This past weekend included a three-hour drive through the scariest thunderstorm to the dreamiest little hideaway. Back to the stomping grounds that were never properly ours, a dream that never quite came true for us.
Even though we desperately wanted to move away from Florida, we thought, for the longest time, well, if we *have* to be here, we’d sure love to be in this particular part of Orlando. With this little ramen place, and this little record store, and this corner coffee shop. With my best friend on this end of town and my sister and her swimming pool just ten minutes away and so and so forth. But the timing was never right. I had family responsibilities in town at that time. And then folks started moving away from Orlando, and then we had to move to another part of Florida for other obligations and responsibilities. By then, it was too late.
But we had a free weekend, and we found ourselves reminiscing about a place we never knew as well as we would have liked and for some friends we hadn’t seen in a while. So! We planned a brief Orlando jaunt close to all the places we loved best We rented a cute Airbnb. We met up with some friends for soup dumplings, we met up with other friends for board games and beers, we went out for sushi, and then the next morning we went out for coffee and stopped by our favorite nursery for some garden treats before heading back.
I guess you can’t go back, and you definitely can’t-can’t go back to somewhere you never lived in the first place. But still…it was good to see you, Orlando. For those interested in such things, I shared a “what I bring in my travel bag” over on TikTok!
Baby-me in my mid-twenties wanted to start a food blog with tons of gorgeous bread photos but it turns out I couldn’t even make a decent no-knead loaf. It wasn’t till my 40s that I learned patience with sourdoughs and the no-fail certitude of plush buttery enriched doughs that I had the confidence to revisit making just a regular old yeasted loaf of something.
This is a whole wheat oatmeal flaxseed loaf using a recipe from Minimalist Baker. It rose perfectly, it’s nice and sturdy for toasting, it’s exactly as I envisioned, and I did it! Only took me twenty years! Gonna start that food blog now; people are definitely still reading those, right?
Bad days, man. Sometimes I think I’m getting better at handling them, but then sometimes, I have no idea what I’m doing. But this day is over. And I made a pretty good mushroomy fauxganoff meal, even though I wanted to order tacos and queso. I planted serrano and melon seeds. I’m having a nice little foot bath, and I’m trying a new whiskey that a lovely friend got for us. A stupid day doesn’t have to turn into a stupid evening. I’m gonna knit some muppety stitches and do my grandma knee strengthening exercises and read something deliciously creepy and be glad that I am alive in this world to have any kind of day at all. Am I doing this right? Any of it? Will I ever know?
P.S. I am fine. Most of my bad days consist of being very agitated and working myself up to a tizzy. I’m working on the “not working myself up” part. Hee hee, but, if I am being Very Real here, I will confess that my most of my agitations are for very bratty reasons. I consider it a good day if I can work on personal projects alongside Day Job things, and on days where work-work is nuts and becomes my entire focus, I get SO CRABBY. These are super privileged, very entitled crabulations and cranks, but I can’t help it.
I WANTED TO FINISH KNITTING MY BLANKET BUT MY BOSS KEPT YAPPING: The Sarah Elizabeth Story
I’m trying to keep better track of what goes into my guts and fuels my bod and my brains. This may be very triggery and I don’t want to freak anyone out, but I’ve become fixated with and terrified of the idea that as soon as I turn 49 in two years, I’m going to wake up dead.
I remember that happened to Michelle McNamara (46) and Julie Powell (49) and maybe for different reasons, but I don’t want that to be me. And you can’t foresee or control these things, I realize that, but there are some things I can control and I at least want to know that I tried my best. So logic dictates that if I do not eat at least 20 kinds of vegetables per day, I will literally die.
This not-at-all upsetting multiple ongoing existential crises brekkie thoughts brought to you by zucchini and enoki miso soup, eggy salmon rice, and lots o’ pickles.
It broke my eyeballs and turned my joints to jelly but it was actually an easy-peasy project and I’d probably knit it again while my traitorous old body disintegrated around me. I will eventually gift you a pretty blanket with my skittering skellington hands and hopefully, you’ll be too enchanted to scream?
Or, well, at least my author copy is. The books haven’t hit the warehouse yet, so advance copies won’t be sent out for awhile, and regular old copies won’t be available until the publishing date of September 12th. But anyway…it is HERE! I know I keep saying this, but I can’t believe I even wrote one book, let alone three, and yet here they all are!
Please be sure to place your preorders! Preorders are important! And etcetera! I don’t want to do the whole song and dance about it but they’re important, they really, really are!
and don’t forget…
Pre-order your copy of The Art of Fantasy by August 1 from any retailer and be one of the first 100 readers to receive bonus goodies! Details here.
To be honest, I started this blog post about three weeks ago, and about five minutes into it, I got bored and thought, “ok, done now!” and gave up. Today I’m realizing that there’s not really been any more of the personal-in-nature, lifey-bits on this blog (I’m guilty of putting all of it in my newsletter now), and maybe I actually need to buckle down and finish this. To make it look like a real person lives here, I guess.
Anyway, I had totally forgotten what the title of the blog post was about, what was I referencing? But now it’s coming back to me, and actually, no one gave me that culantro. I bought it by accident when I thought I was buying stemmy spinach. We’ve found a very low-key, no-frills local farmer’s market somewhat nearby, and in the last few months, I’ve been stupidly excited about our visits loading up on herbs and veggies for half the cost of what we might spend in the grocery store (I need that extra money for books and perfume!) It’s just a few stalls of produce; there are no artisanal bread or cheese sellers, no coffee stalls, nothing fancy like that. Just a few people selling fruits and veggies.
Instead of going there with all kinds of plans and recipes in mind, I’ve decided that I will just show up and see what looks interesting and grab it! And then figure out what to do with it on the fly during the course of the week. I’ve sort of fallen into a rut over the last few months. Not without good reason, I guess. I was writing a book and working toward many deadlines, and it was easier to make a lot of simple meals, salads for lunch, and easy brothy soups for dinner. I didn’t have to think about it too much, and I didn’t have to expend a whole bunch of energy. Now I’ve got more time on my hands, and I am realizing that I really miss experimenting!
So what did I do with all of that culantro? First, if you’ve never even heard of it (I had not), it’s an herb that is similar in taste and smell to cilantro, but it looks quite different, and the taste is a lot stronger. I made sofrito with it, except I didn’t have peppers, so I used celery (!!) instead. I realize they are not interchangeable, but, eh, it was an experiment. I also made a dipping sauce for dumplings –and then realizing we had no dumplings, I had to make some of those, too–but Yvan and I agreed this would probably make a better salad dressing.
SO. The featured image for this blog post is not culantro. It’s a random flowering plant from our garden, which we’ve finally begun working on. It’s a mess right now and making me very anxious, so let’s change the subject.
It’s a slow, rainy day today; everything is gloomy and dim. All of my favorite corners looked especially haunted, so I thought I might grab a few murky photos, light a candle, play something atmospheric, and cobble together a cozy space for writing.
Our friend Pam just left from a quick overnight visit, and I’m recovering from the gardening she helped us with this morning and the ONE cocktail I had last night. Lordy. As I am becoming An Old, I am coming to the realization that I can barely drink anything without feeling absolutely woozy and wooly afterward. I need to find some tasty mocktail recipes, except we need to call them something else because I hate the word “mocktail,” it’s just too dumb.
So Pam and I watched some great movies while she was here. Yvan is not a horror movie fan, and I don’t subject him to it, but I’ll always take advantage of having company if they swing the way of spooky movies. As a matter of fact, the last horror movie of any kind I watched was last October, yikes! Last night we saw Huesera: The Bone Woman, which came highly recommended by Andrea at Rue Morgue. An artful pregnancy-as-body-horror/dark side of motherhood story, it follows Val, a former punk-rock rebel turned somewhat domesticated wife, who is caught between what she wants for herself and what society wants for her and who is stalked by a sinister entity after she realizes she has become pregnant. I really enjoyed this one (I especially loved the mid-century modern artsy decor of her apartment!) We also watched M3GAN, and I am sure that I do not need to tell you anything about that one because I am the last person in the world to watch it, but it was delightfully silly and a lot of fun.
