Life. 365-Style. (4/2-4/29)

Sheweeeee, April just disappeared, didn’t it?! I was pleased to find that I only had 4 weeks of “Life” pictures to update, because it certainly seemed like much longer since I’ve been around these parts.

It has been a great month. Lots of sunshine (and some sunburn. in April! in San Francisco! well…. mainly out of town..), lots of gatherings, some fun trips, blah blah blah. See for yourself:


92 – not a good start. My 9:00 PM reminder (also, see the microwave time?) buzzed and all I had to show for it was a picture of a quinoa and bison meatball soup. The soup was great, but the pic? Not my best ;).


93 – a nice day for a lunchtime walk outside at Stanford. love those flowers!


94 – say hello to Jennifer & Jon! we did a little FaceTime to check in on them since their move to Seattle (!!).


95 – my friend, Frannie, had a massive shoulder surgery and has been “stuck” at home, so I delivered some homemade mac n’ cheese. she put me to work shaking a cocktail, but dang, it was worth it!


96 – this is why reading in bed never works. she is on her way to the small spot between the iPad and my face.


97 – Chris and I happened upon this spot on 24th street in our new ‘hood. Still not sure why we haven’t been yet! Records, pig, and pie? oh my!


98 – I was at a 2-day committee meeting in Phoenix and this was basically what that meeting consisted of. Yes, I ate Sun Chips for the first time in years! And plenty of other snacks too. It’s all about staying focused…


99 – ready to get home! goodbye, Phoenix!


100 – hello, Palo Alto. another lunch walk. it is definitely Spring here!


101 – instead of 90 minutes of hot yoga, I called Chris and told him I was more interested in checking out Hi Lo BBQ. ’twas a good choice.


102 – Bernal Heights from my angle. Wouldn’t living there be so fun? Well, unless you had to walk up it every single day…


103 – the view from Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, about 30 minutes east of SF in Richmond. sunscreen would have been really nice here. also, if you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. see?


104 – a trip to Japantown. apparently the Cherry Blossom Festival was going on, and the bands were setting up. Cool mural, eh?


105 – shrimp, couscous, feta, and zucchini. also, another night of almost forgetting to photograph. look at those leftovers!


106 – I am usually not too into the genetics/DNA stuff, but I thought this was timely, since I’d just finished dinner with a couple of fellow genetic counselors when I spotted this in a window on Valencia street.


107 – this is the site of my worst run ever. I think. note to self: coming down with a sore throat/almost cold doesn’t mesh well with running in heat. I think I made it 1 mile and stopped about 10 times. ha!


108 – we took a road trip to Los Angeles Thursday-Sunday (well, Monday – stay tuned) and stayed in this adorable place we found through AirBnB that was essentially a treehouse in the hills. There were lots of cats, but this was the friendliest. She just hopped in bed with us like we’d known each other for years. Chris would probably like for me to add here, that the point of this trip was too see Rush get inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It was pretty spectacular; I won’t lie.


109 – we got up nice and early the next day and did a sweaty hike up to the Hollywood sign. it made eating pizza at Mozza and an amazing dinner at ink. totally ok. right?


110 – after the required trip to an LA record store for “record store day”, we headed to the Angeles National Forest for a little backpacking adventure along a part of the Pacific Crest Trail. We veered off a bit and hiked up to Mt Hawkins (8800 feet elevation). This is the view.


111 – we were back to the car by 10 AM Sunday morning to get a head start on our trip back to SF. apparently, the forest wanted us to stay a few more hours, because this crazy tire damage was all from a rock smaller than my fist. the best part? having no cell-service and waiting 5 hours for a tow truck. no, the best part was being stuck overnight in tourist-crazy Universal City, home of Universal Studios. no, the best part was riding down a mountain in a tow truck and smelling my own body odor the whole time. oh, man, what a journey. we did get to try out Fabio Viviani’s old-school restaurant down the street, though!


112 – home, sweet home. also, I think I can cram a few more things into my hutch, don’t you?


113 – I’ve just realized I have to stop taking lunch pictures on campus. but it’s so pretty!


114 – our awesome new landlords mailed us BBQ sauce from The Pit! (they moved from SF to NC.) we didn’t even bother whining about the “western style” sauce because it was so dang awesome.


115 – someone was tuckered out. poor baby.


116 – somehow a Friday night of planned delivery turned into a dinner out at Foreign Cinema. best change of plans ever. their fried chicken (Asian-influenced) is killer.


117 – Chris organized a post-birthday celebration in Dolores Park on Saturday with a few friends. the weather was PERFECTLY SUNNY. we had jams to listen to, ice cream to eat, and an amazing cake with peanut butter icing from a new bakery (thanks, Judy!). it couldn’t have been a better day.


