Relocation

So you may have noticed I hinted at some big transition changes coming up in reviewing our touring time with my grandparents this month (for more on this see my posts: playing tourist with the grandparents). Well here are am to explain : we are relocating!

As some of you may know since moving to upstate New York I have struggled to find teaching positions in my field. (see my posts: a teacher without a classroom) But at the beginning of this month I interviewed for an ESL teaching position at a Community College in a suburb of Rochester. I was offered the job the same day!  The next two days Luke and I had to deliberate over whether to accept the position because it would require moving and hour North before September. After much consideration and prayer I took the job and will start teaching after Labor Day.

I am very excited to be headed back in the ESL field and to work with a population I care so much about. Plus I am looking forward to working and networking with other teachers who feel the same way. I am ready to being back to working in a larger city with more diversity and opportunities. I have already had a collaborative meeting  teachers of the  course I will instructing  in the fall and have a orientation meeting at the end of August.

But between then and now there is so much to do ! We have already met with a relator and banks to discuss buying a house somewhere in Dansville; a town about 45 minutes South from Rochester and 30 minutes North of Bath where Luke works.

This is a huge overwhelming step for me. There are few places to rent in Dansville and the housing market here is affordable.  We are hoping that living in a quiet town where we can go to local small-town events will be good for us. But we are excited to hopefully have that lifestyle balanced by being closer to the big-city shopping, events, and restaurants.

We had our first house-hunting adventure yesterday (more of an update I’m sure on that to come). Once we choose a place and get the ball rolling on that we’ll have to start looking into cars because we are still sharing one. For more on this see my post: living with one care: the tire story revisited.

On top of all of this we are trying to find time to enjoy summer festivals and activities. I am doing everything I  need to to prepare for the intensive night writing class I am teaching next month in addition to prep for the semester long ESL class I will start this next fall.

So as you can see we are in the middle of a very busy and exciting summer of transitions.

How has you summer been going?

Celebrating Curly: My Hair Part Two

For more history on why I am writing about this topic and my curly hair experiences see Celebrating Curly: My hair part one.

Based on the experiences I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve always been nervous about going to get my haircut, even with stylists who have experience with curly hair. This leads me to my most recent story: Time for a confession: I have not had my hair cut since I got married (more than a year and a half ago).

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To give you an idea of how long my hair was at Christmas

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Since moving to New York I have made up every and any excuse to not get my haircut. It took years for my mom and I to find someone we liked and trusted to cut our hair in California, and even then we’d drive an hour to get to the salon. So for months I have procrastinated finding someone who can and will cut my very long now damaged and dry curly hair.

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Even with it this dry and damaged, many people find it beautiful and beg me to not cut if off. I love that I have long hair, and I will always probably have what stylists consider “long hair” but this is long to the extreme. Consider this, the picture you see of the long dry hair is at least 3 inches longer when combed out and wet; you can now imagine how much work it takes to comb out tangles in the shower and let it dry.

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So it is long overdue but  I finally had a hair cut! I went to a local salon that uses a NY city based method I’ve never done before; cutting curly hair dry (not brushed out). It makes sense though, this way the stylists knows and can see each curl and how much it springs up, how it curls, and layer those curls appropriately (just like I do when I prune or trim plants).

When curly hair is wet and or combed out straight; you have not idea what it will look like when it dries! This method has been used by several NY stylists who have popped up in the past 10 years but this specific hair stylists was trained using Deva Curl. It doesn’t take long if you are curious to look up before and after shots of people getting Deva haircuts and the results.

And my results?

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My hair is much shorter (but still medium to long) I have more defined layers again but my thick curls aren’t competing with each other ! I am glad I once again have waves and curls closer to my roots where before my hair was too heavily weighed down and straight at the top. And although I cut off a good portion of length my husband approves and is glad to see me happy having the curl back.