My Best Good Friend stayed with us a few days last week, and holy moly, I am just realizing that one. we have lived in this house for over a year now, and two. we have had more guests here in a year than we had in a decade in the old house! Despite the fact that as of April 8th, we’ve lived here for a whole 12 months, the place still doesn’t look very put together…however, BGF is quite good at configuring rooms and maximizing spaces, so they gave us lots of good ideas for temporary solutions while we are still figuring things out.
I don’t quite know what my interior style sensibilities are anymore; I never went full-goth, and creepy-cute never resonated with me, dark Victorian just feels way too extra and high maintenance and cluttered…I think I’m leaning toward something sort of Scandi/mid-century modern, but also rustic fairy tale/cottage witch and a touch of dark bohemia/shadowy eclectic…and that’s not even a thing! How do I make all of this work? I don’t know!
Well, to throw everything off entirely, during the course of their visit, we stopped by a vintage shop, and I bought this splendidly pretty, strawberry-festooned teapot/pitcher, cream jug, and sugar bowl. Where do I put it? What does it go with? There are currently no answers.
To wrap up this little update, here are some current favorite things…
an ergonomic keyboard and mouse for my poor fucked up thumb and wrist
Linghun by Ai Jiang is a heart-haunting novella on how the melancholy of loss makes for desperate ghosts among the living
the time and space dissolving synthy dreaminess of Spirit Exitby Caterina Barbieri
I have become delightfully obsessed with Lauren Rad’s elegant sock designs, and the oatmeal-colored Cromulent socks are the second pattern I have knit up! The first pair were the plummy Tiramisu socks, which I photographed blocking on what I later realized was an inadvertent altar to Arachne! You can’t see all of the spider art on this purple wall, but in addition to the spider cauldron embroidery, there is a whole wall to the right, just out of the frame, with 5 or 6 spider-centric artworks! Now that I’ve realized this, I need to make a more intentional little space here for my knits to stretch and shape themselves in a more sacred, symbolic way (but still lowkey because I am lazily ritual-averse!)
We are to the time of year where, even though I know it is only 50 degrees out, I am just freezing cold all the time. So I wear layers upon layers of clothing. I thought I might share a few of my current over-layers that I’m piling on right now.
I am currently wrapped up in Silvia Moreno Garcia’s SilverNitrate, which is scratching my itch for characters who are deeply immersed in some sort of obsession (film or art, usually) and then there’s a connected occult or supernatural element. If you enjoyed Gemma File’s Experimental Film or Archive 81 on Netflix, you might dig Silver Nitrate.
I have also just finished an audiobook version of Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died and Josh Winning’s Burn the Negative, one being a nonfiction memoir about a former child star, and the other, a book of horror fiction about the present-day gruesome murders surrounding a former child star. I read these both at the same time without really knowing what either was about, and there were some interesting and surprising parallels. I love it when this happens, and it happens far more frequently than you might think! What was the last instance you experienced of this type of book selection synchronicity?
Time to marinate! Every month I’m selecting a quartet of fragrances from my collection cabinet and giving them a primo spot on my vanity so I can clearly see them vying for my attention! This month’s lineup includes:
And finally, I am revisiting what was probably my favorite album of 2016, the darkly euphoric electronica of HÆLOS’ Full Circle. I don’t write many album reviews here on the blog, but I was moved to write about this one; it made me feel WAYS. If a whole album feels too much to dive into, start with “Dust.”
“There is a surreal stretch at the end of an evening of good times that have carried on perhaps an album’s length or a bottle too long. A half-lit, fuzzy spell between two and three in the morning where … You’re in the cramped backseat of a car, cocktail-fevered forehead resting against the cool glass of the passenger side window, your reflection too dark to see. The palm trees are towering overhead–mesmerizing, celestial giants as far away as the distant planets–and the glimmering streetlights are stars that stretch and fade to the edges of your vision like you’re jumping into hyperspace. You want to laugh at the absurdity of the imagery, but all of a sudden, and from out of nowhere, this late night is on the other side of too late. This beautiful, astronomical onslaught is too much; it’s triggering memories more terrestrial and summoning that nostalgic, aching void that’s perpetually lurking at the edges of your experience.
