Month: February 2013

Goodbye February, Hello March

by Erin

It is the end of another month. I would still say that I am pretty pleased with what I have accomplished. In addition, I feel like I have already learned a lot in just these two months.

Explore a new place:

No progress yet, but I am thinking strongly about the possibilities. Does this mean something in my hometown? Does this mean some sort of trip? Or is this spiritual? And what does “explore” mean?  Does it mean simply encounter for the first time, or does it mean to really dig in?

Be inspired by two great people:

I am holding off on this one, too. As above, I’m thinking about what this could mean.

Read four classics:

Two down, two to go. What have I gained from this resolution so far?

1. From The Great Gatsby: Surrounding yourself with people does not mean you have friends. You have to truly connect to others. (Thank goodness for resolution #5!)

2.  From The Jungle: Though the book was written over 100 years ago there are still so many people hanging by a thread in our nation.  I believe that the book has renewed values in me that may have been quieted for a little while.

3. Also from The Jungle:  I am thankful for my vegetarianism. I do not advocate that everyone should be a vegetarian, but I do feel that we need to continue to look at our meat industry and decide what we are willing to accept as high quality practice and standards. Possibly to the detriment of our family grocery budget, I want to be even more vigilant when buying meat for the omnivores in our family.  There is so much more to learn. Do I sense another resolution?

4.  I have been inspired to read more classics beyond my goal. With this resolution I find that people keep giving me books. There is no reason I can’t knock off a few more from my “to read” list now.

Try six new recipes:

I found quickly this had to be tweaked. I guess I try out new recipes much more often than I anticipated.  So now it is recipe themes or “cooking adventures”. Where it stands so far:  I have made two of the three 15-minute meal recipes again and they will probably surface many times this year; I am on a citrus hiatus for a little while; I am still happy with my homemade cleaners. Where I am headed: I’m thinking about making my own cheeses. I also want to try a few recipes from the “Real Snacks” recipe book that I got for Christmas. This has led me to the purchase of those “strange” flours I keep seeing on the grocery shelves. The sixth theme/adventure idea has yet to surface and I will welcome suggestions.

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(Re)connect about once a month:

So far it has been a “first date” with another woman that I had only previously spent time with as members of our family units. We just made plans again, so this was worth the anxiety of trying the one-on-one for the first time. Then it was the family trip to meet friends for a weekend getaway. It was a nice reminder that creating a family does not  end your social life, though it does change it in profound ways. Currently, I have four envelopes addressed and sitting on my desk. My intention is to connect by means of those old fashioned letter things…now for the writing part of it. There are many more plans in progress so I feel good about my future prospects with this resolution.

Get selfishly “creative” about once a month:

I crave the process of creation. Beyond what I have shared here, I often take opportunities to make something new, something beautiful, something useful. The key word here is “selfish”. In this case, it is not doing it for others, but for myself, just because. With Big Box of Citrus and my upcoming 318 project, so far it has been about creating photos. As there are many more ways to create, there are many more ideas in progress. I’m just waiting for the right time. I am finding I am shy of a few ideas, though. Some of them also depend on timing as well as finances. I am sure that I will get close to fulfilling this resolution, but I may need more inspiration to come my way. Any ideas?

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Learning to Shake It

By Rosie

Hi there.  

When I first found out Erin was doing this blog, I thought, what a great idea! I should do something like that too! There are just so many things I’ve been meaning to do.  I finished grad school about a year and a half ago (egads, it really has been that long), and for a while after, I was just having a breather. But then I discovered something about myself- if left to my own devices for too long, I can be kind of lazy. And so, when Erin asked me to contribute to this project, it sounded like a great way to push myself a little harder and do some of those things I’ve been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten around to yet.

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Me (on the right) with Erica, my awesome line dancing teacher.

First on my list of things to do: write more. Done and done. Second on the list: I’ve always wanted to learn to dance. Trouble is, I’ve never felt like I was very good at it (being 100% Caucasian and all that that implies).  I imagine myself gliding gracefully across the floor like a finalist pro on “Dancing with the Stars,” but I know that in reality I look a lot more like a week 1 B-lister.  Conveniently though, I have many friends who are excellent dancers, and I know I can trust them to teach me and not laugh at me, at least not to my face.

