6.26.2013

summer pinspiration

I've been bitten by the summer bug! (The good kind, not the kind that leaves you with an itchy bump.)

I am not a fan of the extreme heat, but I've embraced it recently...it feels like it's brought on summer growth, outside and inside. I'm feeling inspired to be alive lately, and have discovered that place where everything you have feels like enough.

On the list of lovely things lately...
...a new volunteering gig that I will most definitely be blogging about
...a traumatic trip to the vet for Maus that somehow turned into a bit of fun for Joe and me
...a new yoga class + a new yoga friend (picking up dates at yoga = not cool; picking up friends at yoga = very cool)
...my first time serving jury duty
...an upcoming camping trip in Maine

Jury duty made the list, because it was fun. It's all about attitude, folks.

I hope you're feeling just as inspired! It is such a beautiful world out there, and these balmy days are the best times to get out there and feel it. Evening walks are never as lovely any other time as now.

But just in case you're not, this should get you started...

pinspiration

I've never made something of Angela's that I didn't love, including these veggie burgers. You can whip up a batch, freeze 'em, and take them along to any summer barbecues that might not be vegetarian-friendly. I took some to a cookout with Anna last summer, and there were a few meat-eaters who had to try them too!

Last summer we hopped up to Portland on the train and made it back in time for a late dinner. The prices are a bit steeper than they've been in years past, but check out Amtrak's deals and discounts. You also don't have to go all the way to Portland. The train to Maine stops at all sorts of beautiful coastal towns along the way.

Ok, there's absolutely nothing to do with this pin, except enjoy it, and maybe use it to inspire your next dinner party. We don't have lovely outdoor space like this, so I'll enjoy it vicariously through you. (Or we'll be checking out some of these places...)

The thing I hate more than anything else about the heat is the constant feeling of stickiness. I'm no compulsive hand washer, but during the summer, running my hands under a cool stream of water could compete with my love for fresh sugar snap peas is a great pleasure. Check out an old recipe of mine to keep your hands clean in more ways than one!

And send more summer inspiration my way!

6.24.2013

tea with the girls

home + teatime

home + teatime

These days, it's a pretty special event when my mom, my sister, and I all end up in the same place at the same time. We might be miles apart, but they are still the two people I always call to vent, share recipes, and get shopping advice all in the same conversation.

So while we were all settled in Jersey, we set aside a very special Friday afternoon for a girls' tea at Teaberry's.

We had soups served in teacups, finger sandwiches, scones, jam, clotted cream, and lemon curd...

I had the white Crown Jewels tea...with the flavors of rose, lemon, and vanilla.

Every time we are there, we ooh and aah over the hodgepodge of fine china. (I mean, how special is that strawberry plate?)

home + teatime

home + teatime

And our weekend was full of so many other fun adventures too. My mom made her famous strawberry rhubarb pie. We played barefoot frisbee in the front yard, until the sun went down and the fireflies came out. We ate fish sandwiches at the shore and played countless games of Yahtzee (with full-on screaming every time someone got a yahtzee...it's part of the game). And I got plenty of nephew-puppy snuggle time, but this guy has grown up so much, I guess I can't really call him a puppy anymore...

home + teatime

It was a real summer treat. Here's to many more around the corner!

6.20.2013

the real jersey shore

As we found it one chilly June morning at 9:00...

jersey shore

jersey shore

jersey shore

jersey shore

jersey shore

jersey shore

This is where we come to breathe in moist air, laced with salt. We listen to the squaks and twitters of shore birds, big and small. We marvel at the power of those mid-Atlantic waves, and the way they inspire playfulness when they chase after your heels, but adrenaline as they crash onto the rocks.

Dad collects the roundest stones he can find for his rock wall, worn smooth by years in the surf. Mom collects photos of us all with mussy hair. T collects sea glass, and C collects flat rounds of quartz, for stacking.

