Deeply Nourished

One of my goals for 2016 is to read more. It was a goal in 2015, as well. 

The last book I read in 2015 was a little different than the others I've recorded. It's a cookbook! I came across it an event at The New School of Monmouth County. Deeply Nourished is by Rebeckah Allocco and Judith Alfano

deep nour.jpg

Deeply Nourished is a cookbook with 21 simple and healthy recipes many of which are vegetarian or vegan. It also contains short essays from each author on how food and health relate to their religious and spiritual beliefs. The subtitle of this cookbook is "Stories of Food, Faith, and Life at the Table". These essays discuss subjects ranging from the connection between food and faith, sustainability and localness, seasonal eating and beliefs, favorite meals or techniques, and more. Each essay somehow relates to the authors spiritual journey and connection to cooking and food. Each essay has a quote at the beginning from the bible, the Buddha, religions, cooks, or philosophers. The recipes that follow are either directly connected to the writings, or are connected more loosely though season, memory, or emotion.  

Now, I'm not religious at all and although I am interested in all religion, I wouldn't necessarily pick up a non-reference book that had religious overtones. I do hold a belief system rooted in community, family, sustainability, simplicity, nourishment, pleasure and kindness. Since the profits went to The New School of Monmouth County and the recipes and essays looks interesting, I was intrigued to read this book even though it was not in my usual wheelhouse.
I thoroughly enjoyed Deeply Nourished
The essays were not overwhelmingly religious, but more spiritual in nature. The themes discussed could fall under many religions or belief systems including my own, having to do with family, community, nourishment of the body and soul, as well as Faith. What I enjoyed most were the glimpses of the daily life that the authors provided. It was interesting to read the connections to food these women have and how they felt that connection to be deeply spiritual.  
I really liked that authors chose recipes that are dear to their hearts, simple to execute, and largely vegetarian. Having a mostly land-meat-free diet (I eat fish and so would not call myself a vegetarian), I have found it surprisingly difficult to find recipes that I am inspired by. There are many recipes in this book that I'm eager to try! The one recipe that I have tried, Oven Roasted Salmon with Tomatoes and Capers, I've already made multiple times. Since these meals are seasonal some will have to wait until the ingredients are available. While others, like a kale and Brussels sprouts salad, I can't wait to test out. 

I would recommend this book to people looking for some new meals to try, especially if they eat vegetarian, or for those who enjoy reading about the spiritual journey. Anyone who regularly reads cook books will enjoy this one, i'm sure!     

The New School of Monmouth County is an alternative-education school that I attended for about 5 years growing up. It's also where one of the authors, Rebeckah Allocco went to school and now teaches. Judith Alfano is a writer and food educator. Visit their website, nourishingpaths.com and buy the book on Amazon or itunes

April in Review

Phew, April went fast! 
This month really felt like Spring to me, with daffodils making their debut and trees flowering like mad all over Brooklyn. We began to take more regular trips Down The Shore in April, which definitely heralds the warmer weather. 

1) Trees blooming in Park Slope... 2) and Kensington. 3) There were a few grey days and April showers. 4) And some spectacular sunsets. 

1) Trees blooming in Park Slope... 2) and Kensington. 3) There were a few grey days and April showers. 4) And some spectacular sunsets. 

Work geared up for the family this month, what with warm days and the start of baseball season. But it felt good to get our hands dirty and change up our routine. Although we were worn out from the end of March, when it was still cold, family members fell ill, and we were generally tired and stressed, having the upswing at our day jobs cemented the start and change of Spring. 

1) Giant eggs for Easter. 2) My black metal album cover. 3) High contrast in Prospect Park Zoo... 4) and in Asbury Park. 

1) Giant eggs for Easter. 2) My black metal album cover. 3) High contrast in Prospect Park Zoo... 4) and in Asbury Park. 

The month started off with great focus on our work at home as well. Quilting, blogging, and sewing were all chugging along in the beginning, but petered out a little towards the end of the month. I'm diligently trying to stick to the blog schedule (more on this soon) I have been working on since end of March, and doing well IMHO. I made my Finish Along list for Q2 and got working right away at the beginning of April, but at it's end I have no finishes to show for it. Other goals have been achieved tho! We got back into the house hunt, as well. Which is both invigorating and stressful. 

1) Olin Street, Ocean Grove, NJ. 2) West Cape May, NJ. 3) 8th Street, Park Slope. 4) 8th Ave, Park Slope. 

1) Olin Street, Ocean Grove, NJ. 2) West Cape May, NJ. 3) 8th Street, Park Slope. 4) 8th Ave, Park Slope. 

1) Serious Tavis. 2) Pensive Pallas. 2) Pondering Pit. 4) Bippi and a sun beam.

1) Serious Tavis. 2) Pensive Pallas. 2) Pondering Pit. 4) Bippi and a sun beam.

