October 31, 2019

The tail end of last night’s lingering sunset- boots burrowed into the sand, eyes looking up, searching.

“What do you want to do today?”
“Well, it’s a new moon tonight, so I’d really love to get away from the city and see some stars!”

So we drove 21 miles north with the setting sun soon becoming the only light around us on a long darkening road that felt straight out of a horror movie, keeping our eyes peeled for errant deer. And we parked on the gravel along side the road, underneath the low hanging branches of a tree that grazed the top of my head as I stepped out. “Well, at least we’ll know where the car is.” (As if we weren’t the only car around for miles) Then we walked up the short stairway that led to the empty beach, the river waves quietly hitting the shore.

We looked up, eyes searching, and Shawn noticed the Big Dipper, and as the last remnants of sun faded away, other stars began to twinkle into view. We watched a barge float slowly by, and wondered if they could see us standing there. And as their light slowly faded out of sight, we stood there for a while, legs unstable with the vastness of what the sky held above us- eventually succumbing and laying back on the cold sand to get a more expansive view.

We watched planes and satellites float by, and mused at how close it all looked, as though a ceiling of glow in the dark stars had been erected above our world and the vast universe around us is all just one big illusion.

We lay there silently, for what felt like infinite time, until my stomach growled and I said “Let’s get back home, I’m hungry.”


Key Lime Pie

September 10, 2019

My first experience with key lime pie wasn't much of an experience at all. My memory may be fuzzy after all this time... but I had never even heard of key lime pie until one afternoon about 12 years ago, when my parents came back from a trip to the Florida Keys with one in hand. But much to my dismay, I was catching a flight back to Pittsburgh that evening and they didn't want to break into it until my brother arrived the next day (since it was at his request they bring one home, not mine). Honestly, if I brought this up now they would probably deny it, but I do believe this story to be true and I still have never tried an actual from-the-keys key lime pie! But I have since tried many others in my quest for the best one.

Whether you have or haven't ever had key lime pie, you'll find that there are many iterations of it depending on where you look. The premise is always the same - a graham cracker crust topped with lime curd (made from key limes and not regular limes, if you're lucky) and finished with a whipped topping. I've found that the whipped topping is where you'll get the most variance - sometimes it's light and fluffy, other times it's thick like cream cheese; sometimes it's spread across the entire pie in big dollops, other times it's piped on carefully just around the edges. Regardless of how it's topped, I've never had a bad key lime pie. My favorite is still the one from the Amish stand at the farmer's market I used to go to back in Philly; it was one of those ones with the cream cheesy type whip piped around the edges, and it had just the right amount of tang and sweetness and coated your mouth in the most pleasurable way.

This is not that pie. I'm still working on figuring out how to recreate that one. This one definitely falls on the other end of the spectrum - rich tart filling topped with light, fluffy, melts-in-your-mouth cream. It's still really freakin' good. It's also not as complicated as it looks, I promise. Trust me; try it, and let me know what you think! And don't be afraid to try key lime pie wherever you can find it... it's my go-to whenever I have the option!

Key Lime Pie

  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • zest 1 lime
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • ⅔ cups key lime juice (fresh, if you can find them, or this)
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt the butter over the stove or in a microwave, set aside.

If you have a food processor- Break up graham crackers and run until crumbs form. Add butter and white sugar and pulse to combine.

If you don't have a food processor- Break up graham crackers with a mortar and pestle, or in a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. In a bowl, combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and white sugar until a coarse crumb forms.

Gently press the crust into your pie pan, making sure to get an even layer up the sides. Use the palm of your hand or the base of a measuring cup to press the base of the crust down. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 325°.

While the crust is cooling, in a large bowl beat together the lime zest, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk using a spatula and strong hand or using a handheld mixer. Once the mixture looks thick and glossy, pour in the key lime juice and beat until combined.

Pour the filling into your slightly cooled crust and return the pie to the oven for 20-25 minutes. The filling should be set but not browned. Allow the pie to cool completely before topping with whipped topping.

To make the whipped topping, use a handheld mixer to whisk heavy cream to soft peaks. Add in the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and confectioners sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. Top cooled pie with whipped topping and smooth with a spatula. Enjoy!


Look Back at August

September 09, 2019


In the Dark, binge-watched this on my days off and can't wait for season 2
Always Be My Maybe, finally (lol Keanu cameo)
Instant Hotel (season 2), guilty pleasure
Tiny House Nation, definitely searched online for tiny homes for sale after this


Three Women, began this while camping, read for hours on end, and finished wide-eyed on our couch
Ask Me Again, Yes, slow to start but now I'm sucked in and can't wait to see what happens


Hidden Brain, rediscovered during an epic cleaning project at work
Ologies, my newest podcast obsession
Mysterious Universe, with Shawn on our days off
Scott Bradley's Postmodern Jukebox, the best covers of all the songs, hands down
Unified Highway - Are You That Somebody, speaking of covers... on repeat

In the Kitchen:

Blueberry Crumb Cake, with sour cream instead of milk
Beer Bread & Beer Cheese, recipe testing for a class we ended up cancelling
Summer Quiche, with zucchini and red peppers and not enough milk
Gluten-free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes, for work and based off various recipes
Mustard Chicken, marinated 36 hours and oven-roasted
Zucchini Bread, topped with Nutella


