Self Care September

Practicing self care has never come easy.

Sure, I used to do yoga every day and restrict my diet to salads, but I never did it for myself. I dedicated myself to these things because I didn’t like the way my body looked in a swimsuit, or my legs didn’t have the definition I’ve always craved.

I grew up surrounded by powerful, stubborn, beautiful women. My mom and grandma have bright smiles, kind eyes, and they’ve passed down their ability to weather any storm. They also passed down their disdain for their bodies. Recently, I was at dinner with my 83-year-old grandma. We sat on her couch as she walked me through her food journal, counting calories to ensure she stays under the recommended daily allotment. She’s mainly doing it for health reasons, but she regularly refers to the time she was 120 pounds with a wistful longing in her voice.

You can find my stunningly gorgeous grandma on a postcard they sold in the 1940s and 50s — thick red hair and a Barbie sized waist. Because of this, beauty has always been something that we’ve valued. And, as the only child, my mom got all of the attention as she was growing up. While my grandma was a wonderful mother, her blunt and sometimes callous statements made it clear that looks were important. It’s funny what gets passed from generation to generation.

Needless to say, my sister and I berate our bodies regularly. We’ll send each other text messages about how gross we feel. About how much we hate the fact that we didn’t get our mom’s slender legs. Binging on popcorn, pizza, and beer and then regretting everything about it. We take turns telling each other that we’re beautiful and amazing and perfect. We are each other’s pep talk, each other’s reminder that out bodies are able and willing to walk us up mountains and two step in dark Texas bars. And yet we both have this deep seeded feeling that our bodies are too soft, too large, too imperfect.

All of this is to say I’m trying to be better about self care. Moving slowly through my day to be more mindful about what it is my body is asking for. I’m calling it Self Care September, as I like to organize and have goals and deadlines to answer to. This month is about being kind to myself in every way imaginable. I recently had an epiphany about the way I interact with the men in my life. I woke up one morning after a date with a handsome fella to this feeling of exhaustion.

For 4 years I have played the casual fling, side chick, and secret romance because it’s all I’ve told myself I can handle. My distrust in men continues to grow instead of shrink, and nothing they say or do surprises me anymore. My sister reminded me that I’m so much more than a convenient warm body, and that I should take a break from all things men. Instead of casting my net wide, I should reel it in and be with myself, completely.

Are you tired of my very raw and emotional rant on the internet? Cool, me too.

All of this rambling is to say that September is for me. It’s for hours spent throwing tomatoes at the wall with my nephew (babies are entertained by the most curious things) and getting lost in the woods with the hound. It’s for rediscovering my cookbooks and practicing yoga on my back patio. Hopefully, with a dedicated month of healing, it will become my routine.

Check back in on me in October. Until then, here’s to slow Sunday mornings with Sam Cooke records, fresh coffee, and a homemade breakfast.

Self Care Breakfast

There is something so perfect in waking up slow and spending time in the kitchen. During the work week, I have to get up at an ungodly hour and rush through the mornings to make the 6:20am train. When the weekends roll around, it’s my time. The hound sits at the corner of the kitchen, waiting for vegetable scraps. I always start weekend mornings with Leon Bridges and an entire Chemex to myself. It’s my idea of heaven. This morning it was a veggie scramble, banana pancakes, and a fresh nectarine.

Treat yourself.

Gluten free banana pancakes 

  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup GF flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

In a small box, stir together the bananas, oil, lemon juice, and honey. Beat in the eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix together until everything is thoroughly moistened. Don’t over stir or the consistency will be off. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes (this is a good time to prep the scramble veggies). After everything has settled, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat with a small amount of coconut oil. Once warm, pour ¼ cup batter onto the pan. Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes, until bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes, until the pancake is golden brown on each side. Then enjoy! I had extra batter, which will keep until tomorrow. Pancakes two days in a row? Don’t mind if I do. I topped my pancakes with some butter, chopped walnuts, fresh nectarines, and a little bit of maple syrup. Delicious.

Veggie scramble

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/5 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 laciento kale leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a cast iron over medium heat. Once warm, add peppers and mushrooms to the oil + minced garlic. Saute for 5-7 minutes until the red peppers soften. Add in kale and saute for another 2-3 minutes. While the veggies are cooking, whisk 2 eggs with some salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the eggs to the vegetables. Stir until everything is mixed and eggs are cooked. Turn down to low and eat when everything is ready.

