August 20, 2014

Saucy


The hubs has many talents in the kitchen, and while I am not a terrible cook, I tend to be pretty basic-- I don't think I would participate or observe as many fun kitchen projects without him. I just wouldn't think to brandy fruits or make pickles on my own, but with the hubs, these kinds of activities have become more common in my life.

When we started growing tomatoes last year in our beloved vegetable garden, we had to incorporate them into our meals fairly regularly. Our plants thrived that summer, as they are doing this summer, and we had more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. Salads, bruschetta, and gazpacho made frequent appearances in our kitchen, but we were ready to expand to something new yet simple. Then the answer came: tomato sauce!

Our tomato sauces were delicious, but we did not freeze any to have later in the year-- a silly oversight on our end. This year, though, just as our backyard tomatoes are starting to become plentiful, and our market-bought tomatoes are in need of some eating, we decided to make things right with tomato sauce. While we will go through the first batch of sauce pretty quickly, we will do so with the intention of preserving a few jars of homemade tomato sauce, made with our own backyard tomatoes. 

I'm looking forward to visiting on a cold wintery weekend, making dinner with the hubs, and being reminded of these warm summer nights. As I am finding with each project we undertake with our backyard veggies and farmers market favorites, there is such a simple joy in creating treats that we can enjoy months later or pass on to friends and family. It is as though we are capturing tiny moments from our lives and our home and preserving them for a while longer, just enough for them to change and shift as the weeks and months pass yet still retain that first sliver in time. 

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August 18, 2014

From DC to Michigan

There are easy moves, like the one I did from New York to DC back in 2008. There are the eventful-but-not-so-bad-in-the-end moves, like the one the hubs and I did during Snowpocalypse to the building next door to my old studio apartment  And there are the miserable moves, like the one we did on Tuesday, from DC to Michigan. 

My cold started the Thursday before, one of those annoying little things that at first you think is just the result of being in overly-air-conditioned rooms all day and then later realize is actually the start of not being able to move without sneezing everywhere. By Tuesday, my nose was red from my dependence on Puffs Plus, and my DayQuil had become useless.... and we had an 8-hour drive ahead of us. My nerves were on edge due to the cat's horrible yowling, so that didn't help matters much. I didn't even have time to feel sad or give one last farewell glance at my house--I was too distracted by my guilt at making my cat move halfway across the country with me. I burst into tears a few blocks from the house and debated turning around and leaving my cat behind, considered facing a year in Michigan on my own, just so that furry little mess wouldn't have to be so scared in her little cat carrier. 

But then, after we pulled over to administer some kitty sedatives (to the cat, though truthfully, I could have used something, too), we were okay. Lots of rest stops, lots of precarious driving in our gigantic moving truck (naturally, Budget was all out of the normal-sized vans), lots of prayers said as we drove through the rain-soaked highways of the Midwest.

However.

Then we hit Detroit, where we planned to spend the night with my in-laws before driving out to Ann Arbor to officially move me in to the new apartment. Detroit, we learned, was submerged in water from the torrential downpours, and the highways were flooded. I didn't think that city highways could actually flood, not when I needed to drive on them, but alas, nature is indifferent to moving plans. So, the next hour was spent driving around the outskirts of the city, past the newly-abandoned cars stuck in water, past the long-abandoned burned-out shells of businesses long gone, and tried to find an open road.

In the end, the 8-hour drive took 11 hours. 

But you know what? It could have been worse. We weren't in an accident. My cat survived. I survived. The entire time, the hubs showed the patience of a saint--do I even deserve such a wonderful man? And the feeling of slipping in to dry clothes and burrowing under a familiar, worn blanket--it made everything alright in the end. 

So here I am. Without a mattress or a bed frame, without an internet connection, and without a clue of what this next year will bring. But I am here. And I am ready. 

So let's go. 

