inspired adjective
- of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wisdom for Life

You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are. 
So I suppose the best piece of advice I could give anyone is pretty simple: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if you developed an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast while in the shower.
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger. 
Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present. 
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. 
Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas making fuchsia star bursts in spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take the money you would have spent on beers in a bar and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Tutor a seventh-grader. 
All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough. 
Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live. 
[…] This is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. 
-A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlin via Brainpicker.

I have been dwelling on these words all week. They sound so simple on paper but can become such a challenge to seek and maintain in order to live by. Perhaps the goal is less to achieve this awareness but simply to try (and sometimes to fight) to realize more of this each and every day. It is so easy to get lost in the busyness of life that I need constant reminders to choose to be present and teach myself how to fully live these moments. Hope this serves as a reminder for you, too. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Smoothie Kick

Spinach, avocado, banana, almond milk & chia seeds

Lately I have developed a new obsession. I realized I was spending too much money on smoothies that seemed simple enough for me to make, so I picked up a blender and I've been making smoothies nearly every morning for the past 3 weeks. It was such a challenge to find a healthy go-to breakfast that would even come close to giving me a chance to make it until lunch, but these smoothies are packed full of fiber and protein I am amazed at how filling they are. 

I started to look into the benefits of superfoods, stocked up on ingredients from there, and have been experimenting with variations every morning. In all of them I use a base of either a banana or avocado for a creamy texture, handful of spinach or kale for a green boost, and unsweetened almond milk as the liquid. I may add frozen blueberries if I have them, a scoop of almond butter, or handful of raw cashews. From there I add any mix of the following:

Maca Powder - Maca is an amazing source of natural energy and is high in B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It has adaptogenic properties which keep your body cope with stress and maintain hormonal balance.

Chia Seeds - I started making Chia Seed pudding a while back, but I am still not crazy about the texture of it. Adding it to smoothies is a great way to get the benefit of this powerful seed, which is another source of natural energy. These small seeds pack 40 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber in one serving and actually have more Omega-3 fatty acids per ounce than salmon!

Cacao Nibs - Made from pure cacao beans, cacao nibs are the source of all those antioxidant benefits I so easily reference to justify eating more dark chocolate. They are actually one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world and also significantly high in fiber. They are a great source of magnesium--which helps relax your nervous system and get better sleep (read: helps you relax!).

Hemp Protein - This is an easy to digest and earth-friendly protein that also contains Omega fatty acids to help reduce inflammation in the body.

Coconut Oil - Don't be deceived by the fat content, the fatty acids in coconut oil can actually help you lose or maintain weight and provide great benefits for overall heart and brain health. It is also great for use on your skin as a moisturizer! I use it daily after showering and at night to remove eye makeup.

Spirulina -  This blue-green algae is a nutritional powerhouse and high in protein and antioxidants. It is very high in chlorophyll which helps the body get rid of toxins and boosts immunity. I admit I am still talking myself into this one (to no surprise, algae tastes as it sounds)--so I only add a small amount.

My favorite combination so far has been this one shown above: handful of baby spinach, 1 whole frozen banana, 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 tablespoon of almond butter, 2 tablespoons of cacao nibs, 1 teaspoon of maca powder, 1tablespoon of hemp protein, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon coconut oil.

It is much easier than I thought it would be to make smoothies every morning and it is such a great way to start the day. I've actually found myself going mornings without coffee as these are so packed-full of energy. Blasphemous, I know.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Upstate New York

Living in the city is wonderful. The access to art, great food, culture, and music is unparalleled while the collective energy of the city can be a constant source of inspiration. Yet it is all the more necessary to escape the city, to view expansive landscapes, to breathe fresh air, to slow down and notice the details of nature and all she has to offer.

“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” -Thoreau

Saturday, June 21, 2014

JR at the Park Slope Farmer's Market

I have been keeping a tab on JR's Inside Out Project for a while now, after seeing an installation of photos a few years ago in DUMBO. It is such a beautiful project created to share stories and connect communities, despite different backgrounds, races, religions, way of dress, or whatever else can become reason to divide us. I was delighted to see the project come to Park Slope's Middle School 51, overlooking my favorite neighborhood Sunday Farmer's Market. The walls of the school are now covered by 74 portraits of kids, creating a powerful reflection and celebration of the diversity and personality of the school itself. You can learn more about the project and discover how to participate here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beacon Day Trip

Last Saturday we took a day trip to Beacon, New York in the Hudson Valley. I had been wanting to get up to the Dia:Beacon Art Museum for a while now and was so excited to have a beautiful free day to do it. The  85 minute train ride from Grand Central is an event in itself--the trip runs along the Hudson River providing amazing views of Englewood Cliffs, West Point, and Bear Mountain. Beacon lies right past the Breakneck Ridge Trail, which is also a fun day trip outside of the city.