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My new home and quinoa rolls

I became a homeowner this month. I signed my name approximately 35 times, and nearly burst into tears when I pulled the keys from the mailbox. My new house comes with tired oak floors, retro countertops, and a backyard where everything feels calm.

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The last two weeks I have focused on finding my rhythm in this new house. I have painted and planted and cleaned and gawked at how much my dog sheds (it’s insane.) I have found joy in picking out house plants and cleaning supplies. I hem and haw over the perfect place for my throw rugs. You know, general adult-ing.

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It’s also the first time that I have felt truly settled and truly alone.

I was never a girl that dreamt about weddings or white picket fences. I spent most of my time being weird with my best friends. Choreographing dance routines in our living room and playing “office” for hours. We created HPIMHC (Harry Potter is my hero club) and BAKOA (bad ass kids of America) which basically meant we thought we owned the neighborhood and only cared about hanging out with each other. And as I transitioned into teenage years, I fell hard for boys that ignored me and ran away from boys that were kind.

Not a lot has changed.

Because of that unexplainable wall around my heart, I have found myself very much alone for the past few years. And now, I bought a house all by myself. It’s a very big life decision that I’m told you’re supposed to do with another person.

A person to help you pick out paint. A person to mow the lawn while you make a picnic on the floor.  A person to go to bed with, knowing you’ve created this little world together.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love that I am a bad ass babe who bought a house solo, and I love that I move through the world with “independent woman” stamped on my forehead. I am proud of what I’ve done and this place I get to call mine.

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But as I fall into a new life in this beautiful place, I have had a lot of time to think. I spend hours painting, listening to my records and thinking about men that I so casually walked away from. I thought there was something else I needed to walk towards. Something brighter. These were men who cared. They fought for me. They were kind and thoughtful and took the time to get to know me.

These are the ones that terrify me. So I did what I’ve always done. I ran as far away from them as possible because my distrust in men is so deep that I can feel it tickling my feet. If you’re reading this and you’re one of those people, I am so, SO sorry for treating your heart like it was disposable. You deserve so much more than that. You are a light.

So, to solve for this dilemma of being scared of stability, I go for the fellas that are distant. Or cruel. Or disinterested. Or taken. I spread myself thin across multiple potentials, all of whom are unavailable or unkind. That way it’s much easier to prove my point that men are the worst while simultaneously protecting my heart.

Real talk, am I right? Fuck it. I’ve been all about vulnerability and embracing honesty these days. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that vulnerability (while mind numbingly terrifying) only brings about truth and greatness. Why not put all those feels on the internet? I’m sure there’s a person or two out there that can relate to this madness in my brain. So… this one’s for you.

I am not sure what the solution is for this situation I’ve found myself in. This new life makes me want to channel my inner nester and it makes me want to do all of this with someone important. My tiny home with big windows encourages me to open up my heart and maybe share myself with someone who deserves it.

Bottom line: I’m looking for men with big hearts and kind eyes.

Please and thank you.

Quinoa Sushi Rolls

From Oh My Veggies

Now that I’m done lamenting about being alone, I want to celebrate the fact that I’m a 10-minute walk from the cutest little farmers market in Tacoma. I’m excited to spend my Saturday mornings there, perusing new stalls and picking out the best produce. This weekend it was beets and carrots, which are two of my staples.  I’ve noticed that having this little house gives me a reason to reset and find my way back to healthy eating. These summer “sushi” rolls fit that category swimmingly, and are best enjoyed in a backyard filled with sunshine, with a lazy hound dog sleeping at your feet.

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 sheets Nori seaweed
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into slices
  • 1/2 large cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium beet, peeled and grated grated
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

Add the quinoa and water to a medium saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer until the quinoa is mostly cooked through but still on the undercooked side, 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, set a small saucepan over medium heat and add the rice vinegar, honey and salt. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup rice vinegar and it made for a very strong flavor. I would maybe cut the amount down next time. Bring  to a simmer and keep warm until the quinoa is ready. Pour the vinegar mixture into the pan with the quinoa, stir well, cover and let sit until the quinoa absorbs the liquid. Remove the quinoa from the heat and let it cool completely.

