Monday, March 31, 2014

Read // Listened // Watched // Savored: March Edition


March is a funny month, isn't it? It feels so very transitional, so in-between.


Here's a little peek at what I read, watched, listened to, and savored this month.


Reading

I finished reading Anne Lamott's Help, Thanks, Wow this month, and enjoyed her refreshingly honest and more-spiritual-than-religious take on matters of faith. “But grace can be the experience of a second wind," she writes. "...when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.” 

I'm now onto Tiny Beautiful Things, and oh my goodness. I used to read Cheryl Strayed's Dear Sugar column on The Rumpus, and was always incredibly moved by her ability to relate so intimately to her advice-seekers, her uncanny ability to make the personal universal and the universal so very personal. I'd held off on purchasing the book, feeling as if I'd probably already read the best of her material in her previous columns, but there is something so powerful about absorbing it in book form. It reads like a deliciously relatable memoir, and I can't get enough.


Black Coffee and Bacon. Love this.


Watching & Listening

Hunger Games Soundtrack // Hanging On // Maps (Cover) // So This Is Goodbye // Pale Sun Rose

I was fortunate enough to see the phenomenally talented Lake Street Dive live at Denver's Bluebird Theater last weekend. For a sample, check out their covers of I Want You Back and Rich Girl, plus You Go Down SmoothBad Self-Portraits, and Don't Make Me Hold Your Hand.


True Detective. Did you watch it? I can't get the haunting Louisiana bayou imagery (not to mention Matthew McConaughey's stunning performance) out of my mind. I'm so curious about the next season already.


I found this interview with Bobby McFerrin to be a beautiful meditation on the intersection of divinity and creativity.


On the topic of podcasts, I'm enjoying working my way through Caiti's recent roundup of her favorites. 


Savoring

Smoothies from Whole Foods. My favorite is a combination of almond milk, almond butter, dates, and bananas. It's the perfect post-run fuel.

A sushi date night at Sushi Zanmei. (With our upcoming move, we've reined in our dining habits a bit for economic reasons, so this felt like a real indulgence.) We had yellowtail with jalapeño and ponzu, seared scallop, fresh salmon, and a spicy crunchy tuna roll with avocado and watercress.


All the citrus I can get my hands on. Tangelos, tangerines, Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, plus lemon and lime in everything.


Rosewood and nag champa incense.


Water flavored with fresh mint.


Longer days and warmer temps.


And finally, this quote from Rumi:


“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?” 


What are you reading, watching, listening to, and savoring right now?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Transformative Cilantro Mint Cabbage Slaw


A case of respiratory flu and the ensuing bone-deep exhaustion combined with the change in seasons has my appetite all over the map. I've alternated between wanting nothing but mugs of steaming hot ginger-garlic chicken broth and feeling suddenly ravenous for all the lean protein and vegetables I can get my hands on. Eggs, kale, chicken, avocado, repeat.


I am so grateful for the clarity with which my body asks for what it needs to repair and restore, and I am trying to listen very closely right now. I have the sense that the only way to fully regain my strength is to pay very, very close attention to the cues of my physical self, as odd as they may be. There have been days that my body has asked me to run despite the illness, practically pleading with me for the fresh air, the sunlight, the circulation of blood, and the detoxification of sweat. So I ran. There have been days that my body very clearly needed rest. So I rested. Similarly, requests for hot showers, hot tea, eucalyptus oil diffused in a humidifier, canceled plans, and 10-hour sleeps have been granted. It's rough to be so run down, but also feels really good to take such good care of myself. It's as if I'm digging down deep into my reserves and re-building myself stronger than I existed before.


At the beginning of this week, I had a yen for something sharply tart and tangy, something crunchy with a zing to cut through the dull ache that seems to have set up camp in my head and lungs. This cabbage slaw recipe is one I've made before, but I decided, on a whim, to add some fresh mint and it was transformed from a zippy close slaw to a refreshingly zippy coleslaw.


