Friday, March 30, 2012

recipes: gluten-free & vegan lace cookies.

My grandma was the resident baker in our family. While she doesn't bake as much anymore, I still remember her many confections. One thing she made rarely, but was such a delight that I still remember it, is lace cookies. These light-as-a-feather cookies are very southern, wonderfully delicate, and almost ethereal in your mouth. After I found out about Celiac's disease and its ban on wheat, I bought this wonderful cookbook full of vegan, gluten-free baked goods. To my delight, a version of lace cookies were included. These cookies turn out wonderfully thin, light, and are a perfect cookie to start off the warm spring months. Missing one of the ingredients, vanilla, I threw in cinnamon and substituted some brown sugar for a wonderfully scented dough.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Lace Cookies
adapted from Babycakes Covers the Classics

1 3/4 cups of Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour *
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup arrowroot *
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum *
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
* These ingredients may sound weird, but they are easily found in Whole Foods and similar stores.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix flour, sugar, brown sugar, arrowroot, baking soda, xanthan gum, and kosher salt in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
3. Stir in canola oil, applesauce, and cinnamon.
4. Scoop teaspoon-size rolls onto cookie sheets, with about 15 dough balls per sheet.
5. Bake for 7 minutes, and rotate and bake for another 7 minutes. Do 6 minutes on each side for a less crunchy cookie.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

Although these are vegan, they are wonderful with ice cream, even soy for that matter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I miss Maine lots. Going up there for spring break didn't really help with my constant nostalgia for the ocean and nachos from Gritty's. However, I did find one little remedy...nail polish! As soon as I saw the name of this color I had to get it.

Clearly I should have been doing my proposal on naturalism in the Caribbean...
I found the prettiest red-orange called "Clambake" from Essie and immediately fell in love because it was the perfect color of cooked lobster which you see everywhere in Maine, even on the license plates. Although I'm allergic to lobster, it's nice to have a little bit on my fingers to remind me of Maine, my second home.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I've always been slightly obsessed with feathers. When I was little I loved picking up bird feathers that had fallen, and although my mother said they contained bird flu or something, I would still pick them up and run my fingers delicately along their sides. I still have this fixation, and have multiple pieces of jewelry and clothes with feathers on them. It has also occurred to me recently that while I obviously have a "nest," I also have "feathers," hence the title change of the blog. 

My absolute favorite feather of many pieces. 
I've been moving around (figuratively speaking - I still do live at home) and growing a lot these past few months, and have been using my wings much more than I thought possible. Pardon the cheesiness, but it's true. So while I will of course be talking about "nesting" I will also be talking about the "feathers" we all have to use at some point.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

three good things about coming back from spring break.

The notion of coming back from spring break (or if you have a real job, spring vacations) is never fun. However, through my (slightly) excessive amount of schooling in my life, I have learned how to make the  days back from spring break/vacations a little more bearable.

1. Seeing work friends.
Now, I'm not saying these are not your real friends, because they most definitely are, but you always share something special with these people because you do see them everyday. You can share your many inside jokes, as well as your disdain for coming back to work after a restful weeklong vacation. Plus, who else will you listen to sappy Ricardo Arjona songs with and complain about your need for a pre-5 p.m. cocktail, at least in my office?

2. Seeing your friends on their breaks.
Having your friends plus family come home on their spring breaks, before or after yours, is perfect because you can catch up on work and school and life in general. This past week I went to lunch at a small Italian restaurant with my cousins, one of whom was visiting from Arizona on her spring break, and it was so nice to catch up on life and all the little things that have happened.

3. Looking forward to the next time you get to take a wonderful adventure.
This past break, where I was in Maine, was super enjoyable. I spent the first few days home looking at pictures of my boyfriend and me in many different spots, as well as the funny photos I took on our many adventures. Everytime I do this, it makes my day a little bit brighter and makes me look forward to my next trip!


I will post some pictures from said spring break adventure soon, cross my heart. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

how to water a cactus.

So, let me start off by saying this post isn't actually about how to water a cactus. Rather, it is about why someone would ask me how to water a cactus. A former colleague this week asked my boyfriend to ask me how often one should water a cactus. My first response was just to laugh and wonder why somebody would ask me how to water a cactus. But  then it occurred to me - I'm from the desert, where there are cacti, therefore I must know something about them. This led me to think about the assumptions we might make about people based on where they're from, and vice versa.

