Monday, October 20, 2014

monday thoughts.

movingout1
I woke up the other morning morning with a pit in my stomach. I wanted to cry. I went through the motions of my work week routine and I felt pretty sorry for myself. I wake up so early. I work so hard. I'm always so tired. These thoughts live in my brain a lot of the time -- more often than they should, I think. I ended my morning in tears. This also happens more often than it should. Truthfully, sometimes life is hard. Really, really hard. Like, a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be. Please hear me out: this is not a complaint, it's a wake up call.

As I walked out the door, streets empty, not another soul in sight, dark as the night, it all felt a little unfair. I wanted to scream. And then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. (This is how it commonly happens.) A frying pan over the head, a punch to the gut, all those others sayings about the wind getting knocked out of you. I sometimes get into the habit of wishing away my perfectly beautiful life. I get caught up in all the  runs in the fabric and I forget to step back and take a look at the incredible, detailed, unbelievable tapestry of my human experience. Please understand that I am not shooing away the feelings I feel. It's important to have them, to evaluate them, and work toward having less not-so-good feelings and more really-great feelings.

In the meantime, I must stop waiting for what's around the bend, and I must take advantage of my life. In this moment. Happy Monday, sweet friends.

(P.S. Other posts about feelings: transitions, fueling a life, trusting your decisions, and beauty in chaos.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

weekenders.

weekenders12 weekenders11 weekenders31 weekenders14 weekenders10
I woke up yesterday with an incredible craving for pumpkin pancakes. I like listening to the Andrews Sisters when I cook. On Saturday morning, we went to our farmers' market. Now that it's October, lots of our favorite vendors have returned to the market. It was hot, but there was still a crispness in the air. We spent Saturday evening at Jeffrey's parents house. We ordered Thai food and enjoyed my very favorite Publix cookies (sugar with sprinkles, thank you very much). It was the kind of weekend that you never want to end, even in its complete simplicity (which, to me, is the best kind of weekend). I love my life and I've heard plenty of musings about the dangers of living for the weekend, but when weekends are this pleasant, it's a bit hard not to.

P H O T O G R A P H S / /
( 1 || Pumpkin from my in-laws, makes my heart happy. )
( 2 || Incredibly thoughtful birthday card from my incredibly thoughtful parents [illustrated by my talented dad]. )
( 3 || Pumpkin pancakes for a slow Sunday morning. )
( 4 || Woody, looking a bit unamused. )
( 5 || My birthday banner, still hanging in our hallway. )



P.S. More weekend posts here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

spiced hot chocolate.

hotchocolate2
Today's recipe is so incredibly simple, I almost didn't post it. It doesn't require tons of prep work, it doesn't even really require measuring cups or spoons (although I did write exact measurements below), and it was lovingly dreamt up on my drive home from work when all I wanted was something sweet with a bit of dimension. Actually, it's these kinds of recipes that are my most favorite because they're easy. The result is ready in mere minutes, which means enjoyment can take place that much sooner.

This recipe calls for conventional chocolate chips (the horror!) and half and half, which comes from cow's milk (gasp!). Truthfully, it has no health benefits. It's not really good for you. In fact, it's probably bad for you! However, it does boast something quite special, and it's this: it's good for the soul. I think it's perfectly okay to consume both dairy and conventional sugar in humble amounts, especially when they're tucked into a simple hot chocolate that creates quite stellar results. Enjoy!

(As a quick note, I have not always been a hot chocolate lover [?!]. As a kid, I didn't even really care for chocolate [?!?!!!?]. Therefore, this is quite a small serving because that's how I like it. Feel free to increase certain ingredient measurements to suit your personal preferences.)

S P I C E D  H O T  C H O C O L A T E
Serves 1

Ingredients
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons half and half
1/2 cup coconut milk

* If you do not like the flavor of cardamom, I would recommend leaving it out completely. It's notorious for taking over, which I love, but you might not.

Directions
1. Place half and half and coconut milk in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. As it warms, slowly add the vanilla, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. Whisk well so that spices combine.
2. Add half the chocolate chips into the sauce pan and stir gently until all chips have melted. Then, add the remaining chocolate chips and continue to stir until all chips have melted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

what i know at 25.

Settle into your natural inclination toward being a homebody, but don't forget to sneak adventure in there for good measure.

Candy is bad for your body, but every now and then it will be acceptable and necessary to enjoy a piece completely guilt free (for your soul, of course).

At some point, you will realize that all the truths you held in your hands and heart for so long will no longer be concrete, but malleable instead. While this will scare you and make certain pieces of life unclear, don't forget how exciting and freeing this can be.

The excitement that comes with a Starbucks barista knowing your name should also be approached with a certain amount of caution (re: you're visiting Starbucks too much).

Sometimes things will feel heavy in an uncomfortable way. In those moments, remember the image of Woody at the dog park, running toward you full force with a neon tennis ball in his mouth, carefree and utterly joyful. Remember the sparkle in his eyes and the strength in his legs. Try to embody that more often.

Give yourself permission to listen to your gut.

When the power goes out for one hour, you will realize that you are actually an adult. Small moments can do that to you.

In the truly, truly difficult moments, you will be reminded that somewhere, someone has gone through this same thing and come out the other side in one, imperfect piece. There's a certain amount of comfort in that.

Most often, people are genuinely good.



P.S. What I knew at 24.

