Feel All Your Feelings And Support What You Can

We’ve all seen that Mr. Rogers quote floating around social media, made pretty and put into its best pinterest form… and while I am trying to hold onto my optimism and indeed look for the helpers, I’m also hyper aware that EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH RIGHT NOW. It seems like almost everyone I know is either laid off, or attempting to work from home while also home-schooling, navigating the myriad of information out there about small business loans and payroll solutions, and somehow figuring out how to pivot and keep their brick and mortor businesses viable at this time (all while trying to keep their shit together.)

Personally, I’m living in a place of “Survivors-Guilt.” I’ve worked for small, family owned businesses and non-profits my entire adult life, and I feel incredibly blessed to currently have the luxury of working at home, but my heart, my anxiety and all my big feels are out there with the small business owners, the restaurants,  servers, shop clerks, hair dressers, bar tenders, self-employed creatives, and all the others in our community and around the world who are finding themselves in crisis mode right now. And like many others out there, I’m trying to navigate the best way to help.

What I have determined is that this is going to look different for everyone, but as we are all figuring out this scenario together, I wanted to share some ideas I’ve come up with of how you might be able to offer support to your community.

The biggest, and most obvious is to shop locally. This is not new information, but it IS more important than ever before. I was chatting with a friend last week who casually mentioned that she didn’t think changing her spending habits now was going to have that big of an impact on local businesses… and let me tell you, as someone who has spent their entire adult life working in small, independent businesses, spending what you can now IS going to help. I’m not saying we should all be spending beyond our means right now trying and keep our local favorites afloat, but I am saying that the small purchases may seem insignificant to you, but they DO add up. Not only that, but it’s good for morale. Most of the shop and restaurant owners that I know are yes, running businesses, but they are also so connected to the community. They do this for their customers, for the relationships they have built, they have created gathering places in the community, and the are the people who show up. Even if you are just buying a $5 greeting card… I promise, it makes a difference, not only to the bottom line, but to the shop owner’s mental health. The Business owners need us to show up (and stay at least 6 ft away.)

I also understand that in this time of uncertainty, spending on non-essential items might feel a little reckless. And with so many of us working at home, and not having to put on “real clothes” buying a new pair of pants feels a little pointless right now (especially if you are like me, and living on comfort carbs…anything I buy right now, realistically might not fit me by the time this is over, and I have come to terms with that… I suggest you do as well.) But take a moment to think about how much you might spend on eating out in a month, and buy a gift certificate, or make sure to visit a restaurant that is open for delivery or take out. (and for the love of God, tip more than you would ever have thought appropriate before. Help the restaurants stay viable, help them support their staff, and let them know you appreciate them being at work. )

Your purchases don’t have to be big, but as you are getting your essentials this month, consider trying to get them from a locally owned business. Here are a few of the things I’m opting to spend my money on this month

Dog Food, purchased from a small, family owned, local company.

Greeting Cards. April is National Letter Writing Month! If you have an extra $25, call your local bookshop, or boutique and ask them to put together a pack of their favorite greeting cards. (I promise you, the shop owners have some favorites.) This one is a double feel good, because you are supporting local, and also sending out notes… trust me, people love mail, and everyone could use a reminder that you are thinking about them.

Local Beer & Wine. This is maybe the kindest thing you can do for your community right now. With so many restaurants closing, this means that our local wineries and breweries (and also our local farmers) have lost a lot of their distribution.   I repeat purchasing local beer & wine is maybe the kindest thing you can do for your community right now, and for yourself.

Support Local Farmers. Again, with so many restaurants closing, our small local farmers are losing a lot of their weekly deliveries. Many are opening up weekly shares, and doing their best to keep the community supplied with fresh, locally grown food. By supporting local farmers you A) reduce the amount of people who are touching your food before it gets to you, and B) putting more money back into the local economy. Our local farmers live here and shop here, and the more we are able to support them, the more they will be able to grow. It feels redundant to have to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway, SUPPORT THE PEOPLE WHO GROW YOUR FOOD. Farming is hard. It is not for the faint of heart, it is not glamorous, and it isn’t overly lucrative. The people I know who are farmers do so out of love for the land, love for the community. Support these humans. We need them.

