Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bagels and Used Clothing

Seven years ago I moved to Massachusetts to go to school and I've pretty much never looked back. I knew immediately that this was the place for me (or at least that Maine would never be "home" again). There are, however, two shining examples of awesomeness in Bangor, Maine that I have yet to find even a passable substitution for. They are obligatory stops when we go back to visit family.

1) Bagel Central, 33 Central St., Bangor, ME.

The bagels here are simply great. Chewy but soft, salty but not too much. I blame the dreaded Dunks for Massachusetts' serious lack of good bagel shops. I tried searching Google Maps once for "bagel shops" in "Lowell, MA" and the first three or four entire pages were exclusively Dunkin' Donuts. Ugh.

Anyone have any good hidden-gem suggestions?

2) Goodwill Retail Store, 805 Stillwater Ave., Bangor, ME

I get the feeling that most of the people I know around here, even people who are exceptionally thrifty, have a bad vibe about thrift store clothing. I can really see why. The used clothing stores that I have sampled in the area are lame, lame, lame, dirty, and lame.

Goodwill in Bangor is huge, has an ever cycling selection, and it's super clean. The patrons are not overwhelmingly sketchy. It's okay for the average person to walk into the store and shop. Almost every time I go there I walk away with exciting amounts of clothes that actually fit me.

Where's the secret spot for great thrift shopping around here? Let me know. We'll go together.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Towel Rack

Yesterday, in my handiest project to date (don't laugh), I finally installed a towel rack in the bathroom, which I agreed to do when we moved in in October.

I started this project earlier in the weekend, but found that I really did need to pre-drill holes for the fixtures to get the thing installed properly. After buying a pack of drill bits at Target, I was ready to go.

I didn't get any pictures of the work in progress, but basically I had to measure and mark where the ends of the rack would be, drill holes, insert plastic fasteners (not all the way into the wall but leaving about 3/8 of an inch sticking out, a fact that was absent from the instructions), attach metal plates to the fasteners with screws, and then attach the ends of the rack to the plates with set screws. The end result:

Vegan Pancakes

Kimberly got this cookbook last week called My Sweet Vegan full of vegan desserts. She's made a couple of things from it that have turned out awesomely, so I was inspired when I found myself awake first on Saturday morning.

I cleaned up the kitchen and wanted to make something good for breakfast, so I brought the computer into the kitchen and searched for vegan pancakes. I found a good recipe, modified it to my liking, and came up with:

They were quite a bit like normal pancakes with milk, eggs, and oil, but slightly sweeter and smoother in texture. We were both surprised by how deliciously they turned out.

a shot of my plate, complete with some maple syrup (Green Mountain coffee not shown)


1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup soy milk
2 tbsp. apple sauce

Combine dry ingredients. Add soy milk and apple sauce and then whisk until smooth. Cook in a skillet (or pancake maker, like I did).


I forgot that one of the reasons Kimberly suggested that I blog about these was that I knew how many calories they are. If you make four pancakes with the recipe above, each pancake will be approximately 140 calories.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Long Weekend Happenings

Our four-day weekend was perhaps the best little at-home vacation we've ever had. We're beginning to understand the therapeutic value of getting things done around the house as opposed to being truly sedentary all day. In that light, over the course of the four days, we went to the gym twice, spent two evenings with friends, and finally reclaimed our second bedroom!

My music corner.

The computer area.

Kimberly's crafting hub.

I wish we'd taken some before pictures, but rest assured it very much resembled a messy storage unit. Now you can walk in and access the books, the computer, the music and instruments, and the craft supplies. Our behavior has already been affected. Last night we sat on the floor in there playing Scrabble and eating popcorn with some music in the background. In fact, we spent time in there doing fun things (mostly crafts and music practice) each night of the long weekend.

Another big source of our (or at least my) contentment with the long weekend was a concept that has really hit home with me lately. In the process of re-reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, I picked up on a tidbit about how we (people in general) behave as if we have an absolute right to possess 24 hours a day as our own, as if we were the authors of our own time, which sounds rather absurd when stated clearly. What sense at all is there in saying that something is wasting MY time? I've been going through the mental exercise of freeing myself from the burden of owning time. The seemingly contradictory result is that I seem to have more of it, and the time I spend doing things I enjoy feels much more like a gift from God. It is a wonderful thing to come to the end of an evening, realize that other things prevented me from utilizing the time as I had planned, and being okay with it rather than frustrated.

Other than that, I beat (the final boss in) Super Mario Galaxy, which was my big Christmas present from Kimberly's parents. In the process of taking down our Christmas decorations, we remembered the pumpkin that had been secretly propping up Frankie on top of our bookshelf.

Frankie had a secret all fall long.

Kimberly suggested that I carve it rather than just throwing it out, and to her surprise, I agreed. I decided to carve two faces into it like the Roman god Janus, looking both forward and backward in time.

I wouldn't read too deeply into which face, the happy or angry one, is looking into which direction of time. You can either decide for yourself or leave it unclear. For me, it was all about getting variety into my carving -- both backward and forward are the happy face as far as I'm concerned.