In March of 2015, I bought a house. Before I'd even signed the papers, I had started dreaming of a summer housewarming party: lots of people milling through the backyard, the dim glow of moonlight and garland lights against suntanned skin making everyone look extra beautiful as they chatted and laughed over tacos and poured tart margaritas from giant jugs. A full eleven months later, late February of this year, I moved into my house. I had yet to buy a bed, the shelves on the kitchen wall had yet to be built, and the backyard was a jungle of weeds. The mix of over-the-top elation, exasperation, and gentle management of expectations has been constant.
Today, we're about six months past the move. I have a bed. The backyard is, for now, still a jungle. But last week, the shelves were finally, finally done. I'm the last person to rush the closing of summer, but this morning felt a little cooler than it's been lately (I mean, maybe 73 instead of 77). Staying in with a playlist of the Head and the Heart and old REM felt right. So did some quality time with my kitchen, making granola. A big batch that will sit in a giant mason jar on the shelf.
The first Friday after I moved into the house, I left my job at Dreamworks after nine years. The following Monday, I started a new job. This new job is a work-from-home one. I'll spare you the process, and just say this: after months on a rollercoaster of nerves, I came out of it with a new sense of buoyancy. I stepped away from a comfortable job that didn't feel good anymore, and into a new one that feels right in ways the old one never did. I aced interviews, I negotiated salaries. I did it.
And then I started and I knew nothing. I felt as helpless as an infant. The first few months, I videoconferenced with my coworkers sitting on the floor at my coffee table because I had no desk (but then I did, and it was glorious!). I was perplexed by the task of managing myself in my own home all day (though for real, it's the best). My office is about 5 steps from my bedroom. My closest coworker lives in Eagle Rock; my farthest lives in Melbourne. I love it, and it's bizarre. I'm learning.
All of this newness has been the biggest exercise in patience. I'm not a rash person; I don't make big changes often. For me, this transition is a pretty huge one. And changes like these bring with them so much expectation. For the last year and a half, my head has been filled with images of this new life: dinner parties and barbecues, winding down at the piano after a long work day, meals made with vegetables from my own garden, recipe testing in breaks from work. But first I need a piano, first I need that veggie patch to exist, first I need to actually be good at my job.
|Chocolate buttercream on lunch break? Mais oui.|
But, don't get me wrong. It's happening. Things are shifting. In April, I picked elderflowers from the river path behind my street, and made amazing cordial for whoever came by all spring long. A few weeks ago, I took my first bike ride on the river path to Frogtown with a new neighbor. He was patient with my abject lack of bike prowess, and we had lunch at wonderful Wax Paper (seriously guys, the Ira Glass, on Bub and Grandma's bread, is the bomb): a small, wobbly triumph. I'm officially a regular at my local cafe, after one of the baristas recognized me out in the neighborhood. As of last week, the second bedroom/office is now available for houseguests and co-working. (Seriously! Come hang out!) A few small dinner parties and pancake breakfasts have happened, and now, when my sister's family makes the trek to the city, I have space to house her tall crew and a counter to spread with safe snacks for her celiac son and his siblings.
|Elderflower syrup, nascent stages.|
My new life and I are just getting started. Eventually, I'll have the piano, the dreamy yard where I can host friends and harvest tomatoes, a sense of mastery with my job. It's about making a home, and that's a process. Today, I have shelves. And a big jar of granola to put on them.
Makes about 7 cups
Adapted from Orangette
I've hewn close to the Early Bird recipe since I first saw it on Orangette. If your ingredients, especially your oats, are gluten-free, so is this recipe.
Like moving, like starting a new job, like life, it's a process: I'd like to hone it down to something I love as I make more batches. So, if you have secrets for your perfect granola, I want to hear them! Today, I mixed up the nuts a bit and decreased the brown sugar. I want to try it with vanilla, and with cocoa nibs, and with coconut oil instead of the olive oil (oh wait, I have).
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
¾ cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
1 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cup slivered almonds, whole almonds, and pecan pieces
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup maple syrup, preferably Grade B
½ cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and stir to mix. Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 50 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.