kaleidoscope blues

a letter to a loved one / a reminder to myself

As you move through life, remember to stop occasionally and feel what it’s like
to be alive
in the most ordinary way.
Bend over and slide your fingers down your shins to touch your toes, and notice
how hard it is to take in a full breath.
Feel the way your heart beats as the blood
rushes into your head, and keep breathing as you feel the pulses
push into your head and your throat.
Being alive can feel so painfully mundane, but it can also
feel incredible and electrifying.
Remember these are both qualities
embodied by humanity
and try to have compassion for people
who are on a different part of that wave than you.
Living is hard, but you’ve been given a lot and you will make a lot more yourself.
That’s a beautiful thing.
Remember that sometimes
it is just as important to ignore your own voice
as it is to listen to it.
When you feel angry,
feel brutally angry.
And when you feel fragile, let yourself be that and
indulge your own self-awareness.
The human experience is so hugely defined
by the capacity for emotion, so I encourage you
to feel everything as hard as you can.
Finally, try not to feel too overwhelmed by the pressure of other people.
Put a life together that feels right to you,
and follow it with staunch conviction.
It will pay off for you and everyone around you.
Make yourself who you want to be and
remember that you’ll always be a work in progress.
And no matter what happens, know that somewhere in the world
you have someone who loves you
and is impressed by your mind and your fierce energy
and the power those things create.
You are a great human, and
your whole life is about to start.

2015

I found myself moved by a simple quote recently regarding drops and buckets and fullness. Apparently Buddha once said something along these lines: “Drop by drop the bucket is filled.” Of course this makes sense, but for whatever reason, in the middle of what may have been the fifteenth down dog of my yoga session, this quote took all the air out of my lungs. With all of the things I busy myself with in life, I sometimes forget to breathe in the sweetness around me. I know this about myself, but it’s hard to escape your own inadequacies sometimes. I’m afraid to admit that this is one of mine. I rarely give myself the time to fully digest my experiences before I’m whizzing off to the next one.

With these words now behind me, I am moved to work on keeping things in better perspective. I am inclined to remember said bucket and its determination to be full. For my part, I will work toward filling it will goodness. Toward looking around and seeing the beauty the world offers, the love that lifts my spirit, the countless smiles that have been given to me. I will try to remember how much I love humans and sharing consciousness with the collective. I will work on being compassionate, and patient, and remembering that I need those things too. Though I believe every experience is substantial, containing grit and fear and sweetness and hope, I will dare to say that this year could accumulate to a major life shift for me. In making this happen, I sincerely hope that during times of struggle, I can return to these words that seem to be radiating in waves out of my body. Remember optimism, remember beauty. I may at some point need to be reminded about everything that makes me tick – people, especially. There are so many of us sharing these days, each of us trying to figure out what works. I need to remember the people who hug me, who tease me and who let me tease them. Remember feeling surprise, accomplishment, amazement, discouragement, fear, love, passion, uncertainty, excitement, hunger, thirst, motivation. Remember that these things are symptoms of living, and that I am so seriously happy about that.

Processed with VSCOcam with g2 preset

summer hike

Sometimes, hiking during the peak of the summer can be the epitome of misery. You spend the entire hike giving yourself a pointless pep-talk about how much better you’ll feel afterward, how happy you’ll be when it’s over, how it’s good to get in an exercise routine, blah blah blah. Maybe that’s just me. In any case, there’s a window of time in the morning – no matter how hot the day promises to be – that is perfect for taking advantage of a little elevation gain.

photo2
photo3
Ryan and I have been hiking a trail near our house recently that is quite popular with the locals, which is nice when all the summer tourists come bumbling in to ogle at this oh-so-quaint mountain town of ours. It’s super steep, but there is always a breeze welcoming you to the summit, and a rock that is just flat enough to sit on and relax in the warm (ok, hot) bubble of triumph. You can rely on being completely drenched in sweat and sucking in oxygen with embarrassing desperation, but it really does feel like a million bucks to look around at the view and all the kids bouncing around their parents and think, “Ok. This is where I live. And a postcard could never do it justice.”