For my first dancing adventure, I decided to learn how to line dance. This choice is not obvious to most people who know me.  I am not particularly into country music, nor do I wear cowboy boots, hats, or belt buckles. (Although if that’s your thing, rock on.) But I wanted to learn because I have several friends who LOVE to go line dancing. I’ve been to line dancing bars with them a few times before, but I’ve never quite caught on. I imagined though, that with a little focused instruction, I could figure it out.  It seemed like the most important skills for it were being able to count and follow a pattern, and, despite lacking natural rhythm, I can do both of those things. So, I asked my friend Erica to teach me. Erica is a fantastic teacher and a really good friend, so I knew that even if I didn’t master a step, this would still be fun. I went over to her apartment one evening recently for my first lesson. My goal was only to master one dance and I’d call it a successful night. Before long though, we had worked our way through four whole dances- the Bombshell Stomp, the Canadian Stomp, Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy, and, the one with the best name, the Tush Push.

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Concentrating on the “Tush Push.

 “I was a little amazed at how easy it was to fall into the patterns of the dances. At first I was super focused on the counts and trying to remember to turn to my right (no my other right). I had this awkward habit of wanting to start on the wrong foot, and that kept messing everything up. But it got better, and by the end of the evening it was coming pretty naturally, and I didn’t have to think quite so hard about it. I only need a semi-focus to stay with the music.  I started to feel like my legs knew what they were doing, and I even found myself enjoying the quaint corny-ness of the song lyrics. Luke Bryan’s song “(Country Girl) Shake it for Me,” became my anthem. I began thinking that maybe I should start looking for a pair of cowboy boots. But then I turned the wrong way again and bumped into Erica and decided I should probably hold off on that. 

It turns out line dancing was pretty fun once I got the hang of it. Now I am ready to try it in public. I’ll let you know how that works out.  

 

The Next Creative Endeavor: 318

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

Do you have a lucky number? Or  a number that follows you around? Lucky or not, you probably notice it because it has some significance in your life. 318 is that number for me.

I was born at 3:18 a.m. Our first house address, the one where I spent the majority of my childhood, was 318. I seem to find that time on the clock often (although maybe it is because I am just in tune to it now. Who knows? I may more frequently look at the clock at some other time…like 5:56, I just don’t know it.) It also seems odd that my longest relationships happen to be with guys born right around that time: 3/17, 3/19, and 3/21. The latter is my husband … perhaps ripened three days and eighteen minutes longer to suit our longevity needs? (Yeah, I know that was a stretch.) There have been times when the number came up in other ways in my life, but I can’t seem to remember them all right now. That’s not the point anyway.

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The point is, I am looking for another “selfishly” creative project. While I have a few ideas in the works for the rest of the year, some of them require a little more time or the right time of year to execute. I’ve been looking to be inspired by something recently so that I didn’t get too far off track from a once-a-month creative endeavor. Then I woke up from a nap at 3:18 this afternoon (seriously), and thought, “I wonder what I do every day at 3:18.” So, with March just around the corner it seems fitting that in the month that contains 3/18, why not another photo project?  What am I doing/looking at/thinking about at 3:18 every day for a month?

Do you want to join me in sharing some daily/weekly/theme-ly photos in March? Let me know and we can set something up.

(Dearest Beck or other experimonthers, I fully realize that this seems suspiciously familiar <see also: Eyes of March>.  It is either a product of thought + timing or the sincerest form of flattery. While you decide, if you want to recreate a four-year-old Experimonth, here’s your chance.)

Connecting in a Winter Wonderland

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 2 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

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Earlier this month we met our friends at The Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park in northern Indiana. This was our second time meeting them there; our first having taken place four years ago…pre-kids. The old college friends’ trip of four years ago looked vastly different than this year’s trip. Having kids changes you…mutates you…forces you through a metamorphosis…I still haven’t really found the words to capture the soul/life/brain altering phenomenon that parenthood imparts on a person. Anyway, here are some slightly more noticeable ways that our winter connection differed this year than the last time we made the trip.

