Scones and Beauty

Today I will thank my ankles.

I will spend some time with my shoulders. I’ll get to know the back of my knees.

Today, I will smile coyly at myself in the mirror… “hey pretty lady, you look like a butterfly, wanna cuddle?”

Some days are thick with self-deprecation. Comments wrapped in humor (being cruel to yourself is okay as long as it’s cloaked in silliness, right?) Beauty is such a fickle beast. So much value balances on its very unsteady definition and we walk the tightrope with so much blame and loathing in our heart of hearts.

When I see a woman like Denise Jolly, I get misty. Be Beautiful. Such courage and grace in her photographs, in her words.

Every day I took time to recognize how beautifully fierce, and gracious my body really is. When it was in joy I met it there; when it was in sadness I honored its sadness; when it was sassy I bore witness to its sass.”

Beautiful. Fierce. Joy. Sadness. Sass.

Meet your body where it’s at. Wherever that may be.

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Greetings my darling, thank you for all that you are.

Strawberry and Ricotta Scones

Since moving to Texas, being a “vegan” has changed to eating a plant-based, whole foods diet with the occasional dalliance into the land of dairy. I missed cheese. I missed yogurt. So on occasion, when my body tugs on my shirt and asks, “can we? please?” I give in.

What can I say? Self love sometimes looks like fresh ricotta. This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe calls for raspberries, but strawberries were at the store, looked better and I adore them… Let me tell you, these are scones to write home about. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup fresh strawberries, cored and cut into chunks
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup heavy cream (I accidentally grabbed 1/2 & 1/2, which worked out just fine)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. I couldn’t locate my pastry blender, so I just used my hands. Cut the butter into small pieces and work it into the flour mixture with your hands until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.

Toss in the strawberries and mix in. Add in the ricotta and cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula. Using your hands, gently knead the dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into triangles or squares (whatever tickles your fancy). Transfer the scones to a prepared baking sheet with a spatula. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in a pan for a minute, than transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set.

These are definitely a scone to make in the morning, right before brewing your coffee. They tasted like heaven right out of the oven, like amazing town a few hours later, and pretty good that evening. They are meant for sharing.

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Whole Wheat & Honey Pumpkin Bread and Adventures

Miles Davis is playing on the record player and I just ate homemade pumpkin bread with chocolate chai ice cream.

Today is a day for indulgence and alone time. Having worked a 60-hour workweek, I kindly declined all invitations for social interaction in order to be alone in my kitchen with old music and my hound pup.

These bones are made to nest. There is zero shame in acknowledging that I’d rather be at home, making food. My joy is in simple meals and the conversations that stretch late into the night, sitting on the floor over mugs of tea or beer (whatever the occasion calls for.)

I have envisioned my future in two ways.

The first involves a job that keeps me busy, filled with food and drink and socializing. A life cluttered with books and dates and friends. This is a world that requires a schedule, a tiny apartment in a big city. This is a life where nesting is reserved for Sundays, and I find my solitude in monthly escapes to quiet.

The second… well, that’s the life that is deep down in the pit of my stomach. It’s a life put on pause. Where chickens roam the front yard, and the sun acts as my wake up call. It’s where I forget about what it means to keep a planner, and where my only priority is making sure I tend to the vegetables. It’s the kind of life that most people are drawn to these days when they see beautiful people sporting beards and wearing flannel. Having worked on a farm, I know that this kind of life isn’t easy. It’s not carrying a wicker basket out to a perfectly tended field.

It’s a dirty hands life, a sweaty life. It’s full of bugs and soil and making ends meet.

But it’s a beautiful life, that I am sure.

For now, I will dream of my future, whatever it may be. Deep down, I feel the tremors of change creeping into my blood. I feel the urge to shake the dust. I dream in bicycles and midnight camping trips near the ocean. I’m a flighty nester. I plant roots into cities and people that stick to my soul, simultaneously building a shrine in my head to new adventures.

The only constant thing in life is change. That much I know.