photo4 photo5

When you do it all the time, it’s easy to just zip up the trail and ignore everything else around you; but sometimes, it’s so damn beautiful you can’t seem to keep your legs climbing from rock to rock. For me, today was one of those days. And I had the best adventure partner in the history of the universe, which always helps.

photo1

two day getaway

It’s amazing what two days away from civilization can do for your peace of mind. Ryan and I took off earlier this week for a quick backpacking trip in the Holy Cross Wilderness area near Vail. Just thirty minutes into the hike and we were the only souls in sight. Walking along the trail, it’s funny to imagine all the things that are going on in the material world as your feet are crunching over fallen leaves and twigs. The cacophony of sounds the world produces is almost hypnotizing, and I found myself impressed by how effortlessly my mind wandered from thought to thought.

Our campsite was nestled in a nook of trees just 30 feet away from a truly stunning view of mountain landscape. I was blown away by how full of life the area was, and it was the perfect cure for the claustrophobia that tends to set in when your life starts to feel a little too stagnant.

photo10
photo1
photo7
photo5
photo11
photo13
photo8
photo12
photo14
photo9
photo16
photo4
photo2
photo3

 

chipotle & goat cheese guacamole

My affection for guacamole knows no limits. Truly unconditional love.

I worked at a restaurant a couple years ago that added a guacamole dish to the menu with crumbled goat cheese and chipotle chiles and it pretty much blew my top off. It’s now a staple in my diet and one of the easiest things to make when you’re having people over or going to a summer potluck. We went to a 4th of July barbecue at a friend’s house a couple days ago and I whipped up some of this guac for the party. The bowl was practically licked clean by the end of the night.

The chipotles in adobo have an amazing smoke to them that tastes great against the creaminess of the goat cheese and avocados. Out of convenience, I usually just buy some freshly prepared pico de gallo from Whole Foods; but if you absolutely love to dice veggies, you could certainly make your own. For this party, I bought the Tex Mex pico de gallo with black beans and corn for a little extra texture.

photo2  photo1  photo5  photo6  photo7  photo4

To enjoy this guacamole yourself, follow these guidelines:

4 ripe Haas avocados
1 and 1/2 cups pico de gallo
juice from 1 or 2 limes
1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Dice the avocados and scoop the cubed meat into a medium glass bowl. Add the pico de gallo, olive oil, and lime juice to the bowl and sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt. Mix the ingredients with a large spoon without mashing the avocado too much. Slice up the chipotle peppers and leave as many of the seeds out as you can, unless you are particularly masochistic. Add the peppers to the guacamole along with the goat cheese crumbles. At this point, you can either choose to mix them in as well or leave them as a top layer to the dip. (This recipe will yield enough for a party of about 8. When I make it for Ryan and I at home, I usually make 1 avocado’s worth.)

photo3

For the ultimately perfect margarita to sip whilst dipping your crunchy corn chips, do this:

Add 1 and 1/2 ounces of your favorite tequila to a cocktail shaker with the juice from 1 whole lime, the juice from 1/8 of an orange, and 1/2 ounce of agave nectar. Shake with vigor and serve on the rocks. Muddle some cucumber in it beforehand if you’re feeling like showing off.

feeling lazy

20140702-100421-36261543.jpg

Today, I want to stay in bed all day and read Haruki Murakami novels. His dream-like reads were candy to me when Ryan and I were traveling, especially Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I just started Norwegian Wood and I don’t want to put it down.

