Tuesday, November 1, 2016

fall leaves + knitting

you know, I wanted to sit down and write a post, but guys... I'm too tired.

working 5am opening shifts at a coffeeshop and simultaneously teaching a night class way across town? yeah, 0/10 would not recommend to a friend.

the leaves here turned suddenly and got very pretty, but it's only when you try to take a picture that you realize how much negative space there is in kansas.  by which I mean there's so much sky...and air that is not filled by trees.  the colors grab the attention in real life, but photos always seem a little sad.

if you like film photography at all, here's a random recommendation: I like this youtube channel.

last night was, of course, halloween.  I used my college graduation gown and my ravenclaw scarf and a wand carved by my brother out of a stick long ago to transform into a hogwarts student and distribute candy to neighborhood kids.  one little guy waited for me to fork over the goods before running away yelling, "gryffindor's better!"


I wrote a short story over the month of october, successfully finishing it on the 30th within my personally-set deadline. it's getting a lot of laughs and requests for a recording? I guess the little voices I developed to read it aloud are pretty entertaining.  if I figure out how to record it, I'll share it here sometime...

I'm off to take a quick catnap, I think.  hope you all are getting plenty of rest and that your weather isn't almost 80 degrees like it is here! ha... peace out, kids.

Friday, October 21, 2016

kale avocado pasta salad

hey guys, I figured it was about time to share this recipe once and for all.

I made this once upon a time inspired by another kale noodle bowl and you can probably find it in the archives if you want to, but every time I make it, I realize that my recipe is completely different... my littlest sister requested it last week, so I threw it together and noted the ingredients I use in the end.

it goes like this:

  • one package of gluten free rice spaghetti-style noodles
  • one bunch of kale
  • one big avocado or one and a half smallish avocados
  • generous splashes of lemon juice
  • generous splashes of liquid aminos
  • lots of salt
  • little bit of olive oil
  • one clove ish garlic, minced
  • grilled chicken (separate, chopped up)

I recommend making this a day ahead of when you want to eat it, because it's better if it's been in the fridge for awhile.

first of all, get some water boiling for your noodles.  meanwhile, wash and dry your kale and cut it up into bits/ribbons.  throw it in a big mixing bowl and kind of knead it with a small amount of olive oil and salt, and set it aside.

next, while your noodles are cooking, make the avocado dressing.  you'll put the avocado, lemon juice, liquid aminos, and garlic into a blender and puree it all up.  I add enough water for the blender to take and run it until it's all smooth.  you can also put the leftover avocado dressing on toast if you end up with too much!

drain your noodles, rinse them with hot water, and add them to the mixing bowl with the kale.  pour in the avocado dressing (it'll still be pretty thick) and use one of those grabby pasta spoon things to mix everything around so it gets tangled together.  cover the bowl and refrigerate for about a day... when you're ready to eat it, chop up some grilled chicken and add it to whatever portion you dish out, for protein.

this stuff is really good, you guys, and it makes a lot and lasts so well in the fridge... let me know if you try it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

parisi + the art of the early rise

as someone whose alter-ego is probably an old lady named gladys, I already knew that maintaining a consistent schedule is pretty pivotal.  I also already knew that the earlier I get up, the better I feel... but I didn't expect my early bird habits to start rubbing off on anyone, haha. upon realizing our weekly coffee date would be cancelled, a friend of mine suggested we hit up parisi on monday morning.  "early? 7 or 7:30?" she said.

that's real love right there, kids... someone getting up early to get coffee with you.  I'd been up since four, and the sun was just rising as we arrived, and it was kind of like two morning routines overlapping - mine, the stupid early one, and hers, the sensible one that allows for, you know, sleeping at all.

anyways, I'd been to parisi once before, and I ended up getting the same thing this time around: an oat milk latte.  it was pretty good (and pretty)! she had a london fog, which earned her gold star so there's that too.  about halfway through, I looked outside and saw that the trees are changing color.  I'm not sure why this surprised me.  it is that time of year, after all...