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I have been using the same hair-care line for the past 10 years and knew I was due to try a change; since the science of curly hair products continues to evolve. So I picked up a demo kit for the DevaCurl line. This includes a non-poo which leaves no lather but adds mostiure and nutrients while still removing build up and dirt. Most shampoos end up stripping more than they should and so with curly hair you are left hydrating and dehyrading your hair every time you shower. I am hopeful these new products will make a difference. I also came with leave-in conditioner; I always use leave-in then comb out my hair in the shower, and a light defining gel. Already it has been nice having the shorter hair, it makes air-drying it so much easier and showers shorter.

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I will have to give you an update on how I see the health of my hair change as it can take up to 3 months to see results using Devacurl. I think there’s already improvement.

Until then: What do you like about your hair? How do you style it? What do you struggle with?

Celebrating Curly: My Hair Part One

Something I have not talked about yet here on my blog is my hair. I have always had naturally curly hair, large ringlets that are not wavy, nor kinky curly. I know many people who have wondered or assumed that I disliked it for some reason (the humidity, the manageability of it) but I have for the most part always enjoyed my curly hair. I think part of the reason I enjoy and am proud of my hair is because I have always been taught how to take care of it. My mom also has beautiful naturally curly hair and over the years taught me to appreciate what I naturally have and what many people pay to chemically create, or for hours use rollers or curling irons to mimic.

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curly hair beach day for my mom

I have received compliment after compliment about my curly hair, even from hair stylists. I supposed that even through those awkward years of Jr. High and High School I felt I had one saving genetic grace I could enjoy. Besides this curly hair (if taken care of properly) is actually pretty low maintance: wash, condition, put in a moisture locking gel or cream and let it hair dry!

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high school hair with natural highlights from swimming

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Still it hasn’t always been easy to find the best care for my hair. Hair care products have taken a long time to evolve and adapt for the curly-hair crowd who didn’t want to straighten or subdue their locks. I remember going through many different companies and products, mouses and gels, which left my hair greasy and/or crunchy and not because that was the look I was going for. Fortunately curly-hair hair products have greatly improved in the past ten years.

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College hair

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Scientist and Stylists have finally realized that curly hair craves mass amounts of moisture; that’ why when it’s humid our hair tends to expand; stretching like a plant towards the sun trying to find the moisture in the air to quench it’s thirst. Now products are beginning to take out the chemicals that dry and damage curly hair: sulfates and alcohol based solutions, and are including more moisture locking materials. It’s still always a gamble whether a specific culry-haired product works for a specific culry-haired person since there are different thicknesses and types of curly hair but it’s better than it was 10 or even 5 years ago.

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College Northwest beach day hair

On top of the product difficulties I have also had many unhappy hair-cut sessions. Stylists untrained in curly hair cuts meant  I’d walk away with much shorter hair then I had asked for because the stylist did not consider how much curly hair springs up when it dries. (Each person with curly hair has different amounts of spring in their curl as well) I have even had hair stylists brush out my curly hair while it was dry then try to cut it!! Anyone with curly hair would know that a brush is always our enemy (even more so than humidity).

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post-college dating hair

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So that is a first/part overview of the ups and down of curly hair; stayed tuned for Part Two of Celebrating culry: My Hair to find out more about what I’m doing with my naturally curly hair now.

 

Bread of the Month: Swedish Rye

With most of my bread making experiments so far I have stayed safely close to the normal flours and grains so I decided this month it was finally time to branch out to the more hearty and interesting grains starting with rye flour.

Rye flour on it’s own can be extremely dense and so it is often used in combination with wheat flour so the dough is easier to work with and rise. It also tends to require longer rising times and more liquid for the dough to rise; sounded like a fun challenge to me.

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I decided to make Swedish Rye loafs; this round-loaf rye bread has a hard exterior but a soft almost buttery texture inside. Although it uses molasses and brown sugar it has no milk and very little butter in it. Even though it is a little denser/heartier of a bread for summer-time; we had no problem working our way through a loaf in no time. As per usual the original recipe comes from the Bread Bible; with some of my variations.

To make the dough I started as usual by proofing the yeast; but because the rye flour is more dense it takes more liquid for it to rise properly so 3/4 C of liquid was used to proof the 1 packed of yeast instead of the usual 1/4th C.

