Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Zach's List of Top 10 Favorite Blog Posts for 2013

(in random order ...)

* garden ... our garden took a huge step this year.  one of the many surprises was the ornamental peach tree that grew super delicious apricot-sized peaches.

* baseball game ... i took mindy to her first baseball game this year.  opening day in cincinnati.  there is no other opening day in baseball.  it was chilly, we sat in the nosebleeds, and had a great time.  can't wait to do it again!

* midwest existential ... county fair was my first attempt at working with film and sound.  but midwest existential was my first film, really.  i showed it as part of my 'ritz theater' installation in february.  it was interesting enough to work with, that i'm in the process of working on a second film using the assemblage village from another series of work.

* Jazz Action Heroes ... spring came with color.  and picasso.  and a whole lot of other stuff.  this mural rocks the lawn at brent's bench on s. 4th st. in lafayette.

* Attica mural ... i was honored to be invited to work on this project.  the attica mural was a lot of work.  a lot of days.  and a lot of planning.  but in the end it is one of my favorites.  plus i got to use a boom lift for the first time.  screw a ladder.  this thing is the shit!

* (dis)connect ... at 3rd and romig in lafayette.  no one pays attention anymore.

* 5ptz ... thank god i got to see this before it was gone.  mindy and i spent a day here in june while waiting on her parents to arrive.  in november the entire building was white washed by the owner in an effort to stop the injunctions against demoing the building for high rise luxury condos.  RIP 5PTZ.

and the Bushwick collective...on the other side of the city in brooklyn.  the whole city is painted up in different places.  it is free and fun to explore.  screw the museum.  go to the street.

* Maine ... the air just tastes different in maine.

* Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago ... i think we hit all the shows this year.

* Arthouse Co-op's sketchbook project/print exchange ... 2 great projects.  i did a short film for the sketchbook project, and a layered linoprint for the exchange.  speaking of which.  i should probably get to work on my sketchbook project for next year.

Mindy's List of Top 10 Favorite Things for 2013

Happy New Year's Eve!

Here's my list of the top ten things I loved in 2013 ... (in random order)

* Learning to can from Zach's mom!

* We had very little waste in our bountiful garden this year! We had to work hard to can, freeze, and dehydrate much of what we didn't manage to eat ...

* In addition to our garden, we "raised" and released two very beautiful butterflies!

* Work/school is starting to seem fun and manageable again. In October, I met Dr. Cornel West!

I rode with my professor to pick up Dr. West from the Indianapolis airport. He was on the last flight out of NYC and it was way past midnight when we arrived back in Lafayette. I have never met Dr. West before, but I've read some of his books and watched him rap on C-SPAN (more than a decade ago!). I knew a little bit about Dr. West the scholar, but it's a whole different experience to meet Dr. West, the person. Here's what I learned from spending an hour in the car with him: Dr. West greets everyone as a "brother" or a "sister," in an effort to acknowledge their humanity. Dr. West snacks on Frito-Lays corn chips and animal crackers. Dr. West sustains on no more than 3 hours of sleep everyday. Dr. West knows Katy Perry songs (he sang Roar for us on the ride back!). Dr. West identifies himself firstly as his mother's child and his daddy's kid, secondly as a Christian, and thirdly as a revolutionary. Dr. West always asks to know where someone is from and where they went to school. Dr. West dresses in what he calls "funeral clothes."

* We took a road trip this summer and visited NYC, Providence, Portland (ME), and saw the sun rise from Acadia (Cadillac Mountain)! In Maine, we ate a boat load of lobsters, which left me really, really happy. I want to live in Maine.

* I started learning bits and pieces about traditional Chinese medicine and herbs,

and making nourishing soups to share with my friend Corrinne! Chinese herbs are a good and gentle way to strengthen and provide the body with what it needs. Drinking certain soups have also helped (occasionally) with my ongoing battle with insomnia ...

* I made a last minute trip back to Singapore in late September and for the first time in over a decade, got to celebrate my mom and dad's birthdays!

