Engagement Chicken Incarnate

You all know about Ina Garten’s engagement chicken right? There was a story recently on the Today Show speculating that it might have actually been a factor in the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (I mean, they were are home cooking, right?) I love the Barefoot Contessa, though I must confess I’ve never made her engagement chicken. Which obviously explains why I am still single. ( If you didn’t read that with a sarcastic flair, you are reading it wrong. Though, note to self: start using this anecdote whenever you get the “why are you still single?” question “Oh I’ve never made engagement chicken for anyone” …) though in my defense most of the people I have over for dinner are my friends and their husbands, so making Engagement Chicken for them feels a little weird and potentially home-wreckery… Also I already have a go-to fool-proof chicken recipe…I digress…

I’ve mentioned before that Palm Springs is my happy place. I don’t take many vacations, but for the past several years my college roommates and I have a made a point of taking a long weekend in the desert, full of shopping, sunshine, cocktails and fashion. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that this long weekend is the thing that keeps me going through the entire year. Of course we tend to take this girls getaway in the dead of winter when our PNW skin is almost translucent and our vitamin D is waning… it also happens to fall in the middle of “winter sickness season” and so the weeks leading up to this trip are spent disinfecting all the surfaces at work and pumping myself full of vitamins. It’s around this time I also start incorporating “the elixir” into my daily regimen. For those of you who know me, you know that I swear by the elixir when it comes to cold and flu season. Anytime there is any hint of an ailment, I go straight to the elixir and don’t stop until I’m feeling back to normal. What I love most about it is that it works with your body to boost immunity, you probably already have all the ingredients sitting around, and also the fact that it is MAGIC.

Elixir:

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • juice from ½- 1 whole lemon or lime
  • honey
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • pinch of cayenne
  • hot water

Okay, I know it sounds a little gross. Hot garlic water? Yes, I know, but believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t taste as bad as you would imagine, and actually I find the drink to be rather soothing. It’s not like I crave it, but it’s also not one of those things that I have to plug my nose and chug just to get it over with. It tastes better than most health drinks, and is so much more palatable than anything with Spirulina. Obviously I’m not a doctor or healthcare professional so I’m not going to go into the details of what makes the elixir magic work… but as we are heading into the winter months I’d suggest keeping this recipe in the back of your mind.

The other thing I do while prepping for vacation is try to get my eczema under control. ( I know, this is a super glamorous post about immunity boosting garlic tea and weird skin stuff… sexy, am I right?) I’ve had some form of eczema most of my life, and it gets triggered by a change of climate and stress. –This made trips to Montana over holiday break (IE After Finals + family dynamics) SUPER fun- I have distinct memories of dermatologist pulling out a ruler and measuring my neck rash… I’m sharing all of this because after dealing with this skin condition for most of my life, trying out various over the counter creams, and expensive treatments I’ve actually found something that works: Essential Oils. Yes, I use essential oils, but good news for you, I have no desire to sell them to you, or even really discuss them at all other than the fact that I’ve discovered that thyme essential oil is super effective at keeping my eczema flair ups under control. The only down-side is that thyme essential oil has an incredibly pungent scent. I’m an avid gardener and I cook with fresh herbs all the time, so the scent of thyme doesn’t really bother me, but after spending years in the wine industry and as a yoga teacher I’m very sensitive to how scents impact people. I don’t really wear perfume, I don’t use scented body products because the last thing I want is for a customer or a client to be put off or have an allergic reaction or a negative experience due to my personal fragrance choices. Most of the time I remedy this by applying the thyme oil at night as part of my bedtime routine.

That being said, the weeks leading up to vacation, the kid gloves come off. I am in full blown immune boosting, eczema controlling, nothing is going to interfere with even 5 seconds of full blown joy I plan on having on this vacation mode. And thus, last year, two days before our trip, I had the epiphany (while I was in the middle of teaching a yoga class) that in that very moment my personal essence was that of a roasting chicken.

As soon as class wrapped up I sent a text to my friends about how they better look forward to being on vacation with me because my new personal fragrance was that of freshly roasted poultry. Without missing a beat one of my friends replied back that the men would probably love it, and that’s when I realized “Oh my god, I’m engagement chicken incarnate!”

