Good Intentions

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I am big on goal setting, or rather intention setting. Goal setting was a big thing when I was a kid training as a rhythmic gymnast. “Finish in the top eight” or “make the national team” might have been the thing for that year. The focus was always on the outcome. But as I’ve grown and acquired a bit more wisdom, I am way more interested in setting intentions and the actual process of doing or learning something than accomplishing a task in and of itself.

Intentions allow us to be fully present and also provide room for change, growth, mistakes, and joy. I am big on “respecting the process” and apply that mantra not only in my own life but also in how I parent and how I teach in the Pilates studio - “We are not trying to do something perfectly or move in a perfect way. The intention is what matters - moving with intention, reaching with intention, standing with intention, looking with intention.” I talk about it every day.

I’ve always loved this passage from Maria Popova’s “10 Learnings”:

Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living.

This year I want to really focus my intentions on my (and in turn our) financial life. More than just monitoring our spending (thank you YNAB!) I want to really change my spending habits and be even more thoughtful in all aspects of our spending and consuming life.

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My “remove from cart” mentality applies not only to impulsive online shopping but to all our spending and household necessities.

We rarely eat out but good quality local food is expensive and our monthly grocery bill is large. So beginning this month I set an aggressive grocery budget on You Need a Budget and I already know that around January 23rd I’m likely going to be hitting the ceiling. And when that happens, I’m going to play with only cooking from the pantry and cleaning out the fridge and see how far I can stretch it. I like a good challenge.

As I was thinking about all this, the January newsletter from PCC arrived with “Food Waste” as the primary issue - “If you don’t buy it, you can’t waste it.”

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My favorite place to write down all of my intentions, not just in January but throughout the year, is in a Moleskine notebook

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With a fresh Micron pen

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Gratitude

by Kelsi in , ,


 

With profound gratitude on this day, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Messenger

by Mary Oliver
 
My work is loving the world. 
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — 
equal seekers of sweetness. 
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums. 
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
 
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? 
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me 
keep my mind on what matters, 
which is my work,
 
which is mostly standing still and learning to be 
astonished. 
The phoebe, the delphinium. 
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. 
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
 
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart 
and these body-clothes, 
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy 
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, 
telling them all, over and over, how it is 
that we live forever.

 

Simple Pleasures

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

We are enjoying a quiet long weekend at home before getting back into the regular swing of things with school starting this week. Like last year, I am taking the first part of September off to not only help ease us back into school life at home, but to spend two weeks recharging myself and gearing up for the new year ahead. To me September feels more like a time of renewal than January 1st does. 

I have a few house projects on my list, like repainting the hallway,  and lots of purging/organizing endeavors. But I'm also finding time just to think and work on an upcoming creative project that I'm really excited about.

I've finally started an Instagram account for the blog so you can also find me here.

The weather this weekend has been stellar. Comfortably warm but with a bit of a chill in the air that seemed to happen as soon as the calendar flipped to September 1. These are perfect conditions to spend time in the garden.

 

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I harvested the last of my cucumbers and my Row 7 potatoes which were a  huge winner. I'm devoting an entire bed to them next year. I also started moving plants around and cleaning out crops past their due and cutting back the blackberry vines that take over my front slope this time of year. 

I wrote about Floret Farm's book at the end of last summer and followed through and ordered Dahlia tubers from her in the spring. These giants are lighting up the front yard right now...

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I've been making watermelon juice that is even more refreshing than the gazpacho I've been downing the last two days. If you don't have a juicer, simply blend up the watermelon in a blender. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer and let it chill until it's good and cold. When you're ready to drink, squeeze half of a lime in your glass and a pinch of salt.

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It is summer in a glass...

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I have loved watching All or Nothing: Manchester City. LOVED. Go watch it.

I also just finished reading Attachments which was recommended by my mother-in-law (Hi Pierr!). It is such a perfect summer read - great dialogue, smart and incredibly funny. I couldn't stop reading and read it all in one go...

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My hair is the longest it's ever been and after a summer of playing in both the surf and sun the ends are bit fried. I love Weleda products and just discovered this rosemary hair oil. I've been putting it on my ends (and even my scalp) before bed and washing it out in my morning shower. It has made a world of difference. You can also find it here...

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I've also been using this wonderful salt scalp scrub shampoo (say that three times fast) the last two months. You use it just once a week though I really want to use it daily I look forward to it that much...

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Also in need of a little TLC after the summer heat and constant sunscreen, my skin needs a little decongesting and I super love this new Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial from Biossance...

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I'm looking forward to testing out their new deodorant...