* I also got to meet my nephew, Asher, for the very first time! He is the happiest and friendliest baby I know!

* Zach and I collaborated on some really awesome print and sew projects! I love it when we get to work together!

* Talking on the phone with my dad while he's on his way to work.

Okay, so this might not be entirely safe, but he assures me that he only calls when he is sitting in heavy traffic (which is every single morning in Singapore!). I like having this daily connection with him. We balance each other out: whenever I am having a tough day, my dad listens to me and makes me laugh, and when my dad is about to start a stressful day at the office, I try my best to distract him with all sorts of silliness. My dad is a first-class problem solver too so whenever I'm stuck, talking to him untangles my mind. It comforts me to know he is my protector even from thousands of miles away.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year-End Review

We on the cusp of 2014! I thought that it would be fun, as we wrap up the year, to have Zach and I share our top ten favorite things from 2013.  Check back tomorrow to see what we pick!

I am so glad Zach convinced me we should have a blog. This has been such a great space to keep an ongoing record of our lives. It's fun to look back at how far we've come along, how much things have changed in the course of the year, and what all we have to look forward to. Thank you for being on this journey with us.

Best wishes for the new year!

Garden Update: December 2013

We've reached the end of the year. Over here in Indiana, it is constantly cold and grey. Our patio garden is stripped clean, and I suspect the plants in the garage are in hibernation mode. But we've had such a great gardening season and we're not ready to give it all up.

So ...

Zach brought in some herbs and placed them by the window!

We have 2 kinds of oregano (he's deemed this the most important herb to have!), 2 kinds of thyme, 2 pots of sweet basil, marjoram, rosemary, and some Italian flat-leaf parsley.

For Christmas, we received 2 little greenhouses from Zach's mom. We haven't fixed it up yet, but we're looking forward to getting our plants started a little earlier next year! In the meantime, we're using a mushroom kit to (hopefully) grow some mushrooms. We'll see how that goes ...

If you're in a blog reading mood, here's a month-by-month look back at our sophomore year of patio/container gardening ...










Sunday, December 29, 2013

still in love with that boy from art theory class ...

Zach and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary today! And for the very first time, we are spending the day at home. We decided that in lieu of a weekend trip somewhere, we'd stay at home this year and try to recreate our wedding dinner.

We had only 15 guests at our wedding, so we were able to put together an awesome meal for everyone. We worked closely with the caterers to come up with recipes that we really loved. We had bacon wrapped dates stuffed with almonds and a festive-looking cranberries, pecans, and rosemary brie en croute for appetizers. Then we started dinner off with piping hot bowls of Italian wedding soup. And because we had the most incredible seafood supplier in town, we served sautéed lobster tails, baked scallops, and a side of pumpkin risotto for the entrée. The hearty meal was capped off with a tiny serving of winter fruit compote and a large slice of cheesecake.

For today's meal, we're simplifying the elaborate menu a little. There will be no appetizers or soup. We'll sauté the lobster and the scallops in butter, garlic, and white wine. And instead of pumpkin risotto, we'll make a version with crab and asparagus ('cos you can never have too much seafood!). We're also skipping the fruit compote and heavy cheesecake in favor of a lighter Japanese cotton cheesecake.

There is so much prepping and cooking to do, we best get to it! If you're interested in the recipe for the Japanese cotton cheesecake, check back next weekend. I'm planning on sharing the recipe if the cake turns out delicious!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

in november mindy and i met up with some friends for a pre-thanksgiving pot roast.  i hadn't had pot roast in forever, and they made one good enough that it got me craving some more.  pot roast relates so well to the winter months, using easy-to-store root veggies and herbs that can survive late into the growing season.  i came to the conclusion that pot roast is the perfect thanksgiving meal.  the earthy heartiness of the dish meets the first snow with a warmth that turkey cannot match.  and for a time of year when no one has the time to cook, the slow cooker is a life saver.

my mom was sick the weekend before christmas this year, so mindy and i offered to do what we could to help out.  we arrived a day early, whipped together this pot roast in the morning, and stewed it all day in the slow cooker for christmas eve dinner.  then we went about the rest of the day helping to prep all of the ingredients for christmas.  it is a bit of an absurd undertaking and i can't believe my mom insists on making it her own personal mission every year, but this year, i'm happy that she allowed us to help out.  it made me feel like pot roast makes me feel: warm and full.

2 lb bottom round
2 onions, halved and studded with whole cloves
5 big carrots, chopped into 2-inch pieces
5 potatoes, quartered
3 leeks, only the white parts
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 celery stalks
a bunch of mushrooms
a bunch of radishes, turnips of whatever other root veggie
2 tbsp bouquet garni
2 cloves
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup wine (red or white)
1 cup water
1 cup tomato juice

heat the oil in a pan.  sear meat, browning on all sides, then add it to the crock pot.

sear the onion, celery, leeks, and garlic in the same pan.  all you want is some brown on the surfaces.  add them to the crock pot.

deglaze the pan with some wine, scraping off all the good crusty brown things stuck on the bottom.  pour the liquid into the crock pot.
throw in the other veggies.

make a herb packet for the bouquet garni with a tea bag or cheese cloth.
add balsamic vinegar, wine, water, and tomato juice until the meat and veggies are mostly covered.
turn the crock pot on low and cook for 8 hours.  by then your house will have a great herby-meaty-hearty smell and you're ready to eat!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!

We're taking the rest of the week off from blogging while we celebrate Christmas with the family. Check back on Sunday to see what we made for Christmas eve! In the meantime, best wishes for a happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Winter Solstice Dumplings in Ginger Syrup

This time of the year is always filled with so much hustle and bustle. Wasn't Thanksgiving less than a month ago? Now Christmas is only a few days away, and before we can really recover from our food coma, another new year will roll around. For Zach and I, December is also special because we celebrate our wedding anniversary at the end of the month. We've learnt to hold our breaths and soldier through all the festivities, emerging for air only after the clock strikes twelve on new year's day.

This year, in addition to all the holiday obligations, we've also volunteered to cook Christmas eve dinner. It'll be our first time and we are looking forward to it! But before we get there, we decided to observe a little Chinese tradition that honors the winter solstice (which, according to the lunar calendar, is today). We made glutinous rice dumplings!

Dumplings are auspicious food that symbolize reunion. They are chewy little dough balls soaked in ginger syrup. You eat them warm and they make you happy. I learned how to make dumplings from my grandmother who used to let my cousins and I help her roll the dough into little balls.

Here's an adaption of her recipe ...


Glutinous rice dumplings
150gm glutinous rice flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup water
natural food coloring (optional)

Ginger syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
3 tbsp ginger juice (I love Ginger People's organic ginger juice)
1/2 tsp pandan extract (optional)

To make dough:
Dissolve sugar with warm water, mix in glutinous rice flour, and knead into dough.
The dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your hand, so be sure to adjust the water level to the flour. Add more water if the dough is too dry; add more flour if it's too wet.
If you are using natural food coloring (please don't use artificial!), divide your dough into 3 portions. Add coloring to dough and knead until smooth.
Roll dough into small balls.

To make syrup:
In a large pot, bring water, sugar, ginger juice, and pandan extract to a boil.
Then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a separate pot, boil enough water to cook the dumplings.
Drop the dumplings in boiling water. They are ready when they start floating to the surface.
At this time, dish out dumplings and dunk in cold water briefly, then drain.
Add to gingery syrup and serve hot.

Happy Solstice!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Winter Solstice

Season's Greetings!

Happy Winter Solstice, blog readers! From today onwards, the nights will be shorter, and the days, progressively longer. We thought we'd share a song so if you are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation, you can take a little tiny break to watch this video for a cool song.

Hope you have a fun weekend!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Who has the giantest paws in all the land?

He does!

And they are magnificent!

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