February 28, 2014

HAPPY DAYS

'day one: beautiful (fake) flower seven year old mason "picked" for me on his way home from school'

I started one of those silly online challenges that sees if you can be happy for 100 days in a row.  I'm a pretty happy person so of course I can be happy for 100 days in a row but I thought it would be nice to take time out of each day in order to capture a moment of that happiness.  Here are a few of my first happy moments for the happy day challenge.  Have a wonderful (and very happy) weekend!

'day two: this view with my coffee every morning (and my amazing 50 cent mug that i bought nine of)'

'day six: a little early afternoon golf with my parents. so much fun! (even though im not very good)'

'day eight: my first purchase for my apartment i don't yet have!'

'day ten: my first seedlings are planted in my new pot. grow, lavender, grow!'

February 27, 2014

HEART AGE

As you may have already guessed, I'm big into healthy living.  My passion lies with the food I make and eat but I also exercise multiple times a week.  I draw inspiration from everywhere - a conversation with my mom, my latest blood work, hopes of turning out like an adorable old couple I see taking a walk, or even just the way I feel after a day of eating well or a long bike ride.

My mom introduced me to this awesome (potentially motivating!) website that tells what age your heart is.  All you need to do is put in some information about your cholesterol levels (if you don't know them - go find out!), your blood pressure, the size of your waist, a little family history.... Heart disease is one of the top causes of death in the US (want proof?  see here and here and I'm sure you can find more).  And it doesn't need to be!  Educate yourself.  Start with finding out your heart's age!  Eat right, exercise.  You'll feel better, look better, and live better.



February 26, 2014

SUNSHINE!

I was so honored to be nominated for the sunshine award by the beautiful ladies from The Attic.  I began writing (and continue to write) this blog solely as a creative and fun outlet for myself so it's pretty cool when I find out that other people actually read it.  And even more humbling to hear they enjoy what they read!  So a big thank you to Lynn-Holly, for making my day!  Her blog is so uplifting, be sure to check it out!



So what is the sunshine award?  I understand it as a way that bloggers can show appreciation and support for their blog crushes.  Blogs that they feel deserve to be commended for their hard work, positivity, and inspiration.  So thank you, Lynn-Holly, it is truly an honor to be noticed (especially when I thought my mom and brother were the only ones who read my posts!)

The rules of the sunshine award...
  1. Display the award on your blog. 
  2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blog who nominated you.
  3. Post 10 interesting things about yourself. 
  4. Nominate some other deserving bloggers. 
  5. Link your nominees in a post and let them know with a comment.

 I don't think that I'm really that interesting, but here goes...

1. I am all about balance.  For me, the ultimate importance is to create a balance between work (or school), family, friends, significant other, self, spirituality, health and all the other factions of life.  I truly believe that this is the main factor that creates ultimate happiness in this life.


2.  I thrive off of change.  Moving to college hours from the life I knew to a place where I didn't know a soul barely phased me.  Spending four months on a ship where I knew no one and traveled to countries I had never dreamed of (or heard of, in some cases) was the most amazing experience of my life.  Moving across the country (WI to AZ) in the midst of a huge post grad transition has been inspiring.  I crave change.  Scaring the hell out of myself and being in uncomfortable situations are what inspire, motivate, and push me to grow.  I can only attribute this to my solid foundation of family and friends, some experiences in my youth (mostly: my summer home from ages 9 to 20), and a thirst for new experiences.


3. I circumnavigated the world on a ship when I was 20 years old.  I spent time in thirteen countries in a span of four months with some amazing people.  It was unbelievable (sometimes, I think it was just a dream) and if I'm lucky there will only be a few other moments in my life that will be able to live up to the epicness of those four months.  I rarely discuss it because very few people understand and I miss it every day.  Luckily, I made some amazing friends that I know I will have forever.


4.  I am a traveler (for life).  My parents got me hooked when they strapped my three month old self in the car and drove from Wisconsin to Utah for my very first road trip.  Countless states and over twenty countries later, I haven't stopped... and I don't plan to.


5.  My family is pretty awesome.  I grew up with the best parents who valued respecting and supporting one another, family dinners, sports we would do together (mostly sailing and skiing), traveling together.... the list could go on.  They had (and still have) the parenting thing down and I only hope I can be as good to my kids as they have been to us.  Us includes me and my two older brothers who are the most brilliant, creative, and hardworking people I know (each in their own very different ways).  I like to think that, because I grew up with them as role models, I am made up of little pieces of each of them.


6.  I really love to cook.  I love to experiment with new flavors and use the freshest, 'realest' foods that are available to me.  I aspire to have my own garden one day (I'm starting tomorrow with lavender).


7.  I have some great people in my life (aside from my aforementioned awesome family).  I made amazing friends while at camp, semester at sea, high school, and college who I know will be there for a very long time.  I don't make my friendships easy with my constant moving and changes.  It's not easy staying close friends with someone when you go over a year without seeing one another but that's how I know these people are here for the long run.  (special shoutout to k here!)


