Summer, Summer, Summertime

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

We are deep in summer mode over here. And it seems like the days are blitzing by faster than ever.

D feet.JPG

My husband has been traveling non-stop and luckily we were able to tag along on one of his recent work trips to Maui of all beautiful places. We rented a very simple VRBO in a great location and played in the ocean from 7:30am on. 

I packed all the essentials...

packing for maui.jpg

My suitcase was nearly identical to the one I took on our little trip to the beach last May. It's worth mentioning Suntegrity face sunscreen (I use the light shade) yet again. It is THE best and kept me well protected even while spending the entire day in the surf and the sun. Also these GoToob containers are new to me but they are fantastic. Easy to fill, easy to clean and spill-proof...

gotoob.jpg

Back home we are in the middle of a heatwave and I've been on the hunt for a great linen dress. I just ordered this one which has great potential...

Reformation Thelma dress.jpg

And while most of my yard is looking a bit toasty and dried out, my tomatoes and my Row 7 cucumbers are going gangbusters...

row 7 cucumbers.jpg

Since I was solo for dinner tonight I happily ate the entire batch of this smashed cucumber salad straight out of the mixing bowl standing at the kitchen counter...

smashed cucumber salad.JPG

And washed it down with a cold beer. This gluten-free blonde ale from local Ghostfish Brewing Company is really hitting the spot on these hot days...

ghostfish blonde ale.JPG

My sister-in-law just welcomed her third baby girl a week ago. We stopped by over the weekend to drop off food in exchange for some serious brand new tiny baby holding. I made this great turkey meat loaf from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook It's All Easy that I mentioned here. (I like the Mary's free-range ground turkey for this which you can find locally at Metropolitan Market.) If you don't have the book, Pamela Salzman posted the recipe here...

turkey meatloaf.JPG

I also made a double batch of this simple carrot salad (without the sunflower seeds and avocados). It is so simple and refreshing. And for a treat I made these peanut butter and jelly crumble bars (also from Pamela Salzman). I personally enjoy them straight from the freezer.

As the summer days continue to fly by, I am finding that no matter how pared down the schedule and how free and purposely unscheduled the days are, there is never enough time. Most of my days are filled with the household tasks that our lives are made of without room for much else. Books I've started are languishing on the nightstand. I have a list of things I'd love to work on. Number one on that list is revisiting my Spanish language study. And also doing a little Pilates matwork in the cool basement. I'd even love to just watch a show or two (I'm looking at you Killing Eve). But alas, by the time the chores are done, my son is in bed and I've prepped what needs to be prepped for the next day it is already bedtime.

Maybe there will be some extra time in the near future. And maybe not.

Right now my task is to be fully here. And as I type this, I'm sitting contentedly on the sofa in the dark with all the windows open, a lukewarm breeze coming through and I spy Venus out in the distance hanging high above in a perfectly clear sky.

 

 

 

How to Break Up With Your Phone

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

I'm not sure where I first saw the image below but it resonated strongly with me. Often when I have a break teaching and walk down to the coffee shop I pass person after person looking down, only to open the door to a room full of people again looking down, and stand in line to order my coffee behind a handful of people each one, again, looking down...

Mantra.PNG

Our lives are what we pay attention to.

I hope this slim and life-changing book by Catherine Price becomes as ubiquitous as another slim and life-changing book I love. Read more about it here and also here.

how to break up with your phone.JPG

At home we follow a 24 hour "tech sabbath" beginning Friday at 8pm until Saturday at 8pm (which Price mentions) which has been a game changer. I first learned about the idea of a "tech sabbath" from Tiffany Shlain and her converstation with Krista Tippett.

Do yourself (and your kids) a favor and read this book.