After it’s cooled, spread a spoonful of the quinoa on the Nori sheets and pack with vegetable goodness. I didn’t have the fancy bamboo mat, but I just rolled with my hands and it worked fine. I also reheat some delicious peanut sauce for the dipping, but soy sauce would be delicious too. It was filling, healthy, and delicious. What more can you ask for?

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Frittata and Adulthood

I’m attempting to be an adult. Do all those things that grownups do. Put away a percentage of my paycheck, talk about the stock market, get pre-approved for a house. You know, general adult-ing. Perhaps it’s because I’m going to be 30 at the end of the year. Perhaps it’s because my brother and sister-in-law brought a little human into the world that has become my everything. Whatever it is, there’s something in the air that’s telling me to plant roots. Instead of trying to scheme what’s next, I’m attempting to slow down and find my footing.

I have always been proud of my determination and drive. I won’t take no for an answer, and it’s something that has brought me a lot of amazing opportunities. I will continue to get loud about the things that matter. I will continue to push and create and dream big. That is just who I am, and some things never change.

This new version is just a little more settled. A little more content with the idea of building a home in a new town surrounded by the people I love more than anything. I’ve always felt that I had to wait for everything to be perfect. I haven’t found my dream man, I don’t know if I want kids, and I am not sure if I have enough money to be considered a real adult… I’m an incomplete puzzle.

It recently dawned on me that I shouldn’t wait around for those things to fall into place. Who knows if any one man will live up to that extremely high bar I’ve set. Who knows if I’ll finally fall into the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ camp of motherhood. Who knows if my savings account will ever be considered robust.

That’s just life, I suppose.

All I know is that there’s a little house waiting for me in a sleepy city south of Seattle. A house with a big yard and sun stained floors. I told my real estate agent that I require 3 things: natural light, a big yard, and a neighborhood I love. The rest? The rest I can fix.

The house I’m working on buying is perfection. It’s a tiny home on a street that is a mile from my family and my best friend. A house that has been lovingly cared for by a man who tends to his garden daily, making friends with hummingbirds and neighborhood crows. He told me the lawn smells like honeysuckle on summer evenings. To say I’m excited to brew sun tea and smell the air this summer is an understatement.

I’m ready to make a home for myself. I’ll let the rest of my unmatched pieces do their own thing… I’ll figure it out, eventually.

One step at a time.

Asparagus and Mushroom Frittata

I did the whole30 in April, which means my life was full of vegetables, fruit, eggs, and seafood. It was delicious and wonderful, but I was ready for some chickpeas, quinoa, chocolate, and whiskey to be placed in my mouth. It’s weird what you crave when you restrict your diet. Chickpeas?! Who knew I loved those little legumes so much.

But back to eggs. God love ‘em, after 30 straight days of hard boiled eggs as your go-to, you get egg fatigue REAL fast. Enter: The frittata, a wonderfully easy meal that hits the spot. Because it’s spring in Seattle, everything delicious is showing up at the Ballard Farmers Market. This frittata was a hodge-podge of all the spring goodness, and it turned out delicious. Feel free to substitute whatever kind of vegetable your heart desires, it’s hard to mess up this dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • ½ bunch asparagus
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Warm the olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Saute onion in olive oil for 3 minutes, until slightly translucent. Add in minced garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Chop off the ends of the asparagus and cut into bite size pieces. Throw in the pan with the garlic and onion. Once soft, add in the mushrooms and saute for another couple of minutes. Lastly, add in the kale and wilt slightly. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes, remove and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to eat without burning the top of your mouth (I do it every.damn.time) sprinkle with nutritional yeast and enjoy!

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Whiskey and The National

I used to live in a tiny house tucked behind a giant concrete wall. With slanted windows, gaps between the floor boards, and mosquito filled bamboo, everything was messy and perfect. I called it our home before he even saw it. I signed the lease knowing that if my heart said yes, so would his.

The first night we sat on the floor with our picnic of whiskey and hummus and we made plans. They were big. Full of each other and this new city we had decided to call home. He hung antique book covers from twine strung between the rafters. We drowned our doubt in cocktails we couldn’t afford and The National on repeat. We would shop for furniture at the Salvation Army because our wallets had stopped collecting money. We splurged on the mattress and built our world in that bed; the superman pillowcase always making itself known.

