Friday, May 31, 2013

Quinoa Kale Sweet Potato Salad

This is a pretty easy meal, so I'm going to get to it with the ingredients and instructions and then trouble you with a bit of a dilemma I'm having (if you don't mind...)

Servings: 2-4

2 cups of quinoa 
1 head of kale
1-2 sweet potatoes
1 lemon, squeezed
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. Himalayan sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-2 handfulls of cashews
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped

optional additions
nutritional yeast 
hot sauce for me is always a necessity in most meals

Cook the sweet potatoes in the oven on 425┬║ for 40-60 minutes until tender. When you have about 20 minutes left on the potatoes, cook the quinoa (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until all the water is absorbed; ~10-15 minutes). While the quinoa is cooking, make the kale salad...

Remove the stems from the kale and place it in a bowl. Add the Himalayan sea salt and massage it into the kale so that the salt starts to "cook" the leaves (i.e. break down the leaves so that they are "wilted"). Keep going until you see juice start to come out of the kale. Next, massage the leaves with lemon juice, garlic and pepper until well 
incorporated. Taste. You might need more lemon juice or more salt.
Dice the cooked sweet potatoes and remove the quinoa from the stove. Mix the kale salad in with the cooked quinoa and potatoes. Enjoy!


Now, on to my dilemma. We're going out of town in a few weeks. Like way out of Africa out of town, for my Dad's 60th birthday (details soon). A part of me wants to schedule some posts to go up while we're gone, but another part of me, the part of me working on being present, just wants to leave the blog alone for two weeks seeing as there's no way I'll be able to check email, reply to comments or maintain any part of it. I've already given my blog sponsors the month of June for free and mentioned that my blogging might be spotty towards the middle of the month, but what do you think, dear readers? Should the blog get a vacation too? A part of leaving it be for two weeks seems freeing and beneficial and another part of it seems kind of crazy. I'm leaning towards the freeing feeling, though. Your input is much appreciated. Have you ever taken a complete vacation from blogging? 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy Surfing!

Music: Holiday by Vampire Weekend

     My sister Maddie and her friend Kara came to town on Monday. Maddie moved back to California after graduating. The last two days felt like my life before my sisters moved away. Busy, funny and full. Once Danielle gets home in early June, I think I'll feel whole again. Monday night we went out for drinks at the wine bar. Maddie asked for a job while nearly choking on a piece of cheese. We came back to our house and sat around the chiminea in the backyard making way too much noise talking and laughing into the night. I told the stories of the times I'd crashed my car in High School. Apparently I was the only one who had let their car roll into their piano teacher's petunias. I'll have to save the rest of that story for another time. Tuesday, we went surfing. Maddie got to short board for the first time and Kara, a Pennsylvania native, had her first surf. They did awesome.

beginner tips: 
+surf the smaller inside waves away from other people
+lay with your toes touching the tail of the board if it's a longboard
+paddle hard with your fingers together to catch the wave
+stay centered over the board as you stand
+put weight on your front foot to stay with the wave if you feel you're about to come off the back

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Signs of Summer

1. sunbrella
2. south swell slide, south swell suit
3. pink drink, pink dress
4. crab fest with friends (salad and potatoes for me)
5. beach bocce ball
6. summer dwellings 
7. agua-melon
8. Sunday Monday siesta

     Everything about this weekend was great until we forgot our camera at our friend's house in Orange County Sunday night and Scott got a speeding ticket Monday morning when he went to get it. Hopefully that isn't a sign of things to come this summer.
     After the nap pictured above, I read my book for four hours and Scott made pasta for dinner. He served it to me right on the couch and I didn't even have to get up to get my drink of choice (two buck chuck chardonnay with a splash of juice). Something about pasta is so comforting and nothing about the ticket seemed like a big deal any more.

How'd you celebrate the long weekend?
What was the weather like where you live (I love weather)?