Things to Remember From August

September 06, 2019

The scent of ripening peaches filling up the kitchen.
Soft skin gently pulling away from flesh, juice dripping down my wrists over the sink, sweetness, savored.
Catching the final strands of pink sky after the sunrise.
Succumbing to the comfort of a brand new rotating tower fan in the midst of a slew of intensely hot days.
Podcast after podcast and the satisfaction of a clean and admirable basement storage room; a job well done.
Nutella spread across an ample slice of homemade zucchini bread.
Wishing we had a house if only to have an excuse to buy that vintage pink stove, and the midcentury-modern king-sized bed frame that came with nightstands attached.
A solo date with beer and french fries that looked deceptively like onion rings.
Discovering Scott Bradley's Postmodern Jukebox.
Tasting summer cherry tomatoes with a clerk at the grocery store.
Telling my yoga class to slowly make their way onto their backs and looking up to see them all waiting in anticipation of my usual core-centered ten-count slow lean-back, when I was going to give them a reprieve from it.
Hearing Coldplay's Yellow on the radio; thinking of my dad and being a teenager.
The scent of lavender bushes filling the air.
An odd little bluebird frolicking happily on a neighbor's front lawn.
Recognizing a 22-year old version of myself in an eager new student.
Spending slow morning hours listening to Mysterious Universe with Shawn.
Putting up shelves in the apartment for the sole purpose of having more plants.
Buying more plants to fill up those shelves.
Spotting three new cats on my way to and from work all in one day. One particularly sweet one with the same name as a friend.
Brunch at a new-to-me spot before work with a friend I hadn't seen in months; putting pins in conversations.
Waking up in time to watch the sunrise.
Late night thunderstorms; Lucifer cuddling close.
Needing a few minutes to process good news; the excitement of the prospect of something new.


Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

August 07, 2019

This post has been sitting in my drafts for months... but seeing as we're in the heart of blueberry season, it's about time this recipe gets posted! If you like blueberries, then you probably like blueberry muffins. These are easy to make, quick to bake, taste delicious, and they'll keep well in an airtight container in the freezer if you can't get through a whole batch at once. Feel free to sub in sour cream for the yogurt, or a honey yogurt would work well here too - get curious and experiment! I typically use greek yogurt because that's what I like and keep on hand at home, but any yogurt will do.

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cups rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375°.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the lemon zest.
In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar until smooth.
Mix in the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.
Gently stir the blueberries into the batter.
Scoop the batter into lined or greased muffin tins. Top with a generous sprinkle of topping.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown and the muffins spring back upon light touch.
Allow them to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before flipping them out onto a cooling rack.

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold

Combine flour, oats, and brown sugar. Work butter into dry ingredients.


Things to Remember From July

August 03, 2019

Our Escape From NY pizza date that left both of us full with a taste of our hometown 'za.
The hummingbird that would visit daily and find stillness on the power line outside our kitchen window.
The scent of fresh rain on pavement.
The joy of walking out of a record store with all the vinyl we were hoping to find, and the cashier giving us a discount because we bought so much.
New (to us) breweries; drinking beer on patios on overcast days.
Live cello music across from work on First Thursday.
Sitting down for proper tea service at The Japanese Gardens.
The serenity of the Japanese Gardens.
Eating Peruvian food and being instantly brought back to that year in college when I worked at a Peruvian restaurant.
Waiting for an old friend at the train station and the giant hug and hand holding that ensued.
Friends grilling, eating, and playing piano together.
All the best 90s hits playing on the radio at work.
Two crows snacking on forgotten tortilla chips in an empty abandoned lot.
The squirrels at Bullards Beach and how cute and tiny and dark they were.
My feet in the sand.
The vast landscapes of this beautiful state I’m so happy to call home.
The smell of the ocean.
Waking up to birds cackling at each other; it sounded like laughter.
The hammock: my happy place.
Camp fires crackling.
Chipmunks having a curious little dance party around our campsite.
Steller’s jays and how they look like bird executioners.
The magic of the redwoods. The big ones, the small ones, the clovers underneath. All of it.
Reading The Little Prince in English as an adult and remembering it in French as a child.
Ruminating about matters of consequence.
The smell of campfire in my clothes and hair, even days after washing it.
That first shower after sleeping in the dirt for four nights.
Seeing a forest fire from the highway and the smoke that ensued for miles.
Laying a sleeping bag down across a plastic mattress in a wooden cabin and resting our tired heads.
The feeling of coming home after a week away.
Falling asleep and rising with the sun.
Picking string beans at the store.
Eating string beans.
The anticipation and excitement and joy of a new tattoo.
Slowing down.


Snowflake Culture

May 28, 2019

We've been raised in a culture that repeatedly tells us we are perfect snowflakes. We've been told we're special, unique, fragile in our beauty and amazing as we are. And because there's always balance in the world, on the other end of the spectrum we're constantly being advertised to that we need improving upon. But skin cream, expensive clothes, perfume, and bigger TVs aren't what will make us better people. You don't need new jeans to be a better version of yourself... though if they make you feel like a million bucks when you wear them, then by all means, buy yourself those jeans! But because they make you smile all the way down into your toes, not because you've been told you need them.

