Cardamon Honey Rose Cake

by Brittany


This is a sweetly unassuming cake... until you take a bite and it hits you with its heady sweetness and spiciness. It's best with black coffee and maybe a dollop of sheep yogurt (the tanginess offsets the richness perfectly!) 

Anyways, we have a lot of birthdays coming up... Chelle's is next week and so are both my parents. I wish I could make this for you all... but this will have to do! Besides, this is more an everyday kind of cake. Or maybe a birthday breakfast cake? Yes. 

3 eggs, separated

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup honey, or to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons rosewater

1 teaspoon cardamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Begin beating the egg whites while combining all other ingredients in a separate mixing bowl, except for the vinegar. When oven is heated to 350 and the springform pan is oiled and the bottom is lined with parchment paper and the whites are good and stiff, fold the vinegar and whites into the batter as fast and as gently as you can (the faster you are the more height you will get). Drizzle some extra honey in a criss cross pattern over the top of the cake and slide in the oven. Bake it until it is not jiggly in the center. 

note: the picture is from an earlier rendition so the honey drizzle is not there... trust me the pre bake drizzle looks as beautiful as it tastes!


You Want To Travel With Him

by Brittany


It was dusk, outside Union Station in Portland, Oregon. We had been dating for less than a month and saw each other once a week, usually meeting in the middle between Cannon Beach and Tacoma or Seattle, which was Portland. Sometimes we would go all the way to the other, but after one harrowing drive when I deciding I couldn't miss our once a week meeting even though my fever was so high I was hallucinating (You remember this, Chelle? You kept coming into my room and playing B.O.B. and dancing for me.... or maybe that was part of the hallucinations....) but I decided not to mention that to Jesse and drove all the way to Cannon Beach. I really don't remember much of that drive. And on the way back I fell asleep at the wheel and miraculously only hit a curb and blew out my tire. At 3am. Right after I got off the freeway at Mercer. Anyways... I think I mostly took the train to Portland or he came to me after that. 

Which brings me back to the train station at dusk. That was where he first told me he loved me. And I promptly cried. See that face up there? That is the face of a very patient, and persistent man. For the next three months (which doesn't seem that long but you have to understand, they were all long distance months and we were married less then a year from the day we met) he faithfully said 'I love you' in a thousand different ways every single day. No really, this guy set an alarm for himself for the wee hours of every single night just so he could send me a novel of a text that I would wake up to. Just to prove how much he loved me. They didn't simply say I love you... Oh no. That would be far to mundane for my guy.   

“Soon you will have more milk crates than all the other girls!”

“Let’s blow up the center of the earth so Seattle and Chicago are nearer.”

Or things like assignments for the day: find the coolest thing you can for 50 cents and tell me all about it when we talk tonight. (I think I found a cigar box of old matchbooks at a garage sale.)

“Thanks…” I would reply to the I love yous at the end of phone calls… Chilling, I know.

So this went on for a few months until, finally, I came and visited him in Chicago. And I was pretty sick. And his friends called me the mute cause I was in a lot of pain and didn’t know anyone but Jesse. But there was this one afternoon and a windmill. And I suddenly knew I loved him back. For real. And probably had for awhile (surprise! This is the first Jesse’s hearing of that! But I actually didn’t know for sure… cause I was a bit afraid… anyways).

All this to say, that afternoon was a sunny one in mid October, so this is a bit of an anniversary of our mutual love.

There we are ridiculously happy on a Sunday afternoon... four years later. I have no idea why Jesse's face looks like that. It reminds me of my brother Rhodri's "princess" face. A remarkable resemblance. Here are a few other tries:



an ordinary day

by Chelle


 

making: Well, a blog post. And before that dinner. And before that money. By working. Which we have to do. Which limits my ability to make the things I'd love to make. But that's okay. 

seeing:  The West Wing Season Two. I told Joel I didn't want to watch it. But then we watched The Newsroom.  They have the same director - Aaron Sorkin. And I mean two week and we're on season two. So I suppose I like it.  To be fair I was sick last week - that's prime power through several seasons on Netflix TV times. 

tasting:  Rachelle style nations. That means goat cheese and no spice. Poor Joel. But at least I try to like mexican food. 

hearing:  The rain. It was the first rainy fall day and my shoes were soaked during lunch time when I ran out for a few minutes. 

feeling:   So sleepy. But so happy to be at home. It's warm and cozy and I can't wait for you to see the place 

reading:  I'm flipping through Quantity Cookery by Nola Treat and Lenore Richards, a goodwill find from last week. It was first published in 1922. I found the 1949 version. I've linked to a free kindle copy on Amazon. It's full of charts, weights, and ratios. It opens with the following:

Well-balanced and appropriate menus are necessary to the success of any establishment serving food. Given the best of raw materials and the most competent cooks, the institutional manager will fail to please his patrons if his menus show lack of careful planning. On the other hand, successful menu planning is not especially difficult. Like any other art it requires careful study and observance of a few simple rules...