I know, it’s really surprising that here we are almost ten months after this revelation and not one person has proposed to me. (You mean to tell me that hot garlic water isn’t an aphrodisiac?) I guess being the embodiment of this famous dish is not enough.

Saucy Lady: a social media inspired look into my meal prep

I’m not sure how to start this post. I was going to try and make this connection about being more un-plugged, and then loop it back to the merits of social media, and I’m not entirely sure how it is all going to work. One thing I can say for certain is that, even though I am trying to cut back on my screen time (she says while writing a blog she hopes you will read adding to more screen time for everyone involved), I have found a real value in social media. I’ve met people through instagram that I am now friends with in real life. I use it as a tool to connect with friends all over the country and the world. Not only do I use social media to find inspiration for yoga sequencing, barre moves, recipes and craft projects,  but it is a greay way stay connected with events happening in my own communty and to get a glimpse into the every day lives of people.

I want to give a shout-out to an instagram friend and real life acquaintance Hannah. Though I admittedly don’t know her well, a few weeks ago she posted a photo on social media about a sauce she had made and was eating on toast, and it was a sauce I was totally unfamiliar with. Zhoug. Have you ever heard of this? Maybe I’m late to the party… I am as a self- proclaimed saucy lady. (I mean this in every sense of the word, but anecdotally speaking I do make a lot of sauces.) My meal prep every week typically involves a large batch of hummus for snacking and lunches and at least one jar of sauce that I can use in a myriad of ways throughout the week. Some weeks it’s peanut sauce to be paired with salad rolls, or used to dress a Thai inspired slaw or a quinoa bowl with broccoli and cabbage. Lately I’ve been in a chimichuri phase, and the past several weeks I’ve been whipping up a large batch of the herby, tangy condiment and I put it on everything. It’s a great alternative to a salad dressing, is amazing on scrambled eggs, stirred into hummus, goes great with meat or roasted vegetables, and overall it is kind of the wonder sauce. I’m always curious as to what other people are cooking and eating so when Hannah posted a photo of this vibrant green sauce and a link to the recipe at Cookie + Kate I was really intrigued. Cilantro, cardamom and jalapenos? How do these things even work together? I decided to set aside my chimichuri for the week and give this Zhoug a try.

And it did not disappoint. First of all, its fun to say. Go ahead, let it roll off the tongue a bit. It almost has a “I am Groot” feel. Zhoug. Secondly, I found this to be just as versatile as the chimichuri, and have enjoyed the zhoug as a dressing alternative, smeared on some pita bread, with eggs, and thus far my favorite combo has been with cauliflower rice and lamb meatballs. Yum-o.

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Cauliflower rice, lamb meatballs, Zhoug, a smattering of pomegranate seeds

I’m not a super spicy fan (I like spicy, just not super spicy) so I only used two jalapenos instead of four, and I did not include the vein or the seeds. I did add in the red chili flakes though. The sauce was a tad bitter right out of the food processor, but after an hour all the flavors melded together in a really great harmony. (Even better the next day) I’m really excited to add this to my sauce repertoire, and glad to have a new food-blog to explore.

Do you have any go-to sauces or weekly meal prep staples? I’d love to hear what they are.

Becoming Iris

I know I know, we are well into November, moving full steam a head towards the wintery holidays and here I am posting about Halloween? Yes. A) because it is almost sixty degrees and crisp and sunny on this November morning and it feels like late September, and B) October 31st is just a date on the calendar and also my Halloween costume filled me with so much joy and empowerment that I really don’t care if I’m posting about it mid November. Lets just call it fashionably late.