118 – on Sunday, we headed out for coffee and a nice stairway walk up through the east part of Bernal Heights. the view was so dang clear you could see Sutro Tower and Twin Peaks in the background. ps – these are some of the houses from the picture above, #102, but now up close and personal.


119 – oh, and don’t let your dream die. just don’t ;).

No Place Like Home

Visits to North Carolina are quick and to the point, event-driven, and filled with obligation (not that we mind, of course). So much so that we often times forget that NC was at one time home to us, and not just our parents and friends.

A couple of weekends ago, we remembered.

Even though home for now is in Chicago, North Carolina was where I learned to ride a bike, where my feet trudged through the sand and shells every summer of my childhood while looking for sand dollars and conchs, where I fell in and out of love with boys, and where I learned that life is what you make it, wherever you make it. It’s who we make it with that counts.

You reach a point where you think all of your friends are married, and then you reach a point where they all start their own families. We keep realizing that it isn’t as uniform as it seems – they’re still getting married (hence this past trip), they’re still having or not having kids, and sadly some are parting ways – for better or worse isn’t always as easy as it seems, it appears.

Sometimes we realize that we’ve grown apart – perhaps it’s the distance, or the difference in career choices (or lack thereof), or maybe we just mature at different rates (some of us, ahem, more slowly than others). Either way, we’re still friends, and that’s what counts.

I can’t say if we’ll ever live in NC again. Shoot, I can’t even say where we’ll be in two or five or ten years, for that matter. But what I can say is that, while home is wherever we choose to settle down for the time being, North Carolina will always be home-home. It will always be special for that reason and so many more, and we will always look forward to the visits back – even those visits when we say goodbye to someone we love – because it’s those visits that count.

This recent weekend was one of those trips – another wedding, another visit with our respective families, and another drive or two between Raleigh and Greensboro. This time, we stayed until Monday, catching an early flight home just in time for the work week. It’s something I think we’ll make a new tradition, as we found ourselves with an extra day – a “freebie” of sorts.

We finally got to eat at The Pit, a lauded spot for eastern-NC BBQ, and for the first time in 8 years, we wandered through our old campus, reminiscing on things that were the same, all the while remarking about all those that were different. We met up with more of the fam and people-watched at the State Fair while eating fried cookie dough and the best ice cream around – from our alma mater itself. We spent time with some of the kids, who seem to grow in feet rather than inches. I had dinner with friends. We drove past our old apartments, old dormitories, old hang-outs.

We saw Autumn in the South – leaves falling, crackling beneath our feet, reminding us once again, that this – North Carolina – is home-home. There’s no place quite like it, and that’s what counts.

Apple Hand-Pies
chiknpastry recipe, makes 6 pies

time commitment: ~2 hours (most of which is inactive time)
other: dough freezes easily. to use frozen dough, let sit in fridge overnight to thaw.

don’t get me wrong – I love fried treats from the fair, but one can only eat so much in one month, right?! these hand pies are baked instead, but they’re just as charming. the dough makes enough for two pie crusts, so you can save 1/2 of it, or double the filling for double the hand pies. i like the idea of getting another pie dough out of my efforts, so I freeze the other half for later.

the crust is very similar to other crusts I’ve used before, but I swapped out half of the AP flour for spelt flour for a whole grain twist and a nuttier flavor. the shortening has also been reduced a tad.

printable version

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 c spelt flour
1 T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 stick (8 T or 1/2 c) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 T (1/4 c) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
up to 1/2 c ice water

1 large granny smith apple, peeled and chopped into small cubes
3 T agave nectar
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 t lemon juice
1 egg, lightly beaten
turbinado, or “raw” sugar, optional

pulse flours, sugar, and salt in a food processor to blend. Add butter and shortening and pulse repeatedly until small pea-size clumps form. Add 1/2 of ice water and pulse until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. (alternatively, this can be done by hand or using a pastry blender, but it’s gonna take longer!) Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until needed. (You can keep it in the fridge for 2 days, or even freeze it and let thaw overnight. But, let it sit out for a few minutes to soften before you are ready to roll it out.)

combine all ingredients (apple through lemon juice) for filling. cook over med-hi heat in a small saucepan until some of the liquid dissolves and the apples cook but remain crunchy. remove from heat and cool completely.

roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round (as i said above, i freeze the other round for later). using a 4 7/16″ pastry cutter (or whatever size you want, really; can also use a plate if you don’t have a pastry cutter), cut as many disks as possible, then repeat the process by rolling out unused dough until you have 6. you may need to chill the dough again if it gets too warm.

position rack in lower third of oven. measure out a heaping tablespoon onto one side of each round (total amount is somewhere between 1-1.5 T). brush entire edge of each round with beaten egg, fold half of dough over to make a half-moon shape, and press edges together. seal edges using the back of a fork. move to baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

preheat oven to 400. brush entire top of each pie with egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar, if using. bake @400 for 20-25 minutes. remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before digging in!