I count discarded tampon applicators...I don't want to know why there are so many.

Salt water is healing. But so is the company you share it with, and the years and years of memories captured in sea foam, rolling out into the ocean and returning when the time is right.

6.18.2013

well well wow! {review and giveaway}

At the end of last summer, the company Sun Chlorella must have sensed Joe was having trouble sleeping, because that was exactly when they sent a sample of eleuthero tea, said to help the body react better to all sorts of stress. They must be keeping tabs on us, because their timing on delivering a sample of their new Well Well Wow! product was also perfect.

I was wrapping up a few work items before my trip last week and was feeling some stress and skipping the gym, so a product that is designed to reduce the effects of stress and encourage cell growth and repair was appreciated.

well well wow

Well Well Wow! blends chlorella growth factor (CGF), which is derived from the nuclei of algae, and old reliable eleuthero. The combination is supposed to boost your immune system, keep you energized, and improve adrenal gland function. I can't say that I noticed a big difference, but it might have kept me from feeling the full effect of my tossy-turny nights, and I imagine taking it regularly makes a bigger difference.

I didn't like the 11 grams of sugar in each little bottle, but they come entirely from agave syrup, meaning it doesn't spike blood sugar in a significant way. The taste is reminiscent of straight agave syrup too, so you can pretty much gauge whether you'll like it.

well well wow

Would I buy it with my money?

I'd have to say, probably not. I was so happy to try it, because I think chlorella and eleuthero are both potent products, but I'd rather get them from a source with less sugar. I just don't have a great need for those supplements, and Well Well Wow! really feels like a substitute for an energy drink...even the bottle reminds me of the various energy shots on the market. It would probably be a great way for someone to kick the energy shot habit, actually.

I'd encourage you to try it yourself though, especially if you feel like your mind and body need a boost. And one of you can!

Sun Chlorella will send one of my readers two bottles of Well Well Wow! There are three ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me why you'd like to try Well Well Wow!
2. Tweet about this giveaway, or share it on facebook. Include a link to this page.
3. Follow my blog on bloglovin' or feedly or with google followers.

Leave a comment for each separate entry. If you already follow me, leave an extra comment for #3. The winner will be selected randomly next Wednesday, 6/26.

6.12.2013

hello!

amtrak

Just a quick note to say hello and wish you all the best for a wonderful weekend! Mine is starting early with a trip home. As I fire off this post, I'm zipping through New England in the dining car of a train...my favorite way to travel. (The dining car part is important...I love sitting at a table, with some version of coffee or chocolate always within reach.) Being on a train just makes me feel like I'm muddling in a pool of happiness. Something about the comfort of it all, with the beautiful world zipping by my window. And we can be honest here...Harry Potter probably has something to do with it.

I haven't seen my sister and brother-in-law since last August, when I made a special trip all the way to Minnesota to check out their new digs. Despite video chatting and email and facebook and texts, I miss her dearly, and can't wait to wrap her up in a real live hug. I also can't wait to see this guy, and just snuggle him to pieces.

Fill your weekend with love! What will you be up to?

6.10.2013

five things i want to be

library

I finally got around to reading The Happiness Project. I'd been resisting it after I had read a few unsavory reviews, and began noticing the recent over-marketing of happiness. In my opinion, happiness is very much defined by its occasional absence, and I'd been trying to reject the notion that it is important to be happy all the time, and instead pursue the idea of presence.

Anyway, I stumbled across it in the library and decided to give it a shot. I almost gave up on it a few chapters in, when I decided dear Gretchen was much too focused on fluffy things ("And just like that, I thought of a solution. File boxes."), and was being passive aggressive instead of genuinely letting go ("I took a moment; then, careful to use a light tone, I remarked, 'I wish you were wearing something a little nicer.'").

But...I stuck with it. And I'm glad I did. Maybe it's because Gretchen was on this journey of personal growth, but I found her insights more and more valuable as the book progressed. I was able to leave behind my nitpicks and take away the positive from her experiences. (I think she'd approve of that part.)

