Thursday, November 22, 2012


The crisp feeling in the air these days is a sign of winter's approach, a reminder that the cycle of the seasons is always turning, no matter what else happens. Each day represents a subtile shift, sometimes imperceptible, however nothing is ever static.

These last few weeks have seen a lot of change in my life. My husband and I said good bye to Montreal and moved to Boston. That same week we had to say good bye to my amazing grandmother. She was such an inspiring woman - a person who really was all about family and about love. She led such an amazing life, and she will be so missed. She had twenty-eight grandchildren, and being all together, and thinking about her... it felt like the end of an era (that I didn't want to end).

But the earth tilts and the seasons shift, and if we are still here we have to enjoy each day and each other.

Monday, September 17, 2012

everyday good fortune

I came across this quote by Pema Chodron recently, and it really resonated with me.

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world.

                      - from The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

I love how she uses the word allow. We can allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, or we can ignore it. We might not even see it! Gratitude is a choice. In my own life, I feel so much happier when I take the time to be grateful. Of course, the first things that pop in to my mind are the big ones: an amazing husband, a wonderful family, a body that walks, that senses, that breathes. So lucky!

But counting the little things, the everyday good fortunes, can change the way the world looks. The feeling of a mug of warm tea in your hands, the grains of sand embracing your toes at the beach at dusk, a stranger holding open a door, waiting only one minute for the metro on a busy morning. So much of life is comprised of small everyday moments. The movie Amélie so perfectly expressed this - the pleasure of plunging a hand into a bag of grain, cracking the crust of a crème brulée, skipping stones... I am trying my best to notice these moments in my own life, and allow them to inspire me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

a handful of blossoms and a breeze

I was looking through some old photos recently, and I came across a series that tried to capture a beautiful moment. I was visiting the town of Reims in Champagne, and came across a flowering tree near the cathedral. Each breeze carried petals with it, the gutters were filled, filled, flowing with delicate pink petals, and the air felt like spring itself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a real-life hero

Kym Worthy, a powerhouse prosecutor in Detroit, has been fighting to get money to test dusty (literally) rape kits that have been languishing in storage in Detroit due to a lack of funds. No one will ever be able to explain to my WHY this is something can happen in the United States. (Apparently Detroit has more than 11,000 rape kits waiting to be tested, and Houston has a backlog of about 16,000, but this is something that happens all across the country.)

The kits tested so far have already led to a huge number of DNA matches. Many of the offenders went on to perpetrate other rapes, and in one case, murders. This should never ever ever have happened. Is this the type of society we want to live in?

Kym Worthy is a real-life hero. I wish the money that people spend to support politicians who think that not all rape is 'legitimate rape' would go to causes like this instead. All rape is legitimate rape, and all survivors deserve the chance to have their case solved and their attacker put behind bars.


Sign the petition or write letters to your elected representatives supporting the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act, which would lead to faster processing of rape kits and create an online registry of the backlogged cases.

Find out more through RAINN, a powerful charity offering services for survivors and influencing policy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

do what needs to be done

A while has passed since I have posted here. I have been working on my thesis, and have had quite a few of these days: click me!

Such a long project, the culmination of so many years in school... the process of writing a PhD thesis is so daunting. I recently read Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project, and I found it really interesting. One concept particularly resonated with me : do what needs to be done.

I am a bit of a perfectionist - if I am going to garden then I want to learn all about plants and create a beautiful space that can provide lots of wonderful food. If I am going to straighten the closet, I like to take 3 hours to empty it and go through each item. Sometimes this is a useful trait - I know a lot about plants now and when I have just gone through my closet it is extremely organized! - but other times it can be paralyzing.

Writing can bring this out in me. I need to remember that perfect is often be the enemy of good, and a first draft can be edited. I am trying to write everyday, and letting some other things fall by the wayside - the garden is slowly becoming a jungle and my closet is a disaster - but I am doing what needs to be done.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

backyard zucchini fritatta

During hot summer days I am all about simple. Lemon ice tea. Iced anything! Dinners that don't involve lots of cooking. Cherry tomatoes chopped in half, with handfuls and handfuls of fresh basil, balsamic, olive oil, pepper and fleur de sel. And this spicy zucchini frittata - so good! We used a piment d'espelette instead of jalapeno, since that is what we had in the garden, and it came out perfectly. Espelette peppers are slightly less hot than jalapenos, with such a good flavor. Exploring new flavors makes time in the garden so worthwhile!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

gluten-free fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies = amazing

I love to bake. Of course, I enjoy cooking dinner, especially when there are tons of vegetables and herbs in the kitchen, but baking is different. It might be something about the logic embedded in it - a certain kind of predictable math. Equation : flour+egg+butter+sugar+etc@350*10min = cookie.

