Currently.

2nd February 2015

Photo on 12-8-14 at 7.28 PM #4

*taps mic*

Is this thing on? I was looking back at this space a little while ago and realized that I hadn’t posted since November! Steven keeps pointing out that I need to do something. Write something, anything, and so here I am. I’m glad that I took a break from being here. I needed to do it to preserve my own sanity, but also because it didn’t feel like a safe space anymore. The less said about that, the better, but I will say that I’ve spent the past few months contemplating life, stressing about things, being utterly excited about things, and working hard to find peace in the chaos. I think I’m getting better at it.

There are a billion little things to write about and I’m not sure where to start. I think sometimes it’s hard to find a perfect way to jump back into something. Thank goodness for “Currently” posts. ♥

Reading: I’ve been savoring Anne Lamott’s book, “Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace” for weeks now. I bought Steven a copy as part of his Christmas gift and ended up buying one for myself, because I simply couldn’t resist the thought of having a “read off” with him. I used to do that with my brother when the Harry Potter books were released–we’d each get a copy and hole up in our rooms for hours reading until one of us had finished. The first person to finish was the winner, of course. But with this book, I just couldn’t do that. I think Anne Lamott is a person who was put on this earth to do great things, I really do. She is somehow magical and startlingly real at the same time. I don’t know how she strikes the balance of providing pure wisdom and examples of our bumbling humanity, but she does it so beautifully. I approach each new chapter with a mix of anticipation and dread thinking, Are we going to laugh today, Anne, or are we going to cry? Most of the time it’s both.

Sometimes, when I read the bible, I’m struck by a moment of complete understanding and grace. I can feel it in my heart. I know that what I’ve read is right for me at the time. And then other times, I have absolutely no idea what the heck is going on. I’d like to think that God knows this about me and provides me with other sources to dispense something into my mind, and so he brought me Anne Lamott. Because she’s funny and thoughtful and flawed. So when I needed a good piece of writing/thinking/inspiration to make me consider a big problem in my life, I was given pages and pages of words in “Small Victories” to help. I’d been working (let’s be real, I’m still working) on the idea of forgiveness and letting go and how hard it is to do those things. Then I read this…

1. “A lack of forgiveness is like leprosy of the insides, and left untreated, it can take out tissue, equilibrium, soul, sense of sense. I have sometimes considered writing a book called: All the People I Still Hate: A Christian Perspective, but readers would recoil.” (For the record, I would read that book so hard!)
2. “So you sacrifice the need to be right, because you have been wronged, and you put down the abacus that has always helped you keep track of things. This jiggles you free from clutch and quiver. You can unfurl your fingers, hold out your palm, openhanded.”
3. “Forgiveness is release from me; somehow, finally I am returned to my better, dopier self, so much lighter when I don’t have to drag the toxic chatter, wrangle, and pinch around with me anymore. Not that I don’t get it out every so often, for old time’s sake. But the trapped cloud is no longer nearly so dark or dense. It was blown into wisps, of smoke, of snow, of ocean spray.”

And little by little, I started to move on. Thanks, Anne.

Watching: There are two shows that I watch consistently: The Mindy Project and Extra Virgin. I’m not sure which one makes me happier. Maybe Extra Virgin, because it’s about food (food porn) and life and few things are better than that.

Listening: Shakey Graves! Well, one of his songs. I don’t even know what this dude’s real name is, but I guess it’s not important. This duo with Esme Patterson is perfection. As is Esme’s dress/boots combo. Priorities, y’all.

Loving: My daily indulgence: Lindt’s A Touch of Sea Salt dark chocolate bar. Give me a tiny square on the drive home from work and I am a happy girl.

Thinking: About school and teaching. Always, always, always. Also trying to figure out how to personalize our wedding as much as possible, while still making sure that it’s inclusive enough of other peoples’ tastes and traditions. On the plus side, I’m not thinking about what I’m gonna wear because I bought my dress during winter break (a goal I was so happy to have accomplished) and it’s all sorts of pretty. Booyah! It was a strange moment for me when I realized that I couldn’t Instagram a shot of it for my friends. What’s a social media lovin girl to do?

