Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekend Links: clothing + happiness + health (and everything in between)

It's official: Portland is not rainy and gray. I've decided it is simply propaganda, meant to keep the masses at bay. It's an attractive place, after all, and traffic is bad enough, so why invite more people to the party? The rumors about the awesome food and great shopping are true, but the rain part is a farce. We've been here 10 whole weeks and have only seen it rain twice. See? Proof.

I am totally on to you. (Whoever you are.)


// Despite the 90 degree temps, which forced us to switch the air conditioning back on, I'm becoming obsessed with fall duds. (Case in point: this outfit.)

// Speaking of which, I've always thought ankle booties were for tiny women in tiny jeans (i.e. not me). Then the other day I came across a rack of various booties at TJ Maxx. I tried on a few and, shocking even myself, learned that I love them. (I also learned that I tend to favor the wedge kind.) I'm a little late to the game, as per usual, but this style guide will help prevent them from collecting dust in my closet, having fallen prey to the "cuter on the rack" syndrome. Goal for this week: buy a pair.

Also,

// The most popular clothing brands, not based on revenue, but by internet searches. (Because a Ralph Lauren skirt costs more than a Forever 21 skirt, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're more popular among shoppers.) The author, a Cornell student, has some pretty interesting perspectives on certain brands.

// These wardrobe basics. Almost my entire wardrobe is comprised of basics. So there's that.

Moving on...

// This article about a North Korean architect and his idea of a futurist world is so interesting.

// A post on the human condition, specifically the idea that nicer stuff will bring greater happiness. I read it three times.

// Two similarly great posts about finding happiness with what we have and knowing when to break away from Pinterest (and other outside influences).

// A minimalist blog design I'm smitten with. (Has anyone bought a prefab blog design? Is it easy to install? I'm afraid...)

// Downing raw apple cider vinegar as part of your daily routine. I've tried it before, but failed to find compelling evidence as to why I should put myself through that, so the scientist part of me was never persuaded to stick with it. But! It's the second ingredient in my allergy tonic, which is working wonders (wonders, I tell you!), so I'm giving it another go. I'm telling Biologist Sarah that we are conducting a small scale study and she's tentatively on board.

// Making deodorant. Would you believe it actually works? It does! (Though I can see Mario rolling his eyes all the way from South Dakota. He's positive I've gone totally and hopelessly crunchy.) (P.S. Didn't your mom ever tell you your eyes would stick that way if you didn't stop?)

// Finding a new (to me) blog is a beautiful thing. (I've been reevaluating my blogroll lately and tidying up + seeking out new reads.)

// I wish I was sailing.

Happy Sunday.




Friday, September 19, 2014

A week in the life.



// Previously mentioned early morning jog. My body said Get Up! last Saturday morning, and so I did. (It also said Let there be Shinsplints, Side Cramps and Achy Hips!, and so it was. Though to be fair, what did I expect after so many weeks on the lam?) //

// The world is vastly different at sunrise, I've come to realize on those rare occasions when I dare to leave the house on foot at such an hour. Only a select few attended the party, so I had the streets mostly to myself. I noticed things like the glitter of morning dew on the grass, sparkling like millions of tiny diamonds. And the first signs of changing leaves in the uppermost branches. Then there was that family of impossibly fuzzy rabbits darting across the schoolyard. Even the high school, a vessel for so many anxious thoughts over the past couple weeks, seemed tame in the early morning light. Dare I say, approachable. Anything seems possible at sunrise, which is why I simply must become a morning person. Let it be so. //


// Introducing our favorite salvage/antique/oddities store to good friends. // Remembering our first awestruck visit. // Shenanigans. //


// Our new favorite Saturday morning activity: the Portland Farmer's Market. I love, love, love this place. The neighborhood, the vibe, the amazing booths. It's not your typical farmer's market. (Says I.) Mario stood in line for 30+ minutes just to score a chicken + biscuit sandwich. Worth every second. // Finding out what real, freshly-grown ginger looks like. Quite beautiful and nothing like I surmised. // Jellies and jams to the moon and back. // A kiddo who eats tomatoes like apples. I find it entirely charming. And confusing, considering he won't eat a turkey sandwich. But mostly charming. // Crepes filled with fresh lemon curd. // I bought this house in my mind one hundred times over. //


