what i’m cooking this weekend

y’all… i’m feeling inspired. and hungry. maybe it’s because i skipped my morning smoothie for a quad-grande latte (four shots of espresso, guys!!! get on my level) or because i found a delicious new food blog just before lunch, but i am ready to hit. the. kitchen.

my grocery list is prepped. tonight the love and i are going out for a late dinner, but tomorrow we’ll be having balsamic blueberry grilled cheeses with shaved brussel sprout slaw. and because i’m crazy (and starving) we’ll have an atlantic beach pie that i’ve been dying to try.

balsamic blueberry grilled cheese from Amanda k. by the Bayblueberry grilled cheese

could this look any more delicious? the link above goes to the recipe on her page (i’m all about giving credit where it’s due, so click away!). i think i’ll probably leave the brown sugar out just because i don’t want it to be too sweet.

honey mustard brussel sprout slaw from Anna at Curiouser & Curiouserbrussel sprout slaw

i happen to work with the amazingly talented anna who curates this blog with a little bit of everything, specifically delicious recipes. i saw this in one of her recent posts on easy side dishes and believe me, this looks so simple. and delish. and the perfect green balance to what is sure to be a decadent grilled cheese. i’ll probably dose up on the vinegar because i like a bit of bite.

atlantic beach pie from Bill Smith at Food52atlantic beach pie

i’m obsessed with this recipe. i first saw it on my friend (and twin) bethanny’s facebook and soon it was popping up everywhere. she’s a trend setter. i love trends. and salty, sweet, lemony and everything easy pies. so i will make time for this in my kitchen. i’m thinking of enjoying it with some champers when my love gets home from drill saturday night. i’m so excited about this. so. excited.

so that’s what i’m doing this weekend. that and continuing to harvest my tomato plant. it’s in hyperdrive, y’all. i’m prepping a post on container gardening (i’ve decided i’m an expert now. because i have a living plant. so yes, expert status acheived.). i hope to get it live next week once i’ve amassed enough tomato photos. until then, party on.

love always, sarah.

 

on finding presence

i think i just figured out what it means to “be present” and how to actually do it in real life. literally figured it out fifteen minutes ago while walking in the park. it’s too good not to share. so let me share: be. present.

easy, right? nah. but let’s discuss.

one of the first times i felt true presence was during a bikram practice. holding a back bend in one hundred plus degree heat and ninety percent humidity leaves no room for the nagging thoughts that usually accompany a group exercise workout. at least for me, those thoughts include do i look like i know what i’m doing? how dumb do i look right now? her outfit is cuter than mine. ohemgee, is that person looking at me? they’re probably thinking, ‘what is this fatty doing here?’ sarah, stop calling yourself fat! well damn, now i feel guilty about that. ugh. ad nauseam. however, during bikram, the only thought is of survival. and maybe eventually form. but mostly the survival of ninety minutes of intense physical exertion. i wanted to cry after my first class from the deep relief of plowing through that battle. it was huge. and nothing else was on my mind.

knowing that i was capable of sole focus in at least one area of my life, i began to try and find it during my regular yoga practice and during other types of physical activity as well. why exercise? why not art or cooking or something? for me, those activities are mental playgrounds for buzzing bee thoughts. they are when i do my best thinking/worrying/praying/what-have-you. but exercise, maybe because it’s pretty hard for me, takes all of me. and as it turns out, i naturally focused my mind on breathing or rep-counting but just becoming aware of that state and setting an intention to really enjoy it during exercise was a huge step. awareness, really, that presence is possible and that i do it kind of naturally during certain activities was huge. but only today did i find it in my real life – ie. the life i spend in public, not covered in sweat or wearing spandex. y’know, that life.

it turns out, staying present really is just experiencing what is happening right now. feeling your fingers and toes and the ambient temperature and the breeze if there is one and just letting yourself be a part of that. today i was sitting in the park during lunch. i’m really lucky to work in an office across from a beautiful park and that our office culture allows for and encourages taking a break. i have a favorite bench under a big oak tree that overlooks an old ball field. i sat on the bench today and my monkey mind was all over the place. turning over problems and spinning down rabbit trails, my inner voice had the sense to stop and say sarah, you should try and be quiet for a minute and organize your thoughts. hmmm. good idea. thanks, self! 

