My hippie rant of the day…minus the stinky armpits

>>>Disclaimer: In the following post I am not claiming to have vast knowledge about all things food, nor am I suggesting that my practices or opinions are foolproof. Don’t be haters, be thinkers. The end.<<<

So the past couple of years I have been on what might consider to be an interesting string of “diets”. (And no not “diet” in the sense of I didn’t eat sweets for this long, or I only ate popcorn for four weeks, or drank various concoctions of honey and cayenne pepper, etc.) I guess you could stay in all started in Africa.

The food there, for lack of a better word or rather one not so offensive, was–interesting. Spicy to be sure (no wonder we Americans have so many stomach problems there–no elaboration necessary), a lot of carbs–like fries with your potatoes and yams, and potatoes and yams in your “veggies” oh yeah and rice with all of this. There was meat too, however after visiting the  markets where this was sold and seeing it sitting in the 100 degree sun for 12 hours a day, complete with flys, other insects and the random people deciding it would be a good idea to touch it–I couldn’t stomach it anymore.

Do you want some rice with that rice?

After returning home, I maintained my vegetarianism, except I ate fish (every Northwest girl needs their salmon after all). But, after going through a string of stomach issues and finding that my body was telling me “Please eat a turkey burger”, I decided I would heed its call and eat meat once again. (Not important but worth mentioning is the fact that I haven’t eaten red meat since high school, so I really only eat “white meats”. Nothing against the good ol’ beef world, I just don’t really like it that much. If you set a really good steak in front of me, we could probably work something out.)

However, after having my spat of vegetarianism, and then jumping back into the meat world–I really started to think about what I ate and why. It seems like a fairly general question, but me thinks you’ve either never asked yourself this or if you have, quickly answered with, “Well, because it’s good.” Adequate answer though it is, it doesn’t really get to the core of it. I came to the conclusion that generally speaking, a lot of our food habits, good or bad, came from our upbringing. Lucky for me, my step-dad-extrodinaire-cooking master would whip up everything from thai chicken to greek gyros (and yeah he’s that good.) However, a theme in each meal I ate, whether at home, at grandmas, or at a friends house, was that meat was the main course. Now, there was and is nothing wrong with this. But is it necessary for every meal? I think not.

Americans eat 200 pounds of meat every year according to the dept. of agriculture. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. In fact, it’s over 75 pounds more than it was a century ago, when the dept. first began keeping tabs. A number of factors have contributed to this phenomenon of course–the primary being the prevalence of fast food and eating out.

Vintage Magazine Advertisement -- LOVE her face.

Now, that all said, its actually not necessary to eat this much meat. In fact, eating less meat is not only beneficial to your health, it also can be a much cheaper way to eat. (And I know from experience that it forces you to cook more often, which is obvs better for the bod than fast food or eating out.) PJ and I have been doing this for the last six months and both feel really great about it. We will usually make one or two “meat” meals a week and then do the rest veggie style. It might sound like a lot harder to those of you who are used to steak and potatoes, but I assure you it isn’t–especially with the vast resources and recipes available on the interwebs. (I can also be contacted for delicious meatless entrees!)

Yes this was a real vegetable brand. Yes this was a real label. There are no words.

But, as is the problem with asking questions, I have begun to dig deeper, much deeper, into what I eat and why. The vast debates over organic vs. not organic and local vs. not local have been swarming through my mass of never-ending thoughts for quite some time now. Coupled with this is my own research and reading about the food industry, and a few powerful documentaries I would really recommend. At what I will consider to be the middle of my road, I have come to a few conclusions. Those being: I think eating local and organic are really important (in that order), but not always possible, especially since the world we live in has been changed and molded by the way our food is produced. Just a few facts:

