The cleanse of spring.

I am full on into ‘fruits and vegetables omg it’s spring and things are growing’ mode, and enjoying it enormously.  Case in point:

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On the left is sundried tomato and stinging nettle hummus just before blending, and on the right is a banana, pear, parsley, and kombucha smoothie.  I heart my (not so secret) stinging nettle collection spot.

Making delicious healthy things while listening to last.fm radio of the beautiful Neko Case just might be the perfect way to spend a late March Wednesday morning before work.

Does anyone have other favorite early spring wild edibles?  And if you’re from the Cities, would you be willing to share your collection spots?

Desert Island Albums

Over the last year and a half, Ben and I have amassed quite the album collection, thanks to a number of fantastic used record stories scattered across the Twin Cities.  Though no one album was more than a few dollars (and many were in the 50 cent section in fact), the entire collection is probably several hundreds of dollars at this point.  When we were talking about buying a house, a turntable and speakers were very nearly furniture item number one on our list of necessities, beating out a couch and likely a dining room table even.  Good tunes are essential!

This morning, lazily examining the selection for good morning music, I asked Ben what three records he would choose from the collection if it meant he couldn’t listen to any others for eternity (sort of a desert island assembly if you will).  Choosing merely three proved to be enormously difficult- how can one pick Rush in lieu of T Rex, Emerson, Lake and Palmer in lieu of Zappa?  But a selection of five seemed reasonable.

So here, for your judgement, in listening order (rather than ranked), are our choices of Five Desert Albums from our collection.

Ben’s selection:
Bob Dylan- Highway 61 Revisited
Frank Zappa- Apostrophe
Rush- Caress of Steel
REO Speedwagon- Hi Infidelity
Emerson, Lake and Palmer- Tarkus

My selection:
Kansas- Masque
Boston- Boston
Allman Brothers- Brothers and Sisters
The Guess Who- The Best of The Guess Who
Earth, Wind and Fire- All ‘n All

The most obvious choices were Zappa for Ben and Boston for me, though they actually weren’t the first records we pulled off the shelf.  Most amusing would be REO Speedwagon for Ben for sure (I still cannot for the life of me understand why he likes them so much), and probably Earth, Wind and Fire for me.

Any other Desert Island Album lists out there?

Movements of the Moment and a Happy List

Between the Occupy movement and the Keystone XL Pipeline protests there has been much as of late to get excited about.  At the very least important progressive issues are taking center stage in the media, and at best real change in our world is fermenting.

As I spend hours in a tantalizing mixture of passionate conversation, media research, and imagining ways that we might actually, finally, start asking the important questions about our society rather than ‘how can we sort of balance the budget while still maintaining the status quo, and thus neglecting all the important programs that make people and culture thrive?’, I’m finding internal tension building.  I’m forgetting to breathe, and I’m tending toward anger and blame rather than compassion.

To rectify this, or at least make small internal movements toward calm and compassion, here is my present moment happy list, a resurrection of a delightful pasttime my high school BFF Susan and I undertook quite extensively.

1. Brief glimpses of glorious autumn sunsets from the windows at work before I head into an evening meeting.

2. Coco Rosie.

3. Weddings, somewhat in spite of myself, and the ensuing emotion.  I finally posted the album of my own celebration.

4. Winter squash, large and small, from the tiny gourds that I used as the cake topper for my brother in law’s wedding cake last weekend to the enormous Cinderella squash they let us take home from the decorations stash.

5. Reading graphic novels again, and finding series on my own (though your past recommendations have been marvelous, Caleb, and I do enjoy receiving Locke and Key from you), and discovering the relatively extensive collection held by the Hennepin County Library.

What is your happy list these days?

Beautiful things: February edition

February is almost over.  A month that in past years distressed me to no end (see  Valentines Day and the agonizingly long winter) and this year February redeemed through the magic of Vitamin D and varying weather that, dare I say, was almost pleasant.  Between continuing to create, the slow return of spring, and a singularly adorable cat, it’s been quite a lovely month.

