~ ~
I want to share with you. With whats been going on and whats been motivating me as of late. Because sometimes hearing things that motivate others, well, might just ring with you too.

1. Others: I have been reading, and talking, and listening a lot lately. Surrounding myself by words, people, etc. that are in tune with how I want to live my life.... is so motivating. The ideas they give me, the inspiration, and the support. Its awesome. Lately, Ive been wanting to healthify myself, by eating better and exercising, expand my passion for teaching, simplifying, and creating, and just feel all around happier. So as I mentioned I started to read blogs by people who live this way in their life. They are awesome.

2. Running: I never thought I would say this. I am loving running. Weird right? Its punishment! Its pounding! And not to mention, at a sizable 5'11" female, that's a lot to smack down on the concrete for an extended period of time. But! alas, it has been getting my blood pumping while leaving me with my mood elevated, craving healthier foods, and just making me full of energy.

3. Muffins: So when I mentioned creating above, I primarily meant creating food. And recently I am obsessed with creating healthier muffins. Of course, I like to slather mine in peanut butter, but what don't I love to slather in peanut butter? Primarily meat stuffs, because well, I don't really eat them. And that would just be a terrible waste of the nutty goodness.

Carrot Spice Muffins
adapted from Oh She Glows

1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup apple butter
1/2 cup coconut milk (just the creamy goodness on the top...very yogurt like)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons almond milk
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in water and drained
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Wow. Thats a lot of goodness right there.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Then the wet. Then stir to combine. Shopping for the ingredient is definitely the tough part to this recipe. Scoop the thick batter in muffin liners and pop in the oven. Sprinkle a bit of coarse sugar on top if you want them to look all perty before baking. They will take about 18 to 20 minutes.

Let cool and enjoy.... they are totally breakfast worthy. :)

Music Paring
Ive been enjoying the Johnny Cash pandora station. I think you should too.

On Change.

~ ~
Lately, instead of doing a lot of personal writing or blogging, I've been finding myself reading blogs. Lots of blogs. New blogs. And not just new to me blogs, but new types of blogs. I generally look for beautifully photographed food, great recipes, beautiful photography in general... and well, it mostly ends there.

Ah! But now. The new blogs. Funny blogs. Fitness blogs. And forever and always food blogs. But mostly Ive been gravitating more toward healthy lifestyle blogs, and the ones that I like generally say the same business over and over. (I mean this in a fantastic way) Don't diet. Don't restrict. Move a lot. Focus on your passions and be positive. Have so much fun. Listen to you and eat how you think your body operates at its healthiest. I say, "Totally!"

So after reading this sort of material over and over....over the weekend, well I just started subconsciously doing it. Ive changed my diet in the past week, coming to terms with the fact that I feel better and enjoy a mostly vegan diet more than anything Ive done before. Lots of greens, whole grains, mushrooms!, all the farmers market has to offer, spices, and of course a small sweet treat almost every day. I just love my sweets. For me a little red meat or fish once a month or so is perfect... and if I want more or less I do it. But finding your way along this food journey is never about labeling and cutting out any one thing forever, its realizing what you love and what makes you feel great. I like eating plants. I love it in fact. I'm still figuring things out, obviously we all, always are, but this is what I know now.

I also changed up my moves this morning and went on about an hour long run (well, I walked for a nice portion also), but I really enjoyed myself. I felt good to move differently. I might even do it again....

Other things.... Don't worry I am continuing to bake for the cafe like usual... butter! whole grains! vegan cookies! I want to supply people with treats that they both like and support the way they like to consume goods. I would never impose what is good for me, onto them. With that said, I'm planning to have at least one alternative baked good each day... gluten free, raw, vegan, etc etc. to support other people's chosen lifestyles.

So, this all leaves me wondering... what lifestyle changes are making you feel good lately?

I'm In Print!

~ ~
Happy Sunday everyone. I hope your Sunday is as peaceful and sunny as mine is. There is (almost) nothing like a Sunday after a super busy and dizzying week.

A busy week indeed. And some rather exciting news to boot. My baking workshops were reviewed in the Monterey Herald last week by their new restaurant reviewer, Raul Nava. Check out his food blog too!

There is something about seeing your name in print that just makes you feel a little more legitimate. As I am still just truckin along, doing what feels right to me, its hard to admit that its actually a job.... let alone something worthy of a review. Anywho, thanks so much for the support I have out there. Its so nice!

How To Have a Lovely Day

~ ~

I stumbled across this image via Pinterest this morning, trying to find motivation, inspiration for writing, and well.... just trying to create a lovely day.