Working: I’m working on feeling centered as a human being. How much of a hippie do I sound like right now? But seriously. I promised myself at the end of last year that I would work on becoming my best self in 2015. I usually use this blog to write down my goals/resolutions for the year, but I felt like I needed some time to sit with them before writing them down over here. In a few weeks, I’ll be 29 and I thought it was a good time to get my shit together. Or at least some of it. There are a lot of things that are out of my control, but my health has a lot to do with the choices I make.

I set a goal for myself to lose 25 lbs by the time I get married. It’s less about a number on a scale, though, and more about helping to establish healthy habits. I’ve been working out at least 5 times a week and keeping track of what I eat. I’ve been more mindful about what I’m putting into my body and pushing it to do better every single time I exercise. I’ve lost 6 lbs so far and I plan to keep chugging along, not because I have to, but because I want to. I’m excited that my body is beginning to change in small ways. I can feel some confidence oozing in and it just makes everything better. I want to know that when I get married in October, that I feel great about my body. I want to know that I worked really hard for it, too, because then maybe it’ll help keep me on a better path as I get older. I’m doing this because I care about myself and I’m doing this because I care about the life I may have in the future. Because I want to be the kind of person who encourages healthy habits in her children.

I’m glad that right now, the wedding seems to be a huge incentive for the people in my life, too. My parents have been encouraging each other to eat better and will start incorporating more exercise into their lives soon. Steven signed up for a half marathon and I can see how happy it makes him to reach certain running goals, and so it makes me happy too. I will never ever be a skinny girl; I don’t want to be. That’s not what this is about. It’s about cherishing the life that I have, and the body that I have, and actively working to make things a little better.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week and that my fellow anal retentive folks cherish the thought that our month looks like this. Thank you, February. Thank you.

(Thank you to Dani Hampton of Sometimes Sweet for the continued inspiration behind these Currently posts. They make for a great start.)

Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday.

17th November 2014

Grace.

I went to church for the first time in weeks and prayed for a soft heart to truly hear and understand the message. We’re starting a study in Romans. Some of the passages in this book hold a special place in my heart, so I’m excited to dive into this.

One of the things I love about my meeting hall is that the last 15 minutes are devoted to people sharing what they enjoyed from the message and/or readings throughout the week. I tend to take notes during this portion, too, because some of the brothers and sisters share such beautiful messages.

Here’s my favorite part of the testimonials this week: “When you see what God sees, you love everyone.”

Thank you to the brother who shared that after the message.

A lovely thought to ruminate on as we get ready for another week.

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Adventures in Cooking: Coffee Macarons

6th November 2014

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

We’ve finally hit the middle of the work week! Hurrah! I’m surrounded by papers (half finished progress reports, assessments, attendance records) and prepping for another round of parent-teacher conferences. We finished nine back-to-back sessions today and tomorrow evening we’ll have some more. It’s always nice getting to talk to parents and sharing stories with them, but it’s exhausting. Sometimes there’s so much to say and other times it’s a struggle to find the conversation. But they’re important meetings and a great opportunity to establish the parent-teacher team.

I’m worn down from work and all of these changes in the weather, so I’ve reacquainted myself with my old pal NyQuil and I’m thrilled to be making this an early night. But first, a distraction.

Macarons.

I’ve only made French Macarons a handful of times, but it still sort of frustrates me that I don’t have my perfect formula down. I want perfection, even if I know that it’s difficult to achieve with these tricky cookies. My favorite resource for making macarons was linked by Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky. In the post, she wrote about using a video from Beth Le Manach who regularly posts amazing cooking videos on her YouTube channel.

This video gives you the step-by-step process for macaron perfection:

If you watch, though, Beth explains that there are a lot of ways to mess up. I’m sure I’ve done all of them. Sometimes the cookies have turned out too crispy or crinkly, but at least the fillings have mostly been delicious. Last Saturday I used Natalya’s Coffee Macaron recipe and paired it with my go-to macaron base recipe (Beth’s) and the results were pretty tasty. They weren’t as chewy as I wanted them to be, but the coffee-chocolate ganache filling was so good and super simple to make! I used some Cafe Bustelo for the coffee flavor and it was bold and slightly bitter, but balanced well with the chocolate. I think my main macaron dilemmas are as follows:

1. Should I use the convection setting on my oven?
2. If so, how should I adjust my cooking time and temp?
3. Remembering to leave the damn cookies out for a full hour before popping them into the oven.
4. Piping smaller, higher cookies, rather than ones that are too wide and thin.

