Month: November 2013

An Ode To Turkey Day

On Thanksgiving morning at 11am I was standing with my mom in the kitchen.IMG_2998Light was filtering in through the windows, the cheesy Thanksgiving day parade was playing in the family room, and I had just come home from a “turkey trot”. This turkey trot was not the widely known 10k that most DC residents participate in but rather, a group of friends that gather early in the morning to get a little exercise in, catch up, and say hello before rushing home to be with family.

My turkey trot consisted of me walking about 2 miles and then eating a glazed donut. And it was perfect. Afterwards, I was happy to be in my warm home, happy to know that the rest of my day would be spent solely in the kitchen. IMG_3027
“I love that Thanksgiving is a time where everything stops in the middle of the week in the US,” my mom said. “Everything stops just so that we can eat and talk and spend time with friends and family.” What a resounding truth. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays we celebrate in the US that doesn’t have a lot of pomp and flair. There are no gifts that are given, no party hats, no countdown. There are no fireworks or free candy, no crazy costumes, and no explosion of all things pink, heart-shaped, and chocolate.

Instead, Thanksgiving is a holiday that exists simply – we eat good food, we spend time with dear friends and family, and we finally take the time to slow down and articulate what we are grateful for. The equation for a happy thanksgiving is almost so simple, it makes you wonder why we don’t take the time to infuse these things into our daily life more often. IMG_3065
My Thanksgiving vacation this year was a lot different than I was expecting. I was thankful for my amazing friends and family but I was also grateful to reconnect with some old friends, to be reminded of my past.

This Thanksgiving was also different because I successfully cooked my first turkey. When confronted with the impending threat of a turkey-less Thanksgiving (thanks to a vegetarian mom and a dad and brother who I love but were not about to spend four hours with a naked bird in the kitchen), I accepted the challenge. IMG_3057
And after six hours of cooking, I produced something that both looked and tasted like a turkey. Success!IMG_3062
(I can’t say the same for the gravy, that turned out to be more of a paste.)

Honestly, the thrill of tending to my bird and that pivotal moment when the internal temperature reached 165 degrees was unlike anything else. I was reminded again of how satisfying and pleasurable the simple act of preparing and sharing food can be.

Among other highlights of the day – delicious chocolate chip coffee cake for breakfast, spending time with two adorable puppies, and taking many many pictures of food. IMG_3055IMG_3048IMG_3037IMG_3020IMG_3016IMG_3003IMG_3061

“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
― Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

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Beautiful Things: Weekend Hikes

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I never thought I would end up going to school in a small town in Maine. I never thought I would fall in love with Maine and its crispness, the way you can practically bite into the air. There were so many days in college where I was stressed out or in my head or just surrounded by too many cloudy thoughts and voices and needed a form of release. Luckily, every time I needed that alone time, Maine took me into its open arms gladly. All I had to do was walk outside, make my way up the hills, and cross through the trees.IMG_2983After spending so much time in such a beautiful place, I understood how important getting outside was to my general happiness and mental stability. This realization was not something novel or unheard of — I like to think that all of us still have that natural instinct, that pulling urge to be outdoors. To live simply (even if just for an hour). To reset.

Portland, Oregon knows this. The gorge spills through the city. Dive under a bridge and you will find Forest Park coating downtown in green and only 30 minutes of driving will take you to some incredible hikes.

We all know it’s somewhere in our DNA.IMG_2973IMG_2985IMG_2976IMG_2995
Do a beautiful thing and get outside.

Keep Walking

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere so just keep rolling under the stars.”
– Jack Kerouac

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For my five day road trip across the country I armed myself with the necessities. Trader Joe’s chocolate covered espresso beans. Classic hits like Bruce, James Taylor, and Nicki Minaj. Tina Fey’s Bossypants on audiotape. And finally, a podcast that I had never listened to before (but downloaded per a friend’s excellent recommendation, thank you Emma) called “This American Life.”