anyways, the park place parisi cafe has some decent vibes.  I think it would probably actually irritate me, but at 7:15am, when no one is around and the sky is pink, you can sit right by the window and look at the trees and cutesy little area, and maybe read some funny story in funny voices, and the vibes are good.  oh, and the coffee, too.  also good.

any more kansas city area coffeeshops we need to scope out? let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

october playlist

hey kids, happy october! it's my favorite month - did I say that already?  here's a lil playlist for ya. I've been going back this month and catching up on some second albums by bands I used to be into like kodaline, bastille, etc. etc.  sadly, they continue the trend laid out by josh garrels, fun., twenty-one pilots, etc. such that I prefer their first stuff over their later stuff.  oh well, still had a fair bit of stuff I liked to add in!  what are you listening to? I need more spooky songs in my life, so send me your october playlists...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

hey here's a lot of words

here comes a rambly post. and I just put myself in mind of this song by laura marling, which I hadn't listened to in a long time.  but yes, a rambling man post.

these scones were made following this recipe with a few substitutions... gluten free flour, olive-oil-based butter, plain coconut yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, and everything-free chocolate chips.  my friend said, "let's make scones!" and I said, "uhhh yeah right out of what, cardboard?" and she said, "challenge accepted!" so she really showed me, eh?

I recently started a new job working in a coffeeshop, and laugh all you like, it's kind of always been a dream.  and I love it.  I'm working opening shifts, from 5am-9am weekday mornings and if you know me at all, you know I'm eighty-five years old.  therefore, I love getting up at four in the morning every day.  if you've never tried ye olde 10pm-4am sleep schedule, I highly recommend it.  I finish my short shift, come home, and kids are still eating breakfast of all things! I then have my whole day ahead of me. it's an adjustment to go to bed so much earlier than most of my friends, but it's worth being up for so many hours before anyone else...

and on my days off, I make a coffee and drink it out on the deck in the dark, reading my new true love t.e. lawrence, or writing a spooky halloweenish comedic short story.  I take the dog with me, but it's a little chilly for him, so I wrap him up in a blanket into a dog burrito.  essentially what I'm saying is that being up at four, waiting for the sun to rise, and drinking hot coffee in the cold with a cute puppy are all very aesthetically pleasing and that's how I make all my decisions in life, let's be real.

october is my favorite month of the year... and in the chilly dark, I pretend I've been camping, because that's the only time most normal people experience coffee outdoors at five in the morning, and when the sun comes up, it throws leaf-shadows on the screens like so...

it occurs to me that I may not have mentioned this here, but I'm going back to new york for three months in the spring to learn about floral design.  that's always a fun one to explain to people.  "so, you left applied math grad school...what are your new career plans?" and I get to say, "well, I want to do flowers, or maybe be an actuary."  you can really see them trying to fit those two together somehow.  speaking of actuaries, I just signed up for my first exam in november and I'm trying not to feel super pessimistic about it.  it'll be studying every day for me from here on out, because let me tell you, the fee is nothing to sneeze at.

so even though it's difficult to find work with an expiration date on my immediate stay in kansas, and even though I'm stuck in something that feels like limbo until february, and even though I'm stressed about finances and all of those nice adult things, there is a lot coming down the pipeline... anyways, that's what's been up with me.  how are you guys doing?  let me know in the comments! peace out, everybody.

Monday, September 26, 2016

summer reading: audiobooks

hey kids, more books!  these are (some of) the audiobooks I plowed through over the summer...

1. all of the harry potter books (picture from here).  all of them.  I still haven't gotten my hands on the new book/script/thing, but I will eventually read it for better or for worse.  fun fact: I teach middle school latin, and middle schoolers are all just as obsessed with harry potter as I am.  we get along fantastically, and even do our vocab drills for house points.... these are narrated by stephen fry who is just fantastic.  favorite characters, anyone?  mine is lupin...

