Beers + Beards

Handsome Beer(s) Man

Just thought I’d mention that Shane’s been hard at work on two projects, one of which is entering its third month, the other of which is newly hatched and already quite fun:

  • 100 Beers of 2010 – in which he is trying and reviewing new beers.  We figured that he had two solid months’ worth of unique beers in his stash.  If you like good beer and are interested in trying new things, I’d highly recommend his reviews.
  • BeardHype – which celebrates ‘the fetishization of vinyl, beer, posters, clothes, whatever.’ – basically your quintessential Shane interests.  Fun, frequently updated, and visually stimulating.

The Kitchen Diaries

At the recommendation of our friend Shana, I picked up Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries, which documents a year in Slater’s kitchen.  As one of the reviewers stated, “The wonderful thing about Nigel Slater is that he cooks the way most people do, only much better.”  He also writes about food the way most people do – except much, much better.  He’s also more honest about it than most food writers – he talks about going to the corner store for fish sticks and being confronted by readers when he’s caught buying frozen peas – he also writes about those days when he’s overindulged and just wants broth, which I appreciate, especially in the wake (or midst) of holiday indulgence. As I read the book curled up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of coffee, I found myself equal parts hungry and happy, and Shane kept telling me to Put. The. Book Down. so that I wouldn’t read it too quickly.

By the time I finished it (the next day – I did make it last two afternoons), I was newly motivated to do the following:

  1. focus on healthy, flavorful meals
  2. try several new recipes each month
  3. learn more about our camera + take better photos
  4. write about food more regularly

All of these may seem like obvious outcomes of reading a lovely book about food, but the first was a bit of a revelation.  One of the things I struggle with in planning meals is making sure we have enough – enough protein, enough vegetables, etc – not because we lack anything, but because I want to make nutritious meals that will also fill us up and will take advantage of the things seasonally available to us.  I don’t want to down a plate of pasta and then regret it, or eat a salad and be hungry an hour later.  Slater seems to address both of these problems by making intensely flavorful, satisfying meals, and then eating simply the rest of the day.  I’d like to do more of both of these things.

In the next year, I will do my best to document our eating and drinking – focusing on dinner – in daily entries of around 200 words, not including recipes.  These entries will be filed under Kitchen Diaries, and if they get too oppressive to our handful of readers, I may find some other way of displaying them in our blog/feed.  In the meantime, happy eating, and happy 2010!

January project: the thesis!

One of my resolutions this year was to complete at least one craft project per month.  I expanded that definition to be one CREATIVE project per month primarily for this month, when I went on a craft hiatus in order to write my first draft, which I turned in about 10 days ago.  I would share pictures and stuff, but it’s really not all that interesting to look at.

February’s project, in addition to THESIS OMG PART TWO, is posting every day.  This will be split between here, Outpost505, and various other less-public outlets.  I tried to do this in November (I think) but failed.  So if there’s anything you’d like to hear about, feel free to give me a blogging prompt.

Also, new project promises notwithstanding, I realized this weekend that I need to give myself permission to be bad at things for a little while until I finish my thesis.  I need to do that, and I need to recognize it’ll be OK.  It’ll be OK because in six weeks, this whole thing will be behind me!  It’s kind of amazing to think about that.

25 September 2008

The weather turned cool and rainy today, and SB and I had difficulty getting out of bed as a result.  The last few mornings have been deliciously cool – not so cold that you need a jacket, but cool enough that staying under the thin blankets curled up together seems like a good idea.  We had warm homemade cereal with chopped up bites of apple for breakfast.

I spent pretty close to all day in my office, making progress on assorted things.  This week I’ve had a lot of self-directed time which is a nice change from endless meetings – but also means that I struggle at times to keep motivated or focused or – something.  What’s the word I’m going for?  Yesterday I purged my desk of clutter and made piles organized by project = focus!  In case you’re curious, a few things that I’m working on currently:

  1. An evaluation of statistics tools and processes with the hopeful end result of implementing a consistent (and systematic) workflow in all the public service points.
  2. Transitioning to a different staffing model for our IM service, for which I have basically sole responsibility, having disbanded my committee last week.
  3. Working with other campus units to create library content for the modular University portal site (well, trying to do so).