I spent my first weeks at the farm. Gathering dirt under my finger nails, I would sidestep fire ant hills and swat at the small grasshoppers that clung to my legs. The 106-degree weather was suffocating, like living inside a dryer that you couldn’t escape. I would come home smelling like sweat and sunscreen, donning tomato-red skin. Although unpaid, I was able to gather bags of produce and somehow that made life seem manageable. We weren’t sure how we’d pay rent, but hot damn, how those peppers sang.

On the first day of his new job he wore a tie. Still strangers to each other, I blushed at his broad shoulders and strong jawline. His shirt was powder blue. In that moment I felt like I had fallen into a grownup’s life. A life full of coffee on-the-go and quick kisses at the door before we headed to our respectable jobs. We fell into a routine, as people always do. He found himself in a job he hated, a town he wasn’t sure of, and a relationship neither of us knew how to navigate.

I fell in love with that city. With its warm nights and heavy air. All my jeans became cut offs as I navigated back streets on my bicycle. I fell in love with another boy, whose brain I couldn’t quite understand but I wanted to know. I outgrew the little house behind the wall, and selfishly forgot that there is always more than one heart involved. I grew roots and vines, entangled them in the humid air, and left behind things I should have remembered.

Tonight is for nostalgia. For putting on High Violet and remembering the meals we’d eat on the front porch, slapping at the mosquitos as they feasted on our ankles.

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One night we went into a bar where the drinks were pretentious and the ice cubes were made “in house”, as if that’s something to brag about. It was dark and crowded and we had dressed in our finest. We pretended we had money to burn. We bought each other drinks. We felt new.

Old Fashioned

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Bitters
  • club soda
  • 2 ounces whiskey (rye whiskey)
  • old-fashioned glass

Place the sugar cube in a glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with whatever you have that’ll get the job done. Rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the rye (or bourbon). Drink slowly and enjoy.

Tacos and the Utah Desert

Sometimes all you need is a trip to Utah with your best friend.

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I had hit my wall with writing. I would circle around a subject, draft three pages of dribble, and then quit without saving. My words fell flat and I blamed it on the redundancy of my life. I would wake up, walk Zep, work 10 hours, walk Zep again, and go to sleep. Of course this is melodramatic. My life is full of baby snuggles and trips to the top of the Empire State Building. But when I sat down to write, my brain went blank.

And then I went to the desert.

As someone who finds peace in being outside, I knew that the national parks of Utah would steal my heart. I had seen pictures and read enough Terry Tempest Williams to know that this part of the world holds an unmatched beauty. Everything around me was painted in red. The spires were as tall as skyscrapers, the canyons as deep as the ocean, and the dry air was filled with the scent of sage and sunshine.

Tracey and I did what you’re supposed to do on vacation, we meandered. When we wanted to hike, we hiked. When we wanted to drink beer, we drank beer. When the thunderstorms rolled in and the thought of setting up camp sounded awful, we got a cheap motel room and acquainted ourselves with the joys of Moab. We read books and made fires. We went to bed early, snuggling deep into our sleeping bags to fight off the bitter cold of desert nights. We chased the sunset at the grand canyon, running in flip flops to make sure we caught the moment the sun dipped low enough to paint the canyon walls a deep purple. On my favorite morning, we drove to Zion as the sun was rising and spent the morning in the Devil’s Garden. Scampering up rocks and wading through puddles turned to pools, we found ourselves on the top of the world.

And, because we’ve been best friends since birth, we ended the trip in Disneyland. While that place is hell to some people, it’s the place we have always associated with magic. Acting like kids in a candy shop, we got there before the gates opened, making a mad dash to be the first in line for Space Mountain. We made a list of all the must-do rides, eating sickly sweet churros and mapping the best route to avoid the children on the verge of breakdowns.

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There is no one I would have rather done this trip with, and I came back a completely refreshed human.

There is so much perspective to be gained when you take a step out of your life and sink into a place of grandeur. The world is such an epic place and we are such tiny blips. So many of my concerns are in trivial things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. There were so many ah-ha moments on this trip, and I am back to feeling like myself. I came home with a very solid grasp of what’s important, and I am determined to move through life full of that desert joy. Who knew Utah would give me so much?