the view from my bench

the view from my bench

looking up, i noticed big storm clouds above the tree line doing that thing where clouds bloom like fast-growing cauliflower. i love that thing. it felt like the universe was giving me a nudge of encouragement to go on and get to work. kind of like a nod that i’m really not alone in anything because i’m a part of the universe. and ultimately, anything i’m going through, no matter how huge, is not everything that is in the world. after surveying the field in front of me, i saw that there was only one person, a man, running laps around the park. being relatively alone, i figured i’d go ahead and talk it out out-loud. sometimes having a conversation with yourself is surprisingly helpful, especially for organization. i find you can think a dozen words at once but you can only say one. it forces you to prioritize, form sentences and communicate. some people might call this conversation with yourself and the universe a prayer and that’s fine. but i don’t want that to discourage those who don’t see the world the way i do. so let’s call it a conversation.

i talked with myself for a good ten minutes, judging by the running man’s completion of five laps, and by the end of the conversation i felt a lot better. no real conclusions other than to keep myself open to the experiences coming my way and an ask of the universe to help me stay aware, present and humble. as i left the park, i set an intention for my walk home. i’m big on intentions right now – the act of deciding what the next experience, walk, conversation, meal, workout, etc. will contain or how it will go or what you’ll do during that time. it keeps you focused. it keeps you… present.

my intention for the walk back to the office was to notice all the things i’m thankful for and that i love about that park. it was almost too easy to rattle off things as i passed by the kissing tree or a funny blue bird or the school minnows in the stream. but it was great and i came back to the office with a smile and a realization. that whole walk, all that i thought about was right in front of me as i was experiencing it. presence and sole focus in my real life!

love always, sarah

 

this smoothie will give you superpowers*

*disclaimer: that’s a lie

my smoothie game is on point right now. like, so on point i’d consider living off of the frothy, fruity blends i’ve been whipping up for breakfast (and sometimes lunch) these days. but you know what they say about too much of a good thing… oh, you don’t? well google it.

now let me tell you about my superpower smoothie: it starts a few hours before intended consumption, typically the night before, when a heavy dose of chia seeds are submerged in coconut water for activation. in the morning, the plumped seeds and water meet three or four glugs of kefir in the blender. a few strawberries join the party along with their date, frozen pineapple, and a half-scoop of vanilla protein powder. the party really get’s going when the blender whizzes everyone into harmony and it hits it’s high notes as the foamy mix fills a glass. all i can say is, “um, yum.”

what makes this smoothie special:

chiaimgres -chia is a superfood. or super-seed. ancient aztec super marathon runners carried the nutrient packed nugs in their loin cloths for roadside sustenance. they’re also full of fiber, hella filling (because the grow when soaked in liquid), and full of amino acids and things like phosphorous. basically, they are just really great for you. i buy mine from trader joe’s in a pinch but you can also find them surprisingly cheap at TJ Maxx/Homegoods or on amazon.

 

 

imagescoconut water – i fell in love with coconut water when i started bikram yoga. the electrolyte-rich liquid tapped from the center of coconuts is so powerful that it has been used on battlefields to revive soldiers. think of it as nature’s gatorade. without the chemicals, added sugar or artificial colors. it’s also a killer pre-workout drink. pro tip: drink this an hour before bikram; it will totally change your practice. promise. i typically get this from trader joe’s because i’m there already and it’s a reliable source. ideally, i’d have a field of coconuts to drink from but that’s not my real life. yet.