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Do you like baking macarons? Do you have a go-to resource to share? Any suggestions for my next macaron batch? Let me know in the comments!

Recipes and Resources:
Beth Le Manach: Beth’s Foolproof French Macaron Recipe
Blogger: Delightfully Tacky-French Macarons (great supplement to the link above)
Coffee Macaron Recipe: MomsDish.com
Follow on Bloglovin

Adventures in Cooking: Prosciutto Margherita Pizza

27th October 2014

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto | The Rambling Fangirl

This is a cheat, because I barely had anything to do with this pizza. At least I don’t think I did. It’s possible that I cleaned the basil. I did make the salad, so maybe that counts?

Here’s the thing: I think people who can cook are awesome. I think people who can develop recipes are dope as hell. I can produce an edible creation with some random crap from the fridge, but I will never make it the same way twice unless I have a proper recipe. Steven, on the other hand, is magical. He knows the ways flavors work together and puts in a little of this and a little of that and creates some truly kick ass food.

This summer, after a visit from our friends, Steven was inspired (forced) to create a blog about two of his favorite things–coffee and pizza. I think he could consume these things every day and be totally happy. We spent a lot of time talking about pizza. Making pizza. Photographing pizza. It was awesome. Then work started up and now he’s incredibly busy, so the blog is sort of on hold.

But my blog isn’t on hold and I have all of these lovely photographs of food to share.

And gosh darn it, I’m going to share them.

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto | The Rambling Fangirl

One of the keys to this pizza business is the dough. It’s not hard to make, but it seems like every time we decide we’re going to make pizza, it’s already 4 p.m. and we’re starving, so we do the store bought thing. We’re lucky enough to have a great bakery a few minutes away. 1 lb of dough is a little over a dollar and more than enough for two pizzas. For the sauce, it’s a can peeled or crushed tomatoes (I can’t remember which), without any salt added. Then there’s plenty of fresh basil. It’s only after this year, after planting so many basil plants, that I realized how useful of an herb it is. It enhances the flavor in pretty much any dish it goes into. Our six basil plants did us well this year and I plan on buying a little one that we can keep on the windowsill throughout the next few months. Basil has become essential to our cooking. Then there’s the cheese. Fresh mozzarella is best. It just is. Even if it’s a little pricier, you can absolutely tell the difference in color and flavor. Packaged cheese will do in a pinch, but if you’re gonna do it, do it right and splurge on the mozzarella in water. Your taste buds will thank you. The prosciutto came about because Steven wanted to jazz up a simple Margherita and it was absolutely the right choice. Like the basil, it boosts flavor and also gives you an additional bit of protein to keep you full.

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto | The Rambling Fangirl

It also helped inspire the salad. Simple mixed greens with plenty of baby spinach and strawberries. Fruit and salad are always a great combination. Also, nuts. More protein! I made a maple balsamic dressing to go along with it and roasted some of the walnuts in some pure maple syrup before adding them to the salad. I love dipping bacon in syrup when I have it for breakfast, so I thought a fresh maple balsamic would go well with the prosciutto in the pizza. It’s also super easy to make: equal parts maple syrup, balsamic vinaigrette, and olive oil. I think I did 1/3 cup of each for this particular salad.

Simple Strawberry Salad

And now I’m hungry.

What have you been cooking lately?

Follow on Bloglovin

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

26th October 2014

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Fitzgerald. Last week I went on a walk with Steven in Harriman State Park. I’d driven through some of it a few weeks back and knew that I wanted to visit again to take some photos. It was absolutely frigid and the sun was in and out while we were there, but the views sure were lovely. Despite the cold, it was so nice to just explore and snap photos with each other (and sometimes of each other). New York, you gorgeous state you.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

Follow on Bloglovin