This is the kind of cactus that seems to be everywhere at my house - prickly pear.
I then realized after my laughing fit that I might ask my boyfriend's parents - born and bred East Coasters - about the best fish and the best way to cook it. Wouldn't you ask a local anywhere the best place to eat, or anything that pertains the their town or state? Is it crazy to assume that people from Aspen might have a little more knowledge than most about the best skis? Now I know this is a generalization, but at some point we have all assumed this about someone else and someone else has assumed it about us. Rather than saying "Why would someone ask me that?", I will now take it as a point of pride if someone does ask me about succulents or other desert plants. After all, I do love where I am from and (mostly) everything about it.

P.S. For future reference, water a cactus every 1-2 weeks when the soil is bone dry, and water it a little bit at a time, without soaking the soil, until the soil is pretty damp.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

it's so nice to be back (running) in lewiston.

For my spring break, I'm up visiting my boyfriend at college in the smallish city where I lived for four years, give or take. I actually came to adore Lewiston, with all of its little quirks, although it could really use real Mexican food and a Starbucks closer to campus. And for the most part, I'm actually happy living at home, although I have found this week that Lewiston has a couple of perks, mainly when it comes to running.

The trails by my house are beautiful but have plenty of dangers, and I haven't had to deal with any of those here. Namely, bobcats, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, stray dogs, and crazy mountain bikers. Running in Lewiston I didn't find any of these (obviously)! It was only after I moved back home that these things became very bothersome because I have had to try to avoid one danger or another on my runs. Maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but it sure is nice to run without fearing your life on account of a large standard poodle...

Monday, March 12, 2012


It never feels good when you let yourself down, but it always feels worse when you let someone else down. Such is the case during the state debate tournament last week, when my students came in third overall. The disappointment was rampant and I felt so terrible because I felt like I could have done more to help them win. However, this did provide a very good life lesson, one much needed for both the students and myself.

Although these such tournaments encounter variable judging quite often, as well as long hours, and some less-than-peppy coaches, the students usually do pretty well. However, there were a few more obstacles to overcome at this tournament, including favoritism, even longer hours, and a coach (that would be me) breaking down over the variable judging. It seemed to get the best of me, and my students. Well here is where the good life lesson comes in: do not let these little things get to you. Although judges making you lose because they dislike your school, or things running late because there is a lack of judges, these are things that sometimes come with the territory of high school debate, and truth be told there is not much that can be done about it. Such is the way the cards are dealt, and this is something both my students and I had to learn.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

cheap and wonderful.

Sometimes, when something is very inexpensive and still very cute, I (and many of you, I'm sure!) feel the need to buy it just to have, even though you might not wear it that often. Such is the case with this pair of menswear-style oxford flats that I bought at Target (!) several months back because I thought they were cute and cheap, and I assumed that I would find some way to wear them.

Favorite (cheap) footwear find.
Lo and behold, several months later, I have been wearing these shoes several times a week and already wearing out the soles. While I have already written about how much I love me some ballet flats, this has been a great change. Mixed with a dress, the combo of masculine and feminine makes for a really fun outfit, and I can wear them to work where I'm lugging around very heavy art up and down stairs. They also saw some action this weekend when I was working thirteen hour days with my debate team at our state tournament. Unfortunately, the soles have started to come off (an unfortunate side effect of underpriced footwear), so I might consider investing in a slightly more expensive pair, or even just have these resoled!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

born happy.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting a ten-week old shih-tzu named Patches. While undeniably adorable, what struck me about Patches is at his young age, not even three months, he knew something that most humans spend their lives chasing after. He was so happy. Sure, maybe it is in the nature of dogs to be happy, but why can't it be in our nature as well? That isn't to say we shouldn't be satisfied with mediocrity, but in our pursuits to better ourselves, we can also find happiness in each step rather than leaving it as the ultimate end goal. A goal of mine is to bake something gluten-free that tastes as if is not. Although I have had some stumbles, I have learned to be happy with the results each time that taste a little better. No, it is not perfect, but it is still a good place. So, my lesson learned is to be a little more like Patches and a little less like my perfectionist self, and love where you are and what you have done, without ever forgetting where you want to go.