The return of the chives!  I had though them dead for certain, but lo and behold the green stalks have begun to emerge through the remnants of last year to make delicious seasoning for my morning eggs of the future.
Recent record purchases and the ensuing well soundtracked project time has given my days off a new feel.  Now I can spend my time quilting, blogging and reading to the tune of Brothers and Sisters by the Allman Brothers!  Or the epic that is 2112!  ::commence geek out on orchestral and Southern classic rock::  Even though vinyl isn’t sustainable persay, I figure used vinyl has a smaller footprint than new cds, hence the inclusion of a record player on the wedding gift registry 🙂

Handquilting!  I’m taking a class at Glad Creations Quilts and feel like I’ve discovered the perfect project in many ways.  It’s useful, it’s portable, and it starts loads of great conversations with strangers.  The project for the class is a sampler quilt wall hanging, but I hope to make a full bed sized quilt using one particular block pattern and all recycled/reused fabric in the not too distant future.

This little cat has squirmed her way deep into my heart.  Su-Su (or Sioux-Sioux as I spell it in my head) looks like a kitten, occasionally acts like a dog, and is maybe the best example I’ve ever encountered of a cat that could melt that heart of any supposed cat hater.  There’s a great quote on a mural on the animal hospital I pass by frequently that says something along the lines of “Until one has loved an animal, one’s heart is not fully opened”.  Su-Su is living proof of that.
Transition Towns and sustainability/community building work have been particularly inspiring this month.  I plan to write a more comprehensive post on this in the future, but for now suffice to say that parties and potlucks and canning and backyard chickens make any impending apocalypse due to climate change seem that much less terrifying and that much more an opportunity to truly know your neighbors, live lightly on the earth, and build authentic community.

What have you been loving this month?

Quality over quantity: a lifelong pursuit.

Last night while Benjamin and I were enjoying a magnificent performance of Dvorak’s 7th Symphony by the MN Orchestra- the first installment of their Inside the Classics series this year- I found myself contemplating the cost of the experience.  I should begin by disclosing that we were able to attend this concert at half of the normal ticket cost because I finally bit the bullet and joined Groupon.  However, each ticket was still about $22, almost nothing for an acclaimed orchestra performance, but substantially more than Ben and I ordinarily spend on a weekend entertainment outing.  Because we usually spend $0.  We look for free shows at local bars, of which there are many, and only some of them worth seeing.  This led me to wonder- how have I been unintentionally valuing quantity over quality?  Is this something I really want to continue doing?

No offense to the bands that play free shows at local bars; I enormously appreciate having that option as an evening activity, planned or spur of the moment.  Nonetheless, by valuing the ‘free’ rather than the performance itself, I have likely been missing out on countless opportunities to see stellar shows/theater performances/art shows/concerts.  There is something to be said for actually committing to an event enough to spend a decent amount of money, something enormous even in the event that one is supporting a local artist or musician or non-profit by attending said event.

I have discovered that this ‘free/cheap = best’ mentality has flowed over into other facets of my life as well, namely going out to eat.  As you may have noticed from several previous posts, I LOVE FOOD.  I love the ingredients, the preparation, the community, the fellowship, and the sensations of eating.  You would expect that as a result I would take advantage of the many fine dining establishments in the Twin Cities that highlight local, seasonal, and finely crafted fare (Lucia’s, The Craftsman, and Birchwood Cafe to name just a few).  For the most part, sadly, you would be wrong.  A combination of convenience and self-imposed frugality means that I eat out frequently, but not often at the pricier yet classier locales.

So here is my challenge to myself (and to anyone else who has noticed a quantity-over-quality mentality creeping into their decisions): do less, but do it well.  Go to fewer shows and performances, eat out less often, but when I do both, do what I truly desire.  Save my resources to go to the fancier restaurants I read rave reviews of in The Hot Dish, and for better known bands and unique performances and those beer festivals I’ve always drooled over.  And in the meantime I will work toward a couple of my 2011 Practices to Enact, cooking, walking, writing and exploring the city I love.

But don’t worry Parkway Pizza and The Hexagon Bar; I will still pass through your wallet-friendly doors once in a while.

~Lauren