 

Begin Again

by Kelsi in , , , , ,


 
  Beautiful vintage indigo cloth from  Marine Area 7

Beautiful vintage indigo cloth from Marine Area 7

A few years ago my friend Rita gave me some sage advice that I still carry with me on a daily basis. I had mentioned how I was frustrated at the time that I had fallen off my own regular Pilates routine. I was re-hashing how maybe it was because I had a toddler at home and was juggling so much and that finding time for self-care no matter how much we enjoy it can be challenging...blah, blah, blah. Typical me, trying to find an explanation as to "why" beating myself up a bit in the process.

Rita wisely said, "We just begin again."

So here I am, two months absent from my last post, beginning again.

This week definitely feels like a new beginning. Today my son is back on his regular preschool schedule. This week also marks a new schedule change for me at the studio which allows me to better balance my home life/work life/husband's travel schedule. The weather here is incredibly beautiful - bright sun without a cloud in the sky but a not insignificant chill in the air. Change is coming.

The last two months have been full of home improvement projects. The kitchen of course (post on that forthcoming) and the exterior got a new coat of paint...

I've been happily spending all of my free time working out in the yard, cutting back plants and hauling and spreading mulch and wood chips. And for the first time I got it together to do a fall planting and put some kale and chard starts in the ground.

Working solo in the yard has also served as a bit of a refuge from the challenge of parenting a four year old who over the last few weeks has more resembled a mad king. At least that's how it feels. So far, four years old feels especially contradictory in that the highs are really high, magical even, where I can't believe my luck getting to be with this little person. But the lows are low, exposing what can feel like the worst in ourselves. Impatient and ungraceful. But the beauty therein lies that even when I am not my best self, tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning.

A huge bright light in the last few months has been discovering this not new podcast, On Being. I have much to say about what a pleasure it is to listen to Krista Tippett and the thoughtful conversations she has with thinkers, artists, scientists, writers. But for now, it isn't a stretch to say that it is life-changing. 

I am enamored with these Japanese towels I picked up at Canoe while we were in Portland last month. We have a small bathroom and no room for a proper towel rack, just hangers on the door so these quick to dry, soft and beautiful towels were a big upgrade. Plus they take up hardly any space in the linen closet.

I'm also in love with my new Hario kettle and teak trivet (also from Canoe)...

It was time for a new pair of wool slippers...

And a new pair of boots...

This Everlane shirt also just arrived on my doorstep and it is pretty perfect. 

 

It's All Easy

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I've been on a self-imposed cookbook hiatus. (I have a wee bit of a cookbook habit.) But I broke it this week when I bought GP's new one, It's All Easy. Her recipes are always good. Really good. And foolproof. And the recipes in this new book are so spot on to how I like to cook and eat these days that it felt like it was written especially for me.

But when I read the introduction it seemed clear that this book would also hit home with many of my friends, sister-in-laws, clients (pretty much 95% of the people in my circle) who also strive to juggle it all (work, family, personal aspirations) and ultimately find some simplicity in their hectic day to day lives.

"When I sat down to start this book, I had been polling my friends and colleagues on what sort of cookbook they were looking for. These friends all seemed to have a common culinary yearning: They wanted a collection of recipes that they could prepare easily. They wanted to find themselves in the kitchen at the end of their overextended day and be able to prepare something delicious and quick.

Their lives are packed with responsibility and work and children. And yet, they were not willing to give up on the moment – the small beautiful moment of preparing food with some care, by one's own hand, and sitting down to eat it with the people they love. Essentially, they yearned for the moment that is the antidote to all their busyness. A simple reset of the compass toward wholeness and quality at the end of the day, before the next morning comes, bringing with it the dizziness of being pulled in so many directions, a splitting of priorities.

How to integrate “busy” (anxiety, fullness of schedule, responsibility) with quality of inner life seems to be the issue on the table (so to speak). It’s almost as if the more we pile on our plates, the deeper we long for the simpler aspects of life, which makes perfect sense. But how can we achieve this balance?