1. The nature of the institution; its purpose; the character of its patronage.
2. Dietetic principles.
3. The necessity for constant variety in the food choices offered.
4. Temperature, weather, season and holidays.
5. The limitations imposed by equipment, the number and skill of the employees, the range of cost, the leftovers and the speed of service.

I always get overwhelmed by cooking for large groups of people so I bought this book to learn. I thought it was just large crowds but it's for restaurants. But that's besides the point. 

So these nachos:

Your choice of meat (pulled pork or chicken)  

Chips 

Goat Cheese 

Cilantro

Tomatoes

Salsa (Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Salsa

Avocados (chopped into chunks)  

1 can of Black Beans

1 can of Corn 

Get a cookie sheet and cover it with foil. Lay chips out and sprinkle meat, beans, corn, tomatoes, and goat cheese over the chips. Place in the oven on broil for 10 minutes but keep an eye on them, they cook fast. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with avocados and cilantro. Serve with sour cream and salsa. 

 

 


A Laundry Day in our Life

by Brittany


1. a very attractive man helping me with (doing) my laundry 2. a meal so good I had to stop halfway and take a picture so I wouldn't forget. Also there is a beauty in food in the process of being enjoyed. Meatballs, cucumber salad, cherry tomatoes and a plop of mustard. 3. just before I join him in the loft. 4. local video store 5. local bar 6. Jesse watching the Seahawks (who is this man??? thankfully not a regular occurrence) and me entertaining myself with the camera timer. 7. us together at the laundromat. It's such a photogenic laundromat.


Flakey paint is half the charm

by Chelle


Looking around the apartment and seeing so many things to fix. But it's a rental. So out goes the to do  list and instead we redefine charm.

Charm is a key lime pie bathroom with cracks in the ceiling and blurred lines of white and green trim. Charm is a kitchen with seven coats of paint, the bottom three happen to be lead based so don't think about sanding. Charm is an old rag wrapped around a pipe that sweats. Don't worry it was designed that way to keep things cool - before that fridge was installed. Charm is etched into the wooden floorboards in thick black marks. 

Charm is a little apartment in Seattle with big windows and lots of light. Charm is a wall full of old books and a comfy corner to sit and read. Charm is chicken soup boiling on the stove while rain drops trickle down the window. And charm is drawing the curtains, turning the lights on, and listening to a fall soundtrack while we sit, and write, and plan, and be. 


Sunny, Hazy, Indolent Seductiveness

by Chelle in , ,


I am actually contemplating spraying this scent on the screen. Lean in and smell it. I'm sure you can. A sweet summer mix of jasmine darkened for the fall with a hint of spice.  The I phone 7 will  definitely have the ability to send scents, but until then I'll just tell you all about it. 

Oh my goodness B I hit the jack pot on this one. I have been running out of my perfume since May, but caught in the indecision of what to. Stick with my signature J’adore which I’ve loved for the last few years,  or boldly go out and choose a completely new smell that says “watch out world her I come a sassy, sophisticated, wifey.” (That's the persona I've adopted of late, I'm becoming pretty attached.) 

These are the questions I brood over for months- it keeps my mind from spirit when I see the headlines. Anyway I was walking through Nordstrom – I know I know so expensive but I really do feel like you have to buy perfume at a department store. It’s just one of the rites of passage.

Meandering around the perfume department trying to look like I knew exactly what I was doing I was quickly spotted by a sales person. My heart fell. I deeply dislike the pressure of these encounters. Scrambling to to figure out what exactly it was I was doing there I looked around and spotted the prettiest label I’d ever seen. French. Black and white. Diptyque. Oh my goodness this could be it. I quickly asked for the story of this brand. You’ll love this. In the 1960’s some Britts went over to France and started making candles. Apparently this company makes THE candle- who knew. But as they went on in their candle making careers they realized they were pretty good at the whole making good smelling things. So hey presto perfume.  The story was a lot more whimsical than that. I said “I’d like something like J’adore but a little different.” And I walked away with the first sent she suggested. Don’t get me wrong I tried five others but she was spot on. 

When I took it home and opened the box the cutest little book tumbled out. I have to read... write you what it said: 

diptyque is a house of original works, symbolized by a balance between rigor and whims, an insatiable appetite for exquisite raw materials, precious details, refinement and originality. Entrusted to the master craftsmanship of creators who share the same, sensitivities, these fragrances tell the tales of unforgettable moments, places around the world, their different cultures and colors, and poetically reinvent a sublime rendition of nature. A journey. We allow ourselves to be surprised and seduces by this collection.

had chosen Do Son Eau de Parfum which " asserts itself, expressing all its sunny, hazy, creamy, indolent seductiveness." Perfect! 