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I bought a few of these air-purifiers recommended by Wirecutter this spring during allergy season and the difference was immediate. After one night, we all woke up with cleared sinuses. Fast forward to last month when Seattle was hit hard from wildfire smoke. We were so grateful to have these in our house. I also bought one for my studio...

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I'm really liking these twin-line flossers. They are also helpful for teaching my six year old how to floss...

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And I have a new pair of favorite jeans. These relaxed boyfriend ones from Everlane remind me of my old 501s from high school. I have the vintage sky blue wash below...

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But I have my eye on the washed black ones as well...

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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...

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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.

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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.

 

Super Sunday

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

After weeks of downpours and darkness, the sun made an unexpected appearance today! I always feel a burst of energy when the sunlight streams though the windows (we all probably do). I opened up the windows to let some fresh air in and went about ticking things off my to-do list before the football game this afternoon.

First, breakfast...

Every Sunday I make sourdough waffles (or today my son requested pancakes) with a special family recipe. They are spectacular. The sourdough starter has been in my husband's family since 1973. Yup, 45 YEARS. You can read more about sourdough here and if you want to make your own to "feed" and keep alive, this is a good place to start.

Last night I was clicking away on Food52 and read this genius recipe about how to achieve fluffy pancakes. They key is to separate the eggs. You don't have to whip the whites or do anything extra. You just add the whites last after you've mixed everything else together. I decided to try the technique this morning and yup, they were the fluffiest pancakes we've made yet. So if you have a favorite pancake recipe, give it a try... 

 

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Next task, the closet... (can you see the sun?!)

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After doing a full-on-whole-house-Marie-Kondo-purge three years ago, every 6 months or so I pull everything out of closet once again. I try everything on and cull whatever I no longer love or wear. I refold it all and happily put everything back in its place. I really enjoy this process and it never feels like an overwhelming task...

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Going through my denim, I have a few current favorites and they are almost all Everlane. Everlane has really knocked it out of the park with their denim line. It is not only affordable, but the fabric is a premium heavyweight Japanese denim, the cuts are smart and they are ethically made. They also come in regular and ankle length. I love these high-waisted ones  and have them in both the mid-blue wash and black. I also have the modern boyfriend in not only several washes (mid-blue, light and white) but also in a few sizes as well. My regular size is a true boyfriend jean with a nice slouch. But I also sized down one size, which makes them a little less slouchy and a perfect everyday straight leg...

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I also love these from AGOLDE (I ordered one size down from my regular size)...

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A few other new additions that I love - this bra from Thirdlove...

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Some new workout/teaching gear from Outdoor Voices. I LOVE these 3/4 leggings and this bra (the wide straps and scoop back are especially great)...

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I picked up a shorter pair as well...

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I also love this new bra from Lululemon...

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Last thing before gametime, breaking down the recycling. Not a very glamorous task but thanks to my friend Omar I have a new smart little tool for opening up packages and breaking down boxes.

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Further proof that good design makes even the smallest, seemingly mundane tasks enjoyable.

Game time!

 

For the weekend

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

Watch this amazing video of Candide Thovex skiing across the planet on everything but snow...

I loved this interview "You Don't Look 60" with Bobbi Brown on Goop...

photo from Goop

photo from Goop

I relate to her outlook, especially this part about being curious and open-minded and knowing best...

I’m constantly curious—I’m a seeker. I try everything. I tried Bulletproof because it sounded great, but I’d consume 450 calories worth of fat in my coffee and I was still hungry—so that didn’t work (for me). So I went Paleo—that didn’t work, either. I try, and I figure it out. What’s working for me is Intuitive Eating. It doesn’t make me feel bad because I had cottage cheese, or I had really good French bread in the best bakery. It’s my body, my health, and I know best. I’m open, though!

I just got Nadine Levy Redzepi's (wife to Noma chef René) new cookbook from the library and as you can see below, I've flagged nearly half of it. It is full of lovely, simple and delicious recipes and excellent tips no matter your cooking prowess. René wrote the forward and I loved this passage:

"You may feel it's hard, or even impossible, to cook one meal a day when you have to make a living in the modern world. I see your point (in a way, even I can't do that for my kids!). Yet in this book I see someone who, by creating habits just like people do with exercise, has made the act of cooking effortless and endlessly generative. There is so much you can do if you simply begin to try."

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We love Patagonia at our house. If you have 30 minutes this weekend listen to this conversation between Guy Raz and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard on the How I Built This podcast...

Andrew Holder for NPR

Andrew Holder for NPR

The best wisdom comes at the very end...

I believe in the more you know the less you need.

The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life, because everything pulls you to be more and more complex...Either we’re forced or we decide to go to a more simple life, it’s not gonna be an impoverished life. It’s gonna be really rich.

