the cold season is upon us


I love fall & winter (& early spring). I have never liked heat or humidity — childhood summers were best when we escaped to the Bay Area, California to visit family and have a respite from hot & humid New York. Summer is difficult for me. I’ve actively worked on cultivating a love for it over the past several years — but it isn’t a comfortable place. I hate sweating, I hate the anxiety and self-consciousness of shorts and sleeveless dresses and swimsuits. It is harder to hide with so much daylight and warmth.

Fall & winter brought all kinds of favorites : first my brother’s birthday (where I could hang around, bugging him and his friends, and got to eat a piece of birthday cake), then Halloween, and on into November : my birthday (complete with party, cake, and presents) and Thanksgiving — watch the Macy’s parade in person or on Television, getting a chocolate turkey to eat, and the big meal with my family. Finally, real winter would begin in December, with the promise of snow days (only if you did all your homework and put a spoon under your pillow), Christmas, and winter vacation.

Cold weather means other, smaller delights, too : long flannel pajamas, baking (& enjoying the heat from the oven instead of shying away from it), hot tea in evenings and not just mornings, boot socks, candles, and a gentle push inside, towards the chess board and the bookshelves. Cold weather is an excuse to turn inwards, not in a navel-gazing way, but towards each other, towards processing and settling down and internalizing. Starting on November 1st, I listen to at least part of the Rachmaninov Vespers every single day until spring. Cold season is definitely my season.

I’ve already been planning our holidays (we won’t be traveling this year, due to my job) and starting to think about how it will be to have our first Christmas just-us-two. Every year of my life, except last year, I’ve celebrated Christmas with my mother (and most years with my brother, and until his death, also my father), at our home, in New York. Most years, I’ve been with our dog Pip, too! Last year we spent Christmas with David’s family. But this year I will work on December 23rd, then have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on the weekend (very glad for how the calendar worked out this year), and return to work on the 26th. And although I am nervous about having the holidays with just us two, I am also a little bit excited about something new and different, and about working on our own traditions for the little family we have become.

Happy cold season, everyone!



My New Camera

So I totally haven’t prepared a good “what I’m into” post for March…oops. I definitely read some books, but not as many as in January & February. I’ve been a bit busier with preparing for my Last Term of Graduate School (fingers crossed) — two more classes & an advanced internship this summer and then I will have my Ed.S. degree! But I did read a few books, watch some films, and at the very end of the month, I got a real, grown-up camera.

As for books, I read Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane — the tenth novel in the Young Wizards series. I LOVED it and am probably just going to read it again once I finish Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey, which I just got from the library after being on the hold list since late December (!). I also read Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix — all in one long afternoon while I was trying to rest due to a really tremendous cold. (Seriously — fever, chills, headache, all the things. It was the worst.) Finally, I got hooked on a new series by reading Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. In this series, there are eight kingdoms, and four of them are season kingdoms. The protagonist is from Winter, a land where there is always snow falling and the people native there enjoy/can withstand cold temperatures comfortably. I wish I could be a Winterian because I LOVE snow and cold, but I definitely also feel it.

In terms of watching things, I watched the whole first season of Catastrophe on Amazon Prime while I was ill — I LOVE it and can’t wait for season 2 to come out. I also watched the first five episodes of Mozart in the Jungle, which is fantastic. David and I are continuing to watch Parks & Rec. We continued our theme of watching documentaries, listed here in order of how much I liked them : Inequality for All, To Make A Farm, and Tiny.

Anyway, back to the CAMERA. I have been saving my pennies for this for quite a while. I got a Nikon D3300, which is sort of the “entry level DSLR.” It has both automatic and manual modes, so until I actually learn how to properly use a camera, I can still take great photos. I’ve been really enjoying playing around with it, and David has been a good sport about being a subject of a lot of photos. I love taking photos outside, but I also want to get in the habit of documenting our life together — even the boring, watching-TV-in-our-PJs bits. Not that I want thousands of photos of that, but I also don’t want to miss the beauty of making boxed mac & cheese for dinner before rushing off to Thursday night church choir rehearsal…because that’s life, too, you know?

Our beloved squirrel friend, Hank

A Recipe For Church

Normally, on Fridays, I post recipes for, you know, food. This Friday wasn’t meant to be an exception. I worked on a homemade apple cider recipe yesterday and this morning, but the thing is, I just didn’t love it. I wasn’t wowed by it as I had hoped to be, and there was something off in the flavor profile that I wasn’t able to fix (not yet, at least). And I don’t want to share a recipe with you unless I really think it is worth sharing. But luckily, I’ve been working on some other writing, and it just so happens that it ends up being a sort of recipe itself. I’ll probably never be done editing this, and there will be dozens of versions. But for now, I’m just going to share it. Because vulnerability is important, or something.