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The trader joe’s coffee container is holding my rye flour

While this yeast proofed I combined in one of my large kitchen aid metal bowls 1 C warm water (see even more liquid), 1/4C unsulfured molasses (I chose dark), 1/4 C light brown sugar, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (original recipe only called for 2 but I wanted a more buttery texture), 1 tbls salt, 2 teaspoons (or more) caraway seeds, 1 large orange worth of orange zest (you can use lemon but I think the orange works better with the molasses and brown sugar), and 2 1/2 C rye flour.

After all of this was I mixed together until creamy (well as creamy as rye flour will get). Then I stirred in the yeast mixture after it had proofed for 10 minutes.

Next slowly I added about 1 C at a time of the 2 1/2 C  regular flour while the kitchen aid continuously mixed the dough. I then switched my mixing handle for the dough hook and let it knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.

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As with many other recipes from this book, I then placed the dough in a deep container that was greased with butter on both sides then covered it in plastic wrap. Then comes the hardest part of this recipe . . . waiting: it took 2 hours to let the dough rise to double in bulk! Rye flour takes a longer rising time and all the while I was uneasy weather the dough was getting dry or if it over-fermented.

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After the long wait, I took the dough out of the deep dish container and divided it into two. Using a little flour I shaped two loafs. I brushed both loaf-tops with butter than again covered it loosely in plastic wrap to rise again at room temp for another 2 hours.

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Finally, I turned the oven to 375, covered the top of the the loafs with flour and  used a serrated knife to create 1/4 inch cuts into the tops of the dough. For our loaf I did a basic three slash cut with a bread knife. For the other loaf I marked an H for Halvorson (my maiden name) since I was giving that loaf away to my grandparents. The loafs went in the oven for 25 minutes. I knew they were done when they were golden brown on the outside and sounded hollow when I tapped on them.

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Although they took long rising the bread was worth the wait. It was sweet enough to eat on it’s own or with a little butter but not too sweet that we couldn’t use it for sandwiches. You could definitely make it into a sweeter bread by adding more butter, orange zest,  and brown sugar and possible adding some cranberries. Maybe for a end of summer/ fall treat?

 

Playing tourist with the Grandparents

It’s always fun when family come in from out of town; we love to play tourists and being hosts.  The season they come during and their personal interests determine which types of activities and locations we get to share with them.

This past week my grandparents (dad’s parents) came into town for a visit on their month long travels. They started from their home in California in their camper-van and are on their way up to Maine and back again. The last time I’d seen them was at my brother’s wedding last August (see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/snapshots-halvorson-wedding-behind-the-scenes/)

So I was thrilled to get some time with them.

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My husband took off work on Friday so we were ready for them when they rolled into town that afternoon. We took them downtown Market street on a walk after some much needed catching up. While downtown, we stopped in the Crystal City olive oil store. My grandpa took samples of everything and enjoyed talking to the store workers since we had the place to ourselves. Luke and I bought a bottle of lemon basil white vinaigrette we thought would go well on both salads and for marinades and my grandmother picked up some very early christmas gifts for a few friends.

For more on Corning’s Market Street see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/my-new-hometown/

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We came back to our little rented house and made them our traditional Greene pizza with a twist. Instead of the usual ingredients we used artichoke hearts, olives, crushed fresh garlic, grape tomatoes, onions, and spinach with an Alfredo base instead of tomato. And for meat? Chicken breast pan fried in olive oil and oregano. It was extremely delicious and a great experimental sucess.

For more on our homemade pizza see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/pizza-a-la-greene/

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The next day we took the grandparents on a hiking/nature tour. We stopped by their beautiful campsite with my homemade quiche and fruit for a picnic lunch (see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/a-good-spring-quiche/)

Then we took off in our car to Walkins Glen to hike the Gorge Trail. Although the parking lot was crowded the trail was not too busy and my grandparents had not problems keeping up on the incline of stairs (which is pretty great since my grandfather turned 80 this year!) It is just as beautiful as last year when we first discovered this amazingly breathtaking view.