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In the desert there is space. Space is the twin sister of time. If we have open space then we have open time to breathe, to dream, to dare, to play, to pray to move freely, so freely, in a world our minds have forgotten but our bodies remember. Time and space. This partnership is holy. In these redrock canyons, time creates space–an arch, an eye, this blue eye of sky. We remember why we love the desert; it is our tactile response to light, to silence, and to stillness. – Terry Tempest Williams

Camp Tacos

It’s no surprise that tacos are my favorite food. When shopping for our trip, we knew the first meal on the menu were camp tacos. They are easy, they are delicious, and they can be repurposed in the morning for breakfast tacos. This recipe is best accompanied with a campfire and a cold beer, but if those aren’t in your near future, you can enjoy them in the comfort of your home. Side note: we forgot beans so we substituted chili which was weirdly delicious.

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ bunch of dino kale, chopped
  • ½ can of chili or black beans
  • Cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa

I think y’all know how to make a taco. But here’s how to do it while camping. Step one, have a headlamp if, like us, you come back after dark. Forget a sharp knife? US TOO! We had a weirdly sharp butter knife, and I only nicked my finger once. Chop up the onion, bell pepper and kale while the oil is heating. Saute onion first for 3-5 minutes, add in the bell pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add in the chili or beans, as dirtying another pan would be silly when camping. Lastly, add in the kale and let wilt for another 2-3 minutes. Add in your spices and let everything simmer.

We transferred all of that to a bowl and cooked our eggs in the same pan because camp dishes aren’t fun. Warm the tortillas over the fire, and then pop your veggie/bean/chili mixture on there, and add some avocado, sour cream, and salsa.

Lastly, put an egg on it.

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Chili and Lopez Island

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Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated – Terry Tempest Williams.

It is hard to explain Lopez Island.

To some people, it’s just another beautiful place in the Pacific Northwest. A tiny speck in a state already decorated in shades of green and grey, awe inspiring no matter if you’ve lived here for 30 years or are exploring for the first time. This tiny speck is where a large portion of my heart belongs.

For the past five years my best friends and I regroup on this island. For a few days we forget that we are adults with big decisions and real responsibilities. When we are on Lopez, all that matters is what time we’re going to get our morning coffee. These ladies have lived in my soul for a span of 10-28 years… They get me.

Last year, their dreams were of houses and babies. They’ve figured out half of the equation, and they’re now imagining little feet and sticky hands leaving pint-sized prints everywhere they look. Not wanting little ones of my own, I have gladly volunteered to take the title of Aunty C. Someday I will steal my nephew for a summer and show him how to build a fire and make the perfect s’more.

So much can change in five years. The first year, our dreams were to graduate college and figure out what it meant to be a real adult. It has been a beautiful shift towards a greater sense of self and the stability we needed to settle our hearts. Through all the moves, broken hearts, new loves, and careers, these ladies have been the constant thread. They have been my touchstone and my sounding board. I have seen them fall in love, get married, question their life plans, and I have witnessed them settle into their beautiful skin and embrace it.

This year we found ourselves on the very southwest tip of the island. We sat at the edge, in a quiet grace and thankfulness for each other. Celebrating the fact that we will always have people in our lives that understand us. The world is meant to be celebrated, and I wouldn’t want to do it without them.

Until next year, Lopez. It’s-Finally-Raining Chili

It has been a very warm summer. The grass was brown before July 15th, which is shocking and somewhat scary for our forever green state. We woke up to rain the last day on the island, and I couldn’t wait to get home and make chili. I haven’t had the desire to make soup in months, and all I wanted to do was nest and spend time in my kitchen. This will stick to your ribs and is delicious with some tortilla chips or cornbread.

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup water

Warm one tbsp. of coconut oil on medium high heat. Add in chopped onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in minced garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add in all the beans + spices and water. Mix everything together and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Last but not least, add in the kale and let it wilt for another 3 minutes. Serve with some goat cheese and tortilla chips. Yum. Just all the goodness, perfect for a rainy summer day.

Banjo Peanut & Raspberries

Seattle is burning this summer. Normally, we move through June in a cloud of grey, grumbling about the rain and our late start to bare feet and popsicles. This year, I have thrown my jeans deep into my closet, and sleep with the sheet crumpled into a tangled mess at the end of the bed.