One of the pieces I really loved actually came from one of her blog readers, who commented that she encourages her clients to think about people they idolize and identify the characteristics they admire about them. She continued:

Then I tell them this (very Jungian, but very useful to know): whatever it is that they admire in these individuals...is something that is nascent in themselves, but that they have not yet brought into being. 
That...is the real reason why they admire it in the others. Once they have begun to bring these characteristics forth in themselves, they will begin to admire something different in others, in order to continue the cycle of growth into inner freedom and happiness.

I loved this idea, especially after I wrote a post about a few women that I admire so wholeheartedly. I took that very blog post, and reflected on what it is that I find so inspiring about the women I mentioned. For me, the list came down to five ways of being:

self-accepting
authentic
kind
lighthearted
positive

Without putting too much pressure on myself, I wanted to stay aware of those ideas, and encourage them in myself. So I wrote each word on a slip of paper, and taped it to a wall in my house. Conveniently, we have five main rooms in our apartment, so I matched each one to the place it seemed most appropriate, as a reminder of the ways I'd like to be.

bedroom - self-accepting
The bedroom is the place where I stand in front of a mirror before leaving the apartment, scrutinizing my outfit, hair, face. It's an easy place to feel inadequate, and it's also the place where late night self-doubt creeps in. In practice, I want my bedroom to feel like a sanctuary for self-acceptance.

office - authentic
The office is where I do all the things that relate to performance: blogging, emailing, working. In all these endeavors, I often want to feel perfect, am seeking approval, or am inspired by the lives of other people. Though none of those things are entirely negative, being authentic is a priority that surpasses them all...being authentic allows us to relax, directs us to our true path, and ultimately feels more rewarding. And I am always a huge fan of people that make me feel comfortable because they are comfortable.

kitchen - kind
Besides being a great opportunity for alliteration, this match made sense, because the kitchen is a place where I am often irritated. Joe and I both love cooking (and eat a lot), so we are constantly bumping into each other in our small space. I'm often hunting for surface area, or grumbling about the dirty dishes. Since the kitchen is a place I love so much, it should also be a space where I am welcoming and understanding.

bathroom - lighthearted
Because poop. And also, as Joe pointed out, a great place to sing in the shower.

living room - positive
When Joe and I talk about our days or ask each other for advice or discuss all the problems of the world, we are usually sitting in our living room. It's easy to get discouraged when conversation gets serious, so this is a nice reminder that there is always a silver lining, and I'm happy to be the person who finds it.

Who inspires you and what would your list of characteristics be?

6.03.2013

the beauty of our histories

When we look at pictures of our grandparents when they were young, we always think they were beautiful.

It doesn't matter how they might actually and objectively compare to today's standards...whether they had teensy waists or perfectly white, straight teeth. They are always beautiful.

Maybe it's the glamour of the era, the black-and-white photos. But I don't think so. I think it's youth, and history. When we see those photos, we see lifetimes, legends, and a past that connects to us. We see pieces of ourselves that we want to love.

grandparents

When I glam up for a night on the town, lining my eyes and pinking my lips, I can look in the mirror and say, "I feel pretty." But I've learned that it can also be an amazing experience to wash it all away at the end of the night.

When I see that face, when I see the real shape of my eyes and pallor of my skin, I see something far deeper than beauty. I see my siblings and parents and grandparents. I see Slovakia and Ireland and even a hint of the great plains of the US. I see children and grandchildren, and pictures that will come to look like history.

grandparents

Hopefully someday, my grandchildren will have taken these old digital photos of me and transferred them into some as yet unimagined form. They will sit with me and say, "Grandma, you were so beautiful." And oh, I hope so much, that I will have found the words to help them realize that they are beautiful. That their youth, their history, their humanity shines from their faces...and that is enough.