Whole Wheat Honey Pumpkin Bread

Today was the first day where I could open my windows. Where it was cooler outside than inside my kitchen. Therefore I took full advantage of this by making a kale, lentil and butternut squash soup and pumpkin bread. The recipe is from Cookie & Kate, and while it might not be for everyone due to its lack of sweetness, I find it delightful. Especially when toasted and smeared with fresh almond butter. Or, if you’re feeling like dessert, serve it warm with ice cream. Yum.

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice or cloves
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, beat oil and honey together. Add eggs, and beat well. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla, then the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Stir in the flour until just well combined.

Add baking soda to the hot water, stir to mix and then stir into batter briefly until its evenly distributed. Spread the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and swirl with a tip of a table knife for a marbled effect (this didn’t work out so well for me…) Sprinkle with sugar for a light, sweet crunch.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. Check to make sure it’s done with a toothpick in the top. If the top of the bread is all jiggly when you pull it out of the oven, it’s not done. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Give it 30 minutes before slicing.

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Butternut Squash Soup & Dream Men

I recently spent a week in Seattle. With Austin becoming my home more and more everyday, it was time to clean out all of those things that had been sitting there, waiting for me. For the past year I have kept a storage unit filled floor to ceiling with those things I’ve deemed important. The stuffed orca whale I left behind one day in Disneyland (that I recovered after having a major breakdown in the hotel), the boxes of old pop punk band shirts, every note ever written to me in Junior High (yes, I kept all of them.)

When you find yourself surrounded by 20 years of your own history, it’s impossible to not become completely involved. I sat on my mom’s living room floor, sifting through old love letters and pictures that reminded me why returning to high school would be the worst.

While the ink covered napkin confessing love in scrawled and misspelled words from my 11th grade crush was a highlight, what really got me was my 16-year-old self listing out what I wanted in a man. Neatly written on yellow legal paper (I’ve been Type A list maker my whole life… oops) I had over two pages of what my dream man would look like, act like and be. I feel that it would be an injustice not to share the whole list with you, so here it is:

16-Year-Old Chelsea’s Dream Man 

Appearance

  • Mix between Orlando Bloom/Johnny Depp (WHAT?!)
  • Not tan, but not too white
  • Light eyes, dark hair
  • Toned but skinny
  • Some tats
  • Tall, but not THAT tall
  • Straight white smile, no braces (hahahaha… kills me)
  • Labret pierce/side lip pierce (pop punk, am I right?)
  • No facial hair (oh how the tables have turned)
  • Big lips
  • Freckles on nose, light dusting (once again, I was very particular)

Personality

  • Sings to me (always been a sucker for musicians)
  • Makes me feel beautiful
  • Can act stupid with me
  • Makes me laugh
  • Likes to go to parks and act like a kid
  • Likes the same music as me
  • Gets along with my friends
  • Makes me feel good about myself
  • Is smart, will go to starbucks with me and have intellectual conversations (this one is too good, had to be a Starbucks…)
  • Loves concerts and Seattle and coffee
  • Someone who will write me a song
  • DANCE
  • Wants to learn French and move to Paris
  • Someone I can sit and read the Little Prince with.
  • Loves Harry Potter (this was triple underlined… big deal)
  • Will do something unique with me on Holidays
  • Likes to do collages (um… what?)

It would also be an injustice to not share with you what my 26-year-old self wants in a man, because I’m already throwing my entire soul up on the internet, who cares about a little more honesty?

26-Year-Old Chelsea’s Dream Man

  • A kind-hearted, strong, smart man who loves me. That is all.

I could obviously digress into a list of nitty-gritty details of what I think my dream man will look like, act like and be.  When it comes down to it, I think when I find my person, my lobster, none of it will matter. My lists and preconceived ideas of who I’ll end up will fly out the window and who it is will probably surprise me. Who knows… who even knows.