PreKids VS. PostKids

Sleeping Arrangements:

Share a room with two full beds so we can save money and play games and drink and eat without disturbing anybody in the lodge area VS. two rooms because she still gets up to nurse once a night, he may not settle down right away and could keep her up, I’m going pee all the time because this baby is sitting on my bladder, he’s sick and doesn’t want to get your family sick, she’s sick and doesn’t want to get our family sick…

Bedtime:

Whenever we wanted, probably late, probably after many games VS.  too late (“No Baby, we cannot go to the pool now. It is time to SLEEP. Lay down. Lay down. LAY DOWN. …Ugh, can’t those hooligans out in the hallway shut up? It is after 8:30 already!”) or too early (“I’m sorry, we fell asleep when we were putting him down for bed.”)

Wake up:

Wake up when it felt right, probably  a little earlier than usual to pack in some outdoor activities VS. 7:15 a.m. (“No Baby, the pool isn’t open yet. Can you try to lay down and cuddle with us a little longer?  Mom and Dad would really like to sleep some more. …FIIIIIINE. Mom will get up with you. Let’s go find out where the pool is and Dad can meet us when he’s ready. Dad…Dad…Dad…do you think you could make it down soon?”)

Outdoor activities:

Miles and miles of cross-country skiing and multiple trips down toboggan run VS. sledding down a hill twice, pulling kids around on sled, hitting trees with sticks, experiment with two-year old on toboggan…once was enough

Indoor activities:

Pool for 30 minutes, board games at night VS.  texting to keep the other family updated on whereabouts, pool for hours, watching the fish in the aquarium, talking about why the stuffed coyote in the case was not alive, watching the fire in the fireplace, answering questions from strangers with “I’m two!” and “Yeah. I LOVE snow!”, multiple trips to the bathroom, running up and down ramps, pretending to be grizzly bears, “helping” with  community jigsaw puzzles by shoving pieces all over table, napping, “Board games tonight?” “If we don’t fall asleep with him. We’ll text you.”…”Okay, only for an hour, we don’t know how long these monitor batteries are going to work.”

Eating and Drinking

Share snacks, dinner can be whenever, consume a few or more beers while playing games VS. eat…no, like, NOW!, share snacks and cups and utensils, dinner by 5:30 so we can make sure they can get to bed somewhat on time, “Beer?” “Maybe one or two. You know how early we get up now.” And of course, none for the pregnant lady.

Though it was different this time around and we didn’t get to see as much of each other as we would have liked, the fact that we can still maintain a long-distance friendship is something we try not to take for granted. And I am pretty sure none of us would change a thing in order to get back to the us of four years ago. Each experience has its own wonderful memories and we hope to continue building on those memories year after year.

A Resolution for February

 

For such a little month, February can sure pack a big punch.  It’s right at the tail end of Winter when we Southerners start expecting a little heat in our afternoons.  Unfortunately, this year, we haven’t gotten much.  This is usually when cabin fever starts setting in and I start feeling the itch for longer days of sunshine and Spring breezes and wisteria.  But, instead, I sit inside on a chilly dark evening breathing stale recycled air.  Bummer.

 

However, nestled in the middle of this tiny tempest of a month, is that sparkly beacon of hope we know as St. Valentine’s Day.  Being the sly instigator it is, I am taking inspiration for my February Resolution from this very holiday.  In the spirit of all the love hubbub surrounding the holiday, I am resolving to love myself this month. 

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I know, I know … ‘Isn’t that a wee bit cliché?’ you might be asking yourself.  Well, yes and no.  I think many have bandied the phrase around, but I would wager that few actually spend time thinking about what it really means. 

 

I have been sitting with this notion for a couple weeks now.  And I have come to believe the following to be true for me – at this time in my life – in regards to loving myself:

 

1.  I am perfect in all my flawed glory.  It is noble and worthwhile for me to work towards bettering myself, but it is not loving to beat myself up for falling short of the mark.  I resolve to remind myself that my failures are what allow me to grow and learn and become better.  And I resolve to congratulate myself just as heartily and noisily when I learn from a mistake as I do when I have a success.