My lawn is a wasteland, and every morning the temperature sneaks above 75 before I have a chance to walk the hound. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the rain. You know you’re from the Pacific Northwest when, after a week of sunshine, you find yourself doing a rain dance in your backyard so you can stop worrying about your dying blueberry bushes.

The only thing to do is make the most of it with BBQs, lake swims and having an excuse to eat one more scoop of ice cream. This summer, my baby nephew was born. Coming into the world stubborn and furrowed, he’s perfect. While waiting for his arrival I spent time daydreaming about where I’ll take the little Peanut, and what trouble we will get in.

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His first few weeks of life have been sweaty and probably a bit uncomfortable. I think it’s good for him. Coming into a sun filled world will make for an adventurous boy who knows his place is outside, playing with bugs and getting dirty. While I don’t plan on having children of my own, I envision spending summers with my nephew, showing him how magical this time of year is.

We will spend hours picking raspberries and blueberries, and I will take him to the spot where the rivers meet so we can wash off the dirt and sunscreen. We will go to Alta Lake and run away from bees, climb to the top of the mountain, and spend hours upon hours swimming in the warm lake. My family will show him the joy of hiking and camping, where you walk away from the weekend with the smell of campfire on your skin. He will love dogs, as my slobbery hound will be ever present for adventures in the first few years of his life.

He will grow up with evergreen air and saltwater wind, and he will be better because of it. My city is on fire this summer, and my baby nephew is dancing in sunlight from 5 am to 10 pm. Hey kid, welcome to the world.

Hello babies. Welcome to earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—god damn it, you’ve got to be kind. – Kurt Vonnegut

Raspberry, Watermelon and Mint Salad

Summer means not wanting to get anywhere near your stove. I have been juice cleansing, drinking lots of smoothies and living off of giant salads. This is a perfect salad to bring to a BBQ because I’m fairly certain there isn’t anything quite as summery as watermelon and fresh berries.

  • 5 cups watermelon, cut into small cubes
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 12-14 mint leaves, chopped.
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Toss everything into a large bowl and combine. Let the salad mingle and soak up flavors for 15 minutes and serve…. Yeah, summer equals SUPER simple recipes.

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Whatever-Is-In-My-Fridge Soup & Confidence

I have decided to dedicate my spare time and energy to the people in my life who are confident. You know the ones… They shine. Stop for a moment and collect the faces of the people who build you up. The people who leave you feeling electric. You leave them and you feel like the glass half full. You leave grinning like a fool and humming along to whatever, because you know no other way to move through the world.

These are the people to spend your time with.

I recently rode my bicycle around an island that I someday want to call home. Riding down hills with the ocean on one side and my dear friend on the other, I felt like I was flying. Giggles bubbled out of me like a fountain, and every single part of me felt alive. I was glowing, I was radiant, I was strong.

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Wait. I am glowing. I am radiant. I am strong. I endlessly fight off that terrible little monster on my shoulder telling me I fail in one way or another. And then I spend my weekend embodying happiness, and that voice becomes muted, like a radio signal losing service. My silly little monster has been especially chatty these days as my body has gone into a weird, soft place that I don’t recognize. With long hours at work and my inability to say no to snacks and whiskey, I have lost sight of my strength. I berate myself daily, even though I know my broad shoulders and wide hips are a thing of beauty. The little fucker on my shoulder needs to shut the hell up so I can continue to move through the world with my head held high, because deep down I know my body is goddamn treasure.

“Kiss your own fingertips and hug your own curves. You are made of waves and honey and spicy peppers when it is necessary. You are a goddess, I hope you haven’t forgotten.” – Emery Allen

I will live a bold and adventurous life, surrounding myself with confident and kind people. I will get loud about things that matter. I will do epic shit. I will be brazen and flirtatious and hopefully a little careless.

We only have one crack at this, so we might as well do it all with some spirit. Shine on my loves, shine on.