Curried Butternut Squash, Carrot & Coconut Soup

My friends up in Seattle have started sharing their photos of fall. Crisp days, hooded sweatshirts and tall cups of coffee. Here in Texas it’s still in the triple digits. This makes me more homesick than I can explain. Today, after work, I went home to make soup. My comfort food, a big pot of curried vegetables and coconut milk, blended and served with a slice of rustic bread. I sat under the air conditioning and slid on my favorite wool socks, popped Ella Fitzgerald on the record player and pretended like I too was listening to the rain outside, as the grey and green melted into each other.

It’s funny how missing your favorite season can trigger such a deep homesickness.

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  • Spoonful of coconut oil
  • White onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 16 oz vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut your butternut squash in half, and lightly brush sides with melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 30 minutes. While squash is cooking, warm up coconut oil in a pot over medium/low heat. When warm, add in chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add in the rest of the vegetables and let everything saute before adding in salt/pepper and vegetable stock. Put on lid and lower to a simmer, letting the juices mix together for 10 minutes. The veggies should be getting soft by now.

The great thing about soup is it’s basically just throwing everything in a pot and waiting until things are cooked to your liking before blending it together, or eating it as is. This is why I love making soup.

Once the squash is done, take it out of the oven and let cool (you can let your soup simmer while cooling.) Once the squash is cool, add in with the rest of the veggies and stock. Add in coconut milk, curry powder and turmeric (and a dash more salt, for good measure.) Let everything warm back up again for another 5 minutes and then using an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools) blend until you reach your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend in batches using a blender.

Try and resist eating it right away as I burnt my mouth immediately (I have a blister on the roof of my mouth to prove it.) I toasted a big slice of 9 grain locally made bread ($1 for day old bread at my work… amazing) and couldn’t have been happier. Nothing screams fall like a butternut coconut curry soup… I hope the weather catches on.

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Samosas and Vulnerability

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the stars. Last week was the Perseid meteor shower. These showers recur each year when the earth passes through the debris trail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Although I missed watching them fall, I have decided that I felt them—deep in my belly.

We are created from stardust, after all (hopelessly romantic if you ask me.)

The few days the comets were around us, things in my life felt heavy. Like I was pulling a large suitcase everywhere I went. The people around me were on edge, drama and negativity was created out of thin air, and I felt my teeth clench at simple things.

It was that kind of week.

As I wandered around in this haze of thick air, I found myself doing what I always do: over analyzing. Why was this happening? What did it stem from? Who could fix it? I deal with my natural anxiety and type-A personality by compartmentalizing and putting things into lists and boxes. Situation B was happening because I hadn’t put enough energy into List A. etc. etc. etc.

The wheels just keep spinning.

It was like a sigh of relief when my darling friend Jess said, “It’s the meteor shower. That’s why everything is off.” Just like that she had planted the conclusion in my head that the root cause of all of it was simply because we were passing through a cloud of space particles. For some reason this gave my heavy energy a purpose, a reason for existing.

So yes, I am going to let more of my feelings stem from whatever energy the universe has decided to give to me. Last week it was bizarre and heavy. This week feels more grounded. More centering. I found myself in yoga this morning, smiling as sweat ran in rivulets down my legs. The teacher had asked us to focus on something that we felt we had been ignoring. To tune into one word that would become our mantra for the hour. For her, it was playfulness. For me, it was vulnerability.

I think that for right now I am in a place of balance. A space of letting go and healing, with a few less walls and little bit more spontaneity seeping under my skin. I am trying to let emotions be what they are, nothing more, nothing less. Who said vulnerability has to be negative? Scary as all hell, absolutely… but so much is to be learned from allowing yourself to feel stripped down and taking ownership of whatever remains.

All of this self-realization because of a few falling stars—who knew?

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Spring Samosas with Mint Chutney

The weather is so warm in Austin that my garden consists of basil, mint and rosemary. I also have neglected growing things, and will hopefully find some motivation to get my hands dirty soon. Until then, I will seek out recipes that use mint and basil. This one is a winner. The flavors in the samosas are amazing and I love that they are gluten free as I’ve recently discovered that my stomach is so much happier when I stay away from wheat. This recipe is adapted from My New Roots, which is basically one of my bibles.

