Friday, July 31, 2015

Cooking with Kristin - Homemade Yogurt

Guys, making yogurt is so much easier than I remember from the two times I tried to make it my first year out of college. You should definitely try it if yogurt is a thing you like and you have a cooking thermometer!

I made mine with extra whole milk that was leftover from making sausage and biscuits for a recent brunch potluck. (Why did I think I needed a gallon of milk for a recipe that called for 5 cups?) It turned out creamy and smooth and delicious. If I had maple syrup left in my house, I would flavor it with that, but as it is, I've been eating it with ripe cherries or a bit of agave syrup. Delicious!

Also, note that this was the yield from a half gallon of milk, and plan accordingly. It keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge, but this is still a lot more yogurt than we would normally consume in 2 weeks.

Homemade Yogurt (adapted from The Kitchn, go there for more detailed instructions)
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk
  • 1 single-serve container of plain yogurt with active cultures (I used Chobani)
Pour the milk into a pot over medium to medium-high heat. Warm the milk to right below boiling, about 200°F. Stir the milk gently as it heats to make sure the bottom doesn't scorch and the milk doesn't boil over.

After it hits 200°F, take it off the burner immediately and let the milk cool to 112°F to 115°F. You can either wait patiently or use an ice bath to bring it down. Either way, stir the milk gently to cool it off and keep a skin from forming.

When the milk has cooled, scoop out about a cup with a large measuring cup and add the yogurt. Whisk until smooth and the yogurt is dissolved in the milk. Then, whisk the thinned yogurt into the large pot of milk.

Cover your pot with a lid and wrap it in a towel before putting it in a turned-off oven. You want to keep the yogurt at around 110°F, and wrapping it in a towel in the oven did the trick for me. You can also use a dehydrator or a yogurt maker.

Let it set for at least four hours, or overnight. I did overnight and in the morning, it was pretty well set, with the texture of Brown Cow cream top (after you've stirred in the cream top). When you've reached the consistency you like, go ahead and give it a stir (or drain off the whey, if you'd rather), and transfer the yogurt into containers before storing them in the fridge.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cooking with Kristin - Blueberry Muffins

Anything with blueberries invariably reminds me of our summer vacation camping in Maine, one of my favorite of all our trips. Since 99% of wild blueberries in the country are grown in Maine, it makes sense, and we had all sorts of delicious blueberry treats while we were there, from blueberry beers to blueberry pancakes.

So, imagine my joy when I realized that we happened to have everything we needed to make blueberry muffins without even a single trip to the store, as if we were real adults who keep baking supplies on hand. Maybe you have everything you need, too? If so, I'd highly recommend making these right away. They're quick as a snap to whip up and delicious for breakfast or as an anytime treat.

Blueberry Muffins (Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter 
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Heat the oven to 375°F and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter or oil in another bowl. (I know it sounds arduous to have to use two bowls, but since I was already adulting, I tried it and it actually worked out quite nicely.) Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients quickly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk if necessary.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm, and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crafting with Kristin - How to Reupholster a Wooden Chair

So, R. and I finished this project in a day last summer, and then I never actually posted about it. It was super easy. (So easy, in fact, that it allowed time for us to get into a fight about which fabrics we wanted to use AND a separate fight about using nails versus going to buy an industrial stapler, and still finish two chairs in a single day.) It's a great way to make an heirloom or just older piece of furniture look new again.

We used two chairs that my grandmother had in her house, which I actually remember her reupholstering from the dark green oil cloth they (originally?) had to a rose-print canvas that was more her style. The rose-print was pretty faded by the time the chairs made their way to our apartment, so we decided to cover them in wax fabric and Yinka things up a little between the new wax fabric and the old-fashioned style of the chairs.

If you'd like to do it yourself on a wooden chair of your own, here are some basic directions. (For more detail, you could check out this link, although honestly, if we could figure it out on our own, so can you.)

Carefully unscrew the seat from the rest of the chair.

