Monday, May 25, 2009

This Blog's a-Moving!

Pssst... Come check out new posts, new photography, new recipes, and all that jazz over on my new blog:

Emma E. Christensen

Things I've been up to:

• Working on a homebrewing cookbook
• Attack of the baby goats!
• My growing kombucha addiction
• A very good bowl of chili

Come on over and check it out!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Day in the Life: Jamaica Pond

The other day I was in a restless mood, so I grabbed my camera and took a walk around the pond. It was barely warm enough to shoot without gloves on, and midway through the walk, it started to rain in a half-hearted kind of way. The whole afternoon felt very hushed and mysterious, but a little exciting, too. Kind of like Sherlock Holmes following a trail. Or Hansel and Gretel. It was inevitable, I suppose, that my mood translated into the pictures.

I was following one of my favorite paths for when I go running. These are things I see almost every day and that get wedged in the back of my imagination. 
This stone block is at the very beginning of the path I follow. I don't know what its original purpose was or how it came to be in the middle of this little scrap of woods, but it always makes me think of a sentinal. It's like some sort of watchguard who has to hassle me a little, but grudgingly allows me to pass.
You wouldn't know it from the picture, but just to the right of this picture is one of the busiest roads in Jamaica Plain. I don't know what the speed limit is, but people go very fast. And because the road is windy, the cars are constantly nudging into the other lanes. It's all very nerve-racking and honk-inducing.

But we won't worry about that. Let's look at the pretty stone wall some more.
And look! The first bit of green!
I have to admit that I had some fun with photoshop with that picture of green buds. I can't believe those crazy reds and blues in the background!
When I took this picture, I'd been walking for about an hour. The woodland sentinal and the green buds were at the beginning of my walk, but didn't see much worth photographing in between there and here. 

When I'm on my run, this is the point where I'm saying, "Ok. Homestretch, ol' buddy. You made it this far, might as well keep going." I also like the way the path curves. In the summer, lots of people sit on those benches with picnics and newspapers.
These swans live in a mini-pond just off the main pond (pictured above). This pond is a lot more secluded, so it doesn't get a lot of foot traffic. These guys showed up a few weeks ago and now I wave at them when I run by (for reals! I'm a dork!). The day I took these pictures, I made my way down to the side of the pond to say howdy and snap some pictures. 

Right after I took this one, a little swimming thing darted through the water and almost ran into the swans. The swans acted all startled to be disturbed from their reverie: "What what? How now? Well, I say!" I followed along beside the swimming thing and I think it was either a muskrat or a beaver. I would have taken a picture, but as soon as I got to a good spot, it did a little flip and disappeared under the water. Made me think of the beavers in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Which is maybe why as soon as I saw this...
...I of course thought of the lampost in Narnia. Except this one's a little more broken down.

I love that stuff like this exists in the middle of the city. I'll miss it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Look at my stuff...isn't it neat?

I thought you all might enjoy a look at my photo studio, a.k.a. the dining room. I've discovered that with the light from the window, an overhead light, and floor lamps on either side of the room, this ends up being the best room for lighting. Plus the table is about at hip-level for me, so I'm not having to stand on my tippy toes all the time to get a shot. Sometimes I can even sit down in one of the chairs and balance the tripod on the arm rests. That's nice.

This is a spring pizza featuring new potatoes, ramps, and asiago cheese that I'm developing for a May article. It took me a few tries before I was happy with it, but I think I finally got a winning version today. Yum!

Thanks for all your kind words on my last post. I've been feeling a lot better and calmer since then - mostly thanks to the fact that the venue and the catering are both settled now. Those were the biggest things for us financially, and we had a few surprises in how much things ended up costing, so it's nice to just have it done and finalized. Whew!

And the invitations are coming along. Scott and I actually changed the theme and we're both having a lot more fun with it now. I don't want to reveal what we're doing yet, so I'll just say that it's making us giggle a lot and we hope it makes our guests giggle too. 

The move to Ohio is also starting to feel more real. This list of awesome things to do in Columbus actually made me start feeling excited to explore this new city and make it our home. I have a tough time with moves - we moved a lot while I was growing up and I think it's made me...kinda weird when it comes to moving to a new place. I tend to feel very...unemotional and I just have a really hard time processing the whole thing.

I'm realizing that it makes a big difference to be moving there with Scott. I'll find myself starting to close off and pull in and shut down, and then I'll realize, "Oh wait. Not alone. Scott will be there with me. We can hold hands." That's a nice realization to make.