8.  I grew up in an amazing state.  Wisconsin is home to the nicest and most humble people, beautiful landscapes, and amazing seasons.  But I have fallen in love with the west.... the mountains, the weather, the open sky.  I am so greatful I grew up in the Midwest but I love it here and I never want to leave.


9.  I majored in Sociology in college because I loved my classes and my professors.  The content of my classes was so meaningful and inspiring.  I would read my textbooks for fun, voluntarily spent a year and a half writing an honors thesis solely because I enjoyed it, and still keep in touch with my professors (I still had a social life, I swear).  I am hoping to achieve a masters in social work in the next two years and still have no idea what exactly I want to do but I know that my knowledge gained in college will be a foundation of that and will travel with me through life.


10.  Speaking of college, I went to a great one.  UD was the best combination of intimate classes, amazing people, and a supportive and thriving community.  UD students have mastered the art of work hard, play hard (again, going back to balance).





And finally, I don't follow many blogs (my everyday reads are at the bottom of my page) but a couple that I know to be inspirational and deserving....


February 24, 2014

HOMEMADE JOE-JOE'S FOR LOVE

My cookies finally arrived in Chicago, so I can share them without ruining Kurt's (late) valentine's surprise.  K loves Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's cookies (vanilla because they're dairy free) but this post inspired me to make a homemade version for him.  I kept a few for myself (they wouldn't all fit in the little box the post office provides.....) and although they should definitely be made only for special occasions they were so good and addicting.



February 23, 2014

SUNDAY SUNDAY

^^fresh farmers market flowers from last summer^^

I always knew Sundays had potential.  The smell of coffee floating from room to room, soon filling the entire house.  The scent of coffee meant fresh, doughy cinnamon rolls or an egg casserole filled with vegetables warm out of the oven were soon to follow.  My family scattered throughout the house, curled on every couch reading or napping.  In college, it meant all of the girls cuddled in front of the tv for a marathon complimented by Panera's fresh bagels (and my embarrassing Sunday favorite - caesar salad).  
But Sundays always came with a quiet burden.  Whether it was Sunday school robbing my youthful body of sleep or, later, struggling to read seemingly hundreds of pages in political science and sociology textbooks for Monday's classes - there was always a Sunday weight to be beared.
After graduating college, I slowly began to realize that Sunday burdens were to cease.  A weight lifted on that second day of the weekend, my favorite day of the week.  Instead, sleeping in, creating a masterpiece brunch, baking bread, visiting the farmers market for fresh fruits and flowers, reading all day....the comforting, delightful options are endless.  Sunday, I love you.

February 22, 2014

RECENT READS


Although different in every way imaginable, I'd recommend every one of these books.  Thought provoking and entertaining, each in it's own unique way.  I can truly say the last few months of reading have been enjoyable and inspiring.

WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE (Maria Semple) "Mom disappears into thin air two days before Christmas without telling me? Of course it’s complicated. Just because it’s complicated, just because you think you can’t ever know everything about another person, it doesn't mean you can't try."

DEFENDING JACOB (William Landay) "Gradually the beach would get quieter as the other guests left to get ready for dinner.  The lifeguards would drag the empty beach chairs across the sand and stack them for the night, making a clatter, and finally the lifeguards themselves would leave, and only a few sunset gazers would linger on the beach.  We would look out into the distance, where two arms of land reached out to encircle the little bay, and the horizon would burn yellow then red then indigo.  Looking back on it now, I picture my happy family of three sitting on that beach at sunset and I want to freeze the story there.  We must have looked so normal..."

SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK WHALE (Jodi Picoult) "Oliver said once that at certain places south of San Diego you can see whales from the coast, without binoculars.  When I asked him where they were going, he laughed.  Where would you go? he said, but I was afraid to tell him.  In time, I learned.  I discovered that Alaska to Hawaii and Nova Scotia to Bermuda were the parallel paths of two humpback whale stocks.  I learned that the West Coast whales and the East Coast whales did not cross paths.  Where would you go?"

THE GREAT GATSBY (F. Scott Fitzgerald) "He smiled understandingly -- much more than understandingly.  It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it...it faced...the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.  It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey."

MEDICINE WOMAN (Lynn Andrews) "You don't know what you are...There is no explaining why you are born, or why you are the animated part of the Earth you are."

THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY (Luis Alberto Urrea) "Five men stumbled out of the mountain pass so sunstruck they didn't know their own names, couldn't remember where they'd come from, had forgotten how long they'd been lost.  One of them wandered back up a peak.  One of them was barefoot. They were burned nearly black, their lips huge and cracking, what paltry drool still available to them spuming from their mouths in a salty foam as they walked.  Their eyes were cloudy with dust, almost too dry to blink up a tear.  Their hair was hard and stiffened by old sweat...old sweat because their bodies were no longer sweating.  They were drunk from having their brains baked in the pan, they were seeing God and devils, and they were dizzy from drinking their own urine, the poisons clogging their systems."