Along these same lines, support your local Farmers Market. It’s no secret that I have major heart eyes for Farmers Markets, but let me get on my market soap box here and tell you why you should too. Farmers Markets are considered essential businesses during the Pandemic because they offer access fresh, locally grown food. Most Farmers Markets accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or SNAP, and some markets (including the McMinnville Farmers Market) have a SNAP matching program, meaning that more locally grown produce is available to the families and population that need it the most. With a surge in unemployment right now, I believe communities will be seeing more families utilizing the matching program at farmers markets. This means A) people have access to more produce, and B) Farmers are getting more money. (are you feeling all the warm fuzzies yet?!?!) But here is the thing…. Our local farmers market needs sponsors to help cover the market overhead. Farmers Markets don’t just happen. There are MONTHS of planning that go into them. There is paperwork, street closure permits, insurance, marketing, processing vendor applications, navigating how to handle the SNAP benefits, staffing, advertising, porta potties and hand washing stations rentals, infrastructure supplies, communication with the public and the vendors….Add to that this year that Markets are now having to navigate social distancing guidelines for shoppers, additional hand washing stations, additional staff and volunteers to help regulate how many people are shopping at one time/ social distancing appropriately, as well as coming up with new guidelines for vendors, having to navigate expanding the footprint of the market to facilitate social distancing etc. All of this takes resources. If you have extra to give right now, please consider donating to a Farmers Market, or other organization that addresses the issue of food equality. Currently the McMinnville Farmers Market has a $150 Market Patron sponsorship option. A contribution at this level will get you includes a $20 market gift certificate, a Farmers Market tote and a farmers market tee shirt. The McMinnville Downtown Farmers Market is scheduled to run for 23 weeks this season… so for roughly $6.52 a week you could help support the market in a huge way.

Here are a few things that you can do to help support your community that cost ZERO dollars, and will make a difference in someone’s life.

  • Donate blood: Numerous blood drives have been cancelled across the country due to the locations no longer being open during the Stay at Home order. Blood donations have slowed way down, but the need for blood is higher than ever. Contact the Red Cross and find a location.
  • Say Thank you. Especially to the clerks at the grocery store, any healthcare workers you know, the people at restaurants making your take-out. Say it often, and say it authentically. Let people know that you see them and appreciate what they are doing.
  • Reach out to a small business owner. Maybe you have a phone number you can text, or perhaps you are just sending a message over social media… however you reach out, just let them know you are thinking about them.
  • Post uplifting or humorous content on social media. As someone who spends a lot of time on social media for my job, MEMES are giving me life right now.
  • Like and Share Content. While you are sharing this content, go to at least 5 small business people you follow who are self-employed and like their content. Share it in your stories, make a comment. Businesses need more visibility right now. If you are scrolling online, designate 10 minutes of your day to intentionally liking, sharing, and commenting on posts. It absolutely helps these businesses and individuals.
  • Check in with your humans. It can be a quick text, phone call, video chat… everyone is handling this situation differently, and there is a lot of anxiety in the world. I’m not saying that you need to take on the anxiety or stress of the ones that you love, but they do need to know that you are thinking about them. (Even us introverts… we are mostly doing ok, but check on us too…)

AND finally, here are a few things that you can do that will ABSOLUTELY make a difference in your life right now.

