Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Hi everyone! Just a quick post to tell you that if you're curious and interested, the best place to follow along on our trip to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan will be my Instagram account. If we're not already Instagram friends, let's change that! I promise that my photos over the next ten days will be positively otherworldly. ;)

See you again when we get back! xo

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Made The Perfect Margherita Pizza!

I brag about this only because pizza-making does not come easily or naturally to me. I've made many a mediocre pizza so when a good one (no, a divine one) comes out of my oven, I rejoice.

I didn't use a recipe but I did do a bunch of research to come up with this method. The key to this pizza, I think, is two different things that have the same purpose. The first key is to use a very small amount of sauce. I mean less than a quarter cup. Spread it very thinly and evenly and don't use too much! The second key is to use low-moisture whole milk mozzarella. The whole milk part keeps the cheese rich and melty but it won't be so wet that it bogs down the pizza. 

A new revelation for me is to make the sauce from fresh tomatoes. Jarred spaghetti sauce just won't taste like the Margherita pizza you're craving—trust me! Take a few smallish, quite ripe tomatoes (or one medium, or half of a large heirloom) and cut them into wedges. Gently squeeze the excess juice and seeds from the tomatoes. (Save the juice and drink it later. It's delicious.) Then pulse the tomatoes in a food processor with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Scoop the sauce into a mesh strainer and let the extra liquid drain off for a few minutes.

Spread a very thin layer of sauce on your rolled out dough, between 3 tablespoons and a quarter cup. (I cheat and get my dough for a bargain at Trader Joe's because me and yeast don't get along.) Next add thin layers of sliced mozzarella and lots of freshly cracked pepper. Bake on a pizza stone with a sprinkle of flour between the dough and the stone at the hottest temperature your oven will permit. I bake pizza at 550 degrees.

When it's bubbly and browned, take it out and sprinkle generously with torn, chopped, or whole basil leaves. Then eat, and marvel at the delicious thing you just made!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Packing For Japan: Fun (And Tiny) Travel Essentials

In an effort to continue my mission to pack leanly for this trip I'm not bringing many things that are not clothes. And the non-clothing items I am allowing myself have to be sufficiently small and light for me to put them on the list.

Over the last few weeks I've been hunting down mini versions of certain beauty products on Amazon and filling little 3 oz bottles with face wash and sunscreen. I finally caved and bought a Kindle in the smallest size instead of lugging along 2-3 books for the plane and I'm obsessed with it (so glad my mom encouraged me on that one). My mother-in-law gave me a gorgeous clutch as an early birthday gift that will be perfect for carrying just a few things to dinner or a night out. Basically everything I'm bringing is tiny. It's adorable.

Here are a few of the non-clothes/non-shoes travel essentials that to me, are worth toting halfway across the world.

My favorite rosy red lipstick that can dress up any outfit and make me feel beautiful and fresh and put-together with a single swipe.

A shot of Dream Water, recommended by a friend who always looks out for me, to help us catch a few hours of sleep as we fly from Toronto to Tokyo.

A tiny pot of the best intensive moisturizer, which I will be slathering on my face before each flight to combat dry airplane air.

Evian facial spray for more moisture for my finicky skin and the welcome jolt of energy that comes from spraying a jet-lagged face with a mist of cool water.

A small tube of the only hand sanitizer I'll use because unlike most, it's moisturizing and doesn't have a horrible alcohol or synthetic smell.

My new Kindle, loaded with a few good books I can't wait to dig into along with a Dictionary of Japanese Food to help us navigate the eating part of our adventure.

(Not pictured: a regular toothbrush instead of my bulky electric one. I'm serious about this minimalist thing!)

9 days to go!!!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Trick For Creamier Vinaigrette

I make my own salad dressing by adding a pinch of salt and a dollop of dijon mustard to some vinegar (usually balsamic or champagne) and shaking it all up in a jar with good olive oil. I always add freshly cracked pepper to the greens and often a big squeeze of lemon. Easy, delicious vinaigrette.

Sometimes, though, I crave a creamier, thicker dressing. Last night we had a big kale salad for dinner with cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, walnuts, freshly grated parmesan, mandarin oranges, and spicy crisped chickpeas. (We had fried chicken for lunch, hence, the abundance of superfoods for dinner.) I was thinking about the dressing I wanted to make and the chickpeas lent me a flash of inspiration. Why not add a spoonful of hummus to my salad dressing to give it that creamy texture?!

So I did and it was divine. The subtle chickpea flavor played off the chickpeas in the salad very nicely. The taste of garlic and tahini were welcome additions to the vinegar and mustard and most importantly, it was rich and creamy without being heavy or unwholesome.

p.s. We buy this hummus. I've made my own hummus before but I can never get it to taste as silky and perfect as this store-bought variety, so I've surrendered to it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

What Is Resolution Without Dissonance

What is resolution without dissonance?

This is something I talk to my students about all the time. Music is filled with dissonance—tension, clashes, disharmony. And it is filled with consonance—resolution, release, sounds that are right and pleasing and natural. 

I talk to them about how a passage or a harmony filled with tension, though on its own not always particularly pleasant, is transformed into a thing of beauty by the resolution that follows it. And perhaps more importantly, this resolution is made more meaningful, more gratifying, more pure and special because of the tension it arose out of. 

What is resolution without dissonance?

In lessons I'm so focused on conveying musical and artistic ideas to my students that it hadn't ever occurred to me to apply this same philosophy to my own life outside of music. It wasn't until I heard Seymour Bernstein say it in his documentary that it struck me. My brain was able to zoom out and see that this elemental part of music that I've been coaching my students on for years is one I need to be coaching myself on too. When I play music it comes naturally—I gravitate toward those rich, complicated, moody chords, I lean on them before I move away and then I relish the way they resolve into openness and freeing release. 

But as a Christian, as someone whose faith isn't as a strong as I wish it were, as a human with imperfections and dreams disturbed and a desire to trust in God despite how things are going, I need this lesson to become a bigger part of me.

When life is dissonant I want to lean into it, not away from it. I want to feel tension and longing. I want to recognize and accept it. I want the grace to see struggle as something that can lend strength and goodness and character and godliness if only I let it. I want to wait in joyful hope and with peace in my soul for unrest to end and resolution to take over.

Because when resolution does come, it will be so much more beautiful than it ever could be on its own.

What a joyful discovery that is! I'm grateful—always grateful—for the way music continues to teach me the most profound of life's lessons.

Happy weekend to you all!
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