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August 17, 2014

Sunday Currently : 63

You know that feeling when you've been spinning around and around in circles, and you get that sensation of still moving afterwards, even though your feet are planted firmly on the ground? That's what I'm feeling right now. The past few weeks-- really the past few months-- have been filled with so many things, going from one transition to the next, each ending overlapping with another task that must be started, that I have not had a moment to truly catch my breath. It would have been so nice to have just one more week in DC, just one week to rest, to say goodbye, to slow down before packing up and moving. But that week wasn't possible to have, and so here I am, tired, bewildered, and in Michigan. 

It's real now. I have an apartment, my boxes are unpacked, and soon these little corners and nooks will become familiar to me. But right now, it's all new, and there is so much that will continue to be new, most of which has not even happened yet, like the new job that begins tomorrow and the new colleagues I have not yet met. It's strange, a bit sad, to think of embarking on this adventure without the hubs here with me. It's a little lonely, though I know it won't always be. The hubs just left this morning, after all, and he'll be back in a month. But I suppose that's the way it will have to feel for now--bittersweet, thrilling, and lonely. 



currently

reading : The Secret Circle: The Divide, up until just a moment ago, when I finished it. I have requested the final two books in this arc (not written by the original author, which is a bummer) from the Michigan library system, but I have no idea when they will be delivered...hopefully soon!

writing : A couple of posts, as well as lots of lists for groceries and little tasks that must be done. Moving seems to involve never-ending errands. 

listening :  To the new sounds of Sunday quiet at my new apartment. There are highway sounds in the distance, but also more pleasant hummings of chirping birds and soft rain. It's still around these parts, and with one less cat and one less husband, I'll have to get used to my new lifestyle. 

thinking :  About what this next year will be like. I feel as though my life in DC ended so quickly and in such a whirlwind that I didn't have any time to process that it was actually happening. Now I'm here in Ann Arbor, and I'm hitting the ground running, with no time at all to sink in and laze about. I hope it will be good. I think it will.

smelling :  Dampness from this morning's rain. Alas, I can finally start to breathe again!

wishing :  For a good first week at work. For goodness. For certainty that this is the right place to be. 

hoping :  That this madness with Comcast will finally end tomorrow and that my internet will be properly connected. My interactions with them this past week have all been horrendous, and I cannot wait to hopefully be done with them soon!! Also hoping that my mattress is delivered  soon today...

wearing :   Gym shorts and a t-shirt, as I tend to do on Sundays. 

loving :  The hubs for being so supportive, kind, and patient. I feel so lucky to have him in my life.

wanting :  To settle in and get to know my new home. I'm looking forward to the day when bus routes become second-nature and when street signs are actually recognizable. 

needing :  To just be and accept that everything will work out in its own time. 

feeling :   Nervous, sad, and excited. 

clicking :   On various books that I want to read and request from my local library. I've been having lots of fun getting connected to the library system now that I actually have time to read for pleasure!


siddathornton

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Previously on The Quixotic Chica:

August 6, 2014

Travel Size


While this will never be a DIY-oriented blog, as I will realistically never have the time to devote my days to creating quaint and quirky crafts, I do enjoy a good organizational project. There is something liberating about tossing out old products and reassembling the remaining items in such a way that suggests that the owner is actually not a hoarder and/or recluse. Expired in 2009? Gone! Used to be liquid and is now solid? Gone! Bought it in college and have never used it? Gone! 

Our bathroom has long posed a challenge for me in terms of how to keep our products organized. When we moved into our house last year, we lost a ton of bathroom storage space, though installing a second bathroom cabinet helped a bit. I don't own a ton of make-up or hair products, yet somehow bottles, tubs, and jars kept accumulating. When I couldn't fit a shopping bag filled with travel-sized items under the sink cabinet, I stored it in the hubs' closet, along with a bag filled with random hair accessories, and promptly forgot about both of them for about a year.

Oops.

My move to Michigan has been a source of great motivation to finally clear things out. A week or so ago, the hubs and I pulled everything out of the cabinets, gathered the now-tattered bags of make-up and first aid supplies that I had tucked away in random closets, and finally went through it all. In total, I think we threw away about 50% of the items we had been holding on to, and it was amazing to actually have clear space in the cabinets again!