Then, carefully remove the fabric from the cushion. (Or don't. My grandmother went right over that 1960s green oil cloth and it worked out just fine for another 25 years.) Ours was attached with nails previously, so we used a hammer to get them out, but for staples, you can use a flat head screwdriver instead.

Now's your chance to really clean up that chair. If you're planning to re-stain it or paint it, gently sand off the current finish and then go at it, making sure you leave ample time for it to dry. If you're relatively happy with the current state, you can give it a good cleaning with Pledge or use Old English Scratch Cover, a miracle item that has made a ton of our hand-me-down furniture look really good.

Hopefully you've already got fabric in mind. Using the old fabric as a stencil, cut out the right size for your stool. You'll also likely want to replace the padding that was in there before. (Or don't. As I said, my grandmother went right over the previous fabric. We were worried about it getting a little pungent, though, so we opted to replace the padding that was there with new quilting filler from my previous summer craft project.)

Staple it on as tightly as you can. You really want it to be taught, top and bottom, so it's especially helpful to have two sets of hands here. And, you also really want to staple it with an industrial stapler. I tried just to nail the old nails in, and it was faster to go to Home Depot, buy the stapler, come back, and use it than it would have been to keep trying with those dumb nails. Plus, it was only $10 and after this, you'll be a pro and want to reupholster everything you own!

Et voila! The chairs turned out beautifully and really brighten up our home, especially when we use them to seat extra guests.

Have you done any little home improvement projects lately?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How Not to Be Elizabeth Gilbert by Jessa Crispin

The secret to [Freya Stark's] success was listening to the people she visited and letting them tell the story.

This shouldn’t be any secret. It should be what every travel writer does. But, as many have observed, the purpose of travel writing has changed as travel itself has changed and become more accessible. Listening is less important when readers no longer rely on written accounts to transport them vicariously to places they would never have the opportunity to see for themselves. Today’s writing is more aspirational. The travel writer sells not only lovely prose and insights into a new land but also the lifestyle of the rootless and adventurous. Yet, when you establish your life and yourself as goals to aspire to, you take yourself out of the world. Every interaction is sculpted for its eventual presentation, and the aim of every presentation is to show how wonderful your life is. Since we seem these days to judge the best life not as one marked by compassion and connection but as a sensual experience of exotic foods, insider knowledge, and Instagram-able landscapes, everything that doesn’t incite the envy of the writer’s followers gets cut out. If your life is an aspiration, you are a beacon, not a human, and you talk rather than listen.

From a really good piece on travel writing and gender, "How Not to Be Elizabeth Gilbert," by Jessa Crispin in The Boston Review.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekday Wanderings - Coney Island Picnic

On Monday, we took a spontaneous after-work trip to Coney Island for a picnic. R. grabbed my bathing suit, our picnic blanket, and some leftovers for dinner, and we met up at the subway by the beach.

It turned out to be a little less idyllic than I was hoping—packed with people, noisy, strewn about with trash, cooler than expected on what had been a very hot day—so we likely won't try it again, at least in the summer. Maybe the Rockaways would be a little more peaceful. Hopefully Rhode Island, where we're going in August, will be.

But, I'm glad we did it. It's rare to do something so spontaneous on a weeknight for us, and it's just a small and easy way to add a little adventure into our lives. Last night, we went to a Mexican restaurant we'd never been to before, about a mile south of our apartment. Here's to trying new things!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 ARE Trail Running Camp at Dippikill

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to join some friends at the 8th Annual Albany Running Exchange Trail Running Camp at Dippikill. Located in Warrensburg, NY, the camp is meant to help people learn how to trail run, and to improve running skills overall. It's open to people of all levels, and also includes tons of yoga classes, lake time, and hiking.

Because I tweaked out my back a bit two weeks ago, I was nervous about not being able to keep up, but everyone was incredibly supportive. I ended up doing two short runs, a hill-running workshop, and the last day's 5-mile trail race, and never felt like I was holding anyone back. It was a very relaxed, fun environment, and I would go back in a heartbeat. When can we get our own camp in the Adirondacks?

