Wednesday, October 29, 2014

{an apple pie/caramel cheesecake hybrid}

I hate the fact that I feel the need to preface this post with a disclaimer: I am not a food blogger. I am not a photographer. I am not good at anything, and I'm on my knees in the dirt asking you to not judge me. 

It used to be that people could blog about whatever they wanted, like, "Look what I did/made/took a picture of/listened to/watched/thought of/wrote..." and it was cool. (Not cool cool. Cool in the sense that you didn't tell a single soul in real life that you had a blog because it was literally the nerdiest ((not in a good way)) thing you could possibly do.) Now you have to have a "niche" and buy a "domain" and write for an "audience" and go to a "conference" to learn about "monetizing" and buy an expensive "camera" and despite all your best efforts you'll probably still end up on "GOMI".


I'm about to blog about food. Using pictures that I took with my broken point and shoot. And this post is not sponsored by anyone other than my husband, who bought the apples.

For Thanksgiving this year, I was on dessert duty. I picked it. Dessert duty, I mean. When given the choice, I always pick dessert duty, because then I can make a cheesecake. When else am I going to make a cheesecake? And I decided to go all out. Because when you make, like, one cheesecake a century, you have to go all out when you do.

By "go all out" though, I don't mean money-wise or effort-wise. I only really mean taste-wise and appearance-wise.

So I decided what I wanted to make (an apple pie/caramel cheesecake hybrid, because I felt a little guilty for not making a traditional apple pie) and did what I always do: I hit up Pinterest. I needed a gluten-free crust, so I searched "easy delicious fast good gluten-free cheesecake crust" and I found THIS crust which uses pecans instead of graham crackers (and really was easy, delicious, fast, and good). Then I searched "best easiest caramel cheesecake ever" and found THIS which I only had to modify slightly for the filling. And last but not least I searched, "really cool apple pie" and found THIS, which looks awesome but is probably the easiest thing ever. (I didn't follow the recipe, just made kind of a quick apple pie filling with crazy amounts of butter and sugar and used the picture for the design.)

There you have it: I am lazy, but resourceful.

But the point is not that.

The point is that I made this, and it was good:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

{crazy kids}

This weekend, to put it eloquently, completely rocked.

There were lots of good things about the weekend as a whole, but the main event was something that has been a long time coming: Barclay and I went on a date without Sullivan. First time in over nine months (his whole little life). 

This is one of those things that I've caught a little bit of flack for from different people over the months, as they've emphasized and re-emphasized the mondo importance of getting a babysitter, going on a child-free date, putting your marriage first...letting go a little.

I happen to agree with them on those points, actually. Good, important things, all. But I also think that everyone lets go differently, of different things at different times, and I don't see what the rush is. This kid goes to bed at 7. Sometimes we pack him up in the car seat or stroller and go out for a coffee while he sleeps. Sometimes we put him to bed at home and watch a movie or paint or whatever. He's been to a baseball game and a football game and quite a few good shows and about 200 different coffee shops and parks and even a few restaurants and has probably covered thousands and thousands of miles in his stroller. I don't feel like our marriage is getting shoved to the back of a dank old basement room. Things just look a wee bit different right now than they did pre-Sullivan. Which, I think, is quite possibly normal.

However. I know that I'm just a taaaaaad more anxious than the average bear. When Sully was born, the thought of letting him out of my sight made my skin crawl. Putting him to sleep in his crib in the room down the hall, handing him off to a near-stranger at a baby shower, having someone who is not me take care of him while I'm across town in a movie theatre...? Too much, too soon. I knew those things had to happen, some sooner than others, but I felt like they didn't all need to happen within the first week of his life. I felt like I would just know when they needed to. When I was ready.

I don't know the exact combination of time and 'bravery' that it takes to overcome separation anxiety, but little by little I've been able to let go one finger at a time. I watched women pass him around at a friend's baby shower without hyperventilating. No one dropped him or shook him or yelled in his ears. We moved him into his own bedroom. He didn't flop out of his crib onto the floor like a fish or get his head stuck in the railings.

The babysitting thing has, admittedly, taken a bit more time. It's hard! I didn't expect it to be! Who am I?!

(And, I mean, there are logistics too. He eats all the time and I'm, like, his food.)

But this week, I realized that I was ready, and that it was time, and that it was going to be okay and even fun. So we dropped Sully off at his grandparents' and hit the town like a piƱata. Minus the candy. Plus cheesecake. And possibly an informative IMAX movie about the South Pacific. (I know, we're crazy kids.)

It was good, and Sullivan was so completely fine, and we'll probably do it again at some point. Now I just have to tackle my fear of letting Barclay take Sullivan sky-diving.

I'm just kidding.