Who knew a humble herb held such transformative powers?

Ingredients

2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
2 cups purple cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup scallions, diced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbs fresh mint, chopped
Juice of half a lime
3 tsp tamari (or coconut aminos, for strict Paleo)
2 tbsp rice vinegar (or coconut vinegar, for strict Paleo)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

To Make:

Combine cabbage, almonds, scallions, cilantro, mint, and lime juice in a large bowl and mix together with a fork. In a separate container, whisk the tamari, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and ginger together until they are well-combined. Drizzle the dressing on top of the cabbage mixture, and stir again with the fork to make sure the dressing coats everything well. Taste, and adjust your ingredients as needed (tamari for saltiness, lime for acidity, etc.). 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Cravings: A Few Things I'm Loving


Though we seem to be teetering somewhere between winter's last gasp and spring's first real hurrah, the brief taste of newness has whet my appetite for some equally fresh worldly pleasures.

Something about warmer weather and longer days just feels easier, and ease sounds like a beautiful soul-nourishing intention for the season, given the winter I've had. 


Just for fun, I put together a little collection of things that feel right--things that feel like ease--right now.


Clockwise, from upper-left:


Juniper Ridge Campfire Incense Set
To me, spring's arrival in Colorado is all about the pleasures of the great outdoors, captured gorgeously by these wildcrafted incense sticks. Imagine a mellow Saturday evening on the patio, the dusty sweet pine scent of Desert Pinon in the air, or a morning of spring cleaning accompanied by the brisk, energy-clearing properties of White Sage. The collection also includes Douglas Fir, Siskiyou, Death Valley, and Sweetgrass. 

Rosy Rings Honey Tobacco Beeswax Blend Votive

A new season begs for a fresh candle burning on my coffee table. While Honey Tobacco may not seem an especially spring-like scent--with its mix of almond, honey flower, crushed tobacco, patchouli, warm amber, sandalwood, and tonka bean--its exactly the kind of warm and earthy fragrance I love year-round. Hand-poured in Denver, this candle will pair well with the bourbon cocktails I have planned for patio season (we'll talk about that in a minute).

TOMS Blue Chambray Correa Sandals

As if I needed more fuel for my TOMS obsession, their spring line of sandals is perfectly versatile with the brand's signature blend of simplicity and detail. This chambray pair will work just as well with a breezy sundress for weekend trips to the farmers' market as it will with tailored black skinnies, a crisp tee, and a blazer for work. Plus, an excuse for a pedicure? Yes, please.

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

Spring is for gathering out-of-doors with friends. Watching the sun slip behind the mountains, casting the last of its rosy glow across the deck. Something good on the grill. A little music playing in the background, perhaps bluegrass or some gypsy jazz. Laughter, stories, fireflies, and an inch or two of this, on the rocks or in a cocktail if you prefer. 

Poetry Fashion Tees

*Note the tee itself is no longer available on the site*
Easy and breezy is the name of the game when it comes to my spring style. Neutral pieces like these slouchy tees can be dressed up or down, and layered under anything to accommodate the season's sometimes-fickle weather patterns. I'd wear 'em with leggings, a denim jacket, a pendant necklace, and the aforementioned TOMS. 

Other Spring Cravings (Not Pictured):

Picnics, freshly shelled peas, asparagus, Meyer lemon-flavored everything, citrus in general, post-work trail runs, live music, fresh herbs from the garden, some pretty ceramic planters, wildflowers, honeysuckle, sunny mornings, rainy afternoons, and a good book to dive into. (What's everyone reading right now?)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Southwest Sweet Potatoes With Poached Eggs


“If we were taught to cook as we are taught to walk, encouraged first to feel for pebbles with our toes, then to wobble forward and fall, then had our hands firmly tugged on so we would try again, we would learn that being good at it relies on something deeply rooted, akin to walking, to get good at which we need only guidance, senses, and a little faith...Instinct, whether on the ground or in the kitchen, is not a destination but a path.” ― Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
How are you, friends? I will admit that, amidst this busy season of my life, I am finding myself massively run down. Last night, I canceled all my weekend plans, went to bed at 8pm, and slept until almost 10am this morning. 

