The Sanctuary

When I was younger,  I would banish everyone in the family from the kitchen as I baked. It was my sanctuary, and I was ferocious about protecting it. In a weaker moment and a moment of poor judgment, I threw a still fairly hot baking sheet filled with cookies at the entrance to scare my younger sister out of the kitchen (and for those of you who are younger sisters – I commend your grit, determination, and for putting up with your older siblings… because the older sisters/brothers are a tough bunch). Needless to say, that spazz out got me a stern talking to from my parents, and a good load of embarrassment that I live with to this day. I mean really… what on earth was I thinking?

My parents, with their usual calm approach, told me that I should be the person I want to meet in my life. They told me that throwing things is not the right way to communicate, and because she is my sister – that I had a duty to protect her, just as she protects me. My parents are pretty damn cool, if I say so myself.

As I have gotten older, I realize much more of their wisdom… They always provided me a sanctuary, so to speak. They protected me, and still do, from the onslaught of anything that would hurt me… They are the protecting type. So, it should be no surprise that in my very suburban neighborhood with few pests and animals – our property manages to attract  all of them. My father was never one to shoo away the nesting birds, and he would leave the acorns for the frantic little squirrels, even if it made it difficult to mow the lawn. My mother would shoo us away from the little bunnies that popped up now and again in our yard, and help the birds stay away from the reflective windows so they wouldn’t get hurt. They respect every single living thing…. I remember my mother gently scooping a black ant onto a piece of paper and depositing him outside, softly admonishing the ant to “go home.” And when my father smushed a very toxic looking spider – he and my mother both said they were sorry, but he was too dangerous since there were kids in the house. (My younger sister was horrified that they would kill the spider, and burst into angry tears that they would kill anything – needless to say we are of the “scoop and release” variety of human. I’m pretty sure that green spider is the same guy I keep depositing outside).

For a while we had a problem with burrowing little chipmunks, and my mother just redirected their tunnels away from the house so they could live and we could enjoy the yard. We also have a resident skunk, that occasionally waddles past my office window and all you can see in the darkness is his bright white stripe.

Save the dandelions that my father abhors because of their itchy pollen, our lawn is dotted with crab grass (a sin in the suburbs here), clover (another sin), and all sorts of different kinds of greenery. My parents never took much stock in having one of those uniform green lawns, and my mother loved the wild little flowers that would grace us in the spring. I particularly love the quiet little violets that spring up under the trees during the summer months.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about human cruelty to animals. Between the fishing baby dolphins out of the ocean to poke and prod on the beach until they die to the horrifying instructions on how to get rid of “vermin” in the yard… it’s a lot to take in. Yes, our house has a resident woodpecker that likes to take chunks out of the trees in the yard, and will occasionally (for fun, I swear that bastard likes waking me up) peck his feathered head against my wooden window frame…. and yes, we have tons of little chipmunks squeaking all over the place. The badgers love running through the moss… and the deer will hang out (like actually sit down) in the yard… but they do not really do anything to us. Sure, the deer and bunnies like to chow down on my garden in the spring and it frustrates me to no end when my heirloom tomato plants are stripped naked – but would I resort to anything so catastrophic like killing the little buggers? No.

My parents joke a lot about how our family home is the neighborhoods sanctuary since even the blue jays and cardinals seem to get along here – but I think it’s an important thing to realize. We can have our home, and the animals can have theirs too. Sure, it’s a little annoying when my tomato plants are naked and that woodpecker (I call him Theodore) wakes me up at 5:55am on Sundays), but they do not make my home any less of a home. And, truth be told, I’d miss the little creatures. They are fascinating.

So. This has nothing to do with food (save for my opening thoughts), but I thought it was an important idea to share about making life more sustainable for everyone. We can do it all… and I think it’s important to provide a sanctuary for the people in your life, the creatures you encounter, and everyone. We can make room.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda….

I hate regrets… “could have,” “should have,” and “would have” are my LEAST favorite phrases. I never understood people with those statements, those regrets, and always thought “just be better.” How silly of me…

These days I’ve been having a lot of “coulda, shoulda, woulda” moments… and I’m just a little bit sad because I’ve been coming across more challenges that have been taking all my breath away. I thought when I left law school that all the sad things were going to be over, but since graduation it was just been non-stop getting slammed with challenges.

The point is, as it FINALLY warms up and the weather starts to perk up, I’ve resolved to stop the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” crap and wallowing in a little puddle of self-pity. I’ve decided that each challenge I’m facing is just making me a better person, and that I can handle it. I can.

I hope that you are all looking forward to beautiful weather, beautiful things, and tackling those pesky challenges. Happy Spring!!

But, seriously…

The last couple of weeks I have been slowly updating my blog in small ways – tagging recipes appropriately, re-categorizing posts, editing typos, and the like. In the process, I noticed that I have been missing so many of the nice comments that you all have been leaving me!!!! MISSING, like totally never saw it and never responded!! HOW RUDE!  So, I have been very belatedly going through and answering comments that I didn’t respond to… very belatedly!