But alas, I have a million things to do today and so it will be a coffee day. And I am happy to say that in my lazy half-awake musings, I at least drew enough energy and inspiration from the vibrant sunshine and my favorite cactus to make the focus of my day being patient with and kind to the strangers I encounter. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the mess of getting from one place to another, and not so easy to remember that everyone has a bunch of messes they’re trying to navigate. Going out of your way to be nice is one of the best things you can do for someone you bump into at a totally random intersection of your life, and it’s one of the easiest challenges to give yourself. So today, I’m taking the challenge. Patience is not my best quality, but I want it to be.

mezcal milk punch

Milk punches have recently made an appearance into the cocktail scene, satisfying the inner geek of all the bartenders tired of stirring Manhattans and shaking up Cosmos. Curious about them, Ryan made one awhile back with bourbon and a little brandy. It turned out amazingly, with the most unique viscous texture. 

Now that summer is upon us full force, we wanted to try a lighter version of the punch for a party we’re going to later this week. And so, the Native Milk Punch was born. We used two local tequilas and some local herbal bitters as the primary ingredients.

Image

The Suerte Blanco is a smooth, citrusy, silver tequila with a slightly peppery finish. The Sombra Mezcal is intensely smokey and peppery, with perhaps the slightest vanilla influence. Finally, the Black bitters from DRAM Apothecary are boldly herbaceous and perfect for balancing big spirits. In addition to the tequilas and bitters, we incorporated the peels of grapefruit and lemon, some dried hibiscus flowers, and a turbinado sugar syrup.

ImageImageImageImage   
We added the bitters to the bowl with the peels and then muddled everything together to release the oils from the fruit. ImageImage

We added the whole 750 ml bottle of Suerte to the bowl, and then 250 ml of Sombra.

Image

Finally, we added the hibiscus flowers and gave the punch a stir. For about 10 minutes, we let the mixture steep to allow the hibiscus to give the punch its gorgeous ruby color. 

Image

When the punch was finished steeping, we squeezed the juice from 2 lemons and 1 whole grapefruit.

ImageImageImage
After another stir, we strained the solids out and lined an empty bowl with cheesecloth. We also prepared about 2 and a half cups of milk to boil. 
ImageImage

While bringing the milk to a boil, we poured the strained liquid over the cheesecloth; as soon as the milk started to boil, we removed it from the heat and very slowly added it to the bowl-o-booze.

Image
Image
Once the milk curdled, we pulled up the edges of the cheese cloth to strain out the whey protein from the curds. To make sure all of the solids were strained out, we passed the cocktail through a coffee filter before putting it into mason jars for chilling.

The process was a bit labor intensive, but the yield is enough for an entire dinner party to catch a warm buzz with little to no effort. The sharp smoke and peppery flavors of the tequilas lose their bite when the whey protein is present, and the turbinado sugar syrup gives the cocktail a molasses-like caramel texture that coats your tongue in a very pleasant layer that allows you to still taste the nuances of the drink after it has left your mouth. The dry finish leaves you wanting for another sip, and why wouldn’t you? 

The drink can easily be served neat in a chilled glass, or shaken for a slightly lighter, foamy result. I poured mine into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. I bought some of the 2×2 inch ice cube trays a few months back, and they’re awesome for keeping a cocktail cold without diluting the flavor. I garnished mine with a little grapefruit peel, but I think it would be delicious with a sprig of mint as well. Image
If you’re anything like me, one of these cocktails will give you a warm glow and the smile of triumph. 
Image

 

 

gazpacho

Beautiful, sunny summer days are perfect for cocktails on patios where breezes dance around your skin and the energy from the people around you is enough of a distraction from the 90 degree weather to keep you happy. My apartment, on the other hand, does not fare so well. On the third floor of a building with no air-conditioning and big, sun-inviting windows, the idea of cooking myself dinner can feel like a truly insurmountable task. Turning on the oven? No way.

So, with an evening to myself, I decided to tackle my first gazpacho. And when I went to the store and found this tomato, I knew it was fate.

photo2

Truly monstrous. And juicy. And delicious.

I sifted through some recipes online and then decided to improvise for my ideal results. And it went pretty well.