// Sweet relief from my allergies. When something works this well, you don't even complain about gulping down a mixture of raw honey + raw ACV + bee pollen + nettle + herbs. You just do it. //


// The "Edgefield Fizz" // Chocolates almost too pretty to eat. // Waking up to this furry face on a Sunday morning. // A boy who still picks flowers for his mom. Sometimes he'll come across a lovely bud during his cross-country run and will carry it around with him until I come to pick him up. If that isn't the best thing, I don't know what is. //


 // Dinner party prep. //

// Gummy bear sangria that was a huge hit. So much so that when we ran out of white wine, we started improvising ingredients so the party would never end. //

// So many new recipes. I've never had such a long run of new meals without experiencing a dud or two. The recipes in this cookbook are so simple, yet so awesome. (They aren't paying me. I swear!) //


// The fiddle leaf fig lives on! No new leaves, but no dead ones, either. *knock on wood* Also, it is clearly Vista's favorite place to be photographed. //


// Stay with me forever, Pumpkins on a Stick. // I couldn't wait until September 21st, try as I might. A fall drink made it into my morning. I've never warmed up to the taste of Pumpkin Spice (blasphemy!, and yet another reason I should be kicked out of the blogosphere), but this vanilla-cinnamon latte made me feel all fuzzy inside. // 


// Revisiting an old favorite. (Can it be an "old favorite" if we've only lived here 2 months?) A few weeks ago Husband and I made the mistake of setting up camp in a local coffee shop on a scorching day and nearly died of heat stroke. The charm of being in an old garage is, well, less charming in the throes of a heat wave. All that aside, their coffee is awesome. So is the vibe. (Think coffee island in the center of an industrial building + vintage tables and chairs/church pews.) I could spend (cooler) days and days in there. //

Last weekend some great friends, most of which we've known for over a decade, came to town. We had dinner, toured Portland, and in general had a merry time. 

I made a makeshift guest room out of the office; a bed fashioned from two carefully chosen pieces of "camping foam" (a wonderfully random Fred Meyers find) which, when stacked, made a twin-size memory foam mattress for one. How very domestic of me.

And as these things always go, we had the best of times but also sacrificed the usual restorative qualities of the weekend. Monday came before we knew it and we have felt a bit off-kilter ever since. Laundry is just now being acknowledged and counters wiped and I nearly wept openly which I switched my alarm to the "off" position this morning. 

Three cheers for the weekend!

I decree: there will be pajamas worn longer than socially acceptable, pizza delivered, and mindless television watched. Hear, hear!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.

 Epictetus

My anxiety has been high lately. Panicky, short on patience, white-knuckle grip on life, anxious. And who wants to live that way? Not me. So while I know anxiety is something I'll have to manage for the rest of my life, I have a tried and true arsenal for fighting adrenaline takeovers.

The problem is, I'm typically too slow to act. Instead of nipping it in the bud early on, I'm now attempting to mitigate a full-fledged attack. When will I ever learn? Will I always be my own worst enemy? Are we all our own worst enemies?

I'm going to be honest: having Kiddo start high school was like a punch in the stomach. Which makes it the most likely catalyst for this current state of affairs I find myself in. I worried for weeks that we hadn't prepared him for the changes. For the most part, he's adjusted really well, but the hefty windup I gave myself + typical teenager-isms leave me feeling sweaty and panicked most days.

Add to that the fact that my carefully constructed plan for getting into my chosen PA program have been turned upside down. I've been so singularly focused for the last 5 years that I didn't anticipate a series of obstacles. Then Plan A went bust. And now I'm at Plan B. I'm hoping Plan C won't be necessary... because I don't have one.

Then there's a dog that won't stop barking at the fix-it man and a leaky washer and a lack of dinner plans and everything starts to feel so BIG. Even the little things. Lickety-split and I'm snipping at Kiddo and terrorizing my way-too-patient husband and saying things I'll regret later. (Typically it's nothing too terrible, but with anxiety comes the inevitable guilt hangover... as if being anxious in the first place isn't enough. Geez.)

Thankfully, with each period of my life that triggers such things, I become more adept at tempering it. It's funny, because despite my best efforts to just power through and ignore what is so clearly sticking in my craw, my body is aching for me to deal with it. Case in point: waking up at 6a last Saturday morning with an overwhelming urge to run. Somewhere. Anywhere. Just run. That is quite outside the norm.

