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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December 31

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

It has been a spectacular week of rest and celebration. And we’ve spent so much time at home, our little clan of three, finding immense joy in just being together. We’ve had more than a few days of lighting a fire and then never leaving this spot for the entire day…

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On Christmas Eve dear friends joined us for dinner. The kitchen was sparkling clean and the sun was shining…

We took the kids to the park for some fresh air and then came home, opened a bottle of Champagne and our friends put together a spectacular clam chowder with smoked marrow from Ox in Portland. Even without the smoked marrow, I’d make this my default recipe for chowder or even an elevated potato soup. It has a hefty amount of cream so it is rich, but without any flour or roux it isn’t thick but instead broth-y and pretty darn special…

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For dessert I made a flourless chocolate cake and my new favorite holiday cookie, grapefruit-fennel shortbread. (Side note: shortbread are incredibly easy to make gluten-free as they depend on butter rather than gluten as the binder. I subbed brown rice and oat flour for the AP flour.)

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There were also small, but delightful discoveries this week like giant pyramids of Maldon in the salt dish…

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And I have a few favorites among the gifts I gave and received this year, starting with these Starry Knight booties I found for my niece. My son had a similar pair that I loved. They are the perfect shoe for little feet that are just learning to feel the ground beneath them…

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I bought matching Grace Lee diamond disc bracelets for myself and my bestie - a pretty good upgraded friendship bracelet if I may say so. And I love that whenever I catch sight of it, I am reminded that she’s out there in the world…

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I also upgraded my rather tattered robe with this beautiful waffle weave one from Coyuchi

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I mentioned Askinosie Chocolate in my holiday gift guide. I bought a few bars to give as gifts, but to be honest they never made it out of my house. This Askinosie vegan milk chocolate is hands down the best chocolate I’ve ever had. Just incredible…

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I also fell hard for these Zwilling Madura nonstick pan. (I now have the 8” and 11”.) Bon Appetit proclaims it “the best nonstick pan we’ve ever used.”

We got rid of all of our chemical laden non-stick pans years ago and had a single 8” Greenpan for the sole purpose of making Spanish tortilla. However when we redid our kitchen, that little pan was the only one that wasn’t compatible with our new induction cooktop.

I am happy to say I can once again cook tortilla española but these pans have also been wonderful for making hashbrowns and fried rice and since we don’t have a microwave, reheating leftovers like pasta…

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I bought two of these extra-large LL Bean hunter totes that were perfect for toting gifts to and fro…

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Plus they have a coated lining so they wipeout and clean up like a dream. I think the large size would make perfect grocery totes…

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And the one thing I really hoped to receive this year was a pair of these short Hunter Chelsea boots (thank you in-laws!).

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Happy 2019. Wishing you peace and joy into the New Year.





 

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.

 

Free Solo

by Kelsi in ,


 

Last year I simply posted this when news broke that Alex Honnold had climbed El Capitan without ropes. You can now go see the film about his awe-inspiring achievement…

On June 3, 2017, Alex Honnold free soloed the Freerider route of El Capitan in three hours and 56 minutes. It wasn’t an act of recklessness but of the kind of planning worthy of a moon landing. It wasn’t an act of selfishness but an extraordinary gift to everyone who believes that the limit of human achievement is far from being reached. It wasn’t a useless stunt but a reminder that utility alone is a poor way to measure the grandeur of one man’s spirit.

From here.

 

Busy is a Decision

by Kelsi in , ,


 

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

My billboard would say this: “Busy is a decision.” Here’s why: Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something, the excuse “I am too busy” is not only the most inauthentic, it is also the laziest. I don’t believe in “too busy.” Like I said, busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.” It means you would rather be doing something else that you consider more important. That “thing” could be sleep, it could be sex, or it could be watching Game of Thrones. If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something what we are really, really saying is that it’s not a priority.

Simply put: You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.

We are now living in a society that sees busy as a badge. It has become cultural cachet to use the excuse “I am too busy,” as a reason for not doing anything we don’t feel like doing. The problem is this: if you let yourself off the hook for not doing something for any reason, you won’t ever do it. If you want to do something, you can’t let being busy stand in the way, even if you are busy. Make the time to do things you want to do and then do them.

- Debbie Millman

From Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

 

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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

 

 

 

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

by Kelsi in , ,


 
The most radical thing about him was his unwavering commitment to the value of kindness in the face of the world that could seem intent on devising new ways to be mean. “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day,” he would sing at the start of each episode. He made it sound so simple, but also as if he knew just how hard it could be.

"What Mister Rogers tried to teach us — how to navigate “some of the more difficult modulations” in everyday life — might now be classified as emotional literacy. He acknowledged that anger, fear and other kinds of hurt are part of the human repertoire and that children need to learn to speak honestly about those feelings, and to trust the people they share them with."

