Sunday, June 29, 2008

there and back again

Another looming work deadline means I'm stuck to the laptop today and playing catch up this morning. Here are a couple of phone pic snaps from the journey and a quick list of the fun from this week's conference and travel to Washington, DC.

1) North Philadelphia as seen from the train, man I miss it.

2) Capital architecture, this one is Union Station.

3) 1200 like minded citizens talking about the benefits of using faith-based organizations to engage communities and mediate the connection to the feds.

4) The President addressing the audience (press photo, not mine) His remarks can be read here.

5) Nearly ten hours in sessions--one of them mine!

6) Half-price wine night at Jack's in DuPont Circle.

7) Staying at the Watergate and thinking about 1972.

8) Out on the town Friday night for tapas at La Tasca.

9) Indy craft fair on Saturday in Silver Springs, MD where I bought this t-shirt from Squidfire for Elbo, a veggie baby--now officially known as Eliot Benedict Bojarski--welcome little guy!

10) Train ride home reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris and listening to Jeremy Fisher.

11) Falling into bed exhausted realizing that another week is about to begin.

retro posting

No, I'm not going writing about a stylish '50s era chair I almost trash-picked last week after the boyfriend saw it on the street, but I am going to retroactively post some pics from my visit to Rochester last week. I took my parents to the Public Market to make some purchases for a few meals and we had a grand time.

No visit is complete without an empanada with salsa verde. Delicious.

K and I prepared dinner for a family friend using homegrown greens from my mom's garden and glorious golden tomatoes from a farm in Albion, NY. The recipes we borrowed from J's facebook page where she hosts an Epicurious application that offers recipes each day.

I love to cook with my brother. Although I get scolded by him for various offenses ranging from dropping a knife on my foot (that's my own pain as far as I can tell) to slicing the tomatoes in the wrong direction, cooking side by side at my parents' is probably one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. Besides, he is a master griller and under his hand my recipe for marinated chicken turned out perfect.

Here is one of the recipes, K and I both recommend reducing the onion to 1 cup and I used herbs we had in the garden--thyme, basil, and dill:

Basmati rice with sweet onions and summer herbs Bon Appétit | June 2008

Stirring the fresh herbs into the hot rice preserves their flavor and releases their aroma.

Makes 6 servings

by Maria Helm Sinskey

1 1/2 cups basmati rice (about 10 ounces)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 cups chopped sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon

Rinse rice under cold water until water runs clear; set aside. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice, 2 1/2 cups water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in herbs. Season with pepper and more salt, if desired. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

on the road again

In Washington, DC for a conference this week. I'm presenting a paper on National Service and faith-based organizations working collaboratively to advance American civil society.

Oh, and GWB himself is supposed to appear today at noon. Should be fun!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the porch life

After a busy weekend for both of us, split between NYC and ROC, RJR and I spent Monday evening enjoying the porch life. A turn of a phrase we borrow from my brother, the porch life has become synonymous with taking it easy during the summer. Lazy evenings with a glass of wine or a cold brew, maybe grilling, feet up, soaking in the warm, sultry air.

Monday was a perfect night to embody the porch life. A bit of chill in the air was warded off with cups of java and the heat of a Scrabble battle. I lost both games back to back. Pathetic brain now valued at $250,000 let me down.

learning in the city

I have two family members and the boyfriend involved in charter school/education reform work in Upstate NY. I couldn't be prouder of their investment. The Rochester daily recently ran a series on True North Rochester Prep and you can see J in it toward the end of the clips on that school. Despite the skeptics, there is a growing chorus of voices recognizing that these schools offer families choices and alternatives to the existing system of education in their communities. There are some bad charter schools. There are some bad traditional public schools. (Charter schools ARE public schools). There are also some amazing charters like those run by Uncommon Schools, Inc.

Monday, June 23, 2008

summer rain

It has been raining every day for nearly two weeks. There are the big swollen drops of summer rain. Crashing storms. Tremendous lightning. And hail. Some days it is a mild plunk, plunk of slow and steady drops. Today it is gray and looming again. Maybe some distant thunder or maybe the stillness before a storm passes over.

Before Summer Rain
All at once from the green of the park,
one can't quite say, something is taken away;
one feels it coming closer to the windows
and being silent.

Out of a grove, persistent and strong, sounds a plover,
one thinks of a Saint Jerome:
so intensely rises a solitude and fervor
out of this one voice that the downpour

shall listen. The walls of the great hall
with their paintings retreat from us
as if not allowed to hear what we say.

Reflected in the faded tapestries
is the uncertain light of afternoons
in which one as a child was so afraid.


Friday, June 20, 2008

friday feature : : chroma

Perhaps enough said.