For more on Walkins Glen state park see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/walkins-glen-state-parkgorge-ous/

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Next we drove up to Ithaca passing by one of the finger lakes (Seneca) on our way to the base of the other (Cayuga) through beautiful country. We stopped by the Ithaca Farmer’s Market where we split off: grandpa and Luke sampling cheese and other foods and Grandma and I tasting local ciders and wines.

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We left with some local maple syrup and hard cider and headed to another state park: Buttermilk Falls. We chose not to conquer two gorge trails in one day but instead enjoyed the view from the picnic tables at the base of the falls.

For more on the Farmer’s Market and Buttermilk falls see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/an-ithaca-birthday-adventure/

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We drove back towards Corning a different route to show more of the country-side then ended up in Horseheads for dinner and dessert. We took my grandparents to our favorite little mom-and-pop sushi place where we enjoyed our delicious sashimi, miso soup, and traditional rolls while my grandparents enjoyed yakisoba  (although they did try a shrimp, avocado, and egg roll). And for dessert? We went to sweetfrog; the local frozen yogurt joint where we could all get a variety of topping and flavors for our unique personalities.

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On Sunday after church we went to lunch at one of my favorite spots: Walker Cake Co.: Barn Owl Cafe where we got breakfast for lunch: breakfast burritos, gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, and traditional two egg breakfasts all with coffee.

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After a hearty brunch we took our grandparents to the Corning glass museum (how could we not?). They were concerned that we would be bored since this was our fourth or fifth time in the museum. We assured them that we weren’t; the contemporary art exhibit had completely been changed out; the demos were being done by new people which always means different information, each live glassblowing creates new and unique items, and the main art display always has a changing/rotating exhibit.

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So although we had taken my parents  at christmas we were far from bored. We also did a very early christmas gift ; the grandparents made a sculpture at the art-glass studio. Much like what we did from my parents; grandma chose the colors and grandpa made the sculpture. Since they are traveling they chose to have it shipped to my parents place where they will end their travels.

For more on the glass museum see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/a-corning-christmas-present/

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After a long tour day at the museum we headed back to our house for another Greene dinner: fish tacos. My grandfather tries every fish taco place in California when he has the chance and gave ours a thumbs up for approval

For more on our fish tacos see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/greenes-tilapia-fish-tacos/

We finished our last night together enjoying the thundering rain storm on our porch while eating some of my homemade popsicles.

See some of them at: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/tropical-banana-creamsicles/

As a parting gift as we took my grandparents back to their campsite I gave grandma one of my swedish rye loafs (will be my bread of the month post) and little horseradish cheese from our trip to Ellicottville.

For more on Cuba cheese see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/wine-tasting-in-ellicottville/

It was a great weekend playing tourists and hosts. It was also a fun overview for us of what we have explored, learned, and discovered in the past year living in the Corning area. Can’t wait to see what we will explore and discover the rest of this summer and into next year as we transition into a new location (but more on that later).

Do you enjoy hosting friends and family?

What are some of your favorite meals to cook for them?

What local restaurants/tourist spots do insist showing them?

 

Ithaca-fest

In the summer time here in the Finger Lakes there is at least one ( if not many) festivals every weekend. So there is no way to check everything you want to out all in one year. Last year we stayed local and went to Glassfest for the weekend of Memorial Day.

For more on this see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/glassfest/

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This year instead we decided to go to Ithaca-fest; another town-festival this one always held the weekend after Memorial Day. Over the past year and a half we have explored several Ithaca based festivals and always enjoyed them for the people watching (college students), local musicians, and of course the best varied and international festival food in the area. For more on some of the Ithaca festivals we have enjoyed see:

Apple Fest: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/apple-fest/

Chili Fest: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/ithaca-chili-cook-off/

So we left around 1pm on Saturday and took the scenic route through Walkins Glen toward Ithaca enjoying watching the sail boats on Seneca and Cayuga lake on the drive up. When we got to town it was clear the whole city was buzzing with activity. This 4-day long festival kicked-off with a parade on Thursday, and festivities around the commons are held Friday-Sunday.