I am still a die-hard Blue Bottle Coffee fan. I make myself a cup or two of Bella Donovan every morning with their ceramic dripper. I often take a cup with me on my drive to the studio, but in my thermal mug it stays way too hot to sip. So I picked up this beautiful little Keep Cup so I could actually sip my coffee while listening to On Being...which makes contending with Seattle traffic all the more civilized and tolerable...

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It has been pouring here the last week(s), paired with pretty consistent winds. I am loving our Blunt umbrella that not only shields from the rain beautifully but can withstand the wind to boot. We have the classic but they make a smaller metro size too...

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Despite the weather, I picked up these incredibly bright and fun sandals on super sale at Net-a-Porter. They will stay in the box for the next few months but I can wait...

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The Basics - Personal Care Products

by Kelsi in , ,


 

Most of the basic personal care products I love and use everyday are easy to find. Everything below (with the exception of Cocofloss) I find at my favorite local grocery, PCC. You can also find them at Pharmaca, Whole Foods and Thrive Market. All of them are incredibly effective, non-toxic and free of all the chemicals/fillers that are in most mainstream products.

I wash my hands a lot throughout the day especially when I'm at the studio teaching so I also go through a lot of hand cream to keep my skin from drying out. This sea buckthorn hand cream from Weleda is my favorite. It absorbs right away, is deeply moisturizing and never greasy. It's the only one I use...

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Also from Weleda, this sea buckthorn body lotion is fantastic. It rubs in immediately and keeps my skin soft and moisturized all day even in the dry winter months...

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A few years ago, an effective natural deodorant seemed impossible to find. I've long loved this one from Soapwalla. However having to apply it with your fingers isn't for everyone. Enter Schmidt's. It is aluminum and artificial fragrance free and equally important, it really works. There are two formulas, one without baking soda which some people are sensitive to. I've used both and love the tea tree one and the charcoal + magnesium one (which my husband also uses)...

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Weleda's salt toothpaste is incredibly refreshing without any minty aftertaste. Xyliwhite is my other favorite. They also make one for kids that my son loves. All are fluoride free...

 
 
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Cocofloss is really great floss. I prefer mint and we have a subscription that delivers every 4 months...

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I also love this mouthwash my dentist recommended from BR... 

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This Dr. Bronner's shaving gel is a favorite of mine and my husband's. (If you prefer a cream shave, this one from Weleda is great as well, plus it is the perfect travel size.)

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The only downside to the Dr. Bronner's shave gel is it's not really the right container for the thin gel consistency so it leaks and makes a mess. I picked up a squeeze bottle like this one at PCC and decanted it which solves the issue...

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Lastly, I couldn't live without Burt's Bees original lip balm. I carry it with me wherever I go. I buy a four pack from Thrive...

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Opening to Our Lives

by Kelsi in , , ,


 
We call ourselves homo sapiens sapiens. That’s the species name we’ve given ourselves. And that comes from the Latin sapere, which means “to taste” or “to know. “ The species that knows and knows that is knows. And now maybe we need to live ourselves into owning that name by cultivating awareness and awareness of awareness itself and let that be in some sense the guide as to what we’re going to invest in, how we’re going to make decisions about where we live, where we are going to send our kids to school, how we’re going to be at the dinner table. Whether we’re going to take our bodies and our children and our parents for granted, or whether we’re going to live life as if it really mattered moment by moment.

The more we can sort of learn these lessons, the more we will not be in some sense running towards our death, but opening to our lives. There’s a huge distinction between the two. And all the scientific evidence is suggesting that when you choose life in the way I’m talking about, your brain changes in both form and function, your immune system changes, your body changes. I mean, we start to really take care of what’s most important. And there are very, very tangible results at the level of the body, the mind, and the heart, and most importantly our relationships with the world and with our loved ones and with our own bodies.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn
 

Friday

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Ahh Friday. I am happy to see you. It's been a short week actually as we had an unexpected snow day on Monday. Much of that day was spent sitting at this table drinking coffee...

I also made a batch of Pamela's vegan chocolate chip cookies - one of our favorites, especially straight out of the freezer. I am embarrassed to admit that our small household devoured the entire batch in less than two days. I recently discovered that I have an egg sensitivity. Another stellar cookie recipe (that also happens to be egg-free) are these peanut butter ones from Heidi Swanson (again best enjoyed straight from the freezer).

Speaking of Heidi Swanson, you should give her toasted coconut milk a try...

It's been a quietly emotional week. The kind where a bit of melancholy sits below the surface and I can't quite put a finger on it. I am sure the weather is a contributing factor, as are current events but I realized the source is close to home. Kindergarten tours are going on right now so the realization that my son will be one of those little people come September is sinking in. I have this sweet photo of him posted on the inside of my closet at the studio that I've been spending a lot of time looking at...

