2.02.2016

metaphors + mental musings

I took this selfie after nursing Louisa in the car outside of REI when she was just a week old. She was so bitsy and I was on a huge high from giving birth and finally having this sweet baby girl, safe and sound. I felt so pretty and good in this picture. Two months later we moved to Seattle and I lost it. Depression and anxiety took over. I gained a lot of weight. I was a hot mess.
The last year has been one giant yoga move that I can't pronounce or practice correctly. Maybe that metaphor only makes sense in my head, but my body can't move the way it used to because I'm now in my 30s and haven't taken good care of myself. My brain has been through the wringer between bouts of mental illness, feelings of inadequacy, spiritual discovery and general self-reflection and growth. I feel like I'm growing up and growing into myself more than ever. For those of you who have been my internet friends for years, I think you've seen a lot of this in these pages of my life and I'm grateful for the e-mails, comments and love.

Here's what I've learned:

- Self care is important. No. Vital. I am still figuring out what that means for me on a personal level and how to practice it every day, in small ways.

- The scale doesn't matter. What I eat and my activity level does. Not because I should feel shame for eating all the cookies but because it impacts the way that my body is able to function. Staying up late, not drinking enough water, and eating my feelings are all common issues for many of us and they directly impact the way that I am able to be a good human.

- Wanting to feel beautiful isn't a bad thing but it isn't the ONLY thing. I also don't owe prettiness to
anyone. "Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female'." - Erin McKean

- Authenticity = happiness. People that will not accept you for who you really are, what you really think, and who you really want to be aren't your friends. Authenticity is stretching. It hurts. It's terrible and terrific in one. Forgiving people who don't love your authentic self is also really stretching, hurts and is terrible and terrific.

- I'm OK. You're OK. We're all OK. And if you need a pep talk, check out the Pep Talk Generator. We got this!

"From one grown woman to another, in the face of a challenge you can either break down or break open. When we allow ourselves to break open and let ourselves be immersed by our emotions, we can truly be honest with ourselves and evolve in the most positive and healthiest way. One of the nice things about growing up is being able to say no, to change your mind, and to become brave enough to show who you are even if it hurts. The self-awareness and self-love you grant yourself can be your saving grace; they might help you reacquaint yourself with the courage you forgot you had all along."- Shaya Ishaq

1.29.2016

GIVEAWAY: Ada Avenue

If you follow my blog, there's a good chance that you come here for the food. Ha! So, in an effort to gain some exposure for my decorating design website, I'm offering a GIVEAWAY which includes some chocolate chip cookies with fleur de sel (and trust me, they're delightful)! The other winner will receive a custom design board. Eek, I'm so nervous. Anyway, I would REALLY appreciate the support. 
You can enter the Instagram giveaway by following me here and then tagging three friends. If you want an extra entry to win the chocolate chip cookies, all you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter by going to my website. That's it! It's really simple and there's a good chance you'll win since I'm just starting out and I don't have a lot of followers yet. Hurry! The giveaway ends Sunday (1/31) night!

Thanks to all those who have shared my business with others on Facebook, Instagram, etc. I love you all and genuinely feel so grateful for your support to me. XOXO

1.28.2016

sweet + sour chicken with sesame green beans

You know what I can't stand? [Uh oh, I feel a rant coming on.] I see so many delicious looking entrees on Pinterest or in cookbooks that I want to make, but then I feel a little bugged that I have to think of a green vegetable side dish that will pair well with it. I try really hard to always include some sort of green veggie with our meals and I really prefer something that "stands on its own" rather than trying to hide spinach in some sort of concoction. I think it's important for kids to learn how to eat their vegetables, and that they can taste amazing! That's why I made this Sweet + Sour Chicken with Sesame Green Beans. Louisa devoured the green beans and I couldn't shovel them in fast enough! The other best thing about this meal is that it's in one pan (technically, a wok), except for the side of rice (I used Jasmine). And really, how easy is it to throw some rice in a rice cooker? I think you and your family will love this!
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3-4 green onions, sliced (for serving)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (for serving)
2 cups rice, cooked (for serving)

Sauce:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, add the cornstarch and set aside. In a large wok (this is what I have and it has served me faithfully for over 8 years - I love it!), heat the oil over medium high heat. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg and then the cornstarch, shaking off excess, and then set carefully into hot oil. Fry each piece (you may need to do this in a couple of batches), turning once when golden brown, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove chicken from wok and drain on paper towel. Drain wok of excess oil but don't clean.

Reheat wok over medium high heat (don't clean it) and add green beans, sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir and cover with lid. Cook until al dente/crisp tender (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove beans from wok and garnish with sesame seeds. Don't clean pan.

Add sauce to the wok and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute until the sauce starts to reduce. Add chicken and stir to coat with sauce. Make a cornstarch slurry, by mixing 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 teaspoon cold water, and add it to the sauce to thicken.

Serve chicken over rice with green beans, sliced green onions and garnished with sesame seeds.

Adapted from Damn Delicious

1.26.2016

honeybunch, sugarplum, pumpy-umpy-umpkin

Can we talk for a minute about this fat little baby cakes and how I want to go back in time and ask her to stay this little fuzzy-headed, chunky monkey forever, knowing full well that she will grow up way too fast? I wouldn't mind holding her again at 2 a.m. with my exhausted body as long as I can get that new baby smell back in my arms and hear those sweet, gurgling coos as I nurse her in the dark. Sheesh! Babies have magic. It's witchcraft!

1.25.2016

spinach artichoke dip

Do you love rich, decadent, hot spinach artichoke dip? Me too. That's why I'm sharing this recipe with you all. So, we can indulge and be indulging friends via the interwebs. There are lots of good recipes out there that range from sans artichoke types to cold spinach dips but I prefer a hot and melty, cheesy dip with the tang of artichokes. Because I was a little short of Parmesan this time, I used about 3/4 cup of Beecher's flagship cheese (cause, you know it's heavenly) and it was a great addition! Straight Parmesan is yummy too and I bet a little Gruyere would be good.
2 cups baby spinach, coarsley chopped
1/2 onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Parmesan cheese
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 shakes hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium saucepan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions until translucent (about 4 minutes) and then add garlic and spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted (should only take a couple minutes) and remove from heat. Squeeze out liquid and set aside. Stir in the rest of ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with pita chips, slices of baguette or bagel pieces.