One of the biggest sources of clutter, it turned out, was all of those little travel-sized toiletries that we had collected from hotels (they're free!!), received as samples, or been gifted from forgotten sources. Though we could have thrown those out, too, I decided to hold on to them because I do use them when traveling, and since the hubs and I will be flying back and forth between DC/Baltimore and Detroit for the next year, I figured we would need them in the coming months. 

I'm sure that there are fancier ways to organize items like these, but all I needed was a  couple of small plastic tubs (I got mine at the Container Store), sandwich bags, tape, and a Sharpie. I organized my little travel-sized products into categories (e.g. shampoos, conditioners, lotions, etc.), made a label using tape and the Sharpie, and then put everything in the appropriate bag.



The bags fit perfectly into the plastic tubs, and I was able to snugly fit four bags into each tub. I like that I am able to easily pluck out the bag I need, and I can quickly see what the inventory is--though I doubt I will be running low on items anytime soon! I briefly entertained the idea of making several ready-to-go bags, each with a shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, face wash, etc., but I figured that since I don't always use these things at the same rate, I would end up needing a way to keep the extras organized, anyway. In the end, the current system won, and I'll replenish a nicer toiletries bag with these items as needed. 


I am not quite sure yet where I will store these in my new bathroom, but I think that the sink cabinet or a roomy shelf would be good options. There are still some remaining bathroom items that need to be organized, and I think that I will return to the Container Store to get additional tubs for things like nail polish and first aid items. Larger items like hair tools are more of a challenge for me, but I figure that organizing even just one set of items will be a big help towards avoiding the clutter from building again.

Do you have other effective ways of organizing your bathroom items? Any must-have items that help you prevent chaos? I would love to get more ideas!





July 30, 2014

Backyard Pickles


When the hubs and I first moved into our house, we were excited to do some digging and start a backyard garden. Last summer was a time of learning which plants thrived in the DC humidity, which were more delicate, and which we wanted to try out in the future. This summer, with more knowledge and savviness, we expanded our vegetable garden to a second bed and resumed the backyard experimentation.

Our cucumber plants have to be one of our biggest successes this summer. Every day, it seems as though a dozen new cucumbers are ready to be picked, and as we gather them and swat away mosquitos, we discover a dozen more hidden amongst the leaves. These little green cukes have gone into salads, gazpachos, and, now, pickling jars!

Last weekend, we chopped up a batch and divided them into various mason jars. This first batch was a vinegar-based brine, enhanced with pickling spices, salt, garlic, dill, a pinch of sugar, and serrano peppers, also from the garden. 



We have already opened up a jar, and I think that they turned out really well! When we repeat this recipe, we might decrease or nix the sugar, but overall, these are delicious spicy pickles. Our next batch will be a small round of salt-brine with backyard jalapeños, pickling spices, and garlic. We like our spice. :)

My mother has already requested a jar for Christmas, and since we have so many cucumbers to use, we will likely store a few jars to give as gifts over the next few months. It is very special to us to be able to grow these treasures in our backyard and share these treats with our friends and family. As if there weren't already a million reasons to love having a garden, the ability to share fresh (and pickled!) vegetables with those we love makes it even better.

Are there any other good cucumber recipes that we should try out? We would like to try a simple cucumber salad and would love other ideas!


July 28, 2014

Out East


It could have been the salty, damp air or the curling smoke of our campfire on the beach, but there was something about those precious summer days in Montauk that brought out a spirit of adventure and mischief. Each summer, my aunt would roll up in front of our house, her SUV packed with beach chairs, towels, and my two little cousins, and we would drive out east to Montauk, The End.

The little fishing town, just past the glamour and gloss of the Hamptons, was our special getaway, the very eastern tip of Long Island. Surfers would pad barefoot across the street, their boards tucked under their arms as they made their way to the waves, and every shop was filled to the ceilings with a rainbow of beach towels and sand pails. Locals, their faces lined by years in the sun, would peer out their salt-sprayed windows as the summer crowd filled their once-quiet hamlet and set up camp in simple beachside condos. It might not be Main Beach and multimillion-dollar mansions, but it had lobster and seashells, and that's all we needed.

