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What an amazing weekend in Atlanta! James and I kicked off our first Twelve Supper, which was a huge success and so much fun. Thanks to everyone who attended! We are going to host our next one in Birmingham on January 27th, so if you are interested please sign up on our mailing list. There has already been a big response, so if you happen to miss out this time around we will do another one very soon in Birmingham. The next supper in Atlanta will be a vegetarian meal with a date TBA in February. We posted a fun blog entry on our inaugural dinner experience here, and you can also view the finished dishes and recipes on Pinterest. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for our fun little food project.
For my dish, I made an egg drop soup with chopped bok choy and spring onion topped with a sesame wonton candy that you could either eat separately or let dissolve in the hot liquid. I was originally going to do a savory cotton candy, but the texture came out a little differently than I expected. I got my soup recipe here, and my candy recipe on this site. The soup was super easy to make, and I seasoned it with soy sauce and sesame oil (which I am totally obsessed with). Bok choy is very much like cabbage, and I can’t wait to cook more with it in the future.
This weekend I am rolling up to Nashville with James to see a handful of really good friends before Christmas. James will head on home to Cincinnati from there and I will come back to Birmingham for the holidays with a quick trip to see my sister and her family in Columbus. Lots of activity to come! Also, after Christmas, my official Half Ironman training will begin. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve decided to hold off on the marathon until later in 2013, even though my running is still going strong. I want to build back up a little slower just as an extra precaution for my knee. Every now and then it gets a tad sore, but it’s usually from something that I could have anticipated – like running downhill.
I will be having a quiet New Years on the beach this year with my family and James. I’m happy about that because usually I put so many expectations on that night…so this year I will be able to relax a little and succumb to my environment. There is something awesome too about being in front of the wide ocean as you welcome in a new year. What new shores will you reach? How will you get there? Which direction will you go in first? I’m ready for my new adventures.
Exciting news! James and I have started a fun dinner/potluck series called Twelve, and our inaugural dinner is this Sunday in Atlanta. The concept is built around the idea of twelve people (us + 10 others) bringing a dish, and everyone is assigned a specific word and course as inspiration. You don’t have to be a chef or excellent cook to attend, it’s more about the fun, creativity and community than anything else.
The plans for 2013 are to alternate every other month in Atlanta, with various wanderments in other southern cities during off months. Our first southern city is, of course, Birmingham in January, so stay tuned for an official announcement with date and location soon! Anyone is invited, first come first serve. If you are interested in attending one, please join our email list here. Atlanta is already full for this Sunday. Please follow the creations via our hashtag #twelvesupper as people prepare for the kick-off this weekend! My assigned word is chaos in course 4, and I’m pretty excited for the dish I have planned. I will share the recipe once dinner is served…
Happy Friday!! It was so nice this morning when I stepped outside, a little unexpected as to how perfect it was. I am very much looking forward to the weekend in Atlanta with James. Originally we had planned to go to Six Flags, but we decided that it was just too much with our New Orleans and Oxford weekends coming up. So the plan is to just chill and relax for the next two days. Tomorrow night we will be going to a Push Start dinner at the Goat Farm, which thinking about is making my mouth water as I type!
I really love the supper club premise, which is already pretty popular in Atlanta (and other cities) and is just now starting to become a more frequent occurrence in Birmingham. The idea is to share a table with a group of people, who you may or may not know, pay a set fee and enjoy a dinner prepared by a local chef in a non-restaurant setting. It’s a great way to make new friends, learn more about food and participate in great conversation. If you get the opportunity to attend one, you must go! You won’t regret it. By attending only a handful myself, it’s already taught me to appreciate and view food in a whole new way.
I turned 1000 pics old this week on Instagram!! Hard to believe that I’ve taken that many. It still remains one of my favorite social media sites as it encourages creativity and documentation without a whole lot of effort. I don’t always use it everyday, but I find that I think about posting when I’m feeling inspired, happy, or inclined to share. It also makes me feel good to see what other people post, like a min-glimpse into their lives through pictures. I’ve discovered so many interesting people who I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.
I hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend. Go outside and do something fun! It should be one of the best all year temperature-wise. See you on Monday…
Here is a quick challenge update: James and I are on day 17 with no alcohol, and day3 as vegetarians. The no alcohol was a bigger deal than I expected it to be, especially on weekends during social events. Sometimes it’s nice to have a glass of wine on a Friday after a productive week of work. To help avoid temptation, we have been cooking much more at home (in our respective cities) instead of going to restaurants. Also, not having a cocktail or two has been much kinder to our wallets. As with any challenge, resistance gets easier with time. I find on week three that’s it is almost a non-issue. However, we will be ending our fast this Friday with Music Midtown in Atlanta. That will also be our last day as vegetarian (with Thursday & Friday being vegan). Speaking of being vegetarian, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to transition over to no meat. My body always reacts kindly by feeling less heavy and having more energy. There are so many natural sources of protein outside of meat that it’s almost not even a challenge. I also think we eat less in general when we aren’t preparing a meal around a piece of meat. Going vegan is going to be a whole different story, as I’ve never attempted it before. After talking with some vegan friend though, seems like there are more options than ever to make it more convenient. I will probably hit up some local restaurants that I know for sure serve vegan meals so I can learn some preparation ideas. I’m excited to see how it goes!
My friend Bonnie posted an inspirational quote today on her FB page that said, “Yes, I’m trying to eat healthy. No, I’m not on a diet.” It does seem to be ingrained in our brains that eating healthy equates to temporary dieting, that it isn’t something we do long-term. I think that is one of the reasons why I love Vero so much – she has no “normal” reason to eat healthy – she is the perfect size and is in good health & shape. However you will never see her order a serving of french fries. She loves to put nutritional things in her body. She is completely vegetarian all of the time and goes out of her way to order specifically what she wants at restaurants. I won’t disclose her age, but let’s just say she looks about 7-8 years younger than most of her peers. It’s because she cares about her body. Nothing more, nothing less. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about her. Eating healthier doesn’t have to be anything extreme either, it can just be a process of adding more fruits & veggies over time while learning new ways to prepare food with less fat, chemicals & refined sugar. Baby steps! Slow and steady wins the race.
Today starts the two-day juice challenge for James and me. We aren’t doing anything too fancy, basically just drinking an assortment of Naked drinks to make sure we get enough veggies, protein & healthy carbs. I don’t necessarily promote diets that eliminate food groups, but it’s only for two days and it makes me feel excited for a challenge. Tonight I am going to my first yoga class of 2012 with my friend Micah. I know it will be hard for me since my upper body is fairly weak, but this is the first step to changing that! I’m trying to adjust my attitude about slower exercise in general, because I think it could be a peaceful experience to add to my weekly routine. Micah has already been a few times and is completely in love. If I could get into it, I know it would be a great full body workout and help with strengthening my hips, butt, core and arms.
Another thing James and I are doing is planning out our weekend meals in advance (since that is the time we get to spend together). This is both to save money and watch our caloric intake. We both love fun food, but neither of us can afford to eat countless calories and spend like we are the next Bill Gates. With that being said, one of the things that I love most about James is that he is passionate about food. Not in quantity, but in quality. Some of my best experiences with him have been exploring local restaurants in Atlanta and Birmingham. We end up ordering several things and sharing plates. He appreciates details, preparation and creativity, which makes dining with him a lot of fun. I also love that we have similar body types so our challenges are usually the same. It makes it easier when your significant other is on the same page as you food-wise. I am looking forward to cooking more with him and enjoying our own home-made meals.
I never really appreciated home cooking until fairly recently. While my mom cooked amazing food for us growing up on a daily basis, I still never put much thought into it being something fun to do. I think that had mostly to do with my unhealthy relationship with food, up until a few years ago. Food was a major source of anxiety for me…I knew I loved it, but I had so many negative emotions attached to what it did to my body when I ate too much. I struggled to find balance with food for a long, long time. I don’t think I appreciated the care put into making a meal due to the cloudiness of other thoughts in my head. Fortunately, that all changed a few years ago. I still struggle with maintaining a constant weight, but I know that I will never be at a point again where I’m unhappy with the way I look. When I eat food now I think about where it comes from, who made it, and why it’s different. Meals are more about the process, time spent making it with others, and enjoying it together. I find that I even have a desire to grow things, so I’m hoping one day soon I can have a garden. This weekend we are also going to try our hand at canning – possibly pickling some okra from the local farmer’s market. I will keep you posted!
Last night I had dinner with some of my best girls – Vero, Brandi & Demet. Demet is always the greatest host and knows how to put out a spread that you could graze on for hours (…and we did). I always get to try something new with her, and last night I got to add two new things to my list of consumed Turkish foods. The first was Halva, a sweet confection make from ground sesame seed, sugar and pistachios (but looks like chicken salad from a distance). It was really interesting… and I think I liked it. The other treat was rose petal jam, which I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH OF. It was so delicious. You spread it on fresh bread or pastries, and a little goes a long way. It has such a distinct taste, almost like old woman perfume, while still being mouth-watering good. You must try it, I think you can purchase it at Mediterranean stores.