We were able to travel a few times this month, hitting some of our favorite spots, seeing family (although briefly), and watcher spotting out of town! We were able to walk some towns, some zoos, and some beaches .
At home, we watcher spotted, visited with friends, cat sat, made some food and ate out, went to the zoo, read books in bars, and general enjoyed the heck out of Brooklyn

1) I kept calling everything at the zoo "zebras" for some reason. 2) Finally back to beach combing. 3) Classic coffee. 4) Tavis refuses to DJ. 

1) I kept calling everything at the zoo "zebras" for some reason. 2) Finally back to beach combing. 3) Classic coffee. 4) Tavis refuses to DJ. 

So, happily and easily,  April budded into a beautiful bloom! It's Spring growth felt like it was propelling us with leafy tendrils into something new. We shot forward thru the month and now we can only wonder what May has in mind for us... 

Recently Researching: 2015 Goal House Plant Edition. Part One.

I wasn't sure where to put this blog topic... I could put it under 2015 goals bc taking care of my house and plants is a big goal for me this year. Or I could put it under Recently Researching bc, well, it's something I've been researching lately... So I kinda did a mash up of the two! I couldn't think of a super catchy name for it, tho. 

I think every house should strive to have three things: cats, musical instruments, and plants. Luckily, I've got all three covered. 

In effort to take better care of the plants I have (and therefore feel justified in getting more!), I've been researching my house plants. This is something that seems like a no brainer, but I've never actually done it before. I always claim to have no green thumb and maybe this is partly why. 

Here's a rundown of some of the plants I have, as well as some facts, and care for each. 

Aloe - This guy's a succulent, but I often forget that. That means that this soothing medicinal plant should be watered well, then let to dry completely before watering again. Aloe should be kept in bright light and a small pot, as it enjoys being root bound. Aloe's healing properties are well known, but I can never bring myself to break the leaves when I need to treat a burn or scrape. I keep a bottle Aloe Gel in the house for that instead.  Did you know that Aloe actually refers to a whole genus, so the typical plant we see is sometimes called "true" aloe. 
I've had a few different aloe plants, and I think my problem is that I over eater them. I moved my current plant to  the brightest window, and am trying to make it flourish, but at the moment, it's kind of languishing. 

Schefflera/Umbrella Tree - Again we have a plant that is commonly called by it's genus, but the big type we see in pots are usually the Schefflera actinophylla. This plant can grow quite large and full and flower when in the right environment. It can live in medium indirect sun, but prefers bright light. This plant should be watered well, then it's upper soil should be let to dry before watering again. If it's leaves turn yellow and fall off, it's under watered. If they turn black and fall off it's been over watered. (Mine tends to have the former problem). 
When we moved to Park Slope and into a larger apartment, I searched Craigslist for some larger plant and found the schefflera I currently have. We had a harrowing but memorable drive thru the neighborhood with it propped in the back of our truck. I call it our "bedroom tree" (every bedroom should have a tree!) and it's about 7 feet tall. The family we got it from said it was about 8 - 10 years old, then, so now it must be about 12 years old or older! We repotted it once, and it's not living it's best life. Sometimes it grows the cutest little baby new leaves, but mostly it just hangs around looking droopy. I've been trying to water this guy more regularly and I think it'll benefit when we open the windows so it can get fresh air and more light. 

Pothos Epipremnum Aureum - This is the most commonly seen Pothos, which has shiny light green, or variegated light and dark green leaves. The standard pothos grows well in low light, and is super easy to maintain, needing water only when it's soil is about 50% dry, or even dryer. Leave will yellow and fall if left too dry for too long. These plants prefer warm climates and will die if left to get too cold. Pothos prefer to be root bound, sending out long tendrils which can be pruned, or coiled to keep the plant bushy. These easy houseplants keep the air clean, so are good to have on hand, but can be poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep in a safe place!
I have quite a few of these guys, and most do really well. One was left by an open window, got too cold and is on it's last legs. One has some sort of white mildew which my schefflera also gets. I've found that giving it more sun after gently wiping away the white powdery substance usually solves the problem. Sometimes I forget to water them until I see the leaves start to droop. I'm trying to avoid this, but haven't had any dies like this. I've tried to propagate cuttings from some of my Pothos with mixed results. Some start growing roots right away and live long lives, but others fail completely. Growing new plants from cutting is a goal for me with these. My cats don't bother these plants much, so I don't worry about them, but I do try to keep them in higher places, if possible. 

