August 29, 2015

Do This with Zucchini

A former boss brought this bread to work one day to share. And it was so good, I asked for the recipe. And she brought me a real live photo copy of the page from the magazine. Because this was way back in the dark days before Pinterest. I don't think I have the photocopy anymore. One or two moves ago I gave up on my recipe box and merged it with my iPhone, like every other aspect of life. But I do have it pinned now. And I think everyone else in the northern hemisphere experiencing prime zucchini season should too.
So here is the link to Yogurt Zucchini Bread with Walnuts from Food & Wine. I have done some experimenting and the only thing I really recommend doing different than as written is splitting the flour half all-purpose and half whole wheat. I think the best loaf I ever made (which just happens to be the one pictured), I used low fat, (6%) yogurt from this Ohio creamery, but non-fat as called for is just fine. However, do not use whole milk yogurt, I did the last time because it's what I had and the texture was way too heavy and crumbly vs light and fluffy like it comes with the lower fat percentage. Finally, I have grated the zucchini both coarse and fine. I think here in the best loaf ever it is fine cause it's kind of hard to even see those little green flecks. No real difference to note as far as quality of the bread. I think I like obvious flecks. Guess it just depends on if you need the zucchini to fly stealth or not. ;)

August 27, 2015

The Time is Now

Despite my intentions otherwise, basically the moment we began the whole moving process back in February, I put all my fitness goals on hold. I may have made it to the gym to run a few times and to a couple of yoga classes before we left Seattle, and I think I went to the gym in the hotel we were living in here while we worked on our house once to use the treadmill. But that's it. My baseline poor posture, bad mattresses in the hotel and our inability thus far to find a mattress for our new bed here at home that is supportive enough without being too firm, carrying around a healthy tot day in and day out, and just lots and lots of emotional stress with no exercise to counter any of it have left my body weak and in knots. (Well, weak except for my arms. Mom arms are a real thing.) 
I mentioned before that I found a wonderful online community Healthy Habits for Happy Moms (HHHM) earlier this year. And that group has changed the way I look at my own body and think about food and exercise. I can honestly say now that I am completely comfortable in my own skin. I have let go of the idea that there are things wrong with my body that need to be fixed. I will never again believe I should eliminate anything completely from my diet for any length of time, I accept that I know how to nourish myself and that as long as I pay attention to what my body needs, it's all ok. I am not coming back to exercise with any end goal. I want to be strong and have stamina for life. I have also learned that taking care of myself means a lot more than a balanced diet and regular exercise. I know I have to work at my mental and emotional health too, as I just discussed a couple of posts ago. Period. And that's all pretty amazing. EVERY WOMAN should join this group. 
But post-move after finally getting into our house we were still in survival mode with so much to do before we could even begin to function in our new space that regaining control over my diet and working out were distant dreams. So I decided to start with the most basic of measures just to be doing something to take care of myself. I set the goals of drinking four twenty ounce bottles of water each day and going to bed by midnight. I decided that once I had made those two things habits, it would be a good indication that I might be ready to move on to bigger things. And with these two most basic of self care measures, I struggled. At times mightily. In the meantime we did get our kitchen together and found a good, easy source for our groceries and were finally able to stop eating (so much) take out and start preparing our own food. But not succeeding at drinking the quantity of water or getting to sleep as prescribed made getting back to exercising feel like something I couldn't handle/didn't deserve. Even though overall I was making a conscious effort and doing better, I'd sort of set myself up to really feel my failures by making these things preconditions to move on to the next bit of self-care I wanted to tackle which was getting back to working out.   
Furthermore, I really, really wanted to get back into moving my body by going regularly to a yoga class. I've never really tried to have an at home practice because I love that sense of community that comes with going to a studio, that's just how I like to do yoga. And there is a nice-looking studio down the road that does the Ashtanga/vinyasa/power style of yoga that I love. My plan was to do a combination of yoga and running (some day weight training too), but my body was so sore and stiff, that jumping into running without spending a few weeks stretching it out first and then continuing to do so, seemed like I would just be asking for trouble. I had heard about a free online program, 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene via HHHM, that I was even willing to try in lieu of making it to a class. But every time I would consider moving forward, ounces of water or bedtime be damned, getting to the class wouldn't work out with Greg's work schedule (unfortunately the studio doesn't offer daycare or have any parent/baby classes) or there was some project that I needed to be working on rather than find time in the day to start the 30 Days program. So for the last couple of months, I've just kept being the martyr, either to my own causes or others', sacrificing any attempt at exercise to circumstances that just felt impossible. 