Ok, maybe for those outside of Rochester, Chroma means absolutely nothing. Its an indie dance party hosted by fellow alumni from Rochester's only Protestant Christian Liberal Arts college and attended by many of the same who all pretend they went to SUNY schools instead. RWC? What? Never heard of it ;) Held at the Bug Jar on Monroe Ave, the dancing is fierce, the sweat flying freely, and the DJs spining all night long. Good way to say farewell to a tedious work week and get ready for the weekend.

See you there...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

are you gonna be my girl?

This Jet song is a favorite and I love it even more as a typograhpy dance!

Monday, June 16, 2008


Some new favorites in rotation:

Greg Laswell

Mason Jennings

My Morning Jacket (some of Evil Urges, not all! mostly Look at You, Librarian, and Touch Me I'm Going to Scream)

Amos Lee
- new CD Last Days at the Lodge, he's on Leno tonight!

The Weepies

I'm not going to lie, most of these came my way courtesy of RJR.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

getting over my fear of pink...

...through peonies! More love for yesterday's market yield. I have three glorious blooms in my living room. The spicy scent has me swooning. I used the interweb to see what fragrances might use this aroma as a top note and came up with Stella in Two Peony by Stella McCartney. Like many other good things I love, it seems like this parfum may in fact be out of my budget. Alas, I will have to savor the fleeting scent of this season instead.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

herbs, berries, and uncle sam

The Troy Summer Farmers Market was wonderful! Part of that was due to the splendid weather the Capital District enjoyed today. But, by and large, the harvest glory had everything to do with the bountiful array of vegetables, baked goods, plants, flowers, and fruits overflowing from the booths.

See for yourself...

My own table overflows with organic goodness! 12-grain loaf, peach muffin, two peony stems, quart of strawberries, five basil plants, one rosemary--all for twenty dollars. God Bless Upstate right?! If this was Brooklyn, I'd be a few twenties short by the end of that visit!

Oh, and did I mention that Troy is the "home" of Uncle Sam?

Friday, June 13, 2008

friday feature : : troy farmers market

Will be visiting a local market tomorrow. According to their materials, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market has over 60 vendors ranging from the very popular Buddhapesto to the more obscure Homestead Farms. I am just getting to know Troy, NY. It is a rambling, retro styled city along the Hudson whose glory days were clearly in the industrial age. Yet, as many cities are experiencing, there is a burgeoning rebirth connected to the waterfront. We celebrated the boyfriend's birthday there at Brown's Brewing Co. on Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the city. I also enjoyed my Cherry Raspberry Ale!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I try not to complain in this space. Or whine. But today, I am on a serious rant.

I got an email this morning, an EMAIL, from my landlord saying that she is selling the house, actually, let me rephrase, its going on the market by Friday. But, not to worry because it won't affect the "tenets" (not tenants, but tenets--of what faith, justice, democracy?). Really? Cause I think it probably will. Maybe raise the rent. Maybe change our lease arrangements. Maybe, just maybe, KICK US OUT!

Seriously, after all the work I've put into the garden and how much I've fallen in love with my neighborhood and my daily walk to work. And, for her to be so callous about it. Just makes me crazy. There is of course the reality that the market sucks and maybe it won't sell for awhile--at least till I harvest my tomatoes and zucchini. Then there's the fact that she is a bad landlord and I could get better. I could also get worse. Maybe the rents will go up, but there will be improvements made to our units. Who knows? I don't. And that, of course, is the bigger issue.

Wanting some control over some dimension of my life. I rent. I pay my bills alone. I have a tenuous job situation (not really a secret anymore). I just moved. I just landed in a new city. I just started this job. I guess people with mortgages, spouses, children, and pension jobs look this way and see greener grass. Maybe that's true. And maybe that's how I should see it.

But probably tomorrow. Today, I'm ranting. Thanks for listening :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

glorious weeds and things

How beautiful is this plate?

Skinny Laminx
has a tutorial on creating ceramics transfers with your own drawings. A bit to complicated for me at this point, but I am inspired to get out my sketch book, pencils, and pens and start making the best of the weeds in my own backyard.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

breakfast and a book

Lazy Sunday morning with breakfast and a book on the back porch. Today's pick: blueberry multi-grain pancakes with The Inheritance of Loss. Chair found at the curb a few weeks ago, tablecloth from a set of curtains I made for Ashland St.

I have taken to going to Mass Sunday evenings, which frees up Sunday morning for lolling about. Especially nice on these steamy summer days where doing too much can be taxing. City sounds surround. Showers starting. Dishes clanking in the sink. Kids balling in the court behind my house. Clothes flutter on the line. The swoosh of a hose being turned on to water plots.

Over the last few weeks the backyard is slowly being transformed.

Before photos--free mulch (in ugly black bags) from the community garden in the park behind the house:

After photos:

The hope is that we can plant some grass seed in the stubborn soil and actually have a yard. If not, then it will be a mix of mulch and stones with gardens along the edge.

