My Love Letter to Austin and Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

I leave Austin in five days.

This flat, hot and beautiful place has been my home for the past year +, and now it’s time to go back to Seattle. I’m returning to green trees, tall mountains, salty seas and family.  I’ve come to the conclusion that a piece of myself will stay in Texas. This town will always be a second home. It wouldn’t be an honest departure without a love letter, so Austin… this one’s for you.

My Southern Love,

I will miss your warmth. I will miss your wet heat that felt like the biggest, sweatiest hug. I will miss riding my red bicycle through your streets in my cut-offs. I will miss eating tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then for breakfast again. I will miss your friendliness and open arms. I will miss whiskey on tap, two stepping with strangers and late nights with my favorite people. I will miss swimming in any body of water I could find, just as long as it got me out of the heat. I will miss being in the land of fireflies and topo chico.

Austin, I will miss your people. The ones that welcomed me without question. Those people who I would carry around in my back pocket if I could, little reminders of what it feels like to be surrounded with goodness. This town is full of folks who live. Take all of it and shape it into something worthwhile. Austin, you are a neverland. Sitting outside of barton springs in my bathing suit, watching the stars in the 85 degree heat on a summer evening, I looked at my friend and said, “this place is magic…”

Austin, you are magic. You are sunshine, pants, bike rides, food, friends and dancing. So much of my heart will be left in Austin, forever.

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I am moving on to the next adventure. I ate the Texas sun, I had year round freckles, I scuffed my boots and turned all my jeans into shorts. Now it’s time to go home. I’m bringing a bit of the south home with me. I’m determined to bring some of the warmth, some of the genuine friendliness, all of the dancing and you BETTER believe I will bring “y’all” with me…

Onward and upward y’all, onward and upward.

Black Bean & Avocado Salad with Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries & Cabbage Slaw

This is what my perfect plate looks like. Sweet potatoes are my jam, and when you add in the complete protein of rice and beans, I’m in heaven. And it wouldn’t be a well-rounded meal unless there were some greens, and the cabbage slaw fit the bill. It only seems fitting that I give y’all THREE recipes this time around, because everything is bigger in Texas. All of these dishes are great to mix together and stick into a tortilla, because EVERYTHING is better in a tortilla.

Tacos forever.

Black Bean & Avocado Salad

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2.5 cups water
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼-½ tsp salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large avocado, chopped into ½ inch pieces

Cook the brown rice, I use a rice cooker, but you can cook it on the stove top, do whatever tickles your fancy. Drain the beans and rinse. In a large bowl add the beans and toss with limes, cilantro leaves, diced shallots and ground cumin. Season to taste with salt & black pepper. After your rice is finished, set it aside to cool slightly before you mix it in with everything else. Peel and slice an avocado, and serve the beans at room temperature, with chopped avocado on top or mixed in throughout the salad. This salad lasts for several days in the fridge, so it makes for the perfect lunch to bring to work.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch fries
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Ground chipotle chile
  • Garlic powder

In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, garlic powder and chipotle chile powder. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet. Avoid crowding so the potatoes get crisp. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Ovens may vary so keep an eye on them and be sure to cut all the potatoes the same size. It’ll ensure even cooking. Cool and try not to shove them all in your mouth at one time. These are delicious.

Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 head cabbage, cut into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, shredded (optional, I didn’t have any, so I went without… delicious either way)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or agave)
  • Pinch of cumin

Generous pinch of salt and pepper

Chop up your veggies and mix with jalapeno and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice and honey. Add to the veggies and season with cumin, salt and pepper. Toss until finally coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

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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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Chili and Throat Tickles

The weather is perfect in Austin. I hate that I have become one of those people whose conversation starter is, “can you believe this weather?”, as if I have nothing better to talk about.

But this weather! Oh man, oh man. I love it.

The mornings have been cold enough where I get to wear mittens and a hat and the afternoons find me in shorts and a t-shirt. The days feel like summer in the pacific northwest, except there are carved pumpkins on the steps and a little girl dressed up as superwoman next door.
Of course real life had to bring my unhappiness down a tad by giving me a cold. It is the kind of cold that is just waiting around the corner. I can feel is brewing in my throat and my head, and I’m doing everything in my power to combat it.

Lots of water? Done. Weird herbal drink that tastes like ginger meets butt? Done. Warm tea with honey? Done. Nine hours of sleep? Yep.