After spending Thursday morning and afternoon looking at antiques in Ballston Spa, Shelby and I headed up to camp and arrived at 4:30. The log cabins were awesome, including the one where most events were located.

That evening, we had a quick 1-mile trail run, and delicious, healthy dinner, before heading out to another one of the cabins for s'mores!

On Friday morning, I skipped the morning run, and went for a therapeutic yoga class. It was so restorative, because it was focused on hips and lower back, two of my big problem areas.

After that, we grabbed lunch and then headed down to Dippikill Pond for some kayaking and swimming. I had a blast in the kayak for a bit before dipping in! (And, this is silly, but one of the women there was wearing a swimsuit that I have, and love, but which is wearing out, and which I never thought I'd have again. I learned that she just purchased hers recently, and now, so will I!)

That evening, we did a hill-running workshop, which was fantastic and super helpful, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner and dessert while we were serenaded by one of the counselors, Dick. Everyone brings their own beer to camp, and each evening, we all had a blast.

On Saturday, I woke up early for another restorative yoga class, and then headed out with a packed lunch for our hike up the Dippikill Mountain. It more or less followed the path of Sunday's trail race, so it was great to get an idea of what we were in for, at a much slower pace that allowed us to enjoy the atmosphere and the wildlife. (We saw tons of frogs and salamanders!)

The view from the top, where we all ate lunch, was so beautiful. I wish I could have captured it more completely with a picture. It looked just like a Hudson River School painting.

That evening was the camp talent show, with some fantastic singing, dancing, acrobatic yoga, storytelling, and even a poetry recitation! I think the highlight was the acrobatic yoga, featuring Ribbit McFrog and Kathy, who is actually pregnant right now. Super impressive!

On Sunday, it was race day with the Froggy Five Miler! Because we're all at pretty different levels, for anyone who expected to take more than an hour and fifteen minutes on the race, we were allowed to start an hour early, so that we'd all end at more or less the same time. I was really grateful for the opportunity to run without worrying about finishing in time, and Team Early Start was a great group that mostly stayed together for the whole run.

Since it was the same path we'd followed the day before, we were familiar with some of the stops, and we ended up walking a lot of the uphills and running the flats and downhills. Just as we were getting close to the end, we saw the finisher from the regular start group run past us, which was incredible to watch. He finished all 5 miles in about 35 minutes, and Team Early Start finished in 1:37. Not too shabby!

Overall, we had such an amazing time! It was great to be out in nature, and the ARE staff was so friendly and accommodating. I hope to go back next year, and I would absolutely recommend it for anyone, even if you only have a little running experience. It's a friendly and supportive environment, and going to camp as an adult was WAY better than going as a kid!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Amanda from Poppies and Ice Cream

Amanda is a writer and veterinarian who lives in Holland and writes at Poppies and Ice Cream. She writes about her adventures in travel, food, and reading, and her blog is light and airy and fun. I found her by reading Lauren's blog, and was thrilled when she mentioned that she'd already read Not Intent on Arriving after seeing some of my comments there. Great minds think alike (and love Lauren)! After reading this interview, I hope you'll hop on over to Poppies and Ice Cream and see what Amanda is up to!

Amanda from Poppies and Ice Cream

Who are you? I am a Mexican-Swiss girl living in Holland with my adorable husband and (much awaited) 17-month old little girl. I am a veterinarian / biologist who loves baking, reading, going to places, jumping around like crazy and red dresses. I love ice cream, reading, traveling, finding new parks, taking long walks, experimenting with new recipes, learning about new cultures and lately sitting in the couch staring at space.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work?  I write a blog at Poppies and Ice-Cream. It is a place where I document my thoughts, rants, adventures. Things I want to remember. It is also a place where I process the hard stuff. It is a bit random, a “caj√≥n de sastre” as the Spanish saying would put it, meaning a “tailor’s cabinet”, that place where all the bits and pieces are scrambled together; there is a little bit of everything: recipes, reflections, some book reviews, travel anecdotes.