 

2.  I deserve to take good care of myself.  I struggle with this notion regularly, and, admittedly, have made this resolution many times before.  But, here it is again!  (Please refer back to #1 to be reminded that it’s okay to try and try again.)  I resolve to clean up my diet, increase my daily water intake, get more physical exercise and much more sleep.  Yes – this is good stuff.  Yes – this seems obvious.  Yes – I’m doing this!

 

3.  Alone time doesn’t mean I’m lonely.  Alone time, for me, is necessary.  In fact, I need a regular schedule of time with me to be able to be fully present with other people.  This is something I know about myself.  This is largely due to the fact that I genuinely like myself.  How awesome is that?  I resolve to carve out quality time with myself on a regular basis.

 

4.  I deserve to be treated with consideration and respect by the people with whom I associate.  This seems like another ‘duh’ statement, but I have a tendency to try to appease others at my own expense.  I’m deciding not to do that anymore.  Loving myself means respecting myself.  Respecting myself means cordially demanding respect from others.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me! 

 

5.  It’s prudent to practice saying Yes to things I want and No to things I don’t.  Why is it so difficult to allow myself to do/have/be the things that will bring me joy?  And why do I feel so obligated to always agree to those that don’t?  Loving myself means being responsible for my own happiness above everyone else’s.  Only if I am happy and fulfilled can I truly help someone else to be. 

 

So, that’s it.  It’s simple.  It’s honest.  It’s common sense.  And, therefore, it will probably be quite a challenge.  But, I figure, I’m worth it

 

I invite you to join me in this month’s resolution.  Find ways to really show yourself how much you love you.  And, if you are so inclined, leave a post to let me know how it goes!  Happy month of LOVE!

 

Xoxo,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The (Thoroughly Depressing) Jungle

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic (book 2 of 4)
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative

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Book #2: The Jungle

Again, I am not going to go into long summaries and critiques. I will say I had a confusing relationship with the book. I enjoyed reading it…looked forward to it…but reading the actual, dismal words on the page never left me with a  sense of joy and hope. I suppose that was exactly what Sinclair was going for.

There were exactly three points in the book in which there may have been a glimmer of excitement/hope/thrill that lasts longer than the end of a chapter.

1. The introduction – Reading about the history of The Jungle and how it came to be published, censored, and viewed as a vehicle for change really built momentum for me and made me want to dive in.

2. The first chapter – It all begins with a wedding: feasting, dancing, merriment, love. I did struggle a little getting into the first chapter (which seems to be pretty standard with me lately), but when you start off on such a happy note, it’s easy to move to the next chapter.

3. Somewhere in the last third of the book – A change of fortune! But by this time you have already become as cynical as the characters so you know it won’t last.

With all that said, I would recommend The Jungle if you are looking to read a piece of classic American literature. As far as writing goes, it is not all that unpleasant to read. And if you like to think about the state of the world/society/your country, this book will open up plenty of opportunities to do so while you are reading it and beyond.

If, as it turns out, you would rather have a quick summary, I have included actual quotes below (in chronological order) to give you a sense of the book. Don’t read on if you ever think you may actually read the book. I am not taking any care to keep spoilers at bay.