2. the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy and the long dark tea-time of the soul, both by douglas adams. the former a re-read, the latter new to me.  I forgot just how absurdly funny douglas adams is!  if you like weird science-fiction-comedy (or like, terry pratchett) then you should check these out.  long dark tea-time is actually narrated by the author! warning: occasional random strong language?

3. the sin of certainty, by peter enns.  this book I actually recommend probably reading hard-copy, as it's not a particularly good audiobook, it's just what was more convenient for me.  I heard peter enns on the liturgists podcast and decided to read his book. it's pretty good, in my opinion, but would have been easier to retain if I'd seen it on paper.

4. reaper man, by terry pratchett. a wonderful book, again a re-read, and even more fantastic than I remembered.  masterful understatement, quirky characters, plot twists, absurdity... good stuff.  narrator is also excellent on this one!  definitely worth listening to, even if you've already read the book on paper.

5. the weed that strings the hangman's bag and a red herring without mustard, both by alan bradley and books #2 and #3 of the flavia de luce series, respectively.  continuing onward in my re-read of the series as a whole, and enjoying them just as much the second time around.  may I also just say, the choice of narrator on these books is perfect.  I highly recommend consuming the series by audiobook rather than on paper.

what are you listening to these days?

Friday, September 16, 2016

september playlist

hey kids, here's a little playlist for this month... 

(p.s. watch my dog's eyes in the picture above!)

Monday, September 12, 2016

union station & quay coffee

I realize that anyone who doesn't live in the kansas city area probably finds these kc-based posts utterly useless.  with nyc, the posts made a little more sense because a) a lot of people I know wanted to see bits of new york and b) new york is a place that people actually might go to sometime.  heaven knows if you come visit me in new york I'll take you to all the places I explored and approved of in those posts... but not a lot of people come to kansas city for the heck of it. it's not a bad place and there's plenty of good features, but it's telling that when we have company at my family's house, they're usually just passing through.

in kansas city there is a train station built more than a hundred years ago, which opened to the public in 1914.  when you live here, people tell you that you can see bulletholes from a shooting out front involving a mobster in the 30s, but I've just read that the myth has been busted.  that's kind of a bummer...

I guess the station went into a period of decline and disuse, but reopened in '99.  this interests me, because we moved to kansas when I was only two, and I don't remember ever realizing that union station was a recent development, practically speaking.  now that I think about it, I can't remember when I first went there?  we used to go to science city, which is a wonderful and educational kind of children's park which I would not be ashamed to visit now at my advanced age.

we also frequently visited to attend various plays or traveling exhibits (dead sea scrolls, anyone?).  as part of a homeschooling family, when I was young, I got to go on way more enrichment field trips than other kids.  which I do highly recommend.  probably my most vivid early memories though are of the ceilings? which is why there are so many pictures in this post.  we usually just passed through the huge station halls themselves, stopping to take a christmas-card photo or looking for a restroom, on our way to an exhibit or something, but the ceilings and the floors always stood out to me.

anyways, I went last week because a nurse friend came to visit and let me tell you, if you have a nurse friend and the body worlds exhibit comes to your general vicinity, get thee to it posthaste.  it was her idea, and it was radical!  pretty surreal... it's funny though, the only thing that gave me the heebie jeebies came before I even saw any bodies.  in the front of the exhibit, they had a few cases of antique medical instruments and what got me was this tool called a "tonsil snare," which still kind of grosses me out.  slices of brain with a black hemorrhage?  absolutely.  peeled back muscles?  bring it on. the very disturbing things that happen to your liver if you drink too much and that happen to your lungs if you smoke too much?  fascinating.  but a tonsil "snare"?  what a terrible word choice...

afterward we went up to the river market area for a bit and wandered around a flower/gardening shop, making a pit stop on the way at quay coffee.

the fact that the generous amount of seating was entirely occupied probably tells you something about this coffeeshop.  the vibes were good, man.  above, you can see the big windows and the nice lighting, and flowers on tables is A+ in my book, of course.  I can recommend their lavender-lemon-honey latte made with almond milk, since that is what I got.

all right, that was a tuesday excursion for you.  I miss writing on here, which is probably obvious by how big my paragraphs were in this post... but that's the nature of things, right? the more I'm thinking, the less I share.  anyway, I hope you enjoyed these pictures at least a little bit.  what excursions have you made recently?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

summer reading: yes fic

who's up for round two?  if fiction of various breeds isn't quite your style, you should go check out my non-fic summer reading post here...  these are just the books I can take pictures of, because I've also been plowing through audiobooks, which will probably need their own post sometime.