Rubber Plant - This plant (ficus elastica) used to be grown for the rubber that could be made from it's latex which is like sap, but separate. Now it's mostly a decorative plant and it's cousin the Para Rubber Tree is grown to make the rubber we use today. These two trees actually have a different genus and the house plant is more closely related to the fig tree. It likes indirect light and does well in low, medium or bright as long as it's not direct. They don't need too much water and prefer it a little dryer in cooler climates. The leaves can yellow from being over or under watered but usually fall off if overly saturated. Rubber trees can grow quite large and get nice think trunks. This plant prefers warm temperatures and will die in cold weather, but overall I've found them to be quite hardy!
My rubber trees are my longest lived plants and I always have to stop myself from getting more and more of them. They are so easy to care for and lovely to have around. I do need to tie them up better as their branched can start to get wild and out of control. And I need to dust their leaves more often (or ever) bc it's better for them to be dust free. 

I've learned a lot about how to care for the house plants I currently have. And this is only the first installment. By my count, I have 9 or 10 more varieties to learn about! I feel that when I am better able to take care of my plants, I will be ready to get more. Hopefully by that time, we will be living in a more light soaked home and one where my plants can spend some summer days outside. Even house plants like a field trip!

Do you have an tricks or tips for these house plants? If so, I'd love to hear them in the comments! 

Check out my pinterest page for more on these and previous Recently Researching topics. 

 

 

 

Saturn's Return to New York

One of my goals for 2015 is to read more.  Check out the first book I read this year here

The second book I've read this year is Sara Gran's Saturn's Return to New York. I picked this one up bc I read two of her books last year and wanted to try her first novel. 

I liked the other novels that I have read by Gran, both of which were mysteries from her Claire Dewitt series. And I enjoyed her first novel as well. Saturn's Return to New York was not a mystery, but a slice-of-life about a thirty something New Yorker dealing with her bubbling emotions concerning her family and friends as she navigates the drug addled and angst drenched city. Gran's writing is comfortable and quick for all her dark topics. She whisks you along like a well informed but apathetic tour guide in your favorite city. And you want to see where the tour will lead you. 

Mary's an underachieving book lover writing reviews for an online seller and living comfortably, ambiguously but a little annoyedly under her mother's cold literary shadow. But when her mother falls ill, Mary must face her true feelings about their relationship, as well as the one with her long dead father. Soon all Mary's relationships come under scrutiny and it seems the planets are malaligned over her New York. 

I'd recommend Saturn's Return to New York to anyone who likes books about New York City, especially mildly gritty, angry ones. Or who like female authors who write about sex and drugs and rock & roll. Gran's writing reminds me of a more cynical, less mystical, old person version of the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block. Even dealing with serious themes of loss and death, this is a pretty light an easy read. It would make a great plane book, I'm sure! You could bring it to the beach, but all the New York talk will make you feel like you should be dressed in chic head to toe black.

Have you read this book? Leave a comment!

Recently Researching: Jackfruit, Fabric Boxes, Wheat Pennies

It's been pointed out to me that I have a lot of (useless) knowledge about a variety of things and subjects. It's also been pointed out to me that I'm a nerd. 
If I hear or see something that I don't know about, I love to look it up and learn as much as I can. It seems to be a slightly rare thing to do. But it's so fun!

Here are some things I've been learning about in the past week or so:

From Google image search

From Google image search

Jackfruit
Are there more fruits nowadays? I'm always hearing about some fruit I don't recognize. And it makes me want to try all of them!! 
I had heard of jackfruit but didn't really give it much thought until I saw this recipe on The Minimalist Baker. This sandwich looks amazing! But what exactly is jackfruit? Well, I've learned it's a large fruit that's a cousin of the mulberry. It kinda looks like an unripe mulberry, but much bigger! According to Wikipedia it's the largest tree grown fruit and can reach up to 100 pounds!.  It grows in moist warm flatter areas of Asia, India, the Caribbean, Brazil and Mexico. The tree is cultivated in many of these nations but can also be considered an invasive species due to the fact that they are tasty to many animals who will eat the fruit and spread it's seeds.  The fruit apparently tastes both sweetly tropical and substantial, can be fibrous, or "custard like" with a musty smell. Every article comes with it's own vague description of the taste, but all can agree it's unique. The fruit has a bunch of goodness like dietary fiber and vitamin C and even a little bit of protein. And some think it would make a great food source for places where food is a scarcity. It seems to be readily available frozen or canned in Asian grocery stores but can also be found fresh in big cities. Even Amazon has it. Although these fruit seem a little hard to handle, they are a vegan favorite as they are versatile and can have a meaty texture. I'll be on the look out for these monster fruits, both fresh and jarred, and for more easy yummy looking recipes. 

From Fall for DIY

From Fall for DIY

Fabric Boxes
I don't like to sew on the machine, but I've been seeing fabric boxes that makes me want to try! These little boxes seem fun and cute and pretty easy for a sewing machine novice. Here are some of the patterns I would like to try:
Fall for DIY suggests using these boxes to cover plastic plant pots. What a neat way to spruce up those ugly plastic pots!
Noodlehead makes a fabric box with a sliding cover that would be awesome for organizing so many things! I could see this being great to take along on a car or plane trip. 
I have to find the first blog where I saw some cute fabric boxes, and what inspired me to look for more. The most simple design, but so useful and pretty! now I can't find it!
So now I've done my research, all that's left is to try Something New!

