July 23

by Kelsi in , , , , , , ,


 

Last week we broke ground on a long-anticipated dream project, the building of our backyard studio, which will be a work/art space for my husband. Our little one car garage was demolished to kick it off…

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While watching the demo I made Pamela Salzman’s grain-free chocolate zucchini cake (which is crazy good by the way). My happy version of multi-tasking…

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Speaking of cake, Simple Cake by Odette Williams is a wonderful book and one I’d highly recommend for your library whether you consider yourself a baker or not…

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I’m really enjoying this turmeric tonic from Further Food. I blend a scoop of it with cold water and a little honey syrup (recipe for honey syrup here) and then drink it over ice with my favorite glass straw

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I’ve had a lot on my plate the last few weeks and my advanced food prep has been lagging. Thankfully I’ve found a go-to protein powder that I love and helps me get by if I have nothing to grab before walking out the door. I mix one scoop of this Amazing Grass Protein Superfood and two scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen with 12oz of orange juice and whip it up in the Vitamix for an easy and satiating breakfast. And on really long teaching days when I don’t have a break between clients I will make a double batch and bring it to the studio in this 32oz insulated Klean Kanteen

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This Tony's Chocolonely Almond Sea Salt bar is my absolute favorite chocolate and I always have a few bars on hand…

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I just bought several sheets of these beautiful Ellsworth Kelly stamps

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My husband and I both carry around this Memento Mori as a daily reminder to be present and focus on what really matters.

“Meditating on your mortality is only depressing if you miss the point. It is in fact a tool to create priority and meaning. It’s a tool that generations have used to create real perspective and urgency. To treat our time as a gift and not waste it on the trivial and vain. Death doesn’t make life pointless but rather purposeful. And fortunately, we don’t have to nearly die to tap into this. A simple reminder can bring us closer to living the life we want.”

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I am a big fan of Stoicism and recommend signing up for The Daily Stoic which is put together by Ryan Holiday (he has a book by the same name). His other books The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy are also worth a read…

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Wendy Whelan’s line to live by is one I live by too…

Energy produces energy.
Photo via    La Ligne

Photo via La Ligne

Lastly, Esther Perel’s On Being conversation is a delight to listen to…

Photo via    On Being

Photo via On Being

One of my favorite parts near the end of the conversation:

When I say, “The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives,” it’s because I do think that the bonds and the connections that we forge with others give us a greater sense of meaning and happiness and wellbeing than just about any other thing — when it’s good, because it can be exactly the opposite, huh?

And now it’s like, how much are you investing in your relationships? And I find that, often, people don’t. They talk about “my partner is my best friend,” and they treat them like shit. They talk about “my friend,” and they haven’t seen that person or talked to that person in years. It’s like, no, you can’t just do it like that. You can’t be lazy. You can’t be complacent about this and put all your energies at work and bring the leftovers home — and all of that stuff.

Or I have this question I’ve been playing with lately, and I just asked it in Sydney. I was like, “How many of you go to bed, and the last thing you touch is your phone? OK, stand up. And how many of you, the first thing you stroke in the morning when you wake up is your phone? Please stand up. And how many of you are doing this while there actually is another person lying next to you in bed?” That’s ambiguous loss, by the way. I’m like, seriously? Seriously?

So that’s what I am trying to address at this point; it’s like, interestingly, we don’t look at relational health enough. We don’t connect it to mental health. We don’t connect it to our overall physical health. And we certainly don’t connect it enough to our societal health, if we want to really go bigger. It’s not the freedom that is our problem. It’s not the fact that we have choice, but they have always gone together with responsibility, with accountability.

You can see more of Esther Perel in her TED talk from a few years back and read her book Mating in Captivity.

 

Summer Ready

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

School is out for the summer and we couldn’t be more ready for it. I’m thrilled to have a break from making school lunches and am looking forward to more leisurely mornings.