{dress c/o Roxy}

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Contest Within

(wait for it, it builds)
      Looking back, I was so nervous. My mind normally goes into auto-pilot when I'm surfing, my feet sink into the wax footprints created sessions before, but during this contest, out in the ocean that seemed to transform into a stage, I felt I had to remind myself how to do a bottom turn. 

     It's for charity, just go and have fun, help out, I told myself when I signed up. I intended to do exactly that, but on the day of, I knew I had expectations for myself, even if I tried my best to stuff them away. I wanted to go out there and perform to the best of my ability, show the judges what I had learned in all my surf sessions. More than anything, I wanted to enjoy the day and be free from the pressure I had put on myself in the past to win.

     The last time I had competed at Pacific Beach Drive was about four years ago. The waves were closed-out and kind of big, just as they were yesterday. I fell or went straight on almost all of my rides and ended up getting dead last in my heat with my soon to be sister-in-law and a few of her friends on the beach watching me surf for the first time. It was stressful, upsetting and kind of humiliating. After that, I decided to take a break from competition. Why add that pressure to surfing? Why feel the need to win and the feeling of failure after losing? I realized I didn't want to. 

     I was pulled to the idea of competing again because I hoped I had moved on from those feelings.

     I entered two divisions: Greek Athlete and Open Women's. I was excited for both, but especially Greek Athlete because I would be competing against the boys, since no other girls had entered. What if I beat one of them? I had to remind myself that I could. The waves were pretty tricky-lots of closeouts and onshore wind, but I thought I could find something to ride. I just had to think of it as a bad day at home-there's always something if you surf smart. 
     It was time for me to put on my white jersey to challenge (and perhaps embarrass) myself as I took on the frat guys. We got an ample five minutes to paddle out and thank God because it was a rough one. It was much more consistent than it looked from the beach. PB (and the whole Mission Beach stretch) is lined with difficult waves when the swell rises because they go from deep to shallow water rather rapidly. While I was watching from my tent sanctuary on the beach, I assessed the waves to be 2-4 feet. Once I was paddling out, they seemed more like 3-5 feet with the occasional 6 foot set.

     Although I was ahead of the boys at first, they quickly gained on me and eventually left me on the inside, swallowing water. Like a scene out of Blue Crush, I duck dove one wave, only to be greeted by another behind it that crashed right into my open eyes and drug me back five feet. When I finally made it out, I let the guy in the yellow jersey get position on me and take an open faced left I really wanted. "Crap! Come on Devon!" I paddled into the next one, a meaty left with a big lip that crashed almost immediately. I tried to get up on it with a quick bottom turn-foam climb combo, but I fell. I didn't allow myself to get discouraged though, and luckily made it back to the outside without getting clobbered by any sets.

     My second and third waves were my best-a quick right with a spray turn followed by a left with a backside off-the-lip. I felt a little more relaxed after my second "keeper" wave (your top two best waves count towards your ending total) and paddled back out just as a set of six footers marched in. I scratched over them in a minor panic. Because I was nervous this whole time, it was even harder for me to fill my lungs with air. I duck-dove a thick one and opened my eyes. The big waves out in the deeper water were such a pure dark blue like the night sky when there's no moon. I felt immediately relaxed and weightless within them. I took a moment to look around underwater and think about how lucky I was to be doing this. My last wave was a close-out right and then the heat was over.

     They announced the winners as I was making my way back to the tent. They read it in reverse order--last place to first. The top three advance. When I heard I didn't get fourth I knew I advanced and I allowed myself a mini-celebration inside my head. When I found out I wasn't in third, but in second I was astonished and called my dad immediately, as I always do with surfing things. 


"Dad! I beat the boys!"

     The sun made its way from the east to the west as the warm day went by. Scott showed up after finishing the Junior Olympics with his elementary school P.E. class kids, which I was very thankful for. I surfed closed-out waves, a little more cautiously than usual, made it through my Open Women's semi-final, but got eliminated in the Men's Greek Athlete semi-final with a sixth place, dead last in the heat. Nerves came as each heat approached, but I was enjoying myself. I felt excited for my next opportunity to test myself on this surfing stage. At the end of it all, I made it to the Open Women's final and got second place. A victory resembling an iceberg, so much bigger than it appears. 

