Friday, July 16, 2010

*8Things: Honoring Places

Join *8ThingsThis week's *8Things from Magpie Girl is perfectly timed, yet again. After a long weekend with my family in my home town, I'm reminded of all the things I love about that little village where I grew up.

*8Things: I love about my hometown

1. Sunsets on the lake. Growing up by the shores of Lake Ontario was a real blessing. Plenty of opportunities to swim, fish, listen to the waves, watch boats and experience beautiful sunsets.

2. The smell of the air. I never thought I'd be able to tell the difference between city air and country air, but this last trip made me realize I can. Whether I smell newly laid cow manure or the distinct, fishy scent of the bay, the air in my hometown is always fresh and clear.

3. The nearness of my family. I love living in the city, but being 7 hours away from my family makes it difficult sometimes. Having a large portion of my family in the same area for a few days is always a comfort and a joy.

4. The quiet. Even when it's at its loudest, my hometown has an overriding sense of quite. At night, I can hear crickets chirping and frogs croaking, the wind in the trees, the music coming from a bar more than a mile away. Early in the morning, as I take a walk, the cows low and the birds sing. But underneath even these sounds of quiet is a silence I don't hear other places.

5. The stars. Living in the city means bright lights 24/7. I can see the sky, but not many stars, from my backyard. In my hometown, the sky lights up with a blanket of stars so plentiful it's hard to see the darkness underneath them.

6. The land. There's been a lot of development in the area where I grew up, but there's still plenty of undeveloped land. Almost everyone has a big back (and sometimes front) yard. There are fields of corn, hay and flowers. Without all the clutter of city life, it's like a vacation for my eyes.

7. The wild (and not-so-wild) life. In the city, my exposure to animals is pretty limited. I might see some dogs and cats, squirrels, birds and maybe the occasional deer or rabbit in a nearby park. But when I visit my hometown, I'm guaranteed to see all of those animals, plus muskrats, fish, cows, horses, and a large variety of birds that I don't usually see in Maryland.

8. The comfort. I've been in Baltimore for 10 years and consider it home on so many levels, but there's nothing like being back in the place where I spent my first 24 years. There's a feeling of comfort that settles in as soon as I pass that "Welcome to ..." sign that I just don't get anywhere else.

What place can you honor this week? Join in on this week's *8Things: Honoring Places by grabbing a button from Magpie Girl and writing up your own list, or leave a comment here and let me know what place you're honoring and why or how.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Recipe: Chipotle Hummus

Hummus is one of my favorite things to make when I need to bring something to a party or when I know I'll need some quick lunches or dinners. It's easy, flexible and so good. A high school friend mentioned she was eating chipotle hummus and it made me thing I should try whipping up a batch. This is the recipe that resulted, just in time for those Fourth of July barbecues. Whip a batch up and impress all your friends.

Chipotle Hummus


1 15-oz can chickpeas; drained, liquid reserved
1 large clove garlic
1 chipotle pepper, canned in adobo sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP tahini (optional)


1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, chipotle pepper, lime juice, olive oil and tahini. Process on low.
2. Add 1 TBSP reserved chickpea liquid at a time, processing until hummus is desired consistency.

It's as simple as that. And healthy, too. Serve hummus on a veggie sandwich or as a dip for veggies and pita chips.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

*8Things: Simply Summer

Join *8ThingsThis week's *8Things from Magpie Girl is an easy one. Or at least, it should be: List *8Things you must do this summer. Normally, my summers are just like the rest of my year. Maybe there's a little more traveling, but other than that, it's same old, same old. Work, farmers' market, household chores. Nothing new or exciting to mark the summer months as different from the rest of the year. Not in the ways that summer was Summer when I was a kid.

This year, in the wake of a breakup and all that entails, I've decided to make this summer special, to do things I've been afraid to do or have been putting off or giving up for the sake of said relationship. I'm spending my time with people I enjoy being with, doing things I love, things that make me happy and fill me up. So this summer, I'll be stretching myself and making time to do these *8Things.

*8Things: Simply Summer

1. Hang out at the pool. The Ex didn't swim. Therefore, we never spent time near the water. I love the water and this summer, thanks to a friend who works at a swim club, I'll be hanging out by the pool and swimming as much as possible.

2. Go to the beach. I live just a few hours from the ocean, and it calls to me every year, but I rarely make time for the trip (see #1). This year, I've got at least one beach weekend already planned. (Thanks, Mel!)

3. Pick berries. I keep saying that I want to go to a U-pick farm and bring home buckets of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, any kind of berries), but I always let the summer go by without making a plan. Not this summer.

4. Relax. Summer used to be a time to unwind, to vacation and enjoy a slower pace. I want to feel that again this summer, so I'm minimizing my freelance work load and encouraging myself to enjoy being free of commitments.

5. Be spontaneous. I'm normally a planner, but I like to be spontaneous every now and then. This summer I'm going to do something totally out of character and last minute. No planning allowed.

6. Eat ice cream. Often. 'Nuf said.

7. Wear tank tops as often as possible. If the last few weeks are any indication, it's going to be a hot summer and I'm going to enjoy it with bare arms and shoulders.

8. Wish on stars and dream big. Summers are filled with promise and possibility. I'm going to stay open to whatever the Universe might bring my way and whatever my heart is hoping for.

What's on your Simply Summer list? You can join in on this week's *8Things by grabbing a button from Magpie Girl and writing up your own list, or leave a comment here and let me know how you enjoy the summer months.

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