“This American Life” is a wonderful radio broadcast that I have, apparently, been missing out on for years. I listened to hours and hours of stories on subjects ranging from America’s biggest party school to hilarious summer camp tales to a moving story about a radio freelance journalist who helped to free several Eritrean hostages back in 2011. These all helped to pass the time I spent in the car, but one of the most pertinent stories for me personally was that of Andrew Forsthoefel, a recent Middlebury college graduate who walked 4,000 miles across the United States two years ago.  IMG_3191Having just walked across Spain along the Camino de Santiago and now driving across the United States, I felt like I understood on some level where he was coming from. I understood the restlessness, the feeling that maybe by walking we are writing some part of our own story. Of course I also felt a little inadequate, having walked only 500 miles compared to Andrew’s 4,000, but what can you do.IMG_2649
My walk along the camino with one of my best friends was an experience that I can’t quite put into words. All at once it was solitary and it was communal. It was beautiful (the landscapes, the people) and it was ugly (my feet). It was eye-opening looking at the world around us and it was also a time to turn inwards. For five weeks, Rosie and I carried home on our backs. IMG_2615IMG_2486IMG_2493
If you haven’t heard Andrew’s story, you should listen to it here, because it is truly inspiring. Along his walk, he asked the people he stayed with what kind of advice they would give to their 23-year-old self if they could go back in time, and at the end of his story he answers his own question: 

“I would tell myself three things.
1) You know exactly what to do.
2) There’s no need to be afraid.
3) Keep walking.”

Since I haven’t come up with three pieces of advice quite as good as these I’m stealing them from Andrew for the time being and repeating them over and over like a mantra. When things get rocky or uncertain or I am afraid I will never find my cloud-watching-poetry-writing-nacho-eating dream job I will try to remember these three things.

We must tell ourselves they are true. Even when it feels like all of the pieces are falling apart and we want to lie in our dimly lit, low-ceilinged attic bedrooms, remember to keep walking
because
you know exactly what to do
so go do it and
there’s no need to be afraid.

Beautiful Things: Saturday Portland Market

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Is there anyone who can honestly say they don’t enjoy a good market? I realize I come from a family of old-thing-collectors, estate-sale lovers, and farmstand queens and therefore may be slightly biased, but everything about a good market calls to me.

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Markets take life and strip it down to its most simplified, natural, and organic form. The fresh produce you find at a farmers market is so much more exciting to pick out and gratifying to eat. You learn about weird kinds of cauliflower and which vegetables come with which season. At a market where different artists and makers are selling their crafts you get to learn about the time and the work that went into making this homemade thing that you are taking with you.

There is so much more meaning imbued in every product you pick up at a market. And then of course there are also the tents selling cheap graphic tees or weird knick knacks but you even appreciate those for what they are as well. The wool knit hats, the photos for sale, the falafel wraps, and the international spices are all a part of the eclectic market smorgasbord.

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Dangerously heavenly smelling almonds.

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Hand-woven and dyed beautiful wool rugs. The color in his hand is made from crushed beetles and lime juice.

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Handmade books with incredible bindings.

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Begin it now (again).

Beginnings. They are hard, aren’t they? Being dragged away from the familiar and thrown into something completely new is distinctly uncomfortable. Along with many of my fellow Colby classmates and other 2013 college graduates, I am now floating in the midst of that scarily wide open post-grad life we call “the real world”.

Since I graduated about five months ago I am lucky in that I can say I have already been on a number of adventures. I taught at a wonderful summer camp (where I was PAID to lead a cloud watching activity), I completed a pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago (35 days and 500 incredible miles across Spain), and then, not satisfied with simply walking across one country, I decided to drive across another one (in only five days this time) and finally made the big move to join two friends in Portland, OR.

This blog was something I started almost an entire year ago and have tried again and again to keep up with. For whatever reasons, I continue to fail to do so. Recently, a good friend sent me a letter in the mail asking about the move and life and when was I going to start that blog again?

“Begin it now,” said the quote from Goethe that she included in her letter.

Begin it now.

Is there any better, more concise, and truthful advice one could give to a college graduate? Begin it now. Begin this new and different life now. Begin your new adventures now. Begin your new/bold/daring/risk-taking self now. And in the case of this blog, I will begin again. Thank you Rachel.

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Hopefully, as I continue to look for employment and in the meantime, explore the wonderful foodie artsy city that is Portland, I will find the time to post to this blog more regularly.

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In the meantime,  I will leave you with some beautiful words, hoping that they will make your day a little better and a little more meaningful, as they usually do for me.

“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
– Raymond Carver from “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

Even in the dark, there are a million hearts beating. Listen for them. Listen to know you are never alone.