Until this week. Greg was traveling for work this week and I didn't want to end up feeling completely drained by the time he came home again (see link to post above for more on that). So to combat that feeling, I decided to make it a point to do a few specific things to take care of myself and resuming exercise was one of the things I decided to do. I am not a fan of the "No Excuses" thing. I think there are plenty of really damn good excuses for not exercising. A person has to be ready and able to come to it. They have to find a way around the things standing between them and working out. And sometimes that's truly impossible. But this week I let go of all my expectations and preconceived notions. For some reason I was craving running so badly that I decided not to worry about the "yoga first" mandate I'd given myself and started c25k at the beginning. I also started 30 Days (which I love so far). And right now I feel… sore and exhausted, though I do feel some unwinding happening. I started on Tuesday so I have two runs and three days of yoga under my belt. I had just come off a weekend that included some hard physical work in the yard. On top of the physical demands of single parenting a toddler for a few days (not sure if I mentioned, but baby became a crawler about a month ago), it's been a lot. But I know that if I also make sure to allow myself time to rest it will start to get easier. Of course that will be a whole other challenge. Making time for exercise has been hard enough, making time for doing nothing sounds like the next impossibility. :)

Pictured above are glimpses of the Maumee River (they don't call it River Road for nothing) on our (of course Ida has been my running partner) runs . And savasana and reclined pigeon (my favorite).

August 24, 2015

Architectural Archaeology

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how things were in the past. That's my job when I'm working in my field (archaeology/architectural history) and I can't shut it off. Ever.
Likewise, I'm always thinking ahead, visualizing what I'd like to do with a space, be it a room or a garden bed. 
And sometimes all the time I spend standing, staring, spacing out pays off and I observe something meaningful. Sometimes it's that the light is just right and the knew bit of knowledge pops out where it was invisible before. Most of the time it comes by way of something I've seen time and again, just never given consideration too. This time I think it had to do with moisture content. 
I was working outside on Friday and I think it had rained Thursday night. I was taking a break near the front porch when a I noticed a little rust stain on the porch had a match a couple feet away. They are the two "L" shaped marks in the foreground and they mark the doorway.
As soon as I saw them, I saw the line extending away in both directions and then around on the side as well, just outside the posts.
Our porch was enclosed at one time.
The next question was whether or not this had been an original feature or something someone added later on. So I looked up, and saw the little overhang there extending out past the posts, and concluded that the soffit must have been constructed with that little overhang to accommodate the upper framing of the enclosure. So when it was built, the porch was most likely screened in. Side note: It makes me sad that at some point someone added these massive gutters that hide those sweet little corbels, though I do concede there is a lot of roof up there for the rain to hit.
This is our back porch sans that overhang and any indications on the floor that it was enclosed.
Starting in the 1930s and continuing into the 1960s the Works Progress Administration issued grants to municipalities to fund the photography of properties for tax assessment purposes. Back in Seattle, the Puget Sound Regional Archives held the collection for King County and many King County Assessor's property records, available here, contained the image(s). In Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Libraries holds the collection for Lucas County and they have digitized many, if not all images in their collection which are searchable by address here. Unfortunately our house is not to be found among those properties online, so I am really hoping that they are still in the process of making images available, and that I will be able to find a hard copy in the archive. And I hope that whenever our photograph was taken, the enclosure was still there as who knows when it came down. 
Because I can't stop wondering what that enclosure looked like exactly and how it would have impacted the overall look of the house. The living room takes up the entire front gable end of the house and the dining room the entire side gable with it's window (with the stained glass carnations above) facing out onto the porch. Though you can't see it in the photos, as you step onto the porch, the front door is there on the right, leading into a foyer that links the living and dining rooms. So surrounded by formal spaces, I would have to think the enclosure would have been designed to be in keeping. Nowadays front porches have fallen into disuse/nonexistance in our air-conditioned, non-face-to-face communication age. And screened porches are found at the back of homes in the private realm. But in thinking back in time, it makes perfect sense that here the front was screened in. Besides being larger than the back porch, the front porch faces east, while the back faces west, and I can attest that as the summer sun sets, it gets pretty hot and bright. The front porch would have been the relatively cooler place to be, so why not make it bug-free as well? (I might add reconstructing the enclosure sounds like a pretty good idea after some of the mosquito attacks endured this summer.) So there you would be sitting, sipping your Canadian whiskey, waiting for your friends or associates and hopefully not your enemies or the G-Men to call on any given summer evening. At least if you were one of the previous owners of our house. We just met a neighbor this past week who knew the next family to who live in the house, during the 1960s and 70s and she mentioned that the father (who was superintendent of the state mental hospital) was a man of few words who spent the majority of his time sitting on the front porch smoking his pipe or upstairs in the attic weaving on his loom. So maybe the pipe smoke kept the bugs at bay for him, or maybe it was still the screens. Hopefully the archives and oral histories will tell. :)    

