comforts

found in breakfast for dinner. buttermilk biscuits.

with an egg & sharp cheddar. and some kale on the side, to keep it real.

xo

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gratitude, on the right day. from the wrong thing.

A just-finishing candle

A candle is made to become entirely flame.
In that annihilating moment
it has no shadow.

It is nothing but a tongue of light
describing a refuge.

Look at this
just-finishing candle stub
as someone who is finally safe
from virtue and vice,

the pride and the shame
we claim from those.
                                                -rumi (as translated by coleman barks) 

on thursday night, i sat with a belly full of sadness and lit a candle for a dear, sweet-souled friend who died the day before. i thought about memories and closeness and distance and time and missing people. i let my heart weigh heavy there awhile, sitting at the table, staring at a candle, by myself. i thought about a big, big lesson in freedom my old friend taught me on a snowy mountainside in vermont. the lesson was about trust and letting go. and then i felt it, stronger than i have in quite awhile: grateful. i wasn’t expecting that, but there it was, in the strangest spot, at my kitchen table, on thanksgiving. and then i told someone i loved them, and i meant it.

this week has some good things in store for you, friends. i do think so. i know it.

xo

rest and thanksgiving.

hi all! i’ve been gone from this space awhile, tending to some life things that need tending. also, working overtime. hello, paying-the-mortgage! sigh of relief, and i am so grateful. it’s thanksgiving week, after all, so i’m finding my thanks and giving them some due right about now.

also right about now, i’m planning to cram in production of two salted caramel cheesecake pies (oh yes, that’s what i said) to bring along to each of the thanksgiving potlucks we’re cozying up to this year. (i made one last week as a test batch, and it’s a major winner. we got all golden girls on that pie over here, i tell you. the pie almost required it. by the way, i’m curious, if you were a golden girl, who would you be? i think i’d be all of them, eating cheesecake.)

anyhoo. here are some things i’m grateful for today, and every day:

♥ for big trees, and woods walks.

♥ and treasure hunts therein. in california, perhaps. also, my favorite blue nail polish.

♥ for occasional (and measured) debauchery, in the form of one whiskey, one ginger ale, and five dollars in quarters.♥ for rockstars, the ones who finally have the chance to sing their song and shine.

♥ …and sweet peaceniks, for them, too. for motley crews of loving.

♥ for coffee and skateparks, and sometimes for both at the same time.♥ for elbows and knees and physics and concrete and learning the brave art of the fall. for the falling, for the getting up.

♥ for good old dog friends like g. for being there on his passage to the mystery. even for that… for that, most especially.

♥ for feeling a part of things. for wildness.

♥ for curry and friends who feed us what they have.

♥ for woodsmoke.

♥ for hot chocolate in silver mugs under a tarp over a fire in the rain in january, with people i love. for people to love.

♥ for secret gifts on city sidewalks.

♥ for oceans.

♥ for setting suns.

♥ for everything, as it comes. because it just does.

wishing you all a wonderful thanksgiving. what are you thankful for today? i hope you’re feeling loved.

xo

clean laundry and thrift.

oh, wow. pure awesome. make-it-yourself laundry soap! i’ve been meaning to try this out for awhile, and now i’m wondering why it took me so long. it’s super easy, and waaaay cheaper than the store-bought stuff. i’m sort of broke-ish right now, so i was pretty thrilled when i figured out the ratio of savings is like, seven-to-one. seriously. (i am terrible at math, so don’t hold me to that one, ok? i promise it’s cheap.)

i poked around online and found a slew of recipes out there, and based on what i read, and on the feedback left by people who tried those recipes, i’ve mashed them together to come up with this adaptation. results are good so far. my first load of laundry just came out of the dryer, and they look and smell very clean.

recipe:

1/2 bar grated soap. i used dr. bronner’s almond castille, because that’s what i had on hand, but any old soap should do. some people use ivory, and a lot of people use fels-naptha, which i’d never heard of before but it sure has a pretty name. whatever you choose, grate it up with a cheese grater. you can save the other half of the bar in a baggie for next time. your cheese grater will be clean. win-win.

1 cup washing powder and 3/4 cup borax. i found them in the laundry aisle at the grocery store.

