Jun 25 2013

30-something friendship bracelets

I spent most of my teen summers as a camp counselor at the local YMCA. It was the best.

Part of every summer in those sartorially challenging early 90s was the accumulation of whatever friendship bracelets were in. Not necessarily an exchange on bracelets like you might do in 5th grade, more an acknowledgement that this year’s craft teacher dug string or lanyard (Was mine the only camp that called it gimp? And did you know it’s really called scoubidou? And is that where Scooby Doo comes from?) or beads. During swim class or on rainy days we’d work on our crafts, pretending we were bored but being dutiful, and over the course of 8-week sessions clog our arms with bracelets. This is probably an exaggeration. No, it is. But the genearal conceit is truthful.

I’ve abandoned that kind of thing since leaving teaching and since, you know, crossing into adulthood in general. I don’t need to wear the weird lopsided whatever a student made me anymore. I’ve opted for less jewelry so Lo does less pulling and tugging. I know that soon enough I’ll be gifted all manner of things to wear as the tot grows up so for now, no lanyard for me.

Last evening, though, I looked down at my wrist and realized I am, in effect, wearing friendship bracelets.

photo

The red bead is coral. It’s on a thin white string. It’s meant to not last.

It’s from a Blessingway, a new-to-me tradition that can be held in place of or in tandem with a babyshower (ours was flower wreath and more eating awesome food than the link). A circle of women come together around a mama-to-be and pledge to support and love on her and the wee one. We each bring a bead (oh GOD I hate choosing things like ONE bead to represent me. Not because I’m so spectacularly multi-faceted and interesting but because I fear I’m not) and it is strung on a necklace for the be-laboring lady to find focus. Coral happens to be this friend’s stone of choice. I’m so excited for her. So excited for her husband. She was one of the urban tribe whose support pulled me through that so-hard summer. Her husband randomly  shows up with pie on our doorstep. They are, simply, spectacular human beings. What a lucky little! And me? I’m excited to support them in whatever way I/we can even if it’s giving them space and time to figure it out before descending on them to snuggle the heck outta their newborn (so they can nap/shower/exhale).

The green string should last a bit longer. It’s mean to. It has a small lightbulb charm, the take away from our most recent Forth salon. Our theme for this event was “Letting Go.” We were a bit nervous that the magic of the first event was impossible to repeat. It was. But there was still magic. It was just different. And awesome, too.

They represent the types of relationships I am so glad to be fostering in my 30s. I am so lucky and proud of the women in my life. From the women whose tots make my tot smile and whose friendships make long days shorter to my brainiac friends in a bookclub that (gasp) reads the book to the friendships we’re forming through Forth, there’s just an abundance of lovely in my life.

I’m enjoying my summer arms with their friendship bracelets even if I wear more sunscreen and, you know, have a real job now. In those halcyon days, I’d probably have close to 30-something bracelets. Now, I’m ok just being 30-something myself.

 


Jun 6 2013

Test Kitchen: A Forth of Rhubarb

(If this venture had ended badly I was gonna call this Rhubarb Hubris. Rhubris?)

I fancy myself pretty worldly. I’ve been some cool places and eaten some things.

I had, until last week, never touched rhubarb. Honestly, until my friends at the Sugar Beet set about to Beet some seasonal food sense into me, I’m not even sure I would’ve been able to tell a stalk of rhubarb from a flamingo’s leg before last year.

Why not decide to try it out for a big event, untested and with only a good tot nap standing between me and disaster?  What harm?

Before Forth was rained out by the April 18 Flood of the Century (Which, c’mon, happened like four times this year but wins at our house because ONE stair heading upstairs flooded. What?)I had baked a ginger pear bundt cake. The thing is damn good. Our event is seasonal though, based on a rambling vision I shared with Lisa & Kelly, and ginger pear just doesn’t shriek Spring. I took the FotC (Flood of the Century) as a chance to reboot and pick something a bit more May. And Spring? That’s rhubarb’s time to shine (I think).

I picked a rhubarb tart with a citrus glaze. I Pinned it. I planned it. And, because I am me, I waited until about an hour before I needed to leave to approach the rhubarb for the first time. Dude, it’s stringy and harder to cut than I expected. Like celery’s really cranky, blushing older sister.

But I worked it out.

rhubarb tart

 

I mean, that looks good, right? (Good as in I opted to ignore the instructions to cut/place the rhubarb in a geometric or organized pattern and decided it would be a “rustic” tart, which means mishappen rhubarb bits, a crust that is barely a rectangle, but shabby chic enough.)

I then went to work on the glaze. Easy, I can reduce shit like nobody’s business. Ten minutes later I had a saucepan full of near-glass. My solution? Try it to see if it was good. I proceeded to burn a whole in my chin (note: I also was heading to take head shots for Design Cloud.). It was not good, my face was melting. But because I am a stress shopper I had enough extra oranges and limes to sack up and try the glaze again. And this time? I added vanilla to show it who’s boss.

Y’all? I think it turned out pretty lovely. Made all the lovelier by staging from a new crush, Janelle of re:Find Joy,who is about as delightful a human being as ever.

rhubris be damned

And, by the by, Forth was ah-mazing. More on that soon.

Rhubarb Tart with Citrus Glaze, from epicurious

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice *I juiced 2 oranges. I think.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced diagonally (1/8 inch)
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4-ounces package), thawed
    *DO THIS. Like, don’t forget everytime you are going to use puff pastry that it needs to thaw for about 40 minutes. Especially when you have provided yourself about that time to do the whole damn thing.
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • *I added a hearty splash of vanilla to the glaze per some reviewer’s recommendations.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Stir together orange juice, lime juice, and sugar in a bowl. Add rhubarb and let stand, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut pastry in half lengthwise, then roll out each piece into an 11-by 7-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Arrange pastry rectangles side by side on an ungreased large baking sheet.

Make a 1/2-inch border around each pastry rectangle by lightly scoring a line parallel to each edge (do not cut all the way through). Prick pastry inside border all over with a fork.

Strain rhubarb mixture through a sieve set over a bowl, reserving liquid. Top 1 pastry rectangle (within border) with half of rhubarb, overlapping slices slightly. Repeat with remaining pastry and rhubarb.

Bake until pastry is puffed and golden (underside of pastry should also be golden), about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil reserved rhubarb liquid in a small saucepan, skimming foam if necessary, until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 15 to 18 minutes.

Transfer tarts to a rack. Brush rhubarb and pastry with glaze and sprinkle with zest.