Speaking of nice things, I thought you might all enjoy a peak at my wedding ring(s). Hee hee!
 The picture is weird and fuzzy for some reason I can't figure out, but you get the idea. They're my great-great aunt's wedding rings, passed down through my mom's side. I just got them re-sized to fit me and the jeweler gave them a cleaning while he was at it. I had no idea they were so sparkly! The jeweler laid the rings out for me when I picked them up and I just gasped!

I'm still wearing the engagement ring Scott gave me for now (we were always planning on replacing it with a "real" ring for the wedding). I'll definitely save the wedding band until my actual wedding, but I can't decide if I want to wear the engagement ring part before that? To be honest, it's a little...grand for me. And while a girl can always do with a little more sparkly grandness, it's still...quite grand.

Maybe I'll start wearing it while I type at my computer and just take it from there, eh?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Wedding Planning is Hard...

Wedding planning is hard. As in frustrating. As in anxiety-making. But not for the reasons you might expect. For the most part, our parents have been fine so far. A few nudges and prods here and there, but nothing like the stories I've heard of other parents involvement in weddings.

Scott and I are fine. We've had a few tense moments where one of us had one idea and the other something else, but mostly these have been resolved without furor.

No, it's me. Somehow, I feel like I should be enjoying this a lot more. Take tonight - we were working on the invites, just playing around with images and layout (like the image above, a favorite from the lovely Johanna Wright) and this...this...anxiety just creeps up out of nowhere and just about strangles me. I get controlling and unable to listen to Scott and want to cry. All of the sudden, I didn't want to deal with invites, I didn't want to deal with guest lists, I just wanted to put it all in a box and make someone else deal with it.

I don't really get it. Like I said, on the scale of weddings, this is not a crazy-making one. This feels more like...something having to do with me. Cold feet? That doesn't feel right. I dunno...It feels more like...fear of being the center of attention. Fear of not getting it right, not getting it perfect. Fear of everyone's expectations and also not really knowing what it is that I really want. Fear that the invites will turn out lame or the decorations childish-looking, and somehow the beauty and wonder of the whole event will be diminished. 

Also, old fears of not being girly enough. The tug-of-war between scoffing at anything girly and also, secretly, quietly, wanting it very badly. Feeling completely lost in all this wedding planning and also like I should know what I'm doing because, afterall, I'm a girl, right? 

I just don't know how to do all this. I want to both have a smashing wedding and also retreat into the corner and let it happen to someone else.

Anyway, just rambling here. Not really looking for an answer. Just kind of wandering among the trees dragging my blankie behind me and kicking at rocks. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Morning Routines

Hmm...well, I didn't exactly intend not to blog for...erm...three months? But apparently that's what's happened. In any case, for some reason the scene above, which is "My Desk" circa 9am this morning, struck me as hilarious and I just had to snap a picture and share.

This is my life most of the time now. Two kinds of worcestershire sauce, a back issue of some food magazine, a mug of tea, scribbled notes, my little jar of lotion of in the distance reminding me to stay moisturized. I still grumble and don't want to get out of bed in the morning, but all in all, it's not a bad way to spend your day.

I also recently got an SLR camera - a Nikon D50 purchased from a friend of a friend at a wicked good deal. ). I've been having loads of fun playing with it, and I'm pretty surprised at how easy it was to transition to this from my point-and-shoot. I expected more bumps in the road and tears of frustration, but it's been pretty darn smooth. In fact, I think I've only used my old camera once since getting this one. Which makes me feel vaguely guilty for some reason, like I've abandoned my old camera. Sorry, little Canon 620! It's not you, it's me!

Plans for the wedding move along. It was stressful at first and probably will be again, but right now, it's just fun to see little things start to come together and fantasize about how everything will be. 

The Engineer and I are actually thinking of starting a blog together once we move to Columbus (in May - Engineer got a kickass job doing For Reals Engineering). The focus of this blog has kind of...shifted, it's original purpose of giving me space to chatter about food and such doesn't seem quite so necessary anymore. The new blog would be a way to keep in touch with all our friends here in Boston, show them little snippets of our new lives (like the cat that the Engineer has promised me. Finally.), and chatter about, well, other things. 

Anywho, that's the thought! I'm not sure what to do with this blog. I've managed to collect quite a few blogs over the year and it would be nice to trim them down. Yet, I'd still like the archive of my time here. Hmm...further contemplation required.

Off to go for a run around the pond. It's actually quite spring-like here today, but shh....don't tell! I have a feeling that if Winter hears, it'll be back to bite us tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So I'm thinking it was a wrong number?