Here's the truth. You are not a perfect snowflake. (Actually, even snowflakes aren't perfect.) Now before you turn on me, I swear I'm not a callous monster. You will never be perfect... but you should always strive to be a better version of yourself. Your lack of perfection doesn't mean you aren't amazing and wonderful and full of inner light to shine out into the world. But that light won't always shine bright, and some days you'll find you need the help of others to let it shine. Or the help of a day of rest, or time spent out in nature, or a deep conversation with friends, or yep, sometimes a new pair of jeans.

I don't know what you need, but I know the first step in figuring it out is taking the time to pay attention to what makes you feel your best. In my yoga classes I always start class by inviting students to turn inward, without judgement, and notice how their bodies are feeling in that moment. Throughout the class I remind them to check back in with themselves, to really tune in and see what changes are happening in the most subtle of ways. I remind them that every moment of every day is different and this is reflected in their bodies and their breath. We don't need to hold on to anything that isn't serving us in the moment, so exhale and let it go. And I will be the first to admit that if it's difficult to do these inner check-ins with ourselves atop our little rubber rectangles, it's even more difficult to do them when we're out in the world. And that's okay! There's a reason I instruct it every single class. Through practice, difficult things gradually become easier.

We've been told we can be anything we want to be, do whatever we want to do. But what no one tells us is that it takes work; so much work.

All of this to say, this is just as much an exercise for myself as it is for you. I have not been the best version of myself lately. I am a constant work in progress, and so are you. Every day is a new day, a chance to be better than the day before. If I can strive for it, so can you.

One of my biggest struggles on my bad days is non-judgement. Accepting people as they are. And despite (or possibly in spite of) the name of this blog, staying in a positive state of mind.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

March 07, 2019

I've had this post hanging out in my drafts for a few weeks now, pretty much ready to go except I couldn't figure out what to say about this recipe. (Also, February flew by in a flash!) This is my go-to muffin recipe - I honestly can't remember the last time I made a different batch of muffins. These are hearty and not overly sweet, which makes them perfect for breakfast (or first breakfast, if you're a hobbit or, well, me). When banana and chocolate come together, what's not to love? The raw millet adds a nice crunch to each bite, and the oats help make this more filling than your usual banana muffin.

The other thing I absolutely love about this recipe is how versatile it is. Coconut oil can be swapped out for any neutral oil you have in the pantry. Your dairy or non-dairy milk of choice works really well here - I've made this recipe with all sorts of milks and it's always tasty. If you don't have whole wheat flour on hand, just go ahead and use all-purpose instead. And if you can't find millet (it's with the grains), just omit it. See? Work with what you have, not with what you don't. I've also tossed in dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and almonds when I didn't have chocolate chips on hand and the muffins still came out awesome. So get creative!

Banana Choc Chip Muffins

makes 6 jumbo muffins or 12 regular muffins
  • 3 small ripe bananas
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup almond or oat milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons raw millet
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a muffin pan with paper liners, or lightly spray with neutral oil if not using liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking soda, salt, and millet.
In a large bowl, mash up the bananas and mix in the egg, sugars, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond milk.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Using a scoop or a spoon, fill the muffin liners 3/4 full.
Bake jumbo muffins for 25-30 minutes, or regular muffins for 20-15 minutes.
Let the muffins cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then flip them out upside down onto a cooling rack. Once the bottoms are cool, flip them over and let them cool completely.
Cooled muffins keep well in an airtight container or bag. I like to make a double batch and freeze half, then I pull out muffins as I need them and let them come back to room temperature.

What should I make next? What's your favorite kind of muffin?


Senegalese Chicken Soup

February 07, 2019

In 2012 I was working at a small bakery in New Jersey that had the most amazing soups for lunch. We didn't make them there, they came in big bags from another company, but they were all delicious. There is one that has always stuck out in my mind, even years later; I had never heard of Senegalese chicken soup before then, but I haven't stopped thinking about it since then. It's a peanutty creamy spicy chicken stew that just warms your soul, and if you've never tried it, you're missing out. Lucky for you, I finally got tired of dreaming about it and hunted down a recipe to make it myself.

It's been a really long time since I last tasted the bakery's version, but I'm pretty sure this recipe nails it. You know how sometimes you romanticize things in your head and when you finally get there you find yourself disappointed? Well, this is not one of those times. I made some small adjustments to the recipe I found, like seasoning and cooking the chicken myself, toning down the spice a bit, and using red curry paste instead of yellow because dammit, I couldn't find yellow curry paste anywhere. All good things, I promise. Coconut milk makes this creamy but keeps it dairy-free, and if you're not a fan of peanut butter (I'm not) don't fret- the flavor is subtle but rich. This soup is the bomb dot com! Just ask Shawn, he typically eats two bowls of it in one sitting. I made a note in there about the spice level, so know yourself and be mindful of that.

Senegalese Chicken Soup

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • drizzle of olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ cup curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • ½ teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste *
  • 1 cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Lay the chicken thighs flat across a baking sheet. Season with cayenne, curry powder, and salt. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top and rub the seasonings in until the thighs are fully coated.
Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165°, usually 20-25 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then shred the chicken into bite size pieces using a fork.
While chicken is cooking, in a large pot heat the coconut oil until melted. Saute the onion, garlic and cayenne in oil until the onion is translucent.
Stir in the curry powder and red curry paste and saute until the onions are fully coated.
Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the shredded chicken and sambal oelek and bring back to a simmer for 10 more minutes.
Slowly stir in the peanut butter until combined, then stir in the coconut milk until combined. Toss in the chopped cilantro and lemon juice, along with more salt if needed.
Serve the soup topped with a sprinkle of cilantro and chopped peanuts.

