upstate

mixed berry muffins

Where to begin? It has indeed been a while since I’ve been here. While the packing felt utterly overwhelming at times, the move was ultimately uneventful, and for that I’m eternally thankful. I’m sitting here with this silly grin, as I write in my backyard. The sun is strong, but the wind is an equal rival, and the trees provide a natural umbrella of shade. The wind chimes are softly dancing behind me. My smile is from the wonder as I pop my head up from the computer to gaze at the woods behind the house. Perhaps the property sounds grander than it is—I only own a 1/4 acre, but it’s my 1/4 acre. The woods behind the house are protected property, providing us with some extra peace and solace. To my right, is another 1/4 acre of field that belongs to my neighbor, and she kindly lets the kids play there. Continue reading »

the best therapy {chocolate chip cookies}

You know that whole don’t judge a book by it’s cover theory? Well, today the perception I projected gave me just the boost I needed, even if it didn’t match exactly how I’m feeling these days. I met M’s best friend for breakfast. DL’s friendship has been one of the good things that came out of this often awful situation. Is it okay to admit that anything good actually grew from my husband’s passing? There goes that grief guilt vortex, opening, threatening to suck me in again…

My point is, when I sat down at Balthazar, DL said I looked dazzling. Inside, I felt like a wreck, Disheveled, exhausted, and aches in places I forgot you could get aches, from the physical work of packing boxes, working on the garden upstate, and an overall lack of sleep. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.

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crispy, chewy gingersnap cookies {a one bowl recipe}

The trip to the country this past weekend was a bit treacherous. The rain and fog made for a very slow drive, but I’m glad we went up on Friday night because this is what we woke up to on Saturday morning. Meet Olaf. He’s our upstate mascot until the sun turns him into a puddle. As you might have guessed we saw Frozen recently, hence our snowman’s name. Continue reading »

how to measure flour

It hit me in the middle of the day yesterday with an odd feeling of surprise. I’m talking about November. It seemed to tip toe in, and I appreciate the calm greeting. I hope it brings more peace than October. The leaves are defiantly clinging to the trees here upstate, showing off their shades of red, orange and gold with the fanfare of a peacock. I know how they feel, in a way. Letting go isn’t easy. Paying attention to the season changes is an important reminder that life is about loss and renewal; it’s a never ending cycle.

As we settle in for what is perhaps the busiest baking season, I wanted to share something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I’m going to geek out here for a moment, but please stick with me. I promise it’ll make for a better baking experience the next couple of months, in fact for the rest of your life. Continue reading »

Life lessons, and a tip for making pancakes

I’ve clocked over 1,200 miles in the last week and a half, between my journey home from Cape Cod and the four trips I made upstate to deal with my annoying, and unwanted, house guests. All those hours in the car offered much time for reflection. Not always good when I should be focused on the road, but I mastered crying and driving in the early months after M died. There’s something about the act of driving that is very freeing. Perhaps it’s the feeling that I’m actually going someplace; the perception that I’m moving, doing something. The act of driving is powerful because it’s filled with the illusion that I’m steering my own course, instead of just standing around waiting for life to choose what happens.

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hazelnut thin crisp cookies

I burned a pot boiling water today. I’m not joking, and, thankfully, was able to laugh when I realized what I’d done. There I was, yapping away on Skype with a friend, wondering who was grilling a steak at 10:30am. After I hung up, I looked into the bottom of my empty glass, and remembered I had been in the middle of making more Moroccan mint tea before I got on the Jetson’s version of the telephone. More specifically, I had been in the middle of boiling water—in my little copper pot. So, that’s what it smells like when water has completely evaporated in a copper pot, and said pot continues to cook at medium high heat. Apparently, my brain and attention span have been on vacation too long. Continue reading »

lemon blueberry scones

I’ve been a moving target the last two years, running, trying to dodge the reality of learning to live without Michael. I lost much more than just my husband when he died. With one felt swoop, fate came in like a thief and also stole my sense of security. I’m afraid to trust in being happy again. Terrified at settling myself somewhere emotionally, and plant roots, for fear they will be ripped up again with no warning.

I’m tired of being on the lam, though. That’s why I bought the house upstate. This doesn’t mean I’m staying in NYC for the long term, but it is a huge step in taking chances again. No matter where I go in the future, I will always have a little house tucked away in the country to call home. That’s if the fleas ever leave.

Yes, the biting little bastards are back, and they swarmed around my ankles and legs the moment I stepped inside the house yesterday. The plan was to spend a relaxing two days there, and finish setting up the house before we travel onward to Cape Cod for our annual vacation. If the neighbors were watching, I left a lasting impression, no doubt. I did one last body check before getting back in the car to head home, to make sure there were no fleas clinging to me like De Niro under the car in Cape Fear. I saw one jump off my dress, and did what any irrational, and emotionally worn down person would do. Continue reading »

we bought a zoo {blackberry old fashioned}

I bought a house. Upstate. In the country.

There are crazier things this city-slicker, born and bred Brooklyn gal could’ve done, but right now I’m drawing a blank. Towards the end of last year I started giving thought to buying a place I could plant some roots with the girls. Not necessarily a full-time, big-time move, but more a place we could recharge our batteries on a regular basis.

On my own, and with the girls, I’ve traveled a lot this past year. I watched pita bread being baked in an outdoor, clay oven in the mountains of Morocco. I had a snowball fight in Paris at midnight. I walked the snow-covered beaches of Normandy, listening to razor clam shells crackle under the heels of my boots. Continue reading »