But, seriously, I will try much harder to make sure I don’t miss any of the lovely comments you post, and I’m very sorry if I am just getting back to you. I hope you continue to read and visit, because I am really grateful for your attention and comments!

Conclusion? THANK YOU for visiting me and I hope we will still be friends! (pretty please?! with some chocolate sprinkles?!).

Go Bags

Hello my friends!

I just wanted to stop in and say hellooooooo! Hello!!! I’m in the middle of a crazy busy month, but I wanted to share something with you that makes running out the door on hectic mornings just a little easier. I hate having things scattered on the bottom of my bags, so a while back I started shoving all my odds and ends into little pouches so I could just grab them and find what I wanted. Then I started actually adding things that would be helpful and organizing my little pouch. I call them “go bags” because they have all of the essentials that I need for the day and in case of little emergencies.

I have about 4 or 5 of these, and it makes it easier for me to be ready to go. I just grab my wallet, a little go bag, and stuff them in whatever bag I’m using for the day and I can be on my way.

Without further ado… one of my little go bags! This one is a bare essentials one.

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So you can see, it’s a small bag (I believe this is from a Clinique sample from a billion years ago) and it will fit in just about all my bags.

In this one I have:

  1. A pen
  2. Travel size Aleve
  3. Eye drops
  4. A sample of Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume
  5. Weleda Lotion
  6. Mickey Mouse Bandaids in assorted sizes
  7. Listerine Strips
  8. Purell
  9. Lip Balm
  10. Bobby Pins
  11. Hair ties
  12. Safety pins (not pictured)

I have a couple that include more things like: (1) a travel tooth brush and tooth paste, (2) scissors, (3) travel sewing kit, (4) antiseptic cream, (5) a spare pair of underwear, and (6) lady things like pads/tampons.  During the spring, when I have hay fever I also add allergy pills and tissues. One or two of my bags also includes waterproof eyeliner and a pink lipstick, but since I rarely wear makeup these items don’t make it into most go bags.

Do any of you guys do this too? What do you keep in your purse?

Marathon Training (a 60 Day Challenge)

Hello hello!!!

Today, I wanted to share my goals for this year in terms of running. I am planning on running either a half or full marathon on March 8, 2014. I know that seems like a super weird statement… what do you MEAN “either”?!

My friend C emailed me and R last year in the fall and asked “MARATHON?” and of course, I was immediately psyched and IN. C and R started training using a 24 week training schedule. Me? I came down with a violent cold that had me bedridden for nearly 3 weeks. The minute I felt better, I was flying to Korea for a funeral. When I returned from Korea, the stress of losing a loved one sent me straight back to bed with a pinched nerve in my back. Then, the holidays rolled around, and I was inundated with family, presents, and cold weather. This year has been unusually cold, and so running outside (my preference) has been a bit of a struggle.

This brings us to NOW. It’s about 8 weeks to the marathon, the hotels and flights are all booked, but my training isn’t where it should be. So far, I’ve really only been able to get a couple long runs in and then some shorter runs on the treadmill. I know that because I have a high tolerance for long runs that I could potentially be ready for this marathon without hurting myself, but I’m hesitating. Someone once characterized my running as “brute force” because of my ability to push through long runs despite obstacles. Since I have been running for a long time, and have training for many (many!) races, I do know the limit to my “brute force.” I think I’m toeing the line right between being ready and pushing it.

So… what is my 60 day challenge? I am going to train as if I am trying to get a half marathon PR, and try to throw a longer run in when I can. I’ll make the decision to run the marathon in early February… and worst case? I’ll PR in the half. 🙂

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it’s important to realize that planning these races is important to being successful and to keeping your body healthy. So… I’m holding myself accountable and will post once a week updating you on my progress. 🙂

Excellent. Run healthy and happy.


2014 and 14 things about ME!

The first week of the NEW Year is almost up! But, I thought I’d come and say hello again even though I haven’t a single recipe to share (well, I do, but I didn’t take pictures….). I was wandering across the blogesphere and I noticed a lot of people had these little 15 things about me, or 50 things about me posts. I love that kind of thing! Mostly because I’m supremely curious about people… I just want to KNOW things! Anyway, I thought I’d pop in and write up my own, since I haven’t shared much about myself.

Oh… and I tag ALL of you. Tell me 14 things about you! I want to know!!!

  1. I am a grown up, but I struggle with that idea. I’m just a girl, dude.
  2. I am an excellent speller, but in 5th grade I lost the spelling bee because I misspelled California.
  3. My dog is a lhasa apso. She is currently snoring her head off her plushy bed.
  4. I believe in second chances, sometimes in 3rd and 4ths too.
  5. I graduated from law school a while back, but I teach for a living (hahhhh, with that pay maybe it’s 1/2 a living)
  6. I love running. I’ve run 3 10 milers, 10 half marathons, and 1 full marathon since 2010. I’m thinking about running another marathon in March.
  7. I have terrible eyesight, so I need my glasses or contacts to see anything
  8. My favorite seasons are summer and fall (spring comes in last since I get hayfever)
  9. Today, my computer told me it was running out of space and I needed to delete things! So I finally went through my 30,000 pictures and deleted the blurry ones
  10. I buy books at the airport based on how many pages are in the book. I read quickly, so I try to buy as many pages as possible to keep myself entertained
  11. I love junk food… candy, chocolate, cookies, brownies, and french fries are regulars in my diet (ooops)
  12. I adore getting dressed up. I love putting on pretty clothing and doing fun things.
  13. I prefer red wines and whiskeys to any other type of alcohol. And yes, I can hold my liquor.
  14. I love picking fruit… like anything at all. There is something extremely satisfying to me about picking fruit. I’m planning on a bigger garden this year so I can grow vegetables!