 

imgres-2kefir – um, i’m obsessed. like, where was i two years ago when i heard someone talk about this? i was probably put off by the idea of fermented milk and thinking i got enough probiotics from yogurt. news flash: you don’t. kefir is the cat’s pajamas. think of it like milk soda. seriously, it’s like effervescent yogurt you can drink. it’s actually bubbly. and delightfully tart. the history behind kefir is really cool too. i’m still looking for good kefir grains around me so i can make my own, so right now i’m using the plain version from trader joe’s. i’m concerned that some of the great probiotics have been killed off from pasteurization but it will do for now. side note: i don’t recommend the flavored kefir from tj’s because it has a lot of sugar (21g per serving). nobody needs that. just add a little honey and you’re golden.

imgres-3protein – i added this to the smoothie the third time i made as kind of an after thought – i basically have a lot of vanilla protein that i want to burn through so i can break into my chocolate! but protein powder is important if you choose to use it here. be careful about what type of protein powder you put in your body. i really recommend vegan protein. i use vega one and sunwarrior classic vanilla. i personally find protein really sweet, so it’s my sweetener here. you can always add your sweetener of choice in lieu of the protein route – i’d recommend honey because it’s yummy with the tart kefir and the summery strawberries.

Superpower Smoothie – serves 1

  • 3/4 c coconut water
  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 c plain kefir
  • 5 strawberries, quartered
  • 1/2 c frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

mix chia and coconut water at least two hours before you plan on making the smoothie. i mix it the night before in the cup that i plan on drinking the smoothie out of (can you say, less dishes? yes, please).

add the plumped chia seeds and coconut water to a blender. combine the remaining ingredients.

blend. pour. sip. sigh.

other combos i’m planning to try: chocolate protein+almond butter, blackberry+lemon+cherry, strawberry+lime.

if you know where a girl can get quality kefir grains, please let me know in the comments!

love always, sarah.

 

mushroom purple – writing 101, day eleven

before i start, i feel i should apologize to myself and to my little bit of web space for epically failing at building a blogging habit. so i’m sorry, self. but i refuse to give up on you. now that that’s done, let’s get back to prompt at hand: the home i lived in when i was twelve.

in a suburb of a suburb, down a side road, off a side street is the house my mother still lives in that saw my progress from five to eighteen years of age. it was just left of center of the block of time i spent there that i turned twelve. was it that year we painted my room purple? i called the color mushroom purple but a more common way to describe the tone is probably purple-greige. it’s still one of my favorite colors and i hope to slather new walls with it one day.

my room had an alcove in it where my old dog used to lay on the back of my pink chair and catch the sun. i never used the alcove. except for one day when i watched an episode of MTV true life or real world or one of those ridiculous shows. two girls were going to an nsync concert (it was 2002, mind you) and they painted giant pictures of the band members with rubber cement and pasted them to their car. “it’s totally removable,” they said. and i totally believed them.

three hours and a handful of magazines later, i’d collaged an entire wall of the alcove with sayings, pop icons, art prints and whatever else my little heart desired.

it took two years for my mom to discover my work of art. “it’s totally removable,” i said.

it totally wasn’t.

love always, sarah.

mom – writing 101, day ten

my mom has a drinking problem. and a drug problem. and a weight problem. and a mental health problem. and a husband problem. and a happiness problem. and a heart problem. and a breathing problem. basically, she has a lot of problems. it took me a really long time to figure out that those problems were her problems, not mine, and that the thing for me to do is to pack up my toolbox and just quit trying to fix things. she’s not a house, something that will hold still and let you apply a patch. she’s a human and you can’t fix those animals when they don’t want to be fixed. period.

putting down the toolbox was the first step in letting go. but a child can never let go of a parent, i don’t believe. if we’re honest with ourselves, when we do a little navel gazing, into the literal scare of our existence, you’ll see it. that invisible chord that ties you home. accept that. then let it go. i love my mom despite it all and no, unfortunately, she won’t be with us that long. less time than most, i’m sure. and while things are dark when i think of her, i still can still see some stars.

in the south, food is important. i truly believe a good meal can change lives, make men fall in love, and bring babies onto this planet. i’ve personally caused two of those three things a few times over with an expertly ladled dollop of sauce and a lightly patted pie crust. it’s in our blood – along with the cholesterol – the side effect of treating macaroni and cheese like a vegetable. i think hard work is also something southerners approach with gusto. and that’s how my mom was. she worked hard. she didn’t have time for handmade biscuits or freshly chopped salads. growing up poor, she cooked what she knew. canned foods and boxed casseroles which a child could make on their own – she raised her siblings herself at a young, young age. you cook what you know how to.