During dinner, I noticed a safety-pin on Demet’s shirt, and I asked her why it was there. She said her mom gave it to her the last time she was in the US to protect her from the evil eye. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I had to ask her to explain further. It is a superstitious belief just like any other – four leaf clovers or black cats. They have different ways of protecting themselves from the bad energy of the evil eye, such as safety pins or a Nazar…and that’s when she presented me with my very own amulet (below). I am about as superstitious as they come, so I was really happy to receive such an interesting gift.
There are few things in the world better than quality time with your friends, people who know almost everything about you and still love you through and through. We had wonderful conversation about the things going on in each of our lives over wine and amazing food. Things change so rapidly, don’t they? Even if it seems subtle, when talking or summarizing to another person you realize just how quickly life phases come and go. I am so glad that I have people to share those moments with.
FRIDAY!!! And not only that…. Friday afternoon! Such an excellent feeling. Probably three of you will actually read this post today since I am later than usual. On to the weekend!
I have been thinking about how our feelings are so greatly controlled by what’s going on inside of our bodies. Being tired, being hormonal, being without certain foods (or having too much) can tremendously affect the positive vibes going on upstairs. How do you keep the chemical balance in check all of the time? I am sure it is harder for some than for others depending on your own body chemistry. In the past few days my rosacea has decided to be a pain the butt (or face, if you will) and I’ve done tons of research on natural remedies for flare-ups and prevention. Our bodies are so sensitive to what we put in them, which can be a damn shame when you want that piece of chocolate cake. Sugar and fat really are like crack, and the body literally craves them once you give it a little. But no matter how much you eat, 10-30 minutes later you are left wanting more. It takes me days sometimes to forget the rush that some foods and drinks can give… but once I do, my body feels better than ever before. It’s almost as if sugar is a mood and brain super stimulant (and depressant), whereas fruits, vegetables and natural proteins are body stimulants. Clean foods just make you feel better inside and out.
A friend of mine who suffers from migraines keeps a food list on her refrigerator with three categories: Triggers, Suspected Triggers, and Foods That Make Me Feel Good. It was strange, some of the foods that she mentioned as triggers for her headaches were also the same ones that cause my face to go cray-cray. Things such as fatty meat, fried foods, alcohol and chocolate were similarities. I started to smile when I read her feel-good list as it made me feel good just to read it, because it was full of whole foods found from the earth. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten much more excited about fruits and vegetables….especially of the local variety. I’ve heard people discuss if it’s just a trendy thing to do, but I honestly believe that there is nothing better for you than foods found within a 50-100 mile radius of where you live. I hope to one day have a garden of my own in the near future. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of picking vegetables with my mom and siblings from the one we had growing up. My mom would then either cook, bake or can whatever we had grown ourselves. It was such a neat process to be a part of.
On that note… I hope you eat lots of healthy stuff this weekend! See you on Monday.
Last night was my monthly “drinks with Debbie”, and we couldn’t have had a better time. It makes me so happy to see her happy, and she was beaming from the inside out. We have an interesting relationship, as we don’t really hang out outside of our dates, and we don’t share many close friends. This actually makes us feel more comfortable to share personal information, and makes our time together very special since it doesn’t happen very often. She has several wonderful things going on for her right now, and they are all greatly deserved. I see so many good things coming for her in the near future too, which makes me want to do a little happy dance. I think I will do one now! If you’ve never checked out her blog, you should do it now. We’ve been doing our monthly dates for a little over a year now, so that’s something to celebrate.
Today is the last day of spring! Seems like summer already, doesn’t it? I am looking forward to many days poolside or beachside with my SPF 1,000,000 and a cold drink in hand. I also love running in the heat, which I think I’ve mentioned before. I’m always really careful about hydrating before and after a hot run…as I know it is tough on the body. I feel like I’m a little behind the pack these days, as Vero & Brandi have become superstar runners. I have been there before as well, and I know that I can return to that state of fitness when I am ready to mentally go there. But it’s been nice for a change to run just because I want to, and to relax a little bit when it comes to my fitness goals. I do get the itch when I hear about someone’s amazing 7 mile run and how much faster they are getting, but I also enjoy going at my own pace right now. Luckily, Vero doesn’t mind going my speed when we do our runs together, as she really appreciates the social side of it. I am very thankful for that! What I do need is new running shoes, as the ones I’ve got now are about to bite the dust. And that’s not good at all for your joints….so hopefully this weekend I can make that happen.
