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Giving running another try

I never thought running was for me. Ever since grade school I've always been one of the slowest runners, and in high school I inevitably received a D in gym class whenever the mile was involved. Every run was painful and an exercise in humiliation. So I've never really thought I was capable of running, never mind enjoying it. It's definitely been at the bottom of my priority list when it comes to "fun things to do" or even "tedious things that are necessary to stay healthy". And in the past, the few times I did agree to go for a run, it felt like a huge chore and a struggle.

Running number

Baked Eggs with yogurt and chile

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This really is my favorite new brunch recipe. It's from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty and I find that I've been getting a lot of mileage out of this cookbook. The recipes are vegetarian but not in a "I can't eat meat and that sucks" vegetarian kind of way; instead, it uses lots of inspiration from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and even Asian ways of cooking and flavoring things. So you never feel like "oh my god I'm missing meat". 

This recipe is ridiculously easy to make but the results are so deeply satisfying. I think it also holds a special place in my heart because it uses kirmizi biber, a Turkish dried red chile flake that we encountered everywhere when we were in Turkey. In fact, we've been using up our supply that we bought at the farm that we spent a few weeks working at - we'll have to make a trip to Sahadi's or Kalyustan's soon to remedy that situation.

Spring Cleaning. Of a sorts.

On this beautiful, beautiful spring day, I spent most of the afternoon hunched in front of my computer combing through files in terminal looking for hacked files and to upgrade all my various far-flung software installations (MOVABLE TYPE I AM LOOKING AT YOU) so that I won't get hacked. 

I'm all for control over my data...yes, I still have a non-gmail address for those paranoid moments when I don't want Google to know what I'm up to. But god what a pain in the ass it is to deal with hackers. Then the guilt comes on, like "oh god I haven't blogged in a YEAR what is WRONG WITH ME". And then I look at my site and I think "oh god WHAT IS WITH THIS DESIGN." 

Oh right I'm making stuff all over the place, just not here. 

Where I'm at these days:
Tumblr - This is more like a "I read this super long article in Instapaper and I thought it was interesting and maybe one day I'll get around to commenting on it" link blog. 
Foursquare - This has totally supplanted my "Eaten" blog. Oh well. The key thing is that I can find stuff while I'm out and about.
Lonestar Taco - Our taco joint! If I am putting energy towards blogging more likely it'd be there.

I have pretty much abandoned Posterous, it was great while we were on our trip but I haven't been that into this whole move to Spaces (and now it's been acquired?!). Typepad is dead to me. (unless someone can convince me otherwise.) I tweet like twice a week. I guess I'm gonna go old school and start blogging here again even though the layout totally annoys me.

LONG LIVE MOVABLE TYPE!

(ps. - WHAT THE HELL is up with this zemanta plugin? *fail*)

oh and yay for figuring out how to embed my latest instagram photo. 



You and I

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I totally love "You and I", the new power ballad from Lady Gaga. And I realized that it distills qualities of music that I've been listening to for my whole life, and that she's created a huge tribute to so many of these artists. And that these are awesome karaoke songs. (Looking forward to adding this one to the repetoire)

I made a playlist of this on Mog, otherwise - um d/l off of iTunes?
Update, 6/2/11 - I dumped Mog for Rdio and it's so. much. better. here's the embed:


You and I - Lady Gaga 
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Dude, she got Brian May out of retirement to play on that track? Amazing. Every good power ballad builds to a crazy crescendo and this song has it in spades. And damn she's got a set of pipes. 

Martha

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(I actually wrote this back in December but only now am publishing it.)

I am currently in the land of Martha. I don't really pay much attention to her when I'm in Brooklyn, but spending time in the 'burbs for the holidays made me realize that you can't escape. She's everywhere - on TV, magazines, the radio, the grocery stores, the mall. The past few days have been a barrage of decorating tips, makeovers, recipes, and craft ideas. And damn is it alluring. I totally got sucked into reading the past two issues of Martha Stewart Living from cover to cover, and thinking, wow, these are such great ideas! I should totally do that! Why haven't I thought about making little velvet Christmas trees? Why haven't I invited people over for a dignified brunch with poached eggs and croissants? Why don't I have a nicely painted pegboard of craft supplies? And I could make so many awesome labels!!! I couldn't get enough of it.

But after a couple of days Martha started bugging me. I couldn't figure out why at first, it was just this sense of uneasiness that I couldn't pin down. As the parade of decorating experts came through on her radio show, I realized that I disliked the way it made me feel. It gave me this sense of inadequacy - if only I was a crafting wizard and expert chef and the perfect hostess could I be happy. Because it's all about impressing other people. She's tapped into this desire that women have to be seen as the perfect homemaker - beautiful, classy, practical, ingenious. Even I can't escape from feeling like I want that when I flip through her magazine - who wouldn't drool over those shots of her home and all of the beautiful things she has and makes?

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My militant feminist side starts screaming, "What the hell?!! Didn't women's lib happen already? How could you even get sucked into this crap?!! You're already beating your own drum, why feel like you need to even care about this?" But it's still there, no matter how hard you fight it. Martha's just a manifestation of what our culture values. How else could someone go to jail for like two years and get back on TV like nothing happened? If anything she's tightened her hold on her empire. If you wanted to, you could live in a Martha fantasyland 24-7. And that's what makes me feel uneasy more than anything else.

I could see how easily I could get totally submerged in yearning after a proscribed Martha Stewart life. If only I had xyz it would make me happy. If only I had a bigger house to hold my Martha crafts and to cook my Martha recipes and to throw my Martha parties. Instead, I'm going to resist dropping one of the five million subscription postcards that fell out of the magazine into the mail and look forward to returning to my non-crafty home in Brooklyn.