So much about this past year has felt guided by instinct, instead of logic. I left a great job that no longer felt right, took another that felt like (and has turned out to be) a great fit, and have made more decisions based on gut feeling than ever before. Since moving to Colorado really, I've had the sensation of being propelled forward by some unseen momentum, self-contained and yet decidedly not in control.


Now I wobble forward toward a new set of adventures--moving into my first real house, among others--feeling my way, relying on my senses and a little bit of grace. It's halfway between a paralyzing stress and a stunning exhilaration, and I'm trying to stay present.


Perhaps relatedly, my appetite's betrayed me lately. Whether it's the stress or the change in seasons, I've had a harder time identifying foods that sound good. Today, the simple rootedness of sweet potato held appeal, so I went with it. Very few things feel in my control right now, but making a healthy and wholesome brunch is one of them.


Ingredients

Half a sweet potato
1/3 cup freshly made pico de gallo (homemade or store-bought)
1/3 cup shredded cotija
1 slice of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 eggs, poached 
1 tbsp scallions, chopped
Pat of fresh grass-fed butter or ghee
Optional:
Cilantro, chopped

To Make:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make your sweet potato by poking it a few times with the tines of a fork, then baking it in the oven for 40 minutes or until it's done. Once it's done, cut about half of it into slices or cubes. (Save the other half for another meal.) Top the sweet potato with a pat of butter or ghee, the pico de gallo, crumbled bacon, and shredded cotija. Meanwhile, poach two eggs and, when done, add them to the top of the other ingredients. Sprinkle the whole thing with a bit of chopped scallion, and, optionally, some chopped cilantro. Douse liberally with Cholula hot sauce, as desired.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fuel for Life: My Weekly Meal Plan

Yesterday's breakfast: poached local eggs, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, squeeze of lemon.

Between our upcoming move, preparing for my PHR certification exam, and some forthcoming travel, life's about to get busy. Really busy. When things speed up, it's tempting to take shortcuts in other areas of life, like my commitment to clean eating and daily runs. However, I know it's precisely when things feel chaotic that I most need the sustenance of true nourishment. It's pretty simple, really. Clean fuel = the best and most productive output. Here's what that looks like this week.


Monday: Paleo Meatloaf with sautéed garlicky kale

I'll be prepping this tonight so that I can enjoy a quick yet hearty meal tomorrow night. The weather's supposed to be gorgeous again tomorrow (70's and sunny), so with the extra hour of daylight, I'll definitely be hitting the trails for a post-work run. It will be nice to have dinner ready to go when I get home.

Tuesday: Salmon, Zucchini, and Lemon Skewers with salad greens
This looks like a delicious and slightly different take on your typical baked salmon dish and will make good use of the extra zucchini and lemons I happen to have from last week's grocery haul.

Wednesday: Loaded Sweet Potato with a toppings bar
This is a fun and economical way to turn a humble baked sweet potato into an entire meal. Just bake your sweet potato, then top with whatever your heart desires! My personal favorites include diced avocado, pico de gallo, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, and a little bit of crumbled queso fresco. Crispy pieces of bacon are always a welcome addition.

Thursday: Leftover Meatloaf and sautéed garlicky kale
By the time Thursday rolls around, ease is the name of the game. Leftover meatloaf and kale sounds about right.

Friday: Out to eat!

Saturday: Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken
I have been really into roasted red peppers lately, and our Whole Foods carries them fresh at the salad bar, marinated in only olive oil. The savory red pepper combines with the creamy tang of goat cheese to create an elegant meal that tastes like it takes way more effort than it actually does. (My secret for moist and flavorful baked chicken? Throw a splash of white wine in the pan before you put it in the oven! I'll serve this chicken with a side of steamed broccoli topped with olive oil and sea salt.