* This chili paste has quite a kick, so if you don't like things particularly spicy, cut back on the amount or omit it all together.
What's one dish you had once and can't stop thinking about?


January Recap

February 06, 2019

January was a very interesting month where I spent far more time at home than usual. I got a new job in November; I'm the sous chef at a brand new patisserie & ice cream shop that's opening up downtown. Unfortunately, construction has taken way longer than our timeline originally allotted for (typical), so at the end of December when we moved out of the commissary kitchen we'd been working in we had nowhere to move into. We packed everything up and put it all into storage, and I spent the entire month of January "working from home"... which mostly just means I had a month off of work and lots of time to focus on personal projects and teach more yoga classes. For the first time in a really long time I actually had time to just relax. After years of putting most of my time into my work, it was quite a change to be able to step away for a few weeks and focus on, well, all the other things I want to focus on in my life. So January was a lesson in balance, gratitude, and grace. I did a lot of sitting on the couch, but I also got to spend more time with friends, I baked new things at home, saw new places in the city, and I got this 'ol blog up and running! I'm supposed to start back up at work on Monday, which is a relief because hot damn I'm ready to get back in the kitchen! Though I won't lie- being a stay-at-home cat mom housewife is definitely not a bad gig.


Of course right after I posted about my favorite podcasts, I discovered some new ones. In lieu of writing another post a few months down the line, I thought I should just include them in these monthly recap posts. I've been thoroughly enjoying listening to podcasts while cooking and doing dishes, and also on my walking commutes downtown. If you're local and you see me walking down the street with a huge grin on my face or laughing quietly to myself, chances are I'm listening to a podcast... or I'm just strange.

Live Wire Radio - My friend turned me on to this Portland-based show. I've only listened to a few episodes, but I like the guests that he has on the show. It's a variety show that has interviews, comedians, and music; you don't have to be a Portlander to enjoy it!

Savage Lovecast - Dan Savage has been a guest on a few other podcasts I've listened to, so I decided to check his out. Apparently he's the king of relationship/sex advice; listeners call in with questions and he takes his time answering them the best he can. Questions vary from "I caught my S.O. masturbating to photos of his ex- what should I do?" to "Should I keep dating a guy with a Hitler mustache?". I'm going to one of his Live Podcasts in March - can't wait!


I started off strong this year and read three books in January! I actually started a fourth one but it's a bit of a slower read, so it will be on the February list. Something I discovered about myself this month... I really like sci-fi novels. I've always said I'm not a fan of fantasy novels, which theoretically sci-fi fits into in terms of genre, but apparently I've been lying to myself and others as there's definitely something about sci-fi and post-apocalyptic stories that just pulls me in and keeps me there. Well, now I know, and now you know!

Sourdough: A Novel - My favorite book from this bunch (I mean, there's bread in the title, how could it not be?); a whimsical story about a girl who ends up with a sourdough starter that is seemingly out of this world and she learns to bake it into the most amazing loaves. The starter takes her to some pretty strange places (figuratively and literally) and she finds herself reevaluating life as she knows it. I got this as one of my first BOTM books - it was quite fun to read, especially if you're into bread or science, though the ending felt a bit rushed to me.

The Four Agreements - My friend has had this sitting on her kitchen counter for the past year, and I've always been curious about it. I picked it up at the library and quickly read through it. Not much to critique here; if you're looking for a code of conduct or a perception shift towards more joy and freedom, definitely give this a read.

Severance: A Novel - There's a lot going on here... humor, romance, immigrant stories, a coming of age, and the apocalypse (so zombies too, in a sense). The novel weaves from era to era but it does so breezily and in a way that makes sense for the overall story. I enjoyed reading this, but the end came abruptly and left me wanting so much more. This description tells you next to nothing, but if it piqued your interest, check it out!

TV Shows

I don't watch a ton of TV; I'll put on an episode of something while I'm eating lunch or if I'm working on something and just want a little background noise. Aside from keeping up with new episodes of my usual lineup (This is Us, The Good Place, The Goldbergs) I discovered two series that stuck out to me this month.

Explained - My new favorite series on Netflix! Episodes are about 18 minutes long and each one focuses on a different topic (for example: music, the stock market, marijuana, cricket) and proceeds to educate you about the topic through interviews, facts, and fun diagrams. It's reminiscent of Adam Ruins Everything, if you dug that one. I learned so much about topics I wasn't even initially interested in! (Cricket, and Magic the Gathering, for example) These episodes are the perfect chunk of time to pique your interest about something new or to provide a bit more depth about things you thought you already knew. I'm a fan of anything that makes learning more accessible and fun, especially for adults!

How to Live Mortgage Free - The title of the series isn't completely accurate, because you never really learn how to live mortgage free, just that it's possible. Regardless, I really enjoyed seeing some of the homes that people have built for themselves and what it took for them to get there (in some cases lots and lots of money, in others, hard work, sweat, and tears). Shawn and I dream of having a small low-impact home of our own one day (with no mortgage), so it was inspiring to see how others have done it, sometimes with as little as $10,000!


