Joy Livery

Month: December, 2011

Almond Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a young girl I would stand around in the bathroom as my Mom would get ready, whether she was getting ready for bed, an evening out, to go out and seize the day– it didn’t matter.  Even still, my sister and I find ourselves lounging, loitering in her bathroom as she readies herself, so much so that we have actually requested a plush chair.

There is always a lot of great gossip and chit chat that happens in the bathroom, as with other girls and other bathrooms I’m sure.  But what really stuck with me over the years was the tricks and little nuggets of gold that transfer from generation to generation as we youth watch.  Watching in the kitchen also lends big results.   ne of those little golden nuggets was my Mom’s secret weapon eye make-up remover.  I have watched her use it almost daily over the years of occupying that bathroom.  It’s actually no secret.  Ask your Grandmother.  If I remember correctly my Grandmother, fondly known as Mimi around here, used baby oil, and my mother uses Vaseline.

But as I have grown up and she and I have really gotten to understand how noxious our environment is with chemicals that are toxic and carcinogenic, we’ve tried to eliminate “the bad” and replace it with something better piece by piece.  This Organic Sweet Almond Oil is one of those pieces.  I am so in love with purity and the ideal of using that to pamper oneself in loo of those products that promise you smoothed lines, clear skin, and the world, but do it with un-pronouncables.

Instead, I try to opt for wholeness.  How many steps away from its natural form is this product?  It’s very much akin to the way I try to eat, actually.  So instead of bathing your eyes (your eyes!) in chemicals of God-knows-what, try a bit of this sweet almond oil on an organic cotton swab.  Or if you are so green your complexion is in danger, try these cotton flannel baby wipes.  They are incredibly soft and lovely; the perfect weight for the face.

I found these just before I had my babe. We cloth diapered until he was around nine months, and though I wish that we’d continued (and still may go back when I finally get the gumption) I’m grateful for the time we did it.  After ordering some of these for that purpose I ordered a pack more for me.

xo,

injoy,

libby

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Everyday Luxuries

An everyday luxury is, in my opinion, a personal thing to define.  Only you can know what you use daily and what quality you require (or can afford).  But, let’s think for a moment about the purchases we are more inclined to spend on, that really, don’t get used half as often.

A great dinner out with friends?  Or hey, maybe it was just drinks at that new place in town?  How much did you spend?  Now compare it to what you spent on your last haircut, your sheets, your best knife in the kitchen, your shaving razor, etc.  I could on and on.

Go for quality, heirloom, and lasting.  Put your purchases in perspective.

xo,

injoy,

libby

Leather Goodness

 As I’ve been sifting through different websites looking for personalized, handsome, practical gifts for my loved ones this Christmas, I’ve come across a couple of lovely leather goods that now have made it to my “wantings” list.

For me, leather evokes a certain quality of charisma.  If it were a person she would certainly have a good character.  He would always be able to laugh at himself.  She would be both sophisticated and totally undemanding.  In some ways I am channeling Dos Equis commercial for the Most Interesting Man in the World, only not, because Leather is a lot more humble than that.

Check out a few of them:

This top lunch sack is so brilliant.  For you or the kids, really.

This next one is an alternative to the typical bicycle basket.

This leather envelope is genius for those receipts that somehow always end up littering the bottom of your bag.

Classic dog collar for Fido.

And finally, there is this sweet camera holder.

xo,

injoy,

libby

Walt Whitman

  Leaves of Grass may just be my favorite book that I have never read cover to cover.  If that sounds rather sad, that’s because it is a sorry thing.  But, I plan to remedy that come summer.

Whatever the sad state of my books-read-list, I can say that I have read many, many a tremendous excerpt from this masterpiece.  These poems are, for anyone that considers themselves to be a diction connaiseur or a wordsmith of any kind, a source of rich, compelling language.  He can be just downright delicious.

This here is the first part of Song of Myself:

1

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

 

 

Browned Tofu with Lemon, Parmesan, and Parsley Risotto

My inspiration for this came together from two different sources.  The first was from a magazine (I forget which) that was highlighting the flavor combination lemon, parmesan, and parsley.  They were showing how one could really adapt it to any dish be it pasta, poultries, seafood, etc.  I for one was partial to the idea of trying this in a risotto.  After mulling over this thought for a moment or two I recollected a similar recipe from Heidi Swanson’s blog 101cookbooks.com.  Hers, called Meyer Lemon Risotto, was very similar.  It also called for lemon and parmesan, parmesan being a very typical ingredient in most risottos I’ve experienced.  Through reading her recipe I decided that the white wine she included was a great addition, as it never fails to make your kitchen smell instantly amazing and the food you are cooking instant depth of flavor.  The end result was one of those recipes that deserves guests, really.  I will absolutely think of this for my next dinner party.