I overheard a conversation recently in which it was mentioned that oftentimes one forgets that words ending in “-algia” indicate some sort of pain. So while we frequently refer to nostalgia in terms of sentimental longing or wistful affection, we cannot deny the twist of the heart that accompanies it, the grief and distress that tinges it. The pain that gives definition to these wispy, amorphous moments, this euphoria we summon and cling to for far too long on evenings like this.”
Well okay then! I have, as of this past week, just sent off the final batch of chapters for the book I am currently working on (The Art of Fantasy!) That means I am KINDA SORTA DONE! I will probably have to make some edits, and then I will have to write a few intros–which are easier to write after I’ve written the thing being introduced, hee hee!–and then start reaching out to artists for permissions to use their works and then get a lot of rejections and then go back to the drawing board and start researching appropriate imagery all over again…so, yeah. I still have a lot more to do, but the hard part is DONE.
It’s been a bit of a struggle, this latter half of the summer. I did not expect to be writing a book while sick with Covid. Nor did expect that I would ever get Covid. I know, I know–that’s a really naive and privileged thing to say. But being vaxxed and boosted to the max and not ever going anywhere, doing anything, or seeing anybody, I guess I thought I could avoid it forever. Not so. Yvan had to attend a week-long corporate team-building exercise thing, and guess what he brought back? UGH. As I’m sure many of you can attest to, this is pretty miserable stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever been so unwell in my life. I tested positive on the 23rd of August and it was really just this week (the week of September 10th) that I am starting to feel normal again.
…and I just deleted a whole bunch of gripes I have about people’s cavalier attitudes about all of this, because you know what? Typing it out was really getting me wound up and upset and furious and that’s not what I wanted to bring here today. I realize it’s my blog and I can write about whatever I want…but all things considered, I don’t actually want to dwell on that. I have a habit of feeling some kind of way and then just stewing in it, really settling into a swampy morass of fury and resentment. It’s not good for me and it’s just a GROSS feeling, and I am not going to do it. I wanted to write a little blog post about how I had just finished something that I was struggling with, how I was feeling better after some “health challenges,” and now I am feeling pretty good again and want to do all the things!
All of the AT HOME things, that is!
A home in which we have lived for five months now! I get that to some folks, settling into a new place is a really exciting venture, but to someone who craves stability and doesn’t love change, these past five months have been weird and unsettling (ok, maybe a tiny bit exciting too, I am not a total monster.) But coupled with having to head back to the old place every weekend to fix it up for sale–which is a four-hour trip total, but in some instances, we just got a hotel and stayed the whole weekend–and then the frustrations of trying to sell it, well, it’s been a PROCESS. I don’t know if it’s indicative of the market or if our house just wasn’t super appealing, but we put it up for sale in May and we’re finally closing on a sale right now, the second week of September. OOOF. That took a while, but…I think…we are done!
So, this summer I had big plans for ~tending to and treating my inner child~ but I didn’t always have the time and energy to devote to it. I’m putting together a more detailed YouTube video about this, but here are a few things I did in service of little Sarah: we got the Jem and the Holograms rockstar hair we’ve always wanted; we’ve been wearing fantastical clothing all summer long, tops and dresses that make me feel like I’m in some sort of fairy tale or enchanted garden, or napping on top of a treasure chest, helping a dragon guard their loot–this magic sword top above is by Jordan Piandedosi; aaaand I have been doing so much reading! Nearly 30 books in the past three months! I think that definitely gets all the sticker stars on my Book It! pin (IYKYK) and so therefore I most definitely deserved a personal pans pizza. And if you are curious about all of the titles that I read, I hope to be sharing that here on the blog as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s the recipe I used, which I think is extra cool, because the person narrating the voice-over sound pretty young (and bonus-bonus! I think they live in the same town I moved to!) Anyway, if you are interested, it came out PERFECT but be prepared to spend five hours making it and five minutes snarfing it down.