I don't typically watch movies on my own, unless they're ones I've seen numerous times before. They're usually something Shawn puts on when he gets home from work and we watch them together. But he generally has good taste in movies, so I don't mind!

Bird Box - I wasn't kidding about diggin' post-apocalyptic stories. This one is about weird spirits that when looked at, force people to commit suicide all over the world. The remaining survivors end up having to wander with blindfolds on so as not to be affected. Tense for the whole length of the movie, despite moving quite slowly after the initial half hour. Good over all, but it didn't wow me.

IO - Another Netflix post-apocalyptic movie, this time the Earth's atmosphere has turned toxic and most humans have fled to a space station outside of Io, except for two people who are trying to make their way to the landing site. I'm always amazed by movies that have a small cast of characters that can carry the story well. The ending left me annoyed, but the movie itself was rather beautiful.

The Whole Truth - I'm not usually a fan of law movies, but Shawn put this on and I quickly got sucked in. (I mean, Keanu Reeves is in it, so...) It's paced very slowly but manages to leave you hanging until the very end. I can't say much about it without ruining the ending for you, so I'll leave it at that.

The Commuter - Liam Neeson in a typical Liam Neeson role, and you have to love him for it. Action-packed thriller-drama that takes place on a commuter train for the majority of the movie. Nothing too terribly unexpected here, but still fun to watch.

Self portrait

Taken on the last day of January, sporting a lovely thrifted shirt and messy hair.


I started a hashtag for the kittens... here's my favorite photo of them from January.

What fun things did you do/see/hear in January?


Why I Took a Break From Blogging

January 31, 2019

If you've been following me for a while, then you most likely remember that I blogged over at Pictures & Paragraphs for years. (And if you're completely new to this space and to me, then Welcome! I'm so happy you're here!) I took an unofficial break from blogging halfway through 2017, popped back in for one day to announce our impending move to the PNW in early 2018, and then kept to Instagram for the rest of the year. In fact, if you've been following me this long, you probably deserve some kind of award! We've certainly been through some things together, haven't we? I love you all.

See, here's the thing though. I never intended to take a break... it just kinda happened that way. 2017 was a really weird year for me. I finished up my yoga teacher training in February and after that, pieces of my life just didn't seem to fit back into the puzzle. I tried to make them fit, but it took me a long time to realize that I was actually working on a completely different puzzle than the one those pieces were made for. I'll be completely honest with you and say that I felt pretty damn lost and dissatisfied for a while, and I couldn't find a way to put any of it into words that made any sort of sense to me, so I stopped looking for words and just did my best to work on that new puzzle. While 2017 was about looking at things from a different perspective, 2018 was the year I actually put that shift into action. And if you've been following along on Instagram for the past year or so, then you are well aware of the many changes 2018 brought about. All that crazy life stuff aside (that's a whole 'nother post in itself), blogging was one of those pieces that no longer fit; I felt as though I had lost my real motivation for it.

When I started blogging at P&P (which used to be called I'veSeenSomeThings... have you been around long enough to remember that?!) back in 2010, it was right after we moved to Philadelphia and purely a means to document our life so that our friends and family could keep up. That was back when blogs and the internet weren't overly curated - do you remember that?! Some of my posts didn't even have photos back then. And they were more like journal entries, documenting where we went, what we ate, general thoughts about our new circumstances, and simple recipes- not the endless lists, sponsored links, and pinterest-worthy photo overloads blogging seems to have morphed into since then. Somewhere along the way my focus shifted and my motivation waned. The blog became a dumping ground for cat photos, materialistic wish-lists, content for the sake of content, and the occasional but rare honest reflection. I didn't feel engaged anymore, and it showed.

So I stepped away for a bit. I soaked up the world and reflected on it, but I didn't write about it. I reevaluated my mindset about certain core values and intentions, and I shifted some things around. I paid attention to what was working and eliminated what no longer was. I focused wholeheartedly on getting back to speaking my truth, sharing it with friends, new acquaintances, and my yoga students. And somewhere along the way I rediscovered what it felt like to share myself with the world in a way that I could fully get behind. And when the time felt right, I decided to step back into the blogging space, but on my own terms.

And so here I am! It's 2019, I'm feeling good in my skin, in my thought-processes, and in my intentions. I'm also feeling really good about this new little corner of the interweb I've created for myself. P&P was a great space too, but there's a lot of history there, a lot of things that aren't relevant anymore. It was time to start fresh. I'm so excited to start sharing with you again! I can't tell you what to expect, because I'm not quite sure I know yet how this space is going to shape up... but I do know it's going to be wholeheartedly me, and I can't wait to find out where that takes us.


Brown Butter Brownies

January 22, 2019

I grew up making and eating Ghirardelli brownies... you know, the Costco-sized family-pack box? They were so easy - you just dumped the powdery stuff and chocolate chips from the bag into a big bowl, mixed in a ton of oil and an egg or two, and you were good to go. They baked in less than half an hour, and they came out of the oven looking like a quintessential brownie should - crackly thin skin on top that led way to a ridiculously fudgey interior. I was a hungry kid with a chocolate craving, and they were the perfect fix.

Years have passed since then, and I've made many different batches of brownies in probably dozens of kitchens, but my heart and my eyes have always come back to those brownies in that big brown box with the blue, gold, and white scripted writing across the top. That box is a marker of my childhood; just thinking about it now brings me back to our kitchen with the fake marbled counters framed with wood, and the awkward sink that jutted out at the end of the peninsula. That peninsula has seen two decades worth of floury messes, buttered toasts, and potato peels.