What inspired you to start writing? When did it happen? I started writing in the Summer of 2011, when I was actually going through a difficult period (I was struggling with unemployment, adjusting to living in yet a different country and discovering the monster that is infertility). When we were wedding planning I discovered a bunch of blogs written by smart, fun people and I thought it would be fun to try myself as well. In a deeper way it also started as an exercise in finding the positive things of everyday life, as a means to push through what was a little bit of a hard period and in that sense to practice gratefulness, to be aware. It was not that premeditated and intentional at the moment but I see now that I needed to focus on the good things and that it helped me find my place, kept me afloat.

Why do you write? I write to keep track of life, writing also helps me organize my thoughts. I guess I write to journal, to remember, to understand, to put things in place.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Wow, thanks so much. I love the writing (and photography) of Cara of Peonies and Polaroids. I am also at awe at how Lauren from Better in Real Life has a way of turning the simple stories of everyday life (like a conversation with her husband or a trip to the supermarket or how it feels to be a teenager) into a whole meaningful story to which you can relate, also she is often funny and profound at the same time. I wish I could write magical stories like the ones of Julio Cortazar, how he saw the extraordinary in the most common situations.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Ha, this a hard one because I want to go everywhere. But I really am curious about the temples in Cambodia and I would also love to see Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia… I would make a trip exploring South East Asia.

What is your favorite place on earth? The first place that came to my mind is Barcelona, so I guess that would be it. As soon as I set foot on the city the first time I felt a strong attraction and connection to the place. It has everything: sea, mountains, culture, hidden little corners (like the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya… a library that used to be the hospital where Ramon y Cajal made his discoveries on neurons), nice food and weather, friendly people, lots of parks...

Anything else you'd like us to know? You can also find me at Tartas y Pinceles. After much pondering I took the plunge and started a business creating custom-made hand painted cakes. It is still tiny and slowly growing, but it is a fun exercise and a challenge. I never thought of myself as a creative person (I always had a strong penchant for the sciences) and they always scored my creativity low on psychometric tests.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dispatch from New York Harbor

While I'm at trail running camp, I thought I'd share a few images of the numerous boats that can be found in New York Harbor, from yachts to tugboats. All these pictures were taken on our wonderful sail last week. If you have any photos you'd like to share in my "Dispatch From" feature, please email me and we'll get them posted! I'd love to see images of your recent or distant trips!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What to Pack - Trail Running Camp Edition

I don't even know if I can convey how excited I am to be heading upstate this weekend for the Albany Running Exchange's Trail Running Camp! I'm a tad worried about the actual running, since my back has been acting up a bit lately, but I'm told it's a very supportive place and it's no problem at all if I walk instead, or skip any runs all together.

As part of my never-ending quest to carry less crap on the subway/through my life, here's what I packed for a four-day summer weekend of running, hiking, yoga, and cabin-camping in upstate New York:

  • 3 pairs of running pants
  • 2 pairs of running shorts (one for sleeping)
  • 3 running t-shirts
  • 2 running tank top
  • 3 casual tops (one for sleeping)
  • 1 thermal shirt
  • 1 running jacket
  • 2 bathing suits
  • 1 rash guard
  • 4 sports bras
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of running shoes 
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 yoga mat
  • 1 camp pillow (I'm borrowing a sleeping bag from a friend who is also going to be there)
  • 1 towel (oh my god, at the last minute I could not find my travel towel and although I wanted to, I did not throw a fit - instead, I threw a regular old beach towel in the bag)
  • 1 flashlight
  • 2 pairs of sunglasses (Rx and non-Rx)
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 1 pre-packed toiletries bag (includes: soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lenses, hair ties, deodorant, bobby pins, band-aids, and a car-charger)
  • 1 bottle of sunscreen
  • 1 camera
  • 1 cell phone
  • 1 tablet
  • 1 charger
  • 1 water bottle
What I'm wearing for travel: a button down, capris, moccasins, and my real bra. My only worry is that I maybe should have brought my hiking boots for what I imagine is going to be a wicked fun hike on Saturday. But, they are heavy and I didn't want to wear them to work yesterday. I'll survive the hike in my running shoes, I hope! (I was also told to bring two pairs of those in case they get wet trail running, but again, I will find a way to survive if that happens. C'est la vie of a light packer.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Cassie from Sage