I mean for real the list could go on and on. I don’t mean rant or rave–really I don’t. I just want to challenge each of you to think about what you are eating and why, and where it comes from. Your answers might really surprise you. Some of you might not care at all about this issue–which is fine. Some of you might think it is too hard to eat local and/or organic–which it’s not. Some of you might think it’s more expensive to eat local and/or organic–which it definitely can be. Just to give you an idea though–PJ and I try our best to eat both local and organic (and let me just say here that the term “organic” is sticky because a lot of foods can be organic even if they are not stamped with the organic label which the government charges a pretty penny for), so what we usually do is eat one or two meals a week which are not maybe the most lavish, and combining that with the fact that we are not eating a lot of meat, really makes it doable. Check out this website: http://www.eatwellguide.org/. It’s a really great resource to find local, natural, organic vendors from farmer’s markets, to CSAs, to restaurants, to butchers. It may in fact be a lot easier than you think.

The Farmer's Market in Bklyn that I go to.

And come on! In the spirit of my love of everything old, going to the butcher to get your meat, going to the farmer’s market to get your veggies, the bakery to get your breads (and actually usually the bakers, honey making, cheese selling folk come to the farmer’s market too) is just so last century! And I mean that in the best of ways. That all to say, I just want to challenge you guys to think about these issues. What I’m not saying is to put an end to all of your heathenism and go from this day forward only consuming locust and honey (John the Baptist anyone?), BUT rather what I am doing is encouraging you to think about maybe eating one meal a week from ingredients that were purchased locally or are organic and just see what’s its like.

A farmer at the end of one of the documentaries I have watched called Food Inc. (I would really recommend it), said that farmers are going to produce what the people want. If what we want is natural, fresh food–there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have it and why it can be produced–because in fact it already is in so many places.

In closing, I encourage you to don your tie-dyed headband, pull on your long flowing skirts, and perhaps indulge in the grass of the field. (If this statement made any sense to you, you have failed to receive my message but I will love you all the more.)

Peace out.

This. guy. does. not. match.

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My obsession with the past…

It has occurred to me multiple times that perhaps I was actually born in the wrong era. The problem is I can’t quite place myself in what I would consider to be the “right” one. My gut response is always the 1920s. I would of course want to be in my early 20s in the 1920s, mostly to experience what I consider to be the most delectable fashion scene I can ever think of. The whole championing of women’s rights, baring ankles, chopping the hair off, finger waves in general (HOW DID THEY DO THOSE??), Coco Chanel, and really I could go on and on.

Actress Louise Brooks

Ooh la la...I love their outfits.

However, the big problem with the twenties is that small catatrasophe we now call the Great Depression. That would have been pretty terrible to live through. And no, I don’t think our current recession is as near as bad as the depression. Two separate words, two distinct definitions. Look them up. Anyways back to fashion, I am NOT here to talk about politics. So the 1920s have it going on, but then so do the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s (I am still up in the air about the 1970s–even though yes, I did buy of pair of those pretty fabulous 1970s high-waisted wide-legged jeans at this thrift shop in San Francisco a couple years ago). The hipsters have classified the 1980s and even early 1990s as “vintage” and to that I say, no no no no no no no. (Sorry mom.)

That all to say, it is clear to most that I am slightly obsessed with any and all things old (clothes and otherwise). Living in Brooklyn, thrift shops or more aptly, “vintage boutiques” are about as common as baby strollers in Park Slope. They are just a part of the culture. On the one hand this is wonderful, and on the other hand, because they charge unreasonable prices and just seem to be in general kind of snobby, they are–as my cousin Owen once said in response to the question “How are you?”—not so fun. (True story.) I must admit that the hipster in me does love the Brooklyn Flea despite its complete success in catering to hipsters everywhere, and therefore charging more for everything–but hey if PJ goes and enjoys himself–win for everyone.

And now to start the story which apparently warranted the tangent above: MLK weekend, we were invited to go with some friends to Virginia which provided a number of wonderful things. The first was a lot of Bananagrams, the second was much needed time away from the city, the third was spending time growing closer with friends, and the fifth was dah dah dah DAH–antiquing!!!!!!!!!