From Google image search

From Google image search


Wheat Pennies
I love to find old coins! I'm no numismatist but when I see an old or foreign coin, I can't resist keeping it! Wheat Pennies might be some of the most recognizable collectible American coins, as there are still many in circulation. But what makes a Wheat Penny a What Penny? And why don't they make them anymore? Recently I started wondering and had to find out more! 
When it came time to redesign the cent in 1905, the US Mint hired a sculptor to create the new images. To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of his death, the new cent was issued with the now familiar portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the front in 1909.  This coin features shafts of durum wheat, now popular for making pasta, surrounding the words "One Cent" on the back, and the Wheat Penny was born! The coin originally had the designer's initials on the back, as well, but was quickly changed. Few of the coins with the initials VDB still exist, and these are rare and expensive, possibly fetching up to $50. Through it's history, there were several changes made to the wheat penny's composition. Only one bronze penny is thought to exist and it sold for 1.7 million dollars in 2010 (the seller was from NJ, BTW.). The Wheat Cent was produced from 1909 until 1958 but the wheat shaft design was replaced with the portrait of the Lincoln Memorial the following year. 

From Google image search

From Google image search

You can find out more about these Recently Researched items on my Pinterest board! Or if you have an idea for a Recently Researching topic, leave it in the comments!

2015 Goal - Wardrobe

In January, I wrote down some goals I have for the year. I only marked down my general goals. I didn't want to get overwhelmed! I think it would be good to expand on each of the main topics. There are very specific things I want to accomplish within each goal section. 
I'll be breaking down what I want to get done for each goal over the year and posting updates. See the first goals I tackled here and here.

The goal we are looking at today is Wardrobe Makeover. 

I think people are surprised when they find out how much I love clothes and shopping. They are surprised that for much of my young life I wanted to be a fashion designer, took classes at FIT, and learned fashion illustration. My dreams of working in the industry died, but my love of clothes never did and that lead me to having way too many. 

At the end of 2014 I started realizing how much of a pain my over-flowing closet had become. There were piles of clothes all over, clean and dirty, making it hard to keep them sorted. Closet, hangers, drawers were flowing out all over. But with all these clothes, I could never find anything to wear. I guess this is a common problem. I started researching, started reading blogs about minimal wardrobes, and started realizing that I really wanted to change this chaotic aspect of my life. 

My first step was to read a lot! Some blogs I highly recommend are Unfancy and Reading My Tea Leaves and Rowdy Kittens. All of these ladies live very different lives and all those lifestyles are different than my own. They all have really interesting takes on the reasons and practices of minimal wardrobes. 

This cheapy sweater has been one of my favorite pieces this winter. I got it at  Mandees  by my house for like $16!

This cheapy sweater has been one of my favorite pieces this winter. I got it at Mandees by my house for like $16!

Next, I formulated some loose goals: I want to decrease my overall wardrobe. I want it to be easy to pick out what I'm going to wear each day. I want to only have clothes that fit well and feel good. And I want to spend less money and less time shopping. 

With those goals in mind, I decided to drastically reduce what was in my closet and set about sorting thru all of my clothes. But I love my clothes, I couldn't just give them all up! I knew I would have to go in baby steps. The first baby step was to get rid of anything that was emotionally easy for me to get rid of. Items I never wore, had out grown, or just didn't fit well went into a giveaway pile, a donate pile, or the trash (if they were really no good to anyone). I only got rid of things that were easy to get rid of. 
For the next baby step I used some advice from the blogs I had read: I thought about "my style". People often joke that I dress as if it's still the 90s, and why not? T-shirts, jeans, vans, hoodies and flannels, layered dresses, and funky sweaters are what I like to wear and what I feel comfortable in!
Next I went thru all the clothes that remained with "my style" in mind. I kept everything that I loved, that fit the season, that fit the description of my style, and put everything else into plastic bins. I have to wear black or white to work, so I also kept (almost) all of my work clothes. I put the bins away to be reculled at the end of the season. 
OK! I had drastically reduced my closet. I felt good about the progress I made and decided that it was a great start. 

I knew that a very important goal for me was to cut down on shopping. But I decided that I really needed to do more than cut down. I needed to stop. So I decided that besides a few items I needed I wouldn't clothes shop at all in 2015! Scary! But I knew that there were some items I would have to buy, so I hoped that would hold off my cravings. 