  • Chapter 1: “With laughter, and shouts, and endless badinage and merriment, the (wedding) guests took their places.” (Oh, the joys of a wedding!)
  • Chapter 2: “They began to notice a strange pungent odor…you could literally taste it…it was an elemental odor, raw and crude… The new emigrants were still tasting it when suddenly the car came to a halt, the door flung open, and a voice shouted – “Stockyards!” (And so the tale truly begins…)
  • Chapter 5: “So from the top to bottom the (meat-packing plant) is simply a seething cauldron of jealousies and hatreds; there is no loyalty or decency anywhere about it, there is no place in it where a man counted for anything against a dollar.”
  • Chapter 6: “The details came gradually… (The house) was not new at all… They used the flimsiest  and cheapest materials… They were sold with the idea that the people who bought them would not be able to pay for them.” (Especially when the family has to start paying for repairs…sometimes I feel this way about our house. Spoiler: The family eventually loses the house.)
  • Chapter 10: “When you have a  job in Packingtown you hang on to it… even if they kick you and beat you, you hang on as long as you can drag yourself there. Sometimes they come when they are dying and fall dead at their work.” (Spoiler: One of the family dies at work.)
  • Chapter 11: “Jurgis would begin to forget (about the horrors of his work life) and be happy, because he was in a world where there was no thing so beautiful as the smile of little (baby) Antanas (his son).” (Spoiler: This sweet boy drowns in the street two years later.)
  • Chapter 12: “In the beginning (Jurgis) had been fresh and strong…but now he was second hand and they did not want him…and yet it was in their service he had been damaged!”
  • Chapter 13: “The Almighty cannot have intended the science of healing to apply to human beings who have unventilated and filthy homes to live in, and dangerous and exhausting work to do, and insufficient food and clothing – who in other words are not human beings at all, but simply parts of a machine for producing wealth.”
  • Chapter 14: “Every spring they cleaned the (meat-waste barrels) and in the barrels would be dirt, and rust, and old nails, and stale water – and filth that cannot be named. The meat would be moldy and white, stinking and full of maggots; and still, cartload after cartload, it would be taken and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat and sent out to the dear public’s breakfast.”
  • Chapter 14: “And from all the unending horror of this there was a respite – he could drink! He could forget the pain, he could slip off the burden… His dead self would stir in him…he would be man again.”
  • Chapter 20: “But a big man cannot stay drunk on three dollars. Monday night Jurgis came home, sober and sick, realizing that he had spent every cent the family owned, and had not bought a single instant’s forgetfulness with it.” (Spoiler: What was he trying to forget? The death of his wife…who died in childbirth…carrying the child of her boss…who made her sleep with him to keep her job and allow her family to keep theirs.)
  • Chapter 29: “Jurgis had come into conflict with one of the creatures of the jungle whose power was greater than his own;and he had been worsted in combat, beaten down and trampled upon, and left crippled and wounded, to drag himself away.”
  • Chapters 32-37: “Comrades… open your eyes…Socialism…is…the only real remedy for such evils… We shall organize (the workingmen), we shall  drill them, we shall marshal them for the victory!” (Yes, I took some liberties with the ellipses, but really, the last quarter of the book is about making the case for Socialism.)

What else should I read? I have two more classics to read this year. How about something a little more uplifting, eh?

Public Displays

Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something. -Frank Zappa

2.Performance Opportunities

The Sunrise Review is not your typical musical undertaking, and as such, some of the traditional methods to cultural relevancy and recognition just don’t fit. An ideal performance of the music involves a handful of individuals, professionals, who are trained in instruments from around the world, and able to perform what is admittedly rather technical music. I don’t know who these people are and whoever they are, they don’t know my music. That leaves me and my guitar, not exactly the typical Saturday night fare of nightclubs and concert venues. It’s an activity and experience more suited to fine restaurants, art galleries and tea houses (I don’t care for coffee, it is probably one of my least favorite substances). This confounds the financial aspects of the venerable cultural expectation of live music, touring. It’s expensive and no small undertaking to travel between cities, transporting equipment, finding a place to sleep, and food to eat. More often than not another business makes more money than you and you’re stuck far from home with no where to sleep. It’s pretty common for the businesses hosting to really be operating in a manner which takes advantage of musicians. Quite frankly it can suck, and I have avoided it on purpose because it will suck the energy out of you right quick.

This attitude is not particularly beneficial, however. Especially given my desire to expand my audience base. There is no easier way to effect the emotional attachment of an individual to music than by presenting it to them in person. I aim to capitalize on this while focusing on the target markets I have identified for my project.

One way I am looking to create performance opportunities is through House Concerts. This ensures that my audience is actually interested in me and my work because there is no other reason for them to be present. They’re also a great way to engage the communities around the locations for my American Heritage  project, which can be a pretty remote and rural. Are you interested in hosting a musician for an evening, or know someone who is? Get in touch!