There were afternoons running around the sand and cooling off in the ocean, my bathing suits permanently tinged with the scent of sunscreen. The evenings brought pizza pies, served by young Irish teenagers who spent their summers out East, and campfire s'mores-- the gooier, the better. Sometimes, in our wilder moments, we spooked ourselves with ghost stories and hushed tales of the time travel experiments at the abandoned military base out at Montauk Point. Those bunkers couldn't be completely sealed up, could they? Were there still secrets buried beneath the satellite tower?

When the years started to bring in boyfriends, and my bathing suits switched to bikinis, our magical days spent on Montauk slowed down and ultimately stopped, the adventures and giggles relegated to photo albums and pictures taped to the fridge. I think my mother and and aunt knew that the day would come. It couldn't last forever. But they were good days. Important days. The kind of days that shape a childhood. The kind of days that shape a life.



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July 27, 2014

Sunday Currently : 62

I have decided that when it comes to my weekends, I enjoy that delicate balance between going out/being social and having quiet moments at home. This weekend has had all of that, and it's been nice to wind down my time in DC in such a nice manner. After my half-day of work on Friday, I took an epic nap and watched some old episodes of Pretty Little Liars before going out to Right Proper Brewery in Shaw with two friends who we always have the best time with. It was a night filled with amazing cheeses, beers, laughs, and conversation-- easy, fun, and exactly what I wanted at the end of the week. Saturday afternoon and evening offered more fun times and laughter with work friends, and it was the perfect way to close out our final weekend together (one of my fellow interns is moving away next week).

Today started out with a sweaty run to Takoma Park for their farmers market, and while it didn't feel as invigorating as last week's run, I felt settled and at peace as we made our way around the baskets of fragrant peaches and plums, humming along to the guitarist who was playing "Puff the Magic Dragon" on the sidewalk. In case you were wondering, yes, Takoma Park is indeed a hippie paradise, and, yes, we love it. :)


currently

reading : About licensure requirements and other not-fun things. Being nearly done with graduate school is awesome...and filling out paperwork is not. 

writing : Lots of end-of-year evaluations and reports, as well as more moving-related lists. Again, so much paperwork!

listening :  To the AC blowing in the living room, which feels great after this morning's humid run. One of the cats is having a blast attacking the many cardboard boxes that are still stacked in the living room, so every now and again I hear a big thump as he flings himself into the pile.

thinking :  About how I can be more productive this week with packing and preparing for my move to Michigan. It will be an emotional week of farewells at work, and I want to feel present for that, but I also need to get ready for the future, and that means making more progress with my packing when I'm at home. 

smelling :   That lovely cardboard box scent...

wishing :  For some more DC magic over the next two weeks. My love for this city didn't dwindle when I was at the height of grad school stress, but I think I have felt more aware of it lately. Though I've lived here for six years, there are still more neighborhoods to explore, more restaurants to visit, and more nooks to discover.

hoping :    To cross another item or two off of my Project DC list before I move. I realize that I will have at least another four to five years in DC when I return since the hubs is just beginning his doctoral program, so there is no rush to see it all, but I still want to have a few last hurrahs before I leave in August.

wearing :   My sweaty running attire. No pretensions around these parts, folks! The cat who was attacking the boxes just a moment ago has now curled up between my feet, so I am "trapped" here with him for the time being. Darn. :)

loving :  The people in my life. They make the days sweeter and richer, and I feel so grateful for that.

wanting : To get back into the swing of writing for this blog. I have so many posts written in my mind, but I've been savoring my recent post-dissertation defense lull by doing other things, like dinners with friends and kitchen experiments. I don't want to cut those activities, but it would be nice to balance it out with the writing that I enjoy doing here. 

needing :  To pack! The hubs and I did a massive haul at the Container Store yesterday, and I'm actually feeling much more motivated now to organize my loose papers and bathroom items. What is it about organization items that makes me so excited?