My skills have since much improved and I haven't made brownies from a box in, well, it's been so damn long I honestly can't remember. I haven't needed to, because I have this recipe. It's a bit more involved than stirring oil and eggs into a powdery mix, but the concept is the same and the flavor is ten times better than boxed brownie mix, even the kind that tastes like childhood. Cause, you know, we're adults now. Taking the time to brown the butter adds depth and nuttiness while the espresso really brings out the richness of the cocoa. Sure, you could add chocolate chips to the batter, but you don't need to. Trust me, these are plenty delicious on their own.

Brown Butter Brownies

  • 10 tablespoons (142 grams) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (75 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1¼ cups (280 grams) white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh espresso or strong coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
Prepare an 8x8" square pan by lining it with foil.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, stirring on occasion. The butter will begin to boil- once this happens keep an eye on it and stir more frequently. The bubbles will get very big and then start to shrink back down and you'll start to see brown specks making their way up to the top. Once the brown specks appear start to scrape the bottom of the pan. When the butter is a light golden brown color and you smell a nutty aroma, (this shouldn't take more than a minute or two) take the saucepan off the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt with a whisk.
Stir in the browned butter, making sure to scrape all the brown speckled goodness out from the bottom of the pan as well.
Stir in the the vanilla extract and espresso.
Add in the eggs and stir well to combine.
Stir the flour in until fully incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top starts to crack slightly.
Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting them into squares.
Brownies will keep for a few days in an airtight container; they'll keep even longer in the refrigerator.
What food brings back childhood memories for you?


My Favorite Podcasts

January 09, 2019

I don't remember when I listened to my first podcast, but I do remember hating the experience. I'm a reader, always have been, and listening to someone talk my ear off sounded like a waste of time that could be better spent seated comfortably with a book. At the time my brain equated that experience to meaning "all podcasts are terrible and not worth my time"... but I'm happy to say that I have since found some podcasts that really capture my interest, and I really look forward to listening to them each week. I usually will put one on when I'm cooking or doing the dishes; I love being able to stay occupied with a task that still leaves me the ability to take in the podcast- multitasking! Sometimes, if they're really thought-provoking, I'll actually sit down and take notes. Here are some of my favorites:

Mysterious Universe

This is my favorite podcast ever and the only one I've actually considered paying for to get the extra content. It's about all the weird and crazy things that happen in our world... it doesn't provide any answers, but merely shares the stories and synchronicities that happen in our vast universe. If you're into unusual or supernatural phenomena, then you should give this podcast a listen.

Young House Love

My guilty pleasure podcast. I've been following John and Sherry since their early blogging days, and this was the first podcast I ever got into. The episodes are only about 30-minutes long, and they're always lighthearted and hilarious. If you're into DIY home improvement, celebrity impersonations, and laughs, then you might enjoy this podcast too.

Beautiful Anonymous

I haven't been listening to this one as much lately, but it's still one of my favorites. Chris talks to an anonymous caller for an hour and during that hour, they reveal all sorts of things about them self and their life. It often helps put my own life into perspective, and it gives me confidence that there are still decent and amazing humans in the world.

Stuff to Blow Your Mind

Still pretty new to me but I was hooked from the first episode... I think the best explanation of what to expect with STBYM is most accurately described in their own words: "STBYM examines neurological quandaries, cosmic mysteries, evolutionary marvels and the technological underpinnings of our transhuman future." So... yeah. Kinda like Mysterious Universe, but with less supernatural stuff and more science!

99% Invisible

I actually haven't listened to much of this podcast, but they did a fantastic 6-part series called Articles of Interest that I highly recommend listening to if you enjoy learning about the history of clothes and their societal impact, as well as society's impact on clothes.

The Minimalists

They can get a little repetitive at times, but I still love hearing what Josh and Ryan have to say on the topic of minimalism and intentional living in general. They often have fun guest speakers, and I love the audience questions they feature in every episode. This is one of the podcasts I'll frequently pause and jot down or reflect on something that was said.

Are you a podcast subscriber? What are some of your favorites?


19 for 2019

January 07, 2019

I felt inspired when I saw this similar list over at Conscious by Chloe, and I wanted to ruminate and come up with my own to share here. Though I'm not a fan of traditional resolutions, I do believe it's important that we set intentions for ourselves as a way of constantly striving to be a better version of our self but also as a means of taking note of what is important to us in this life, in this moment. And although our hopes and dreams do change over time, I believe that we inherently know what we need and what we want to put our energy into. On that note, it was initially difficult for me to come up with 19 things for this list. I wanted to make sure I set goals I have every intention of working towards, so I put some thought into this. I feel pretty damn good about this list!

1. Take more day trips & long weekends

Soon Shawn and I will have the same days off each week, and we'll be able to leave the apartment together for more than a few hours at a time. I'm looking forward to more coastal trips, mountain hikes, and waterfalls! Spending time outdoors together is a huge reason why we moved to Oregon, but life got in the way last year. This year, I'm not going to let it.

2. Keep a food journal

I'm keeping a daily log of what I'm putting into my body, hoping to learn how the foods I eat affect my body and well-being, and which specific foods leave me feeling less-than-stellar on a regular basis. For the month of January I'm also cutting beer and dairy out of my diet.