one of the stars was a meal unbelievable in it’s simplicity. she’d make kraft macaroni and cheese (always shells) with canned lima beans (sometimes with corn, too) and salmon patties. i think you’ll understand the technicolor tack of kraft mac n’ cheese and the pale-almost-beige slop of canned limas. but salmon patties – those i find aren’t as common. the recipe is simple – canned salmon, crushed crackers (smashed with the bottom of a juice glass if you’re my mom) and some egg. pan-fried like crab cakes and served with a slather of ketchup, you have a southern girl’s dream meal. it followed me through college whenever i was home and sometimes makes an appearance, with my own added twists, on my dinner table these days. it’s the first meal that came to mind when i thought about childhood and is something  can always smile about when i think about mom.

love always, sarah.

today’s assignment

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

madame defarge – writing 101, day 9

it’s kind of odd to put a cemetery on the edge of a public park, she thought. would the word be “ironic?” i dunno… i’m always afraid to use that word after that isn’t it ironic? song got so much flack. but i like that song. isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think? a little toooOOoOOo ironic. yeah i really do think, she sang in her head as they walked along, bopping a little. feeling a tug on her hand, remembering it being gripped tightly by her teenage brother – oh shit, that was inappropriate. i know he’s sad – he really is torn up about this. 

i can’t believe she’s taking this so lightly. is she smiling right now? what the hell! our freaking mom just died. i mean, she’s been sick for over a year but… god, she’s a bitch. fuck … oh shit, can mom read our thoughts now? can ghosts do that? is mom a ghost? oh my god, what if she’s in my head right now? shit, shit, shit. sorry mom! if she were here, in my head i guess, she’d be saying “now don’t talk about your sister like that!” what’re we going to do without her? shit! i mean… sorry mom. (but really, can you here me? if you can hear me, give me a sign. hmm, that old lady up there – have her drop that red thing she’s holding)

on a bench a few yards away, she sat, wearing the skin of an older woman and lazily tapping together two knitting needles between her knobbed fingers. well at least the kids seem to be getting through this together. we all knew it was coming. sure, i didn’t know this was coming. popping in and out of strangers… i feel like this is going to have it’s benefits. but this will bring them closer, i hope. when was the last time they held hands? must’ve been years ago. i hate that matthew is having such a hard time with this. he’s such a sweet, sweet boy. is julia smiling? i’m a little offended. i wish i knew what she was thinking… oh, sit up straight, they’re getting close. with great effort, she adjusted the body she’d set up shop in. tilting the torso back and lifting the chin took much concentration and she lost control of the hands, specifically the fingers, and the mess of needles and red yarn dropped into her lap, rolling onto the leaf-strewn sidewalk with a clatter. shit, maybe one day i’ll get the hang of this.

love always, sarah.

today’s assignment

i know why a caged bird sings – writing 101, day eight

it really isn’t fair to compare myself to angelou’s caged bird. not even a little bit. but she’s died recently and i’ve been reading a few of her works and it feels appropriate to this cube-confined day. most people are in meetings now. in an open office like the one i sit in, a worker bee becomes keenly aware of the presence of others. and when the rest of the hive is otherwise occupied, it does not go unnoticed.

here i sit with one gold flat tucked underneath my right buttock, propped akilter and most certainly undoing the work i did during forty five minutes of yoga this morning. spinal alignment is for yuppies, anyway. off to my right, tickling my porifreal vision is a dying bouquet of flowers my best friend sent me for my twenty fourth birthday last week. it was a surprise and they are lovely. i hate that they are dying [see my last post for thoughts on dying flowers] but just to left of them, or more right than they, sits a digital picture frame. i didn’t turn it on today, or yesterday for that matter. when blank, no brightly lit photos of best friends and boyfriends flashing by, it becomes something of a mirror. if i lean left i can see myself mostly but if i just turn my eyes, i can see people approaching from behind. or a ceiling fan. depends on how tall the approacher is. right now it’s just the ceiling fan. like said, everyone is in meetings now.