I haven't been eating wheat and relatives since January. An illness a few years ago seems to have left me with some intolerances, the gluten-filled grains among them. Up until January I hadn't really given much thought to gluten, and to all the magical things it can do. Experimenting with gluten-free flours has for the most part been disappointing - cookies that spread over the baking sheet and crumble when touched, biscuits that really remind me of a bowl of brown rice.

There have been a few successes, variations on these financiers, macarons - things that are easy to make gluten-free. But my attempts at chocolate chip cookies, while sometimes good crumbled onto ice cream, have not really felt like chocolate chip cookies.

Yesterday, I tried out a recipe from the beautiful blog of Aran Goyoaga, Cannelle et Vanille. I made her gluten-free chewy chocolate chip cookies with low expectations, and I was astounded. They are sooo good. They are not just approximation / imitation cookies, they actually are chocolate chip cookies. Hooray!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

an afternoon in the old port

On a hot afternoon lately, I spent some time wandering the historic streets of old Montreal. The architecture in this part of the city is so appealing to me - there is such a sense of timelessness. When it was too hot to wander, my husband and I met up to see the amazing the new Cirque du Soleil show, Amaluna. It was really beautiful, and the physical skills of the performers were just awe-inspiring. Every since, I have been working on my handstand!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

a market dinner

Recently we happened upon zucchini flowers at the Jean-Talon market, and we tried to recreate a zucchini flower pasta we once had in Rome. While the pasta didn't come out the same, it was fun to experiment with eating flowers. Next - stuffed zucchini blossoms!

Friday, July 6, 2012

marché jean-talon

One of the many things that I love about Montreal is the Jean-Talon Market. While it is open all year round, during the summer and fall local producers fill the market with their fruits, vegetables, and artisanal products. The market also is the best place to go to buy seedlings to ensure your own backyard harvest, and flowering plants to improve the view!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

jazz fest

We've been spending our free time lately down at Place-des-Arts, where the Montreal Jazz Fest is in full swing until July 7th. And by jazz I mean jazzy rock, jazzy blues, jazzy pop.. you get the idea. There are also some acrobats thrown in for good measure (seriously). I love it all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

kale salad

It seems that everyone has been talking about how good kale is for you. But what I want to say is that it is delicious! Especially served in a simple salad. Lately, inspired by this recipe from Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks, we have been enjoying kale dressed with olive oil, red pepper, lemon juice and parmesan.

First, wash the kale well, dry, and then slice the leaves off the tough center stems. I usually slice the leaves again so the pieces are a bit thinner. In a small bowl, mix together about three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the juice of one lemon and a scant 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you prefer less heat). Then mix in a handful of grated parmesan. Pour it over the kale and toss well until coated, garnishing with a bit more parmesan. I am sure it is also delicious with toasted breadcrumbs and garlic as prepared by Heidi. Preferably enjoyed on a back deck with lemonade!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

san francisco: huge trees and ocean breezes

Last month's trip to the west coast offered up so many treats for the senses. Visiting a new place and seeing things you have never seen before is so exciting. For me, it makes me approach the world with a "beginner's mind," connecting me to the kind of vital curiosity and delight that children bring to their discovery of the world. I had never seen trees as tall and as immense as these - and they were in a city park! And although I am accustomed to the Atlantic coast, the vast Pacific conjures up a different feeling. Around San Francisco, the water seemed to almost bubble with energy and the winds had swept sand over the sidewalk, a reminder of the power of nature.

more montreal street art

Sunday, June 17, 2012

montreal weekends

Last weekend the F1 was in town. I am really not into cars but I do love anything that leads the city to close roads to cars! While most of the car people were downtown, a good part of St Laurent was closed, as was Mont-Royal for the Nuit Blanche sure Table Noir festival. I love crowds of people spilling into the streets... I was so excited to do it again this weekend.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

the mission

One of the most interesting neighborhoods I was introduced to in San Francisco was the Mission. Kind of a hipster/Latino culture mashup, there were so many interesting shops and restaurants. And amazing ice cream! And murals! And, of course, Mexican food and the requisite margaritas!

Friday, June 15, 2012

san francisco snapshots

I had such a great time in San Francisco. There are so many interesting things going on - luckily I had such a great tour guide in my friend Meg. We were room mates for a while in undergrad, and it had been too many years since we had last met up! It was such a pleasure to walk around S.F. catching up and reconnecting, and seeing the city through her eyes.