This morning, I called a new CrossFit box to set up an initial session. By this time next week, I should be back to box jumps and power cleans and wall balls (for the love of all things holy, please, please go easy on the wall balls).

Today, I'm signing up for a class at the local community college (three cheers for low tuition!). It's just a 100-level nutrition course, so it won't cause more stress (ahem, I'm talking to you, Biochem), but it will put me squarely in the position to successfully achieve Plan B. [I realize I'm being vague about all this Plan stuff. But do you really want to know? I've wondered. I've also contemplated starting a second blog just to discuss education/career things. (So that other people in my position have a place to go instead of being left flapping in the breeze like I have.) But another blog sounds like an undertaking. So maybe I'll just write a post about my educational journey from time to time while understanding it's a niche subject and many of my usual readers will tune out. Though maybe not. I like hearing about people's chosen careers and how they snagged them. We'll see.]

I'm also (casually) on the job hunt. The goal is to fill my days, make a bit of dough, and meet people. (Though I'm not opposed to challenging myself. I just don't want to create undo stress by taking on a job that won't allow me to be around for drop-off and pick-up.) Even if it only covers my student loan payments, I'll be happy. In true Husband, superhero and all-around stellar guy fashion, I got a Just do what makes you happy, Honey. Even if that means crafting, CrossFit and blogging.

I must have stockpiled some seriously good karma to snag that dude.

And so, that is that. Too heavy? Too real? Like, real real? We all have our crosses to bear, and this is mine. If you, too, have anxiety, I'm sorry. It sucks. Like sucks sucks. But I've learned that I'm not without recourse should I choose to pull my head out of the proverbial sand and do something about it. To cope rather than suffer (and make those around me miserable).

Holy (parentheses).


Monday, September 15, 2014

Taking Stock | 01

I've seen this series throughout the blogosphere over the last few months. (My favorites participants are Bridget and Anne. We have Pip to thank for this idea.)

I like a good writing promp + occasionally find myself with plenty to say but lacking the wherewithal to say it. Also, I'm working on my propensity to write wordy posts. They have their place, sure, but there should be some middle ground. Not every post has to be my opus, and trying to make it so is a surefire way to catch writer's block. And so.


Cooking: a lemony kale salad, I hope // a friend brought one to dinner the other night... so, so good
Drinking: half-caff coffee with toasted coconut almond milk
Reading: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Wanting: a pair of classic Birkenstock sandals
Looking: for a great pair of jeans
Playing: old Disney records
Wasting: this day away
Sewing: ah, well, um... nothing (I should take this one out)
Wishing: the weekend had been just one day longer
Enjoying: a quiet house
Waiting: for Kiddo's post-practice "I need a ride!" call
Liking: these art prints, though I'm running out of wall space
Wondering: if a midday soak in the bath is in order (or will just make me sleepy)
Loving: the "Pumpkin on a Stick" branches pictured above // Trader Joe's for the win
Hoping: our new fruit basket helps declutter our counters
Marveling: at this Indian summer // 92 degrees today
Needing: more sleep... I'm an 8.5-9.5 hours/night kind of gal
Smelling: cantaloupe, cut up for Kiddo's breakfast this morning
Wearing: Chucks, jeans and a soft hoodie (it's still chilly inside)
Following: Sprouted Kitchen (the photos! gah!) // finding a really good blog is a triumph
Noticing: some authors have begun criticizing reviewers // I'm not a fan (I like honest opinions!)
Knowing: Husband is going on the road tomorrow, but only for two nights (!!)
Thinking: about where to find the perfect branch for this bat mobile
Bookmarking: this wedding dress website... no wedding, just loving the ethereal designs
Opening: a rare but wonderful purchase: new dish towels (these & these)
Giggling: at this video
Feeling: content, mostly

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eat Up

I titled this post "Eat Up" with a dual meaning in mind. We eat up in the sense that we consume food, yes, but I've also found a renewed consciousness when it comes to what goes in to the food we eat. Read: quality + quantity. 

We've been eating up but also eating up.

With moving comes a period of adjustment. There was the obvious consumption of restaurant food as we drove across America, but even once the plates were unpacked and we were mostly settled we continued to eat out more than necessary. And eventually, more than made me comfortable. 

