slow morning

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in keeping with the summer theme, this fourth of july morning has started out long and slow, quiet and calming. sleeping in and snuggling before stumbling down the stairs to hang out with the fur kids. the backdoor is open and cool summer air is pouring in through the screen door; pita is rapt – chirping back at the birds and taking in large gulpfuls of summer scented air. bubbles has spent the morning rotating between sniffing in the sniffs at the door and snuggling in her bed. i think what i love most about quiet mornings like these is listening to my windchime sound in the light breeze. voices of neighbors occasionally and quietly drift in, muffled by the weight and slowness of summer, as they head for a morning dip in the pool. the breeze is tickling my toes and i am totally content.

durham bulls

a holiday weekend full of small and simple pleasures – i could ask for nothing more. in counterpoint to this morning’s quiet, last night was filled with laughter and noise. dinner at a favorite vegan friendly restaurant, blue corn cafe, and an evening spent at the durham bulls ballpark for 4th of july-eve festivities with my love, my parents, and our friend neil. and while i’ve perhaps never been the biggest fan of baseball, i found the game exciting, the people-watching fantastic, and the company incredible. and as added icing to a truly enjoyable evening – the bulls won and the fireworks were spectatculor 🙂

fireworks

happy fourth 🙂

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adventure cooking – vegan style

there was a time, in my younger days, when i thought of cooking as an odious chore – something that must be done in order to eat, but certainly not something to be enjoyed. now, though, cooking is a hobby, a passion, a grand culinary adventure type thing.

crossing over to the vegan-side has resulted in much adventure cooking – trying out new recipes and taste sensations. c and i are trying out dishes we never had the guts to attempt before and loving the results. we’re rather ridiculously proud of ourselves too, because, i for one, was convinced for the longest time that i would never ever be able to give up cheese. turns out, i could. and it’s not about deprivation, because with all of this tastiness, i don’t feel a bit deprived. really, what it all boils down to, is that while cheese was tasty, the world without it is even tastier!

this vegan journey has unexpectedly led to more confidence in the kitchen. recipes i would never have thought to try before, i now find myself thinking, “i can do that”…and i do 🙂  in the last week c & i have made homemade hummous (scrumptious)

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a chickpea/swiss chard/spinich stew (served over brown rice – delectable)

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and homemade fried “chick’n” patties with fresh steamed green beans & cauliflower poppers (comfort food at it’s best!).

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hmmm…wonder what we’ll make next…

roadside chair

chair

 my favorite chair sits on the side of a winding road, kept safe from traffic by a metal guardrail. it is a little worse for wear, but it makes me smile each and every time i see it. how it came to live out its days on the side of the road, i’ll probably never know, but it seems to belong there. it fits naturally into the scenery, weathering hot steamy days or damp chilly nights with grace and ease.

i’ve wanted to take pictures of my chair  for a long time and i’ve made up a lot of excuses as to why i couldn’t: i only have my camera phone with me, it’s dangerous – i could be hit by a passing car, i’m no photographer, it’s too hot, to cloudy, to wet, to something. this week, though, i decided that i was done making excuses. i hoped in the car, armed with my camera and a sense of purpose, and made my way towards my chair.

being that my chair is located on the side of a rather narrow and winding road, it was neccesary to park on a nearby side-street and that make my way back to the roadside. the dry grass whispered as i walked, dragonflies and butterflies fluttered up from their perches with almost every step, bees droned in the wildflowers lining the road, and birds chattered amongst themselves in the treetops. sounds seemed both louder and muffled at the same time. it was a peaceful little walk that soon led me to my chair. i darted across the street, high-stepped over the guardrail (trying very hard not to think about potential bugs) and finally faced by chair. 

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it was interesting to finally see the whole chair up-close, usually i can only see the top of it as i drive past. now i could see that its seat is broken, which probably explains how it came to be abandoned… despite this, i find it beautiful. i took my time taking pictures, trying out different angles, going in for close-ups, focusing on small sections, trying to capture in the stillness of film, the way i see my chair. i paid little attention to the occasional car that flew along beside me, other than to be thankful for the guardrail. it was a time of stillness and adventure. a small adventure, perhaps, but one all the same.

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i love my chair.

quiet space

P6120807there is a kitty napping on the floor, the house is quiet except for house-like muttering and creaking, outside sound seems muted by the warmth of the day, and i’m am content in this quiet space. today is a day for puttering, for moving slow; not for checking off items on a to-do list. today is summer – a slow long stretch of day to soak in, enjoy, savour.

my eyes are feeling heavy and i know that there is a nap in my future. i could resist, get up and accomplish things, if i really wanted to. but, i don’t want to. i want to relish this quiet, not chase it away with bustling and rushing motion. and while i realize that there are things that i could be working on, none of them are vital to life, so they can wait.