Samosas

  • 8 rice paper wraps

Filling

  • 1 spoonful of coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted, unroasted cashews
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 ½ cup green peas
  • ½ cup corn
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Spices

  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne

Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cashews until lightly golden. Remove from heat, roughly chop and set aside. Dice the onion and carrots to about the size of the peas.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and add the onion, spices and minced ginger. Cook for five minutes and then add in the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add in the carrots. Stir to coat with spices, cook for five minutes, add in the peas, corn and chickpeas. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach, coconut and cashews.

If you haven’t worked with rice paper here’s a short run down. Fill a flat bottomed bowl or shallow dish with a couple inches of water. One at a time, place the rice paper wrap in the water and let if soften. Usually, you’ll want to wait until they soften completely. However, because you’re baking them, you just want them to be pliable, otherwise they’ll split when they’re baking. Just leave them in there for a minute or so, and when you pull the paper out you still want to see the pattern on the surface.

After you remove them from the water, place it on a clean, flat surface. Using a sharp knife, slice the circle in half. On both halves spoon a generous heap of the delicious filling. Fold the bottom corner about a third of the way up the round side of the half, followed by the top corner to meet the base of the fold you just made—if that doesn’t make any sense to you, just make a triangle out of the paper and call it a day.

Repeat until you have 16 of these bad boys. Or, if you aren’t making them for a party or a giant family, just keep the extra filling in the fridge and make these bad boys for the next few days.

After you have put together all of your samosas, melt about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a small saucepan. Lightly brush the tops of the samosas with a tiny bit of oil. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and flip over to crisp on the other side. Bake for another 10 minutes until they are lightly browned and crisp. Remove and serve with the mint chutney (recipe below).

Mint Chutney

  • 2 cups firmly packed mint leaves (no stems)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 dates
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Wash the mint leaves to remove dirt, spin dry. In a food processor, pulse the garlic, ginger and cayenne to mince. Add in the dates, mint leaves, lime juice and olive oil. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add salt to taste. Add more olive oil to thin, if necessary.

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Pesto and Anniversaries

I have been in Austin for almost a year. As the months have gone by my hair has gotten shorter, all of my pants have become cut offs and Gertrude (that’s my bike) has become my best friend. The beginning of my time here was tough. Change has never been my forte, and although my sister was here, this place didn’t feel like home.

My heart was tethered fast to the mountains and coastline of Washington. It’s the place where I took my first steps, where I’ve held best friends for over a decade. Washington is where my grandma hosts Thanksgiving and Christmas, where I’ve left bits and pieces of my heart.  My first few months in Texas, I wore homesickness and nostalgia like a hat, a constant reminder of the comfort I had willingly left behind.

I came down here with the intention to will myself into a new person. Texas was my stepping-stone into shaping myself into a person that shed lingering jealousy, resentment and anxiety.  I looked to the Lone Star state as a refuge from all those mountains I had built out of mole hills. Washington, albeit my safety net and comfort, had left me wounded. I hobbled to Texas, hoping that I could sweat out all that had held me from happiness.

Thank the heavens that I found my stride. Back in December, I had it in my head that by August I would be loading up my Subaru and heading back into the grey and green. It was my every intention to stay in Texas for one year, get my “wiggles” out, and then return to normal.

Except normal isn’t a thing anymore. The place I left won’t be there when I go back. My people are growing, changing and shifting into their new roles in life… as they should. We are all figuring out what it means to be real adults—new jobs, new boys, new adventures.

The only constant thing in life is change, and although every part of my nesting self wants to deny it, there’s a momentous freedom in rolling with it.

Texas, with its warm air and wide sunsets has become my home. I have fallen for Austin, with its endless bike routes, swimming holes that make these 105 days tolerable and so many tacos it makes sense to eat them for every meal. This town has swallowed me up and enveloped me in the biggest, sweatiest hug.