For some background, I am not a person who grew up in a church. However, I have always been a spiritual person, starting at a very young age when I bewildered and amused my parents by “making up hymns.” I always enjoyed learning about our friends’ religious traditions and beliefs. I took several years of Jewish studies classes in college, and in my senior year I began correspondences with two other young women I had met online years earlier (incidentally, I have now met both of these wonderful people in person, as they attended my wedding). Both Christian, these two women are both kind, intelligent, and compassionate. One of them, Courtney, grew up in a Catholic family and is now a Catholic youth minister. The other one, Katherine, grew up UCC and is now a (very talented) painter. Katherine and Courtney both shared deeply about themselves, their churches, and their beliefs with me. Courtney, having had theological training, also patiently, honestly, and thoroughly answered any and all questions I had (and there were many, as I am a liberal, feminist, queer person who never imagined feeling safe or comfortable at a church of all places). I credit both of them with supporting me without judgement during a very important time in my faith journey. The fall after I graduated college, I discovered a wonderful church in my hometown. I poured out my life story into an email to the pastor of that church, and he met with me and, like Courtney and Katherine, was nothing but compassionate, welcoming, and kind. During that year, I attended church regularly and read books recommended by my pastor. With the encouragement of both pastors at that church, I decided to be baptized on Easter Sunday, 2013. It is a very happy memory for me, and I felt deep peace and joy with my decision.

my baptism, Easter 2013

When I moved to Indiana, I was very nervous about no longer having the support of my hometown church, so I did research in advance (typical me). I actually found the church I now attend six months before moving, but made myself wait a few months before contacting one of the pastors. (Still a bit early. Oh well.) And I am so glad I found this congregation. Since I moved here a bit over two years ago, David and I have attended our church and we love it to bits. Recently, I have been engaging in deep conversations with my pastor here in Indiana as well as other members of the church. I have been overwhelmed by love and support. So this is a bit of a love poem for my church.

A Recipe For Church

a generous helping of space.
space that allows for the unfolding of wings
space that opens itself to words too large to contain.
pinches of patience as you listen. patience as you hear. patience as you wait.
one strong net : for when we encourage you to leap, we also will catch you, over and over, as you fall.
regular meals. dinners. post-worship Oreos and punch.
a sprinkle of eye contact. during the sermon. when you know things have been tough. the “are you okay?”
we drive each other home, right through silence.
a weekly-or-more hug at the door, maybe with no time for words, but communicating all the same.
when turning the dial, making the choice for community, even when that is the harder choice.
the laughter, the laughter, the laughter.
interaction, despite awkwardness, despite discomfort.
the knowledge that we need this : that I need this.
oh. so this is church.


Simple Crockpot Applesauce

This is your bonus recipe! Check out the main recipe on the blog today : Applesauce Mini Muffins

Last week I made homemade applesauce in the crockpot. I did my usual cooking thing of reading a bunch of recipes online and then kind of cobbling them together/cooking from memory. I chose Jonamacs after a conversation with a police officer and a grocer in the produce section of our co-op, because they were described as tart-but-sweet.  I did not peel them, because I thought, oh, apple peel is good for you! It has fiber! I will blend the applesauce, and then it won’t matter!  Wrong. I did not end up blending the applesauce, I mashed it with a potato masher because I am lazy. And subsequently I have picked out chunks of apple peel while eating applesauce, because it’s just sort of weird and flavorless and floppy. In conclusion: peel your apples.

Innocent-seeming apples with their healthy little peels.
Innocent-seeming apples with their healthy little peels.

Here’s the recipe :

3.5 pounds apples, whatever variety you prefer
1 cinnamon stick
Half a lemon
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup water

Core, peel, and chop apples (chopping into quarters is fine) & place in crockpot
Juice the lemon and pour into crockpot (pick out lemon seeds first). Cut off chunks of lemon peel and toss those in, too
Add the vanilla, cinnamon stick, and water and give everything a quick stir
Set crockpot to low and walk away to do whatever you have to do that day! (Note: you can give it a stir if you’re around in order to shift the top apples to the bottom, but it isn’t necessary.)
After 4 – 6 hours (depending on your crockpot), remove lemon peel and cinnamon stick and mash apples with a potato masher or large fork
Serve & enjoy!
Keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks.


Okay, now that you’ve got your homemade applesauce, head on over to my post about applesauce mini muffins! Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of homemade applesauce left to eat — the recipe only uses one cup. 🙂

Before I cobbled this recipe together, I read these posts for inspiration : Simply Recipes Applesauce, Detoxinista’s Slow Cooker Applesauce, and The Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Applesauce.


a necessarily awkward introduction post

I have been thinking about starting a blog for at least six months now. The idea very gradually floated to the surface of my mind and I initially was dismissive. I’m just imitating people I admire. This isn’t a real desire. I could never do that. It seemed impossible, and I doubted my own dedication to the idea.

But then a funny thing happened : I didn’t stop thinking (and daydreaming, and imagining, and sort-of-planning) about it. It kept coming up in my thoughts, especially when I was out running. My thoughts have a tendency to take over while I’m running, and I find that the more I try to grab the reins, the more aware I become of the discomforts of running. So I tend to let my mind do its own thing – and the thing it wanted to do was think about starting a blog. Like, a real, grown-up, adult-person blog, not the whiny LiveJournal I had when I was 14.

After three or four months, I finally brought this idea up with my husband. As usual, he was supportive and encouraging and much, much nicer to me than I had been to myself. In late June I resolved that I was going to do this, and I started really preparing in earnest. And now here we are in, in early September, and I am actually Doing This, it seems.

So, hello world. I’m Laura, and I’m an aspiring researcher as well as a wife, baker, poet, and runner. My hope is that I will get to know you, and you me, much better in the coming months. I’m hoping to share a poem I love, a personal piece, and a recipe review each week. Check back tomorrow for another post, and feel free to follow me on Facebook for regular updates or send me an email with your thoughts. All the relevant links are over on the right there, under the photo of me holding a snail (one of my favorite animals). Happy Tuesday!

I always type blog posts on my vintage typewriter while sitting on the floor by a window. Don’t you?
Just mixing up some poetry books (…and Harry Potter) in my KitchenAid. Y’know.