She Feeds You Tea and Oranges

by Brittany


I know that everyone is annoyingly excited about fall but I feel like, as a PNWesterner I have a legitimate excuse. Especially since my last half a year has been split between Southern California and the erstwhile head of the American South. Talk about a fish out of water. Anyways, today is in the mid 60s and I am thrilled to be able to wear BLACK NYLONS again finally! Sadly the rest of the week is supposed to be back up to the 80s. But today I am reveling in nylons, tea and olives. To be honest it's a weird combination and I am still hungry so I think I should augment the diet a bit. 

So news... what do I have for you? Yesterday I got stuck in a tree. It was a very cool tree with lots of nobs... and dark gaping hollows. I climbed to the top with the nine year old girl I am nannying close behind. I naively mentioned "always being afraid of squirrels popping out of holes" and she cooly one upped me by announcing SHE's always "afraid of snakes popping out." WHAT THE _____?! ( I did not swear in front of them. I know, I was surprised too.) Why had I not thought of that???? Apparently your nanny having a surprisingly severe panic attack at the top of a tree is hilarious and she refused to back down for a long time. The four year old at the foot of the tree's laughter did not help. To say they were Delighted (capital D) is an understatement.  

The nine year old then proceeded to tell me I have no taste in music because I do not like Selena Gomez (to be honest I did not even know she sang now... I thought she was a disney channel actress??). So that's flattering. I actually had no idea how to respond to such a statement. Almost as flabbergasting as the two of them asking me last week, "What's a band?" How sad is that?? they literally did not understand the concept. We were listening to Of Monsters and Men and they asked me what her name was. I was like, " Ummm... I actually don't know but the band is...." Then they hit me with their question. I guess they just think of singers as Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and (apparently.) Selena Gomez.

Needless to say, while I'm behind the wheel, they will be getting an education.

The four year old has figured out that "yummy food" is food grown ups want you to eat and she takes great delight in announcing that she hates yummy food... and good music.

Enough crazy kid news. I'm thinking of chopping/changing the style a bit my hair. Do you think you could check out my hair board and comment on the ones you like? I really like this shoulder length layered look... still kind of 70s with the bangs, you know? I also always love a good Anna Karina hair style. I usually use one of her pictures for bangs. And she's always served me well.


Summer Time Treasures

by Chelle


1. An old chess set made of wood sitting on the little step stool we found for the kitchen now that all my dishes are on the top shelf which is about 10 feet above my reach... ish. Oh and our shade house plant. We have house plants. I really like them. It's a new development. 2. Little blue bottles. I think they will make a very pretty gift. 3. Old books I found at an estate sale in Capitol Hill. All the favorites I've been trying to find. The former tenant and I could have been friends, if only it had been a garage sale. 4. Checkers! Because garage sales are the places to buy board games. 5. Also tools, garage sales are the place for those. These are some of my treasures from the summer. 


The Cream for Your Coffee

by Brittany


I am so happy you are eating FODMAP now! I really think it will help.... but I also feel sorry for you because it sucks and the few months I was doing it full on a few years ago were some of my hungriest months. And I have many hungry months! This creamer recipe is a reward for you...and hopefully, will make all this a bit easier on you. 

 

Cashew Creamer (FODMAP, SCD, Vegan, etc...)

1 cup of raw cashews

3 dates torn into bits (I use this because I can't have maple syrup or sugar of any form on the SCD diet but you can use a splash or two of maple syrup... or skip entirely... I never used to use any sweetener and it was great!)

1 splash of vanilla (Whole Foods has an organic sugar free one that is quite cheap)

Dump everything into any old blender (I refuse to join the vita-mix camp...overrated! In my opinion you shouldn't need fancy appliances to eat healthily) and blend for about 5 minutes. The time depends on the power of your blender and the amount of cashew pulp you would like left over. After it looks good and smooth you pour it through a nut milk sack (add it on to your next prime order!) and into a jar! There will be between a half cup and a cup of pulp left in your nut milk sack... I put that in a smaller jar and keep it in the fridge to bake my SCD bread with later (I'll post that recipe soon!). I Recommend having Joel brew some coffee while you are making the milk and pour it straight in. The first cup is the best because it's so frothy from the blender!

 


skeptical cynic shut up and eat some vegetables - but no broccoli

by Chelle


Carrots, turnips, zucchini, pumpkin, squash, lettuce, basil, eggs, meat, coconut products, 1 banana every few days, pecans, some seeds, olives, and macadamia nuts.