I now dream of days riding my red bicycle on the east side, taking pictures when I feel inspired and eating popsicles by the train tracks. My future is my sister and I making cupcakes in the kitchen, walking the pups before the sun rises and watching her nanny boys grow into little men.

I’m here because I chose to start something new. I’m here because life felt hard, and now it doesn’t. I’m here because I goddamn want to be.

Amen to choices, change and new starts.

Garden Fresh Pesto

  • 2 cups firmly packed basil
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I got this recipe from Choosing Raw, one of those amazing food blogs I follow.

Put the basil, walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine. Keep the motor running and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. Add in the salt, pepper, lemon and nutritional yeast and pulse until everything is combined. I ate mine with some quinoa pasta that I mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and kalamata olives. It was amazing. Vegan pesto… yes, please.

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Iced Coffee & Dating

Facebook keeps telling me I need to start online dating.

“Feeling lonely? Don’t worry, we have hot men waiting for you.” These ads are accompanied with pictures of tan, muscular men with weird hair and movie star smiles.

Come on Facebook, if you are as creepy as you seem, you should know that my type of men are tall and thin. The ones with unruly hair and the faint smell of bike grease on their skin. The men that can work with their hands, and have probably built something in their life—a chicken coop, a bicycle, a canoe.

Facebook, you should know that the kind of men I like are the ones that make me work for it. The ones that tease me with smiling eyes and unavailable words. I like the challenge of wooing them as a surprise, I like to be the thing they never saw coming.

Stop smothering me with pictures of happy couples and suggesting I get on websites where online profiles highlight all those things people wish they were. Those things don’t work for me.

I don’t care that you only want to talk about yourself for three hours. I don’t care that you are trying to live up to this persona you created for yourself late at night, as you debated whether you could repress the shame of OkCupid.

No. I don’t want to go grab a drink as I pull conversations out of you while you awkwardly shift and play with your hands. No, I don’t want to go on first date after first date, each one beginning with a sigh and ending with an ass-out hug.

I haven’t felt that deep tickle in my belly for quite some time, and while bouts of loneliness hit me like a ton of bricks, I’m working on practicing patience. I know that an organic kind of love is up my alley. The kind that you don’t look for, you just kind of stumble upon it one day while you’re out for coffee. Or browsing the produce at the grocery store.

I don’t want to search for love anymore. If it finds me again, as it has in the past, I want it to fall into my lap. I want the next man I swoon over to be someone who is humble and kind. A man who knows himself and doesn’t feel the need to flash his feathers and puff out his chest. I want the next great love of my life to involve a  comfort that seeps into the relationship from the get go. Where the walls come down and dedication and honesty are second nature. It’ll be the kind of love that’s like breathing—just something you do everyday. In and out.

In and out.

Overnight Oats & Orange Cinnamon Iced Coffee

In this fantasy of mine where I end up with a tall bearded fella who happens to love to cook, raises chickens and is a wealthy bike mechanic/brewer/artist (let me know when you find him), I imagine that we have our morning routine. French press iced coffee prepared the night before and a variety of staples. Fresh juices, pancakes when we’re feeling fancy, and overnight oats on the mornings that are feeling rushed. Here’s to hoping.

Over Night Oats

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • ½ Tbsp chia seeds
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup strawberries
  • 1/8 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 banana

The night before, combine your oats, almond milk, chia seeds, salt and cinnamon in a jar, cover and place in the fridge. In the morning, chop up all your delicious toppings and enjoy. I sometimes add in some peanut/almond butter if I need extra protein for the day.

Orange Cinnamon Iced Coffee

**This is for an 8 cup French press

  • ½ cup coarsely ground coffee
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ½ of a star anise
  • Zest of ½ an orange

Combine the coffee, spices and orange zest in your French press. Add in cold filtered water and put in your fridge overnight. Press down in the morning, mix with some almond milk and a little agave (if you feel so inclined), and revel in the magic of cold brewed coffee at home.

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Tumbling…

I started a tumblr. Why? Well, I think sometimes all you need in life is to look at someones pictures to feel like you know them. I like to take pictures from above, mainly of food and sometimes of that smelly hound I call the love of my life.