Last but not least, I wanted to make a soup of some sort and because the weather is so perfect I couldn’t resist making chili. I was inspired by the thought of chipotle, as everything about it warms my soul. The thing I love about chili (and soup in general) is you really just throw everything into a pot and call it a meal. As a vegan, I stuck with a three bean chili loaded with vegetables and some peppers for good measure. It soothed my throat and kept me happy and full for hours.

Perfect chili for perfect weather and my not-so-perfect cold.

(oh, I also put down my iPhone and took REAL pictures of my food this time around. Shocking, I know.)

3 Bean Vegan Chipotle Chili

1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 sweet potato
3 cloves of garlic
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans
1/2 can of chipotle peppers (in sauce)
1/2 can of mild peppers
1.5 cups of vegetable broth (you can use more if you want, I like a thick chili)
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp salt

Heat up olive oil over medium heat. Add in chopped onion and sweet potato, and turn heat to medium high. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in chopped bell peppers and zucchini and mix in salt. Cook for a few more minutes before adding in the minced garlic.

Next you add in the peppers. I added in an extra spoonful or two of the chipotle sauce, as I wanted the chili to have an extra kick to it. I also chopped up the canned peppers so they kind of melt into the rest of the vegetables, and you don’t even realize they’re there until the flavor hits your face (in a good way). I also threw in half a can of mild peppers for good measure. Why not?

Lastly throw in the beans and the vegetable stock. Mix everything together and add the chipotle chili powder and any more salt your taste buds fancy.

I let this simmer for about 30 minutes, until the smell was too much and I wanted to eat all of it. I served mine with some gluten-free sweet potato corn chips, because they are perfect for scooping and add some texture to the dish.

So many veggies, this cold can’t stick around.

homesteads and okra.

Growing up, it was all about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I devoured the Little House series, and when I was finished I started back at book one.  I vividly remember the story of her dad getting stalked by a panther, and how the attic was her favorite place to play.

When I was sick, my mom and I would eat popsicles and watch Little House on the Prairie.

Perhaps I owe this desire to nest, to garden, to explore the idea of being a modern homesteader to Laura. There is something very romantic about building your life with your hands, learning how things grow. I realize that I live in this strange dichotomy, one foot firmly planted in the world of blogs, Facebook and Twitter while the other foot is barefoot, in the dirt.

I channeled my inner Wilder last weekend and pickled some okra.

The boy, sister and I took a trip to the HOPE farmers market. A tiny little market tucked in between an abandoned warehouse-turned-art-space and the railroad tracks.

Still 85 degrees, I found myself seeking shade and leaning on my iced coffee to keep cool. We are entering into the second growing season (MAGICAL) of the year, which means all things green are back in season. Beautiful bundles of kale, large stalks of basil and the last of the okra.

Okra requires quite a bit of heat to prosper, and these 80 degree days and 55 degree nights means it’s on its way out. Inquiring on how long I would be able to get it, the farmer shrugged, “I keep thinking it’s done, and it keeps producing.”

I didn’t want to risk it, so I bought a shit ton and knew that it was time to preserve.

I have experience pickling thanks to hot August afternoons with my grandma. We’d all crowd in her tiny kitchen, each of us given a task that would result in the best and hottest pickles this world has ever seen.

My mouth just started watering at the thought of them. Literally.

There isn’t much difference between pickling cucumbers and pickling okra. You wash and sanitize the jars, stuff them with what you want, pour over the brine and process.

And then you wait, which is really the worst part of the whole ordeal.

Having schlepped all of my canning tools from Seattle (my mom thought I was crazy when I demanded that I bring my canning pot with me… priorities, mother) it was easy as pie to whip these puppies out. Now I have cans of okra sitting in my cupboard, just waiting to be consumed.

I think Laura would have been proud.

Hot and Spicy Pickled Okra

  • 2 pounds fresh okra, washed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt (SO MUCH SALT)
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • head of garlic
  • assortment of hot peppers (we used jalapeno, habanero and serrano… our mouths MAY explode later)

First things first. Prepare everything. Start your canning bath, as the water takes forever to boil. Wash your jars. Fill them with warm water and put them in the canning pot to sanitize. When the water in the pot reaches boiling, boil the cans for at least 10 minutes to make sure they are properly sanitized. Make sure you also boil and sanitize the lids.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, you can get your okra, garlic and peppers ready. Set them aside, and if you feel inclined you can take a picture.