I'm writing you in the midst of attempting one of those crazy fads I said I would never do. However, I've heard sugar is the worst for your immune system and since I tend to be more of the canary in a mine when it comes to the colds going around from now until April I decided I would give The 21 Day Sugar Detox a try. I'm writing to you at the end of day 11. 

 As I began to prepare for the dreary sugarless days ahead a section in the book  noted that FODMAP- Fermentable, Oligo-, Di, Mono-saccharides and Polyols- are types of carbohydrates that some people have difficulty digesting and contribute to IBS (something I've been "not dealing with" for years). Googling lists is difficult because each list has a few addition or subtractions but I found this one and built on it.  Oh and incidentally you've told me I should give them up for ages. I should have listened to you!   Eliminating them during the 21 days cut the list of edible vegetables in half. But Joel, oh yes he's doing this too, said, "either we do this right or we don't do it." 

I've thought of you a lot when I'm missing chocolate or can't get the idea of a milkshake out of my mind but mostly as I prep each meal. Salads loaded with fresh veggies, seeds, and toped in olive oil. Coconut flower muffins seemed a bit grainy on day 5 but 6 days later are like chocolate cake at the end of day 11. Meats are full of flavor and roasted carrots rival many french fries when baked in olive oil and salt. I think of all the times you've cooked for me and how it's always been a feast and I couldn't stop eating and then I get excited to make something yummy. 

Yes it's been hard. Some days tempers (mainly mine) run short. It's so weird how entitled I feel to have cream in my coffee. I'll save any ravings about amazing skin or weight loss and simply say at day 11 I feel healthier than I've felt in ages. I'm excited to learn from this time and incorporate elements of it into every day life. You know ground breaking things like eating breakfast, menu planning, and taking lunches to work.  Making the time to form some rhythms feels like a sustainable investment. 

Anyway I mainly started to write this because I found this. What is it? It turns zucchini, carrots, and squash into pasta. 

The picture from above is my first successful attempt at zucchini pasta. There were a few misses. 

You will need:

  • 2 zucchini 
  • 2 skinless breasts of chicken
  • Olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup Basil 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  1. Peel the zucchini and put it through the spiral vegetable slicer and put in a big bowl
  2. In a separate bowl mix olive oil,  chopped basil, slat, pepper and black olives and pour mixture into larger bowl containing the zucchini 
  3. In a frying pan over medium heat sauté chicken in olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  4. When chicken is done stir into pasta mix and serve

If you want to have a warmer dish after cooking chicken sauté pasta mixture for several minutes with olive oil. 

There is my trendy, foodie, detox blog post for the year. But as much as I laugh I am actually falling asleep quickly, waking up refreshed instead of exhausted, no headaches, backaches and less crazy stomach things... oh and my skin looks good. So maybe something is working. 


Diamonds are Forever and Hot coffee and cozy reading corners are now

by Chelle


Hello hello! We just got back from a morning of garage sailing – making the most of it before the season ends. We’ve found some real treasures. I’ll include some snapshots below.

 

Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to write this post directly correlates to how long it takes me to read a book. I was so excited to compile a fall reading list to post and then realized I should read the books first before recommending them.

 

So with the two books below – yes it’s taken me since May to finish two books but only because I love to savor them and read them in between other things and any number of other excuses I can think of – I give you my word they are perfect fall reads. I know I read them in the summer, but I like to read melancholy books in the summer because … well I just do. But I would defiantly call these fall books.

 

The first one is a book you gave me for the honeymoon called Certain Women by Madeline L'Engle. I loved that book. If you look back the post  To be a Beach Babe you'll see the beautiful copy B got me. I've lent it to a friend or I'd snap a photo, but it's hard cover and bright blue and red (that's under the dust jacket). Anyway the story is just perfect. I was going to give a few hints, but really the story just pulls you in and wraps you up. So find a copy at a lovely little second hand book shop one lazy saturday morning, get a cozy blanket and some hot coffee and settle in for a delightful yet powerful read. 

This next book was recommended to me by one of Joel's old friends wives. They live in California but were in town for a wedding. We were able to squeeze in a breakfast with them just before they had to fly back. We went to Cafe Presse - where we went on our first date the second time - and sat around swapping stories, sipping coffee, and eating french fries with our various breakfast orders. It sounds so odd, but their french fries are just amazing, and go so perfectly with anything you order - even my standard chocolate croissant. 

Anyway I started talking to old friend of Joel's wife and she was fantastic. We began to talk about books and quickly discovered we had similar tastes. She recommended a long list which I look forward to finishing in the next decade - but being the methodical reader that I am I decided to start with the one about a copywriter. It's called The Engagements by  J Courtney Sullivan. It tracks the life of Frances Gerety who coined the phrase "Diamonds are forever."Here's a snippet from a New York Times article about Miss. Gerety (she never got married) 

As Ms. Gerety recalled in a 1988 interview with a co-worker, Howard Davis, she had just finished a series of ads and was headed to bed when she realized that she had forgotten to create a signature line. Exhausted, she said “Dear God, send me a line,” and scribbled something on a slip of paper. When she woke up and saw what she had written, she thought it was just O.K. A few hours later, she presented her idea at a meeting. According to her, “Nobody jumped.”