Children have a profound way of showing you just how quickly time goes by. And while I find great joy in watching D grow and become a little person, at times it feels too fast. I'm feeling that right now. A mix of joy and sadness all at once.

I think a lot about what my favorite poet-philosopher David Whyte said in this conversation that one of the delusions we have is that we can "take a sincere path in life without having our heart broken. And you think about the path of parenting, there’s never been a mother or father since the beginning of time who hasn’t had their heart broken by their children. And nothing traumatic has to happen. All they have to do is grow up."

To combat the melancholy I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen which has always been an excellent form of therapy for me. I've also been writing - lists and letters and just general thoughts which has been made even more enjoyable since I finally bought myself a proper pen. Two actually. Both are brass which I think will patina beautifully. This one for home...

And this one (also available here) I take with me always along with a lined Moleskine notebook...

I also wrote down this quote from Willem Dafoe in my notebook which is pretty much my mantra...

There’s a real wisdom to not saying a thing.

It speaks to the introvert in me, but also perfectly explains my personal ethos as a teacher.

Happy weekend.

 

Giving Thanks

by Kelsi in , , ,


 
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We just returned from four days together in San Diego. Four days of no iphones, no Instagram, no news. We took photographs with a point and shoot camera instead of our phones. We just enjoyed time together that looked like this...

And this...

It felt so good to create some space and limit the amount of "input" I was exposing myself to so I'm going to keep it going. I deleted Instagram from my phone so I wouldn't be tempted throughout the day to pick it up and just mindlessly flip through. Instead of NPR and the NY Times, I've been listening nonstop to On Being. I've been trying to write a post about Krista Tippett and On Being for several months (and I mentioned it back in September). I still can't find the right words, so again I'll just urge you to start listening.

On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.

From here.

I am thrilled to be hosting Thanksgiving this year and am ready to put our new kitchen through its paces. At this very moment I have the house to myself and while I listen to the new Kings of Leon album, chicken stock is burbling next to me. By the way I'm head over heels for my Miele induction cooktop. One of these days I will give you a full report on the kitchen...

If you have never made homemade stock before, it is so easy and the reward is rich. You can always trust Pamela Salzman. Find her basic chicken stock recipe here. I love PCC which is where I do nearly all of my grocery shopping and in the freezer section in the meat department you can find organic chicken backs/bones and even chicken feet which are stellar for stock and all super affordable.

If you've made stock before, you know that as soon as it starts to boil a pretty unsightly foam appears on the surface which you are supposed to skim off. If you've never made stock it looks like this very un-Instagram worthy photo...

A cool trick I learned from a cooking class at The Pantry awhile back, is to put the bones in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil and just let the bones boil for 10 minutes to bring out all the impurities. After 10 minutes, pour it all into a colander and rinse/clean the bones in cold water. Put the bones back in the pot and fill with clean water and begin your stock. Not only do you not have to fuss with trying to get all the foam out but it results in a beautifully clear looking (and tasting) broth. After it has cooled and I've skimmed the fat, I freeze my stock in these containers...

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Next up on my to do list is pie dough.

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I come from a line of epic pie bakers. My grandmother used to make her crust by feel, a scoop full of flour, some fat, a little salt, a little water. That sense was not passed down to me, but I took one of the very first Pie Ninja classes that Brandy taught when she opened The Pantry. She completely demystified the seemingly impossible feat for many of making a pie with a flaky butter crust. The world needs more pie. If you're intimidated, again you can trust Pamela Salzman. Find her apple pie recipe here. She'll even show you how to make the crust, roll it out and get it into the dish...

Also, it's good to know that flour goes rancid quite easily. Fresh flour pretty much has no smell. If you open up your bag of flour that has been sitting in your cupboard for several months and it has a distinct smell, it is bad. You might even think that that smell is what flour is supposed to smell like. Dump it. If you live locally, find Stone-Buhr flour from the good people of Shepherd's Grain at PCC. Also if you are like me and don't often use AP white flour, you might want to store it well sealed in the freezer to prolong its life.

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With all that has gone on in the last few weeks, I am hopeful, and I am grateful. If anything I think many of us have replaced a sort of complacency with a new sense of ownership in our lives asking ourselves, "What can I do?" Where to begin? Open your mind and your heart and your eyes to others around you. When you are waiting in line for your coffee, or sitting alone at lunch, whatever it is, resist the urge to look down at the device in your hands and instead lift your head up and appreciate the humanity that surrounds you.

With immense gratitude, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

And hell yes REI. #optoutside