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Each day of the festival multiple stages placed throughout the closed roads hosted local musicians representing all ages and styles of music. In addition to this, the park and church stages included smaller local cultural activities such as youth dance, Hawaiian dancers, belly-dancers, youth orchestra etc.

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Several city blocks were taken up with local crafts: photographers, painters, jewelry makers, woodworkers, food goods and more. Speaking of food this past week was also Ithaca restaurant week featuring special offers from some of the best local restaurants as well as several local ingredients/sourced three course meals. One full block of the festival was devoted to the many wonderful varied food vendors everything from Tibetan, Thai, and Indian to Tacos, BBQ and potato pancakes. We enjoyed walking the winding streets even though it was very busy.

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We were a little surprised with how extensive of a hype this festival gets that the commons, which has been under construction for more than the past 6 months, was still torn up and unfinished. Also, for the many stages and performers there were no places to sit and watch the musicians, performers, (or just people watch). There were some tables set up for the food vendor area but it was far from enough to accommodate this large crowd.

 

We did noticed that this was much more  family festival then previous Ithaca festivals. There was only one winery represented, a very small beer/wine area at one performance stage, and few college students around. Instead the festival crowd was mostly made up of  families enjoying the sunshine,  children’s activities and rides, and some local ice cream.

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Overall it was a great day to be out and about but we were done exploring after an hour and a half and left the crowd behind to explore on our own. In our explorations we found a new Korean grocery store and the best Chinese food we’ve had on the East coast we drove home happy (and a little sunburnt).

Have you done any local exploring? What summer activities are you looking forward to?

Variations on Teriyaki Chicken

I have always loved teriyaki chicken. It was one of my favorite meals growing up served with broccoli and brown rice and a little pineapple in the summer time. But I fell in love with it even more when moving to Seattle; where everyone has their favorite teriyaki place, which they claim has the best rice, sides, or sauce.

As I have mentioned before I have learned  to adapt some of my favorites from the West coast into my home cooking challenges here on the East coast. Teriyaki chicken is no acceptation to this.

(See https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/bbq-teriyaki-bowl/).

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I am lucky to have gotten a basic marinade from a good friend and past tutoree from Japan. I won’t give out specific portions (because it’s mostly up to personal preference) but I use mayo, honey, soy sauce (and a little ginger) mixed together.

Here are some recent summer variations off of one of my favorite meals:

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1. Teriyaki chicken burgers

I took two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut both into patty shapes. Then I took the time to pound down the meat with a tenderizer to make sure that they are as even as possible for grilling. If the “patties” are too thick the outside could crisp up before the meat inside is cooked. Then I placed them in a gallon size bag with the marinade. I placed the sealed bag in a bowl in the fridge until grill-day (the longer it marinades the better it tastes).

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The day- of I defrosted our hamburger buns gluten free for me and regular for Luke. When the chicken and corn on the cob goes to the grill I cut up the pineapple and prep the table. We chose to eat them simple: with fresh pineapple chunks , chicken, and provolone cheese. But you can add typical hamburger fixings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and/or more teriyaki sauce.

It was wonderful!!

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2. Teriyaki chicken kebabs

I took the cut off pieces from the burgers and combined them with two more boneless, skinless, chicken breasts cut into kebab size pieces. Then stuck the chunks in a gallon size bag and added the marinade then placed the sealed bag in a bowl in the fridge.

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The Kebab assembly is very similar to how I made my steak/beef kebabs for memorial day weekend. (See https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/memorial-day-steak-kebabs/) To review; I cover baking sheets with tin foil take the chicken meat out of the fridge and cut up fresh pineapple, green peppers, and onions. Then combined them on the kebab skewers and they were off to the grill!

These kebabs are great on their own but are also good with BBQ’ed corn on the cob, a light salad, or some fresh fruit.

Do you have a favorite marinade? A favorite grilled meal?