Thankfully the other two women with me were as obsessed with digging through old stuff as I was, so we made our rounds and found some pretty neat treasures. My biggest finds were two chairs which I had to climb atop piled old furniture to claim. I am on the look for chairs because eventually I want to have an eclectic mix of chairs around our dining room table (that is when we get a dining room table). Anyways here are some pictures of my finds!

The chairs look the same...here is one of them!

A small old cheese box that I flipped upside down to house some tea lights.

So this board is not new...but all of the hooks on it are!! Finally finished my coat rack!

Awesome old scotch/whiskey box that fits records perfectly! Naturally, PJ liked it.

Red shoes, my size, $8. Done.

And it does not end here, OH no! Because of course when we got back to Brooklyn, we went to the Brooklyn Flea and Mr. Herring found himself some pretty awesome old snow/rain boots and I found two FREE old windows on the street. Not sure what I am going to do with them…but they were FREE! Did I mention they were free?

PJ's shoes..chosen by himself!

Window #1.

Widow #2 at a weird angle because I didn't want to move it.

And that’s all for now folks. One resolution of 2011: write one blog a week…at the very least. Don’t give up on me! I can be quite entertaining! Anyways, until next time.

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Window Wonderland

View from the kitchen window

View 2

View 3

So everyday, now around 5pm, if I take a gander out of our kitchen window this is what I see. There is something about the juxtaposition of the dark, rather unattractive rooftops to the unbelievably beautiful sunset that really stirs me. (An obvious contrast I suppose, but nevertheless striking.) Maybe its the colors, the shapes–I don’t know. The best part is it changes each evening. The colors and shapes that formed and melded together tonight will never be repeated in the same fashion. We live in a beautiful world. (And no I’m not referring to the Coldplay lyric.)

And thus, I must now encourage each of you to look out of your windows. Perhaps you too will discover your own window wonderland.

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Nesting (minus the feathers and worms)

First off I must apologize for my long period of blogging silence. I have no excuse, except perhaps a lack of an interesting story. However, I have decided that it is up to me as the writer to make whatever story I deem acceptable to share, as interesting to read. At any rate, here we go.

So, the Peej and I have been living in our little apartment for about 2 months now. Crazy I know. It occurred to me that I’m sure some of you would love to know what this place looks like. So, I have consented to share with you some pictures. It is still not completely done, therefore there aren’t really pictures of the living room, since it is essentially an empty black abyss of nothing, but, take it for what you will. So, drumroll please!

The entry! Complete with the quite incomplete coat rack I am making...

The chambre à coucher! Or just "the bedroom".

CLOSE UP of the bed and our amazing duvet cover!

The "Crazy Wall" in the bedroom!! I need pictures that are vertical for that one frame...whoops.

Kitchen time kitchen time kitchen time!!!

One side of the kitchen...the "refreshments" sign is from our wedding!

The other side of the kitchen...looks a little crazy...need to clean up a bit.

My FAV red clock and other things...

Owl shelves on the way to the washroom!

Bathroom madness! PJ and I found that mirror in this antique barn shop on our honeymoon in VT.

Another view of the bathroom...

Our AWESOME fireplace! Complete with odds and ends and the painting PJ's aunt painted for us (on the left).

The painting I brought back in Africa...

And there you have it. Some pictures to satisfy your image-hungry appetite. I will leave you with just one blunder or rather blender of a story.

It was a breezy, but nice, Sunday afternoon. PJ had left to go practice music for church, leaving me alone with my domestic sensibilities, or rather lack thereof. Only the fridge stood between me, the strawberries, and multiple containers of homemade jam. (Pause here. Homemade jam?! You might be thinking. Why? Well because I grew up on homemade jam. My grandmas have always made homemade jam, my mom has always made homemade jam, and now, I must carry on the legacy. ) Step one: wash berries. Done and done. Step two: cut green from berries. A breeze. Step three: Insert berries into blender to be mashed.