I think that my idea of a lovely day is pretty close... although I think I might swap reading any old a book for pinning through my favorite cookbook or art book. I might add a bit of sunshine if its available or hot chocolate in front of a fire place if its not. And lets throw in an awesome new music discovery while we're at it. Sometimes I forget to think about the little things that make my day lovely. Thank goodness we can always remind one another.

What makes your day lovely?

On Beauty

~ ~

So, I am constantly around food. All. The. Flippin. Time. I worked at a restaurant. I currently bake at a cafe. I love to cook, experiment, shop at farmers markets, and when I'm feeling social: entertain. I grew up in a family where we talked about the next meal while we were enjoying the current one. Dinner parties are my favorite types of parties, other than pajama parties.... with sundaes of course. And for the most part, I feel as though I have (after a long and hard battle) a good relationship with the wonderful stuffs that fuel me. (note: this does not include McDonalds) And lately, I have been wondering how I got to this place. How is it that someone can go from having a completely terrible relationship what with is suppose to nourish them, to actually nourishing their mind, body, and taste buds?

It really turned a corner when I moved to Paris. Ah, Paris. (cue delightfully European Jaques brel melody) Paris, with its supreme hold and expertise on the senses and how to utilize them, taught me to appreciate beauty. And not just beauty in the Louvre or the fantastic lighting that creates the most brilliantly unmistakable back lit Parisian nights. No, it was more than that. Paris taught me to open my eyes and see what was always in front of me, and while living in Paris that was often times a croissant au buerre. Everything that was created, had so much sense of pride, so much focus and attention to detail, that it would have been a crime to not take your time and enjoy every second of every meal. And, well, not just meals! Even a tiny espresso at a cafe made me feel like some royal family member. It was the passion of the people, and it wasn't something to be taken for granted or to be overused. I began to examine the cups and saucers, the people around me, the pastries and their incredible rich flavor.... and most importantly: myself.

I soon began to realize that these breaks in my day left me recharged and my senses restimulated. I stopped grabbing things and eating on the run. I stopped not paying attention to what I was eating. Eating became a social hour, it became the beauty of my day. While it was almost always stunning visually, it was beautifully tasting, feeling, and socializing with others while I did all of this. We talked about flavor, about art, about life and how what we were experiencing was really what many of us were missing in our daily lives. Seeing the beauty in everything we did.

So, I challenge you, take some time for yourself, to make something beautiful. It might be by creating a spot that you love and enjoying a scone all to yourself. It may be by arranging your dinner beautifully on a place and enjoying it with nice silverware while having a nice glass of wine. But in these sometime hectic times, remember to treat yourself by taking time and focusing on everything that is beautiful. It really is wonderful. That's one of many lessons Paris had for me. We all have to eat, so why not love every second of it? C'est tres manifique. Oh la la....

Bake It Girl

~ ~
One of the new elements that my new career (yikes! Career? Really?) as a baker has yielded are my baking workshops held monthly at Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove. When I met Todd and Jordan Champagne, the owners of HGK, they explained their philosophy and love of preserving the harvest by pickling and jamming their favorite foods. I remember my first glimpse of Todd, noting to myself that Ive never seen a twinkle in someone's eye quite like that fellow. A sure sign this couple is doing what gives great meaning and fun to their lives. We immediately knew what a perfect fit we were for each other, appreciating quality food, beautiful food, and challenging people's expectations and norms.

So, after months of baking and a great reception from the locals, I decided to share my passion and love of the homemade by teaching others how they can do the same thing in their own homes. The concept is simple and humble. Whole ingredients and the less tools and more dough on your hands the better. I try and show my students how to utilize their five senses to really gain more from a recipe than just taste. And once you feel how the dough is really suppose to be, the less need you will have for measuring cups and spoons, precision, and limitations that often time a baking recipe leaves us with. We learn how to substitute and trust our intuitive baker, something I believe everyone has deep inside them... some just a little deeper than others. I truly believe that when you learn to trust your intuitiveness in one area, it will inevitably permeate other areas in your life.

So, I just wanted to share with you how wonderful the last workshop went. Both my mom and my old roommate/greatest pal Megan visiting from back east were standing by my side selflessly washing dishes , getting the attendees anything they needed, and most importantly being a quiet and strong sign of support by my side. Although the workshops give and teach me so many things, the strength that my loved ones give me always is a reminder of how I want to live my life and support the causes and people I care most about.

My mom slaved away, creating the most adorable party favors and folders to hold all of our recipes.

The ladies and gentleman had so much fun (or at least that's what they said) and I am constantly surprised by how wonderfully each team always pulls of the recipes. No precision and mostly their own senses to guide them, they always turn out so many wonderful things.

Creating, laughing, feeling, tasting, and smelling it all, the long days work left all of us exhausted, but filled with a great sense of accomplishment.

