Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Soup

I am feeling incredibly grown up in the last few months. Not only have I successfully added green beans to my regular diet (laughable only two years ago), I found a way to eat cauliflower, AND I made soup.

Soup and I have a long sordid history together. I can remember when my mom would make soup on a semi-regular basis- you know, back before she had a paying job and such...

Minestrone, ham and split-pea, lentil, broccoli and cheese...I distinctly remember smelling each one and dreading the dinner table that night. Sorry, mom. It wasn't until I grew older (and out of my ketchup-obsession) that I realized how good I had it. Don't get me wrong, I won't TOUCH ham and split-pea soup, but I'm not as wary of soup as I was.

Soup is one of the foods I just don't know what to do with. There's liquid (which you should swallow) and there's chunks (which you should chew) so you end up sloshing around a mouthful of fluid-like pieces, terrified that I'm going to choke from half-eaten bites of veggies.

Give me a good old tomato soup- sippable, dippable, easy to drink.

In keeping with that idea, I came across this recipe for pumpkin soup and I thought, Why not? You puree the crap out of it, so there's no chunks, right? I like pumpkin so this seems win-win.

Sadly, this recipe calls for cardamom. I have never had cardamom and I have no idea what it tastes like, so really I have no idea what I'm missing. I substituted coriander instead. It gave the soup a subtly sweet flavor (maybe that was just the cumin) but I was head over heels! 
This made enough for three servings (all for myself, fortunately: Mr. E wasn't as excited about this recipe). 
The first time I added dried cranberries (sooo yummy).
The second time I used barbequed chicken (hubby's homemade BBQ sauce) and Laughing Cow creamy Swiss spreadable cheese.
The third time I added the suggested plain Greek yogurt as well as some chopped almonds and more cranberries (what can I say, I'm a sucker for cranberries).

I would have really liked to try pumpkin seeds in my pumpkin soup, but those never last very long in our house. After Mr. E finished singing my praises about the fact that I made them, he burned his tongue, put them in a bag and I never saw them again. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


I am bleeding creativity.

In the best possible way.

As a science major at a research-centric school, creativity was often playing second fiddle. And on a quarter system I was hard pressed to churn out the results I needed every ten weeks. Can we clarify how HAPPY I am that I don't have any more schoolwork?

To make up for the last 4 years, I have hit the ground running: reading anything I can get my hands on (trashy, classics, graphic novels), painting, doodling, crocheting, cross-stitching....If I see a project, I will find the materials to make it. 

When you get married, you are incredibly blessed with all manner of necessities by friends and family. Kitchen utensils, sheets, towels, dishes, and so on...but who gives decorations? Who gives ornaments and paintings and vases? 

Decorations show what is important to you: what's important enough to showcase on your walls and your shelves. Something you want to look at everyday, be reminded of and display to others.

I certainly don't believe that decorations need to be bought, and if they do there's no need for them to be expensive. I look forward to the day when I can frame board games on the walls for our kids- well loved, creased and garishly painted. 

I decorate with magazines.
I decorate with hardbound books.

I decorate with wedding vases. And ribbon. 
I decorate with my husband's action figures (NOT toys, sweetheart).
I decorate with textbooks. And movies. And broken cameras.

Things we had lying around, left over from school, from our rooms when we lived at home or from family members. We have been incredibly blessed to have family reach out to us when they're ready to donate household items. We have no obligation to keep anything they offer, but it has been a Godsend to have extra sets of eyes looking out for things we might need.

Yes, most of our things are secondhand. There are few things in our home that don't have their own story behind them- and that's half the fun! Surrounding ourselves with the love and support of others, I feel more at home here than I ever have before.

But then come holidays and in an effort to make our sunny California home feel more seasonal (that white stuff in the air? Probably dust from the neighbor's leaf-blower) I like to decorate. I use what I have and make do when I don't. The cheaper the better.

I've been coveting frames with book pages. So I made them with leaves from down the street (my dog thought I was nuts).
At a recent family birthday my grandmother brought embroidery hoops to make fall mobiles. We then brainstormed how to make them more multi-seasonal (plastic eggs- or blown out real ones- felt hearts, paper snowflakes...).

My husband and I had no fall/Halloween I saved all the odds and ends of glassware we had in our fridge and set my little heart on a color scheme to paint. Sure, only six of the planned 15 made it out in time for the season, but my husband didn't seem to care. And our guests were floored that I had that idea in the first place. 

A few bottles of cheap paint from Michael's later (and an extra fine paintbrush) and we had these.

My favorite part about crafting is that it gives my hands something to do. I am such a multi-tasker. 
Commute to work? Read. 
Watch a TV show? Crochet. 
Baking night with friends? Make a pumpkin out of a book- what?! 
I can't sit still. I have this insatiable NEED to do, do, do. At the end of the day, I go to bed satisfied that I made the best possible use of my time. What do you do to keep yourself occupied?