I’ve always preferred the slightly obscure, cerebral and off beat Halloween costumes. This sometimes results in people having no idea who or what my costume is, but such is life. About nine years ago I was Eloise, and a few years later, in what I still maintain was my most creative costume idea, I went to a party as the Cake song Short Skirt/ Long Jacket. Literally no one at the party could even muster a guess as to what I was supposed to be. In hindsight I wish I had a shorter skirt and a longer jacket, but I spent hours making a fake machete with red tape on it, I painted my fingernails to say “justice” I was wearing a name tag with “Kitty” crossed out and “Karen” written underneath, I made buttons with the Comfort Eagle album cover, and I had pins that said “night owl” and “early bird” and not a single person got it.   I still think back to that costume and analyze what I could have done differently (and then I start to think about how productive and successful I would be if the part of my brain that is obsessing over the costume from seven years ago were put towards literally anything else.)

I’ve known since mid February of this year what my costume was going to be. This makes it sound like I’m one of those people who is super into Halloween… I’m not. I was on vacation in Palm Spring (my happy place) and was sitting poolside wearing the most ridiculous pair of sparkly pineapple shaped sun-glasses and I just knew “For Halloween I’m going as Iris”

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Flash forward to July and I was browsing one of my favorite independent bookstores in Ashland Oregon. I saw “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon” on the shelf and was reminded “oh yeah! I’m still doing that.”

For those of you who might not know who Iris Apfel is, I highly recommend you stop reading this post immediately (ok, maybe after you finish reading) and go stream Iris . She is the most incredible 97-year-old woman, with the most over the top fashion you can even imagine. The love story she had with her husband Carl is everything I could ever want in a relationship. This article in Town & Country outlines their lives together traveling, starting a textile company, decorating, and dressing.   She is everything I want to be when I grow up and more. (Ok… she might be a Trump supporter but everyone is entitled to his or her own political opinions and views) Her overall message has always been to dress in a way that makes you feel your best, and also feels interesting and unique to you. What’s the fun in dressing like everybody else?

Well, for Halloween I DID have a lot of fun making my transformation into Iris. I’ve always embraced bright colors and bold jewelry, (remember Palm Springs is my happy place) so it was easy to put together her signature layered and over the top look with jewelry from my own collection. I did thrift a few pieces of costume jewelry to accent my overall look, and a yard of fuzzy red fabric turned into a makeshift shawl, her signature round glasses and a grey wig completed the look.

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I’ve never had more fun getting dressed in my entire life. And that is what I loved so much about this costume. All the rules of what matches, what “should” go together, and how people were going to perceive me went out the window. It wasn’t about how the pieces looked together, it was about how much joy each layer added to the outfit. It wasn’t about what was in fashion, or what was chic or name brand, it was about curating individual pieces into an ensemble in a way that was totally unique me. (imitating her)

And the sheer joy I had putting this look together has impacted the way I get dressed every day. I don’t think you’ll be seeing me in giant glasses an 7 necklaces around McMinnville again anytime soon, but you won’t see me shying away from color, patterns, bold lips, statement pieces, and outrageous leggings either. I’ve always had the courage to dress a little differently and embrace my own fashion aesthetic, but I feel like my transformation into Iris helped to strengthen my charisma. Getting dressed in the morning has shifted from “how does this look” to “how does this make me feel?”

In the words of Iris “When the fun goes out of dressing, you might as well be dead. You need to pursue your own fancy.”

Dead on the inside?

I have to get something off my chest. I’ve been feeling the tiniest bit like a hypocrite since my last post where I confessed to the fact that I don’t actually like to carve pumpkins. Mostly because for the past ten-ish years I’ve been giving my brother a hard time about this very thing. I often refer to my brother as “dead on the inside” (in the most loving way possible, I assure you. ) because he doesn’t like to decorate for the holidays, he hates to dye Easter Eggs, he doesn’t enjoy carving pumpkins, and then you add on things like he has never watched Dirty Dancing, and has somehow established himself as the Harry Potter expert in our family EVEN THOUGH HE HAS NOT READ ALL THE BOOKS!!! (ok this last one is maybe just a personal pet peeve of mine) All of these things contribute to the running joke of me telling him he is all dead on the inside.

Full disclosure, my brother is a wonderful human, AND an amazing public educator. I don’t think you can actually be successful or even drawn to public education and interacting with the youth of America if you are actually “dead on the inside” but I still like to give him a bad time, as is my right and my role as the pesky younger sister.