Mike and I walked from the train to Main Street, a quaint strip of artisinal cheese shops, creameries, art galleries, and restaurants. We had lunch at Max's on Main before walking back towards the river to get to the museum. The Dia:Beacon is definitely a must see for contemporary art fans. The museum itself was so spacious and bright and it was a relief not to be in a museum where you are bumping into people like in so many great museums in the NYC. There is a wonderful exhibit of Minimalist Sculptor Carl Andre on display and amazing large steel sculptures by Richard Serra that I was blown away by as I walked through them.

For a refreshing and fascinating day out of the city, I definitely recommend making the trip up to Beacon!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day in Ocean City

This past weekend Mike's family hosted a couples' wedding shower for us at their beach house in Ocean City, NJ. My family came down from Connecticut and our friends from Brooklyn made the trip down as well, and it was amazing to have everyone together. I have been so thankful to see our families blend so seamlessly and have such a fun time with each other. It is so easy to get caught up in the planning of the wedding day itself that this weekend was a welcomed pause to celebrate and be grateful for the great community of friends and family we have supporting us. Not to mention how wonderful it was to be able to spend time outdoors by the beach on such a beautiful weekend! Hope you had a great Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fed Up Challenge

A few years ago there was an article in the New York Times entitled "Is Sugar Toxic?" It was the first I had read of sugar's significant contribution not only to obesity and diabetes but other chronic conditions including heart disease and cancer. I later read Sugar Blues by William Duffy and was shocked to discover the extent to which sugar is poisonous to our bodies. It was alarming to me how much factual and historical evidence of the danger of sugar exists and yet how little is done to diminish its presence in practically everything marketed and sold to us on a daily basis.

I was thrilled to learn of the new film, Fed Up, which seeks to change all of this by bringing an awareness to just how bad sugar is with a call to action to do something about it. The film includes interviews with real-food pioneers Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman--bringing a reputable team together to place a spotlight on the corporate food industry and the government's role in the obesity and diabetes epidemics in America.

The film also has sparked the Fed Up Challenge of going sugar-free for ten days. It is truly amazing to realize how prevalent added sugar can be in unexpected items once you start paying attention to labels--especially as sugar can masquerade itself with 56 different names. I started the challenge today along with a few friends from work and we have agreed it already is eye-opening to realize how addictive sugar is now that we are focused on going without it!

I'm starting the mornings with smoothies to up my protein intake to help cut sugar cravings and have planned out my meals ahead of time, using Kris Carr's helpful meal plan to ensure I have healthy snacks on hand and meals from ingredients without hidden sugars. Last night I made these delicious and filling vegetable quinoa burgers from Sprouted Kitchen to have for lunch for the week. I am thankful to have this challenge to be extra intentional with what I am eating over the next ten days and am excited to be doing it alongside so many other people who have been inspired by the film. You can learn more about Fed Up and sign up for the challenge here!

Homemade veggie burgers!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Music for Your Summer Kick-Off

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

We made it! I have been looking forward to the start of this summer with more anticipation than usual, as I am getting married in September and thus the summer is full of pre-wedding fun. This weekend we are heading down to Ocean City, NJ to celebrate with our families and bridal party. In the past few months of planning the wedding itself has seemed far-off and almost not quite real. Now that we are less than four months away things are starting to change--it will be an exciting summer!

The playlist below is for road-trips, beach days, picnics in the park, and everything else you have planned for the warm months ahead. Have a wonderful long weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Prospect Park Surprise Party

Sunday we threw a surprise gathering in the park for our good friend Pat in honor of his birthday. After this long winter, I am not alone in trying to get in as much time outdoors in the park as I can. Prospect Park has a renewed energy to it in the Spring, as the collective gratitude for sun and fresh air is palpable among all of us who have been cooped up hiding from the cold for too long. Champagne, balloons and Frisbees in hand, a group of us hid out in the park to surprise Pat. Our awkward ducking may not have been the smoothest per-say, but he was surprised nonetheless!