2 gallons water.

put the grated soap in a big pot and add one gallon of water. heat it up until the soap is melted. then, throw in the borax and washing powder, stir it around, and bring to a boil. add the second gallon of water (cold or cool). mix well. pour it into some sort of vessel. (i used gallon jugs.) you’re done! the soap will thicken up and turn from clear to sort of milky-looking within a day. use a half-cup per load.

ok, now go forth and be clean but not broke, people!

xo

like i said,

i’ve been thrifting. here’s some new loot!

hello, nerdy dogwalking shoes. they’re like sneakers, but without the “i’m so sporty” vibe. which is good, since i’m none too sporty, myself. they’re borns, similar to these here. to be honest, i’m usually pretty hesitant about buying used shoes, but these are only lightly worn. i’m hoping the previous owner wore socks. (i’m sure they did, that’s what i’m telling myself.)

vintage state-themed juice glasses. nevada and missouri.

when i think of missouri, i remember a night spent in a roadside motel in joplin, the day before i visited graceland on a solo, cross-country road trip i took when i was twenty, well before that devastating tornado. (the atlantic has a not-for-the-faint-of-heart photo essay about the tornado aftermath here, in case you’re into clicking blue words today).

when it comes to nevada, i remember reno. i was there with my mother when i was twelve, the same trip when i discovered pesto at ananda. there are two memories i’ve got from reno. the first occurred in a casino called circus circus where my mom took me to an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner. after eating, we leaned over a railing and watched people below shoving coins into slot machines. my mother said this: “look at all of those people blowing their children’s college educations.” she sounded so throughly disgusted that i recall her exact words. then, to illustrate her point, she let me put a quarter in one of the machines when none of the guards were looking. no coins came back out. the second reno memory happened immediately after leaving the casino. we were walking down the strip, and a man passed us. he was carrying a parrot on his shoulder. i turned around to stare, but kept walking, tripped on a light post, and fell down, hard, on the sidewalk. another humiliating detail i will share only because i like you: i was wearing mc hammer pants that day.

(i’m noticing the juice glasses not only serve as a conduit for hydration, but also for cringeworthy reminders of my adolescent clumsiness & atrocious fashion sense. fun.)

ok, moving on! perfect old blue mason jars! intact lids! the one on the right is enormous! super-awesome!

and this little beauty is a crazy-quilt turned granny pillow. she’s silk, & she’s going to live in the love shack in the backyard. (i’ll show you around the love shack in another post sometime.) this lady needed a bit of refurbishing, so i took out a seam, washed her, replaced the pillow insert, and mended her back up again. look at these sweet stitchy details:

i see i’m not the only one who loved her.

so there you have it, folks. objects and cuteness and usefulness and memories converging. also, why thrift stores are better than target.

have you found any happy scores out thrifting lately?

xo

this kale was not thrifted.

howdy!

so yeah, i know i told you i’d be sharing some thrifting finds here today, but the thing is, with the days shorter (and gray), there’s a narrow margin for taking pictures. and, despite my good intentions… i did not. i did take this rather dreary photo, though, of the kale i ate for dinner last night. oh, kale, there are so many nice things i could say about you, but it’s too bad you are not photogenic once you’ve been cooked. also too bad i did so much awesome cooking this weekend but this is the only picture i’ve got to show for it. oh well. (sorry, kale, for blaming you for my own poor photography skills. you are actually quite lovely. my bad.)

anyway, we eat a lot of kale around here, and i almost always make it the same way, which is not very interesting, is it? but it’s so easy, and so tasty, and really & truly, if i had to eat only one leafy green for the rest of my life, it’d be this. so, without further ado, here’s how it goes (if you already know how to make kale, feel free to skip this. i won’t mind and i’ll never know!):

ingredients:

* one bundle organic kale, whatever kind you love the most (i like the kind with purple stems and curly leaves), chopped up (remove the fat parts of the stems beforehand.)

* garlic (a few cloves, chopped)

* maybe some onion, if you want, chopped up small

* broth. this is the secret thing to make it go from boring leafy green to shazam. (i usually use powdered vegetable bouillon, about a teaspoon dissolved in about a half-cup of hot water. this makes the dish pretty salty. i like it salty, but you can cut back if you don’t.)

* olive oil & butter, a tablespoon or so of each, enough to coat the pan.

: :

how to make it:

heat oil & butter over medium-high heat in a big cast-iron skillet. add chopped garlic (and onion if you’re using it). cook, while stirring, a couple of minutes until it starts to soften, careful not to burn. add kale, and let it cook until it starts to lose some of its volume. stir it to spread the oil around. cook for maybe 2-3 minutes, maybe 5, stirring occasionally. throw in the broth, cover, and let it simmer over medium-ish heat, about 10 more minutes. remove cover, stir it around, cook it more if it’s too soggy. the most important thing about these directions is that it doesn’t really matter how you do it. kale says, go ahead and break the rules. i’m flexible! and by the way, i’m also like totally awesome for your body. 

you can eat this along with almost anything… as a side, in stuff, straight from the pan when nobody’s watching. last night i mixed it up with coconut rice, avocado, and black beans in a burrito. (thrilling news, i’m sure.) if there are any kale aficionados reading, i’d love to hear your favorite preparations, because even though i’m a creature of habit, i do like to break out every now & then. and kale seems safe, you know? happy monday, folks!

