Wednesday, September 17, 2014

it's all beautiful.

beautiful4 beautiful1 beautiful3 beautiful2 Sometimes feelings are hard to put into words. I guess that's why they're feelings. There are people in our lives who don't need us to explain our feelings because they just get it. Those people are called kindred spirits. I hope you have one. Or two. Or three. If you don't, I'll be yours today.

Now and then, it all becomes a bit too much. You feel like you're at the bottom of a well that has a busted pulley system. And you need someone to tell you that it's okay to feel crappy. It's okay to feel like throwing the towel in. It's okay to breathe out all those negative feelings and say, "That's enough for today."

Friends, you can't fix it all. You just can't.

In the age of the Internet, we have the freedom to share whatever we want to share. Often times, it's the greatest triumphs in our life that we choose to parade on social media. And why shouldn't we? Shouldn't this life have more things to celebrate? More people to feel happy for? More pride for our fellow human beings? I think it should, and I'm sure you do, too.

But sometimes, you can look at everyone else's bright spots, and your bottom-of-the-well spot seems that much worse. You look around and you think, "Really?" And there are truly no other words to mutter.

It's okay. It's real and it's honest to feel a bit sad inside. It's even a little bit brave.

Today, I felt it. I felt sad and I felt like I was at the bottom of a well. I wished for nothing more than the feelings to just disappear. I wanted up and out of that well quickly and without damage, please. But I listened to the quietness in my heart and the twisted up feelings in my soul, and I reminded myself that it's all beautiful. Even those bottom-of-the-well moments.

// Above: pictures that make me feel happy.
1 || Glorious blooms. I thank God for them.
2 || Woody's fur in the breeze.
3 || Celebratory selfies.
4 || A peering elk.

Monday, July 7, 2014

a week of breakfasts.


M Y  F A V O R I T E  O A T M E A L
(Serves 1)

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup, separated
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 6 chopped strawberries
  • 1/8 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/8 cup frozen blueberries
  1. Pour oats, water, and half and half into a pan, and bring to medium heat. Stir and bring down to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow mixture to simmer for 5-7 minutes (watch carefully, or the oatmeal may burn). 
  2. Meanwhile, place berries and 1 teaspoon maple syrup in a small pan. Mix on medium-low heat, until syrup mixture has thickened and berries are warm.
  3. Stir 1 teaspoon maple syrup and dash of cinnamon into oatmeal. Pour berry mixture over oatmeal.
G R E E N  D R E A M  S M O O T H I E
(Serves 1)

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • healthy handful spinach
  • 3 Romaine leaves, shredded
  • healthy handful pea shoots
  • 1 banana (frozen is best)
  • 1/4 cup mango
  1. Pour coconut milk, spinach, and Romaine in blender and pulse to combine.
  2. Add pea shoots, banana, and mango. Pulse until well combined.
J E F F R E Y ' S  B E R R Y  B L I T Z  S M O O T H I E
(Serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • healthy handful spinach
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • 1 banana (frozen)
  1. Pour coconut milk, water, and spinach in a blender and pulse to combine. 
  2. Add raspberries, mango, and pineapple. Pulse until well combined.
  3. Add blueberries and banana. Pulse until well combined. Split smoothie equally between two glasses.
My favorite oatmeal, topped with fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, and unsweetened coconut flakes


The thing about breakfast is that it's either an absolute pleasure or an absolute pain. There are two scenarios: The first involves a lovely spring day, 70º weather, billowing white tablecloths, and a table set for two with a vase of friendly daisies. The second involves last night's dishes, ten minutes until it's time to leave for work, and a half empty fridge whose contents include week-old leftovers and a pitcher of water. My recent mission has been to help the second scenario look a bit more like the first.

Truthfully, there are few things I enjoy more than dining out for breakfast. But, the reality is that on a Tuesday morning before I rush out the door (and there's not a chance of a restaurant breakfast), I need something that will fill me and stick to my ribs, so that my stomach's not grumbling by 8 AM. That typically comes in the form of a smoothie. However, because I'm on summer vacation, I've gotten the chance to be a bit more creative in the kitchen, and breakfast has been an absolute pleasure to make and enjoy.

(And in the interest of total honesty, I've also (happily) consumed this for breakfast.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

a week of dinners.


S T I R  F R Y --
(Serves 2)

  • brown rice pasta, water
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • handful green beans
  • handful (frozen) broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon nama shoyu (for the sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (for the sauce)
  • sesame seeds (for topping)
  1. Cook pasta according to package's directions
  2. Meanwhile, heat coconut oil a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add chopped onions and a clove of garlic. Sauté while you chop the carrots and peppers. Add carrots, peppers, and green beans and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli and sauté  until veggies turn vibrantly colored (about 5 minutes).
  3. Slowly add the nama shoyu + maple syrup and sauté  until sauce has thickened, about 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Serve over brown rice pasta and sprinkle with plenty of sesame seeds.