to my left are boring things. pens and pencils in a squat white mug that was here long before me and i found too charming to remove. there’s also two empty water glasses forgotten over there. there’s three more if i turn my head to the right though we’re talking left now. but clearly i should clean my desk this week. [pause to take a note of that on coffee-stained to do list stage right of my macbook]. i spilt coffee all over my desk last friday. soaked my keyboard [now no longer working, it’s hiding behind my giant monitor until further notice, it’s skinny edge and white chord peeking out at me], my melafonino [italian for iphone – cleverly combining mela for apple and telefonino for cellphone] and my pants. by the way, i actually switched from iphone to galaxy a few months ago but i just love that word. other italian words i love – a la sinestra – to the left. the sinister side, but again i digress. clearly my mind is not here.

my mind, poor thing, is just outside the large glass doors one cube and twenty feet in front of me. i can see through the top of them to trees and sky and birds if i crane my neck up and and cast my eyes over my monstrous monitor. truly monstrous. out there my mind is strolling down the sidewalk and thinking about the possibilities for the day, not much left as it’s approaching near four o’clock. but there is still enough time for adventure and trouble. perhaps a cocktail on the low wooden porch of the bar just down the street. it’s lovely out. or maybe a baseball game tonight. the dash is playing, after all. but really, my mind knows it will be called back to corporeal form and will accompany this body home for dinner, a short workout and enough tv to fill the hours before bedtime.

all to wake up and do it again.

love always, sarah

today’s assignment

also, is “keenly” an adverb? if so, i don’t apologize. i like that one.

world without end, amen – writing 101, day seven

wet grass soaked her summer sandals as she moved across the fresh cut lawn. she was dressed two weeks too early for warmer weather as cool spring hung heavy in the air, riding the green scent of grass clippings and the last chill of winter months gone by. the earth was hard in the winter. regardless, this was his favorite dress and she vowed to wear for his homecoming, never mind the season. it’s odd to bring men flowers so instead she’d tucked a bottle of whiskey under her arm, smiling to herself and the inappropriateness of the gesture. knowing the disapproving clucks sure to come from his grandmother but loving the thought of his warm smile and mischievous eyes. coconspirators in every way, even when it comes to goading the elderly. for shame.

at the designated spot, truly his spot, she spread an old blanket over the damp lawn and placed her self in the middle. reaching back behind her, she nestled the now warm whiskey bottle in the grass and stretched her legs out in an effort to capture the sun, inhaling the earth and air and the memory of his smell. she could feel him behind her now and knew as surely as she knew the blood in her veins that he was there.

well hello, stranger, she said. i’ve missed you. i miss you a lot.

all the time, really.

i brought you something. i seriously thought about bringing flowers this time but i know that’s not your style.

silent.

but his silence didn’t stop her. she’d grown to accept it and would continue to babble on to fill the empty space. he was never able to get a word in edgewise.

 

the man at the liquor store knows my face now. i really think he believes i have a drinking problem. i should probably tell him differently but it’s fun to keep him guessing. don’t you think?

she rolled over onto her belly, digging her toes into the wet grass, her sandals forgotten in their already-too-dampness. though spring, the ground was still cold. still hard. it’d be a few months still before it warmed enough to laze on the blanket without catching a chill, especially in this dress. but how he liked it. she could feel him smile beneath her.

looking up across the field, she saw clusters of flowers and the occasional balloon. a stuffed bear here and there. much more appropriate gifts than whiskey. flowers die, she thought. as all things die. but whiskey can only go stale, stink and boil when left in the hot sun. how many handles of whiskey had the sun turned in his hands? countless, she was sure. she should ask the man at the liquor store if he had records of her purchases the next time she saw him.

can you believe our anniversary is almost here? i can’t. it’s pretty crazy. it feels like just yesterday to me. and forever at the same time. y’know?

always silent.

well, i love you more and more every day. surely my heart will burst with it one day. but in the meantime…

she turned around and set up on her knees scooting towards him. pressing her cheek against the cool granite, she smiled. happy to have a moment to herself with him. truly the cemetery was empty this morning which was rare. as she stood up to fold the blanket, she snuck a quick kiss on the top of his tombstone and turned to leave.

almost as if he called out to her, but really more as though a thought occurred to her for the first time, she turned back around and knelt over the bottle. turning it over once, then twice in her hands, as if weighing the philosophers stone, she unscrewed the cap and took a long pull. disgusting, she thought as she tipped the bottle and let a drag pour out over the ground.

no sense in wasting good whiskey.

love always, sarah.