Isn’t food the prettiest?

Once your cans are sanitized you can start stuffing them. Now, this was my first time canning okra so I wasn’t sure how to approach this. My method was to stuff them with as much as I could, and hope for the best. Tip for next time: stuff more. After I poured the brine in there, everything rose to the top of the jar and I saw how much extra room I had in there.

Bummer

What is in there will taste delicious, I am sure. But now I know for next time that I need to really fill all of that extra space with something. Perhaps more peppers? Who knows.

So each of my jars had about 10 pieces of okra, 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, the three types of peppers and a couple of sprigs of dill.
Next time, I will jam so much garlic, dill and peppers in there the okra will probably be inedible. What can I say, I like things spicy.

After you cut up the vegetables, you will want to prepare the brine. To do this you will want to bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil, and then distribute evenly in the jars, leaving about 1.5 inches at the top. After you have filled the jars with the brine, wipe the rims of the jars, pop on a lid and put back in the canning bath to process for 10 minutes. After processing, remove and wait to hear that magical pop. Now I will just have to wait and see just how much heat I can handle…

 

Home

Remember how when you were little you would play house? For my best friend and I it was the shed in my back yard. It was the acre of property behind her cabin. It was a silly game with make believe husbands and baby dolls that were anatomically correct (weird and awesome).

My mom has this video of me playing on my plastic toy kitchen. She comes into the room and asks what I am doing. I glance over at her with an agitated look and motion to the bright yellow phone and silently word, “I’m on the phone!”

I was (am?) a brat.

I was (am) a homebody.

To me, comfort is coming home to a place that invites you in. A place to leave your shoes on the front porch. Somewhere with soft cushions and a familiar smell.

Here I am in this city of heat, this city of unexpected thunder storms and quiet morning runs on wide, sidewalk free streets. I have found a tiny little place to make a tiny little home with a not so tiny or little man. The paint is peeling, and the house leans. The bathroom is a size of a closet and I think we have a resident mouse. The large, white trimmed windows rattle as you struggle to get them open. The concrete fence holds little windows to the street, and long, thin garden beds wait for cool fall crops.

I plan my days around walks, farming, yoga and this man. I plan my days with growing vegetables and planning dinner menus.

Sitting on the floor, we eat out of brightly colored bowls.

My house is a home because of him. Because of the hound dog that darts to the back fence because he saw a squirrel there once. Because I bike home to find a boy sitting on my counter reading John Irving because he can. This new cottage is my home because I am filling it with things that make my heart calm.

We have a habit of toasting to things that are our “firsts”. Our first trip to the grocery store. Our first bike ride. Our first shared trash can, shared bed, shared life.

So when we sat down to our first meal (on the ground, using a goodwill chest for a table), we raised our bourbon and whiskey to us.

To our tiny house, our surprising love and this newness that came out of nowhere and has settled deep in our bodies.

Kale and Mushroom Tacos

In the land of Texas, tacos and burritos have become an almost daily habit… delicious.

– Flour or corn tortillas

– Can of black beans

– Spanish rice

– 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

– small yellow or white onion

– red bell pepper

– 2 ears of corn

– mushroom of choice (we used crimini)

– 1 bunch of kale (once again, your choice)

– 2 cloves garlic

– 1 tbsp cumin

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp chipotle cayenne powder

– Red pepper hummus (we bought ours, as I have yet to get a food processor, and can’t make mine)

– Jalapeno jelly (gifted from the farm, I will tackle this one come jalapeno season)

– Ripe avocado
Start spanish rice. Heat beans and tortillas. Chop up the onions, peppers and corn. Heat the oil in a pan and add the veggies. Saute and add in salt, cayenne and cumin. Stir until onion is soft and translucent. Add in chopped up mushrooms and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, adding the kale is last. Wilt the kale for a minute or two. Lay out a tortilla, spread on the hummus and the jalapeno jelly and then pack with all of that goodness until you can’t seem to fit anymore onto such a tiny little tortilla. I always put a slice or two of avocado on the top, because what is a taco without avocado?

Hot Hot Heat

Man oh man. Austin is hot.

People up in Seattle liked to remind me that it was hot down here. “It gets to be 100 degrees Chelsea! Can you handle it?!?!”

It may seem obvious that Texas is hot. These warnings came from my people. These are the people who know me. They know me well. They are privy to the fact that every time summer rolls around (Pacific Northwest summers to boot), I break out in a heat rash. Or I get a sunburn. Or I get heat stroke. Basically, I was made for temperate weather.