Sunday: Leftover Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken
I like to add variety to leftovers by mixing up the side dishes, so on Sunday I'll serve this with wilted spinach over grain-free almond flour fettucine

What are you cooking and eating this week?

Check out past meal plans here for more inspiration. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Good Stuff


Someone brings you chocolate for no real reason and your heart cracks wide open at the kindness of this small act.

The vision of a bungalow that you've held in your heart for so long comes suddenly to life, complete with wood floors, a sun porch, and a vegetable garden. The signed lease feels like a sheaf of gold leaf in your hand.

An early evening run becomes a meditation on the beauty of the sun setting over the mountains, the distant plum and smoke-hued peaks rising to meet a fiery sky. 

People appear in your life when you need them, to illuminate the things you need to learn.

A spring thaw announces itself in the laughter emanating from a patio down the street, in the twirling rapids of a creek filled high with snowmelt, and in the rose gold tint of the late afternoon sun.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Read // Listened // Watched // Savored: February Edition


Here's a little peek at what I read, watched, listened to, and savored this month.

Reading

I downloaded and quickly devoured Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life after seeing Caiti's recommendation on Goodreads, and I'm so glad I did. "Everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write," Shapiro writes. Her description of writing as a lens through which to see our lives more clearly has inspired me deeply this past month.

While I'm not a traditionally religious person, certain spiritual themes have felt especially relevant in recent weeks. Themes like grace, wonder, and awe seem to be inquiring at the door, and I find myself open to the questions they bring. I'm eager to dive into Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Anne Lamott's take on the role of prayer in our everyday lives.

I have not gotten my hands on a copy yet, but am looking forward to reading the inaugural edition of Fellow, a magazine "rooted in the pursuit of creating simple, tangible experiences centered on the act of gathering together and sharing the stories of individuals, craftsmen, and artists who make Colorado great." With Happyolks' Kelsey Brown as Editor in Chief, I'm certain I will treasure this publication, and happily, the nearest stockist is just blocks from my home.

I'm so glad one of my all-time favorite bloggers is blogging again. Her new site, Wee Mountains, focuses on wholehearted motherhood with the same relate-ability that made Naturally Nina such a joy to read. Though I don't yet have wee ones of my own, I find wisdom and humor in Nina's perspective on parenting with intention.

Other peoples' daily rituals and routines fascinate me to no end, and this new-to-me blog is fanning the flame big-time.

Watching & Listening
If you haven't yet, you must watch Seth Rogen absolutely kill it in his testimony before Congress on the need for Alzheimer's research. (Also of note: he's been calling out senators who ditched the hearing.)

Stop what you're doing and watch Mortified Nation, a touching and hilarious documentary about the performance series in which adults read their childhood diaries to a live audience. Some of the narratives are uproariously funny, some are unspeakably sad, but all are deeply healing in a we-made-it-through-that-and-we're-still-here kind of way.

I have been having some of the best runs of my life listening to this playlist. The mix of guilty pleasures (looking at you Rihanna) and hip-hop keeps me motivated from the first mile to the last.

I can't stop listening to this newly discovered track from The National. Apparently it's from a video game soundtrack, which I guess explains why I never heard it till now. #notagamer

It's a little heavy-handed, but this video encapsulates so much of what I love about where I live.

Savoring
Eggs with sliced avocado and smoked salmon. Eggs with chicken sausage and kale. Eggs with spinach dressed with lemon garlic aioli. Eggs with sautéed zucchini and shallots. Eggs with local bacon.

Simple, nourishing dinners like this baked lemon chicken. I added oregano and a splash of white wine to the pan (plus another, decidedly more generous splash into my glass).

Morning runs and evening at-home yoga.

Perusing houses online and allowing myself to get a little excited about the prospect of moving into a sweet little bungalow when our apartment's lease expires this summer...

What are you reading, watching, listening to, and savoring right now?