Here is a very crooked photo of what one would see if they were to walk into the front door of our home! Yvan’s mother painted this adorable gnome couple for us as a wedding gift, and we wanted it to greet people as they walked in! The only problem is, no one really ever uses the front door, we all come through the garage, hee hee! At any rate, the underneath of the painting was looking pretty bare and we found this small table at a neighbor’s house. She is getting ready to move and had just sort of…invited the neighborhood to come in and poke around? I felt a little nosy, but I recall more or less doing the same thing when I left NJ. It’s the perfect space to display my sunflower bouquet from the day of the wedding!
Here’s another few pieces that my mother-in-law painted and which are hanging in the kitchen! I hope to have a whole freaking gallery in the next few years. She paints the sort of storybook canvases that I just want to crawl into and wander around in for a while. Maybe dangle my feet in the sea, hang out with the fisherman’s wife who is yelling at her husband to not forget his lunch!
Anyhoodle, it is September 18th and fall is hopefully just around the corner and perhaps next time I check in I will have some more interesting things to share. Or, at least I won’t be so hot and sweaty when I am sharing them!
Just a series of impressions and lists from the last month, which seems like a blurry dream thing that never really happened, and yet here we are…
⌛ I think I finally have my desk the way that I want it. Except for that old fossil of a work phone, which, unfortunately, stays until I am no longer working my day job. Which you know, is what pays the bills, so I kinda need it for now. UGH. I do want to add a little plant propagation station and this adorable mushroom lamp. I am afraid I may be unduly influenced by mushroomparasol’s Instagram account.
⌛Speaking of Instagram, I am finding that place profoundly depressing lately. I hate complaining about likes and views and “engagement” but man oh man. I have almost 12K followers over there. 11.8K, to be exact. I have been hovering at that number for the past year, and I have had that account on Instagram for over a decade now. TikTok, on the other hand, I have about 10K followers there and I only created that account a little over a year ago. So I have gotten nearly the same amount of followers in one tenth of the time? Huh.
And as of the beginning of June, my account seems like a frigging ghost town. And I have to ask myself, is no one seeing what I am sharing, or is it that I am really boring and no one cares? I mean, I get it. You can look at stuff on these platforms but you are under no obligation to like it or comment on it or interact with it at all. So no, just because you’re my friend, or just because you generally enjoy the things I talk about, that doesn’t mean you have to “heart” everything I share. Of course not. BUT man. It’s weird. My earnest posts usually, or at least in the past, get around 100 likes, and my stupid jokes or memes usually get like 500+ (so frustrating when people pay more attention to the thing you only gave half a second’s thought to as opposed to something you spent time on or care about, but whatever.) Anyway. This week? Posts are getting like, 20-40 likes. Even a BOOK post! ALL of my friends love books! I don’t get it! I’ve heard it’s an algorithm thing, and I don’t know exactly how that works, but ugh. This is a bummer. And I am not even trying to make my living off of what I am posting there! I imagine full-time artists and writers and small business owners and people who provide services must really be feeling it. Influencers, too.
But fuck those guys. I don’t give a shit about influencers. So. I don’t know what to do about any of that other than start spending more time elsewhere. So if you are on twitter or TikTok or Facebook (yes, I am still over there) feel free to say hi!
⌛ Two things I have watched lately and really enjoyed: Severence, which apparently is nothing like Succession. But I had lumped them together because they had similar sounding coporate-speak names. And which I had no interest in until I realized that Severence is actually a sci-fi tinged psychological thriller. And it is GOOD. (Still don’t know what Succession is, but I also still have no interest.) Also, Shining Vale, a horror comedy starring Courtney Cox and which was a ridiculous delight. If I am being honest I have never given a thought to Courtney Cox (I’m sorry Courtney Cox) but man she was a hoot in this. Also I don’t even know where Warwick Castle is but because I am me I had to find this shirt that she was wearing in a certain scene from a certain episode.
⌛ We’ve gotten most of the wall art hung up in the house! Here are a few peeks…
⌛At long last, we have a proper guest room! With a proper guest bed! And now that William Morris bedding is finally getting some use! I bought it a few years ago and then we promptly went and got a bigger sized bed. Le whoopsie.