So all those who know and love me were concerned for my well-being with my somewhat irrational plan to up and move to Austin. I think they all thought I would just melt. Instantly. I would step out of my car in Austin and become a puddle on the ground.

I didn’t. I thought about it for a second, and then rallied like a champion.

Here is what you do to beat the heat in Texas:

– You drink your body weight in water. If I leave the house with out a water bottle I get a little bit panicky. Like how you feel when you leave behind your keys or your wallet. I may or may not carry around a jug of water that holds the amount of water you are supposed to drink in a day. I drink about three of them. HYDRATE!

– You swim. A lot. There is this place called Barton Springs down here, a place I highly recommend. It is a spring fed pool. It is huge. It is refreshing. It is like a little bit of heaven for these hades like days. We also spent a whole day floating down the river in inner tubes. Now if that isn’t summer, what is?

– You stay inside. This is a weird concept to me. You know you are a true Seattle-ite when you see  a sunny day and your mind INSTANTLY jumps to all the ways you can avoid being inside for the day. The difference is that in Texas it is sunny. A lot. So if you were to spend every day outside that was sunny, you would be spending 9 months of your life outside. Which sounds like a great plan, except 2-3 of those 9 months are days where the temperature creeps over 100 degrees and just meandering down the street leaves you drenched. So you stay inside. And write a blog. Or something.

– If you have a dog, you walk them EARLY in the morning and LATE at night. And they are still hot. And if you have a dog that is a HUGE goober and can’t seem to do anything normally, you will get irritated with the panting that sounds like a fighter jet. To combat said panting, you can soak a bandana in water, pop it in the freezer for a bit and then tie it around their neck. Not only do they look SUPER hip, but it cools down their body temperature. Win, win.

– You try to avoid making food that involves being around things that are warm. I have made a lot of salads (see below). Things that just involved chopping vegetables. Recipes that make giant batches so if the only energy you can muster is rolling off the couch and crawling to the fridge, you will have something to shove into your mouth, cutlery optional.

I have been here less than two weeks and this place is already starting to seep into my skin. I am coming down with a sort of routine. I am exploring and tasting and taking the city in. I am planting roots, one way or another, and making this hot, hot city a place of my own.

Wild Rice and Kale Salad

Adapted from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook

1.5 cups wild rice

3 3/4 water

Pinch of sea salt

6 leaves of kale (your choice on which kind.)

red bell pepper

2.5 cups wild rice

1 bunch green onions

Grated carrots

Avocado (optional)

Dressing:

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 olive oil

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste.

Bring water, rice and salt to a boil in a 3 quart pot with the lid on. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 50-55 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes until you mix in the veggies.

Chop the kale, green onions, bell pepper and grate in the carrots. Mix all the veggies in with the cooled rice.

Prepare the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt and pepper. Whisk together. Stir into veggies and rice.

Top with avocado for some delicious fat… mm. Avocado.

A New Home

I have arrived.

In Austin, I mean.

After spending four days in a car with a good friend, I am finally here. The room is full of my stuff, piles and piles of things stacked on top of more things, as I shove my way into my sister and brother-in-law’s life.

Imagine me dancing into your life with jazz hands. That is how I feel– HERE I AM!! I shout as I wiggle my way into their world. Hound dog included. I suppose it is a nice package to find? Maybe?

Needless to say, the road trip was long. Really long. It also involved surviving on mixed nuts and carrot sticks. We had one real meal when we found ourselves in a small kitchen in Colorado where our friend’s Matt and Kelsey threw together homemade pizza (dough included). They even made a kale salad on the side and my own vegan pizza. Best hosts ever.

It is funny when you see someone after not seeing them for a year, and both of your lives have been flipped upside down. You have taken on new adventures, new people, new lives– and all of it is so good. Seeing such joy and new plans for the future lifted up my soul. What a good stop along the way to my brand new adventure.

And now here I am. Laying on an air mattress covered in sweat and dirt and one too many bug bites (perhaps the West Nile is already seeping into my blood– is that how it works?). I moved to Austin in such a rush in anticipation for a farm apprenticeship. Today was the first day. I spent the morning weeding and chatting with people who know, love and can’t help but spread the knowledge about this town. The restaurants to try, the swimming holes to go to, the hikes to take. These are good people. This is a good place.