Is it nice having someone cook your food then whisk away the dirties? Sure. But with it comes the inevitable burnout. And, for me, puffiness and a grouchy belly. (Not to mention it's a giant budget buster.)

I think I let the whole eating out phase last just a couple days too long, which had the fortunate result of a long, lingering desire to cook my own food. To monitor the ingredients. To get my hands dirty.

To sit around the table, our table, and talk shop with the two men in my life.

Our last house had a funky floor plan: we could opt for an eat-in kitchen and feel cramped for space, or combine our living and dining room. We chose the latter. After a while our table became a Jack of all trades: homework table, often covered in Kiddo's school stuff (and mine), crafting table, and landing spot for junk mail.

The one thing it seldom did was the one thing it was intended for: a place to eat dinner. The coffee table, just a few feet away, issued its siren call: Eat here! I'm easier! I'm television adjacent!

Looking back, I regret that. But instead of dwelling, I'm changing the way we do things. Our television is on the second floor and our table is where it should be: next to the kitchen.

These days we sit down to dinner, without distraction, and talk. Bond. Behave like the tight-knit clan we truly are.

This reignited love of home cooking, of food made with whole foods, has led to a steady stream of new recipes to add to my repertoire. I'm trying different things and daring the boys to do the same.

(No more separate meals for Kiddo... it's time to try new things Mr. Picky!)

Oh, and the food has been awesome.


// Cauliflower Fried Rice // I subbed teriyaki-marinated chicken thighs for pork. Also, I got all twitterpated over the brightly colored cauliflower at the market and bought yellow, green and purple instead of traditional white. It tasted delicious, but my dreams of tri-colored fried rice never came to fruition. It all turns brown in the end. Still, no regrets. This was a huge hit, with Kiddo going back for seconds. (When I say "Kiddo had seconds", trust me that it is a testimony to its deliciousness. Historically, he has not been too easy to please when it comes to food.)


// Thai Sweet Rice // After discovering this dessert at our favorite Thai restaurant many years ago, I set about making it at home. Back in the day I followed a recipe (like this one), but found that I could make it equally delicious with less work and fewer ingredients. I simply cook brown rice according to package directions, substituting coconut milk for water. (Note: Use slow cooking rice, not the "instant" or "minute" varieties.) Once the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed, I stir in coconut cream until the desired sweetness is achieved. Divide into bowls and top with fruit.


// Garlic Soba and Zucchini Noodles // We have a hit on our hands! Bonus: I got in some quality time with Husband while we chopped and listened to Sam Smith. Which is why I'll probably always have a soft spot for this recipe. Good vibes are permanently attached. Bonus bonus: I got to dust off the spiral cutter!


// Greek Orzo Salad // I have a Trader Joe's endcap to thank for inspiring me to make this beauty. There was no real recipe, just feta dressing + orzo + chopped fresh spinach + pitted greek olives + crumbled feta. I cooked the orzo according to package instructions then tossed in the rest. Mario and I ate it for lunch over the next couple days. It lends itself nicely to improvisation; next time I may throw in some artichoke hearts.


// Curry Roasted Vegetable and Avocade Naan-wich // Easy peasy and super tasty. Mario and Jared aren't huge fans of chickpeas, so I substituted black beans instead. Kiddo ate two servings.


// Spinach soba bowl with peanut sauce // I can eat pretty much anything if it is covered in peanut sauce. This was no exception.


// Thai Chicken Salad // I have Bridget to thank for introducing me to this salad. And the cookbook it came from, which now resides on my kitchen counter with a dozen dogeared pages. And because she introduced me to this salad, I owe her a debt of gratitude for introducing me to the first dinner salad Kiddo has ever eaten. Sure, there were a couple side salads here and there, but never salad as a meal. Yum.


// California Roll Nachos // I mentioned these nachos the other day, and obviously felt compelled to make them. Mario had a few moments to have lunch with me, so I whipped these up and we ate them straight off the baking sheet. I couldn't find "kewpie mayo" (?!), so I substituted sriracha mayo, found in the Asian section of the local grocery store, instead. It gave them some spice without being too spicy. I partake in cheese-containing foods very rarely, so it better be good. Duuude. It was.

Any new recipes you're digging? Food blogs? Share! Share!