Feel free to check it out.

I have many thoughts running through my head, and plan on spending this weekend collecting freckles on my shoulders, drinking mint hibiscus iced tea and diving into the tangled mess that’s swimming around in my brain… This also means plenty of time in the kitchen, devoting myself to vegetables.

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Chickpeas and Self Love

Before going on vacation, I cleansed. I spent five days drinking nothing but green juice and supplementing those with even more vegetables. In my head I had convinced myself that I had to look a certain way when I went back to Seattle. It had been six months since I last saw everyone and I wanted to prove just how great Texas has been to me.

That, right there, is a little bit fucked up.

I have a very strained relationship with my body, and while I would like to say that I have got “self love” down, I don’t. I don’t like my body a majority of the time. Some days I’m too tall. Other days my shoulders are too broad. I constantly sigh at myself, wishing I could just be a little bit more ______________.

Yep, there’s a tiny violin playing in my head too.

When I saw my mom the first thing she said was, “you look great!” and it felt so good to hear.  I have put so much weight (hehe, accidental puns) in how people perceive me, I am at that point where I’ve resorted to being a pre-teen girl; people will only REALLY love me if I’m skinny and all that shit.

Believe me, I want to change my self-image, I really do. Step one: admitting it on a public blog. Step two: owning and acknowledging those negative feelings. Step three: stop sounding so self-helpy on said blog.  Oops.

Alright, so there I am in Seattle, no longer cleansing. Instead, I’m eating fries and drinking far too much alcohol. And of course my body had a mini internal break down as it craved the 12 pounds of vegetables I had been feeding it. I also let my self-punishing thoughts creep back in, and I felt defeated. There’s something about returning home that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Of course I was happy to see all the people I love, but I fell back into these routines that make my stomach, my heart and my head confused and sad.

Pity party much?

Basically, I was wandering around my old stomping grounds feeling angry and sorry for myself. And then I spent time with my grandma. For those of you that don’t know my grandma, believe me when I say she’s one of the greatest people to ever walk the earth.

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She is my role model through and through, with a strength and acceptance of what life hands her like no one I have ever known. She’s comfortable in her own skin, made clear by her nude portraits that adorn her boudoir (yes, she calls her attic room her boudoir… she rules.)

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Sharing the day with my grandma made me realize that I can grow up to be as classy and beautiful as she is. I need to put aside all this self-deprecating nonsense and remember what she always tells me, “no guilt, no jealousy.”

Because, you see, there really isn’t room for it when you live a full life. And that’s all I want.

A full life.

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* My grandma was such a babe she made it on a postcard. Total bombshell, am I right?

Thai Curried Chickpeas & Cucumber Mint Salad

Chickpeas

  • One can chickpeas
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. green Thai curry paste
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2+1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. tamari
  • 2 Tbsp. oil

Cucumber Mint Salad

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup chopped red onions
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp agave
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped mint

I started with the cucumber salad, as you have to let things sit to soak up the flavor of the dressing. First, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and then cut it into thin slices. Toss the cucumbers with salt in a colander. Let drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes, then tap the colander on the base of the sink to release any remaining water.

She recommends soaking the red onions, as it won’t make them as pungent. I did it because the recipe told me too, but I don’t think it’s technically a necessary step. If you do decide to go that route, soak them in cold water for at least 10 minutes.

After everything has drained and soaked, combine the cucumbers, onions, vinegar, oils, agave, pepper and mint. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cover and let stand in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

While that’s soaking things up in the fridge, move onto the chickpeas. Oh my god, these are SO GOOD. They are salty and spicy and literally left me licking my cast iron… I don’t want to talk about it. First thing first, make your kitchen smell like a little bit of heaven. Heat up your pan over medium high heat and add the 2 Tbsp of oil and the red onions and garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Next, add in all of the dry spices (except the pepper), the Thai curry paste and the soy sauce. Add 1 Tbsp of water (I used the chick pea liquid, because… why not?)