Big Comfy Sweet Potatoes


H A P P I N E S S  B O W L -- 
(Serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • handful (frozen) broccoli
  • handful sunflower sprouts (pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts would be a good alternative here)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  1. Rinse the quinoa (even better if you can soak it for 8 hours and then rinse it!) vigorously. Place in a large pot and cover with 1 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then immediately bring to a simmer. Stir and cover with a lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add 1 clove garlic, peas, and broccoli. Sauté until peas and broccoli are bright green and cooked through.
  3. Spoon quinoa, broccoli, and peas into two bowls. Add onions, sprouts of your choice, and avocado.
  4. Pour plenty of sauce over the mixture (recipe below).

H A P P I N E S S  S A U C E -- 
(Serves 2, with plenty of leftovers)

  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • ~ 1/4 cup water (for thinning)
  1. Place carrots into a food processor or blender (you might want to add one at a time if your appliance is a bit more on the delicate side). Pulse until finely chopped. Add the garlic, maple syrup, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Pulse until combined.
  2. At this point, your mixture will most likely be quite thick. Add in some salt and pepper, and introduce a slow stream of water. Add as much or as little as you'd like until desired consistency has been reached.
  3. Store leftovers in an airtight jar. Will keep for about 1 week.

Black Bean Salad with Cumin-Roasted Carrots
(You might recognize this! I used the leftovers for lunch!)


H E A R T Y  S A L A D
(Serves 2)

  • 2 big handfuls spinach
  • 4 Romaine leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 pear, chopped and roasted (450º F for 10-15 minutes)
  1. Shred spinach and lettuce. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Crumble Gorgonzola and grate Parmesan over greens. Top with onions, pear, and candied walnuts (see below). Toss with vinaigrette (see below).
C A N D I E D  W A L N U T S
(Serves 2)

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • pinch of salt
  1. Toss coconut sugar, honey, and salt over walnuts and combine until evenly coated.
  2. Roast at 450º F for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.
R A S P B E R R Y  V I N A I G R E T T E
(Serves 2)

  • 1/8 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 splashes balsamic vinegar
  • 1 healthy pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch garlic salt
  • ~2 tablespoons water (for thinning)
  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients (except for water) until combined. Slowly add in a steady stream of water until desired consistency is reached.

We believe homemade dinners should be simple. After all, we're two of the most likely people in this world to go out to eat because we love it so much. Therefore, we have to be pretty persuaded to stay home for our dining experience. That boils down two to things: Will the ingredients be simple? Will it be healthy?

In all honesty, answering those two questions in the affirmative actually takes a lot of forethought. That is, forethought in the form of a grocery list. We are meal planners, and for the last five years of our relationship that has made all the difference. We account for one date night a week, in which we dine out; the rest of our meals are eaten at home. On the (not-so-rare) occasion that we eat out twice in a week, we try to choose restaurants that still use simple ingredients and are (for the most part) healthy.

However, life happens in those in-between moments, so we're also not ones to turn down pizza if the mood strikes and we just happen to be driving by our favorite local haunt.

Monday, June 30, 2014

orangey whole wheat waffles + strawberry puree.

orangezestwaffles5 orangezestwaffles3 When I think of breakfast for dinner, I am transported to my seat at my sister's turquoise kitchen table. She is over the stove, creating some tasty dish, while her husband, Mark, is chopping red potatoes into impossibly small pieces, and nestling them into the oven to turn golden brown.

Or, it is Jeffrey and I in our small Gainesville kitchen, making a mile high stack of pancakes. My sister is sitting on the bright red stool in the corner and Mark is in the doorway. We're probably musing about Woody's good looks.

Breakfast for dinner is one of my fondest memories of my graduate work at the University of Florida. It just so happened that my sister lived a block away and we walked to each other's houses each week to enjoy some lovingly prepared dish — always breakfast for dinner, usually on a Thursday evening.

Breakfast is special, but breakfast for dinner is magical. It is especially magical when the company is good, the table is small, and the helpings are aplenty. While Jeffrey and I no longer live just a block away from my sister and Mark, our hearts are still neighbors. Sometimes it feels good to create a dish that brings back a memory. A memory of turquoise tables, small kitchens, tiny potatoes, red stools, and the best company in all the South.
orangezestwaffles4 orangezestwaffles2 O R A N G E Y  W H O L E  W H E A T  W A F F L E S  +  S T R A W B E R R Y  P U R E E

Serves 2 (with leftover puree to drizzle over anything and everything your heart desires!)


Orangey Whole Wheat Waffles
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (organic) whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons almond milk 
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tablespoons water (to thin batter)
  • zest of 1 (organic) orange

Strawberry Puree
  • 6 strawberries
  • juice of half an orange (use the one you just zested!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey

W A F F L E  D I R E C T I O N S
  1. Preheat the waffle iron. Set aside.
  2. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl, until it is pale yellow and fluffy (a light foam should form on the top).*
  3. Slowly add the rest of the ingredients (except for the zest and the water) and beat to combine.
  4. Gently fold in the orange zest until well combined.
  5. Start by adding one tablespoon of water to the batter and fold to combine. The consistency should be slightly runny, but not too runny (a bit thicker than a traditional pancake batter). Continue adding water by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached (I added three tablespoons, but could have added four).
  6. Coat the waffle iron with a thin layer of coconut oil. Use your waffle iron's directions to heat and cook waffles (the amount of batter per waffle is often dependent on your particular waffle iron). Serve hot with butter (we use Earth Balance), maple syrup, and a dollop of strawberry puree (directions below).
* Note: A fluffier egg leads to fluffier waffles. Beat a little extra if you're a fluffy-waffle lover.