Everywhere I go, everyone seems to be inundated with obligation. Everyone is under an intense amount of pressure to do multiple things simultaneously, and to be doing them at an impossibly high standard. It seems to be a facet of life for our generation: hyper-responsibility. I'm not quite sure why we have done this to ourselves or how/why this drive was imparted to us, but we seem to be living lives where our self-imposed standards leave little time for daydreams and meanderings. We yearn for that lost aspect of life, before smart phones hijacked picnics and walks on the beach. Before media, in all its new forms, made you so aware of what everyone else was doing that the magic of solitude gave rise to FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

My friends said they wanted to make good food quickly and easily, but what are they really saying? What is the feeling they are seeking? A road map, perhaps, for a way back to something. That warm wash of simplicity. It takes effort to carve out those moments, and increasingly we need a framework from which we can hang them. Good food at a table can provide the framework.

The food doesn't need to be complicated to be good. You don't need to work for days to create that feeling of fullness. There has been many a night when I have stood in front of the open pantry, totally at a loss for what to throw together, and settled on pasta with butter and cheese, or a can of organic tomato soup and a grilled cheese, or frozen Amy's pizza bites. Meaning, I've done the best I can on that particular day, and gone really easy on myself… with a large glass of wine on the side and no guilt." GP

And a side note...thanks to Molly for directing me to this "Grain Forecast" article in The New Yorker. I could barely keep myself from falling off my chair I was laughing so hard. 

 

Recharging

by Kelsi in , ,


 
IMG_0508.JPG

I have about a dozen draft posts saved but nothing fully written. I've been hibernating a bit the last few weeks recharging. I started the new year feeling exhausted and it was time to go back to the basics of good self-care which for me includes taking a break from coffee, a break from the news, putting myself in bed by 9:30pm and doing my daily Pilates exercises. It's working. I'll be back soon but in the meantime...

These IDLF selvedge jeans look pretty perfect.

And some reading material...

An oldie but a goodie from last fall if you missed it, Sherry Turkle's NYT article "Stop Googling. Let's Talk."

"We've gotten used to being connected all the time, but we have found ways around conversation - at least from conversation that is open-ended and spontaneous, in which we play with ideas and allow ourselves to be fully present and vulnerable. But it is in this type of conversation - where we learn to make eye contact, to become fully aware of another person's posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another - that empathy and intimacy flourish. In these conversations, we learn who we are."

Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.

The value of solitude is something that speaks to me personally so this passage especially resonated with me...

"In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation with something to say that is authentic, ours. If we can’t gather ourselves, we can’t recognize other people for who they are. If we are not content to be alone, we turn others into the people we need them to be. If we don’t know how to be alone, we’ll only know how to be lonely...when we are secure in ourselves, we are able to really hear what other people have to say. At the same time, conversation with other people, both in intimate settings and in larger social groups, leads us to become better at inner dialogue."

You can also find her book here

 

The days go by...

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

I remember writing this around this same time last year:

"Then all of a sudden it's like there isn't five minutes of extra time for anything. We become busy with the tasks of daily living,  the days go by, the weeks go by and suddenly it's almost April. I've realized that writing a blog keeps you accountable. It documents the days, the time spent away. The silence."

I've found myself in the same place, and feeling in a bit of a slump. Things are busy; juggling schedules, childcare and just the day to day stuff. And usually during D's nap time, I relish in some solo time to cook, clean up a bit and get things done. But this last week I've just been sitting, blank. Sitting at the dining table feeling unmotivated to do anything.

It wasn't until I was doing my daily meditation with the help of Headspace (which I mentioned a few weeks ago) when Andy addressed the "boredom" that some experience when starting a meditation practice, when I realized that that was exactly what I was feeling, not just in meditation but in life. He went on to explain that the boredom we experience, the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else or doing something else, comes from a lack of curiosity about the process and that we're not really present with what’s happening.

The more we can be present and genuinely curious in each and every moment that’s happening, the less likely we are to experience boredom.

