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.

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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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