Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Floatie Dreams

For someone who has never had a pool or lived in a place that had more than one season of pool-weather, I sure am obsessed with pool floaties. Is that a word - floatie? Our neighborhood gang used to ride bikes down to Target and stand for hours in the recreation aisle, just staring at the pool toys (usually consisting of a silver rectangular floatie and maybe a noodle or two), pretending we had the money and the reason to buy one. I don't know if 8 year old LuRuSo could have handled the selection of floatie fun that is available today. Animals (Rainbow unicorn? Check!), munchies (Junk food? Fruit? Check! Check!), nature (Clam Shell? Why not!?), and even a diamond ring - all floatable. There are even matching floaties for your beverages. It's like Mommy & Me dresses, but for your beer. So grab an air filled pretzel, duckie, or donut, and get ready for all your cares to float away.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

It's All Right to Cry

A year ago I made the off-the-cuff decision to move from New York City to Minnesota after 18 years on the east coast.

Since it was done with such haste and without any real distinct catalyst, it has been a wonky transition. I assumed I would be settled into my "new life" by the end of the year, only a couple of months after the actual move. Well, that didn't happen. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on and what I'm doing here after such a laser focus purpose and identity in NYC. And I cry. But wait! I'm not being all doom and gloom. I'm crying for many reasons and sometimes they are tears of relief and sometimes they are quite happy tears and sometimes yes, those tears are sad.

I'm crying because I love being so near and connected to my family; I'm crying because I feel so far away from my NYC theatre community of misfit toys. I'm crying because someone I trusted with all of my heart & soul disappointed me; I'm crying because other people surprised me with their endless kindness and open arms. I'm crying because I miss my dear old friends; I'm crying because I'm scared of developing new relationships. I'm crying because I have the most beautiful, dream-like living space; I'm crying because I miss the adventures I used to have in my haphazard and quirky prewar apartment. I'm crying for the loss of sea salt air and bruising ocean waves; I'm crying for the beauty of 10,000+ lakes at the ready. I'm crying for the lack of a decent bagel and pizza by the slice; I'm crying for the amazing craft beer scene and tater tots on every menu. I'm crying for always being too busy; I'm crying for wasting free time. I'm crying because I feel what defined me is gone; I'm crying because I'm grasping to define my new self. I'm crying because I'm no longer in the center of the everything; I'm crying because I worry I like my solitude too much. I'm crying because of lost promise; I'm crying because I'm worried about pursuing the right new opportunities. I'm crying because I had no idea what I was doing; I'm crying because I still have no idea what I am doing.

But, as Free to Be You & Me taught us: It's All Right to Cry.
It's All Right to Cry - Rosey Grier

So I'll focus on letting the tears flow, then wiping them away after the deluge and taking one step and then another down this road of life that I'm lucky to still be upon. Here's to another year of big decisions, embracing change, and new roads that are sure to be filled with a lot of likes of Lucy.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Feels: Volume II

Feeling enchanted by one of my favorite summer flowers and its ability to produce so many variations of color within one plant.

Feeling shocked that Spicey is out.

Feeling like a kid again (but with alcohol) at the MN Zoo's Adult Night.
Bear Talk - Minnesota Zoo

Feeling my abs ache after laughing so hard at this homage:
d3@r ev@n OH NO - YouTube

Feeling like mac & cheese makes everything better
O'Cheeze Food Truck - Minneapolis, MN

Feeling like these remarkable creations are almost too pretty to eat!
Patisserie 46 - Minneapolis, MN

Feeling relieved to have someone give a sensible answer to this ongoing worry (thanks, Pope!)
The Pope on Panhandling: Give Without Worry - NY Times

Feeling remembrance of a wise man with wise words.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Will to Not Wilt

Before I start this post, may I offer you a cool, fruity drink to sip upon? You'll need it.
Cassiopea Glassware - West Elm

Because it is hot, folks. And not *just* hot - icky, sticky, relentlessly, beating down with all its might hot. Facebook's On This Day app reminded me that this is a yearly occurrence as I scanned through past posts about needing a lake to jump in, a better air conditioner, beach access, or an endless supply of popsicles. Sometime in mid-late July, this unbearable weather takes over for a few weeks and we get melted ice cream and kids finding any spraying water source they can.