August 20, 2015

Columbus Mini-Vacay (All the Good Food and Drinks, Please)

This past weekend we journeyed a couple of hours south, back to our former home, and I do believe our favorite city of all, Columbus. It was kind of all about the food. We drove down on Thursday and for dinner went to Marcella's for Italian. Marcella's is part of the portfolio of a Columbus-based restauranteur, and while it might not be the most innovative Italian in town, it is reliably delicious, doing all the staples to a T. This one proved herself a worthy member of the Family by digging on the meatball and gnocchi she sampled.
We stayed at Easton Thursday night, which is the large shopping/dining/entertainment/staying/living community on the east (I know. East?! No way! :D) side of Columbus. The area is very walkable, so this facilitated some post-baby bedtime shopping for mommy and a trip to Jeni's (which I did take back to the room to share). I had forgotten how Art Deco (Deco Revival?) Easton is. After getting more experience in architectural history since moving, after this revisit I was left with a new appreciation of the effort that went into not making the whole thing feel so mall-y and artificial by incorporating the details that they did.
It also facilitated breakfast the next day at Northstar which was a short walk away from our hotel. I miss this place terribly. Since moving two some years ago this has been the stuff of my dreams. So simple, but somehow impossible to replicate just so. I had the Cowboy Breakfast and Greg had the Poached Eggs and Prosiutto. Plus a Morning Glory Muffin and a scrambled eggy for the squee, who is a bit of an eggaholic, meaning when she is rejecting all textures but purées, baked things or cereal (like right now, since we came home from our trip) she will still happily slurp up a scrambled. 
We drove around town while baby napped until it was time to head over to the friends' place in our old neighborhood in Worthington with whom we were staying the rest of the weekend. We toured through Bexley, German Village, and Grandview before arriving in the Short North. By that time nature was calling and baby was awake, so we stopped in for a little refreshment at, erhmm, Northstar. Second of three locations, check. 
There was another slightly older baby at an adjacent table for awhile, then we had to resort to vigorously bouncing bunny for entertainment. Hit. 
We went up High Street through Clintonville on our way to Worthington and made a pit stop at Wholly Craft for a host gift for the one and three quarter year old of the trio with which we were staying. He does not drink coffee yet, so we got him a cute knitted raccoon stuffie from the Wiggly Bridge. But I do like these mugs and agree with the sentiment.
Next morning we all hit up the Worthington Farmers market. After gathering pretty much as many good things to eat and drink as we could carry, we grabbed a seat on the patio at House Wine and a bubbly rosé. Above: lobster rolls from Rivage. In the Sassafras (who opened a brick and mortar shop downtown Worthington moments after we moved away after only selling at the farmers market previously :/) bag, the quiche pictured below plus a not-pictured chocolate zucchini muffin. Also below, a yummy pour over from Ride Home.

Saturday night involved a babysitter (only the second time ever for us, that stat needs to keep climbing posthaste) and an adult evening out. We went for cocktails at Curio at Harvest in German Village. That is their Ramos Gin Fizz and this was my last picture of the evening which means I was having too much fun not to just be in the moment. Yay! We went on to dinner at Sycamore, by the same owner as Harvest, also in German Village. Then a nightcap at none other than Bob's Bar back up in Clintonville. 
Sunday morning we completed the Northstar trifecta by visiting the Clintonville location before heading home. 
It was a great weekend with great friends and I actually came home feeling recharged. I wish I could say that has lasted all week without flagging, but in truth it hasn't; there have been some (family, baby, house, sanity) bumps on this road to another weekend. But it's nearly behind us now (I'm going to role with this metaphor) and there has been some pothole patching along the way, so things are looking up again. :)