 

"If we’re only interested in getting a result from the exercise and we’re not really interested in the journey and the process of it, then we’re never really going to find the answer we’re looking for. Because the journey and the process is the answer. It’s learning to observe with a soft focus. It is with a curious mind, with an open mind, that we start to experience a greater sense of calm and clarity in everyday life."

I didn't realize how much I was looking ahead until Andy mentioned it. Maybe it happens to all parents of small children. Maybe we do it in the interest of self-preservation - a reminder that these tough times are fleeting and it won’t always be like this. No matter how wonderful your kid is, these formative years are really tough. The demanding, near constant attention required of you as a parent, setting boundaries, battles over diaper changing and lots of "I want to do it all by myself!" make it not always easy to be fully present.

I felt instant relief when I could recognize it and wouldn't you know I came out of my boredom and got up from the dining table. It's an ongoing challenge, to be present. But it's something I work on every day and happy to say, am getting better at. Having a kid has certainly changed me in expected ways. But I do love being surprised by the unforeseen changes as well. I don't think I would have held the goal of "be more present" as highly as I do now had I not had a child. And working on that ultimately makes me a happier, well-balanced human being and it's a skill I can carry throughout my life.

And now here we are. It is already the second week of April. And there are other important things to discuss. Like rhubarb.

I am a complete sucker for rhubarb and those bright red stalks find their way into my shopping cart pretty much every time I go to the market. As Nigel Slater says, "How could anyone not love something known as the pie plant?" I'd love to make this rhubarb-almond cake from this month's Bon Appetit...

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

Molly's Roasted Rhubarb (which I too will happily eat straight from the fridge, no bowl required) is stellar. Or just make a simple compote to put over pretty much everything. 

This sparkly top just arrived in the mail this week which I love and first saw on Le Catch. Now I just need a pair of black wide leg trousers to go with it (and a party to attend).

Ilia Lipstick strike it up.png

Historically, I am not a lipstick wearer. I love a good lip balm, or sometimes a nude gloss, but Ilia has made me change my ways. They wear like a lip balm with sheer but rich color with a semi-matte finish. I like Strike it Up and Ink Pot.  

I'm also really enjoying Sarah Britton's new cookbook. I've been a huge fan of hers (you can read about her lentil salad here) and her book does not disappoint.

Now I'm going to go work on being present as I await the premiere of Game of Thrones.

 

A New Year

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I don't tend to set specific resolutions for the new year. Though I've realized that I do have a specific year end ritual which involves deep cleaning at home and clearing from my mind "that which has outgrown its usefulness" to make space for the new. 

Simplicity. Own less, live more. These are not new ideas for me.  After all I wrote this on my about page... My mantra isn't really "less is more" but rather "get rid of the stuff that isn't all that useful or enjoyable and save room only for the things that really make you happy."

But I just got this life changing book two weeks ago that took it all to a new level.

After spending the past week going through my house, every room, closet, dresser and cabinet, I have realized that there has never been a truer title to a book.

After all, what is the point in tidying? If it’s not so that our space and the things in it can bring us happiness, then I think there is no point at all. Therefore, the best criterion for choosing what to keep and what to discard is whether keeping it will make you happy, whether it will bring you joy.

Are you happy wearing clothes that don’t give you pleasure? Do you feel joy when surrounded by piles of unread books that don’t touch your heart? Do you think that owning accessories you know you’ll never use will ever bring you happiness? The answer to these questions should be no. Now imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. Isn’t this the lifestyle you dream of?

Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.

Happy tidying.

 

 

 

Rescue Me

by Kelsi in ,


 
Health depends on being in harmony with our souls.
— Dr. Edward Bach

I first learned about Bach Flower Remedies a few years ago and now use them daily. They are homeopathic, gentle and yet incredibly effective at helping to bring us back into harmony or balance. 

Dr. Bach developed his remedies in the 1930s, believing that certain pure flower essences can clear the energy that holds us in a stagnant or hazy state. They are intended to help restore a lighthearted mindset, in which the body is free to heal itself.