Setting: the bookstore where I work, 3:36pm

The phone rings.

Me: "Hello! R&M Bookstore!" 
Caller: "..." 
Me: "Hello?" 
Caller: "You speak Russian?" 
Me: "'m sorry." 
Russian Lady: "You have translator?" 
Me: " We're a bookstore." 
Russian Lady: "Oh, ok..." 
Lengthy pause. I debate my options.
Me: "Can you find a book?" 
Russian Lady: "No!" 
Me: "..."
Russian Lady: "Ok, I go back now."
Me: "Ok! Well...bye then!" 
Russian Lady: "Bye!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Apparently it's November?

When did THAT happen, eh? The past few months have really, well...I'm not sure exactly where they went. Here's the News & Events from My Life to catch us all up to date:

The Engineer and I are engaged! Again! But for reals this time, with a ring and a romantic proposal and everything. It's swell. The wedding will probably be next fall at some point. We've started planning in nibbles and bites. Our conversations usually go something like this:

Engingeer: "Oh, I know! At our wedding? When we say our vows? I'm going to pretend to slip up and accidentally say I love my bike when I'm supposed to say I love you!"
Me: "..."
Engineer: "Won't that be FUNNY?!"
Me: "How 'bout we save that one for the fake wedding?"

Or this scenario:

Me: "Hey, I have a great idea. 'Love is a Battlefield' for our first dance."
Engineer: "Yes! Awesome! We can follow that up with 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'!"
Me: "So funny! We are so funny!"
Engineer: "..."
Me: "..."
Engineer: "Fake wedding?"
Me: "Fake wedding."

We've been having a lot more success planning our fake wedding than our real wedding. But our fake wedding actually sounds pretty entertaining, so....

In other news, the food writing is going well. I'm still working over at the Kitchn and have also started writing a few pieces for the Tribune, which syndicates several national papers. (Including, apparently, the Fairbanks Newsminer? They love me in Alaska!)

I've reached a good place, I think. I've been really worried about money, and between the writing and picking up some hours at a local bookstore, I'm finally almost making a sustainable income. It's enough to pay the bills and keep us afloat until the Engineer graduates. I guess that sounds kinda depressing and a bit anxiety-making, but it's actually ok. I feel like I can take a break from desperately looking for places to sell my writing and ways to make money that are still in keeping with where I want to go. I can just relax, cook, read, write, and be merry for a little while.

Well, I'm still working on the relaxing bit. I'm a recovering stress-aholic, so relaxing takes some practice.

Freelancing is both easier and harder than I expected it to be. It's easy in that it's not difficult to stay focused and do it. It's hard in that it's very difficult to walk away. Including the hours I work at the bookstore, time spent in the kitchen recipe testing, and time spent in front of the computer, I'm averaging about 50 hours of work or more a week.

The upside is that this is all work that I (mostly) like doing. I still moan and groan when the alarm goes off in the morning, but once I sit down at the computer, I'm pretty darn glad to be there. There are off days, for sure, but mostly I really enjoy what I do.

The off days are hard, actually. When I worked at the Noodle Factory, it was ok to have an off day every now and again - you just shrug it off and get back to it the next day. As a freelancer, I feel like I can't have off days. Not that I have to be perfect, but...the deadline train keeps on moving whether I'm with it or not, ya know? The best I can do is settle for a sub-par post at the Kitchn or scale back a recipe that I had been planning. It's been a tough to figure out the best way to deal with this.

It's also tough to say 'no' to new projects. I tend to see what accepting the project would mean for my bank account and conveniently forget what it would mean for the demands on my time. Having this good balance of on-going projects right now makes it easier - I can make the decision to accept or say 'no' based on my energy level instead of my need for money.

The Engineer has started looking for jobs for after he graduates (in May). This is equal parts exciting and scary. He's been in school for a long time. I think both of us have fears about how things will be once he's working full time again. We also might be moving, which is also both exciting and scary. Sometimes I can't wait for a new adventure and go off in day dreams about a new neighborhood and a new life. Other times the idea of leaving the community of friends and family we have here in Boston makes me want to...well...not leave. Sigh.

Anyways. I also have knitting projects and marshmallows and a few books to share, but now I'm tired and need to watch a few episodes of Buffy, I think. I totally missed the Buffy phenomenon when it was actually a phenomenon, so I've been catching up by watching a minimum of three episodes a night.

How are YOU all doing?!