  • Go outside for at least 5 minutes every day. You might just stand outside your front door, you might do this with a glass of wine in your hand, and you can absolutely do this in your pajamas, but breathe some fresh air.
  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Meditate: start with 1 minute focusing on your breath… It doesn’t have to be an epic life altering meditation, just be still, breathe, let go….
  • Move. Your. Person. –I’m struggling with this one… but I’m so thankful to all of the beautiful humans who are offering online yoga/ fitness/ meditation classes right now. Find a local person you can support, find a youtube video, walk around your driveway, bribe yourself in weird ways…. (I’m can only listen to the news if I’m working OR doing squats/ lunges… Lets be real…. Sometimes this means I’m not listening to the news, but that is also a benefit to my mental health… so…)
  • Do something creative: You do not have to be an artist or a crafter or a creative being. Make a doodle, needlepoint something, put stickers in your planner, make a nature mandala in your yard with whatever sticks/ leaves/ petals/ moss you can find. Try a new recipe! (cooking is creative you guys! ) Pull a spice or ingredient you don’t typically use out of the pantry and research a dish you can make. Write a haiku. Paint your fingernails. Take an arty photo of a houseplant, and edit it in lightroom. Creativity doesn’t fit into a box… there are endless ways to be creative, you just need to find one. Don’t over-think it.
  • Reach Out: Its also OKAY to reach out when you need some support. It’s okay to say “This sucks, and I’m not doing okay right now” If you are reading this and you feel like you don’t have anyone in your circle that you can say this sort of stuff to, reach out to me! I am a great listener.
  • Have Grace with yourself and others. We are ALL going through this. We ALL have good days and bad days (and it is sometimes its moment to moment). You don’t need to be dazzlingly productive or efficient right now, we all just need to be honest. Its okay if you are moving slowly today, its okay if you are emotional, scared, irritated, confused… its also okay to be happy. Its okay to find small joys in the every day. It’s okay to be thankful. I struggle with this sometimes (back to my survivors guilt…) But here is the TRUTH: When I look outside and see a flower blooming and it brings a brief moment of joy, that moment doesn’t take away someone else’s joy. It also doesn’t make their suffering or angst any worse. BUT it does fill my cup just a tiny bit, so somewhere down the line when someone reaches out who is in crisis or not doing well it means that I have a little bit more emotional depth to give. It is okay to feel all your feelings. Its also okay to eat your feelings… yup, that is right, I just gave you permission. And it is DEFINETELY okay not to judge yourself for eating your feelings. This is new for most of us… Its okay if you are not okay, and it’s okay to feel okay. Also some people who are not okay might be taking it out externally… thus, the grace with yourself AND others. Especially right now.

To Sum up…. Support the things that fill you up and that speak to you (for me its small business & Farmers Markets…) give yourself permission to feel all your feelings, help when and where you can, and for all that is sacred in this world, stay home as much as humanly possible and please keep washing your hands.


Tayler is the Communications Coordinator for McMinnville Economic Development Partnership. She is also a Yoga Teacher, a former Farmers Market Manager, and forever a community enthusiast. She is an introvert, so overall she is doing okay right now, but she is definitely having more in-depth conversations with her bulldog, and not entirely convinced he is happy to have her working from home.

Yoga for Creative Minds and Every Body

Two weeks ago I spoke at Alt Summit, and I created this handout for some quick, calming yoga and mindfulness practices that we can integrate into daily life.

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, and with a lot of Yoga Studios closing their doors, this information feels more important than ever. I hope this little bit of mindfulness will assist you through this somewhat anxious time.

Yoga for Creative Minds and Every Body 

 

 

Meanwhile I’m on the knee shaving struggle bus

You guys… It’s mid August, here we are in late Summer and I find myself wondering how is it that I’m thirty-four-year-old woman and cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to successfully shave my knees? Does anyone else struggle with this? Honestly, it feels like I missed some sort of middle-school seminar on best knee shaving techniques, and I’m constantly wondering how every other leg shaving woman out there manages to accomplish a clean knee shave. Meanwhile I am here on the shaving struggle bus. Let me just clarify, that I’m not exactly self-concious about it… I mean in spite of my VERY BEST efforts I can’t seem to figure out how to successfully shave my knees, and life goes on. But what I AM self-concious/ embarassed about is the fact that I have been shaving my legs multiple times a week for over twenty years, and apparently practice does not make perfect.

I’m sure there are a myriad of contributing factors such as bathroom lighting, shower configuration, the dullness of a razor blade on any given day, I cannot seem to figure out how to successfully shave my knees, and I’m kind of baffled why not.

Every time I shave my legs I approach the knees from every imaginable angle. Bottom to top, top to bottom, in from the sides, bent knee, straight knee, and after going over each knee at least seventy-five times I typically end my leg shaving session feeling confident that this time, I’ve done it. Knee hair be gone, you are no match for my attention to detail and keen shaving skills. I go on with my day, falling into my getting ready routine, and most times don’t even think of double checking my work as I’m putting on my lotion. Most days I’m running late (well exactly on time with no room for error) and like clockwork, I get halfway down my driveway, coffee in hand, mere moments to get to the office or a meeting, and the morning sun catches my left knee and the inevitable patch of knee hair, and no time to run back to my razor.