 

This is one of those five stories in one books - a favorite of mine. The book trails five different stories revolving around engagement rings. This is one of those good reads you can't put down and happens to be written and thoughtful! I also loved this story as Frances was a copy writer and I just really liked that.  Here is one of the older diamonds print adds.

 

Well I think I'll postpone my fasinating finds for another day. For now B I hope you find yourself a copy of this lovely book for the fall. Get the blue one with a hand holding a diamond on the cover- I couldn't find the amazon link but it's far prettier which makes it more fun to read!


Midnight Bus to NYC

by Brittany


IMG_7028.jpg

1. My first tips ever were well spent on the pay what you can Friday night admission to the Guggenheim... I have wanted to go there for years now and it was stunning. I loved the grey dove of an old lady here, venturing through the garish crowds to see her affordable art. 2. As hoped, we spent a good long time just sitting in Washington Square Park. 3. The family across from us evidently had been there awhile too, judging by the lady who is simply doing her makeup at the fountain-side! 4. Glorious rushing busy-ness! 5. Also as hoped, sitting in Bryant Park in the middle of the night... lit like day. There was a Shakespeare play going on... we mostly treated it like background noise for our portraits. The only picture of all four of us together that's fit for the blog (there are some after a great night out... we all look a bit crazy though... ok maybe I'll show you one...). 6. Night sky and some people burning the midnight oil high above the park. 7. The best view of Time's Square is upward. 8. Near Wall Street. 9. The streets in the Financial District were eerily quiet on the Sunday before Labor Day. So tall and shadow-y and empty. 10. And steamy.... 11-13. Our favorite New York restaurant, Moto. I even sucked up my extreme dislike for Brooklyn to go here. Thankfully it's directly below a M line stop so we didn't have to trudge through too much of Brooklyn. Such a weird place. Kind of like a college campus because everyone is the same age. But all that to say, Cafe Moto is worth every bit of the hike. 14. Our friends Chris and Sarah, came all the way from Chicago to spend the weekend with us there. And Sarah had no idea that they were going anywhere, no less NYC, until they got to the airport and didn't know we were there until they walked through the door of the Airbnb we stayed in! In fact, she thought we had moved to NY and hadn't told her!

*for the record, Sarah was wearing a dress... it just didn't make it into frame. I have no idea what Jesse is doing and I also cannot explain my hand. Thankfully Sarah and Chris seem to be straight-forwardly in love.


Lamplit Studio on Grove

by Brittany


Three pools of yellow light... more than enough to fill our studio apartment. A comfortable bottle of wine, poured into a small tumbler because sometimes ceremony is unnecessary. He is sprawled on the sheepskin rug like the Irish Wolfhound he one day hopes to own (we hope)...his face bluely lit with work. Our bellies are full of frittata that finished up the vegetables from last week's groceries. Moments before our bellies were laughing from a slyly slapstick British tv show... it's sheer goofiness delightfully overlaid with unsmiling humor. 

I suppose it's normally called balance but rhythms make much more sense. The little rituals that simply fall into place. Like a weekly shopping trip that turns into a weirdly romantic evening spent strolling arms about each other's waist meandering through the aisles of whole foods. Pausing to actually finish our coffee in our half circle tower of a breakfast corner. Or working side by side in our various pools of light on a Tuesday evening in the little studio on Grove Street. Whenever we move we hiccup around a bit before the rhythm falls in place. And this move is no exception... especially getting used to several part time jobs rather than working full time. But now my schedule is more set and I have a few nicely wide open stretches where I can blog and work on my other project! 


New York Bills: God Help the Girl

by Brittany


I have lots of good stuff to share about our quick trip up to New York this past weekend but I wanted to share this new movie that's coming out this weekend first. We saw a bill posted for it on a post no bills construction barrier and we are so glad they disregarded it because I cannot wait to watch this movie. Jesse and I have a movie date for this Friday... just us, Stuart Murdoch and a bottle of wine. It's going to be great. Here is the trailer for you to check out. I don't know that you are as much of a Belle and Sebastian fan as I am... or even as much of a Royal Tenenbaums fan... but you still may like it, Chelle! I hate musicals, myself... but I am making an exception... so...! Also it's set in Glasgow, I think, and I just love music from there and the general Scottish region...they really just kill it every time.