Mix together and then add the chickpeas. Stir to mix everything together and let cook for about 5 minutes, if it gets too dry and things start to stick, just add a bit more water to the pan.

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and the black pepper. Do a taste test and add whatever else your heart desires. Honestly, these bad boys are going to be one of my new go-to recipes. So damn good. These two dishes made for a light and delicious Sunday dinner. And yes, although I was licking the pan and had a coconut milk ice cream bar I told myself, “no guilt”, because that’s the path I am on.

Thanks to grandma.

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Chia Crackers and ATX

And then, just like that, everything has fallen into place. I’ve recently approached my Lone Star life with absolute confidence that this town will match my needs. That I will grow taller, stand straighter, walk with a little more purpose in my step. I have decided that in this city I will discover what it means to find “your path”, whatever that means.

Yes, I do believe that it is a decision you make. I’ve become a firm believer in all those cheesy clichés about being the owner of your own destiny, being responsible for your happiness, pulling yourself up by your boot straps, etc. While all of that may seem too corny to be fully realized, this place has thrown the cheese-ball idea at me, and I’m loving it. (insert obligatory sunset picture here:)

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I realize that everything I’ve recently posted on the internet is over the top in singing the praises of my life down here. But it truly is magical. This is a town where midnight bike rides to swimming holes can be your daily reality. Where opportunities to do something social every night of the week is as easy as breathing and where some seriously genuine people are making this town the friendliest place to be. I couldn’t help but post pictures of my Austin life… it’s just some sort of magic.

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Have you had enough?

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(If that picture doesn’t make you want to read on/move to Austin immediately, I don’t know what will…)

It’s true, I’m overly enthusiastic about this town.  Perhaps I’m just in my honeymoon stage, and once I get over the first year high I will lose my excitement. Just like a relationship, my love affair will probably leave me with moments of frustration and doubt where all I want is to wear a sweater, rain boots and be cozied up with tea in Seattle. And just like those moments in a relationship, where you’re about to throw up your hands and walk away, there will be something to keep me here, something that reminds me that this new town is becoming my home.

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I’ll always have my feet planted in the Pacific Northwest, there’s too much about that place that calls to my heart. For right now though, my hands, heart and brain are all dedicated to this warm, southern town.

Also, I apologize for my lack of writing lately. Turns out when blogging is part of your job, you get a little burnt out. I will find my way back to writing, just need to find the time to fit it in with biking, yoga-ing, socializing and swimming. Life’s hard, ain’t it?

Chia Crackers

From Oh She Glows

These crackers are the real deal. It’s basically an energy bar of awesome, and yes, I did feel a little bit like a bird when I was eating them. They are vegan and gluten-free AND they don’t use oil. Winning. I’m lucky to live near and work at in.gredients, so I can get just a cup of this, and a cup of that. If you don’t have access to chia seeds, you can use flax instead. Mix and match, make the cracker you imagine yourself eating.

–       ½ cup chia seeds

–       ½ cup sunflower seeds

–       ½ cup pumpkin seeds

–       ½ cup sesame seeds

–       1 cup water

–       1 large garlic clove, finely grated

–       1 tsp grated sweet onion

–       ¼ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the seeds together. In a small bowl, mix the water, grated garlic and grated onion. Whisk well. Pour the water mixture onto the seeds and stir until thick and combined. Season with salt (I also threw in some pepper for good measure.) You can also add in any spices of fresh herbs that call to you.

Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet with the back of a spoon until it’s less than ¼ inch thick. Not to worry if a couple of parts become too thin, you can patch them up.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, slice into crackers, carefully flip onto other side with the spatula (don’t panic if a few break, these things happen.) Bake for another 30 minutes, watching closely after about 25 minutes, you don’t want to burn them and waste all those precious seeds. Remove from oven once they are lightly golden in color. Allow to cool completely in the pan. They store well in a glass Tupperware, but will get a little soggy as the days go on.