1. the raven king. this is the fourth and final book of the raven cycle series.  leaving aside my irritation with the term "cycle" when obviously these do not "cycle" back around, and we should clearly be using the term "tetralogy," geeze...  these young adult fic books won't appeal to everyone, and I'd definitely categorize this as young adult fic bordering on the slightly-less-young-moderately-mature-adult fic for the more conservative among us.  however, for those who would find a paranormal urban fantasy book about teenagers appealing anyway, this series is phenomenal.  the character development, mainly, and the portrayal of relationships (platonic or otherwise), and the general prose style are all so dagnab enjoyable.  really also inspirational to me as a writer, to see maggie go from her earlier work (which I do not recommend actually) to the scorpio races and this series, which are approximately 6531815613256 lightyears better.

2. hamlet. because it's the best and I love it and it was overdue for a re-read? when you get to the "quintessence of dust" bit, you fall into raptures and force all of the mathematicians and scientists around you to read it and appreciate darn you!  oh, I will say, if you're new to shakespeare and/or intimidated/irritated by it, you could start off with any of the "no fear shakespeare" series, which explain every little reference to you and make everything much more hilarious.

3. the sweetness at the bottom of the pie. another re-read (I know, who am I?) well worth it.  alan bradley's voice is absurdly enjoyable, as the book is narrated by an extremely precocious eleven-year-old.  set in 1950s england, this is the first of a series of excellent murder mysteries.  my alpha writing partner sent me this one so that I could start over and catch up with the latest books, and it's a great feeling to know that there's plenty more to enjoy.

4. (not pictured) the inimitable jeeves. I finished this last night and it, like all books by p.g. wodehouse, is hilarious and feel-good.  to be honest, it warms my heart to see the relationships between the central characters, and all of the peripheral characters always crack me up.  I'm also 100% certain that jk rowling based fred and george weasley off of bertie wooster's cousins claude and eustace.  so if you're looking for a couple of characters to fill that hole in your heart, look no further.

stay tuned again because we'll probably talk poetry before we talk audiobooks.  but what fiction have you been reading lately?

Monday, September 5, 2016

second best coffeeshop

what you are seeing right now is the red ribbon nitro cold brew on tap at second best coffeeshop in kansas city. coffee on tap, you say?  what?  yeah.

I'd heard of cold brew on tap, aka coffee "treated with nitrogen, chilled in kegs, and served on draft," but had no idea that there was a place here in kc that served it!  so I got a bit inordinately excited over this and when my brother and I went over there saturday morning, it did not disappoint.  it's so smooth!

we also ordered their lavender-honey latte (house-made syrup and house-made almond milk) which was phenomenal, and not that I'm saying you should order two coffees for yourself, but the two drinks compliment each other well.  solution: take a friend who's not a sissy about sharing.

the atmo is also really enjoyable, with a slightly more down-to-earth born-and-bred kansan vibe than, say, oddly correct.  there's plenty of seating, appropriately edgy barista style, and merch for sale as well.

I also really like the inspiration behind the name "second best: midwestern modesty."  they say that they are committed to improvement, so they call themselves second best and then constantly strive to go beyond.  that's also behind the name "red ribbon" because that's the color you get in second place!  ain't it cute?

(ps: check out the cinemagraph I made above! infinite cars.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

summer reading: non-fic

hey hey.  I did a fair bit of reading this summer (and still going) so I thought I'd start sharing some of the stuff I've plowed through in the past couple months.  there's a big stack, so I'm starting with the non-fiction and non-poetry...