However, my version of this dish was a totally casual affair.  I didn’t use Arborio rice that is specifically for risotto, but instead opted for plain old brown rice; I hand it on hand.  And you know what?  It worked beautifully.  My suggestion is to experiment with different kinds of grains and see what your pleasure is.  If I remember correctly, Heidi’s go-to fave is barley.  So one really could go wild here.  I’m thinking of trying wheatberry next.  It seems like a substantial, hearty grain that can stand up to a fair amount of cooking.

To go atop my risotto, I looked again to Heidi.  I typed tofu into her search bar and sifted through recipes until I decided on this one.  I wanted something that wouldn’t have too much competing flavor with the risotto. It was perfect.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but just used it as something to point the way.  I’m not entirely sure if it had more to do with the sugar that is added for the caramelization, or more to do with the fact that I used a seasoned skillet instead of a metal saute pan, but the browning happened without a hitch.  It didn’t stick to the pan!  That’s a first.  Note to self (and anyone who’s reading):  when browning tofu, I shall use a cast iron skillet.

xo,

injoy,

libby

Paperweights

As I have been building my business up, its been necessary to be more diligent about my days in the ‘office’.  My roles as Mom, partner, etc. make my role as business woman a little easier to push aside, especially since I am my own boss.  But I see how important it is to have a space that is not only dedicated to being productive– channeling the willforce of my deeds toward my goals– but also a space that is visually appealing to serve as a pseudo-muse.  “Pseudo” because I don’t know that I need my space to be the inspiration entirely; the muses of our lifetime come and go and change.  But  space, for me, must necessarily be intentional.  This vase here and that color there.

Color has the ability to calm or energize, objects inspire because of beauty or function, and the arrangement of a space can similarly provide us with that desire to create and get down to business.  Perhaps the best of spaces simply make us feel, they evoke something within us and at the same time, out of us.  Thus, I’m looking for my office space to ripen my enthusiasm and creativity, and naturally following, my industriousness.  Passion tends to have its own engine, driving itself once it has gotten that initial push… or in this case, once it has gotten that initial hum of creative qi.

And so these last couple of weeks I have been doing what is necessary to create a dynamic desk space to fulfill my needs.  The first of those was a large, almost overwhelming cork board for an inspiration wall.  Be it a cutting from the paper, a print out of something I love…  a sweater, a gourmet niche liquor, or book…, a photograph of a place I must go someday, or a craft that needs doing, it will all go on my board bombarding me with the necessary eagerness.

The next accessory that’s on my must-have list is a paperweight.  I know this must sound ridiculous, because actually I’ve never seen the real purpose of a paperweight unless a very large gust of wind were to blow my piles of paper everywhere.  I will just pretend that this is a very real possibility, though, because I have found a couple of paperweights that I am smitten with.

This one with a dandelion preserved inside it happens to be my favorite.  Something about dandelions, whatever phase they are in, make me smile, sort of like daisies.  But I have seen others that I also love: a rustic, bronze acorn, a silver dipped wishbone… they look sophisticated with that perfect amount of quirk.

Another thing on my list was a small paperclip, thumbtack bowl.  While this one from the seller etco on etsy.com doesn’t seem the most practical (as the gold certainly will etch off with the tacks) I think that a few years go with this one will be fine.

There are of course, many other things that I have daydreamed about for my creative space: a beautiful lacy fern, a delightful pen holder (I especially love this vase, the smallest, from westelm.com for that purpose.  Traditionally it is a votive candle holder, but I love it so much I am converting it to something I will use daily), a comfortable chair, and perhaps a picture of loved ones framed nearby.  These little things add a touch of color or add a bit of whimsy, because above all it must bring you joy.  Happy offices to everyone.

xo,

l.

P.S.  I will post a picture of the office as soon as it is complete.

House Slippers

I am having a small love affair with felted wool slippers and these sock+leather combo slippers.  I love them in white or a grey.  Etsy.com has multiple sellers with lots of these.  If these babies don’t come for Christmas, I just may have to try my hand at making them.  I can see having lots of pairs in a basket by the front door for the whole household.

They are great at preventing the dust, dirt and general filth from accumulating on my nice wood floors!  I spend enough time cleaning as it is.  (All of these photos are from sellers on etsy.com).

xo, injoy,

libby

Easy Seed and Grain Loaf

     I remember back when I was watching my mother-in-law make Thanksgiving rolls one year.  Her recipe came from something she’d purchased on an infommercial as a newly-wed.  “Speedy Dinner Rolls”, they were called.  I didn’t think that “Speedy” was appropriate, but that was back before I’d even made a loaf of bread or had to wait for anything to rise.  I supposed those truly were speedy, but they lacked texture, character, crunchy crust, complex flavor (really, they lacked everything I hope for in a roll or a piece of bread).