 

tiny house, big dream

y’all, sometimes i wish i lived in an airstream, homemade curtains. live just  like a gypsy.

just kidding. that’s miranda lambert’s dream. not mine. what i want to do is live in a fully loaded two hundred square foot gingerbread house on wheels. seriously.

i’ve been doing my research and i think a tiny house makes complete sense for someone my age with the goal of home ownership by twenty five.

a tiny house with a hot tub?yes please.

a tiny house with a hot tub?yes please.

first, writing a monthly rent check pisses me off. it’s such a waste of money and really doesn’t do anything for your ephemeral credit score. it’s maddening. it also keeps me from building up enough capitol to make a down payment on a home. which makes me even angrier.

second, while i’ve come to accept that utility bills will never cease to exist, we can work to make the as small as possible. as long as we use phones to communicate and have the luxury of illumination at the flip of a switch, we’ll be paying a bill for it. but can’t we make the bill smaller? if you lived in a tiny house, i’m guessing you’ll have a tiny bill. me likey.

third, how do i buy a house in the next two years when i don’t even know where i’ll be then? with a tiny house, you have home ownership without land ownership and i think that’s a neat thing. let’s say baker goes active duty and relocates? we could literally bring our house with us. or goodness forbid one of my parents gets sick and i need to care for them? i can move my tiny house into their backyard. or let’s say the redwoods are calling. my tiny house could answer. #winning

finally, i like the idea of living with purpose by maximizing space. in a tiny house, there is no room for the wanton. every nook is built with a thoughtful purpose in mind and just the thought of that gives me a sense of peace and calm. because i’m anal about things like that.

personally, i want something more modern but look!

personally, i want something more modern but this is cute

finally finally, the idea of being debt free is very appealing. it allows for a more intentional life and frees you up to do the one thing that i really want to do: live. when i brought the idea up to my dad, he told me to go buy a camper. hmmm. not a bad idea. why didn’t i think of that? so then i researched living in a camper for real. and people do it. [i think they’re called gypsies…] campers are actually twice the size of tiny houses in many cases (most liveable ones are around 400 square feet). that being said, campers are expensive. the ones i saw, even used, were around $40K. for me, the idea of building a tiny house is appealing because it’s something i could probably achieve without debt in the near future. buying a camper is not. so, tiny house it is.

here are some resources i’ve been referring to a lot lately. as of now, i’m just building in my dreams.

http://www.smallhousestyle.com/  |   http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/  | http://www.eco-huts.com/  |  plus a million more

love always, sarah.

a person of interest – writing 101, day six

when she walked into the room, it was impossible not to notice her. her presence, not just physical, took up more than the space she occupied, bursting out in every direction around her like a live wire in a pool of water. she, my friend, was electric. electric and tall; tall beyond reason. to say she walked, though, would be an understatement as she more appeared or apparated into physicality with a jolt or a burst as if lightening. to be honest, i never really saw her move.

as it happened she just so happened upon me like a monsoon, all of a sudden and out of nowhere and long gone before i proverbially knew what hit me. she left me frightened. with a dry mouth, i glanced around to see if anyone noticed – did they see her? – only to realize i was alone.

i met her again one day transitioning from downward dog into extended cobra – just a snippet of her in the studio mirror. enough to cause a catch in my breath, in my heart beat, to entirely lose my ujjayi. how long had she been there? she was by far the most intriguing person i’d ever seen – both in her abruptness and her transience. i wanted to know her more. more well. better.

in the meditative state that is the evening walk from one’s car to the front door, between methodical fumbling of keys to doors of memory houses, i met her again. it was as if i’d followed her, beauty, to arundahti’s lair and caught her napping or reading or looking in the mirror. i’d found her – just above the bridge of my upturned nose and slightly to the right or left, below the errant curl tangling with my outermost eyelash, she winked back at me. my own proverbially proverbial sasha m. fierce.

love always, sarah.

from Arundahti Roy’s The Cost of Living

Today’s Assignment