sunshine.

Trees ache to bud, bushes arch forth with new growth, and the scent of mud promises rebirth.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

daily bliss: quiet

Not silence, but quiet. A little classical music on in the background. No appliances whirling, no phones ringing. A gentle breeze outside. A stillness of thoughts inside.

The sounds of near silence.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

daily bliss: hot showers

Unless I was huddled in my office, I was freezing at work today, which makes no sense because it was actually in the 30s outside. Then again, in a moment of exasperation with wool and tights, I wore a short sleeve cotton dress with regular hose, a cardigan, and jean jacket. Hmm. When I arrived home I quickly hit the shower to warm up and stop the shivers. A bath would be better, but, alas, that is the one failing of my adorable home. A too hot shower (my dry skin is now itchy) in clouds of lavender warmed me to the very core.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

daily bliss: birthday blessings

with the sign my hipster friends made for me at work--"it is your birthday"--from the episode of the office in which dwight and jim take over the party planning.

Today I turned 35.

I've been agonizing over this seemingly significant number for the past month.

One of my students today said "tick tock" when she found out how old I am.

But, after a splendid weekend with my family and a fabulous day with friends, I'm no longer worried about numbers or clocks.

Instead, I'm grateful for all of the love and support in my life that's so easy to take for granted.

I thank my parents for all of their gifts--how much of my life I owe to them is immeasurable.

I thank my brother for keeping me grounded, and always trying to teach my to take life a little easier than is my nature.

To my Grandma C. for always singing happy birthday every year, no matter how far away I am.

For my Aunt B. and my cousins N, F, A, and S for sending me packages of girly delights and always being up for American Girl movies or trips out in Lake Michigan in inflatable boats whenever I'm in Michigan.

To my bestest friends S and H, whose voices on my answering machine and warm emails are a constant source of energy. The fact that we've been friends for half of our lives steadies me.

To my new blogger friends--your kind comments about our shared interests of food and fellowship make this whole enterprise of writing online worthwhile.

To all of my facebook friends and students who left posts on my wall and shouted greetings in the hallway, your spirit and kindness makes me remember why I do what I do.

To my coworkers/colleagues/friends and neighbors--thank you for helping me make Wisconsin home. Your willingness to be silly with me, to listen to me vent frustration, to dance to 70s music in the hallways, and to create a light and learned atmosphere makes every day a joy.

How can I possibly feel sad or stressed about the uncertain future and my untrodden path when this very moment is filled with so many blessings?

Thank you for the reminder today. I'll try to remember everyday. Thank you for reading:)

wearing the pink birthday apron my mom made for me, whilst drinking pink prosecco

twd: chocolate armagnac cake (the cake that got dorie fired!)

No chocolatey, boozy, pruney cake for me this week...

I had visitors this weekend (my family) who brought cake (for my birthday) and so I'm going to enjoy reading about everyone else's cakes and eating my birthday cake, a deconstructed German Chocolate Cake from the yellow Gourmet tome.

Please check out the TWD site for the list of illustrious and intrepid bakers, and especially LyB of And Then I Do the Dishes, who chose this week's recipe.

Monday, March 02, 2009

daily bliss: rice for breakfast

When I was little, sometimes Mom would fix rice for breakfast. Some days I would top it with butter, salt, and pepper, for a savory start, but mostly I'd use brown sugar and butter because I like a sweet note first thing in the morning. Last night I made a big pot of brown basmati rice, and this morning I substituted rice for my usual oats. With a little cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans, and dried cherries, it made a delicious and hearty beginning on this cold morning, too cold to run. Will Spring every come?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

daily bliss: visitors

My parents and brother drove all the way to Wisconsin to share a pre-birthday dinner with me. Although they were here less than 24 hours, their visit was full and rich with conversation, laughter, fun, food, and love. As hard as it is to say goodbye after a brief visit, it's so wonderful to have that time to share together. Who else truly understands my range of emotions--so happy with my family all gathered in my small home, and so sad and anxious to see them go? Who else but my brother will indulge my silliness and re-enact some of our goofier semi-adult moments (mist-n-go)? Thank you for a lovely birthday gift--your presence:)