Scuffletown to New York City

by Brittany


making: SCD bread that smells, looks and tastes like the real deal. Oh my stars. I will picnic well tonight.

seeing: sunbeams across my studio floor... and a few dust bunnies because of them. 

smelling: fresh baked bread.

tasting: cold brew coffee with creamy cashew vanilla date milk.

hearing: Belle and Sebastion

feeling: so relieved to have a kitchen again! (you couldn't tell at all from all the baking and making going on...)

reading: Feathers and Rag blog... I don't think its still current but those Canadian girls can sure write! Rebecca, if you for some odd reason happen to see this...keep writing!

loving: my kitchen again...and my studio and my new coffee shop job downtown!

anticipating: our midnight ride to NYC for the long weekend! We apparently can not stay in one place for more than one week.

The photo is from this lovely weekly event here in Richmond, Sundown in Scuffletown... every Tuesday at sundown a local singer songwriter plays a secret little show in a secret little park hidden inside an alley and everyone brings blankets and wine and tries to ignore the mosquitos. Its actually wonderful despite the type O bloodsuckers. 



Night Train from Chicago

by Brittany


Pools of light--splashed by lamp posts and station lights. Speckles of lights from the invisible highways and streets--the distant glimmers are the only indication they exist. Every now and then I can make out the faintest shadow of a house but, oddly, we appear to be the only ones, state after state, awake enough to light a window. I wonder if anyone is looking out from their darkness into the night and see our flashes of life etched brilliantly in our arrogantly un-curtained windows. Inside the train we read, turn round and round in our seats, pass the risk game, brace against the unnatural chill of artificial air (annoyed by it but aware that without it we'd be far worse off). We play cards, exchange stories of past travels and homes, sometimes a few of us (not me) talk about politics but only relevantly..nothing too abstract...it's nearly 4 am after all. We are a small band of friends in a shrinking train (we started with several hundred people in Chicago but a steady stream, a few here, a few there one by one people step out into the darkness). A band of people forged out of proximity but also visible experience--we make sense... only us six bothered to talk to each other over a somewhat melancholily overpriced and miniature bottle of red, a can or two of cheaper and worse beer and some coffee in the lounge car, then switch seats to continue the conversation through the night into the murky light of early morning. There was a warning from the unsmiling conductor to not drink our own alcohol, although he acknowledged he could see none of us were... We were one couple from Brooklyn on their way home from Colorado--the guy had travelled often on Amtrak in the past and had built up the experience to his girl... like I had for Jesse. A young Texas clarinet player headed to Cincinnati where he was in the Cincinnati Symphony, and, surprisingly, a frat. A Londoner, older than the rest of us who was the focal point of this traveling friendship. He was brashly friendly and unabashedly flirtatious with whoever would play along. He was very taken with Jesse and my's "pure pure love" ... and, to be honest, so am I. So I thought he had fairly good sense! There was the freeness in friendship that only happens in a time capsule of a situation... the ferry rides, hostels in an unknown city, and, of course, trains. But it can also happen, in smaller scales (mere smiling friendships), on city busses and trains, in line for coffee, or in a slow elevator. 

The next day, in West Virginia's unpopulated hills, the boulder fell and nearly derailed our train. For some reason, with the dispersing of emergency water supplies we finally dispersed to each other our contact information. But all of us seemed to unspeakingly acknowledge the unlikelyhood of meeting up again. 

And now we are back sitting. The boys passing around the risk game--the girls reading and writing...the boys are too between turns. And talking slowly when something comes up. Everything became methodical. Like we were rationing our relational energy, not knowing how long we would remain in the wilderness together. 

We are all writers: the Brooklyn boy writes for a magazine, she is a freshman english teacher, Jesse a copywriter, I dabble on my blog and Leo is a nurse but he informed us he'll write a book. Who knows? Maybe we all will.

- a journal entry, 20.08.2014

photo credit: Jesse

photo credit: Jesse

photo credit: Jesse

photo credit: Jesse

1. sun setting over the prairies...last glimpses of an Illinois that we never really got to know 2. everyone making the car our home 3. after a good three hours of waiting to be rescued from our boulder I asked if we could get out and stretch our legs. I made the mistake of asking the mean conductor though and he laughed in my face but a few minutes later the nice conductor told everyone that smokers could get out for a break... we were all smokers that day. This is the Rabbi who decided to point blank ask everyone he thought was Jewish if they were... then proceeded to speak Yiddish to everyone for about ten minutes straight even though no one else understood it... not even the Israeli girl... he didn't seem to catch on though. 4. the quiet man who turned down our invite to hang out, in favor of "East of Eden" 5-7. other passengers gazing out across the river. And one girl trying to get service (very few of us had any... the conductor actually had to find a way across the river and up the next "mountain" in order to call the new engine to come haul us away) 8. the wonderfully patient and hilarious conductor who made all the announcements with a laugh despite having been awake for close to 48 hours and dealing with very disgruntled and hungry people and often had a baby on his hip (various different babies that desperately needed a change of scene for their own and their mum's sanities)... he was just wonderful. He also lifted me up bodily and swung me back on the train with a (not creepy at all) "There you are, princess!" 