Firefly

So why hadn't anyone told me to watch Firefly earlier? Ever since I finished watching Lost (can we just pretend like that series finale never happened?), there was a big hole in my life. OK, maybe that's overstating it, but I was totally caught up in the characters. So along comes Firefly in my Netflix queue and I start watching it. And I couldn't stop.

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Captain Malcolm Reynolds

It's got lots of bits that I love - smart, witty dialogue, good special effects, some sweet action scenes, a brooding captain, strong female characters, spaceships, sexual tension. Even after a few episodes I felt like I knew them. I got totally obsessed with their world - I think because the show did such a good job of creating this universe and populating it with such interesting characters. If anything, I wanted most to find out more about Shepherd Book, a man who appeared to be a preacher but evidence pointed to something else.

It's the kind of show where you feel like there are worlds beyond the edges of the camera frame. It's so tangible that you could poke it. It's all in the details - the dialogue is sprinkled with Chinese phrases and alternate slang words, the costumes look like a cross between Young Guns and Oliver Twist, and the scenes on the ship have this grungy, lived in feel. And there is no wooshing sound when the ship passes by BECAUSE THERE IS NO SOUND IN A VACUUM.

It's also billed as a Western, which in the past I haven't been fond of, but the genre's really grown on me. In the past I sort of assumed that Westerns were just hokey period action films with very little substance and ridiculous stereotypes. But recently I watched the Big Country, Stagecoach, Jeremiah Johnson and the Magnificent Seven and they really got me asking why I've been so against watching them. They're so much more nuanced than I thought, with main characters facing Big Moral Dilemmas while traversing the hinterlands. They also have that "larger than the camera frame" feel that I love so much. And you can totally see the influence that those movies have had on shows like Firefly.

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Gregory Peck in The Big Country

Firefly was canceled barely after a season on the air back in 2002, and now I'm left with a big fat hole in my life again. I'll never find out Shepherd Book's past nor if Mal and Inara ever get together. I'm a loser for letting eight years pass before I actually got to watch it but a nerd for liking it so much.

And just because I'm admitting that I enjoy Westerns, please do not tell me under any circumstances to fill it with Walker, Texas Ranger.

Pfeffernüsse

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I was tired of sugar cookies and decided to try something different this year for the holidays. They came out pretty well, I wish I had been able to find regular molasses rather than blackstrap molasses - then I think the flavor of the spices would have come out a little more. They're not that difficult to make - just a lot of waiting. I suggest making the dough the night before and baking them in the morning, or vice versa.

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The recipe from the Gourmet (R.I.P.) Cookbook after the jump!

Soundtrack 2009

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Looking back on the past year, there are a couple of bands and albums that stood out as my soundtrack for 2009 - they were on heavy rotation on my iPod and I couldn't get them out of my head. In no particular order:
  • Quantic and his Combo Barbaro: totally great mixture of Latin, African and Middle Eastern sounds. I wish I could be driving in a convertible down the beach on a summer evening with this on my stereo.
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: I know this album is more than 20 years old, but I recently downloaded it and made me realize that I don't hate Bruce. In fact, this album is totally stark and moving and unlike anything that I had associated Bruce with. Thanks eMusic.
  • Under the Covers: A two disc covers album with Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, lead singer of the Bangles. Some of the covers are pretty straightforward, but I love Susanna Hoffs' voice and I can't get enough of it.
  • Metric: This was Metric's year. "Help I'm Alive" was an earworm for me for almost a month straight. I blame it on @djacobs.
  • Cut Copy: Poppy electro disco perfection.
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: I think this was in every hipster's playlist at some point this year. But there's a reason why! Twee, endearing vocals, with a sugary pop coating.
  • Darker Than Blue: Soul From Jamdown 1973-1980: I was never a huge reggae fan but this album has made me change my mind - the music on here is deep, powerful and yes, dark.
  • Neko Case: Because she's brilliant and I always need my dose of countrified alt rock.
  • Thao: This album recently made it into heavy rotation - I constantly download female singer/songwriter type music with high expectations but often they blur together. Thao has a really unique sound that just grabs your heart and makes her stand out from the rest.
I think that Lady Gaga also deserves a mention even though I have been resisting her for months - Bad Romance has been stuck in my head for days now. Damn her wily charms!

Thankful

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The older I get, the more nostalgic I become for the holiday season. There's something different about this time of year, when you think more about family, reflect on the past seasons, and enjoy the last fading colors of autumn (at least in New York). I have a love/hate relationship with the retailers, they definitely bring out the Christmas stuff too early these days but it puts me in the mood for hot cocoa, curling up on the couch and making tree ornaments.

So in celebration I've dug up some old family photos that I'm going to post over the next few days over in Seen - not necessarily of the holidays, but pictures that bring up that sense of reflection and remembrance that is so prevalent during this time.

A Better World by Design

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Inspired and impressed. This past weekend, I attended the Better World by Design conference in Providence, RI. It's "an immersive experience that deepens our understanding of the power of design, technology, and enterprise to reshape our communities and sustain our environment" - which is exactly the thing I'm interested in. A number of themes and principles really resonated with me, especially the focus on addressing systems, ethnography and user-centered research, collaboration, and multidisciplinary methodology. I'm always trying to clarify my view and approach to the design process, and hearing multiple points of view this past weekend has gotten the wheels turning about what I can do better.

The thing that we often forget as designers is the fact that everyone has the skill and capacity to design. It's not something that should be put on a pedestal, and that true collaboration is needed to make the work successful. Project after project demonstrated the power of working WITH the user, from the fetal heart rate monitor that won the INDEX: award to the murals India to the redesigned hippo roller from Project H. Designers should work with their clients/constituents/users and listen closely to what they need.