Alas, finally a quick recipe that we baked over the weekend. A savory scone with rosemary (or other herbs if you like) sun dried tomato, manchego cheese, and a whole lotta lovein.

And thanks so much to the great Megan Moore for visually documenting our fun day. The pics turned out awesome. Megan is amazing in so many different aspects, but you should definitely check out her food narrative over at Foodie Can't Fail.

Sun Dried Tomato & Manchego Scones

They remind me slightly of a pizza scone and go great with salad, soups, or for someone who has a savory tooth in the morn. Feel free to change up the ingredients: swap olives for the sun dried tomatoes, use the cheese you have on hand, and play with all sorts of herbs. Just listen to what feels right. Let me know how it goes.

1 cup all purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup spelt flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons herbs of choice (we used rosemary)

about 2 teaspoons cracked pepper, more if you like

2 teaspoons salt

1 sticks or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

½ cup buttermilk

1 egg or egg substitute (we use a flax egg)

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup chopped Manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, fresh herbs, and pepper together in a medium sized bowl. Work in the chilled butter with your fingertips so it resembles course meal or oats. The key is not to overwork your butter; you want nice butter pockets in your scones! Stir in cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the buttermilk. Stir to combine. Add the dry and the wet ingredients together. Don't over mix, just form into a nice ball. If there is some flour leftover, that's ok.

Flour a work surface and form a round disk that is about 2 inches thick. Brush some milk on the top of the disk and sprinkle with a little salt and herbs. Cut into six even triangles and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Enjoy! Yay.

Music Pairing

"Calvary" by Bon Iver

There isn't any real tie between this recipe and this song other than I adore them both, but I heard it the other day on NPR's All Songs Considered Podcast and have since listened to it about a zillion times. I can't wait for their new album. June 21st. Yay.


~ ~
I know, I know.... I've been rather neglectful around here. I have excuses, loads actually, but I'm sure you wouldn't be very interested in them. Simply put, since last fall, my life has seemed a bit tumultuous. We all have so much going on in our lives, each of us searching for peace, quiet, and balance somewhere between the lines. I know how to do it,I just haven't been able to get there; mainly with time being the issue. I generally find myself coming back to this one idea, over and over again. Most of the time (hehe), there just seem like there is enough of it. So, in the last month, I quit one of my jobs. I decided it was more draining than it was worth for the exchange in currency, it was putting me in an unhealthy environment for myself, and most importantly: I dreaded going.

Excuse me before I start to sound rather cliche, but I began reflecting, and actually, most often I was too tired and too emotional to even have time to reflect. I stood back and observed myself; my thoughts, my behaviors, my patterns, and ultimately didn't like what I saw. I began to think of the larger scope of things... this one life (or maybe more deepening on your beliefs) that we are given to do with what we want. Of course we have to pay attention to the fact that we don't have ultimate control over everything, but what we do have is enough. I don't want to waste anymore of it doing what I don't love, or even don't like. Hard work I'm sure lies ahead... but when that work starts to be the kind that feels right, feels invigorating, and fuels your heart.... you can be sure you are on the right path.

So why all of this blabbering you may ask?? Well for one, I want to be in this space more often. This is truly something I love to do, sharing with my few readers what I'm creating, what I'm feeling, how we are all navigating this wondrous life. And secondly, all of this has made me even more certain that while I've had a bit of a rough patch here and there (and hell, who doesn't??) I love to be engaged with food. Healthy food. Beautiful food. Celebratory food. With family and friends, sitting at a cafe by my lonesome, beckoning back to my days in France, sharing with everyone the idea tat hell, if we have to do it anyway, lets make it awesome. Lets eat and drink, and take the time to actually notice we are doing it; and maybe, just maybe, enjoy it.

All of this makes me want to go, "yay." Enough said.

So I have a simple recipe for you today. A recipe for thoughtfulness and awareness. Take 15 minutes. Take your favorite drink and maybe a tiny treat. Sit with yourself some place that feels wonderful, that makes you feel great and cozy and content. And just eat and drink. Concentrate on those flavors, those moments, for that is all we have for right now. The more we can live like that, well, the rest will just fall into place a little easier. And who doesn't want to make things easier with a little cookie?

Have a super day everyone.

Spring... Its Sprung.

~ ~

Ah, spring. It is the time of year when I feel most alive. The time when I wake up from what seems like a long winters nap, amidst more and more fresh produce at the farmers market, longer days and later sunsets... oh yes, a few extra winter pounds that smuggled themselves in there somehow. I always look back or look ahead to winter, trying to visualize warmth and coziness in front of the fireplace, roasted root vegetables, Christmas with family, and the exciting times of a new year. But, truth be told, the winter every year for me is a hard time. I feel less motivated, less alive. And I try to fight it. I try and fight it with optimism and baking and yoga. But, it just seems natural for my body to want to hibernate for a while... not do much of anything and eat more than my fair share of cookies.