I started this goal for myself in January, and now 3 months later, I feel really good about what I've accomplished so far:
It's easier to find items to wear each day, I don't feel like I'm scrambling to find work clothes as much.
Almost everything I grab from my closet this season fits well and I feel comfortable in it. If I end up having something that does't feel good, it's easier for me to put it in the discard pile than it has been in the past.  
I end up wearing items that I enjoy, but got little wear out of, bc it's easier to find things as my closet isn't as full. 
I've only bought 2 items since Jan 1 2015. 

But all these accomplishments have also made it clear that I have a long way to go:
I still have way too many clothes. 
I still have items that don't fit well, or feel good. 
I have huge piles of laundry, left over from years of hording clothes, that hasn't even had the first cull yet. 
I have a whole new season and it's weight worth in clothes, to go thru!
My closet is still very messy and disorganized. 
I have a bunch of stuff in a "maybe" pile that I haven't tried wearing yet. 
I still have the urge to shop. 
I haven't donated any of the items I put aside, or sent any of my giveaway bundles. So all those clothes aren't in my closet but they're still in the house. 

Another Mandee find, cheap and versatile. I wear both these tops to work and for day to day! This flannel will be good for spring, too!

Another Mandee find, cheap and versatile. I wear both these tops to work and for day to day! This flannel will be good for spring, too!

I have some ideas about what to do next. I want need to go thru all my clothes again, then swap out the Winter clothes for more weather appropriate ones. Going thru all my clothes will be a seasonal activity but it will happen several times during the season as well. I plan on doing this, among other things, until I have my clothes at a more manageable number. Who knows how long that will take? But this as well as other things are good steps towards my overall goal!
 In upcoming months, I plan to keep working on this wardrobe project and posting about it. Just like the minimal wardrobe blogs I love reading, I hope my own trials and errors might help readers who might be struggling with the same issues. 

Recently Researching: An Introduction

It's been pointed out to me that I have a lot of (useless) knowledge about a variety of things and subjects. It's also been pointed out to me that I'm a nerd. 
If I hear or see something that I don't know about, I love to look it up and learn as much as I can. It seems to be a slightly rare thing to do. But it's so fun!

Since I love blogs that have regular posts with links or likes (check out this one, this one, or this one if you need examples), I thought I'd try my hand at creating a series of posts like that for my own blog. But a nerd version, of course. 
I plan to share what I've been researching of late. Perhaps some readers will find the subjects as interesting as I do. Sometimes the items may be in depth, sometimes just a little something I recently learned, sometimes research on what I want to learn. 

In this introductory post, I'm gonna start with some things I've already looked into earlier this year. In the future, it might be things that I was interested in that week, or month, or something I want to research and haven't had the time yet. These posts will be a good excuse to do so! Going forward, I hope it will be a regular addition to my blog. 

Image found via google image search and linked to  here . circa 2010.

Image found via google image search and linked to here. circa 2010.

That Building on 3rd and 3rd in Brooklyn.
Pretty much anyone who lives in Brooklyn has seen and wondered about this strange little building on the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Ave in the Gowanus area. When I first moved to Brooklyn it was surrounded by an empty lot that backs up to the famed Gowanus Canal (another story for another day, perhaps). But now the building is cornered by a Whole Foods store that took more than 8 years in the making. Apparently it was built around 1872 to house the Coignet Stone Building showroom for the new (to the USA) and revolutionary building material reinforced concrete. The building was made using new techniques for molding reinforced concrete to showcase the material's versatility (now removed and bricked in the 1960s). After the Coignet Stone Company went bust (around 1876), the building was taken over by Edwin Litchfield from whom the land was leased. Litchfield owned a ton of land and buildings throughout Brooklyn, many of which are now local landmarks. It was sold in 1957 apparently to current owner Richard Kowalski, a Brooklyn native who later moved to Beach Haven NJ. He owned the building and surrounding land. In 2005, he sold the land to Whole Foods (for a reported $4,945,200) with the promise that they would restore the building that was to be granted Historic Landmark stasis in 2006.  From 2005 until 2013, the Whole Foods development was under high controversy in Brooklyn and the building on 3rd and 3rd remained abandoned and in decline. Around 2013, the supermarket chain started and finished construction on the "Greenest Supermarket in the Nation" and scaffolded it's new project. Progress can apparently be seen on the building today and it seems that Kowalski plans to lease or sell the building upon completion of it's renovation.  
Bc it's a Historic Landmark, this building will remain, but it's fate still seems to be quite up in the air. 

Image found via google image and links to  here . circa 2014

Image found via google image and links to here. circa 2014

I'm just one of a long line of people interested in this place, all of whom have an opinion on it, it seems. I'm sure we will all keep out eyes on it and it's future. An interesting article about this building, with many more facts about it's history, can be found here.

The California Raisins
I was never that interested in these motown-esque singing raisins, although I do remember them from the tv commercials. But for some reason, my husband and I were discussing them the other day and I was compelled to look them up. 
These anthropomorphic claymation raisins got their big break in 1986 when they first appeared on tv in commercial form. But they went on to put out four albums, a tv series, multiple specials and numerous merchandise endorsements, and a video game. They even won an Emmy.  Who knew?