Of course, in my adulthood I have come to realize that maybe his adverseness to singing all the verses of the 12 days of Christmas while sitting in the hot tub, getting the perfect shade of neon pink onto hard-boiled egg shells, and reading scratch-n-sniff holiday books might have less to do with him being “dead on he inside” and more to do with the fact that the person initiating all of these projects was me, the pesky little sister… Le sigh. Perspective and all that jazz.

And here I am, 33 years young, realizing that I also don’t really enjoy carving pumpkins. Maybe I need to cool it on the “dead on the inside” comments, or at least acknowledge that there might be the tiniest part of my glittery, crafty, stylish and creative self that is also a little bit dead on the inside. At least I know I am in good company.

For your enjoyment: Here is a link to my brother’s podcast, in which he interviews Educators from McMinnville High School and offers insights into personalities, projects and methods of teachers in the public school system.   They are really worth a listen.

There’s only one October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Don’t mind me over here basking in the last few days of what has been a truly spectacular October in the PNW. (I’m also basking in the Red Sox World Series victory glow… which lets be honest, post-season baseball is part of what gives this plucky little month its charm.) It’s not lost on me that decorative gourds, pumpkin spice everything, plaid button downs and oversized scarves and all the other signifiers of Fall are these days labeled “basic” But that isn’t going to stop me from doing a round-up of few of my absolute favorite things associated with October.

You’ve Got Mail on repeat: This requires no real explanation. Autumn rolls around, the movie gets turned on, and you spend the rest of the season swooning over bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.

Leaves

I grew up in a part of the world where our two seasons were Summer and Snow. There were some pretty glorious things about both of those times of year, but collecting leaves and heading to the pumpkin patch were not some of them. I still have a habit of collecting leaves when I’m out walking and pressing them between magazine pages and dropping them into hand written letters.   My mom and I still gather leaves and fashion art projects out of them… We’ve been known to make dinosaur and people shapes out of the leaves and glue them to craft paper its kind of dorky, but there is something so nostalgic about it.

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Dinosaur Leaf Art

I often do make-shift art installations by fastening pressed leaves to the living room wall with washi tape. Need some serious leaf inspiration? Check out the work of Hilary Waters

-I already alluded to Post-Season Baseball, which is particularly exciting when its your team, but even if its not, I find something about watching Major League Baseball in the month of October especially engaging.

-Pumpkin patch Adventures:

I’ve missed one or two over the years, but one of my favorite traditions with my group of college friends is to make an annual trek to the pumpkin patch. Its kind of incredible that we can get our co-ed group of thirty-something’s together for this yearly tradition.

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My Pumpkin Crew 2018

This year my pumpkin patch adventure turned to tragedy when, after finding the perfect 35 lb pumpkin, I had a small accident involving my shopping cart full of pumpkins getting stuck in a rut, dumping the pumpkins everywhere as the cart fell on top of them and me on top of the cart. It was epic in its awkwardness. Thankfully some strangers came to my aid, and It appeared as though my 35 lb pumpkin child was unscathed! Appearances can be deceiving though… a week later as I was getting ready to carve said pumpkin, I discovered two giant bruises towards the bottom. I decided I could live with them though, and it wouldn’t hinder the design I was going to carve so I decided to press on… then a giant black and red spider came crawling out from somewhere (and then I started thinking “this is a 35 lb pumpkin, I had to hug this thing to my body like a small child to even get it inside… how close was that spider to crawling on me? Did it crawl on me? Does it have friends? Should I burn the house down?”) Never-the-less, I persisted, I disposed of the spider and kept sawing away at the top…. I should have known all of this was foreshadowing what came next… as I wiggled loose the lid of the pumpkin and lifted it away from its seams there was an outpouring of fruit flies. Hundreds and hundreds of fruit flies.   I dropped the lid on he proverbial Pandora’s Box, scooped up the entire thing and vehemently threw it in the compost bin.   If at first you don’t success, try try again? which, side note. I discovered this year, (perhaps the accident/spider/Fruit fly scenarios has something to do with this) I don’t actually like carving pumpkins. I like to eat the pumpkin seeds and I like the idea of carving pumpkins, but my knife skills are always lacking, and after trying to carve some intricate letters, many failed attempts, two broken pumpkin saws, I began to have that feeling of a failed craft project. I wasn’t having fun, and my self-esteem was getting lower by the second. I DID manage to salvage my pumpkin, and the seeds were really delicious, so there IS that, but I’ve already put a sticky note in my planner for next year reminding me that carving pumpkins doesn’t bring me joy, and I should just not even go there. But you cannot keep this girl away from a good pumpkin patch adventure!

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All the pumpkin recipes. I actually think pumpkin spice is kind of gross, so you won’t find me signing the praises of the PSL. But you will find me whipping up weekly batches of pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin hummus, and this ridiculously scrummy pumpkin mac & cheese. (also add some crispy sage… you’ll thank me.)

What are some of your favorite things about October?

 

Hi there! I’m here.

Hi-ya! (insert waving emoji here) It’s me! I’m here! I could start off by apologizing for not posting on here in a year, but I’m not going to. Do I feel better when I’m writing? Yes. BUT I’m also highly aware that my creativity takes on many forms, and though I’m absolutely delighted when it manifests itself in the form of writing, I’m equally fulfilled when it take a jaunt in the form of planning out a garden, making pickles, trying new recipes, sequencing a new yoga class, cultivating a playlist for my yoga choreography, writing letters, dancing around the living room… My creativity isn’t limited to my writing, and thus, I tend to indulge the inevitable ebbs and flows.

It is very reassuring to know that when I’m in it, I have a supportive writing group and this outlet… and even when I’m not physically sitting down and typing things out there is a pretty constant narrative running in my head. I keep a notebook full of one-sentence antidotes and a list of topics I’m waiting to explore… Have I over-indulged in this particular blogging ebb? Perhaps. BUT I’m checking in now, and it feels like it is time to show up for my writing, and show up here. Hi! Thanks for being patient.

I’m feeling a rather tangible sprinkling of magic dust lately… (anyone else?) and I’m embracing it. And this magic dust is inspiring and invigorating and it’s lighting all sorts of creative sparks (yay!) So I just wanted to let you know, I have plans (writing plans, travel plans, yoga plans, life plans…) Firstly, the blog is getting a little makeover… because it is time! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks and months. I’m also working on keeping myself accountable with my writing, which mean, posting at least twice a month through the end of 2018 (Maybe more, but no less!) and I plan on ramping up in January with a themed series I’ve got marinating.

As I’m here behind the scenes working on this transformation, I’m really trying to identify and nurture my goals as a writer and what I want Awkwardolive.com to be. I have some ideas I’m working on, but in the meantime I’d love some feedback from you. What would you like to hear more of? Is there a niche you’d like to see filled? What are your favorite types of posts? I know I can’t please everyone, but I’m embracing the collaborative spirit, and I’d like to know what sorts of things are resonating with you.

Okay, GTG, Today is my bestie’s 34th birthday, and I’m signed up to bring cupcakes to the party this weekend. Running out to the store to stock up on ingredients… (I might be baking a second cake for us to eat after the party because BROWN BUTTER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!)

Untitled Poem, Since it is #nationalpoetryday

Everyday we have a choice

To approach things with grace, understanding…

the expectation of hope…

I often invite my students to either rest their palms up

A sign of receptivity… of openness

(To what? That is up to them.)

or with their palms facing down,

a sign of letting go.

I ask them to focus

to breathe…

and then we move onto what is next.

 

I’m beginning to wonder

if perhaps,

it is time for me to look at our relationship

and let my palms rest downward

letting go of expectations

and settling into where we are now

(which is where exactly?

I can’t quite find it on a map,

but it is starting to feel like a place I know called contempt)

 

And how did we get here

This awkward unknown that is hovering

–palpable in the air like pollen or humidity–

Generic answers where there used to be genuine interest

Self-absorption where there used to be curiosity

 

I look over at you

standing next to me, and I realize

I’d rather be here with anyone else.

Resting my palms down

and wondering

​​what is next?