I saw a spider bigger than I cared to see, and crickets flew at me from every direction. I harvested peppers that taste like sweet and smell like honey. I drank more water then I have in a long time and dealt with the 95 degree heat like a champ (everyone else commented on how “cool” it was…oh man).

Yes. I think I can handle this life. I think that I can nestle down into this town, make myself a life here. A life filled with fresh produce and eggs, a life with bikes on the front porch and a black dog who just can’t seem to stop panting.

Welcome home.

Homemade Pizza Dough

* adapted from Gotta Little Space to Fill blog

This dough is awesome. It only takes 10 minutes to rise, tastes like heaven, and watching my friend Matt hurry around the kitchen and show off his bulk flour and yeast was the cutest. I will think of this recipe with a fond heart.

1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
cornmeal

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour, salt, honey and olive oil; stir to combine using first a wooden spoon then your hands. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal and press dough into it to your desired thickness. Top with your toppings and bake for approximately half an hour or until crust is golden, toppings are heated through and cheese is bubbly.

Austin, TX

The word is out. I am moving to Austin.

The land of my sister, swimming holes and sunshine. A place that feels like a nicer, albeit HOTTER version of Seattle/Portland. A city where horses are sometimes tied up on the side of the road and you can feel the heat radiate into the core of your being. I have spent a few weeks in Austin. Leisurely eating watermelon and mango in the back yard, swimming until I turned into a prune and wandering through an abandoned warehouse turned farmer’s market. I have felt the community and kindness in the people of Austin. I have felt and understand why it is the number one place in the USA for young people to move to.

I am so ready to throw myself into this place, immerse myself in the city and get my hands dirty in the soil. This place is excited about food, I am excited about food, it will be a magical relationship.

My decision has come as a surprise to many people. Most people just ask why. Why would I want to leave a place where my family and friends are? Why would I want to leave the Pacific Northwest when it is one of the best places to live, in the entire world? Why oh WHY would I want to live in a place that is so so so hot?

Here is why:

1)      I locked down a great opportunity to apprentice on an urban farm in Austin called Urban Roots. It is a non-profit organic farm in East Austin that hires teenagers and teaches them how to farm. I will be working there 12 hours a week with the farm manager, picking his brain and learning the in’s and out’s of farming. This makes my heart swell to a point I can’t explain as I want to grow up to be a farmer. Couldn’t have found a cooler place. Couldn’t be more excited. Hip Hip.

2)      These people are there.

I don’t know if you know this, but these people rock my world. They do this for the following reasons: that lady is my sister. My sister is like what happens when you combine sunshine and puppy’s paws and good bluegrass music put it into a bottle, shake it and out pops a human. Meaning, she is a combination of all that is good and right with the world. She is my other half. When I told her I was moving down she said, “Apart we are a disaster, together we are unstoppable.” My thoughts exactly. And that other dude? That guy is ok I guess. Whatever. (hehe. I kid, I kid. He is the combination of deep laughter, beautiful art and feeling like a little kid again. Joyful.)

3)      9 months of sunshine. When you live in a place that is 9 months of rain, switching to a place that is opposite of everything you know (weather-wise) is a brilliant and scary thing. I can’t wait to step out my door and feel the heat in the evening. I can’t wait to find a place to swim at night. I can’t wait for trips to the beach and to dip my toes into the gulf. I can’t wait to have my freckles all year-long, and only need sweaters every once in a while. I know I will miss the rain, the green, and the magical northwest fall and winter. I get that. Here is the kicker; Seattle will still be there in a few years. Crazy, I know.

4)      And finally, there is this boy… But that is a story for another time. Bottom line: sigh.

Here is to new changes, shaking my life into a new place and throwing caution to the wind. Here’s  to the universe acknowledging the brilliance of all of this and granting me opportunities and bliss in a way I didn’t even know was possible.

Cheers.

The Perfect Margarita

1.5 oz tequila (don’t fool around with this. Get good stuff. 100% agave. Worth it)

1 oz Triple Sec

1 oz fresh lime juice

A dash of agave syrup (optional)

Salt!

  • Get yourself a martini shaker and fill with ice.
  • Combine all the ingredients into the shaker and shake shake shake.
  • Rim your glass of choice with lime and then dip into coarse salt.
  • Pour in the chilled margarita and enjoy. Continue to enjoy when you move onto your 2nd, 3rd, 4th. I mean, we are celebrating after all.