“Oh my god, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” – Anne Lamott

Whatever is In My Fridge Soup

When all else fails, make soup. I am headed out of town on Tuesday, so buying groceries seemed silly. I also felt like nesting, so I wanted to spend time in the kitchen. Enter: whatever is in my fridge soup. It actually turned out super tasty, which is one of the reasons I adore soup. It’s hard to fuck up. Basically, take everything you have in your fridge that you THINK might go together, and call it a day. Yum.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts (chopped)
  • ½ bunch asparagus (chopped)
  • 2 cups butternut squash
  • 1 onion or 1 shallot (whatever you have!)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper and curry powder to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix your squash, asparagus and Brussels sprouts with 1 Tbsp olive oil a dash of salt and pepper and some curry powder for good measure. Cook for 35-40 minutes until the squash is nice and soft. While that is cooking, brown your onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Once browned (about 5 minutes), add in your diced tomatoes. Let everything simmer and then add in the vegetable stock and turn heat to low. Once the other veggies are done roasting, throw those bad boys in the pot. Let everything get nice and mingled. I threw in a Tbsp of red curry paste, because why not? I let it simmer for about 15 minutes and then removed from heat. Add in the coconut milk and if you’re feeling fancy, throw in some sriacha (because… duh?) Take out the ol’ immersion blender and blend until smooth. It has a bit of a kick to it, which is delightful, and will make for great meals until I head out of town. Happy eating!

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Women’s Day and Smoothies

My life is full of strong women.

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Everywhere I look, there’s a beautiful human being, full of passion and life and fire. I have always had a large group of women friends. In junior high, we made toothbrush bracelets and snuck out to meet boys in the graveyard. We were tragic and awkward and fumbled through life like every other new teenager, but we did it together. Every weekend was spent at the cabin in the woods, staying up too late in AOL chat rooms, talking to random creepers on the Internet. High school was much of the same, just throw in a boy you’d never want to bring home to mom, and you still had those semi-humans trying to figure out how to exist.

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In college it was hiding monarch tequila in the laundry basket, and stretching our sexually liberated limbs. Today, my relationships with these women consist of long hikes and coffee dates, realizing that 30 is a few years away, we are figuring out what aging looks like. There’s something so beautiful in knowing that I will grow old with this community of women. We will be in our 80s, walking around Greenlake in bright colors, gossiping about romance, work, life and babies, just like we’ve done for years.

Now that I am settled into my actual self, I can gather with these friends and we can reflect on what it means to be women. We’ve all had people throughout our lives tell us that our self worth depends on whether or not men find us attractive. We are figuring out ways to remove this heavy coat.

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As women we are able to own our sexuality and be proud of what that means to us. We are outspoken and loud about being who we are, and daring people to judge our choices. Our lives are never mirror images and we are growing apart and together simultaneously. What is right for her will never be right for me, and there’s such magic in that. In the end, all that matters is that there is still joy in the other’s eyes, and happiness is always at the tip of our tongues.

We have all learned to acknowledge our flaws, and we try and navigate how to be good humans, regardless. We hold out our insecurities out to each other, because to share these burdens is how we survive.

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Now that we are adults, not striving for unreachable ideals, we can become the friends we didn’t think we could be. We aren’t perfect, we aren’t going to agree on everything, and we will always do irritating things. But to have a group of women means you have people that will hold all of these broken pieces, these ill-fitting parts, and still be there.

To say that I am blessed doesn’t begin to explain how I feel about my friends. Who I am today is because of the relationships I have with these women. I want to raise a toast and celebrate them, because without them I am fairly certain I would be lost. In honor of International Women’s Day, this post and this life is for them. For all the patience they’ve had with me, for all the adventures, for all the memories and for the years that we have left together. There’s so much of this world to be explored with these beautiful babes, and I can’t wait for the stories we will tell.

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My Morning Smoothie 

A part of loving my body and starting that process of self-love and self-care is being healthier. I’m working on it. My work and social life has been hard on my body, and I’m trying to be more mindful. It also helps that my roommate has a Vitamix. Needless to say, I’ve been inhaling these smoothies in the morning, and they are damn good.

  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 handfuls of spinach or kale
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ – 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 dates, pits removed
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional if you want to make it more like a dessert)
  • Hemp seeds (optional, but I sprinkle some on top)

Put everything in the blender and blend! Pretty simple stuff… But who says a recipe has to be complicated?

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*beer is almost like a smoothie, right?

The Year of Flawless

Every New Year’s Eve I choose a word. Taking a page from my grandmother’s book, this word is what I aspire to for the upcoming year. Instead of making some grand lofty resolution I won’t ever stick to, I set an intention around a single word. It’s a reminder to myself that at the beginning of the year I had a plan to be a better person.