Cassie is a graduate student by day and blogger by night, but her full-time job is really being a follower of Christ and a new-ish wife to her awesome husband. On Sage, she writes about faith, marriage, and some of the struggles women face in those areas. I hope you'll stop by and see me sometime! Before meeting her now-husband, Cassie was an atheist, and reading over her earlier posts, I'm struck by how open and compassionate she was (and still is) about finding faith and its relatively new role in her life. Her posts always feel like a conversation with a friend, and I especially love reading about her travels (of course)! I hope you'll stop on by her blog after reading this little interview.

Who are you? I'm a Jesus-loving wife and mom to 3 fur-children. I have a passion for the outdoors, blogging, and community. I'm an INFJ through and through.

Where can you be found online? Sage is a personal lifestyle blog where I document our life as newlyweds and all of the fun, challenging things that come along with it. I'm passionate about my faith, marriage, travel, and fitness. However, I'm not good at crafting, my house doesn't have fresh flowers in it, and I refused to drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte, which pretty much makes me an outcast in the blogging world. Sometimes I forget that my voice is important, that is, until someone reads one of my posts and tells me how much it impacted them personally. THAT is why I blog.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? Reading other blogs inspired me to start blogging back in 2012. I was an atheist who just started dating a Christian, who is now my husband. I knew very little about the faith and what it meant to be a follower of Christ. I sought out some "faith-based" blogs and it was a game changer. I learned that being a Christian wasn't perfect all the time, that these women were still REAL and that their theology wasn't all wacky. I knew that my voice might be helpful to other women like myself out there, so I started to write and haven't looked back since.

Why do you write? I write to be that encourage others. If I can even make the smallest difference in one person's life, my last 2 years of blogging are worth it all.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Who inspires me? What a question. I derive different kinds of inspiration from different people. Amber inspires me to be BOLD in my life and blogging, and to take risks always. Emily inspires me to love better and follow Christ at the expense of all other things. My entire blogging community, or tribe as we affectionately refer to it as, inspires me to keep blogging through. To remember that my voice is important and has a place in the craziness of the blogosphere even when it doesn't feel that way.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I have been absolutely dying to visit Greece! I love the culture and everything about it!

What is your favorite place on earth? Anywhere in the outdoors, but preferably in the mountains somewhere.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I am the co-founder of an instagram community known as #morethanaframe where we share our hearts behind the tiny instagram frame. More information can be found here:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sailing on the Pioneer at the South Street Seaport Museum

This weekend, R. and I were lucky enough to take a sail on the Pioneer, an 1885 schooner that was originally designed to carry sand to iron foundries. The boat is beautiful, seats 44 passengers, and is run by a passionate and knowledgable group of volunteers. When we went out on Friday night, we had the perfect weather for a sunset sail: warm and sunny with a cool breeze.

The seaport district is, despite being a little touristy, a spot I really love in New York, with a lot of history and some lovely old buildings. They were hosting a movie night when we walked past, with beach chairs set up for anyone who felt like watching, which seemed like fun. But we had bigger fish to fry, and headed on to Pier 16.

 The sail was a real highlight for me, with spectacular views of the skyline, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. I also really loved seeing the other boats in the harbor, from other historic boats to yachts and the Staten Island Ferry. I feel like this summer, I've gotten a lot better about spending some time on the water, and it's made all the difference. It was great to spend some time out on the harbor with my coworkers and Roger, and it was a great way to celebrate our 11th anniversary, which fell on Saturday this year.

This sail was relaxing and fun, and definitely a new way to look at New York City. I would definitely recommend booking a sail for yourself this summer if you're around!