It was this step that got me. I got them into the blender all right and even began blending them alright. However at one point, the berries weren’t mashing. So I switched the blender off, stuck a wooden spoon in to push the berries down to their impending doom (sorry berries), and as I switched back on said blender, said wooden spoon was still in blending distance of said impending doom. What happened next was well, disastrous. Berries strewn across my kitchen and onto my cabinets. Mashed berries on the ceiling, and pot rack. And oh yeah, ground up wooden spoon in my potential jam. Domesticity: FAIL. New flavor of jam: SUCCESS.

Just kidding, I threw out the jam. Until next time.

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The Demise of My Left Bicep

OK ok ok…I know what you are thinking. Shut up about your freaking bike! I couldn’t possibly do such a thing you see, because it is so amazing, so thrilling and so, well, ultra cool, I can’t get enough of it. (Now you are all very confused because I have yet to say anything about my bike, aside from me assuming that you are thinking I will write about it…now. Correct.)

Sunday marked an extraordinary accomplishment in my life. That’s right, I finished the New York Times weekend crossword. It tested my wit and rattled my brain cells, but could not withstand my awe inspiring thirst for victory. Yeah, I’m only joking. We would be living in a dream world if anyone besides Will Shortz could figure that out. Ok and maybe a superstar team of literature fanatics, art snobs, science techies, and your run of the mill hipster-know-it-alls (to answer questions about contemporary culture of course).

No, what I did had to be done solo. Alone. By myself. Two people minus one. A-la-carte. (More about carts later.) It is at this point in my blog that I wish I could slowly increase the volume of some dramatic, magnificent music so that you all could feel the weight of what I am about to tell you. Instead, I will just say: this is a big deal, so listen up [insert your choice of what word you would like to be called here.] Without anymore ado, I give you, my Sunday accomplishment: riding into Manhattan not in a cab, not on the subway, but on my bicycle! There is not much to tell except that I made it, sans injury or insult all the way to 28th and Broadway. (It is possible that a homeless man with multiple carts filled with multiple varieties of items may have been walking down the bike lane the wrong way almost causing my collision with a taxi…but this is also not possible.)

So, now we’re to Monday. Which, in addition to making an extra special appearance in the weekend line-up , also happened to be the Peej and the Geege’s one month stokedness of marriage. (Because as you all know the word anniversary comes from the Latin word anniversarius meaning ‘returning yearly’, and that from annus meaning ‘yearly’ + versus meaning ‘turning’.) Bam, that just happened. In order to celebrate above mentioned excitement, we decided to go to one of my/our favorite places in the NY of C–Ft. Tyron Park (yes that’s the one right by the Cloisters, also a fave.) However instead of making the traditional crawl on the A line, we decided to ride our bicycles up the island of Manhattan, a 16-mile journey one way (that’s 32 miles round trip, I know, we’re really intense).

I think it marked probably one of my favorite days in New York to date. Not only was it a beautiful day, but getting to ride the expanse of Manhattan was so thrilling and mind boggling all at once. PJ would occasionally underestimate the size and strength of my leg muscles, as he passed super decked out cyclists with thighs the width of my entire body, but other than then that, the ride was unbelievable. Once we arrived at the park, we did what any 20-something married couple would do–played scrabble on a park bench. I must also mention this bench conveniently hosted an 80-something couple reading the NY Times, a glimpse into the future for sure. After failing to respond to words like “axis”, “quoted”, and “cajun”, PJ sadly lost, but this is probably because he made up words like “rine”, a combo of wine and rind. If you look it up in the dictionary, it’s not there.

And there you have it, my weekend in a nutshell. Random thoughts to end on, all of which are true: this morning I woke up not with sore legs from our 32 mile ride, but rather a sore left bicep…what?; on Saturday morning PJ towel slapped a fly in mid-air, “knocking it unconscious,” according to him, so he could then squish it; watching cars parallel park from my fire escape makes an extremely amusing past time; the sanitation police who get to slap those neon green “You have prevented NYC streets from properly being cleaned” papers on people’s cars who don’t move for street cleaning have such an unbelievably satisfying job; the sanitation police who arrive second on the scene after said paper has already been slapped on the car have the most freaking irritating job, they possibly put on another neon sheet; and finally, I made the perfect piece of completely burnt toast this morning, not one side, sliver or crumb was left un-charred. Brilliant.

