Why Do I Keep Doing This?

When I say “this,” I’m referring to blogging. I can’t even say the number of abandoned blogs I have accumulated under different email addresses and usernames over the years. I start a blog, get really excited and a little embarrassed, and then abandon it for one of any number of reasons.

It’s too much work.

I’m too busy.

I feel self-conscious.

Sending words into the gaping void maw of the Internet starts to feel a little futile at times.

Whatever the reason, they end up fading out or getting deleted or forgotten about. Without fail, though, a few months down the line, I’ll be doing some mundane act of daily living and think,

“I should write a blog.”

Today, that was me and the dishes. Rather than start up a brand-new, shiny blog with a new username and new purpose, I’m putting more work into this one. Why? So far it’s the most authentic one I’ve written and I like the format. 

Despite all the above reasons for not having a blog, I have decided to try it again. Despite all the snarking I do about the ubiquitous blogs of 20-somethings trying to sort out their lives online through blogging, I am still attracted to the notion deep down. I have always wanted to be a writer. When I was younger, that meant writing half-finished stories while perched high in a tree (all my favorite book characters  found great solace and inspiration in trees… it struck me as highly romantic and artistic.) Then came the stacks of journals scribbled with awkward pubescent poems that I carried through high school. I still journal, of course, but I like to think that there is a greater maturity to what I write now. I’m addicted to it, at least a little. I love the artistry of the written word, and that love is (hopefully) going to be enough to power me through the fear of seeming self-absorbed, vapid, or any other negative word that I have attributed to blogging in the past.

So here we go- trying again. I am humbled, and resolving to do better. We’ll see where this goes!

Happiness in Gratitude

I am a sucker for inspirational TED Talks, and this one is particularly grand. The message, given by a Benedictine monk, is simple: gratitude drives happiness, rather than the other way around. It is so very easy for me to get caught up in the thick of small things, to neglect the blessings that I have been given. However, it is a new goal of mine to be more grateful for the little things in my life: the ability to connect with anyone in the world with a couple keystrokes, loving family and friends, the joy of music, being able to feed myself, having running water. The world is rich, and it’s time to stop, look, and be grateful for it all.

Singing Changes Your Brain

I am a choir nerd, and I approve this message.

Ideas

When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony. So it’s not surprising that group singing is on the rise. According to Chorus America, 32.5 million adults sing in choirs, up by almost 10 million over the past six years. Many people think  of church music when you bring up group singing, but there are over 270,000 choruses across the country and they include gospel groups to show choirs like the ones depicted in Glee to strictly amateur groups like Choir! Choir! Choir! singing David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World.

As the popularity of group singing grows, science…

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The Healing Power of Butter

I reached the end of this week with a tremendous sigh of relief. It had been the kind of week at work that would make any other person say “I need a drink.” However, that wasn’t exactly an option for my Mormon self. So, I did what any other sane person would do- I reached for a recipe that calls for a hefty dose of butter. Tonight’s recipe comes once again from the glorious Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen: salted brown butter crispy treats. I could type up the entire recipe, but it boils down to this-

1) Heat one stick of butter over medium heat until melted, brown, and smells nutty. It takes time and patience, young grasshopper, but also constant vigilance. You will be rewarded.

2) Add one bag of marshmallows and stir until smooth.

3) Fold in 6 cups of rice cereal.

4) Press into a pan and wait patiently for them to harden, or just eat it out of the bowl with a spoon (you can guess which route I took.)

 

The verdict? They are magical. I don’t know that they are drastically different from normal Rice Krispie treats. The brown butter gives them a different look, but the subtle nuttiness gets overwhelmed by the sheer exuberance of a full bag of marshmallows. That critique being said, this is still a delectable dessert. People will love you for making them, and they won’t last long. After a long work week, they definitely do the trick and take the edge off, a benefit I largely attribute to lots of butter.

The Joy of Buckles

I am in the midst of a love affair with baking. Living at college, finding time/energy/space to bake consistently is nigh-impossible. Additionally, cooking in the dorm kitchen, redolent with the smell of Easy Mac, old tomato soup, and burned popcorn, does not really foster culinary aspirations. Being home for the summer, however, means a relatively unlimited supply of ingredients and a kitchen devoid of mysterious stains.

The Smitten Kitchen has been a major source of delicious recipes for me, both in the form of the blog and in the bound cookbook. Tonight, I made the nectarine brown butter buckle. I thought the name was cute, and the promise of nutty butter and sweet nectarines sounded too good to pass up. Despite some confusion about how much butter goes into it (in my distractedness, 3/4 cup of butter turned into 3/4 a stick…) and agony over the 40 minute wait, it was perfect. The cake was moist, the nectarines lovely, and the topping delicious. The only downside to the recipe was the lack of pronounced brown butter flavor. I toiled over that pan until the butter was a gorgeous nutty brown, dangit. I want to taste the fruits of my labors!! Even despite the lack of nuttiness, it was a fabulous dessert. I have to say “was” because the pan is already scraped empty between the four of us in my family.

A little bit Fae

I tend to assign music to different moods, weather patterns, and seasons. An integral part of my summer music rotation is the melodious stylings of S. J. Tucker. To tie her into a genre is tricky… words like neo-pagan folk rock, mythpunk, and campfire bard get tossed around, and that is about as close to a definition as you will get. Her lyrics are clever, and her voice rich and lovely. The span of her work ranges from aching love ballads (To My Valentine) to whimsical songs about alligators, ninjas, or perilous salads. Everything she does has flair and a little bit of faerie. She is definitely worth a listen on a warm summer evening.

Here is the first song of hers that I ever heard, and it immediately caught my ear and imagination. Enjoy, and check out the rest of her albums that are all available to listen to online for free!

3 Reasons To Write More Letters

Preach it!

Thought Catalog

The message arrived March of 2013. It was not a text. It did not land in my email complete with bold letters to indicate that it was New! and it did not arrive with that blaring red alarm called a Facebook notification. No, I found it nestled in my mailbox, you know, the physical kind: they linger in the foyer of your apartment building or stand courageously at the foot of your driveway. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I had received a paper letter complete with a handwritten address, a moderately funky stamp, and a return address that told me — hey, someone is thinking of me!

The arrival of a written letter is rare and fleeting these days. They arrive almost as if they were delivered by some time travel movie plot device instead of an actual person. If you think I’m wrong in saying that…

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Small Domesticities

I was going to write up this beautifully thoughtful, artistic post to accompany these photos, but really, all that needs to be said is “HEY GUYS, I MADE JAM. AND IT’S AWESOME.”

There is something delicious about taking these beauties

Image

and turning them into this:

Image

 

Civilized folk eat it on bread, muffins, or some other starchy vehicle. Me? I prefer to eat it straight off the spoon.