What I put in my body makes such a big difference in how I feel. Eating too much can make you feel heavy and bloated, while not eating enough can make you feel a little cranky and irritable. There are only a few people who I know of in this world that don’t have to watch their diets at all…. and even they aren’t 100% carefree. Athletes have to eat more than the normal person to keep their weight up. Overweight folks have to eat less in order to shed the pounds. Even people who are at their desired weight have to periodically keep an eye on the scale in order for it not to move in one direction or another. Even the luckiest of us still have to deal with age at some point, which inevitably brings new body challenges. I think this is important to remember when you feel like you are alone in your weight struggles, because you certainly aren’t. We all have to find the right balance for our individual lives, and the correct perspective for our own happiness. Food is a significant part of life, we should be able to enjoy it while also keeping our bodies healthy. It is supposed to taste good and make us feel alive. As I’ve gotten older I have a greater appreciation for vegetarian and vegan cuisine, while not necessarily always eating that way. By learning how to live off of fresh ingredients from the earth you become a more creative chef overall. You can make a deliciously satisfying meal without even touching a meat product. It is a little harder for me to go without dairy, not gonna lie, but that is also possible. Food is an adventure, and our bodies are a reflection of the journey.
Yesterday I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family a few days early. Everyone was there – all eleven of us. We ate turkey, baked pies, watched a “making-of” DVD of the Macy’s Day Parade… it was perfect. I am one lucky girl to have such special people in my life.
I feel inspired to do a short “favorite things” list this morning. So here it goes!
1. Fuzzy house socks
2. Grape Nuts
3. Music CD’s in my car
4. Cheesy weekend movies on cable
5. My black riding boots
6. Holiday scented candles
7. My cat snuggling with my hand before going to sleep
8. Friends of all types
9. Adorable nieces
10. Instagram (I am hooked, might be unhealthy)
11. Food made with thought and love
12. Morning Star’s Vegetarian Chili
13. Fun tights
14. Water infused with fruit
15. The holidays!
It has been a wonderful week full of friends, beautiful fall weather and family. I know that the last day I wrote this week was on Monday, so this week coming up I plan to write at least three times. Since I waited, I feel like there is so much to say but not enough word real estate to do it in. Or at least not without boring you to tears. So I will pick the highlights!
I officially have purple hair. Well, maybe not purple-purple, but it definitely reflects that way in the light. The color is called “bruise”, and Shelby McDonald at Richard Joseph in English Village applied it for me… along with a pretty rad new haircut. It’s amazing how a different hair style can make you feel brand new. With that being said sometimes I miss having longer hair, but the good thing is that it will always grow back if I want it to.
Last night I went to a fabulous dinner with the Birmingham Supper Club at Jason Wallis’s photography studio downtown. There were about 30 people there, and we were all treated to a 4 course dinner by Chef Zach Meloy from Atlanta. Here was the menu:
(Includes wine pairings)
-Grilled hearts of romaine, smoked chile cornbread, charred onion, shaved garrotxa cheese, dried cranberry, citrus vinaigrette
-Pumpkin seed crusted turkey breast, huitlacoche stuffing, salsa pipian, roasted brussels sprouts, walnut sable
-Budin de calabaza, creme fraiche ice cream, gingersnap, chipotle spiced macadamia, rum marshmallow
-Candies and cordial
It was as amazing as it sounds. He may be coming back for New Year’s Eve to cook again, and if that’s the case I know what my plans will be.
Today is my official family Thanksgiving Day, since everyone is going to be MIA for the actual holiday. My parents will be gone camping and my two sisters and brother are all paired off at the moment. It seemed kind of strange at first to be facing the thought of a major holiday alone, but it has turned out to be quite the opposite. I have no obligations and I am free to do whatever I want. Looks like I will be spending at least part of the day with my friend Courtney’s family, which I am really excited about. I think it will be a nice holiday. Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorites.
What else? I feel like I am forgetting something. Maybe it’s that I feel pretty happy right now. I went to see my therapist on Monday, and I left there without scheduling another appointment. In fact, I left early because of lack of things to talk about. I knew this was coming over my last few sessions, as my outlook and perspective were getting rapidly better as time went by. I left open-ended, saying that I would come back if I needed to, and she wished me well. She had a lot of positive things to say about my ability to heal quickly and how far I’d come since early summer. And it’s true, I have come a long way. It’s not all roses all the time, but I am definitely surrounded by hope.