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“I aim right at them…”

This morning I was having a debate with myself, which, if you can believe it, happens pretty much simultaneously with any and all thoughts that pass through my mind. I mean, I wouldn’t call myself indecisive, just decisively challenged. And yes, there is a difference. Today’s debate-du-jour is whether or not it is acceptable to blog more than one time in a day.  I often have this dilemma with twitter as well…how many tweets equals too much tweeting? (Because, clearly this happens: “We’re sorry Twitter is over capacity.” I blame all you crazy 50-tweet-a-dayers. Or, those of you who post 5 tweets in a row because you can’t fit it all within the specified character limit. You know who you are. Respect the limit.) That all to say, after having above mentioned thoughts (and yes, this was truly the order in which it occurred), I came to the conclusion that yes, blogging more than once in a day is acceptable, as long as said blogs are interesting, comical and relate an important story of some sort. The same I hold true for tweeting. (Although, I’ll make it known that I am probably going to tweet about doing laundry or cleaning or some other mundane task at some point in my tweeting career, and thus, the jury in my brain might still be up in the air about that one.)

Anyways, back to the point of my blog, which is to tell you a fantastic story about my first official bike ride around the city. After eating a delicious dinner my hubby made (which was some sort of philly cheese steak sandwich, minus the steak and hoagie, plus the shrooms and pita), we decided that it would be a great time for us to go for a ride since it is a little more quiet at night, less traffic, etc. So, we strapped on our helmets, sent our little back and front lights a-flashing and were on our way.

About two minutes in, I was surprised at how much I was liking it. I had a bike lane, PJ was fearlessly leading the way, no one had opened their car door on me–quite simply–it was bliss in the form of two wheels. Now, stoplights were really the only tricky part, especially when you had to take a left turn from a right-hand bike lane. I was also realizing that my dear PJ didn’t really like to stop at red lights (apparently this is what all the super cool bike riders do) or give me any indication at all if he was turning left (apparently this is what all the really dumb bike riders do–just kidding bubs I love you!). “Oh, we are going left? Then why are you turning right?”  “Uhh, I like to take the turns wide.”  “Why? It makes me think you are going the opposite direction.”   “Come on let’s go! Fast!” This was the basis of most conversations at stop lights.

After awhile I was getting fairly used to wide-turn-Herring and even safely making my way through red lights, even if said red light only turned red after PJ went through the same light when it was yellow. Hmmmm…patience. We finally made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge, which was both one of the most frustrating and all the while satisfying portions of our ride. As most people know, and I will use the term “most” oh-so-loosely, the Brooklyn Bridge has two sides–a bike side and a pedestrian side. Why some people think the little white-painted man riding a bike-looking object is actually someone walking is quite confusing, unless of course they just think he is walking really really fast, perhaps like Tasmanian Devil fast. Though if that was the case, I would think they would get out of the way with much more speed. My dear hubby, upon seeing such a person in the bike lane pretty much rides directly at them with intense speed. “I aim right at them,” he slyly remarked. Indeed he does, so much so that he is forced to hop off of his bike at the last minute in an attempt to not run them over.

What an [insert your choice inappropriate word here], I can’t believe he would do such a thing, you might be thinking. And yes, while some of you might have a valid point, I must admit it is too much fun to be considered rude, especially when, they are without a doubt in the wrong. Other methods of pedestrian intimidation include yelling things such as “BIKE!”  “WATCH OUT IDIOT!”  “YOU ARE NOT THE TASMANIAN DEVIL!” etc. Such exclamations bring far more satisfaction then you would expect.