Though I like to think I am not the only adult female with this particular shaving handicap, I feel as though I might be, because I’m the weirdo who ocasionally gets into a meeting and quickly scans the room looking at all the exposed kneecaps praying that I’ll discover that I’m not the only woman who cannot figure this out.  Please Please Please let someone else have a wisp of detectable hair.  Don’t let me be alone in this…  Don’t worry, I feel super weird about it/ I’m aware that most normal people are not scanning for detectable knee hair, but if I’m walking around  most days with visible tufts of knee fuzz I really hope I’m not alone.

The good news is that living in Oregon, there are plenty of un-shaven legs around, and I’m quite confident that the general public gives zero f*@#s about my shaving inaptitude, but then again, maybe there are other weirdos out there like me looking for confirmation… If so, I’m hoping my fuzzy knee caps bring them some sort of solace. If you are out there, we’re in this together.

For a while I kept a spare razor stashed in my car for those driveway emergencies. What’s a little razor burn amongst friends? But when I got my current vehicle, a razor never made its way over from the old one, and though I lament this at least once a week, still haven’t re-supplied. Something about it seems perhaps a little vain, and definitely high maintenance (though at this point, I’m blogging about shaving my legs, being perceived as high maintenance is the least of my worries) Mostly I’ve just resisgned myself that “this is just the way it is” and I keep on driving.

In preparation for an extended trip to California this Spring, I decided to wax my legs. No muss, no fuss, no sitting on shuttle bus and wishing I had a disposible razor in my handbag.  Overall I approach waxing the same way I do finding a doctor. Out of town is best. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about supporting local, in fact my job is basically promoting and supporting local businesses. That being said, I’m not interested in running into my doctors or my waxing specialists while teaching a yoga class, waiting in line for coffee or at the grocery store. Will I get an emergency eyebrow wax locally? Sure. But if I’m waxing any other part of my body, I leave the zip code. Obviously as I sit here blogging about body waxing, I’m not self-conscious about it, and it’s not a secret, but I’m already an awkward human, and there are just some interactions I don’t have the energy to engage in. Running into the person who does my bikini/facial hair/ leg wax out in the real world is at the top of that list.

As an introvert I don’t particularly enjoy engaging in small talk in most instances, but lets face it, you cannot make it through life without engaging in at least some small talk, (particularly in a public job, networking, and standing in line at brunch…) And you  simpy cannot avoid small talk with your hair stylist, dentist or waxer (though sometimes I think it would be preferable)  which is how I discovered during my very first bikini wax that my Esthetician was sorted into the Slytherin House. Let me just stop you right there, because I know you are probably wondering how in the hell the topic of Howgwarts Houses came up at a bikini wax in the first place. (but really why wouldn’t it?)  A) because I excel at nerdy conversations, B) this is just how my life tends to go and C) I was getting ready for a vacation to California that mostly consisted of laying poolside in Palm Springs, but also included one glorious day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Of course this revelation came as no surprise, the person pouring hot wax and ripping out all my body hair identified as a Slytherin…. Go figure. (If you don’t know about the Harry Potter Houses by now, I can’t really help you) and now every time I find myself in the waiting room at the waxing salon I start muttering under my breath “Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin” (She is a perfectly nice person, and actually an excellent waxer, and I have seen her several times since.)

And actually, I went to her this spring when I opted to get my legs waxed. Under normal circumstances, I am fine with my inadequate knee shaving ability, but when attending a Social Media Conference and being surrounded by a thousand women with camera phones who were live-tweeting and instagraming every second of every day, I decided that a full leg wax was in order. And though it actually hurt more than I was expecting it to, I still think it was the best investment I made in prepping for that trip. Peace of mind, Slytherin Style. But a leg wax is an investment (time, money, and the grow out in-between is not for the faint of heart) so for 50 weeks out of the year I am left to my own devices of attempted knee hair removal.

As we are heading quickly towards Autumn and all the joys that come with it, crisp mornings, light sweaters and of course long pants, I’m looking forward to putting my knee shaving neurosis on the back burner. In the meantime, if you catch me staring intently at your knees in a meeting or at book club, or wherever please know that I’m not intenttionally being the weirdest person in the room, and also please tell me what the secret to shaving your knees is. Because some of us would really like to know, and apparently can’t figure it out.