Image via The  Telegraph .

Image via The Telegraph.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry is an English actor and comedian who was born in 1957.  I first became aware of him when I discovered Jeeves and Wooster on PBS. He's been in a slew of things before and since playing PG Wodehouse's all knowing man's man. Fry has sort of a reputation for being a smarty-pants, as he also hosts the BBC's wacky quizshow, QI. I'd currently enamored of this show and it was bc of that that I came to dig into the actors biography. From troubled teen to award winning actor, he's been in the news more recently for dismantling some of his social media on the grounds it can be a hostile environment. I found it interesting that he battles with severe depression and bipolar disorder, even attempting suicide as recently as 2012. But earlier this year he got married and tweeted about it, so hopefully his happiness is on the upswing!  Some of the other roles I enjoy him in are as the older (wiser?) Holmes, Mycroft, a wry psychologist in Bones, and a heart breaking role in V for Vendetta. All worth a watch, if you haven't seen them before.  

To accompany my Recently Researching posts, I've made a special Pinterest board with more images and links for the things I write about. I'll be adding new images each post, so keep a look out!

Have an idea for Recently Researching? Leave it in the comments!

Sea, Sand, and Snow, for Second Anniversary

For our second wedding anniversary we headed down to one of our favorite beaches. A year earlier, the weather was warm, and mild and we spent our time in Washington DC. This year we ran into quite a bit of snow Down The Shore. 

Flat, calm, ocean before the storm. 

Flat, calm, ocean before the storm. 

We stopped by Ocean Grove on our way down, partly for business, but mostly to see the beach on a freezing, still, day. We found a bit of glass and jet but had to head on when our toes went numb. 

Sun sets over the boardwalk. 

Sun sets over the boardwalk. 

Sunrise at one of our favorite hotels. 

Sunrise at one of our favorite hotels. 

We woke up the next morning in Cape May to easier temperatures, and set out to the beach again. 

Met a shy friend. 

Met a shy friend. 

Deserted places.

Deserted places.

Ice capped jetties. 

Ice capped jetties. 

This tall fellow. 

This tall fellow. 

Cold and colorful. 

Cold and colorful. 

Ship wrecks at sunset.

Ship wrecks at sunset.

We beach combed, thrift shopped, walked, and ate as many fish sandwiches as we could find.
We are always surprised and amazed at how different the beach can be. Last time we were in Cape May, the beach was rich with finds. This trip, we barely found any treasures. Whether we find things or not, the beach is a rejuvenating place for us, and we rejoiced in relaxation. 

Blue Pig breakfast. 

Blue Pig breakfast. 

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed out into a dreary rainy NJ drive. Soon, the rain turned to snow, and the snow turned to blizzard conditions. Partly to avoid the road, but mostly out of excitement and curiosity we headed back to OG.  

Brave souls. 

Brave souls. 

No glass here.  

No glass here.  

Asbury Park in deep white. 

Asbury Park in deep white. 

We didn't find any glass or even very many shells, but the blizzard beach was worth the trip!

Another look at the boardwalk. 

Another look at the boardwalk. 

Over all, our 2nd anniversary was relaxing, calm and a little cold, but wonderful. We got to enjoy some of our most favorite pastimes. A happy way to spend a happy date. 

Art and Nature in Washington DC

During our recent trip to the District of Columbia we made time to see some great art. Nature was a little harder to come by. But our first stop was the National Museum of Natural History which is pretty much a combination of nature and art. 

A statue/idol from Easter Island who greets you as you enter the museum...

A statue/idol from Easter Island who greets you as you enter the museum...

But this guy in the lobby is more iconic. 

But this guy in the lobby is more iconic. 

I hadn't been to the Smithsonian Museums in many many years, and my husband had never been to visit them, so it was a great adventure. He was very keen to see the Hope Diamond, which I had forgotten is blue. I didn't get a good picture, unfortunately, so you will have to visit it for your selves!

We loved visiting the big gems and meteorites! I hope, one day, to own one! Can you imagine owning a piece of outer space?

We loved visiting the big gems and meteorites! I hope, one day, to own one! Can you imagine owning a piece of outer space?

There was a great live bug exhibit that culminated with a butterfly garden. We skipped the butterflies bc it cost extra and we were short of time. I love a good bug zoo, so we fully explored the other bugs. They were fascinating, interesting, and not a little creepy. We left feeling a bit itchy. 

Gorgeous colors. 

Gorgeous colors. 

Armor plated. 

Armor plated. 

We popped into the National Gallery of Art and saw a few favorites. 

I think Seurat and I would've gotten along. He seems to love the Shore. 

I think Seurat and I would've gotten along. He seems to love the Shore. 