I battled a throbbing headache all day, then came home a little early and sat with a cup of French press coffee for a bit.  Dinner was perfect for the weather – a sort of cassoulet with from-scratch tomato sauce and tarragon pork sausage.  Rich, flavorful, and filling, though we were snackish later on.  Next time we’ll have some crusty bread and it will be exactly right.

A Year in a Life

Picture 1

I’m done with my Project 365 (or 366, as it was a leap year).  Just over a year ago – a year on Thursday – Shane accepted the job offer that resulted in our move out here.  On the same day, I applied for the job that I now have.  I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  Our lives have changed so much since then!

Picture 3

While this move was very, very hard on me, I think it’s been a really good thing for our relationship.  I feel like we’re much closer, much more stable, and much more aware of needing each other.  I’m so thankful for that, and for the awesome dude that is currently asleep in our bedroom with our cat.

Picture 2

There are still times when I’m horribly, achingly homesick for the life we had back in Champaign – our friends, our favorite places, our 7 minute commutes on our bikes, my wonderful job and coworkers, our big sunny apartment with the garden and clothesline – but for the most part, I think we’re both really happy out here.  And that’s a good thing.

against love

I finished Against Love: A Polemic last night and boy am I conflicted. I like the idea of the polemic – being provocative, making people really think about the issues – but at the same time Kipnis is so pat-herself-on-the-back about it that it’s a little irritating. After 200-or-so pages about how marriage is irrelevant (or is it?) and out-dated (or is it?), she concludes with a trite little paragraph about how “against” can mean either “opposed to” or “supporting.” So….what? At no point could I determine her position regarding love, marriage, relationships, commitment, etc – except that she really likes to talk. There were many valid points – but I wonder about the long-term influence of this book considering it is/will be so dated in about five minutes. I agree that marriage as an institution deserves SERIOUS investigation and criticism – we commit ourselves far too easily to a Judeo-Christian ideal of what a relationship should be like – and whoever said that marriage is/should be the culmination of love? One of her points seems to be that we are clinging to a dead (or dying) institution because we’re not brave enough to change it or to even realize that it’s fatally flawed. Yes? Maybe? If over 50% of (American at least) marriages end in divorce, then yes, the form (or the expectations for the form) is flawed – but that doesn’t mean that doing away with marriage-as-social-contract is the way to deal with it.
I guess in the end I don’t know how I feel. I’m one of those that left to pursue happiness – I think that’s one of the few “groups” that Kipnis supports(?) – and I don’t think I’ll ever marry again – but I don’t think that marriage is hopelessly outdated. I think we just have expectations and settle for less than them. It’s unrealistic to expect one person to meet all your needs – but it’s unfair to settle for much less than that – unfair to you and to the person you settle with/for. I think reading this book at this particular juncture in my life was good – and painful and strange – but my opinions are strong enough to be shaped and challenged by this strange beast of a polemic. If you’ve read Against Love, drop me a line and let me know what you think.
Other than that, a wonderful weekend. Really wonderful. Friends and food and laughter and sunshine. I feel like too too many entries are lists of adjectives – but that’s how I’m thinking these days. Once my phone lines are restored from the imaginary address I’m sure I’ll have more coherent thoughts – yesterday I tried to blog with a small child standing directly behind me and GOD was it irritating. I’m looking forward to the Interweb in the privacy of my own home.
Oh, a somewhat related note and a call for help – send me postcards! I have about 100 already but am papering my walls with them and would like more with interesting photos or from interesting locales. If you can spare a postcard and 23c, please email me and I’ll send you my address. I will also send you real mail in return – and that’s always a good thing. 🙂
Cheers, darlings. It’s been quite a month already.