P U R E E  D I R E C T I O N S
  1. Wash the strawberries and remove the stems.
  2. Place strawberries, fresh orange juice, and honey into a blender and pulse until combined.
As an aside, this makes plenty of puree (much more than we needed for this recipe). Its other possible uses are endless: on yogurt, in oatmeal, on ice cream, added into a tasty smoothie of coconut milk + ice cubes, etc. Yum!

Friday, June 27, 2014

simple things.

{1. I can't seem to get enough of glass jars lately and this one is especially lovely. For the record, I'm also a big fan of these and — of course — these.}

{2. Fresh flowers are always a welcome addition, and I was able to split this particular bunch into three mini-bunches that are still gracing us with their presence.}

{3. This raw whipped cream (made from cashews!) is especially delicious with some spices thrown in: cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, to be exact.}

{4. We're loving our new clock.}

{5. A different spot for our cookbooks will (hopefully) mean they'll get a bit more use.}

{6. Chocolate chips in the pantry mean a batch of chocolate chip cookies aren't too far behind — hooray!}

Other simple things:
  • Window shopping (or, cyber window shopping, as the case may be?) and currently eyeing this, this, this, and this.
  • The Sufjan Stevens Pandora station, which makes cleaning and cooking a real treat.
  • Some words of wisdom.
  • And some words to make you laugh.

Happy weekend, dear ones. xo

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the midday cookie.

middaycookie4 middaycookie1 Today's cookie was born from a 2 o'clock craving for something sweet and a bit salty. You know the feeling; it strikes suddenly and quietly — but urgently — and rests in the back of your mind until you find some way to satiate it. When it's Friday afternoon and the pantry could use some attention, one must get creative in choosing ingredients.

The Internet is a beautiful place because after a quick Google search for a recipe involving buckwheat flour, I found my ticket to satisfaction. Because I must fiddle with things, I made a few adjustments to a recipe that I'm sure was already quite delectable. I picked up a Mast Brothers chocolate bar during a recent trip to New York City, and it seemed a shame not to allow its contents to be the true star of this recipe. Megan, the genius behind this cookie, also wrote the recipe so that it only yields one serving (two cookies). A blessing or a curse? I'll let you decide.
middaycookie3 middaycookie2 T H E  M I D D A Y  C O O K I E
(Adapted from and inspired by Detoxinista)

Serves 1

  • 2 level tablespoons buckwheat flour*
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt, plus more for the tops of cookies
  • 3 squares Mast Brothers dark chocolate with Stumptown coffee
*Note: This recipe tastes strongly of buckwheat flour. If you're not a fan, I would suggest checking Megan's original recipe, where she offers an alternative suggestion that might strike your fancy.

  1. Preheat* the oven to 350º F and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Mix all ingredients (except for the chocolate) until combined. They should form a thick, pasty substance, slightly more moist than your average chocolate chip cookie dough.
  3. Break the squares of chocolate into smaller chunks and fold them into the dough until just combined.
  4. Form two cookies of about equal size on the parchment paper. Gently flatten to desired thickness. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the top of each cookie.
  5. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes,* and allow them to cool slightly before serving.
* Note: Because this is such a small recipe, I used my toaster oven to bake these cookies instead of a traditional oven. The baking time will change slightly (my toaster oven does not have a preheat option). My cookies baked for 12 minutes instead of the original suggestion of 8 minutes. As always, keep a good eye on your cookies so that you can rescue them at just the right moment!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

neighborhood blooms.

blooms2 blooms6 blooms4 blooms3 blooms5 blooms1
If you're a dog owner then you can certainly empathize with the agony one occasionally feels upon remembering the dog must go out in the morning. This is especially true when the heat in Florida can only be described using one word: stifling. After those first steps taken and the delicate art of harnessing Woody into his leash (which is quite the sophisticated contraption during the wee hours of the morning), I am reminded of just how much that morning walk means to my dear pal, as evidenced by the enthusiasm in his jaunty gait, and the way his snout lovingly and happily rediscovers the smells of his neighborhood.

And some days I notice the beauty that surrounds me in such a striking way that I must retrace my steps later in the day simply to snap photographs and share the unbelievable sights with you. You see, Florida is hot and sticky in all the most frustrating ways, but it is also hot and sticky in all the right ways, too. This muggy, tropical climate allows certain beautiful flowers to sprout up and thrive without the help of anyone in particular and that is worth celebrating.

(And a personal thanks to Woody, who singlehandedly ensured I would see these beautiful blooms in all their beautiful, leafy glory. His snout leads the way and calls the shots, and for that I am quite glad.)
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