Monday, October 6, 2014

weekenders.

weekenders8 weekenders7 weekenders9 weekenders6

The slightest crispness in the air can really create a change in the heart, can't it? This time of year always feels a bit stressful. While the beginning of the school year rush has begun to settle, the new task of readying students for all they need to know during the school year sets in and the pressure can feel a bit overwhelming. Somehow the cooling of the air creates a sense of peace and calmness within me and I am so grateful for it.

It can be difficult to separate myself from my work, even though I know that the separation is so important, for myself and my students. To me, the weekends are a sacred time. I don't allow work to creep into my mind. I don't let the worries and stressors of my job constantly ware on me. For two days I try and let all of that go and focus on living in the present moment. If this all sounds a bit overdramatic, it's probably because it is. In all truthfulness, I probably take myself too seriously during the work week. I don't leave enough room for life to happen outside of the four walls of my classroom. It's a work in progress, as are most things.

To make a long story short, this crisp weekend was nothing short of perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you fall weather, for giving me hope and restoration and happiness in my heart.

P H O T O G R A P H S / /
1 || Backyard gems. )
( 2 || Mr. Guthrie waiting for Jeffrey to get home. )
( 3 || We got this succulent two years ago and it continues to grow wilder and wilder each day. )
( 4 || A friend suggested we pick these sea salt + dark chocolate almonds up at Trader Joe's and they are unbelievably delicious. )

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

my (new) favorite granola.

granola1 As I'm writing this, it is raining. A good, hard, steady rain. The perfect kind for snuggling up in a warm blanket and getting lost in a really good book. Woody Guthrie is laying next to me in complete relaxation. These are the elements of a perfectly pleasant afternoon. But to be perfectly perfect, it needs a snack. And what would be more fitting than some freshly made granola?

I am a sucker for some good granola and I've been fiddling around with the makings of a recipe for quite some time now. To me, granola should be cinnamon-y, crunchy (but not too crunchy), simple, and delicious. That's the most important component. It must be delicious. I also don't like recipes that are too fussy or require too much care (i.e., lots of oven time with lots of shuffling around on the baking sheet to ensure there's no burned bits). Because isn't the ideal granola eaten by the handful while one passes absentmindedly through the kitchen? That's what's ideal to me.

I don't want to tout my granola-making abilities, but this recipe is good. As in could-be-eaten-on-ice-cream good, or could-be-eaten-on-yogurt good, or could-be-enjoyed-with-almond-milk good, or could-be-eaten-all-by-itself good. I hope you make this recipe and enjoy it as much as I do.

The beauty of granola is that it can be modified to meet one's individual preferences. Not a fan of sliced almonds? Substitute hazelnuts or cashews instead. No sesame seeds on hand? Mix in a few sunflower seeds in their place. Unsure about buckwheat groats? Add 2 cups of rolled oats instead. Toss in bits of dried fruit or even chocolate chips if you're really feeling fancy!

granola3 granola2 M Y  F A V O R I T E  G R A N O L A
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (unsweetened*)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw buckwheat groats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

*If you don't have unsweetened peanut butter, I would suggest forgoing the coconut sugar.

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350ยบ F and lightly coat a baking sheet with coconut oil.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine maple syrup, coconut sugar, peanut butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Heat until coconut sugar has completely melted and the mixture resembles a thick sauce. Stir occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, combine the rolled oats, buckwheat groats, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl.
4. Once the sauce mixture is completely emulsified, pour it over the dry ingredients and gently combine with a spatula until the mixture is evenly coated.
5. Pour the granola onto the baking sheet and spread evenly.
6. Pop the granola into the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, shuffle the granola around on the sheet (to help with even baking) and pop back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
7. Remove the granola from the oven and place it (still on its baking sheet) on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Monday, September 29, 2014

black bean bowl.

bowl4 Last week, I wrote about how I plan meals for our family. This recipe is an example of what might come of that plan. It's hardly a recipe because it was created from the ingredients we had at home on a Wednesday night, but there's no harm in sharing anyway!

It is always best to soak beans for an extended amount of time (I try to start the soaking process before I leave for work in the mornings), but in case you forget (as I did on Wednesday), here's a great how-to for quick-soaking beans. If you're new to soaking beans and would like to read a bit more, this is a well-written and informative article.

bowl1 bowl3 B L A C K  B E A N  B O W L
Serves 2, with plenty of leftovers

Ingredients
1 cup pre-soaked black beans
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup steamed corn
3 small peppers, chopped
1 heaping handful spinach, chopped
1/4 of onion, chopped
1/2 avocado, sliced
Honey-Lime dressing (recipe below)

Directions
1. Cook black beans on a low simmer for one hour (for firmer beans [my preference]), or an hour and a half (for softer beans) with 2 cloves of garlic in 2 cups water, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt during the last 10 minutes of cook time.
2. Divide beans into two bowls,* and top with corn, peppers, spinach, onion, avocado, and dressing.
3. We like serving with these chips.

* This is where I save the remaining beans and toppings + dressing in a reusable container for the following day's lunch.

bowl2 H O N E Y - L I M E  D R E S S I N G
Serves 2, with plenty of leftovers

Ingredients
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon coconut milk
up to 2 tablespoons water, for thinning
up to 1 teaspoon salt

Directions
1. Place all ingredients (except for water) in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and combined.
2. If desired consistency is not reached (or your appliance needs a little extra help), add up to 2 tablespoons of water to thin the dressing. Add salt for taste.

Enjoy! xo


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