Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's a truth also universally acknowledged...

That, eventually, life after Divorce gets better. That you let go of the blame you hold close to your heart. That you accept you have a lot to learn about relationships. That you need to make your list of "must" and "must not" so that you are not swept away by flattery and flowers.

That Grandmother gives good advice:
"Don't beat yourself up so much over the past.  Don't put labels on the experiences of good or bad,  but look at them as what your soul needed at that time, look at the blessings even if you have to search really deep. Instead of thinking about mistakes, they are just things you experienced, and you grow through every experience.  Love the person you are today, and the person you are going to be tomorrow.  Forgive yourself, and forgive others for their failures to live up to what you would have liked them to have been.  Enjoy the you of today."

And that when you let it all go...

You might just meet someone pretty amazing.

I suppose it is about time to let you all know that Ellie has a new boyfriend. She is extremely crazy about him. He takes her for rides in his car. Takes her for long runs. Takes her camping and hiking. Makes her delicious meals. He helps her channel her energy so that she doesn't destroy things while I am gone for work.

The best thing about Ellie's new boyfriend is that I like him a lot too. And I have it on good authority that he likes me back. All of those things he does with Ellie, he does with me too. Except that we talk way more about nothing and everything and all the things in between. I am proud of him for many things he has accomplished over the last few months, excited for what may come, and trying very hard to remain grounded. There is not an overwhelming amount of flattery and flowers. But there is coffee and the great outdoors and truth and kindness and understanding and lessons and experiences and blessings I never knew could exist or that I needed so much. I don't want to jinx this by saying too much.

But we crossed a big line this weekend I need to share with you. In my past experiences, with my small statistical sample, it has been MY  truth universally acknowledged that men and women who like each other should not, under any circumstance, try to teach each other new things. Like bowling. Or tennis. Or canoeing. Or how to drive manual transmission. Or macrame. In my past experiences, with nearly every person I have ever been in a relationship with, inevitably there is an argument that stems from the teacher-student dynamic. If you are lucky, it is not in public. More often than not, it is. Someone is stubborn. Someone is low on patience. Someone says something construed as hateful, mean, or degrading. And the lessons are ended with irreparable damage done to the relationship.

This weekend, he taught me how to cross country ski.

We drove out to this fancy place with lots of snow called "Obsidian Dome."

You may think he chose this place to teach me because of the name; obsidian being a particularly good medium for creating stone tools in prehistory and one of the easiest materials to see on the ground and "know" you are looking at an archaeological site. But he isn't like that. No. He's an archaeologist too and was quick to point out that the obsidian from this particular dome is not very good quality. Mutual nerdiness? Check.

But the snow is groomed for cross country skiing. And the hills are not very big. And there are not many people. And Ellie didn't need to be on a leash.

My instructor pounded some coffee in the parking lot.

Helped me put on my new-to-me hot pink stripe skis.

Put on his fancy pants skis.

Gave me some general instructions. Helped me get back up when i fell the first time in the parking lot. Then promptly took off with Ellie.

Surprisingly, this did not upset me...being left behind. If you know me at all, you know that I do not really take constant supervision well. That I like to be told (or read) how to do something once or maybe twice and then just go with it. I learn best this way. And I enjoy myself more. My inclination for individual sports (tennis, running, knitting) is testament to this.

This also meant that the experience of learning something from a significant other was not even a little bad. The only thing we fought about was who would carry the camera. He won, which meant that he got a lot of great, awkward shots of me falling down. I swear I only fell down when he was looking.

I really was all smiles. My smile would have been frozen in place if it had not been one of the more strenuous workouts I have ever done. I was sweating like crazy...and it was cold outside!
 We had a ton of fun. I can't wait to go again next weekend. I think we make a good team.

And my goodness is he attractive.

But this time, I take the camera.

After this weekend's experience of learning something new without fighting and actually possibly liking him all the more for it, I am questioning if my universal truths are really all that universal...and thinking that everything about this outlier should be retained for further analysis.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pick your diamond, pick your pearl

There's been a lot of negative energy surrounding me and the folks I love this week.

Sometimes it helps to remember this.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Its Baaaccckkkk....

So it turns out that instead of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the Stewartluenza of the Holiday season has re-reared its ugly head.

In the past couple of weeks, I have made....

Oatmeal Maple Buttercream Whoopie Pies....though they got eaten too quickly to take photos of once they were actually pies.

Flourless Whiskey Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Frosting....in Jars. For the record, I will probably only be making cooked frosting from now on. It was so easy and tasted better than the buttercreams I've tried (and failed) to make. And holy cow! Baking in jars is fantastic for camping trips!

And a whole bunch of persimmon flavored things.