Words for 2019

 

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My 2019 Vision Board

Happy 2019! Since we are still lingering in January for a few more days I’ve decided that this still counts as a “New Years” post, especially since I have yet to publish anything on the blog this year. Though I’ve had my 2019 intentions solidified since January 1st, in my typical introvert fashion, I’ve been letting them marinate for a while before getting them on the page.

First off, let me just say that I don’t buy into the whole “New Year, New Me!” hype. I’ve spent the last 33 years becoming the person that I am, and for better or worse cultivating my current habits. I’m all about growth and change and working towards goals, but I’m not so much a fan of putting all this pressure on yourself that suddenly on January 1st you give yourself these ultimatums of change. I understand if NY Resolutions ARE your thing, but they aren’t mine. I spent a good part of 2018 delving into some self study, and I certainly learned a lot about myself, the most useful piece of information I gleaned from this was that I am an Obliger ( Gretchen Ruben, the Four Tendencies… I highly recommend) There is certainly no point in denying it, the entire chapter I was like “Hi, it’s me. Thanks for describing each and every thing that goes on in my brain” I don’t think anyone really loves being put into a box, and there are certainly aspects of this tendency that don’t seem very flattering, but rather than focusing on what some would consider negative traits, I’m choosing to act on things that will help me manage them (IE I need accountability if I want to accomplish my personal goals, and needing to be more firm in my boundaries to avoid burn-out.) I bring all this up, because it has made me realize that as a human with this tendency, I’m probably not going to be super successful at keeping any concrete resolutions… But I am heading into 2019 with a handful of words/ themes and areas of my life that I’m wanting to give a bit more attention to… and hey if some new habits happen to appear in the mix, I’m certainly not going to chase them away.

Words/ Themes for 2019: Why pick one when you could pick three? Maybe this is my indecisiveness, or fear of committing to only one idea (I’m a complex creature) but the words that I’m embracing for 2019 are Connection, Boundaries, and Ambiance.

  • Connection: Though I am a full-fledged introvert, I do understand that some of the most meaningful moments in life are shared through connection. I love being a part of a “small town” community, interacting with my yoga students and customers at the shop, volunteering, and exploring new ideas with book clubs etc. and I want more of this is 2019. More personal stories, meaningful conversations, handwritten notes, thoughtful smiles, coffee dates, accountability groups etc. . I’m especially excited to embrace this idea of connection in March as I head to Alt Summit and get to meet and interact with hundreds of creative, entrepreneurs, artists and kindred spirits.
  • Boundaries: This might seem awkwardly juxtaposed next to “Connections” but one thing I’m really learning about myself is that I need to set clear boundaries in order to be successful creatively. I tend to be the person who over-commits to things, volunteers to help out, and generally say yes when asked to help with projects, to sub a class, or work on something… and that is good a lot of the time. I like when people ask me for help, I like to feel needed, I like to give my time, and so a lot of times I just give an enthusiastic “YES!” and am then often putting my own personal projects, ideas, creative pursuits on the backburner. I know there is a lot of ebb and flow, but what I’m realizing is that I’m tired of saying yes to projects I’m not 100% passionate about just because I feel obligated to. And the bummer thing is that sometimes this means saying NO to things you want to do. It means passing on happy hour when you are trying to get your budget in order, or missing a gathering because you need an introvert recharge, or passing on an opportunity so you have time to focus your creative energy on something else that fills you with more fire. And you know what? It’s hard. People don’t like hearing no (and some of us don’t like saying it) and I’m finding that there are actually a fair amount of people out there who don’t want to respect your boundaries, or pushback against them, or can’t understand why you have them / make snarky comments about them! BUT I’m practicing anyway. So as much as I’m saying yes to connection, to getting out of my comfort zone and to building relationships, I’m also saying no. I’m planting my feet and respecting myself and my creativity and my needs. (and guess what, it feels awesome.)
  • Ambiance: Hygge seemed too specific for a year round feeling, and I’m still trying to vocalize exactly what I mean when I say I’m spending 2019 focusing on ambiance, but I’m trying to be more intentional about creating ambiance at home and around me. Thus far this has looked like turning up the heat and lighting candles when I come home. I’ve started to work on some clutter issues, I’ve completely organized all my jewelry, and added some new art to my gallery walls. I don’t know exactly how this is going to look and evolve, but I know that I’m bringing more attention to my patio space, the garden, and I’m paying more attention to where I’m spending my time and what feelings these places evoke.