Another part of biking that was very unexpected: the other more intense or hipstered out bikers. Now this should have been a given. If I am on a bike, there are most likely others who also enjoy being on bikes. However, said other bikers are way more intense and go way faster then me (and in general are way cooler). At one point, a man wearing no helmet and with no flashing lights pulled up beside me. However, he instead had a very cool vintage bike, a very classy tweed jacket, some pretty killer brown shoes, and an amazing leather satchel. “Hmmm…” thought I, clad in my only then glaringly overwhelming white helmet, lights flashing away, “perhaps I should have gone with something a little more low profile.” Cool Biker: 4 points. Gillian: 0 Points. However, after mentally picturing the differences of an accident involving myself, or cool biker guy, I instantly regained all of those points. Sorry cool biker guy, my head is WAY more awesome than your satchel, though almost barely.

After riding around for quite some time, the Peej and I decided to head back to our beloved Brooklyn. (I was mostly inspired to continue knowing there was a Peanut Butter Gelato and Brownie sandwich awaiting us in the freezer from Bierkraft. There are no words.) I must admit, at this point I was feeling a bit cocky. I mean, I had ridden my bike around Manhattan, weaved through taxis (though ever so timidly), defeated hipster bikers in point games of my own creation, yelled at pedestrians in MY bike lane (though again fairly timidly), and succeeded in doing this all without getting hit or almost getting hit. Bom bom bom BOM.

However, before I could ride off with my satisfied bit of snobbery I encountered one of those yellow light/red light turns. You know the ones, where PJ makes it, and I just barely do. Well this time, let’s just say by barely I mean I may have been inches away from being hit, let out an unrepeatable phrase, proceeded to still turn in front of the car and of course didn’t speak to PJ until we were up in the apartment. Except for all that would come out were tears. Holy cow people I’ve never been that scared since I watched the preview of “2012”. The lesson learned: Always do what feels right for you. Never just follow the crowd. I think we can all agree on this one.

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My New Wheels

So, it seems I have started another blog. And yes, the name is rather ridiculous (feel free to make fun of me at any point for this), and yet it was all the while the only one word I could think of to sum up where I live, how I feel, what I’m like and consequently what my other half is like. Though it seems since there was no adequate word I just decided to make one up. Take it for what you will.

Peej and I have been holding down the fort here in ol’ Park Slope for about 2 weeks now, and have been married for almost a month. It seems hard to believe that already a month has passed…and I know people always say this, and it secretly always annoys you in your deepest of deeps when they do…but it’s so true. Never in my life have I loved brushing my teeth with someone so much (cue “awwws” here). But, in all seriousness, it is so amazing to be sharing life with my best friend. I just feel like God is truly blessing our union. We have these moments where we both look at each other (giggling like school kids of course), and say, “I can’t believe someone let us get married…it seems like two people shouldn’t be allowed to have so much fun.” Or should they?

In other news, I have finally completed my official Brooklynite transformation. Correct, I purchased a bike. We went to look at the amazing Brooklyn Bike and Board.  Go there and buy a bike. Right now. Anyways, when we went in, I didn’t think they had anything that would work for me. They sell a few new bikes, and mostly old bikes that they refurbish. The guy gave me a new bike and told me to take it for a spin. After “spinning” around the block I came in and announced that everything felt right and everything, but I wanted a bike that looked old. He smiled and said, “Oh, I know exactly what you are looking for.” He went to the depths of the basement, and emerged with a yellow french-made Peugeot Mixte from around the early 1970s. My eyes lit up at the sight of the tattered and torn beauty. Meanwhile, he was apologizing for how it looked and assured me when they fitted it with new stuff it would look much better. I told him I would ride the thing out of there that instant if it worked. He looked at me like I was crazy. Fairly accurate.

All that to say, I picked up my bike last night with all the new [insert the names of bike things I do not know here] and I love it! It is not the cruiser that I expected to buy, but it’s far better than that clunker of a bike. All it needs now is a wicker basket and a bell and it will be definitively mine. And don’t worry, I also got a helmet! Safety first people, and that goes for all of you biker folk out there.  I will post a picture as soon as my internet access becomes official. Somehow sitting on your fire escape, mooching internet from the local coffee shop isn’t always the fastest option. Thanks Gorilla Coffee! More later friends.

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