To start, I diced up a zucchini and a cucumber, my beloved monster tomato, another more reasonably sized heirloom, the majority of a red onion, a poblano chile pepper, and two cloves of garlic. I got some kind of mutated garlic I think, because the cloves were rather large and I probably should have only used one.

photo1 photo5
photo6 photo3

Lesson learned for next time, I guess. Anyway, I also chopped up some fresh snap peas, shaved some delicious sweet corn kernels off of their cobs, and chopped up some perfectly green chives.

From here, I put the garlic and most of the red onion in the bowl of a food processor along with half of the cucumber, zucchini, and tomato. I’ve heard you can use a blender just as easily, but mine is a spawn of Satan and I refuse to use it. I then poured 2 cups of tomato juice over everything, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, an 1/8 cup of tarragon vinegar and a spoonful of sugar. I dashed some Cholula on top of the mix for a hint of magical spice, and sprinkled some coarse Kosher salt over the veggies as well. I pulsed the mixture until it was blended pretty well but still a little chunky, but I suppose that whole step is a matter of personal preference.

I poured the soup into a large glass bowl and added the remaining 2 cups of tomato juice and the veggies, including all of the corn, snap peas, and chives.

photo7

With a little more salt and pepper, my gazpacho took on a personality all its own. Yes. I was once again a four-year-old girl unwrapping a neon pink Skip-It, but this time with a giant bowl of chunky tomato soup. I might have to eat it for every meal over the coming week to avoid watching my pride and joy rot in the refrigerator, but sometimes that’s the price you pay for refusing to cook anything in your 85 degree apartment. Garnishings for such delicious summer soup vary from palette to palette, but I went for a little crumbled feta and a gorgeous, creamy avocado.

photo9

Add a little lemon juice and enjoy fully.

photo8

If after all your hard work you feel like also enjoying a refreshing libation, the gingery effervescence of a Moscow Mule will certainly do the trick.

photo10

I may have garlic breath for the next seven days, but my little gazpacho baby is not sorry.

A loose recipe for the gazpacho is as follows:
4 cups 100% tomato juice
4 large tomatoes, or whatever floats your boat, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cucumber, diced
the kernels from 3 ears of corn
1 cup snap peas, chopped
1 red onion, diced
2 [reasonably sized] cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
6 hearty dashes of your favorite hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Dice all the veggies and mince the garlic. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the garlic and red onion, and half of the tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini. Pour 2 cups of the tomato juice into the bowl, along with the olive oil, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar. Pulse to whatever level of consistency you most enjoy, and then pour into a large glass bowl to add the remaining ingredients. First pour the remaining 2 cups of tomato juice, then the rest of the vegetables can go on top. Give the mixture a satisfying stir, and pour yourself a bowl right away if you’d like. If you have the patience, however, it’s nice to let the soup chill in the fridge for awhile and enjoy it nice and cold. Whatever you want.

A recipe for a consistently delicious Moscow Mule* goes like this:
1.5 ounces of your vodka of choice
1/2 of a lime, squeezed and left in the glass

Pour over ice and top with your favorite ginger beer. I love the Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, but Gosling’s is a classic that ought not be overlooked.

*make it a Dark-n-Stormy by substituting a dark rum for the vodka

hello

Sometimes, sitting in your apartment with all the lights off while the sun sets behind the mountains is about as cathartic as anything. Sometimes, too, words build up inside your body and start spinning out of control, and writing them down gives you the bizarre feeling of being filled and emptied at the same time. So that’s what I’m here for. To write things down. To document the things I do and the things I like. Or don’t like, or whatever. In any case, sometimes solidifying your place in a humungous world like ours means putting yourself out there with your fingers crossed and your hopes high. 

Here’s to the kickoff of a kaleidoscope of life moments that speak to real life and dreams, to creating meaningful experiences, and to sharing moments with the people around you that resonate with genuine connection. 

Image