All Pictures... maybe some words

by Chelle


1. The door knobs are so old and lovely. This one looks a bit green as the bathroom is currently an unsavory key lime pie green, however this fall that shall change! 2. Joel's parents gave me this chair as a wedding gift. It was made in Paris in the 1940's. It's like a story book only furniture 3. LOVE love LOVE my dutch oven! It's so much fun to cook in and makes everything taste like a secret recipe 4. We are the proud owners (or at least renters) of a claw foot tub. 5. Joel found this box in Mexico and then bought me a French flag for the apartment so it'd feel more like home 6. Old school light switches, they make turning the lights on so much more fun 7. I've never actually had a moscow mule, but the cups are just so lovely! One day I'll make them, but until then I enjoy sipping water from these copper beauties. 


All words and no pictures

by Chelle


Hello B! My I've been terrible lately! So sorry. I have - however- been enjoying your posts! So so much! Your Nomadic Messes post pretty much sums up this past bit since May. After getting married I moved in with Joel and then we moved again on August first. Typing that date I now realize we've only been in here 18 days - so I feel a bit better. But there has been a stubborn pile of boxes lining the hallway. No matter how many times we sort thru them they just keep sitting there, I'm convinced they've tripled in size even though I've thrown more than half of the stuff away. Tonight we were determined to get rid of every last box, tossing out family heirlooms along with the rest just to be done with it. We piled everything in the truck and drove off to Goodwill. 

We rolled up in the old white truck, it was Joel's grandpa's and I love it. Several men were loading up the days intake. We parked and Joel got out. One of the guys said sorry we close at 8. ( Please note that it was 8:01 and the website said they closed at 9). Joel very politely asked if he could load the items in one of the crates they were filling. All of a sudden an angry middle aged man ran up and said, "we closed." Joel again kindly asked and explained how the website said otherwise. "We closed. I work 12 hours. CLOSED," he yelled. Joel got back in the truck but before we could drive off I swung the door open and walked over to this middle aged, balding, some what muscular man.  " There is no excuse to be so rude. I  work in a customer service position and I understand you are tiered but you can't speak to people like that." I turned around and stomped back to the car. "We closed, " rang out behind me. I know I know - I should control my temper.  But there is really no reason to be so rude. Anyway we drove down the street and dropped all the items of at Value Village and they gave us a $3 dollar coupon. I may be avoiding Goodwill for a little while. So there's my story for the day. 

making: lists of the updates I'd like to make in the apartment. I was going to try and photograph them and show them to you. I still may. It includes a new system for storing our clothes. I'm thinking we'll make pipeline book shelves and put metal baskets on them. Re-painting the whole place - currently an undecided mocha but I think cream will help keep it bright in the winter. Painting the kitchen cupboards and putting knew knobs on the doors. Oh and making a shower curtain. We have a brilliant claw foot tub but shower curtains that cater to that size are hard to find and typically pretty expensive. 

seeing:  The empty spaces we cleared out tonight. Good riddance! 

tasting:  Iced cranberry juice. It's really refreshing but oh so sour. This summer I've been so sensitive to the heat it's laughable. After living on a tropical island for the formative years of my childhood you'd think I'd be well adjusted. But it's been really humid hear. I've become an expert at keeping cool and even sunk to putting ice in my drinks. Very un-french. I know. 

hearing:  The fan humming away against the still of the night. 

feeling:  Sleepy but happy to be finally back to the blog

reading:  So many good books I can't wait to post about. But this one I have to share right now. Hyperbole and a Half - it started as a blog and became a book. The covers tag line reads " unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happen." I just love her!  The book is pretty cynical but oh so clever. There are also some pretty poignant parts. I was going to share one of those but instead here's what she wrote on her back cover. You'll understand why I love her! 

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative- like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it- but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So i decided to just make a list of things that are in the book: pictures. words. stories about things that happen to me. stories about things that happen to other people because of me. eight billion dollars * Stories about dogs. The secret to eternal happiness.

*these are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

 

loving:  Fun summer things.  A blog post to follow on this soon. It includes playing cards in the park when your apartment get's too hot because it's on the top floor which is what you always wanted and you love about it - but also make for quite an oven. Oh and also our new apartment. Pictures soon. 

watching:  I am ashamed to type this - but honesty honesty. Joel and I have been binge watching Entourage. It's based in LA and is basically about four guys from Queens who make it in LA without becoming "LA." That's why I was asking you what you thought about the people in LA. It's Joel's favorite show. I begrudgingly watched the first season then one day I was home sick and made it through the second season. So there you have it. 

anticipating: Being settled into our new little home. 