1. searching for sunday. so I'd already read rachel held evans's other book, evolving in monkey town, a bit more than a year ago when my priest in tennessee loaned it to me.  this book definitely comes from the assumption that you are in the camp of faith, that you're a believer, and addresses struggles with how the church seems to often do a really sucky job of being the church.  so it might not make everybody happy, but it could be cathartic to read for anyone who identifies with that evangelicalism-to-"????" faith journey.  I can generally recommend evans's thoughtful writing in terms of quality.  the only thing you could find here to offend you would be her piercing critiques. 

2. saving darwin.  the subtitle to this book is "how to be a christian and believe in evolution."  it doesn't matter if you like darwinism or not, though the writer of this book obviously does, you should probably read this book. creationists, please read this book so that at least you can stop spreading embarrassing lies and misinformation. darwinists, please read this book so that you can stop spreading caricatures and lumping all christians into one camp.  everyone, please read this book so that you can get a bit of perspective and think critically without the hysteria that characterizes the topic. the writing style is fantastic, though I'd say this guy is still relatively sarcastic at moments, so keep your shirt on, mabel.

3. something other than god. a book with a slightly misleading title, since although jennifer spends a lot of her life searching for something other than god, she ends up finding--you guessed it, the catholic church. it's actually pretty interesting because she doesn't have a huge conversion "moment." rather, over time and chapters, she realizes that she believes in (a) god now? and then the idea of purgatory and the policy on contraception seem to make the catholic church resound with her.  at any rate, she's interesting, her husband is interesting, and it's pretty compelling that they were both drawn into religion simultaneously.  the punctuation in the book, however, is...nontraditional and sort of set me on edge, but you can get past that, haha.

all right, those are the non-fiction books I've finished already, though there are more in the rotation at the moment.  with school/work lately, there wasn't much time to read in the last couple of weeks, but when things settle into a routine, it'll all get more relaxed, I think.  what are you guys reading lately?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

august playlist

hey kids, here's a short playlist for you this month! and here's an unrelated picture of a train in chicago...

Monday, August 15, 2016

this goodly frame (shedd aquarium)

hey kids, welcome to shedd.

shedd aquarium is one of my favorite places on earth.  possibly my favorite, I don't know.  it is the one place that will always live up to your memories of it.

I wandered around for many hours just gazing at all the things I remembered.  it's a phenomenal aquarium, and probably the best place I've ever seen in terms of humane habitats for creatures. I was a little afraid that coming back much older, I'd be disillusioned, but I'm still so impressed with their facilities.

these jellies flop around upside down because they're farmers.  they grow algae all in their fluffy tentacles, which is why they have to face the sunlight. cool, right?

first of all, when I visited as a kid, I became enamored of the belugas.  I couldn't even tell you exactly why it's belugas for me, but it is... and I remember later on, when the calves were born, my grandpa would send me clippings from the newspapers.  now, it's so surreal to go back and see this baby all grown up and like four years old.  old enough to have learned how to stick her tail in the air but not quite old enough to stop doing it all the time hoping to get a reward.  meanwhile the older whales just do donuts shaking their heads and saying, "you moron, it isn't time. you're not getting nothing."

and now for a brief interlude of jellyfish: my other favorite animals. just look at 'em.

it's really a little mind-blowing when you haven't been to a place since you were young, and when you return, you realize that there are other animals on the planet who live as long as we do.  You don't really expect it, but they're all still there.  that one sea turtle who was hit by a boat and so her back end always floats up?  yeah, still there.

on a more practical note, I'll add that I did get my ticket online because the basic admission is like a two-hour wait.  in addition, you have to get a fancy pass to get access to everything there is, and if you're wondering whether it's worth it, it is.  you need the pass to get into the oceanarium, which is where the belugas and dolphins and such are, and that is definitely worth the price of admission.  it's the most magical.

anyways, there you have it!  of all the places I've ever recommended, shedd is probably at the top. if you ever get a chance to go, make sure you do!