Ever since I began making bread a year or two later, I have always compared how “speedy” my recipes are to my mother-in-law’s.  It seems they are either a wow, but time consuming, or a quick make, but disappointing.  At last, I think that my search is over.

I am not gluten-intolerant, but my husband suspects that his ever-present sniffles have to do with gluten, so we’ve been on a mission to eliminate gluten from our home.  It’s not all been a drag though, as I’ve had a chance to experiment with different flours and grains (and that is right up my ally).

Bob’s Red Mill really hit the nail on the head with their Hearty Whole Grain Bread Mix.  I literally just followed the instructions on the back of the package.  Now, I’m not a huge packaged foods person, so this whole gluten-free thing has my feathers a tad ruffled; I find a lot of joy in measuring out the flours and seeing it all come together.  I would love to eventually make my own version of this flour mixture, but for now I will just say thanks to Bob.  You will too.

This recipe includes using a package of yeast and to that you also add 1 and 3/4 c of warm water, 1/4 c of olive oil, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar.  Essentially, you allow the yeast to activate in the warm water while combining the eggs, oil, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl.  Then add the yeast/water mixture.  Add the flour mixture into the bowl and stir until combined.  I poured it into a well oiled loaf pan and covered it with a tea towel to let it rise for 45 minutes.  The package says to put it in a warm place, so I thought the oven with the light on was a good option.  When the 45 minute mark came, I peeked at it, took off the tea towel, and preheated the oven to 375 degrees with the pan still in there.  Cooked for an hour exactly and came out beautifully.  Its best when its warm out of the oven and slathered in rich, creamy butter, but still great when covered with cheese and put under the broiler for a bit until flecked with brown.

Ginger Soda

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I could have called this post ginger honey as well, seeing as the first step towards making ginger soda is making a ginger honey, but alas, I went with the latter.  I haven’t yet come up with another use for this lovely nectar that enjoys the honey so purely.  I suppose adding a tablespoon to a cup of hot water, making a cup of instant tea, is equally pure.  However, there is something just so wonderfully happy about sparkling water.  So much so that I just call it happy water.  I have meant to use this ginger honey in a batch of muffins or in some cookies, but I’ve never gotten around to it.  When I do, or if someone beats me to it, let me know and I’ll be sure to do the same.

Let talk ingredients.  I have always been of the mind that simplicity requires quality, and so finding some fresh, knobby, organic ginger is best, as is topping it with pure, raw, local honey.  I even like to go for the good stuff when it comes to the happy water.  There are some wonderful brands out there that bottle naturally occurring sparkling water.  These are best nutritionally speaking because they still hold their minerals.

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pure, raw, local honey

fresh ginger (enough to fill your jar, whatever the size about half way full)

sparkling water

First, slice the ginger into thin coins lengthwise.  I don’t feel its necessary to peel my ginger.  You may feel inclined, an if so, then power to you.  Fill the jar you are using about halfway plus a bit more.  Then cover your ginger with honey.  Stir with a back of a spoon, or a chopstick works well here, to make sure the honey and ginger are co-mingling nicely.  Cover with your lid.  Allow this mixture to sit on your counter for one week.  When you see it, give it a shake.  As the days go by, the honey with become much less viscous.  This is because the water from the ginger is seeping into the honey.

Once this concoction has brewed, you can technically strain it, but I like for it to continue doing it thing, if you will.  It only gets more gingery.

To make a ginger soda, pour about three tablespoons of the honey into a tall glass and top it with sparkling water.  Give it a stir.  Because it is less viscous than normal honey, it is much easier to incorporate into cold liquids.  Thank heaven.  Add more honey to taste.  Voila!   My almost two year old cannot get enough of this stuff.

In addition to the tasting great, it is also a great tonic for an upset stomach (including morning sickness, the flu, or nervous stomach).  Taking a tablespoon of the honey right off the spoon, drinking it in hot water or in sparkling water are all ways one can take it.

Gourd Door Stopper

 

 

This is something I pulled form a Martha Stewart magazine.  Just something to get a little crafty when you’re stuck inside.  : )

Tools and Materials

  • 5- to 7-inch-diameter dried gourd
  • Cordless power drill
  • 1 3/8-inch Forstner drill bit, by Diablo
  • Funnel
  • Scoop
  • Play sand or aquarium sand
  • Size 18 cork (9/16 inch to 1 1/2 inches)
  1. Hold the gourd steady by clamping it into a vise or to a tabletop. Once it’s secure, drill a hole through the bottom of the gourd.
  2. Shake out any dried seeds or membrane, and discard.
  3. Using funnel and scoop, fill gourd with sand. Plug the hole with the cork.