Sunday, June 10, 2012

On the eve of my 30th birthday!

I turn 30 tomorrow.  Wow. I know that this is often a scary birthday for people, but I feel OK about it.  In fact, I feel really great and really blessed.  When I look back over the past year, I am struck by how far I have come, and how much my life has changed, and in every way for the better.  Here are 30 things I am thankful for in the last year.

1.  One week from now last year I got married to the love of my life.  It was a perfect day in every way.  I was surrounded by all the people I love, the sun came out, the food was great, the speeches were great, my family amazed me, my sister was an incredible maid of honor, my husband radiated, and I danced to great music.

2.  We went on our honeymoon in Italy - 5 days in Rome, 5 in a small villa outside of Castellina in Chianti in Tuscany, and 2 in Siena.  It was amazing.  Nuf said.

3.  When we came back, I returned to my corporate law job in New York City where I grew progressively more miserable, always bored or overworked, and desperate for an escape.  We were sick of the noise, of the cement, of the subway, the lack of privacy, the complaining neighbors.  Brandon searched endlessly for work and found nothing.  We fell into dark dark days.  I applied for jobs.  I networked.  I spent the endless hours at work re-writing my resume and drafting cover letters, searching job sites, trying to imagine my life outside of the dim hallways on the 33rd floor of the Midtown skyrise.  And then it happened!  I got an interview and the interview turned into an offer and I accepted a great job in Albany.

4.  We searched and searched and searched for a place to rent.  We wanted to be outside of Albany but with easy access.  We wanted outdoor space.  We wanted a big kitchen.  We wanted a guest bedroom.  We wanted a place with some personality.  But we were flexible.  We looked at close to 30 places and started to grow discouraged.  In our price range, the houses were small, disheveled and shabby.  And then we found this amazing amazing house in the country, with over 9 acres, a fabulous kitchen, and beautifully done.  Amazing.

5.  The house is only an hour and a half from my parents in Western Mass who I visit regularly.  I met my mom in Great Barrington on Friday to celebrate my birthday, and my dad and stepmother came here today and brought us a wonderful lunch.  It is so nice to be so close.

6.  Betsi and Sasha are so much happier here.  Betsi has room to run around and is not surrounded by cement.  Sasha sits in the windows and gazes out, following the sun as it moves across the sky.  I love them both so much.

7.  Brandon applied to start an electrician apprenticeship here in Albany.  He got 100% on his test and did extremely well on his interview (no shock there - he is so charming!) and will be placed in an apprenticeship with the electrician's union by the end of july.  I am so happy for him and so proud of him!

8.  He has also started building things in the barn and I think this is amazing and can't wait for him to do more.  Here is what he has done so far:

9.  I am thankful for my sister, Rosie, for everything about her, for having her in my life, for her amazing speech at my wedding, for coming to visit me in Brooklyn and making the trip all the way here from Philly to see the new house.  I am also so proud of her for finishing (Tuesday) her first year in her graduate program for a Masters in Public Health (where she has been getting straight As).  And she is beautiful.

10.  I feel so lucky to have my parents and so thankful for all the love and support they give me.  I am thankful for all my step siblings and extended family who I cannot imagine a world without.

11.  I am thankful for the new family that I have - for Brandon's mom, and sister, and grandparents, and beautiful and adorable nieces.

12.  I am thankful for the TIME OFF that I have before work!

13.  For time to cook.

14.  To run.

15.  To bake.

16.  To read.

17.  To write poetry.

18.  To garden.

19.  To use our new canoe.

20.  To spend time with my husband.

21.  To travel to San Francisco for 2 weeks and visit all the family that I never see and to get to know the city my mother grew up in.

22.  I am thankful for my friends.

23.  I am thankful for chocolate.

24.  And for ice cream.

25.  And for artichokes.

26.  I am thankful for LUPA!

27.  I feel blessed to live where it is beautiful, and not in a country ravaged by war.

28.  I am thankful for my health, and the health of those I love.

29.  I am thankful that I have my life ahead of me.

30.  I am so happy to be me.

Skillet Blueberry Cornbread

I was not planning to bake anything more this week, given that we still have Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti and Dinner Rolls (and let's face it, there are only 2 of us), but it was rainy yesterday and a perfect day for baking... and I convinced myself that I deserved it after my 8.25 mile run :) and I did right?

I had these beautiful plump blueberries from a local farm and I have been wanting to make cornbread and I just LOVE blueberries in baked goods so I thought, why not?  (By the way, I thought this was an original idea... ... but then I did a google search and found a billion recipes....  but I guess nothing is original in the world of cooking).

and OH my GOD is this good.  Yummmm.  I mean really yum.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I took what I liked from a bunch of different recipes and added a few things of my own and I don't think I can imagine it being better.  And it is SOOOO easy and so fast.  So here is what you need:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup stone ground cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened butter, melted, plus more for greasing the skillet
1 to 2 teaspoons honey (optional - I added this at the last minute and that is why it isn't in the picture... sorry)

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt).

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients (buttermilk, lightly beaten eggs, melted butter, vanilla, and honey if you want it).

3.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, a little at a time, mixing just until all the ingredients are incorporated and there are no more lumps.  It will look like this:

(yes, you can dip your finger in and taste it... i love the taste of any uncooked baked good... it is my weakness...)

4.  Add the blueberries.

5.  Melt a little butter in a cast iron skillet to coat the pan.

6.  Pour batter into skillet.

7.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (mine took 22 minutes).  It will be a light gold inside.

Let it cool at least 5 minutes before cutting.  Cut into pieces and eat some while it is still warm!  I took some warm pieces out to Brandon in the barn (who was building an awesome bird house!)

He approved! :) lucky guy.

Oh, and check out the birdhouse: