Thankful Thursday: 09 August 2012

I’ve had some experiences in the last week that I am beyond grateful for, which warrant their own posts and attention, which I believe may be one of the best “problems” to have when writing a gratitude list. Those are on the way…

“Learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want” – Jim Rohn

.     .     .     .     .

LoveList: August 09, 2012.

Colorful sky bubbles

{This ceiling full of paper lanterns on my trip to Montclair, NJ. We passed through a commercial commons building while walking around and this was a pleasant and colorful surprise. What a great reminder to stop and look around a little. Tunnel vision is boring.}

“Reads like Henry James on speed.”

{This description of a David Foster Wallace book by an employee at Watchung Booksellers.}

{THIS VIDEO/PROJECT. How fitting that I’m putting it on a gratitude list. Give yourself the four minutes of time to watch the video – get some tissues when she shares that story about her husband – and then eagerly anticipate this as it continues to grow. Heck, get involved right now.}

Gala Darling + pup

{Gala Darling is having a HALF OFF sale on her ‘Love and Sequins  Radical Self Love e-book/audiobook. I have been waiting for this to happen and this morning I (literally) hopped out of bed to take advantage. The sale goes on until next Wednesday! You can also buy chapters for just $6/each. Learn the practical “Smart Girl’s Guide to Business” to the joy-inducing “Manifesting and Magic-Making”. My evening will be spent devouring as much as possible.}

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
– Sarah Ban Breathnach

{This quote posted online today by my friend Harold Brown.}

Melon Gazpacho

{Going on a lunch date with my designer to discuss website/postcard ideas, and the Fiestaware and the melon gazpacho and the good, good coffee.}

Vegan Treats, what a treat.

{… and making a stop at Vegan Treats to admire the beautiful cake sculptures, the sweet smells and the blood organge + vanilla bean swirl soft serve. Maybe this is why Bethlehem makes people think of heavenly things.}

and

{making personal connections with personal heroes / loud, gray thunderstorms / feeling supported and empowered by women instead of weird competitiveness / SUPPORTING and EMPOWERING WOMEN instead of being in competition / buying flowers for yourself (or picking some) / anthropomorphic vegetable art / cats named after food /     friends who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re being ridiculous}

… til next week. xo

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Blog Inspiration: Corinne Bowen (Okay, also Human Being Inspiration)

Corinne first contacted me what must be over a year ago to tell me I won an online contest via Crazy Sexy Life for some UliMana raw cacao truffles. Hey, online contests are fun, and it’s really fun to get an email from a women who writes for one of your favorite websites (CrazySexyLife.com) and print publications (VegNews and Vegetarian Times magazines).

I’ve enjoyed seeing her work pop up in media outlets I frequently explore, and I’ve poked around on her website now and again. Corinne is also in-house-editor of Crazy Sexy Kitchen, by Kris Carr, a new book due out later this year.

Hanging out/working with Kris Carr in Woodstock, NY.

It’s not an exaggeration to say to women has her hands in some of my favorite things, truly dream projects.

In the last two weeks we’ve reconnected via the internet, and I have been endlessly pouring through her blog. Literally reading every entry whenever I have the time. I have been making the time, in fact, because her posts make me so excited about writing, cooking, carving my own career path, and the entirety of life in general.

http://www.CorinneBowen.com

Her blog has everything I truly find pertinent and personally satisfying in a blog at this point in my life: she’s   soon turning 30 so I’m finding moments of her life quite relatable from an age-perspective (I’m 28); I love reading about her beautiful, creative family and her extremely healthy vegan pregnancy; she has been focusing on the simple pleasures we can often forget – how refreshing it is to clear up some clutter which creates better mental space as well as physical, or that chopping vegetables can be meditative; but especially the posts she writes about following your bliss and how she gave up a “safe” career path (a salary, a 401K) to pursue freelance writing.

When I read about her projects, I almost (almost) feel intimidated because she has worked on/is working on what are some of my personal dream projects. A quick glance at her resume of work makes me feel like I’m talking to a person living the dream life.

Her beautiful family enjoying the sunshine.

And that’s whats so special about her blog. She illustrates that a dream life is possible. It’s not always glitzy and glamorous, it may still require a grocery budget, and it’s certainly not always easy or without self-doubt or hard work. But that’s what makes it great: it’s tangible, and it may be simpler to come by than we imagine.

There are far too many wonderful posts to try and pull from my favorite parts, but this one sums it up fairly well:

“I showed Audrey (daughter) her reflection in the mirror and couldn’t help but snap our photo. I thought: This is my life, on my terms, doing what I love with my baby girl beside me. I remembered: The doubt of changing careers, the anxiety of taking leaps of faith (over and over again), and the difficulties that came with ignoring advice. And I confirmed: Every single sleepless night, every what-if mind game, every hymn sung by my imaginary choir of critics (all of which still exist on very low volume) were so clearly worth the grief.

When I feel afraid to listen to my gut, I reflect on tiny yet tremendous moments like the one at Ma Petite Shoe. These quieter times are loud in perspective. They give me a little space to relish the fact that I’ve yet to discover a moment that following my bliss didn’t eventually lead to just that. And I’d urge anyone who has something daring or dreamy tugging at their heart to take a step forward, even if it seems scary.”

– Corinne Bowen.com

Corinne and baby Audrey

EXCITING THINGS!

Cookbook Giveaway/Birthday Wish (Support a Sanctuary)

1. Corinne is giving away a copy of the wonderful Blissful Bites cookbook! I’ve talked about Christy and her book before – it’s really lovely, tons of color photos, and the recipes are healthy and easy to make. This is one of my favorite cookbooks and Corinne feels the same way. She’s giving away one copy! 

2. For her 30th birthday, Corinne has asked folks to donate to the Maple Farm Sanctuary. She was introduced to this sanctuary after writing about them for a VegNews article, and it inspired her to selflessly ask that her birthday gifts come in the form of donations. You can sponsor a chicken for as little as $10 (yup, just ten dollars) and greater donations help larger animals. Instead of going out for lunch one day next week, consider donating to a wonderful cause and make a birthday wish come true at the same time.

She ended our most recent email exchage, a few hours ago, with this:

“It’s funny how easy it is to think that when we achieve a certain milestone, everything else will make sense. I’ve found that that never really happens. It’s just about being happy where you are. Things are always getting easier and more difficult at the same time! I think that’s the beauty of life when you guide your path by your heart. xo”

Go to her site. Start reading. Continue reading. Bookmark then read some more. Repeat.

WEATHER PREDICTIONS: How Weather Influences Productivity

I’ve had a bunch of OCD’s my entire life. They are very mild – I don’t have trouble leaving the house or functioning in day to day life because of them. But I like things in even numbers. Except six. OhmygoodnessIHATEthenumbersix. Last week I parked in a metered lot and didn’t realize I was in space 6 until I went back to my car where it had been, sitting on the blacktop of SPACE SIX for HOURS and I felt uncomfortable the rest of the day.

I also need touch and temperature to be balanced. (Am I a Libra or what?) For example, if someone with very cold hands touches my right arm, I need them to touch my left arm in exactly the same place.

Another one that has crept up in the last 2-3 years is where I can be, physically and literally exist and take up Jaime-shaped space, based on the weather. If it’s a day I’m working from home and it’s sunny, I cannot be in my house. I pace around hugging the cat and feeling “off” and unproductive even if I’m getting work done.

Rainy days are preferable (unless I’m taking a road trip… but maybe even then) because I can be home and feel relaxed. You are supposed to be home and comfortable and loungey on a rainy day, even if you have a lot of work to do. Although, coffee shops make a great backdrop (one of my favorite atmospheres) for writing and reading and saying hello to neighbors, watching the people scamper with umbrellas.

Remember that scene in High Fidelity when Rob said he organized his record collection autobiographically? Mine is organized by season.

This morning I woke up to a strange weather phenomenon: hovering over my street was a giant dark gray storm cloud, like the space ship in Armageddon. Beyond it, looking toward the library, a bright blue sky with puffy, cheerful white cumulus clouds.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

I got dressed, I flopped back in bed, I tried to read, I tried to relax with a cooking show until I “figured it out”. It was so incredibly uncomfortable. I considered closing all the curtains and trying to go to sleep until the afternoon. There’s so much to do, so much to write. The places I’ve been, the people met, the food happily eaten in the past few weeks… but how do you do anything on a day like this?

So here I am. One of my favorite coffee shops, armed with books (The Five Things We Cannot Change and my signed copy of Vegan’s Daily Companion, specifically), trying to make a plan for the rest of this day, this week, this month, forever and ever? I don’t know.

From The Five Things We Cannot Change by David Richo (every page is highlighted multiple times, it’s nearly impossible to pull out just one part, but here you go):

“If we have the courage to face life’s unavoidable truths, we will find the grace to love no matter what happens to us. Love is always unconditional.

Neither changes, endings, altered plans, unfairness, suffering, disloyalty, or lack of love can stop us from loving. Our ‘yes’ to such a stunning grace is what our ego always wants to say, since it means the end of being afraid is the beginning of being free.”

I needed to write a post today because now I feel like I’ve done something. Thanks for understanding I used this as a sort of outlet today, differently than other days in content.

I hope you’ll find the courage, motivation and inspiration to do something beautiful today. Even if it’s just to pause a moment to reflect on yourself.

Anxiety, Marilyn Monroe, Eating Breakfast and Embracing the Process

Maybe it’s the gray overcast days that come along with December, but I’ve been more instrospective than usual (and unfortunately, lazier). As someone who has a brain constantly thinking, thinking, overthinking, this can be a blessing and a curse.

Journal.

Anxiety can be summed up, in simplest terms, as worrying about the future or what could happen without a solid foundation or evidence that it will happen. Creating “what if” scenarios that cause sadness or hurt is a strange and unwelcome past time for someone who, really truly in the core of my guts and soul, is an optimist.

For every hopeful person excited to make (and keep? fingers crossed? invocation of willpower?) New Year Resolutions, there is someone saying “I don’t need to wait til the New Year, I just change something any time I need to.” While I subscribe to the latter sentiment, I also look forward to the collective fresh start. When time rolls into a New Year – this thing that will happen, worldwide, whether we want it or not – it’s one of the few small things that every single person on earth experiences together. 

That is truly inspiring. It’s a positive energy , an ambient background that hums and buzzes, lending encouragement to us which in turns let’s us give that support back to others.

The trouble with worrying, aside from the obvious wasted time on things that don’t exist, is it takes you away from the present moment and past accomplishments. If we can pause for reflection, we can search the last year and recognize how far we’ve come, the lessons learned, the people met, the goals achieved.

Maybe it’s the word “resolution” that doesn’t sit well with people. Last night on facebook, a friend posted that she prefers to set goals. I like this thought. A resolution made seems a bit concrete. If you resolve to eat healthier, it’s just going to take one piece of cake before you feel like you’ve failed or broken this promise of betterment. But a goal… that is expansive. “I will eat healthier” allows for cake, for the occasional vegan buffet, for the cozy winter night when you woopsies! finish off the whole bottle of wine. Because you will get a lot more chances.

Last week, I saw the film “My Week with Marilyn”, the story of one man’s week spent in a friendship and love affair with Marilyn Monroe (true story) while she was shooting a film. I was excited to see the lovely Michelle Williams transformed into Marilyn. (I’m not someone who follows actors or actresses, have no celebrity crushes, or know much about pop culture, BUT Michelle Williams always gives the most fascinating interviews in magazines and is a woman I look up to as someone classy, intelligent and poised in a field that gives a lot of credit folks who have the opposite of those traits.)

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I didn’t expect to be so emotionally moved by the film. I had no idea the personal internal struggle Marilyn dealt with, locking herself in her room to cry or sleep off drugs, her desire to be a perfect actress, the pressure of living up to the idea of a perfect actress that everyone saw her as. Marilyn Monroe was actually “Marilyn Monroe” – a role she played in public. A deliberate character. In one moving scene of the film, she is walking with Colin (love interest) through a castle, marveling at the library and architecture, the two of them having rare intimate time together. She comes down a hallway to find all the servents of the castle waiting for her as they heard Marilyn Monroe was there! As she moved down the hall approaching the crowd, she whispers to Colin, “Should I be her?”  And as she descends the stairs to the crowd of fans, she does so with a signature wiggle while blowing lipsticked kisses.

I had a sinking feeling the rest of the day, and I’ve thought a lot about the film since. How can it be that a true icon, arguably one of the most beautiful and beloved women to have ever lived, a celebrity with fans who span generations, could feel so lousy about herself? How can someone who seems to have everything feel like nothing? 

It got me thinking about the strange duality between who we are in our private lives versus who we show people we are in our public lives.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If everyone believes in you but you don’t believe in yourself, does it matter?

The goals I have set for the year include many things. Some simple: make more crafts and handmade items, eat breakfast every day. Some complex: Maybe to take on the responsibility of becoming a dog-Mom; to write a book.

Though the main goal is to focus less on the ultimate outcome and just enjoy the process, no matter how mundane or overwhelming the process may be. I want to slow down and deliberately focus on the process itself – if it’s cooking, stop rushing to chop and boil and assemble and instead notice the textures and flavors, transformations and shapes. Use time folding laundry (actually fold laundry) to listen to an inspiring podcast or indulge in a guilty-pleasure TV show, without feeling guilty. Write a book without thinking about finding an agent, will it get published, how many rejections will I get, how many people could go online and leaving horrible reviews where they will exist on the internet forever…. JUST WRITE THE BOOK. None of those things can even happen unless I write first.

Today's reading.

This morning I woke feeling over whelmed (as I often do first thing in the morning), the vastness of a day off and the time to be filled and spent well. But then I remembered to enjoy the process… so I’m spending the day reading inspiring books, cleaning the house and planning for a shake-up in the decor (I am finding myself more and more drawn to simple, old-timey domestic looks and not so much the harsh lines and colors of modern design… how things change!), cooking a thick stew that can boil on the stove for hours filling the house with the delicious scent of a home-cooked meal. And for today, that will be enough.

Day 1 of remembering to eat breakfast: successful.

“YOU GOTTA GO THROUGH IT”

This is one book author’s opinion, and I am leaning toward believing he’s right:

“Anxiety symptoms (as well as depression) can be the psyche’s way of pushing you to explore and actualize an unrealized potential in your life…” – Edmund J. Bourne

This sentence, the one I am now typing and you are reading, has already been a handful of other sentences that I have deleted. I’ve meant the words and ideas, but read them over and they seem so phony and is it even fair to dish out advice or opinions when you have trouble accepting them for yourself?

It has been a good year for me. A year of working hard, making scary changes (edit: they weren’t that scary at all, I came to find), facing fears and sometimes really good dumb luck. But my focus on all the changes shifted me away from my desire to constantly be proactive in self-development and self-improvement. I know, I know. If you rolled your eyes, I can’t blame you. Though I can testify in my own experience, surrounding myself with books, dvd’s, audio books or podcasts, blogs and (when I’m fortunate enough) people that all focus on uplifting and inspiring me to work through my messes and get better, I can’t help but start to absorb it a little.

If we are products of our environments, why shouldn’t we surround ourselves with the things that will help us grow? (That includes the challenging stuff, the stuff where we are forced to accept Gasp! Maybe I need to take some responsibility for this even though blaming others is so much eeeeeasier.)

 Growing up, for many years of my life, my FAVORITE experience was going to summer camp for one week every July. At the campfire, we’d gather around to listen to the spooky stories of camp history, and participate in sing-along-songs. One of my favorites was “Going on a Bear Hunt”.

In the song, full of hand motions and funny noises made with your mouth, a group of people go on a bear hunt (*Note: by “hunt” I’m sure they mean just observe the bear in it’s natural habitat and then leave it alone peacefully… right?) and come across obstacles on their path. When they come across mud for example, “Can’t go over it… can’t go under it… can’t go around it… GOTTA GO THROUGH IT!”

Thhhfffpt. Thhhfffpt. Thhhfffptt…. Back on the road.

Last night I was working through a book about anxiety and panic. I picked it up at a used book sale for a few dollars. Tucked into the middle of pages 74 and 75, I found this note from the former owner:

Found note.

I felt a bit like I may have violated someone, though with no idea who wrote the note, it’s more like my very own Post Secret discovery. These are someones thoughts, beliefs, “real life” as they see it, and it’s full of pain. It’s a physical manifestation of the perceived truths of a hurt person.

I found myself re-reading it over and over, and feeling compassion and wishing that whoever made the list has found peace in his or her heart. Now I wonder why it is so hard for us to do that for ourselves.

Please remember to extend the kindness and love you have for others to your own self. Challenge negative self-talk with the words of encouragement you give to others. And I will try and do the same.

United States of Arugula

In this whirlwind of a week, I got my days mixed-up and thus, tomorrow is shaping up to be a hugely exciting day in terms of blogging. I’ve put most of my time this week into preparing for the projects, but on my downtime I’m still food-minded. Today I wanted to mention this fantastic book I’ve just started reading!

The United States of Arugula: The Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution by David Kamp    This book is an excellent historical narrative for anyone interested in food of any kind. Can you remember when The Food Network didn’t exist? Can you try to comprehend a time when the average American never even heard of salsa?

Food Culture has paved many new trails in the past 50 years alone. A cook went from being considered a low-class, unimpressive job to, potentially, someone without formal training that produces television cooking shows while skyrocketing to celebrity status. Among this, interest in food trends, diets, and ingredients have spanned the gamut from the weird to the expensive to the rebirth of gardening as something young, hip people are taking on as a hobby.

Chapters cover the history of French cooking and it’s influence on most other cuisines since the 1800’s, modern supermarkets, free-range and organics, fast food, speciality and gourmet shops, and general feeling of excitement about where food culture contines to go. Kamp quotes the Beastie Boys in one chapter, and quotes food revolutionaries like Clementine Paddleford in the next. (The latter who wrote a food-adventurer column called Queer Fish, in which she encouraged people to visit ethnic markets and spent days driving around to stop at eat at any cafe or restaurant she could find on a back road. She said  “Be a kitchen rebel and glory in rebellion. Raise the eyebrows of your friends.” YES!)

“Food is a fundamental fact of our cultural life, a part of the conversation, something contemplated as well as eaten.”

The cover is an clever reinterpretation of The Last Supper, with James Beard in the prestigious Jesus position, surrounded  by culinary movers and shakers like Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck and Rachel Ray.


It’s Kamp’s almost juvenile optimism for the direction of our current food culture that feels inspiring. By eating, we are doing something so much more important than nourishing ourselves. We create identities, build communities and invent our own life stories – all of these happen when we shop, prepare, cook and consume food. Simply by being alive right now, we have more food opportunities than any other time in history. And it’s very, very exciting.

It is, in short, a great time to be an eater. And how often do we get to say something as unreservedly upbeat as that? …food is one area of American life where things just continue to improve. If we’re cooking at home, we have a greater breadth and higher quality of ingredients available to us. If we’re dining out, we have more options open to us. It’s okay for the traditions of peasant cookery to inform those of haute cuisine, and for haute flourishes to inform regular-guy food. (from preface)

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A great big THANK YOU for readers Sarah Schimeneck and Nathan Krisanda for sending me this excellent photo of themselves posing with their spring roll creations, inspired by the last cooking video!

I hope they were as yummy as they look! Good job!

American Vegan Kitchen

I am beyond thrilled to bring you Save the Kales! first ever author interview! Tamasin Noyes is the author of the previously mentioned cookbook “Vegan Road Food: Delicious Comfort Food from Blue Plate Specials to Homestyle Favorites”. Tami, sweetheart that she is, agreed to talk to us about her awesome recipes, her inspiration, and navigating her path to getting published.

READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW UNDER THE CUT!

Here’s a photo of the Spicy Balsamic Maple Wingz. My stomach is literally growling.

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