One of the most well-known remedies is Rescue Remedy, which is actually a blend of five Bach Flower Remedies designed to help with immediate problems. This mix "was created by Dr. Bach to deal with emergencies and crises - the moments when there is no time to make a proper individual selection of remedies. It can be used to help us get through any stressful situation, from last-minute exam or interview nerves, to the aftermath of an accident or bad news. Rescue Remedy helps us relax, get focused and get the needed calmness."

Many people (myself included) keep Rescue Remedy in their purse, at the office, in the car or in the diaper bag for challenging days or situations you might encounter.

photo 3 (10).JPG

If you are working through an underlying problem – or if you need rescuing every day – you will find a longer-term solution by selecting a personal blend of remedies.

I also like to keep White Chestnut handy at home and take it before bed whenever I have too much going on and have trouble turning off my brain, making it tough to sleep. It clears my head immediately.

To learn more about how the remedies work, this is a great resource.

They are widely available at natural markets like PCC, here in Seattle, Whole Foods or Pharmaca.

 

 

Exercise Less, Move More

by Kelsi in , ,


 
  In the  studio

In the studio

When I was first learning Pilates, one of the first things I noticed was how I became aware of my body during the rest of my day and not just when I was in the studio working out for an hour. I noticed that I sat hunched forward with my neck sticking out when I typed at the computer. While driving I sat crooked with my left leg cocked to the side.

This was a revelation. Up until then I went about my day without ever giving a second thought to how I moved my body. It was as if my body and mind were separate. My body was left on autopilot while my mind occupied itself with the important distractions of "modern life."

I started to make little changes throughout the day, putting my head and legs back where they belonged in proper alignment. I began taking deeper breaths and found myself pulling my stomach in when vacuuming or carrying the groceries. And that was the whole point of Joe's method of Contrology (now known as Pilates). He didn't want you to spend hours and hours in the studio exercising. He wanted you to learn and translate his method of movement into your normal everyday life so that your body and mind worked together to become the best, most balanced, happy and healthy version of itself.

Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities.
— Joe Pilates, Return to Life

With the current state of our largely sedentary lifestyles, there have been a few recent articles stating the importance of moving, and moving often, rather than focusing on being at the gym a few hours a week. From Outside Magazine:

Even those with excellent exercise habits spend most of their non-exercise time not moving. When we’ve checked the exercise box, we perceive ourselves as active, but it is the almost-all-day stillness that is the problem.

Paying attention to how we walk, sit, stand, pick up the groceries and all the other tasks that make up our day is valuable.

This was all in Joe's manifesto as well, written 70 years ago...

One of the major results of Contrology is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control of your body. In practically every instance the daily acts we perform are governed by what we THINK we see, hear, or touch, without stopping first to analyze or think of the possible results of our actions, good or bad. As the result of habit or reflex action, we wink, dodge, and operate machines more or less automatically.

With this attentiveness and control comes balance to the mind and body and allows you to move efficiently and effectively all throughout your day. 

Even if you've never practiced Pilates there are a few easy things you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your quality of movement.

Breathing. Most of us breathe very shallow, especially true when under stress or anxiety. Pay attention to your breath throughout the day and remind yourself to fully exhale, squeezing all the air out of your lungs.

Fight gravity. Whether you are sitting or standing, strive to be ever taller. Try to keep your head on top of your spine reaching the crown of your head to the ceiling. Visualize making your spine as long and straight as you can from head to tail and pull your stomach in and up to support the length.

Walking. Keep your eyes forward rather than the ground. So many of us, particularly women, walk with our eyes cast down. The eyes direct the body where to go so if you spend a lot of time looking down, the head shoulders and upper back will follow suit. Keep your eyes looking straight in front of you as you walk, and practice fighting gravity.

There is natural grace and strength in all of us. We just have to start paying attention to ourselves and see the potential. Move well and enjoy life.