local roots

Posted by susan on November 9th, 2014

When traveling, the key to unearthing a place’s culture is often found in its food – when you avoid restaurants with menus that even attempt to cater to tourists, sip wine from local grapes and drink beer brewed with local hops. Sometimes, it’s even taking the extra step to visit a market to really live, breath – and eat – the life of the locals.

It’s a habit that can get lost when you’re home. Routines and busy schedules can sometimes prevent us from stopping to appreciate what our own unique places have to offer.

Yesterday, Ina Garten played in the background as Mike, Madeleine and I got ready for a walk to our local farmers market. In the episode she visited one in her area and shared advice that set the tone for our trip: instead of going to a market equipped with a recipe, she lets the ingredients inspire them.

farmer's market

It’s clearly the season of root vegetables here in New England and I couldn’t get beef stew out of my head. I wanted to plan a dinner using only ingredients I could find at the market and for the most part, I did it. There was only one ingredient that led us astray.

Mike had been curious to try a Narragansett Coffee Milk Stout and the opportunity to pour a can into a beef stew seemed like the perfect excuse to finally pick it up. So, we got that critical ingredient elsewhere.

beef stew

Sticking with my rule of only using ingredients we picked up at the market (sans beer), I decided to forge ahead without a recipe. Attempting to match what I happened to pick up with some random one on the Internet would only set me up for failure. Instead, I just cooked the beef – which I also picked up at the market – threw in some broth, beer, water and of course, an array of vegetables and potatoes, and hoped for the best.

homemade beef stew

Despite my lack of talent in the kitchen, it all somehow worked out. I loved it and Mike did too unless he’s a really good liar.

Oh, and don’t let that side of beer in the last photo fool you. These tired, locally fed parents were passed out on the couch before nine.

peeling back the layers

Posted by susan on October 18th, 2014

Today my yoga teacher laid out an analogy that made me think intellectually for the first time in a while, probably because these days, yoga – the third class I’ve been to in maybe a year – is the only time I have no choice but to think of nothing but the present. She told a story about her life before yoga, which included an array of fitness roles, from aerobics instructor to personal trainer. In those roles, she told us that one of the most asked questions she’d receive was, “how do I get six pack abs.” Her answer: “you have them, you just have some layers on top.” In the context of our class, she related these “layers” to anything and everything that might be weighing us down. Whatever our goals, or “intentions” are, “we have them already,” we just have to peel back the layers.

It made me think a lot about who we are as people versus who we let ourselves be.

My daughter, even at eight months, has a sense of curiosity that I already know will take her places – as long as I empower her to run with it and always trust her instincts. When I pick her up at daycare each day her teachers tell me that when they’re playing with or even trying to feed the other kids, she crawls all over them so she can be a part of the action. It makes me feel proud, but mostly a bit relieved that maybe she won’t inherit my sense of reservation, my insecurities or my inability to act on instinct, but instead, be pragmatic to a fault.

Those, to name a few, are my layers.

Before my yoga class – which attending in the first place was in its own way, peeling back a layer – Mike, Madeleine and I spent our Saturday not thinking about obligations or what we “should” have been doing. Instead, we set out on our own little adventure. It started with pancakes and it ended with farm animals and gorgeous fall leaves.

natick organic farm

How was your Saturday?

I hope it was adventurous, whether you kept it local or took it far, far away.

adventures in homebrewing

Posted by susan on August 8th, 2014

Mike and I set off on a new adventure more than a year ago thanks to a generous Christmas gift from my brother-in-law, Bill: a brew kit. Our first foray into brewing – which entailed me following Mike around the kitchen with my camera as he did all the work – was a complete success. The first batch tasted, well, like beer. I don’t mean to seem surprised, I’ve just heard that it takes some practice to perfect this concoction and to have our first batch not only turn out right, but delicious, was a lovely surprise.

Since then there have been other cases, including one that Mike dubbed my Postnatal IPA – another hoppy success. Last weekend Mike started another batch and it inspired me to complete this post, which had been in draft form for longer than I care to admit.

So, from a bird’s eye view, let me walk you through the joy that is brewing your own beer…

Steep your grains.

grain home brew ingredient

Heat your malt.

home brew malt

molasses

Malt, Home Brew Ingredient

Don’t forget the hops. Don’t ever forget the hops.

hops, home brew ingredient

Add some oak chips if you like.

oak chips, home bew ingredient

Get your bottles ready.

bottles for home brew

Siphon.

siphoning beer

Close ‘em up.

beer bottling

And be patient.

bottled home brew

After a few weeks, you’ll have your very own homebrew.

See? Isn’t it easy? Actually it’s a bit more complicated than that. You’ll have to get real instructions. But it’s totally worth every step.

on motherhood

Posted by susan on June 21st, 2014

This post – my first in ages – was started and stopped many times over the last several months. That’s because I had a baby.

mom and baby

My sweet little Madeleine is about 4 months old now. It’s become clear that all of the adventures I’ve had to date were leading up to this point – this is what I was always meant to do. I look back and laugh at the times  I thought I was so busy balancing work and life now that Motherhood has jammed itself into the mix, but there’s a lot it has taught me. They’re lessons that aren’t groundbreaking, or even surprising, but there’s a big difference between knowing them and knowing them.