DIVERGENT (Veronica Roth) "I lift my head.  My neck aches.  I have been curled up with my back against the wall for at least a half hour, listening to the roaring wind and watching the city smear past us.  I sit forward.  The train has slowed down in the past few minutes, and I see that...The Dauntless in the cars ahead of us are jumping out as the train passes a rooftop.  The tracks are seven stories up...On three we launch off the train car.  A weightless moment, and then my feet slam into solid ground and pain prickles through my shins.  The jarring landing sends me sprawling on the rooftop, gravel under my cheek.  I release Christina's hand.  She's laughing.  "That was fun," she says."

LET'S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS (David Sedaris) "I've gone from avoiding dentists and periodontists to practically stalking them, not in some quest for a Hollywood smile but because I enjoy their company.  I'm happy in their waiting rooms, the coffee tables heaped with Gala and Madame Figaro.  I like their mumbled French, spoken from behind Tyvek masks....That's me...traipsing down the stairs in a fresh set of clothes, my smile bittersweet and drearied with blood, counting the days until I can come back and return myself to this to this curious, socialized care."

February 19, 2014

LIME BOARD

My brother charlie and I picked up this adorable, tiny cutting board for my dad when we were wandering around Brooklyn last spring.  It's made just for limes but I use it all the time for mini food prep work in the kitchen.  Avocados*, cherry tomatoes, lemons, berries, etc etc.  So convenient, so cute....I just love having it around!

*I don't normally cut my avocados like this, I swear.

February 16, 2014

WHOLE WHEAT ROSEMARY

Today was perfect (in all it's imperfection, much like the shape of my loaf of bread).  I was so excited to make bread on my own for the first time.  I love the excitement of waiting for the dough to rise and find myself doing relaxing things while I wait - enjoying my new book, going for a run, indulging in a cup of tea.  I made my first loaf of bread (ever) last weekend when my grandparents were still in town and it was such a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  My grandad loves making bread and the smell wafting through the house always brings back childhood memories of visiting them in Arizona.  Every loaf he makes has the perfect amount of crispiness surrounding a soft, warm, doughy inside.  He is a true baker (when he's not busy being a lawyer) and I was thrilled when he agreed to teach me his ways.  I only hoped I could inherit his patience and perfection when working with the dough.  So today was my test.  There were moments I didn't think I would pull through but I ended up impressed and satisfied.  Using whole wheat flour (instead of enriched white) was a little different but I'm pleased and I sprinkled some rosemary in the dough before leaving it to rise, the perfect finishing touch.

February 4, 2014

GALLERY IN THE SUN

^^DeGrazia's home^^

Earlier this week I visited DeGrazia's Gallery in the Sun, nestled comfortably in the Catalina Foothills of Tucson.  DeGrazia is a well loved local artist who turned his beautiful home studio into a gallery so his work could be shared long after his passing.  The moment you step foot in the space, you can feel the calming presence of DeGrazia and his breathtaking work.  My grandmother loves his art so I have always known of his sweet paintings of children and visiting his gallery was more inspirational than I could have imagined.  I left feeling relaxed and enlightened with hopes of rekindling my love for creating art.




^^a few of my favorite pieces. the movement is stunning, i could stare all day.^^



February 2, 2014

SUPERBOWL COOKIES

I don't care much for either of the teams in the superbowl this year (I really only care about football when the Packers are involved) but I'm still joining the rest of the country in eating good food and enjoying the commercials.  We're heading over to my grandparents where my grandma is making her famous three bean chili.  We're bringing some brats to boil in beer (so wisco of us, I know) and I'll recreate this guacamole I made last summer.  I scoured pinterest for a fun dessert and wasn't satisfied with anything I was seeing.  So, I used this recipe to make some flour less peanut butter cookies and got creative with decorating myself.  These are the best peanut butter cookies I have ever had.  I think I ate over half the batter before I even got them in the oven....
*
Preheat oven - 350. 
Beat half cup peanut butter, half cup maple almond butter, one teaspoon vanilla, one egg, and three fourths cup of sugar with a hand mixer until crumbly.  
Make into balls and put one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 ish minutes.

**
Let cookie sheet cool before taking cookies off.
Then, decorate!  I just melted ghirardelli chocolate chips (vegan by nature!), put the melted chocolate into a plastic baggie and cut the corner.  I spread the chocolate into a football shape.  I used the same method with vanilla frosting to make the laces.

I'm so excited to find such a simple cookie that is gluten free.  I'll be making these again (without the footballs) very soon!


*adorable measuring cups were a birthday gift from my parents from anthropologie
**I'll be doing a diy post on my at home-manicure and the stacked chevron rings I'm wearing soon!