Another idea I am developing is concerts in nature. It’s the best setting for this project and focuses on another of my desired markets, outdoor adventurers. This requires a bit more work than scheduling a traditional performance, but the payoff is pretty great. So far I have had good response for the idea and folks that have experienced it have really enjoyed it.

I’m also on the lookout for venues which aren’t too out of my way to begin developing anchors for setting up future tours.  I’m starting at a location which has been around since the Civil War, the Mecklenburg Inn in Shepherdstown, WV.

My Valentine

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative

My husband? Not a huge fan of social media. The fact that he even knows that I am doing this blog at all is a surprise. The fact that he actually read anything on the blog and turned it into a Valentine’s Day gift: heart-melting.

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Though two polls are still open for voting, I’m pretty sure he picked at least one of the winning books. Even if none of them end up winning, I come out ahead in the end!

Has There Been Progress?

by Jennifer

I am quickly discovering that there is a flaw in my plan, a snafu, a fly in the ointment – there is a disconnect between posting regularly and my new method of task completion. It is proving difficult to accurately track progress when tasks are taken in such small sips that they can’t always be quantified. I have been pondering this for several weeks and still have no clear idea for corrective measures. Hmmmm, what to do? Well, since one of my goals this year is to simplify I shall let things fall into place as they will.

There, I feel calmer already!

Now to the progress so far this year:

Use Skills:
1. I have tried several new cupcake recipes and shared them with neighbors, friends and teachers. Because of the yumminess being passed around I have been commissioned to make mini cupcakes for a babyshower in March. Getting paid for something so yummy is a bonus!

2. I knit LaLa a scarf (Totally Fabulous Scarf – I think it is ugly but she loves it), completed a pair of handknit socks (Ichabod’s Bad Night Socks), finished knitting a shawl with my Christmas yarn (Pomegranate Shawl) and knit matching cowls for LaLa and I (Bandana Cowls).

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Try New Things:
1. The new cleaning products are working well but I need to add some essential oils or make some infused vinegar because both kids complain about how gross it smells. I’m on the look-out for an allergy/pet carpet cleaner too so it must be time to search pinterest again.

2. Bleu Cheese has been haunting me. Because of this I have discovered that it is tasty on burgers (from Granite City) and also on pizza. Oh, and it is also yummy on turkey sandwiches.

Try New Techniques:

1. I sampled a new knitting technique in December when I knit five new stockings for Christmas (yes, I am insane!) Fair Isle, or stranded knitting, has always befuddled me but this year I will master it, or at least become familiar and comfortable with it. I knit a hat (First Fair Isle Hat) and picked up a great tutorial that will walk me through six more projects.

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2. I spun bunny fur! One of our local farms raises English Angora Bunnies and I purchased a small amount of fiber last summer to try. It is amazingly soft but the fiber sure floats around in the air during spinning. Maybe that was why both cats were drawn into the room? I would like to try some more but I need to wait until the weather is nicer so I can spin outside.

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Research SPD, PDD-NOS and Anxiety:

After reading many blog posts, searching through my books and having discussions with Topher’s OT I have ordered a weighted blanket for him. He is a sensory seeker and comes home from school so wired that he crashes into everything in an effort to signal his brain where his body is. Hopefully the blanket will provide him a safer and less boisterous way to self-regulate. Maybe it will help him sleep better at night too…

Simplify:

1. Since we have been using safe cleaning supplies the kiddos have taken over bathroom cleaning. Three cleaning tasks eliminated from my list – yippee! Topher does a much better job than his big sister. LaLa is planning to have a maid and housekeeper as an adult and feels that learning the correct methods of cleaning are a waste of her valuable reading time.

2. The playroom has been rearranged, the new storage boxes have been purchased, the built-ins are undergoing a transformation, the toys and books are still being sorted and both children are doing a great job tidying up every night. Now I just need a few pieces of artwork and decorative touches and that room will be complete – for a while anyway!

3. I have reclaimed a small part of my fiber studio. In theory it is the dining room but since the kitchen was remodeled no one eats in there and it seemed like a waste of space to me. Now I am turning it into a lovely little sitting room filled with my spinning wheels, loom and office.