This is a detail from The Wind by Felix Vallotton. I had never heard of him before but really enjoyed this painting. It seems like he is someone I will have to research. 

This is a detail from The Wind by Felix Vallotton. I had never heard of him before but really enjoyed this painting. It seems like he is someone I will have to research. 

I always love Wyeth's muted tones, bleak but beautiful. 

I always love Wyeth's muted tones, bleak but beautiful. 

There's an underground passage way connecting the two wings of the art museum. The highlight of which is an amazing light walkway. I'm not sure who the artist is, but it was clearly a fan favorite judging by all the people snapping pics.

One of the things that I find really thrilling about all these museums is that they are free. The ease  of entering is a shocking contrast to doing just about anything in NYC. Bc one doesn't pay to get in, there is only a small security table, only for checking larger bags, etc... It makes it quick to enter but it also makes it feel so much more accessable. I could certainly picture people popping in on their lunch break, or walk home. And it must be spectacular for people with kids. All of the education, fun and excitement of the museum in an easy and affordable way. I sometimes marvel that families can pay what it takes to go somewhere like the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, where one trip for a family of four might cost upwards of $100. 

One of my IG friends recognized this spot in a photo from all the way in Cleveland, OH. It leaves an impression. 

One of my IG friends recognized this spot in a photo from all the way in Cleveland, OH. It leaves an impression. 

Something that I was not thrilled with was that a lot of museums, exhibits and exhibitions seemed to be closed, some permanently. Upon entering the Modern wing of the Gallery of Art, we realized that there were only a very few pieces on view and these only in the lobby. All the galleries were closed.  

The few things that were on view were pretty great, though. On display was work by some of our favorites, including Serra (not pictured), Ernst, Calder, and Goldsworthy.   

The largest Calder mobile was sadly tied and not allowed to turn. 

The largest Calder mobile was sadly tied and not allowed to turn. 

We are fans of Max Ernst's paintings and print work and were happy to discover this sculpture. 

We are fans of Max Ernst's paintings and print work and were happy to discover this sculpture. 

It's pretty rare to find Goldsworthy's work in galleries or museums. I always feel lucky if I stumble onto it. Unfortunately you could get no closer to it than this as the doors out to the patio were locked and the windows to look down on it were very dirty. 

It's pretty rare to find Goldsworthy's work in galleries or museums. I always feel lucky if I stumble onto it. Unfortunately you could get no closer to it than this as the doors out to the patio were locked and the windows to look down on it were very dirty. 

Walking out on the National Mall is very similar to being in a sculpture garden or museum bc of all the monuments and memorials. I covered some of what we saw in a previous post about this trip, so I won't go into it again. But it was also nice to see some "wildlife" on our walk as well. 

washingon blk squirrel.jpg
washingotn squirrel.jpg
washington duck butt.jpg

One of the things that I really really wanted to do was go to the National Zoo. We ran out of time for it on this trip... So I guess we will have to go back!

A Monumental Anniversary

This past weekend we headed down to Washington DC to celebrate our One Year Anniversary. Hey, it's my blog and I can name the posts any corny thing I feel like. 

Our hotel was only a few blocks from all the monuments, so right after checking in we set right back out to see some sights. 

Our hotel was only a few blocks from all the monuments, so right after checking in we set right back out to see some sights. 

I haven't been to DC in many years. It was a warm clear night when we arrived and it was great to get right out and walk down to the Mall. It took me a while to become oriented but luckily our hotel was right in the heart of town. 

It seemed like 2 in the morning, partly because the night was so black, and partly bc there were very few other people out. We were lucky to have the Mall to ourselves. 

It seemed like 2 in the morning, partly because the night was so black, and partly bc there were very few other people out. We were lucky to have the Mall to ourselves. 

Everything there is so BIG! When I was young, walking between sights seemed to take forever. I remember the Mall being enormous! Upon returning, it didn't take that long to walk from one place to another... but the whole city still felt gigantic.  The streets are so wide, the buildings so large! It didn't help that there never seemed to be anyone around. It felt like the opposite of Manhattan, which always feels like it's wall to wall with people and buildings.  

Some things were exactly the same as I remembered them. 

Some things were exactly the same as I remembered them. 

For only being there a very short amount of time, we saw so much! We were able to see three (really four but one of them had only a few permanent pieces on view but no exhibits and therefore doesn't count) of the museums, many memorials and monuments, and walk around to several different areas of the city. We decided to stay close to the hotel this trip and not go where we couldn't walk to, which worked out perfectly. 

The second day was rainy and chilly so we mostly stayed indoors visiting the museums. The last morning was warm again, although overcast. We took the opportunity to see a few of the monuments and memorials in the day light. 

The second day was rainy and chilly so we mostly stayed indoors visiting the museums. The last morning was warm again, although overcast. We took the opportunity to see a few of the monuments and memorials in the day light. 