We had a real scorcher into the mid 90s this week and I’ve been grateful to have these bamboo roll up shades on our exterior west facing windows to cut the heat. They really do the job but I also love the diffused light they create inside the house too…

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Summer to me also means cobblers and crisps and this fantastic apple rhubarb cobbler from Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet is my current favorite. I mentioned Alanna’s book Alternative Baker and her miraculous gluten-free pie crust recipe last winter…

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything here because I’ve been spending most of my free time reading (or sewing). A few months ago my son D got hit hard with the reading bug and on a family trip to Palm Springs he brought a book wherever we went. Waiting for his food at the restaurant, waiting for the rental car, sitting poolside. My husband and I exchanged knowing glances of “It’s happening.

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I’ve been waiting for this day and as children often do, he is helping me to be my best self. His new love of reading has helped me make time for my own love of reading and I’m making it a priority and letting some of the less important things on my to-do list slide. Together we are in deep with Harry Potter and these illustrated versions are just beautiful…

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D was also just gifted these super rad Gryffindor Vans from his very cool aunt and uncle…

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When I haven’t been reading, I’ve been sitting here practicing my newly acquired sewing skills (thanks to Drygoods Design)…

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I can sit here working away for hours without eating or thinking about anything else. I’m so enjoying the process of learning something completely new and remembering how wonderful that feeling of “flow” is…

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I have a new full-length linen apron that I snagged from Amazon for $17 that I learned about from Aran via Remodelista

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Speaking of linen, one of the best things I’ve added to my summer wardrobe is this Everlane linen jumpsuit

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I wore it to a my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday dinner (pictured below with my stellar sister-in-laws)…

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Always a sucker for pen and paper, I have a new favorite pocket-sized notebook and pen for my endless list making…

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My friend Rita turned me on to Aria Code. Host Rhiannon Giddens is delightful and I’ve been “binge-listening” (is that a thing?) every chance I get…

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Alison Roman’s olive oil roasted chicken is on the menu for Father’s Day…

And our neighbors turned us on to the solo stove which is now on my summer wishlist…

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Happy summering!




 

Spring!

by Kelsi in , , , , , , ,


 

It is Spring! The chives and tarragon in the garden are pushing through the dirt. I have my work cut out for me with the insane amount of weeds to pull but with the beautiful days we’ve been having I hardly mind.

Lucas’ Papaw Ointment is my new go-to multipurpose salve for chapped lips, cuticles, scrapes and garden splinters…

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I’ve been transitioning my winter clothes out and adding a few new things to the mix like this Clare V midi sac that I can’t stop wearing…

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I’ve also added the Clare V framed Flore handbag to my birthday wishlist…

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I recently found the perfect size pocket notepad with tear away sheets from Rifle Paper Co to carry with me for my endless list making…

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And these Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens are becoming my new favorite…

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This Patagonia woolie pullover has been wonderful for cutting the chill when it’s too warm to wear a jacket…

One of the biggest highlights this month is I finally started taking sewing classes at Drygoods Design. My husband gave me the trilogy class series which was on my personal xmas wishlist. The space is gorgeous, the fabric selection is killer (see the Japanese cotton I bought for my tote below) and the small classes are a delight…

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If you go check out the shop in Pioneer Square I’d also highly recommend going to Elm Coffee Roasters for a latte with their house-made hazelnut milk, maybe swing by Jujubeet Cafe and order the avocado toast on the gluten-free bread from Nuflours and then head up Jackson to Kobo in the International District. Last time I was there I picked up this rad nightlight for our bathroom made by Boy Designs

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The new mantra on the letterboard at home is courtesy of the wonderful On Being conversation with neuroscientist Richard Davidson

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And along the same line of thinking I am really digging Atomic Habits by James Clear

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He is spot on articulating what I personally believe and try to embody on how making seemingly inconsequential small adjustments every day can be incredibly powerful and help us become our best selves.

“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.”

This sentence is my favorite:

Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your believes and to upgrade and expand your identity.

And for an incredible example of how small things lead to big things and how we can expand the limitations we often set for ourselves on what is possible, go watch The Dawn Wall on Netflix…

 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

by Kelsi in , ,


 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

All words in this dictionary are new. They were not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake; to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, so you can settle it yourself on your own terms, without feeling too lost—safe in the knowledge that we’re all lost.”

 

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.