     As I sat reflecting in my living room that next day, I knew the contest had been a victory for me in so many ways. I had allowed myself to enjoy it even though my performance wasn't perfect. I had challenged myself in ways I had been afraid to before and put myself in a situation where I was likely to lose by entering a male-dominated division. I had lost and I was ok with it. In fact, I felt good about it.

     Losing had been part of the triumph because I've seen the kind of good and growth that comes from it, and it's not something I fear anymore.

     The people who have beat me in contests, the women who were mean to me at my old job, that jerk from surf camp who told me I wasn't worth the money, the places that have rejected my work, they all have helped me become better at being myself because they have helped me accept myself. 

   Winning is an artificial thing I don't need anymore and that's a victory I would take any day. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Marolsha Giveaway!

     I'm pretty obsessed with Maddy's unique, nature inspired, vintage jewelry from her shop Marolsha, so it makes me really stoked to give some away to one of you. What's up for grabs? These stunning ocean inspired glass framed drop french hook earrings. This color is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the ocean here at home when it's really calm and the afternoon sun shines right on the shallows. 

Here's how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 17, 2013

Her Very Own

    When our airplane took off for home, I muttered "bye Syracuse," to Scott, who was across the isle from me. I knew the chances of us returning were small. The ending of chapters in life always get me. The emotions associated with the graduation of my baby sister crept into my throat and almost made it to my eyes on that plane ride, but I swallowed them back down. I loved Syracuse, and not because it had such a significant meaning for me, but because I knew it did for Maddie. It was her place, her special fort in the middle of the trees on the other side of the country to learn her own lessons and grow into her own person. It was another home for her for a time. It was a place that was her own. 
     I reflected on this as I waited for our final flight home out of Chicago. The flight attendants bustled through the isles shutting the over-head bins and making sure seat belts and tray tables were where they were supposed to be, as they do. I'm the oldest of the three girls in my family. When I was born, everything was mine and only mine. By the time Maddie came home from the hospital and into our family, most material possessions were already spoken for. Clothes were passed down, beds scooted over, rooms shared, toys recycled. Even most of the hiding places were already uncovered, forts had been claimed. 

     Perhaps some of the emotional roles were already claimed, too. We all became sassy, sensitive, silly and feisty, but as the first born I was, in the realm of our playroom, in charge. Danielle, as the middle kid was opinionated, but big-hearted and Maddie, as the baby, would grow into her role as the altruist and rebel. 

     I'm not saying I feel bad for Maddie for her birth order. Each position in the family has its benefits, setbacks and lessons. I'm just saying I think I know more about her position in the family now. I'm so happy to see the path that belongs to her, the one she's carved for herself and the friends, school and major that are so uniquely her own; her very own. I'm so proud of the person she is and the person she has become.

Where are you in the birth order in your family?
How has it shaped you?

+Jewelry: Marolsha // etc. Roxy/Quiksilver

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Polaroids of Vegetarian Food (and drinks?)

  "Oooh, Polaroids make my food look so hipstery" 

1. quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper; napkin c/o Dot & Army
2. green beens with toasted almonds and parmesan cheese
3. sauteed lentils and kale with sea salt and olive oil
4. cous cous, red quinoa stir fry with peas, bell peppers, tofu, onion, garlic, chick peas, and a ginger soy sauce inspired by ohdeadrea
5. Daphne's salad with falafel and jalape├▒os 
6. Moscow mules. What? Those are vegetarian. Have you ever had one? It's vodka, ginger beer and lime served in a cool copper cup. I had my first one a month ago. They're so refreshing. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Little Things: Syracuse, More Thoughts on Being Present

1. east coast spring flowers
2. colorful wine opener found on the floor
3. Maddie's graduation tassel
4. party aftermath 
5. Otto, the school mascot. Mine has 3 legs, he's the luckiest, I think. 
6. ceremony program

     Over the weekend we flew to Syracuse, New York to celebrate my sister Maddie's college graduation. After two flight cancelations that left us stranded in Chicago for five hours, Scott and I landed in the rain and joined my family at Maddie's old and charming house with a narrow staircase that creaked and dark wood floors, sticky from spilled drinks, for a party (it should be noted that my mom and dad were the only parents still there partying it up).