August 14, 2015

1000 Words

The last half of July was a little on the stressful side. We had family then friends visiting two weekends in a row. Greg traveled quite a bit for work around their visits. Then last week after having appointments in the evening two of the three nights he was home, he left on Thursday, not to return until Sunday morning after taking the redeye back from Seattle. By the time he left for that trip, I was in survival mode. Meaning because I hadn't had a break from baby care in days, because we were struggling and failing to keep our heads above water when it came to routine house and yard work, let alone make progress on the mile long list of projects both inside and out, and because I had let all my self care slide (which at this point pretty much consists of actively trying to drink water throughout the day and trying to go to bed before midnight, not exactly unrealistic goals in theory anyway), I was not in a good place. I was in a horrible funk. My head was filled with negative thoughts that were spilling freely out of my mouth. All of the reasons I should be feeling gratitude were abundantly clear as I looked around, but I couldn't internalize them. Like puffy clouds they just went away when I tried to grasp them and actually feel thankful. I couldn't focus on anything, it was the Buddhist/meditation/yoga concept of monkey mind in full effect. My eye was twitching.
When Greg got home Sunday morning, he took Ida for the day, which allowed him to not only get to spend time with her, but participate in nap time too to help him recover from his night spent in the air. Meanwhile, I got some time to myself. I ran errands then came home and worked outside cleaning Greg's car (in an attempt to make up for the bad attitude I directed at him before I left), mowing and gardening. I should state explicitly 1) Greg is a great father, he's a great husband. He helps me with all the things constantly. And when he's not being those things or doing that, he is immersed in his career, making it all possible for us. 2) I love being a stay at home mom right now. Ida is amazing and she could not be an easier baby in every way. And I am so grateful for her and that I get to be with her every day during these early years. But I am an introverted person and after all that's been written and discussed about introverted people in recent years, I finally understand that I recharge mentally and emotionally by being alone. Just me and the thoughts in my head without having to interact on a meaningful level with anyone else, not even my bright, sweet,  easy-going 11 month old. And if I don't get some alone time, my proverbial cup drains dry. And by last Sunday, that's exactly what had happened.
Crossing things off my to do list especially if that involves physical work, always helps me to feel better. Wrapping up for the day, the funk had lifted away, my mind had refocused, the gratitude came back inside.
My point in all this being that all of the perfectly focused, cropped and filtered photos presented on social media never tell quite the whole story for anyone. Everyone probably knows that deep down others not only have nice houses and pretty things, go interesting places, eat delicious looking food, and have adorable children, they struggle too, with any number of things, daily. But it's easy to forget when you're looking at the heavily edited highlight reels that there are hundreds of outtakes for every shot deemed worthy of sharing.  I've seen efforts by others in the past to acknowledge this, and so I just wanted to say "yeah, me too". I enjoy the pursuit of aesthetics and photography and writing, that's why I'm here and why this spot looks and sounds the way it does. But I do have even bigger problems than cutely deer-nibbled hostas. Generally, they are pretty minor as problems go, but that doesn't mean things don't stack up and overwhelm me from time to time. 

Greg was home all of this past week and now we are in Columbus having a little family mini-vacay. So things are definitely looking way up over where they were a week ago. Stay tuned for the highlights. :)

Oh and these are highlights from Sunday out in the garden 1) love this heuchera/begonia combo I came up with for a hanging basket, will have to repeat next year 2) Ida's sunflowers from seeds I put in her Easter basket on the verge of blooming 3) end of day boot wash 4) hoof prints as evidence

August 6, 2015

Birthday Girls

Last Thursday was my birthday, 34th to be exact, and Ida's too, 11 whole months, staring down the 1 year.
Unfortunately Greg had to be out of town, but fortunately it was swimming lesson day. We took a parent and baby class at the Y in Perrysburg this summer which just wrapped up this week. Swimming lessons were a beloved every summer activity throughout my childhood and I was (very, I suppose) eager for Ida to have the same experience. If there were any concerns as to whether or not she would like the water, those have been put to rest. She is a right little fishy. (I originally filtered away the beautiful green glow only indoor pool fluorescents can provide, but decided to keep it real here. And I think I might have food stuck between my two front teeth too :)
Since it was our birthday we decided to not hold back and to pack in all the fun things, so later in the day we went for a swing too.
After baby was tucked into bed I went out to treat myself to finishing weeding our front walk, not a traditional activity to celebrate one's birthday, but I had started the chore a week before and it was driving me crazy I hadn't yet finished. I was about five weeds away from being done when the mosquitoes tried to carry me off and I had to run for the hills. But before that I did get to see the almost full blue moon come up. Of course my iPhone doesn't do it justice, but it was really beautiful.
Greg caught a redeye and was home the next morning, and as a belated birthday treat that afternoon I tried a new salon downtown for a trim. Among the usual assortment of mags you would expect to see, I found this. Somehow they guessed my vocation and really make an effort to tailor their reading material to their clientele? Very random.
Just a couple doors down from the salon (and to be honest, part of the reason I chose the salon was so that I would have an excuse to come here semi-regularly) is a gorgeous flower and gift shop called Floral Pursuit. I had stopped in briefly the weekend before and fell hard for a couple of begonias, among many other things on offer. When we moved from Seattle I had to give away all of my houseplants which was a real bummer (they couldn't go on the moving truck because our things were going to storage for a month, and a baby and a cat on the plane were enough, a houseplant collection would have been over the top). I just don't think a house is a home without plants, so I was eager to adopt. The bracelet is from there as well.
I came away with "Escargot"
and "Iron Cross".
Later in the evening our good friends arrived for a visit and we had a really lovely weekend that involved steak and eggs and blueberry muffins (mimosas not picture), getting a babysitter (for the first time ever!) and going out for dinner...
and cocktails poolside. :) Not too shabby as celebrating goes.