⌛I have been looking for the perfect canisters. A sort of vintage situation, enamel, with rosemaling or some sort of Scandinavian floral motif art on them. I found them on a site called Chairish and I am sure I overpaid for them, but that’s okay because they were –exactly–what I was looking for.
⌛ I have been obsessed with the idea of the grinder salad sandwich that’s all over TikTok but then I saw that someone skipped the sandwich part and just turned it into a salad and we have been eating some version of this every single day for lunch.
⌛ I’ve really been excited about getting titles from NetGalley, where you have the opportunity to obtain advanced copies of books that haven’t been published yet, for review purposes. I’ve gotten some really excellent ones that I was really looking forward to and some really incredible things that I never even would have heard of! Well, at least not until after it had been published, and then people got excited about it, maybe. At any rate, MOTHERTHING hadn’t been on my radar but I got it through NetGalley and now it might be my favorite book of all time.
⌛Yvan and I have been walking in the mornings. This is such a lovely neighborhood to walk in, with lots of trees and birds and bats and even some hills (in FL!!!) and a view of the river. We’ve been waking up around 5:30 and making a circuit of two miles or so. Not a lot, but enough to wake us up and sort of give us a feeling of “well, even if we get nothing else done today, we did THAT.” But on the days we do it, we both remark throughout the day how much energy we have, what a good mood we’re in, etc. I know it doesn’t cure all ills, but man. Walking. I love it.
⌛ We’re still working on getting the old house ready for sale, so we haven’t really spent most weekends in the new space. I can’t wait until that’s off our plate. Maybe this new house will finally start feeling like home, like I really live here, when I plan to go nowhere and do nothing and finally have a proper FUCK OFF WORLD! weekend. Fingers crossed!
Welcome to our new place, our gnome sweet gnome if you will! Here’s a peek into some spaces, some more tidy and interesting than others, as we still have a lot of boxes and moving-related junk cluttering up the place.
We moved about an hour and a half or so north, to be closer to Yvan’s parents, as they’re getting on in years. We’ve been a bit resistant to the idea, locale-wise. We’ve been wanting to move to the Pacific Northwest for quite a while now, but hey, this is just a stop along the way, we’ll get there eventually! In the meanwhile, it’s definitely good to get away from our old place, which was sort of falling apart around us, and our old town, where we’d both, more or less, grown up. Although we didn’t really know each other until we moved away and come back!
Where we are living now is much closer to a bigger city, and has interesting things and groceries and restaurants…for example, there was a Sprouts less than ten minutes away (the closest one before was over an hour’s drive) and a very cool nursery five minutes up the road! We are practically right on the river and this new neighborhood is shaded by lots of enormous old trees, so even though we are still in FL, it definitely feels cooler and breezier, and and just…different.
So, it’s all a work in progress but right now I am making my first loaf of bread in this house and in the three weeks that we have been here I have already read four books, so it’s finally starting to feel like home!
This weekend I married my comrade in adventure, my ally in mischief, and my kindred spirit in silliness. We are each other’s no. 1 biggest fan in all the best ways and none of the Annie Wilkes ways! And though we’ve been together a decade now and really, marriage is not going to change anything all that much…still…everything does feel a little different now, somehow?
We did it up very small. Just a backyard ceremony at his parent’s house with five other individuals in attendance. And a dog and some ducks and a big bumblebee which landed in my bouquet!
I didn’t want anything too overwhelming or to have anyone (including and especially me) to put too much work into any aspect of this, and this extended to what I wore. I think I kept it fairly simple. This pretty olive green linen dress from Of Her Own Kind, a pair of little brown boots that I purchased used, a straw hat with an Anne of Green Gables vibe, some shawls that I knit myself, and a bouquet that I made from some grocery store sunflowers.
And for perfume? I wore Rose 31 from Le Labo, a rose blurred from the edges completely inward by woodsy aromatic mosses and sweetly musky resins. Yvan once told me that he thought it smells like his childhood Mossman Masters of the Universe toy and I smile thinking about those fuzzy green muscles, every time I spray this subtle elegant scent.
It was a beautiful day and I never actually thought I was going to get married (it sounds pitiful, but I had convinced myself that I wasn’t the sort of person that people want to marry) and so…of course, I had to make a How To Wear ensemble for it. And with a few exceptions, this is indeed what I wore.