3. Financial freedom

Big goal for this year is to be completely debt-free going into 2020... I believe I can do it! #15 and #8 should help me achieve this.

4. Read more

I'm ashamed to tell you the last time I finished a book... This year I've signed up for Book of the Month to give myself a little nudge. I've also acquired a library card (woot!) and have been indulging in Portland's quirky weekly newspapers.

5. Sort and organize my recipe pile

The way I store my recipes is atrocious. It's a few fat notebooks stuffed with handwritten recipes (half of them with no title or instructions) written on assorted papers and envelopes. I've been meaning to tackle the pile for months, I'm just not sure how I want to store them yet. The task also seems incredibly daunting, but I need to get organized.

6. Make more food from scratch

I cook lunch and dinner at home almost daily, but there are a few things that I buy pretty regularly that could easily be made at home. Specifically flour tortillas, bread, corn chips. I want to pickle more things and make some jams as well.

7. Reduce the amount of trash we produce

Shawn and I have been talking about how unhappy we are with how many bags of trash we seem produce on a weekly basis. Despite our best efforts to recycle as much as we can, we still end up taking about 2 regular-sized kitchen bags of trash out per week- that's way too many for a household of 2! I've noticed that we throw away a lot of takeout containers from when Shawn brings leftover food home from the hot bar at work, so he's going to make more of an effort to bring reusable containers to work instead. And I'm going to try my darndest to remember to bring my mesh produce bags when I go grocery shopping. I'm also looking into reusable/washable cotton rounds because I use those daily and that creates a lot of waste. Now if only I could figure out a better way to dispose of dirty cat litter...

8. Keep groceries down to $75 a week

For the past two years I've kept our grocery costs at about $100/week, which isn't bad considering the two of us eat enough for three, I eat a giant breakfast burrito almost daily, and we cook from home 6-7 nights of the week. But Shawn often brings home free produce from work, and we're both trying to eat more simply and mindfully, which means we should be able to get away with a slightly smaller grocery bill. This should really help with #3!

9. Make yoga & meditation part of my daily routine

At the end of November I started setting time aside to meditate every morning, and I've kept up this daily practice since then, with only a day lapse every now and then. That said, it's still very difficult for me and I want to keep working at it with intention. I'm slowly setting up my little zen/yoga corner at home and I want to build towards a daily yoga practice as well.

10. Add functional fitness to my routine

On top of committing to a daily yoga practice, I'd also love to add some functional fitness into my routine. Other than yoga and walking, I don't stretch my muscles much. Adding new movement and some small weights can't hurt.

11. Learn to play the ukulele

I bought a ukulele with my Christmas money. It's something I've been talking about doing for years, and I finally got tired of just talking about it. But now I actually have to teach myself how to play - I haven't played an instrument in 15 years! The task is daunting but also incredibly rewarding.

12. Write more snail mail

The amount of stationary I have is almost akin to the amount of recipes I have piled up... but at least the stationary is organized neatly. Keeping it organized doesn't do anyone any good though, so I resolve to send more letters!

13. Attend yoga/wellness workshops

I'd love to start a 300-hr training program, but it's not in the cards financially this year, so instead I intend to attend a few workshops to help keep my yoga brain buzzing. I'm doing an accessible yoga teacher training in March, so that's a good start!

14. Grow herbs indoors

One of my penpals sent me an herb starter kit back in September, and I want to try my hand at growing some. My thumbs are not the greenest, I leave the plant-tending to Shawn... but it'd be really satisfying to grow something from scratch that I can also use in the kitchen.

15. Sell my car

Last year was an expensive year for my 10-year old Versa, which I suppose is to be expected after driving cross-country. I had planned on selling it last year, but it made more sense to fix it up a bit and hold onto it for a few more months. We'll enjoy having it over the summer when we can do more of #1, but come September/October I have every intention of putting it up for sale. No intention of buying another car, because I don't need it daily in Portland, and it's easy and ultimately cheaper to rent one when we need one. The money from the car sale will all go towards #3!

16. Visit my parents

I wasn't able to go to Spain last year and they haven't visited us here in Portland yet, so this year I'd love to take a week off and fly out to see them. If my brother and sister and I can figure it out, we'd love to visit at the same time and have the family back together for a few days!

17. Shop with intention

This is an attitude I've been cultivating for a few years; I started with clothing and have let it slowly trickle into other aspects of my shopping habits. It's a constant work in progress, though I've noticed it becoming easier over time through constant reflection and practice. The intention is to only buy things that serve a purpose in my wardrobe, our home, and our pantry. We save money this way, but also save time and mental energy by not having excess in these areas of our life.

18. Improve my posture

I have a tendency to slouch when seated and I tend towards anterior pelvic tilt. (My family actually calls it Marine Pose...) Being more aware of my posture and making active adjustments towards a neutral pelvis will help with my back pain and overall well-being. Just remember, neutral pelvis, shoulders back, ribs tucked in... I'd love to one day not even have to think about it!

19. Meet new people

Moving to a new city and making new friends is hard, especially when you're an introvert. I tend to stay on the outskirts of big groups and I hesitate to initiate conversations (not a fan of small talk over here) BUT I've met so many interesting and amazing people since moving here, and I want to meet more! Getting out of my comfort zone has yielded some pretty awesome results, so I'm going to continue to err on the side of discomfort.