Washington Heights, NYC

I will say that when the temps soar above 90 degrees with 98% humidity and not a breeze in sight, I'm finding it slightly easier to cool off in Minnesota than New York City. That's one point for MN on the Big to Minne Apple Move scoreboard.

For one thing, you don't have to deal with the subway system, which in the summer becomes the closest thing to hell that any of us will (fingers crossed) ever encounter.
The Subway Spa - Improv Everywhere

But, despite the higher occurrences of central AC and green space here in the great north, it's still steamy and muggy beyond comprehension. And so I spend many a summer day during this time period trying to figure out how to keep my Irish/Scandinavian body comfortable in the temporary tropics.

Let's turn back to that drink, why don't we? The clean and crisp flavor of a gin & tonic is my go to when it is sweltering. I upped the summer quotient in this cocktail with berries, herbs, & a hint of floral. I promise, it doesn't make it too stuffy. Just prettier.

Thyme & Tarragon Triple Berry Gin & Tonic
(makes two servings):
  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz St. Germain
  • 2-3 oz Thyme & Tarragon Triple Berry Syrup*
  • Combine gin, St. Germain, & syrup and shake with ice vigorously. Strain into two rocks glasses filled with ice and top with tonic. 
  • Garnish with frozen berries, lemon, and thyme.
*For the syrup, I simmered 1 to 1 sugar-water, and a handful of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, added a few stems of tarragon and thyme and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Strain when slightly cool and keep in refrigerator.

But if you are going to be indulging in alcohol, make sure and match it with as much water consumption as possible. I find having a chic and reusable water bottle makes it all the easier to get in your needed H2O, especially on the go.

Water is really the key to keeping cool. Even being near or gazing at the water chills me out. But my favorite of all favorites is waterfall swimming. I blame my time in Ithaca - it is gorges, after all.
Amnicon Falls State Park, Wisconsin

A waterfall is not always accessible, but waterparks seem to be prevalent around these parts (surprising for a state that has such a short burst of summer), and I've been meaning to check a few out. Some even offer adult hours for exercising, like lap swims and walking the lazy river.

I don't have my own backyard currently, so THESE are out.

But, thanks to Slide the City, I could be slipping and sliding my way down a Minnesota main street this August.
Slide the City

Facial mists and sprays have been my best friend lately. One spritz of this rosewater version will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and it smells divine!

Pajama dressing. It is what I aim for on a daily basis - figuring out how to style pajamas so they look like actual clothes when in society. I'm just that into comfort. Or lazy. Or both? In the winter, it's all about long, all-enveloping cardigans and fuzzy leggings. In the summer? Moo-moos and oversized t-shirts. Light, loose fabric, with no particular shape and nothing that constricts. Something you could easily throw on over a swimsuit.
 Some feasible contenders from Madewell,  Target, and Old Navy.

A few years ago, I took a deep breath and for the first time since childhood, chopped off my long locks. I enjoyed the edgy short-hair look for a couple of seasons, but lately I've been in the mood to grow my hair out past my shoulders again. I guess I'm no longer thoroughly modern and instead back in the bohemian romantic mood. I got giddy when I realized that my mane is finally long enough to put into a crown braid. Huzzah! I'll be utilizing this and other easy updo looks like THESE all summer long.

In the winter months, there is no better comfort food than a piping hot bowl of soup. The summer equivalent for me is a big bowl of cold asian noodles. You do have to boil water for the noodles, but other than that, no time spent hovering over a hot stove.