I envisioned a Ghibli-inspired wedding with flying machines & enigmatic ghosts & adorable monsters & artful nostalgia & enchanted worlds within worlds…but as I mentioned, I don’t want any work or fuss and I didn’t want to spend more than $15 on this stuff so I just wore my cute straw hat and pretended.
I do love a good putter. I might suggest I am in fact the Queen of Puttering. I can draw a chore or a task or an errand out for a good length of time, and I enjoy taking my labors slowly. But there’s something to be said about getting all the stuff that you need to do, even the stuff that you want to do, out of the way early in the day to clear up your schedule so that then you can do absolutely nothing.
I hate the term hack. So let’s call this something else. Call it whatever you like! My trick is this: wake up as early as you can handle on a Sunday morning and get everything done in X amount of time. After that, the day is yours. On days when I’m really out of sorts, but I know having done something will make me feel better, I give myself an hour. On days when I’m more motivated and energetic, I might say, “ok, I’m up, it’s 7am, I will give myself till noon to do all of the things I can fit into that time, and then I am DONE!”
Last Sunday I was up by 6am, I scraped my overnight-risen sourdough into a boule and into the refrigerator for a cold ferment, I soaked some dried black beans, I dumped all of the vegetable scraps into a pot to make broth, I made two Pullman loaves of white bread, I pinned out a shawl, I started the black beans on their all-day cook, I folded laundry, and I made a chopped salad for lunches during the week. I made two casserole dishes of mac and cheese. I tried a new thing, a Japanese paper marbling technique called suminagashi. And at noon I called it quits and then I read and watched movies for the rest of the day.
All of these were things that I actually wanted to do! I just…didn’t want to spend all day doing them (although trust me, I could draw even one of those things all day long) because I also wanted to be cozy and curl up with some stories. This is my compromise.
I’m a bit of a bean snob. I get a little upset when I see people dump a can of plain, unseasoned black beans on top of their nachos to float on top of that beautiful river of molten queso like a bunch of little mouse turds. COME ON! Cook them properly! This is my tried and true recipe, although you can really adapt it and make it your own. It makes for the most delicious and flavorful pot of beans and you if you try it, we can possibly be incensed together when the mouse turds inevitably show up in someone’s vegan nacho Instagram reels.
The chopped salad is a thing I’ve been seeing all over TikTok, it’s basically some veggies in a vegan green goddess type dressing, chopped up all tiny and you scoop it up with tortilla chips. Here’s an interesting variation that includes tahini and feta, which looks good! Anyway if you don’t want to click any of those links, do this: chop up a head of cabbage, a couple of cucumbers and some scallions. Blend up a shallot, a cup of spinach, a cup of basil leaves (I would use more spinach and less basil next time), the juice of two lemons, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, and 1/4 walnuts. I also added a fresh jalapeno! It really made for a lovely lunch throughout the week.
I’m trying to eat less by the clock, and more just when I feel hungry, and less “proper meals” unless I really just feel like it. Sometimes at lunch or breakfast I really just want a snack, not a whole big thing. So I’m trying to pay attention to that! And then sometimes I actually do want a whole big thing, so I am trying to plan for that ahead of time and have things like macaroni and cheese already on hand.
Doing new things is hard! Especially if you see your less-than-perfect first attempt and you tend to beat yourself up about what a moron you are, a dumb-dumb who can’t ever do anything right. So sometimes it’s just easier to not try at all. At least you didn’t fail, right?
Yeah… me too. It sucks!
I have been interested in the art of suminagashi for some time now (here’s a nice video if you want to see how it is done.) One of my sisters got me a little starter kit for Christmas or my birthday sometime in the past year or two, and I stashed it away immediately and have been afraid to even look at it ever since.
I finally gave it a try. I would say “I’m not sure what prompted me,” but I am pretty sure it was Yvan, and I tell you what–it is really good to have an objective party with no attachments to the outcome egging you on and keeping you accountable. Even if it is just to say “are you really gonna let that nice gift your sister got you collect dust in the corner?!”