xo

dear fall,

okay, you got me.

you make it impossible not to.

your foggy mornings and your crunch crunch crunch of leaves underfoot? your big fancy colorshows? your gleamy full november moon? those are good. 

thank you for the red backyard

& for the turning-inward encouragement

& for reminders: time comes and goes. there’s change. let it be pretty.i’m glad you’re here.

love, emily

: :

i’m glad you’re here, too, folks. and i hope you all have a sweet eleven-eleven-eleven & a wonderful weekend! i’ll be back on monday to show you some recent thrifted things. but for now, i’ll show you this: my darling friend chelsea, along with her husband and band, st. frankie lee, just released an amazing album called ‘girls say no’. you can listen to the whole thing on their bandcamp website, and if you love it & are so inclined, you can own it for three bucks. what?! check it!

xo

the softed spot.

i’m ashamed to admit that before we adopted frida, i didn’t really even want a cat. but funny how these things work: you don’t want a cat, but your dog really likes them and you think a companion would be nice, so you get one even though you feel kind of ho-hum about it, and almost immediately you fall into loving the cat immensely… suddenly the whole dynamic of people-and-animal love in the household has a new rhythm, and you cannot imagine what life was like before. so naturally, you start changing furniture around to suit the cat. i carved out a small corner of the dining room for her to eat and lounge in, found the little white bench on craigslist, and made a cushion. i had a foam core cut to size and covered it in a quilt top found at an estate sale.

the quilt is circa texas, late 1940’s. i know this because whoever made the quilt backed the pieces with a texas newspaper, screaming headlines about red scares and commies and all sorts of other surreal stuff. the quilt was raggedy and tattered and i’m guessing made by a teenager who was not yet experienced with sewing, judging by the wonderfully irregular stitches. it was weak from sitting still for years and years, so i patched it together with itself (not too carefully) in layers, adding a strong cotton backing & heavy-duty zipper for easy removal & washing.

when i finished this up, i was worried that the cushion was too firm for miss princess kitty, and i asked my boyfriend if he thought the area needed to be “more softed.” the inquiry was met with intense laughter and several cheeky comments regarding my overboard concern for frida’s well-being. (remember the bed i made her? yes. she’s spoiled.) a sad, dark something i haven’t told you yet is this: before frida came to us, she spent five years living in a tiny cage without healthcare, human love & contact, or any creature comforts at all. i’m doing my best to make up for all of that heartbreaking nonsense, & so… the softed spot was born.

other deets: i used stacking bamboo boxes for a feeding tray, and wine crates (thrifted at goodwill) underneath the bench to store food. the taxidermy butterflies were found at a garage sale. long ago, someone pinned these lovelies into an old hosiery box! adore. (i think the whole shebang came together under forty bucks, not bad).

(sorry, lady, gotta draw the line somewhere… no cheeseburgers for you.)

yep, the softed spot is frida approved. operation kooky cat lady complete.

xo

a poem for your monday.

howdy, folks; happy monday! today i thought i’d share a poem with you, because i do like a good poem. and also because i made a little field trip to powell’s and bought a book i’m quite excited about! a new one. hardcover. i can’t remember the last time i made such an un-thrifty purchase, but the paperback doesn’t come out until springtime and i had to. it’s the third of the “good poems” series, edited by mister brilliant garrison keillor, and i love it almost as much as i love my first two tattered editions. (i only say almost because i haven’t read everything six hundred times yet. i’m sure once i get to know it better, i’ll love it equally well.)

so, i thought i’d share a poem for you today. it might be my favorite in the whole collection. this one makes me feel stuff. lots of stuff. (i think that’s the only introduction it really needs. it holds its own just fine.) maybe it will do the same for you? i sure hope so. feeling is important.

Gate C22

At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he’d just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she’d been released at last from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it again and again. We were all watching–
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn’t look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after– if she beat you or left you or
you’re lonely now– you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman’s middle-aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

by Ellen Bass
from The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)

xo

a corner in the kitchen.

hi, lovelies! today, i thought i’d show you one of my very favorite little corners in my house! not only is it pretty (i am a big sucker for mason jars), but it is incredibly useful to have all of my baking/ cooking/ bulk supplies at arm’s reach while in the kitchen. and when i say ‘at arm’s reach,’ i mean it most literally. this little galley kitchen is teeny-tiny, to the tune of sixty square feet!

a friend made this beauty for me. he is awesome and handy and people like that are good to know. he built it, i painted it, and then he came back and hung it on the wall. just like that, la la la!

if any of you have wonderful little-kitchen space-saving tips, please share your wisdom with the rest of us!

ok, it’s time to go bake bread. back soon!

xo