I was very surprised that several of the museums had no exhibits, or were currently closed. The biggest shock and disappointment was that the National Aquarium is closed for good. It was the oldest public aquarium in the nation and closed last Fall. I don't remember ever going there, and was sad not to able to on this trip or in the future. It seems very sad to me that they closed such a historical site forever. 

This pic makes it seem that the White house is in some rural location, but it's right in the heart of downtown Washington DC!

This pic makes it seem that the White house is in some rural location, but it's right in the heart of downtown Washington DC!

It was a shockingly easy and fast trip down (we took the bus!), and hopefully we will make it back before too long. Some things that I would really enjoy seeing next time include the Jefferson Memorial, the Potomic River, the National Zoo, the Textile Museum (which was open, but currently had no exhibits??), and the Post Office Museum.  

We collected many squished pennies!! If you are a fan of these souvenirs, DC is the place for you!

We collected many squished pennies!! If you are a fan of these souvenirs, DC is the place for you!

Art and nature in Tennessee.

While we were in Tennessee we visited the Cheekwood Gardens and estates. I was told Winter was not the best time to visit, but I wasn't the least bit disappointed. There was a fresh sprinkling of snow and ice on the ground and no one was out except us and the animals.  

Im not sure what kind of grasses these were, but they were pretty neat. Quilt inspiration?

Im not sure what kind of grasses these were, but they were pretty neat. Quilt inspiration?

As well as many themed gardens, Cheekwood has a sculpture path that winds it's way around the outside of the grounds. I didn't catch most of the artist names, but it was fun to "discover" sculpture in the cold Winter woods. 

It was startling to come upon this great creature/structure in the middle of the woods. 

It was startling to come upon this great creature/structure in the middle of the woods. 

We saw four deer making their way along the same path we were. 

We saw four deer making their way along the same path we were. 

James Turrell was a highlight of the sculpture walk.

James Turrell was a highlight of the sculpture walk.

It will be very exciting to go back in a different season and see how much the landscape changes. There were tons of squirrels and birds out but I bet there are even more in spring and summer. I most want to visit the Water Garden and Japanese Garden when we return. 

We saw quite a few interesting birds but practically no feathers! Shame, I was looking forward to bringing some home. 

We saw quite a few interesting birds but practically no feathers! Shame, I was looking forward to bringing some home. 

There's a ridiculous amount of lichen in TN. I wish I could have taken some. I don't think it would survive the plane ride. 

There's a ridiculous amount of lichen in TN. I wish I could have taken some. I don't think it would survive the plane ride. 

Inside the estate, they had a xmas tree display that was fairly uninspired (although, I hear it's been far better past years) and a small museum space. The exhibit was something to do with the early 90s and had a few interesting pieces, including one where a woman answered personal ads (pre-internet) and then requested the men eat birthday cake with her while being filmed. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but I have found the images strangely haunting me this week. We also got to see a Yoko Ono piece that incorporated some of her earlier work to make a new one. I think I need a book of her art.... but I think I missed the xmas deadline!

I have been lucky to stumble upon some of Yoko Ono's work recently. It often appears in unexpected places. 

I have been lucky to stumble upon some of Yoko Ono's work recently. It often appears in unexpected places. 

Last week

Last week we went to visit family in Tennessee. We spent most of the time catching up with family and friends but we were able to squeeze in some thrifting and eating. 

The place I most wanted to visit to eat was The Nashville Biscuit House.  We went there directly after landing and it did not disappoint. I tried to get back almost every day after that, but it was not in the cards. We also hit the Barista Parlor in East Nashville. It was almost unbearably pretentious. But I did have a killer cappuccino. For a big family dinner we ate at Cock Of The Walk, where they throw your cornbread in the air! To round out the southern eating we had awesome ribs at Bar B Cutie.   

All that food and the only pic I snapped was Waffle House. It was my first time there!

All that food and the only pic I snapped was Waffle House. It was my first time there!

We managed to hit 4 Goodwills, 2 Southern Thrift, Music City Thrift and Thriftsmart.

This cute homemade Easter basket with bunny and eggs could not come home, but was good for inspiration. I was tempted by this old singer, but it was in bad shape and crammed into an ugly modern sewing table.

This cute homemade Easter basket with bunny and eggs could not come home, but was good for inspiration. I was tempted by this old singer, but it was in bad shape and crammed into an ugly modern sewing table.

We bought so much stuff that we had to send a package home. But we were able to bring most of it back in our carry-on, thankfully!

We bought mostly fabric and toys. Of course.  

We bought mostly fabric and toys. Of course.  

I found a bunch of vintage fabric for my stash, and we got some animal baskets. 

I found a bunch of vintage fabric for my stash, and we got some animal baskets. 

I am already thinking of our next trip... We didn't even get to any of the quilt shops on our list!