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Be Mindful:

This is ongoing as I try to experience mundane, ordinary or boring activities as something to cherish. This is going to be a tough sell as there is little about certain tasks to cherish. Unless I reward myself with chocolate…..

Big Box of Citrus: Week 3

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe (theme 2 of 6)
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 1 of 12)

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We’re wrapping up on our bushel of citrus. You can check out weeks 1 and 2 if you’re interested. Who knows? One day you may receive a bushel of oranges and grapefruit in the mail. Now you, too, will have ideas on how to beat the mold race and use them up. Here are some more ideas from this past week:

Refresh the garbage disposal. Most people recommend lemon peels, but I found that grinding up any citrus seems to make a difference. And speaking of “freshening” and “peels”…  You can make all-purpose cleaner, too. I have been following Crunchy Betty’s recipe and grapefruit skin  is my infusion of choice. With the abundance of citrus rind around here, I figured I may as well start another batch. I’ve dropped in some orange and mint essential oils for a boost to the senses.

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Treat yourself to a face mask: 1/4 grapefruit and 1 Tbs. raw organic honey. The directions I had didn’t say how long to keep it on so I decided 30 minutes. After the first night my skin (and even eyebrows) felt soft. Night two made my skin feel smoother – no bumps.  I didn’t go past three nights because there was a weekend getaway that interrupted the progress, but I’m convinced this may be an effective treatment. With the antioxidant power of the grapefruit and the antibacterial properties of the honey, why not?face

Share a smoothie with your family. One morning my son wanted to make strawberry juice with the citrus juicer…apparently we’ve been juicing a lot around here. Since I could imagine that this plan wouldn’t work so well, I convinced him to make a smoothie instead. Mindful that this needed to be kid-friendly we made it sweeter than some of the other recipes I’ve tried: 1 pink grapefruit, 2 bananas, 1 c. strawberries, 1/2 c. yogurt, 1 Tbs. honey, 1Tbs. flax meal. It was definitely a hit.

Smoothie recipe #2 was my favorite so far, but it didn’t get very far with Kid: juice from two grapefruits, 2 bananas, 1 avocado, ginger (to taste). It was probably the ginger that turned him off. Not a big deal. More for me.

We included Dad to the smoothie party over the weekend with a revisit to #2 and new recipes 3 and 4.  #3: 1 orange, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup yogurt. #4: 1 grapefruit, 1 pear, 1 cup strawberries, ginger. We liked all three so instead of each choosing one each  we passed the jars around the table and enjoyed them all. Dad even taught Kid how to enjoy two at the same time.

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Enjoy breakfast (or dinner). We made orange French toast. You can find a recipe here. You can probably make it the way you normally do by just replacing milk with orange juice. I discovered low and slow was the way to cook it so it wouldn’t burn but still cook through. We also agreed that topping it with syrup brings out more of the orange flavor than topping it with orange marmalade and powdered sugar. However, both options were pretty tasty.

There was also some cornbread on the menu this week. So I citri-fied it by following Joy the Baker’s recipe for Brown Butter Rosemary Orange Cornbread. Typically I am not a huge fan of rosemary so I was skeptical, but wanted to stay true to the recipe for the first go-round. Turns out, I like this cornbread as I ate about 1/3 of the pan in one night.

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Make dessert. I found making grapefruit sorbet to be incredibly easy. The hardest part was waiting overnight to eat it. This recipe is definitely one to keep in mind for the summer. It was SO stinking good.  The mix was 1 cup grapefruit juice (chilled), 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar. We don’t have an ice cream maker so I followed the technique at the bottom of this post.

Or, if cookies are more your speed how about some Melting Moments? I adapted Itty Bitty Kitchen’s recipe from lemon to orange. My problem was deciding how much orange juice and zest was equivalent to the juice and zest of one lemon. My frosting wasn’t nearly as thick as hers even after another cup of powdered sugar…I must have over estimated the juice a bit. These cookies were good in orange, but I am eager to try them in lemon.

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Number of fruits left: 4 and so ends the Big Box of Citrus Project. It will probably just be juice from here on out.  Thanks to my trusty tools without which I would not have survived this month.

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