This year my word is flawless. It should be no surprise that Beyonce is my spirit diva, and so to choose a word that embodies her is practically perfect in every way. I can feel eye rolls from here, so let me explain.

I rang in the New Year on the Costa Rican shoreline. Swimming in the ocean in my skivvies while drinking straight from a bottle of champagne, I had flashes of happiness that felt like I was going to burst. You know that feeling when you smile so hard your cheeks start to hurt? It was one of those moments where life didn’t feel real (let’s be honest, that’s how all of Costa Rica felt) and I reminded myself how full and beautiful my world is.

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My definition of Flawless is to find perfection in everything that I’m doing. Making silly mistakes with the wrong men? Flawless. Being bold and daring in my career? Flawless. Finding my way back to yoga, running and cycling? Flawless.

This year is my year to reclaim all of my ambition, strength and confidence that have been chipped away after years of heavy self-doubt. This year is about shaking that off, and asking myself, “what would Bey do?” 2015 will be the year that I move through life with my head held high, presenting confidence like a smile; big, in your face, and ever present.

I grew up in a family that avoided confrontation like the plague. We tiptoe around hurt feelings, and “talking things out” hasn’t ever been our strong suit. This year I will rock the damn boat and get better at wearing my heart on my sleeve. I am going to stand up for the things that matter, and make sure my voice is heard. I am going to tell the people I love that I love them, write off the people that are toxic, and stop being so damn coy with boys that make my heart pitter patter. These things are too important and life is too short.

Can you hear the Beyonce yet?

And while Queen Bey is most often embodying fierceness, one of the biggest things in my year of Flawless will be allowing myself to be vulnerable. As a stubborn, stoic individual, being open and vulnerable is the most terrifying. I was walking on the beach this morning and everything was quiet and sunny and perfect. It hit me like a ton of bricks that maybe (just maybe) I was open to letting someone know my heart again. After two loves that shook the foundation of my existence, guarding my heart has been my forte.

Men have come and gone like the seasons, and it’s been wonderful to keep them at a safe distance; only letting them see that “charming” part of me (that’s what I’m calling it, dammit.) I haven’t allowed myself to be real to any fella in a few years, and I think it might be time. That’s not saying that the great love of my life is going to fall in my lap, but if he did I’d be open to it. Embracing Flawless will mean being less wary of men, trying to trust their intentions, and allow myself be vulnerable with one (or three) of them in 2015.

I spent the first nine days of the year collecting freckles and eating pineapples and mangos as the sun warmed my skin. If that doesn’t set the tone for a flawless year, I don’t know what will.

Costa Rican Breakfast Tacos

Tacos are my favorite food on the planet (aside from nutritional yeast on popcorn, of course.) It might be the thing I miss most about Texas, so while traditional Costa Rican food doesn’t involve tacos, I remedied that by making my own. And you know what I love more than a regular old taco? A breakfast taco. I’m fairly certain that if I start my day with one of these bad boys, the next 12 hours will be magic. Just another part of carrying on the year of Flawless.

  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • ½ cup, black beans
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • Mango salsa (1 red onion, 1 tomato, ½ mango, 1 lime (juice), ½ cup cilantro (chopped), 1 jalapeno, 2 cloves garlic and salt) chop everything and mix together, salt and squeeze lime juice to taste)
  • Tabasco, chipotle salsa, etc.

These are very simple, but who said there had to be anything complicated about a taco? The other great thing about this “recipe” is the only important thing is the tortilla—the rest is whatever calls to you that day. It just so happens that I was in Costa Rica, where the nearby fruit market kept us stocked in tropical fruit for the week. This market was run by two elderly gentlemen selling coconuts from a cooler and mangos from a wood box. Every day I would have at least two coconuts, whacked with a machete and served with a straw. Did I mention that CR is my favorite place in the world and I cried this morning when I knew I had to leave?

I digress.

Needless to say, this tropical paradise set the tone for THESE tacos, but if you’re freezing your butt of in the eastern half of the country, you can scrounge around your kitchen for onions and squash and make something just as delightful.

What really made these was the mango salsa. We used the leftovers on top of the fresh tuna we got from the local fish market, and then used it the next morning for our eggs. Really, you just pop the salsa on everything and you’re set. Can you tell I like it?

No matter what the time of year, it’s always taco time… enjoy!

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