Read the whole NYT review here

 

A Birthday

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

My sweet boy turned 6 earlier this month. I can hardly believe he has less than a month left of Kindergarten. It has been such a wonderful year of growth not just for him but for us as parents too.

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We always host a birthday party for him at home, which is certainly a celebration of him but also a chance to get together with our extended family and a few close friends. It is always a full house and there is always lots of good food.

This year, I wanted to make The Birthday Cake from Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar. It looks like a process, and it is, but an incredibly fun one. I so enjoyed putting it together. And the technique of using a cake ring to cut the layers, acetate to build up the side frame and the freezer to set it is genius. I want to make all my layer cakes this way. It's fun and they look incredible. 

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 If your'e not familiar with the Momofuku birthday cake you should watch this video clip of Christina Tosi on Chef's Table and you can find the actual recipe on Bon Appetit...

Also inspired by Christina Tosi, I made a version of her Haute Dogs. However, I used Julia Turshen's foolproof and truly all-purpose yeasted dough recipe from her cookbook Small Victories. I've mentioned her cookbook here at least a few times as it is such a great one. In the cookbook she uses the dough recipe to make 12 raspberry jam buns. I used it to make 12 hot dog rolls (in fact I tripled the recipe to make 36) instead. I also used my stand mixer to initially mix the dough, then kneaded it for a few minutes as instructed. Then I put all three batches into a cambro, covered it with a towel and let it rise for about an hour until doubled in size. I punched it down, covered the bowl with the lid and stuck it in the fridge overnight until I was ready to make them the following morning.

I slathered a mustard butter on each roll and added this red onion jam before rolling them up and baking them. I piled them high on a sheetpan to serve and they were devoured by kids and adults alike.

I also made this great onion dip from Alison Roman served with classic ridged potato chips, a simple and bright cabbage slaw and a quadruple batch of these long time favorite salted brown butter crispy treats from Smitten Kitchen (though I more than double the Maldon sea salt it calls for).

For the adults I found these perfect mini cans of sparking Italian white and rosé at Trader Joe's. They are fantastic for a party, not too sweet and only $4 for a 4/pack...

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I also love hanging lots of paper streamers all over the house. It instantly makes the room feel happy and celebratory. I love the ones from the Oh Happy Day shop...

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In fact I love them so much that the ones in the dining room are still up...

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Lastly (and again related to Christina Tosi) I can't forget to mention these Confetti Cookies...

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

I made them to bring to my son's school on his actual birthday to share with his class. Three things in particular make these incredible. They are inspired by the technique of the snickerdoodle with the addition of cream of tartar. They have an incredibly long creaming process (a Milk Bar signature) about 10 minutes total. And the addition of milk powder which Tosi says adds chewiness as well as a depth of flavor. Full of sugar, dairy, gluten and artificially colored sprinkles! But for a special treat, I'd have a hard time passing up one of these. 

 

Living with Spaciousness

by Kelsi in , ,


Krista Tippett's conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the On Being conversations that I have listened to multiple times. Listening this time around it was this part about "living with spaciousness" that stuck with me the most...

MS. TIPPETT: Well, so — I’m very interested in general in this question of what poetry works in us. But I think even that question itself holds the implication that poetry is something separate, something distinct. But it seems that, in your sensibility, you see it as very organic. I mean, there’s — I think it was in some of your writing for poems by children, you said, “I do think that all of us think in poems.”

MS. SHIHAB NYE: I do. I do think that. And I think that is very important, not feeling separate from text, feeling sort of your thoughts as text or the world as it passes through you as a kind of text. The story that you would be telling to yourself about the street, even as you walk down it, or as you drive down it, as you look out the window, the story you would be telling — it always seemed very much to me, as a child, that I was living in a poem, that my life was the poem. And in fact, at this late date, I have started putting that on the board of any room I walk into that has a board.

I just came back from Japan a month ago, and in every classroom, I would just write on the board, “You are living in a poem.” And then I would write other things just relating to whatever we were doing in that class. But I found the students very intrigued by discussing that. “What do you mean, we’re living in a poem?” Or, “When? All the time, or just when someone talks about poetry?” And I’d say, “No, when you think, when you’re in a very quiet place, when you’re remembering, when you’re savoring an image, when you’re allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another, that’s a poem. That’s what a poem does.” And they liked that.

And a girl, in fact, wrote me a note in Yokohama on the day that I was leaving her school that has come to be the most significant note any student has written me in years. She said, “Well, here in Japan, we have a concept called ‘yutori.’” And it is spaciousness. It’s a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it’s leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you’re going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around. Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was to her.

But one of them was — and after you read a poem just knowing you can hold it, you can be in that space of the poem. And it can hold you in its space. And you don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see differently. And I just love that. I mean, I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say all these years. I should have studied Japanese. [laughs] Maybe that’s where all our answers are. In Japanese.


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.