Friday, June 6, 2008

mint according to martha and me

This growing season I have multiple varieties of each herb: basil-sweet, purple, and thai; thyme-orange and creeping; mint-spearmint and orange. Using these in recipes can be exciting and also a little disappointing if you a try a combination that doesn't work. I did some looking to domestic maven Martha Stewart to see what I could learn about using orange mint:

“There are a lot of wonderful savory and sweet recipes that include mint. It gets its enticing aroma from menthol, which is oil in the leaf. You can find these easy-to-grow mint varieties at nurseries or farmers' markets. Mint should be planted in sun or partial shade with high moisture. It grows vigorously, so be careful where you plant it. You can cut it frequently to keep it in control.

Spearmint is most commonly used in cooking for many recipes, including lamb, vegetables, and of course, mint juleps and mojitos.

A hybrid of spearmint and water mint, peppermint is stronger than spearmint and is often used in tea and desserts.

Apple Mint
With fuzzy leaves, apple mint smells like Granny Smith apples, and is used to make tea or as a garnish, or can be added to salads.

Pineapple Mint

A variety of apple mint, pineapple mint has crinkled leaves with creamy edges, and can be used ornamentally in the garden.

Orange Mint
With mild, citrus flavored leaves, orange mint is good to use as a garnish or in salsas and salads because of its mild flavor.

Chocolate Mint

Strong like peppermint with a chocolate overtone, chocolate mint is good to use for desserts.”

Some recipes:

Spicy Pineapple-and-Mint Salsa

Makes about 3 cups; serves 6

* 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
* 1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded for less heat, if desired, and very thinly sliced
* 1 small garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
* 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
* 1 pineapple, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves - WHY NOT ORANGE MINT!


1. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, chiles, garlic, orange and lime juices, and pineapple. Add oil; stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Just before serving, add mint; toss to combine.

Orange-Mint Iced Tea

6 tea bags
2 tablespoons sugar
12 sprigs of fresh mint, divided - ORANGE MINT!
1 1/4 cups orange juice
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/2 orange, seeded and sliced

Make a strong tea with two pints of boiling water and the six tea bags. Add two tablespoons of sugar and six sprigs of the mint and infuse for 15 minutes.

Remove tea bags and allow to cool; remove mint.

Around our house, this naturally sweet summer salad has many lives. Freshly made, it complements a summer barbecue of grilled chicken and corn on the cob. When there are leftovers, we tuck them inside a warm pita bread pocket sandwich. Either way, it's divine.

Rach got me thinking about making more summer salads so I found this one that could, you guessed it, also use the orange mint variety instead.

Orange Mint Tabbouleh
Summertime treats by Sara Perry

For the dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

For the salad

1 cup bulgur, rinsed and drained
2 cups boiling water
1 orange
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves --REPLACE WITH ORANGE MINT!
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
4 green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup mandarin orange segments
1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or cashews
Tiny mint sprigs for garnish

1.To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, and cumin. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the bulgur and boiling water. Let stand until the bulgur is light and fluffy, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain through a sieve and discard the water. Place the bulgur and 2 tablespoons dressing in another bowl and toss well. Let cool to room temperature.

3.Using a zester, remove the zest from the orange. Mince the zest and set aside. Cut the orange in half, squeeze enough juice to measure 3 tablespoons and place in a small glass bowl. Stir in the raisins and place in a microwave for 15 seconds to warm the juice. Remove from the microwave and let soak for 15 minutes.

4.Add the raisins and juice, orange zest, mint, parsley, green onions, celery, and remaining dressing to the bulgur mixture. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the mandarin oranges and chopped nuts and garnish with mint. Serve at room temperature.
Note: If you decide to chill the tabbouleh or serve it at a later time, the bulgur will absorb more of the dressing and the salad will need freshening. To do so, add 1 tablespoon orange juice or additional dressing and toss well.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

more of the weekend

My incredibly supportive parents, RJR, and my adviser on Friday. Look at how my dad and I do the same thing with our mouths when we are listening! No confusing that long chin and nose we both have either :)

Gorgeous grounds of the Pennsbury Inn where we stayed in Chadds Ford, PA.

Fell for this green dress from Banana back in February, happy to make its debut for graduation.

Couldn't be more proud and honored to graduate with the commencement speaker, one of my dearest friends, J. What a way to end these four years.

Saying goodbye to the faculty at the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

jaunty hat

Here is evidence that I did make it through...and this time with old/new boyfriend in tow, which made me exceedingly happy!

fourteen hours and two coffees later...

...I was still at work. What a yucky Monday. Had a festive and grand weekend for commencement and then came back and got slammed. This is not a venue for job venting, but it is a place for me to say that until some things get back to normal, I'll be a bit quiet here.

Thank you for all the cards, gifts, and well wishes for graduation! When the little brother downloads his amazing photos I'll post some here.