I went with plain old spaghetti, but you can use any noodle of choice. I forgot I had some of THESE sweet potato spiral noodles in my fridge - they would have been beyond perfect - next time! You can go crazy with the add ins; I went for snow peas, cucumbers, jicama, red pepper, rainbow carrots, and scallions. But simply the noodles as is sprinkled with sesame seeds would also do!

Cold Sesame-Style Noodles:
  • 1 lb noodles (see above comment)
  • 1/4 c nut butter (I used natural almond, but peanut butter, sesame paste, etc. will do)
  • Juice of 1 lime (2-3 tbsp)
  • 2-3 tbsp honey (adjust sweetness as needed depending on what type of nut butter you used)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha (plus more for garnishing)
Combine above ingredients, whisking until smooth. Prepare noodles according to package. Toss noodles with sauce. Chill noodles. When ready to eat, mix in any added veggies. Enjoy!

Now that I have my nosh ready to go, it is time to...do nothing. Because doing nothing means not moving and not moving means not perspiring. Perhaps a day of Netflix and Chill? But like, literally chill, not "chill". 

There certainly are a host of shows to marathon and keep me on the couch, not moving. Oh, and reminding me that winter is coming. So maybe I should enjoy this heat wave while we have it?
The Ultimate Binge Watcher's TV Bible - Refinery29

How are you keeping cool this summer?
Do you wilt under the harsh, fiery sun or do you thrive in the heat?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Big to Minne Apple

This past year I decided to make a big change and moved from New York City to Minneapolis.
Oy vey. Uff-da. Quite an adjustment. At times, I feel like I'm two people - the hardened and savvy NYC LuRuSo or the corn-fed and nice MN LuRuSo. Do I have to pick one or the other, or can they morph into some rad melded super version of both me's?

I used to check in on a blog that lovingly compared the two great cities of Paris and New York through artful prints (Paris versus New York), so I thought to work through my transition, I might muse on the similarities and disparities of the Big and Minne Apple brought to light by my move (minus the cool designs, since I do not have that kind of artistic talent!)

The most glaring difference of these two regions is the attitude of the people, especially long time residents. In the NYC area what people say is what they are thinking. Sometimes it can come off as harsh or aggressive, but after 14 years of living there, I can attest that New Yorkers are the first to offer genuine help or advice, even if it is more direct than Midwesterners are used to. The best example? Johnny T.
Johnny T's NYC Tourist Tips

Whereas, the Minnesota version of Johnny T is more like:
Keep Minnesota Passive Aggressive Tee by Old Tom Foolery - i like you

I've noticed that where these two opposite behaviors are most evident is an elevator ride. Minnesotans really do not want to acknowledge in any way that you are riding the elevator together. They give you a half-hearted, closed mouth, one second smile, and maybe a nod if they are in a good mood. In NYC, I would find out all about my neighbor's drama, including how his aunt has an ongoing saga with her dental crown in the time it took to get from the 6th floor to ground level.

I'm curious to see what other traits define each metropolis, and which I find myself being more drawn to.
I don't think I'll go as far as THIS (and dude, NYC pizza totally wins!)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

In Season At Trader Joe's

You see those unsightly cranes marring my grey skied view?

 I don't mind them one bit because you know what they are a part of building? A Trader Joe's. Yup. A Trader Joe's that is within walking distance from me!

Oh yeah, happy dance time.

Trader Joe's has a wide selection of goodies, all at kick-ass prices, but what I really enjoy about shopping there is the seasonality of their products. Only being able to score a pumpkin-themed dessert in the fall or a rhubarb soda in May harkens back to the days when you ate the food when Mother Nature deemed it so. And nothing beats the high you receive when you actually are able to hunt down that one special item that you'd been awaiting since last year.

My recent Trader Joe's trip found these summertime wares in my shopping cart:

Sweet Corn. Burrata. Basil. Summer in a ravioli!

This has just enough kick and just enough pucker. Wouldn't it make for a quick and tasty margarita?