summer musings

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summer is slowly switching places with spring and i’m relishing the warmer days. spring and summer have slow danced together this may, some days hot and steamy like august, others chilly and damp like early april. now, though, summer seems to have taken the lead and is bringing us all into long warm days and short, slightly cooler nights.

i spent may in work mode, preparing for the start of the fall semester – getting all my ducks in a row. now, as my contract winds down, i find myself look toward the next two months of summer freedom and thinking about what i want to do. earlier this week my thoughts mostly resembled a ticker tape to-do list; one project following after another: research and select a theoretical framework, complete the IRB process for my photo-elicitation pilot study, intern with the GLBT center. and while these are all projects that i want to work on, i realized this weekend that when i thought of my to-do list, i felt stressed and apathetic. in pondering why, i’ve come to the conclusion that my to-do list isn’t fun. it doesn’t involve any of the things i love most about summer. no playing, no moments by the pool, no cook-outs with friends. my to-do list is all work and no play. and after a semester that essentially left me feeling that i’d been dragged through hell and back, i need some time to play.

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in realizing that i want to play, i’ve also figured out that i don’t simply want to create another “play” list – one where i check off activities accomplished and move on to the next. i want to relish these summer days, to sit out in my yard with my dog and drink in the quiet, i want to appreciate the day to day progress of my sunflowers and tomato plants, i want to sit by the pool and listent to the quiet lap of the water, i want to float in the water and watch the clouds change shape. i want to savor the quiet moments. in these musings, i’m beginning to understand that i don’t want to have a long list of activities to list off when i get the inevitable question, “what did you do this summer”. instead, i want to be able to say in all truthfulness that i savored every minute of my time; i relaxed and i feel rejuvenated.

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so, my summer plans are to work on my projects and relish the calm. here’s to soft summer breezes, warmth, the smell of sunscreen, and quiet moments.

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small steps and simple beginnings: an introduction

i’m a big believer in small steps (and lower case letters). i can be easily overwhelmed by stuff, visual clutter, and the random float-sum and jet-sum that seems to follow me everywhere i go. if i don’t keep up with things, my things breed, grow, and take-over to a point where i am unable to figure out how to tame them once again. i become overwhelmed and find it easier to ignore the problem then handle it. for most of my life i’ve battled this tendency to clutter – being a visual person doesn’t help. if i can’t see it, i probably won’t use it, which leads to piles, which breeds clutter. so…what is a girl to do?

she takes small steps and identifies what she wants…

-clean spaces where my partner and i can build and enjoy our life together. i dream of a simpler, less hectic home.  i’m a graduate student pursuing my doctorate…which essentially means that i’m forever in a state of stress. having a calm home as a retreat has become essential to my peace of mind. my partner works long hours for a non-profit where she faces constant demands on her time. a peaceful home is, therefore, a must.

when my partner and i moved into our home, our first together, we merged all of the belongings of two separate lives. and for the most part, we did a good job. in just a few weeks were settled into our new home…except for that guest bedroom. oh that guest bedroom, for the guests we so rarely had who actually slept over. that lovely guest bedroom/workout space that was just a bit too cramped…which slowly, over the past eight months has been making the slow and steady transition to a junk room. a space that only the cat used (litter box and food being kept there). it was a room that bread more and more clutter – anything we didn’t know what to do with, usually ended up there (spring/summer clothes, computer and stereo equipment, school notebooks, blankets, an endless cycle of float-sum & jet-sum). it was overwhelming. a room i didn’t know how to tame.

sadly, the clutter did not stay contained. every space in our home was filled; with no space to put away, the visual clutter tended to grow. not to say our home didn’t look clean and comfortable – because it did. i would venture to say that our guests were completely unaware of the clutter that seems to float around the house. kitchen cupboards were stuffed full, closets were neatly organized, but completely filled.

tired of feeling hemmed in by stuff and both desiring simple spaces has led us to a series of small steps:

  1. sort clothes (why do we both have SO much?) into piles : donate (charity shop, dress for success), consignment, keep
  2. put away all keep clothes, put consignment & donate piles in car
  3. sort kitchen items – get rid of duplicates (again piles: donate, keep)
  4. put away all keep items – reorganize shelves – put all donate items in car
  5. sort collectibles & accessories into piles: donate, sell, keep (only what we love & use, what still reflects our personal style)
  6. take pictures of sale stuff and post on craigs list/ebay – put all donate items in car
  7. set one week time limit for sell items – if they don’t sell, donate
  8. dismantle guest bed to be delivered to parents house this coming weekend
  9. re-purpose guest bedroom into office/workout space (workout space is clearly defined and i have tons of space to hula-hoop! the office is to come, first we need to find a nice big desk & shelves)
  10. go to charity shop and donate (for once i actually did it right away, rather than driving it around for weeks on end)

we still have more to do. but, we’re feeling successful at the moment and enjoying our more open kitchen and exercise room. we love that we’ve regained that square footage and we rejoice at the fact that we can now put our dishes away with ease!

small steps. it’s the only way we’ll achieve our simple dream.