Areas of Focus: Mid November I attended a workshop that encompassed yoga creating healthy habits, and organizing your life and finances (UM yeah, talk about all the things I need all the time). My biggest take-away from said workshop was that we (the proverbial we) can only have three priorities at a time. If we add more than that, our plates become too full, and we can’t actually achieve the things we were hoping to. BUT the cool thing is that if we make something a priority, and carve out time for it, we begin to go through the process of making that priority a habit, so over time we can shift our priorities because those things we were making time for and striving towards have either a) become ingrained into our daily habits or b) are no longer a priority. This makes sense (at least to me.) I’ve noticed this with meditation and my morning routine. I gave it focus, I made it a priority, and now without thinking, I have this set routine that involves getting up, making coffee and crawling back into bed for 20 minutes of mediation, intention setting and spending a few moments drawing a Crystal, Spirit Animal and Inner Compass cards.   Sometimes is feels silly, other times is feels luxurious, but it has become my standard routine , so I no longer need to focus on making meditation a priority. It is already incorporated into the day to day.

My three priorities for 2019 are Creativity, Health and Home.

  •  Creativity: Though with priorities I think specifics are good, I wasn’t willing to say “writing is going to be my priority for 2019” Writing is definitely a huge part of being creative for me, in fact it is my favorite medium, and part of making creativity a priority does involve carving out designated time for writing each week. But creativity also takes the form of cooking and trying new recipes, planting new things in the garden, making a collage, color coding my planner, writing letters, planning yoga classes. And each of these things feeds the same part of my brain as writing, and I’m allowing some space for that. ( but naturally, by making creativity a priority in my life, I do expect more writing will be a result.)
  • Home: I know this seems big and general, but it sort of goes hand in hand with Ambiance. I love my home, I love being at home, I love entertaining at home, I love working in the garden… and all that being said, I LIVE in my home. I’m a person with a dog, and clutter, and an extensive closet, and more greeting cards and stationary than one would think necessary, and tons of yard work that needs to be done, and I’m also just one human. One human with a full time job, and a side gig, and responsibilities outside the home and of course some excuses. And you know what? I spend a lot of time at my home, and I put a large chunk of my take home pay towards rent, and I’m ready to make my home and its tidiness a priority. I know this is definitely going to take a shift in thinking, and a shift in my actions… I am mostly ready for that.
  • Health: This probably needs less defining than the other priorities, but I’m taking Health to be the overarching umbrella for Emotional, Physical and Financial practices. It encompasses a lot of things like getting more sleep, moving my person, drinking more water, cutting back on coffee? (maybe next month…) being intentional with my budget, reading more books, having deep conversations, evaluating relationships, making more time for stretching and yoga, drinking less alcohol, and surrounding myself with people and projects and things that bring me joy and cutting out the things that don’t.

One last observation before signing off. I’m trying to get better at is the idea of having grace with myself and others. Do I want to cultivate healthy habits? Absolutely… (I’m on day 23 of oil pulling! ) but I’ve come to accept that I’m living day to day, and if I fail miserably today at drinking enough water, or moving my person, or loading the dishwasher that is OKAY, because tomorrow is a clean slate. I understand it is a fine line between just letting yourself completely off the hook, and grace, but I think the important thing to remember is setting realistic expectations for yourself, and then striving to meet them. Some days you will, and it will feel awesome, and you will think “I’m going to keep doing this!” and you keep doing it until life kicks in and you oversleep, or you stay up too late working on a project, or you make a conscious choice to eat take-out and glass of rosé rather than drinking the last 20 oz of water you were wanting to, because LIFE. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but also don’t give up!

Anyway… I’d love to hear what sort of words/ themes/ ideas are resonating with you for 2019 and if you are a resolution keeper or attempter I’d love to hear about that too! Leave your themes/ resolutions/ new years practices in the comments below.

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.”