Tangy and salty cheese that can hold up on a grill or a vat of oil? I'll take five. Cases, that is.

Tis the season to be better about keeping up with shaving. I'm so lazy! But this luscious shave cream helps.

Flavor something birthday cake and I'm right there in a second singing "and many mooooooore!"

Perfect for pool time, a picnic, or other portable party.

What are your favorite summer TJ products? Do you hoard them for other seasons?

Let's end the latest Ode to Trader Joe's with this repetitive ditty that was first shared with me on a previous grocery run - remember?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

All The Cookery

I love the word cookery. It brings to mind heavy bottom pots, wooden spoons, and pies cooling on the windowsill. There is something folksy and also modern about it. Cooking and baking is such a pleasure in life; It is creative & intuitive, mathematical & technical. It takes skill and artistry. Cooking is undoubtably love, and brings joy to those who give and those who receive. I've developed quite the addiction to reading and watching and hearing about cookery. If I was somehow able to finagle a living out of it, I would happily watch cooking shows and read food blogs 24-7. 

My initial TV cooking love was Jamie at Home. Of course, Ina (Jeffrey, too!) and Giada were on rotation, and let's not forget about The Pioneer Woman (side note: I sat directly in front of her on a flight from MSP-LGA once. She ordered the omelette and then was very friendly to all her fans that approached her in the airport bathroom line). But these days you can find me marathoning episodes of A Chef's Life on PBS. You get glimpses into Vivian's world as a chef, a mom, a daughter, a wife, a boss, and how it plays into her food. She also has a beautiful tome of a cookbook (seriously, you could use it as a weapon) that brings back happy memories of the show.

PBS also got brownie points with its documentary series American Masters' Chefs Flight, highlighting four iconic chefs of our era. With the celebrity chef culture and social media food pics of today, it's fascinating to compare what the culinary world looked like mere decades ago.

Top Chef will always be DVRed at my house. Season 15 is around Denver. I've been awaiting this location for a few years now - should be a good one!

Reading about these comestible topics is also inspiring and interesting - they delve into so many aspects other than what's on the plate. It just goes to show that food is life. Some of my favorite books have been Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, the memoirs of Top Chef judges Gail and Padma (Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater and Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, respectively), and former NYT food critic Ruth Reichl's, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. I highly recommend the audio versions - just make sure not to listen on an empty stomach. 

Next on my list is Amy Thielen's Give a Girl a Knife: A Memoir. I've been thoroughly entertained by her past ventures, and am looking forward to learning a bit more about this fellow Minnesotan-NYCer-back to Minnesotan.

Of course, I'm always on the hunt to add actual cookbooks, both fresh and classic, to my shelf.

 Some that I have my eye on include: 

The name alone sells it for me.

Check. Check. Check. Check.

I walked by this shop and always meant to pop in! 

I could make an unending list of food blogs I stalk, but Food52 is my one stop blog for recipes, supplies, and articles of interest.

Even Instagram has become a foodie's paradise. I first was introduced to Lucinda Scala Quinn when she demonstrated a recipe on the Martha Stewart show. I was in the audience and they gifted us a magazine that included the recipe. It was for a simple, but packed-with-flavor, garlic pasta dish. My boyfriend at the time couldn't get enough of it. Lucinda moved on to greater things (as did I, that boyfriend is long gone, good riddance!), and I lost touch with her career. But then came Instagram stories and her presence has brought my obsession to watching people talk and deal with everyday food to a whole new level. She is clearly a talented chef, but I think what makes her "stories" so watchable is the messy (who cleans up that stove top afterward??) and tactile manner in which she assembles and showcases her meals. Her Upper West Side (hello, balcony envy!) apartment feels real and there is always groovy music and vibrant conversation in the background. 

In fact, I need to go check out what she is up to right now - follow LSQ HERE.

My next foodie frontier is the land of podcasts. Do you have a favorite food and cooking related podcast? I want to hear about it!


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