PS: Also this weekend, we finished our painting! And Barclay was immediately like, "What should we paint next?" So I think he didn't hate the process too much. (It was his first attempt at watercolours.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

{art duet}

Barclay and I were walking around the lake the other day brainstorming date ideas that don't involve lots of money or leaving the house after Sullivan's bedtime or watching too many episodes in a row of Chopped. Gone are the days of, you know, impromptu private jet plane trips to Chicago for dinner and dancing (that's never actually happened). It's kind of tricky criteria, but tricky criteria is good for you, I think.

The first thing on our list was to try and paint a picture together.

It's maybe a little easier said than done. We both like to draw and paint, but stylistically we're very different. We didn't necessarily want it to look like two different people had painted it. So we decided to divide the canvas up into squares, as opposed to dividing it into two halves, and fill them in randomly. It could look cool, right? Imperfect, but on purpose? Or it could look dumb and we could have a little bonfire instead? (It's a date either way.)

There's this picture from the cover of Tolkien's The Hobbit that Barclay really likes, of Smaug flying over the mountains, so we picked that for our first collaborative effort. We put on some Vinyl Cafe and made some snacks and hunkered down over the canvas, frequently getting up to switch sides or move out of each others' way. 

This is just a progress report - it's not finished yet, but I'm pretty pumped about how it's turning out (we probably have one more date's worth of work).

Monday, October 20, 2014

{video scrapbook: new york 2013}

Tip: For some reason, on my computer, I have to click on the little gear on the bottom right hand corner and turn up the quality...So if it's unbearably blurry, try that?

I finally sat down and finished my New York video scrapbook. I meant to do it a year and a half ago, but there were always a million other things to do instead. Because that is how life goes.

This video is made up of at least a tiny bit of almost every single one of the video clips from my trip to New York last year - about forty grainy minutes of point-and-shoot holiday film footage with crappy audio condensed down to five. I don't know that it's much more palatable as a five minute montage, but it sure takes up a lot less space on my computer hard drive and is so much easier to access when the nostalgia hits me (which is, after all, the point of the whole video scrapbook thing). 

It's not even close to covering all that went on, but the rest of the trip has been adequately recorded on this blog - everything from getting my jacket stolen in Central Park to the night we spent busking under the arch in Washington Park. You can read that stuff by clicking here.

I remain, unapologetically, in love with that city.

PS: the song in the video is "Ghosts" by ON AN ON.

Friday, October 17, 2014

{something to do with creativity}

A few years ago, a magazine editor from New York contacted me and asked me to draw something up for their cover. The theme she was suggesting was as ambiguous as it gets: "Something about creativity?"

From behind the safety of my glowing computer screen, I hemmed and hawed and picked through my brain like it was an overflowing junk drawer. Maybe there was something I'd shoved in there at some point, tucked towards the very back, that I could pull out and make into something? I said I'd give it a try, along with a fervid disclaimer about not being a professional and being really unsure that I could even come up with anything (like a clause in my agreement could protect me from her criticism after the fact if my work was anything less than par). The editor wrote back, "It'll be great. You'll do great. Just do anything, and it'll be what I want."

I wasn't optimistic, and the parameters were much too wide for my liking, but I was also excited to try. Flattered to have been asked.

I have a suitcase with everything in it. All of my paints and hand-me-down art supplies - glue and tape and string and paper and pencils and oils and charcoals. It's all stuff I've collected from other people who were 'making space' in their own junk drawers. A lot of it I don't even know what to do with. Slightly used but in fairly good condition. That day, after the email exchange, I sat down on the floor of my dining room and emptied that suitcase onto the floor around me so I could see it all. I sat in the middle of the mess and picked up a sketchbook that had been flung to the floor by my right knee.

The page stayed completely blank for an hour. Two hours. Three. I became insanely frustrated with the whole thing. Something to do with creativity. I was surrounded by all of the tools, but I didn't know what to do with them. I felt like Creativity was a person, and we were in a fight. I snapped a crayon in half and examined the inside. I got up and left the room. I came back in and surveyed the scene from above.

And that was what did it, I guess, because then I sat back down and got to work. I drew the crayons, and pencils, and the brushes and oil pastels and the watercolours and the string and the books and the tape and even my coffee, which was now quite cold. And in the middle of it all, I drew me and my blank page. It was a picture of not knowing what to draw a picture of. And I liked it.

The magazine folded. Like, not as in 'in half', but as in 'doesn't exist anymore'. So this picture has been just sitting in a folder on my desktop. This morning, I wanted to write about something, but didn't know what to write about, and then I came across this picture and thought I'd write about it. It seemed fitting.

I like that about creative things - that the point is not always (or usually, for me) the subject. The point is just to get something down on the paper (or the screen, or whatever) and to be happy with the final result.