My coworker gave me a bag of theses puppies last week and I have been trying to come up with ways to use them up. I hate to waste fruit and vegetables; unfortunately it happens a lot since I am the only eater of fruits and vegetables in my house. Well, the only eater who isn't begging during dinner or stealing from the grocery bag.

The first persimmon thing...and my first attempt at such a baked good....persimmon scones from the Cute Little Shop Girl.

I added a bit too much milk, but this did not stop them from being completely consumed within 24 hours of baking.  There will be more scones in the future, though perhaps not such a large batch.

Then I tried my hand at...also a first attempt at such a baked good...a persimmon apple tart. I've never made a tart, but since I just bought myself a tart pan, I thought it would be a good time to try.
I sort of cobbled the recipe together from my standard apple pie with streusel topping. The crust was easy peasy (butter, sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, milk)  and tastes a bit like a cookie. I have three mini crusts left that will be a special treat for a sweet someone later in the week.

Then I made some persimmon crisps, topped with cinnamon from the Kitchn.
They were okay, and certainly did not last very long...and clearly I should quit my day job to become a food photographer.

To round out the weekend of persimmons, I made persimmon chutneyNutritionElla's blog to put on top of garlic studded pork tenderloin.

I am still up in the air which was the best of the dishes, and if I get some more persimmons this week, I have about 15 more recipes to try. If I do make more persimmon-themed foods, I am going to have to half all of those recipes. Though I have some help with the consumption (and dish-washing, taste-testing, and general flattery of the cook), I cannot possibly eat this many baked goods in a week. Despite having a mouth full of sweet teeth, I am still trying to maintain a girlish figure and avoid overdoing it too much. I was terribly upset to read this about Paula Deen while I was mid-pie making.

To that end, I am experimenting with recipes from a few places specifically dedicated to making less-than-army-size portions of desserts. Small scale dessert recipes is a novel concept for a gal with Oklahoma blood. Desserts for two? You mean one for me and one for you, or two for me and I just tell you about it?

In between all of this baking, I did manage to get in some climbing, a run, and a hike...perhaps it will all equal out?
Ellie doesn't care. She seems to still be looking for persimmons to eat.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I can see Russia from my house...

Okay, not really.

But today's post is an ode to the incredible views I've been enjoying the last few weeks.

It should come as no surprise to you that I love the desert. While my beginnings are in the rolling hills of northeast Oklahoma, with its deciduous trees, tiny bugs, green grass, and high humidity...my roots took hold here in the Southwest. Don't get me wrong, Montanites, I loved Miles City like crazy (even though it was really cold 9 months out of the year), but this vast, arid landscape is where I belong.  The rugged, sun baked hills that are actually teaming with life, the smell of creosote after it rains, the need for 25 layers and a furry dog to keep you warm at night - but you can wear a tank top and Chacos all day in the middle of January. I love this place.

The Family came out to the Park for a Post-Christmas celebration this year. The timing of work schedules and church made it difficult for us to see each other any time before the 26th. Sister and B-i-L were wonderful hosts who took us on a grand tour of some of my favorite (and new) Park places that are easy to get to in a day with 5 people crammed into a Jeep.

Where the Family proved that the Abandoned Mine Lands program in the desert is really worth the investment.
We saw the Kilns at Wildrose....
where I could see the same mountains that I can see from my front yard...

We crawled around the Cashier Mine (in the safest manner possible, of course)...

 Then made our way up to see the sunset - or what was left of it - at Aguereberry Point.
There is nothing quite like a sunset in the desert...

And just for good measure, here is the Annual Family Christmas Timer photo....complete with Christmas tree. This one only took four takes because Sister and Mom wouldn't stop laughing.

I spent an afternoon after the New Year exploring the Tablelands outside of Bishop, where the views are equally stunning from the lava fields into the Eastern Sierra...An amazing testament to the power of Mother Nature, I think.
Last weekend, I did some more adventuring in the Park, where its not so easy to get to, especially if all of your camping gear and furry best friend are vying for space in the back seat.
Not that there was a furry friend in the car since this is the park and dogs are not allowed. Here Sister, let me distract you with this ill-set Timer Shot for this trip....See, no Ellie!

But seriously, see what I mean about sunsets out here?

Oh, and in case you do want to see Russia from your house, NPR has been doing it the right - and possible - way over the last few days. http://www.npr.org/news/specials/2012/russia-by-rail/

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful end of 2011 and rang in 2012 doing something fabulous. Like spending it with your bestest friends....


Or consuming Champagne in some unique way....

I personally made this recipe for Champagne Cupcakes for Two. And yes, I baked them in jars. Right. In. The. Jars. At 350 degrees.

I frosted them with my own almond orange buttercream frosting concoction. Then I put the lids on them. Stuck them in the cooler.
 And went for a big hike...

Here's to 2012...may it be full of adventure...and cupcakes. And best friends.