It was fun. It was fun! I HAD FUN. I can’t even believe it. Dripping that ink in the water, watching the concentric circles grow, and slowly swirling it to watch the patterns change and evolve was meditative and lovely. If you are a scaredy-cat like me who wants to be creative but doesn’t know how and you want to do an art but you don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend giving this suminagashi kit a try.
So…why was I trying to get all this stuff done and clear up my afternoon? Because I have been dying to watch Woodland Darks and Days Bewitched and I knew it was a three hours long documentary! And I also know it takes me twice as long to watch a thing as the thing actually runs…so I really needed to clear some time on my calendar, ha.
If you are a folk horror enthusiast, this is an outstanding resource. It is so well-researched, so beautifully crafted, so very worth every second of that three hours you spend with it. And there are so many films mentioned that I had never even heard of, my goodness! Luckily, some thorough soul has put together a list of every movie referenced in Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, so now we can work our way through all of them.
In the meantime, unrelated to anything, and I know you didn’t ask, but let me leave you with the best piece of advice I have ever come up with:
“It may well be one of those days when the devil’s gonna try and show you his butthole every chance he gets, but friends the secret is …you don’t have to look”
I’m trying to limit my screen time. Trying to step back for a while. I’m a little burnt out, a little tired, a little sad. None of that properly encapsulates my feelings or reasoning, but I guess I’m feeling like I need to simply exist for a while. And if no one sees me doing, reading, cooking, making–well, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So much of what I do nowadays, my brain is converting it into blog fodder or some kind of “content” as I’m doing it. And I’m trying to turn that off for a couple of weeks. I suppose I just…I need to sit with myself and see who I am while I’m not expecting people to watch.
Typing that out sounds so ridiculous, I know. I am not an “influencer”, no one is “tuning in” to see what I’m up to. And yet…sometimes I find myself moving through my day like that’s exactly what is happening.
Here’s a pile of shawls that I knit! I said to myself, Sarah, I think you’re just hanging on to these shawls because you want to pile them all up and drape them all over each other and see what all that work looks like together, and enjoy the fact that you made these things.
So that is what I did.
The compulsion to draw inward. The urge to dream. The need for silence and slowness and …the relentless fear of those things, too. I go-go-go. But I’m going to stop for a while. And the world will keep spinning and a lot of stuff will pass me by and I am going to worry that it’s stuff that really matters, but it’s probably not.
I think maybe the things that matter are the things that I will find when I sit with myself, away from all the chatter and nonsense for a while. Maybe I’ll crawl deep into the darkness of me and find thoughts and things that were always lurking there, but that I never saw or heard because I was too busy listening to everything else in the world. Maybe I’ll bring a little light. Maybe I’ll find a little light! Who knows what’s down there?
I will probably still be posting over on the blog for the next month or so because I like writing little reviews and sharing my cooking triumphs, and so on! But I am specifically trying to keep off of Instagram. I start scrolling over there and I see people being creative and productive and doing all of the things, and it pulls me out of this “rest and be still for a while” mode because I start feeling a lazy, useless, lump. I’m really trying to sit with these feelings. Like what is my life all about if I’m not doing things while people are watching me do things?
I was sharing this with a friend last night, how there’s probably something a lot deeper here that I need to suss out and sit with. I have some ideas about what that might be, but I really need to take a deep dive. And I really don’t know what that means exactly, but I think cutting out extraneous distractions is a big part of it.
I feel like people talk a lot about shadow work but no one ever gets into what that really looks like or just how you go about doing it. Just tell me how to do it, already! I feel like I’ve read two or three or 4 or 10 books and I still don’t know! But I guess this is intensely private work and it looks different for everyone. I don’t know!
Anyway! Don’t look for me on Instagram for at least a month or so–and if you see me over there, feel free to slap my wrist*. But gently, I am a sensitive soul and you might hurt my feelings! For those of you who peek at me here (see! there I go again! just who is even peeking at me, right?) feel free to stop by, I’ll still be here.
* I am going to be putting together some Stacked book reviews soon and I am making an exception to share those on social media, because that’s part of my little process! But other than that you can metaphorically slap my wrist if I slip up.