What intentions are you setting for yourself for 2019? Are they things you're willing to commit to whole-heartedly?


Coconut Granola

January 06, 2019

If I told you I make my own granola from scratch, would you call me a hippie? I'll take it. Granola is one of the easiest things to make a big batch of from scratch, and it's also one of the priciest things to buy at the store... so making it at home is kind of a no-brainer. Plus, you can mix in whatever you'd like!

I used to eat granola with plain yogurt and a little bit of honey but lately I've just been pouring a little bit of almond milk on top and calling it a day. Or grabbing a handful of it plain in the middle of the day as a quick snack. It's just so freaking tasty. This recipe is super simple to make, and super easy to tweak. If you're not a fan of coconut, you can swap pretty much any oil for coconut oil, and you can replace the coconut flakes with nuts of your choosing. You can swap maple syrup or agave for honey. And as much as I played around with removing the flour from this recipe, it's just so much better with it included... though I bet you could sub gluten-free flour and it would still work well, though I haven't tried it.

The point is, granola is really simple when you get down to the core of it, and you should really make your own at home. Give this recipe a try and make it your own!

Coconut Granola

  • 5 cups (15 ounces) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1¼ cups (3 ounces) coconut flakes
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ½cup (4 ounces) brown sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • ¾cup (6 ounces) coconut oil
  • ½cup (6 ounces) honey

Preheat the oven to 300°.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil and honey until coconut oil is fully melted.If I our the oil and honey over the dry ingredients, using a spatula to mix until dry ingredients are fully coated.
Spread the granola in one thin layer across a baking pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Granola is done when it turns a golden brown. Stir it once out of the oven, and leave on the pan to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy at your leisure.
What's your favorite way to eat granola?


Pantry Cookies

January 05, 2019

I contemplated calling this recipe Rice Krispie Treat Cookies, because that's essentially what these are. I had ingredients left over from making rice krispie treats, but not enough to make another batch, so I had to think of a way to use them up. Have you heard of Everything But the Kitchen Sink cookies? They use up whatever is in the pantry that isn't enough to use for anything else. This is my version of the EBKS cookies... but let's call them Pantry Cookies, okay? It's just easier to say and doesn't conjure up images of dirty dishes.

Mixing cereal into cookies certainly isn't a new thing in the baking world... but it is a good way to use up left over cereal! Rice Krispies mixed with mini marshmallows (which don't completely evaporate at this temperature/time combo) make for a rice krispie treat style chew, but with the bite of a cookie. The small hint of peanut butter comes through to mix things up a bit, and then there are chocolate chips added into the mix to round everything out. Shawn said "damn, these are really good cookies", and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Pantry Cookies

  • 1¼ cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams) butter
  • ½ cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100 grams) white sugar
  • ¼ cup (125 grams) smooth natural peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cup (38 grams) puffed rice cereal
  • ½ (90 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (50 grams) mini marshmallows

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
Mix in the peanut butter and egg.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
In the mixer, mix in 1 cup of the puffed rice cereal, along with the chocolate chips and the marshmallows. Then, mix in 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal by hand, just until coated.
Scoop cookies and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
Once firm, place cookies 3" apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350° for 13-15 minutes.
What's sitting around in your pantry?


Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 03, 2019

Starting fresh with the blog means I get to go back through old recipes and really curate which ones I choose to post here. So when I thought about the first recipe I should post, it was a no-brainer. The one recipe in my arsenal that gets the most use in our home is this one for chocolate chip cookies. I make it at least 2-3 times a month. If I didn't have it memorized, you can be damn sure that recipe card would be creased, sticky, and smudged- proof of a recipe well-loved. I developed it myself years ago, after making an abundance of other people's satisfactory but not OMFGTHESEARETHEBOMBDOTCOM chocolate chip cookies. I wanted a cookie with a crunchy exterior, soft chewy interior, and a noticeable amount of chocolate. So I played around with ratios until I figured out exactly how to get there. I'm fairly certain these chocolate chip cookies are what made Shawn fall in love with me... at least, that's what he says!

The key to a chewy cookie lies in the brown sugar. Now, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I like to make my own brown sugar. It's actually super duper easy and you should try it! But if you're in a pinch, any store-bought light brown sugar will do, though when I make my own I tend to make it more medium-brown. But here's the thing... you also need a little white sugar to get some of that sweet cookie crunch factor. I made these cookies with solely brown sugar for years, but they really weren't perfected until I added a little white sugar back into the recipe. Now, they're perfect. But I'll let you be the judge of that.

Hold up, we can't talk about chocolate chip cookies without mentioning the chocolate chips. The mix of milk and semisweet chocolate is key here - it's what balances it all out. My go-to chocolate chip brand is Ghirardelli, and I stock up when they're on sale. There are definitely better options out there, but those come with a higher price tag, and honestly, if I'm just going to shove a handful of warm cookies into my mouth, Ghirardelli does the trick. Use whatever brand you'd like, but definitely don't skip the milk/semisweet combo!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1½ cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams) butter
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Scoop cookies and place 2" apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes.
Baked cookies are best eaten fresh. Store unbaked dough scoops in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.

What do you look for in a chocolate chip cookie?


Inspired by...

January 02, 2019

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
– David W. Orr


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