      I thought a lot about being present this weekend and what that meant. It was an especially important time to be in the moment and keep the experiences-- the sounds, the smells, the smiles, the jokes, in a permanent place in my mind. 

     More than worrying about texts to respond to or getting through my twitter feed, I worry about accomplishments. This keeps me from being present more than anything else. There is an urgency I allow to follow me around and an anxiety that tags along with it. 

     I want everything to be a certain way and I want it now. "Forget about the process", some part of my brain says. I should be publishing a book, getting barreled in Indonesia, reaching my goals because I might have a family soon and my attention to those goals will be divided. I could die. And even more trivial than all of this are the worries like that bookcase needs to be painted white, those cabinets replaced. Now, now, now! so I can breathe a sigh of relief and sit and read a book, waste away a Wednesday doing jack-crap-nothing.  

     Here's the thing, self (I wrote in my journal one morning in Syracuse): You will never check everything off your to-do list and you need to be ok with that. You should be glad about it. If there was ever a day when everything was done, your goals all met, your house completely in order and finished, no trinkets to be added, no walls to be repainted, it would be a sad one. It is good and important to always be working towards something, to have things you need and want to do. So don't freak out about the amount of things on your list that aren't crossed off. Read that book, take off a random Wednesday. Get lost in conversation with someone when your sink is full of dishes and your inbox overflowing. There will always be time for chores. Dreams won't run off without you, either. There's time for dreams if you're willing to chase them, a story to tell if you're willing to tell it. So stop, see what's in front of you. Taste those breaths you're breathing in. This is your life, your only one, and there will always be "dishes in the sink, cabinets to be painted, emails to respond to, books to be written", God willing. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

What "Friends" Taught Me About the Present

    I've had this odd day dream in my mind lately of Ross and Rachel and all the Friends crew talking and sitting around Central Perk, the coffee shop they always hung out at. I've been asking myself: How did they just sit there so relaxed? Aren't they thinking: I have to go get some work done! I need to clean the house! Go to the bank!... ? It never seems like it. They took time for that stuff and then they made time away from it. They are always so present in those moments, enjoying each other's company, passing the time with stories. I guess it helps that they have fictitious jobs and that Joey barely ever has one, but there are aspects of those scenes that I want for myself; moments in the day when I feel totally unconcerned with anything but what's happening in front of me: my life, my only one. 

     When I'm on a wave I feel like this, so long as I'm not too occupied by some grudge against a chauvinistic dude. I can even feel the way the wax moves under each one of my toes. How often, outside of the ocean, do I ever think about what my toes are feeling? Never, really. Some waves, the really good ones, even seem to move slower than the rest of life. I notice the way they change colors as I ride them. I'm happy to realize I'm so present in my surfing experiences, but I want to transfer this to the land, as well.

     I want to say I'm good at being present, being satisfied with what I have and who I am and not letting my mind wander to what I should be doing or what I want to accomplish, but I'm not sure that's true; at least not as much as I would like it to be.  

     Let's just say, I'm trying and I'm going to try harder and during all of this, I am going to think of those moments the Friends crew had sitting around Central Perk waiting for Gunther to bring them their drinks and how unconcerned they seemed with anything else. How they were making the meaningful memories then (and not worrying about Instagramming them). And picturing this is going to help me visualize what I want, at least some of the day, even if it's just a story.

Are you good at being present? How do you manage to stay in the moment?