Snow, Excuses, and an Exciting Announcement!

It is a snowy October day here in Minneapolis, as indicated by the photo above.  This is unusual for us; yes, we have snow, but generally not in early October.  Despite the wicked foreshadowing of the snowy fate that will inevitably befall us, the first snow fall of the year is always rather magical.  I laughed out loud and smiled when I stepped out my door and was attacked with a face full of snowflakes, and joked with equally amused neighbors as I walked to my snow-covered car.  Freshly fallen snow is beautiful, and looking at the cheery little snowflakes flying around outside the photo studio right now, I feel this weird undeniable urge to put up my Christmas tree, drink apple cider in my pajamas, and cuddle up on the couch with my imaginary lover.  Snow even makes the awkward, anti-pedestrian, industrial neighborhood where the studio is located look pretty.  That's the power of nature in full force, let me tell you.


Ahhhhhhhh yes, right now, I love snow.  However, I'll feel differently in two months when my Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in and I become a desperate Northerner in need of Vitamin D and warmth.  I'll be cursing every little snowflake as I attempt to break free from a frigid, dark depression.  Yeah, I better relish in this happy wintery mood while it's still here.

Anyway, enough about Snow.  Let's get on to the other two subjects of this post: Excuses and an Exciting Announcement.

Let's start with the Excuses portion.

Excuses for what?  For not posting as often as usual.  Reason number one is that I've been without internet in my apartment the last few weeks.  After getting forcibly cut off from my neighbor's wireless (breakin' the law, breakin' the law!), and spending weekend number three without internet access, I have finally admitted to myself that it is time get my own internet account.  Writing blogs at home, then transferring them via flash drive to my computer at work, copying them into Blogger, and posting them over the lunch hour at work is no way to live.  And I keep forgetting to transfer images along with blog content, so I end up with very boring looking blog posts.  So, yeah, internet, ASAP.

Besides that, I've been a very busy girl. I'm playing in the orchestra for the Barebones Halloween 2009 Extravaganza , a four-day, outdoor performance that takes place at Hidden Falls Regional Park in St Paul, MN.   Complete with pyrotechnics, larger than life puppets, a large cast, and live music, this Halloween tradition draws hundreds of people each year to sit on rows of hay bales on dark, cold Minnesota nights.  It must be good, right?  This year the performance is entitled "Devoured", and is incorporates themes of werewolves, the Egyptian god Anubus, and Little Red Riding Hood, with a Bollywood twist.  It feels amazing to be playing music again; the viola and I were joined at the shoulder for a good 13 years.  Suffering string player burn out, I put it away for a few years, picking up accordion in the meantime and dabbling in music here and there, but not really doing anything serious.  After seeing last year's Barebones show, I knew I had to participate.  I'm hoping that playing with this group will lead to playing more music in the future.

But why stop there?  Because I'm not taking any classes for acupuncture school this term, since I'm hoping to transfer to the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (I apply in November!), I decided I needed to cast my net a little wider for some learnin'.  So, I've recently starting taking a couple classes through the Experimental College of the Twin Cities.  One is a film class about political interpretations of  the work of Spanish Surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel.  I love film, I like Surrealism, and I dig brainy discussion, so it is a good fit.   The other is a class that provides an introduction to Marxist theories and how Socialism functions in the current global political climate.  Given the fact that everyone seems to be crying "Socialist!" these days, I decided to take it upon myself to really learn about it and make up my own mind on how I feel.  These classes make a really good pairing to each other, and I've found it amusing to be toting around a copy of the Communist Manifesto in my purse.  Ooooh, controversy!

In addition to EXCO, I'm getting some great learning opportunities from my acupuncturist.  In exchange for treatments, I have agreed to start creating content for her future website, and helping her with some other stuff related to her practice.  I'm stoked to have the opportunity to work with her on this; it is great experience for me to see the business side of an acupuncture office.

And of course, I've still been cooking up a storm and closing up shop on my garden.  I harvested my last batch of goodies from the garden yesterday, a bunch of squashes, a huge bag of arugula, and all my beets.  Last week I harvested all my herbs, my last zucchini and cucumber, and half the arugula; I dried the herbs and made arugula pesto.

In general, I've been cooking and baking a lot lately.  I've been whipping up lots of tasty, experimental goodies to share at rehearsal - think Carrot Cacao Cookies, Zucchini Anise Bread, and Squash Raisin Spice Cake - and have developed an interesting reputation among the group for these treats.  I've been playing with salad dressing recipes, and came up with a wickedly garlicky, wonderfully creamy, citrus and vinegar free dressing brimming with herbs.  I made and canned applesauce, and have been drying all the herbs I harvested from my garden.  I've been playing with my new Vita-Mix (!!!) and making tasty smoothies, pureed soups, and homemade sunflower seed butter.  But my biggest victory of the week, by far and away, was a Savory Parsnip, Fig, and Caramelized Onion Tart.  I think it is probably my biggest victory of the last three months, actually.  It was bring-you-to-your-knees amazing, no joke.

So what does all that food talk lead up to?

The Exciting Announcement portion of this post, that's what!

So what is it?

I'm gathering recipes for a cookbook!  I have aspirations to be like Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs, A-K from swell vegan , Elana from Elana's Pantry , and Lolo from Vegan Yum Yum;  I want to publish something of my very own.  After being prodded by my friends and family, and finally feeling like I'm getting a real culinary handle on this whole gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods thing, I think I'm ready to start pulling this all together.  It will feature some recipes from the blog, but mostly be filled with new ones, everything from soup to nuts (literally). Like the blog, all recipes will be gluten, soy, egg, corn, dairy, shellfish, peanut, cane sugar, citrus, tomato, potato, and yeast free.  So, I'm conjuring up new recipes and refining others, and plugging things into the layout I have going. The hardest part is trying to keep a narrow focus and really keep the quality over quantity aspect.  I'm really excited for the food photo shoots, since I plan on calling in help from my photographer and stylist friends, and will be able to make use of this whole photo studio I work at.  Then I have to figure out how to distribute it and all that jazz.

Anyway, all things willing, I am hoping to get it all out early next year.  I'm really excited - wish me luck!  In the meantime, I will still be posting recipes as promised, so don't worry.  But none of that can start until I get my internet up and working, so I better get crackin', no more excuses.