Goodbye Los Angeles

by Brittany


By the time you read this we will be halfway across the country soaking up Chicago and all the places and people that we love there. Chicago was really hard to get used to (such a culture shock between there and the PNW) but it was also our first home together. So that makes it very important. Obviously. After a long weekend there we will cross the rest of the country by TRAIN! I am thrilled about that, to say the least. 

Anyways! Here are just a few of the things I cannot wait for:

The 66 bus: I know it’s weird and some would argue, mildly Stockholm Syndrome-y, but I just love that bus! 

Gin & tonics with my amazing friend Karin and her family…including the tiniest one that I cannot wait to meet! I love being with them because they just envelope you into their own everyday life (which is beautiful)! 

Star Lounge: that back patio… reading the Onion and the Reader… iced coffee on tap…

A certain game of freeze tag (with a monster twist, I’m told) that I’ve been promised by the sweetest, most excited boys ever! Also I can’t wait for them to take me around all our old stomping grounds!! (the dirt park, which apparently isn’t so dirty anymore! Maybe even our secret park!)

Alley walking through Ukrainian Village.

Krystal: the best neighbor ever…. We’ve seen so much of her since we moved which is just how friendships should be! (also I have some amazing little presents for her that I cannot wait to give)

And countless other people and places! Chicago was very hard to acclimate to (not just because of the winters) … it was such a culture shock between there and the PNW… but it was also our first home. Aw shucks.


Traveling Large with Holes in Our Shoes

by Brittany


making: lists of things to do in Richmond--you know, to light the winter nights.

seeing: my suitcase and shoulder bag stuffed to the gills yet, incredibly, clasped tight.

tasting: almond butter from the jar...again. I should really diversify my lunches but you got to empty the cupboards before moving so diverse lunches will be part of what lights my winter... and fall.

hearing: old Armenian men talking casually and loudly to each other. Also a little boy calling down the steps to his grandmother, "where are you going?!" "A la farmacia!" "where???"  "La farmacia!" "oh" "good bye, mi amor!" ...it was heart meltingly sweet. Oh and Charlotte Gainsbourg... so no english at all in fact! 

feeling: belly full of wiggles cause I'm excited to leave LA but a bit sad to leave my lone summer! I realized yesterday that apart from a few days of visitors I never met or hang out with a single soul other than Jesse all summer long. So wonderful! Also the holes in my shoes.

reading: Doris Lessing's Four Gated City... I oddly had never thought of her apart from her short story, Sunrise on the Veld, from freshman English class. I am so glad to have discovered her novels... I'm not very far into it but it's lovely so far. And the copy is soft and dog eared and the beautiful 70's paperback covers I love... also it's proper tome sized... like five or six inches thick and was only 3 dollars at my favorite bookstore in LA. It's technically the last in it's series but the first in the series was less than an inch thick and twice as much so I decided that I've never really let order rule me in the past and that I have a long flight and a 20 hour train ride coming up and I really need something good and long to keep me busy. Aside from Finnegan's Wake.... and all the other books my mom brought. I like to travel large as far as books go.

loving: our nomadic life... and the pleasurable thrill of not knowing where in the world we'll be in nine months... and yet having a place to burrow for a winter again is wonderful too. (I know its just the beginning of August and that I am setting myself up to be bitterly disappointed by finding the hottest bits of the southern summer yet to come in Richmond... but the summer feels over in so many other ways!)

watching: To The Wonder... now I hated Tree of Life vicerally and passionately and still do. So I didn't even consider watching this movie until we finished all our shows and it somehow popped up on my radar. So I read the spoilers for it and decided it may, possibly, be a different breed of movie. And it was. And is. Terrance Malick is still weirdly obsessed with spinning women but this woman is darker and moodier and a far deeper and vaster being then anyone in Tree of Life (to be fair Ben Affleck and whoever that other girl is in this movie are pretty terrible...thankfully they are so bland they are easy to ignore). Also I want Olga to narrate my life. In French. No subtitles.

anticipating: our TRAIN RIDE!!!! seriously... I am like a little boy about trains. Maybe cause of my rail riding, Oakie of a grampie (you know, like, maybe it's in my blood?)... or maybe because people who don't get thrillingly excited by a train lead soulless and sad existences... or maybe they just didn't read enough British mysteries growing up. That's it. Because Jesse (probably due to his very recent twenty five hour bus ride...I keep telling him trains cannot even compare to greyhound busses) is the opposite of excited and I know for a fact his life is not sad... I mean, I am his WIFE!