Most important, you can’t plan everything. Not much about my pregnancy went according to plan, and I’m blogging right now because my sweet little babe is taking a nap, but in this moment I know that I may never finish this post. And that’s okay. You have to embrace that sense of uncertainty because you never know what unexpected good it can bring. Once that’s accomplished, suddenly the hurdles that once would have caused you to fall aren’t so hard to overcome. 

Don’t take free time for granted. Especially since going back to work, cherishing the time I have with my daughter and my husband has taken a whole new meaning. My effort to evolve away from my type A tendencies and to SHUT THE LAPTOP ALREADY has hastened. In fact, I feel like a fool for ever acting any other way.

Finally, sleep is overrated. No, it’s not. But how else am I going to get through each day without that little lie? 

staying close to home

Posted by susan on August 28th, 2013

If I had to sum up the last several, mostly blogless, months I couldn’t. Suffice it to say, my adventures have kept me close to home, but they’ve been filled with plenty of milestones, little jaunts and explorations.

For starters, my beautiful nephew turned one and in true Forshner fashion, made us proud by devouring a near adult-size piece of birthday cake that he jammed into his mouth by the fistful.

Birthday cake

I’ve been walking, a lot. From getting to and from work to fitting in a stroll with Mike after work and stopping to explore and appreciate the historical landmarks I barely notice when speeding by in a car.

South Natick Church

South Natick Falls

I’ve even crossed town lines – did my best to keep up my new hiking “hobby” – and explored the Naonet Woodlands in Dover, MA.

Hiking Naonet

A jaunt which rewarded me with this distant, yet beautiful view of the Boston skyline.

Naonet

I also spent some time being a homebody for once, hosting my friends and family for some much needed Nintendo time thanks to the folks at Brand About Town. As you can see, my brother-in-law Grayson was entranced.

grayson loves nintendo

And my brother Pat and cousin Sydney lost all inhibitions and let loose to Just Dance 4.

IMG_5290

I also uncovered my new obsession, Sing Party. My friends Lisa, Egan, Bryce and I – and even Mike a little – stayed up into the late hours singing our hearts out.

sing party

I also turned 31. Yeah, I’m really in my thirties now.

How’s life treating you?

____

Disclaimer: As a Nintendo Brand Enthusiast, I received the WiiU and mentioned games complimentary, but all opinions expressed in this post are true and my own, because who wouldn’t love a gaming system that lets you dance and sing your heart out whenever you want?

you know you’re a new englander when…

Posted by susan on July 20th, 2013

Summer strikes with a vengeance pouring nearly 100 degrees over the region, and suddenly, you long for days like this…

Winter getaway
 

That’s the thing about New Englanders. We live here because we love having all four seasons, but the second one of them hits us too hard we’re either yearning for the next one or looking back fondly on seasons passed. So I’m just going to embrace it.

Last February my friend Caitlin prompted another girls weekend trip up to Brownsville, Vermont for a few days of skiing, wandering and relaxing. Not far from Brownsville is a quaint little town called Woodstock, where we spent part of our Saturday and got experience the town in its element – covered in snow.

Snowy bridge
 

Woodstock, VT
 

woodstock vermont
 

Incidentally, it’s also where I stumbled upon the best muffin I’ve ever had in my life. The Daily Grind, a coffee shop in the center of town, was the perfect place to stop and have a sip of coffee and a bite to eat after a day out in the cold.

delicious muffin
 

Okay, I guess I don’t really wish it was winter again. But I’ll take the fleeting thought if it reminds me to look back and appreciate some good times.

it might be scary, but do it anyway

Posted by susan on June 18th, 2013

Half moon is a yoga pose that has, say, your left hand reaching for the floor as the other extends toward the sky. Meanwhile, your left leg is planted on the ground while the other lifts up and points to the wall behind you. It’s a pose that doesn’t come too hard for me at first, perhaps it’s my years as a figure skater. But just when I’m feeling comfortable the instructor challenges the class to look straight up in the direction of the elevated hand.

First though, she prefaces with: “this can be scary, looking up.”

She’s right. I start by gliding my eyes north, head locked so as to avoid shattering the balance I have achieved. A few more seconds go by and I let my head turn in the direction of my right hand. For one second, I’m looking up. It’s a rush. Like jumping into the cold New England ocean from a jetty instead of easing yourself in from the beach. But all too soon, my knee buckles and I collapse out of the pose.

Travel’s like that. That feeling you get when you’re about to step out of your comfort zone is scary, but also exhilarating. Hell, doing anything that could make you fall is like that too. You could be psyching yourself up to sit at a bar alone and be at peace with your solitude instead of insecure, or climbing a mountain you feel you have no business scaling because you haven’t trained or simply haven’t done it before.

The thing with half moon though is I know someday I’ll get it, and what I will have accomplished is the mere mastering of a pose.

What matters is the practice.

The act of diving straight in even though it will be uncomfortable, of charging forward even when you’re scared, of looking up even if you know you’ll fall.

capturing nemo

Posted by susan on February 10th, 2013

Many areas of New England saw as much as three feet of snow as the record-breaking blizzard, known as Nemo, pummeled the region. Like most New Englanders, that left Mike and I cooped up in our house, until cabin fever got the best of us.

In case you haven’t seen enough photos of this epic storm, here’s a glimpse into our storm watch adventure…

Blizzard porch

Nemo Mike

Nemo natick center

>Blizzard sidewalk

blizzard east central street

nemo roads