But this is not winter my friends, and spring has finally shown its pretty little face. I feel as though my new year is ready to begin, as all seems bright and new, and myself refreshed. I wanted to share with you my next month long cleansing and rejuvenation plan. Sometimes my body yearns to be reset, and now is about that time! I try not to incorporate extreme ways into my lifestyle, so this detox of sorts is really just a gentle purging to make room for all the goodness that spring has to offer. So here's my little ol plan:

1. Diet. Not "to diet", but rather "my diet." I'm trying not to focus on what I am not going to eat but rather let the season give me all it has to offer and supplement with whole grains and minimal amounts of dairy and eggs. So that means tons of the freshest produce, whole grain rices/quinoas, and some yogurt/cottage cheese thrown in there too. So for the next month I'm saying goodbye to added sugars, breads, anything processed, and all meat. It is a very gentle cleanse of sorts, that seems right for me... right now. I am excited to reset my palate, enjoy the simplicity of food and appreciate and remember what its first and foremost function is: nourishment.

2. Mind. This winter has been somewhat of a whirlwind for me for several different reasons. I started baking professionally, which has always been something I have been interested in pursuing. I started a new and wonderful relationship. I started teaching baking. My dad relapsed from his cancer. I have continued with some of my own health struggles. Oh yes, and it has been the season when I feel most vulnerable, most fragile. So it has been an emotional time for me for good and bad, but it has left me feeling that I have less time with myself, less time to focus on me. I need and appreciate this time almost as much as anything else in my life. It brings me clarity and peace. It is my religion of sorts (other than peanut butter the great I guess) and my goal is to set aside time each day for mediation. It can be for five minutes or it could stretch for an hour .(doubt it, but hey it could happen!) Making time for myself is nonnegotiable in my daily adventures, so I am excited to have a place in my life for that again.

3. Body. Yoga for myself is a given. What is it that centers and calms your mind and body? But not just through exercise, I plan to care for my body and prepare it for the livelier months. Taking care of my skin by making homemade masks, taking baths, rubbing aloe on my predictable oven burns... Being kind and caring for your body. In short, putting more awareness into how I handle myself and my surroundings.

So folks, this is what I have so far. It is my first month long cleaning of sorts, and I am excited. I'm most excited to learn more about myself and how I will react to different challenges.... not to mention what will be a challenge, and what wont be. I will post some recipes, some findings, and I hope you might do your own version (however intense, however minimal) with me. Journeys with support always seem a bit more doable. Good luck and happy new year.

Song Pairing

"Years" by JBM.
This song reminds me of stretching in the morning and waking....little by little.

On Remembering Why

~ ~
So, if you haven't guessed by the overuse of barley and spelt flours not to mention all these bizarre baking concoctions I've been up to.... I have a bit of inner hippie in me. And I boast it with joy. Don't get me wrong, I love hot showers, electric blankets, and cozy cashmere sweaters.... but there is another side to me that flourishes when I cook and bake. So bare with me here. Baking for me is not only about discovering an end result that inspires your taste buds, but it is about involving all of your senses; using your eyes to see how beautiful the process it, your touch to understand and nourish doughs in lieu of a leaden kitchen aid mixer. This idea that is baking has given so much to my life that I can't help but give it more and more attention as I grow into my person. So, as of late I have been trying to give more attention and focus into my passion, and wanted to share this little poem I came across awhile ago from one of my favorite cookbooks. I hope it inspires you, like me, to take time and experience your journey, whatever it may be, and realize the end result, like a piece of pie, is simply beautifully ephemeral and another journey awaits proceeding your last; all of which should be handled with care.

A Composite of Kitchen Necessities

Bringing food alive with your
loving presence.
To have compassion, to have respect
for fresh foods, for broken bowls,
for dirty napkins and little bugs.
To care of leftovers,
not saying, of that's alright, we have plenty
we can throw that away.
Because everything is saying love me,
have compassion, hold me gently.
Please hug me now and the
(we're really one, not two),
but don't get attached
(we're really two, not one).
The bowls and knives, the table, the teapot,
the leftovers, the molding vegetables,
the juicy fruit,
everything is asking this of you:
make full use,
take loving care
of me.
The cups, the glasses, the sponges,
the sticky honey jar,
all asking to fulfill.
Just to make deepest love all the time,
concentrating not on the food, but on yourself:
making your best effort to allow things
to fulfill their functions. In this way
everything is deliciously full
of warmth and kindness.

Music Pairing
"Rakhe Rakhan Har" by Aurora

I received a mix CD from a yoga teacher during Christmas and found this song on it. For some reason it always seems to bring peace and understanding to my day.

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