feeling :   Nostalgic, motivated, excited, and sweaty. Not bad for a Sunday morning, right? :D

clicking :   On this recipe for cherry pie. I think that I will attempt to make it this week, which will be my first pie of the summer! It's hard to believe that I haven't done much baking this summer (ahem, gradschool), but I think this pie will be a fun kitchen project. 


siddathornton

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Last week on The Quixotic Chica:

July 20, 2014

Sunday Currently : 61

This morning is off to a wonderful start. Yesterday afternoon was spent in Arlington, celebrating my friend's upcoming move to Florida and her surprise engagement to her lovely boyfriend-- it was so much fun to oohh and ahhh over her gorgeous ring and see her and her now-fiance walk around with looks of elation on their faces. I woke up feeling super happy and recharged, and when the hubs suggested that instead of going to the gym, we run up to Takoma Park for their Sunday farmers market, I decided to go for it. Why not?

The hubs has been recovering from an ACL injury the past few weeks (thankfully, it was only a partial tear, so no surgery!), but he has been able to do some gentle biking as part of his recovery. He rode alongside me and offered a string of encouraging statements as I trotted up the hills of Eastern Avenue. To my surprise, the run was not nearly as grueling as I thought it would be. Even better, I actually had a lot of fun and loved the feel of using my muscles and getting into a good pace, and I felt like I was flying as we zipped back to DC on the downhills of our second leg. It wasn't about pushing myself to beat my usual pace--instead, it was about enjoying being in motion. It was awesome!



reading : A couple of magazines that I still have sprawled around the house. I haven't yet picked a new book, but maybe I will figure that out this week. It feels so good to be able to read for pleasure without feeling guilty for not working on my dissertation!

writing :  Lists of items that I am packing up to take with me to Ann Arbor, items that I will pick up from my in-laws in Detroit, items that I will need to purchase, items that I am waiting to be delivered to the house... As it turns out, moving involves a lot of planning!

listening :  To the usual quiet Sunday sounds around the house... The typing of my laptop, the cars passing by down the road, neighbors chit-chatting from their front lawns.

thinking :  About how good this morning's run felt.

smelling :   The lingering scent of my floral-scented conditioner in my wet hair.

wishing :    For more peace in the world. Recent international events have been breaking my heart, and as long as they keep happening, I will keep wishing for change and justice. 

hoping :   That I will eventually find a way to keep my heavy, thick hair contained during my runs! I had to readjust my ponytail during the first leg, but during the second leg, my rubber-tracked headband flew off my head just as my ponytail also gave out, and I had to trot back to pick it off the sidewalk. Then, moments later, my ponytail holder broke! Than goodness I had an extra around my wrist! Any suggestions?

wearing :   A clean pair of stretchy running pants and a DC United jersey. Comfy, comfy, comfy!

loving :   How my body is actually stronger than I give it credit for. Being able to tackle hills that have intimidated me for over a year, and actually enjoying the experience, is such a blessing. It feels amazing to recognize that my legs are strong and that my lungs are powerful.

wanting :   To continue the 30-day fitness challenge that the hubs and I just started. In addition to our running/biking, we are doing circuits of squats, planks, crunches, and push-ups. I'm looking forward to seeing if I feel noticeably stronger by the end.

needing :  To pack up my kitchen items, knick-knacks, and photos! I am dreading the day when I start packing up my closets.... Maybe I can just peruse the Container Store for ways to organize all of my bathroom products instead?

feeling :  Really happy. Happy about my life, happy to embark on a new adventure in Michigan, happy for my friends, happy about how the past few nights we've been able to sleep with the windows open...just happy. :)

clicking :  On a great running blog, Michigan Runner Girl, that I discovered while researching potential races to sign up for next year. I love how motivating it is, and I must admit that my push to run this past week has largely come from feeling inspired by Heather's journey. I enjoy reading about her race recaps and training schedules, and it has made me want to explore other running blogs, too. Let me know if you read any good ones!


siddathornton

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Last week on The Quixotic Chica:
Sunday Currently | Michigan Girl