Note: I didn’t spread mine thin enough so they were quite hefty. Next time, I’ll pay close attention to spreading it extra thin, and paying close attention while they are baking to avoid burning. I also failed at getting a good picture of them… They’re really delicious, I promise!

Courage and Spring Rolls

I’ve come to realize that I fit into a lot of northwest stereotypes. I always knew this but it wasn’t until I moved down to Texas that they became so obvious. Physically speaking, I am a walking example of the PNW. I am pale and freckled, I wear flannels, I couldn’t pass off as “classy” unless I tried REALLY hard (yoga pants are just so comfortable, am I right?) and I am sure I would look ridiculous in a cowboy hat. I drive a Subaru, I own a black lab, I’ve owned more than one pair of chacos in my life and I carry my hiking boots around in my car, just in case I stumble into a mountain.

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My personality fits into that Seattle mold as well. I’m subdued, to the point where my friend down here told me, “you don’t need to smoke pot, you are already so mellow.” Thank you? I think? I am still finding it hard to meet stranger’s eyes on the street, which is a common practice down here. Everybody waves and smiles and says hello. I’m stuck in the mode of keeping my ear buds in, looking at the ground and shuffling by.

While this may seem antisocial and strange, it’s just how Seattleites are. If you were to walk around Greenlake in the summer (which is ass-to-elbows busy, everyday all day—we don’t see the sun often, remember?) most people ignore everyone around them. We all have places, things and people that we’re involved with, no need to chat with strangers.

All of this rambling is leading somewhere, I promise.

The other day my darling sister saw a boy in a coffee shop that was adorable. She texted me about it, that’s the kind of relationship we have. I told her to take a picture (I was JOKING), and give him my number. While she didn’t pass on my number, she did ask for his picture telling him that he was cute and she wanted to share it with me.

I would NEVER have the balls to do that, or at least not yet. Perhaps being in Texas for three years has made my sister courageous in a way that PNWers aren’t. She’s realized it isn’t all that scary to ask people for things, to meet their eye, to flirt when you want to and to go for it if you think you should. How am I supposed to move on if the only way I know how to catch someone’s eye is to look away when they try and smile at me?

Here’s my point: I need to go big, or go home. I need to put on my big girl pants, dress my face up with my biggest Texas smile and get out there. I need to flirt with the boy at the farmers market, I need to go out two steppin’ and ask a stranger to dance. I need to take my eggs out of this unattainable basket and live it up like the 20 something that I am.

Yee-haw folks, yee-fucking-haw.

Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Spring Rolls

These have become my go to when I’m craving a healthy lunch. They’re full of veggies and will fill you up while not making you feel like dying. Win/win.

  • Spring roll rice papers (I got these in the asian food section of my grocery store)
  • ½ head of bok choy, washed and chopped into small chunks
  • ½ head of green cabbage, washed and chopped into small chunks
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 3 leaves of kale, de-stemmed and chopped into strips
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1” piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 stalks of green onion, sliced
  • sprig of fresh basil
  • ¼ block of tofu, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

This is one of those super simple recipes. You can adjust it however you see fit, add different vegetables, take out other vegetables, whip up a peanut sauce for dipping purposes… Do whatever tickles your fancy.

Start my sautéing some veggies. Heat a pan over medium heat, and add in sesame oil. Sautee carrots and cabbage first, for about 3 minutes. Add in garlic and ginger and then add in your greens: bok choy and kale. Add in 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, and then add in your chopped up tofu. Let all of these flavors mingle for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is cooked evenly and your kitchen smells so delicious it hurts your face.

Prepare your rice papers by soaking them in water for 2-3 minutes for each sheet. They’ll become very fragile after soaking, so be gentle with them or they’ll rip. Take them out of the water and shake gently to remove excess water, lay flat on a clean plate and get to stuffing and rolling.

Spoon out some of your sautéed veggies and tofu and then place the green onion, avocado and basil on top. Fold the sides of the rice paper in, and roll like you’d roll a burrito. I just ate mine plain, without any dipping sauces but they’re also delicious with some homemade peanut sauce. Enjoy!

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