So… I pass the baton to you. Tell me 14 things about you! In honor of 2014. 🙂


Happy New Years!

I realize I am a few days late, but I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a Happy HAPPY New Years!

I always feel a great sense of relief at the New Year mark each year… I feel like a fresh gust of cold air has arrived to sweep away all of the gray and dreary things to only leave the sparkling and wonderful things in life.

So. In honor of the New Year and feeling clean, refreshed, and happy… I have been earnestly applying myself to all of the things I want and need to accomplish. I have promised myself only to live happily… a complex thought, but really just a goal to remind myself to be happy.

I hope that you all have started off on a happy foot, and I hope that all of you have a bright and beautiful 2014 ahead of you. I, for one, and excited for this new year… the clean slate!

love, hugs, and all things good!! -h


Why Did I Wait So Long?!!! The Story of My NEW Love

It all started when I googled recipes for cornmeal… then I found Alanna’s website The Bojon Gourmet. And true to my mildly obsessive reading habits, I spent the next two days reading all of the recipes on her website. I highly recommend spending some time to read her recipes. Beautiful photography, beautiful food… all sorts of goodies to be found.

So… it goes back to the cornmeal. I’ve been thinking about cornmeal, so when I found Alanna’s recipe for custardy cornmeal cake, I knew it was just right. The only problem? I didn’t have an 8 inch cast iron skillet… so of course I braved rush hour traffic to go hunt one down.

So when I got to Target and there was just ONE small cast iron skillet left without a barcode… I just bought it. The nice man there helped me, and after inspecting the bottom of the pan and seeing “8SK” stamped on the bottom, he decided it was in fact an 8 inch skilled at it would just be $10.99. So I popped it into my car, grabbed some grassfed buttermilk and cream and headed home.


So. I mixed my batter, suspicious that it was such a little quantity of batter, but I proceeded anyway. I spread the batter thinly, and baked away.

When my cake baked up thin, contrary to Alanna’s beautiful pictures, I was indignant! I did everything right! I even followed the recipe!! I even bought the right pan!!!!!



But, I was immediately pacified when I ate a slice of my delicious creation. It was creamy, delicious and just perfect as a near-midnight snack.


Then, after scrutinizing the recipe AGAIN, I noticed that the pan Alanna used looked much smaller than mine. So I whipped out my ruler and discovered I had in fact bought a 10 inch skillet. Oh dear…. that explains everything!!

The morale? Thin or thick, that beautiful cornbread studded with berries is an excellent dish.

So today, I meant to remake the cornbread with a double batch so I could have a thick and creamy slice of cake… but then I was thinking about asparagus and cheese.


I did a little research on Alanna’s blog again, and baked up the crustless quiche in the SAME beautiful, cast iron skillet I bought.


Let me tell you… Not only am I completely enamored with Alanna and her beautiful recipes, but I am absolutely head over heels with my new skillet.

Why ever did I wait so long to purchase this lovely skillet? Amazing. I love it. I can’t say enough good things.

So, my dear lovelies, this wasn’t a recipe post, but more of a review of The Bojon and Lodge skillets. Both? Excellent! Highly recommend.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

And for your patience reading my ramblings about my NEW love (10in Lodge skillet), here are some pictures! ❤

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Farmer’s Market

Every Thursday during the summer, I stop at the local farmer’s market. To me, there is something utterly magical about farmer’s markets. I always feel satisfied and very zen when I leave. There is something beautiful about talking to the hardworking families about the fresh produce and how to cook… it’s really more about how to live.

The farmer’s market near my home now is small, but it has everything I need. There is an organic produce stand, a local beekeeper, grassfed meats, a local distillery, local eggs, and a cheesemaker. There are a few other stands, but those are the ones I frequent the most.

Last week, I bought a small brick of beeswax and polished all of the wood cutting boards in the kitchen. It was so satisfying being able to do some small task that instantly brightened my kitchen and utilized something from a nearby farm. I am still happy about… okay… thrilled. I keep showing the shiny boards to my family and they’re bored of me and my boards!!

Today, I bought a bunch of kale, some beets, summer spinach, honey, and a pint of blueberry ice cream. I just ate some of the ice cream, and let me tell you – amazing.

Anyway, I’ve been staring at my computer trying to do work all day, so I’m taking a break from beating myself up, to share my little thoughts on farmer’s markets.

Oh… and of course, remember – support the farmers! It’s always good to support local production! It’s fresher, better, and supports local small businesses. Always a good thing in my book.

Alright. Live well everyone!

Until next time!