five years in philly

five years ago this month he purchased and we moved into the tiny little house we now call home. it was located  in what i thought to be  the boring neighborhood, way too far away from the action. a month before, i’d packed up my belongings and moved-in with my college sweetheart in the tiniest studio on the fourth floor on the nineteenth block of spruce.

five years later and philly is our home…more so than anyplace else.

i remember having a really hard time the first year (perhaps explaining this impulsive decision) and someone telling me it takes at least a year to get acclimated to a new place. they suggested really getting to know the city, taking long walks and finding some semblance of routine (all which later worked, by the way). i didn’t have a year, i thought to myself, i wanted to acclimate now.  while that didn’t happen (sorry to say) certain things helped me find my way a little bit.

i got a job at a school rich in great people. from there, i made friends, honest to goodness friends who i spent my days and evenings with. more than that, i felt like i was a part of my new community and meant more than i could have imagined. that is, after all, one of the greatest questions posed by our young, mobile society how do you make friends as an adult? it’s tough, it really is…but the greatest advice i can give is open yourself up to others and they’ll return the gesture. sometimes you’ll click, other times you won’t, but you must try. over the course of the first year- through my job, L’s graduate program, and blogging, oddly enough- i met some incredible people that truly shaped our time here.

from there, the struggles were more tolerable and the accomplishments more joyous. we were welcomed into this world, more or less (yes, i’m talking to  you,  neighbor-who-still-avoids-eye contact..hmph), and settled into our life together into a place i never expected to be.

the traditions, neighborhoods, ethnic food stores, independent shops, restaurants and most of all the people that make all of those tick, make me fall in love with this town again and again…though i suppose we’re just getting to know each other.

we have our differences though, that’s for damn sure. for all the reasons every city-dweller has, some days i return home after being chewed the requisite 20 times and spit right out again and want nothing more transport myself to a greener, more caring place.

but you see, at least for now, this quirky, gritty, charming, delicious, heart-filled city is home. and i’ll tell you what, these years will hold a special place with me for the rest of my days.

7.25

You know when someone's blog is so gorgeous that you kinda hate them for it? Yeah, well...this one is like that. It's so good I want to pop him one.

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hot damn, it’s the weekend! we’re headed to the seaside to spend the day with friends and doing a little bit of sprucing around our little place.

a few items of note from the week:

+this brooklyn woman is committed to zero waste. Think: no food packaging, making your own cosmetics, and using household basics for cleaning supplies. Impossible? Take a look at her home.

+mindfulness is being taught to teachers and students and the results-lower teacher turnover and increased student investment and achievement. surprisingly, i first heard of it here.

+there is a big fuss in france over a law that aims to prioritize and preserve homemade meals. but the outcome isn’t quite as honest.

+i’m thinking americans have it all wrong in our distaste for offal. not to mention the health benefits.

+one of my favorite places in philly is federal donuts (the original location) and i love them even more after hearing about their newest venture to eliminate food waste and provide for our community. Contribute to the Kickstarter here.

 

loving-kindness

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early this morning i wrote down the words that came to mind when i thought about the term loving-kindness as it relates to your relationship with yourself and your significant other…and everyone in your life, really:

acceptance | encouragement | compassion | deep love | patience | understanding | support

kindness is love exemplified… every day in every situation, positive or challenging. the gottmans put it perfectly in saying “kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved…[therefore] building a culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.”

they go on to explain that there is a physiological impact of thinking of your relationship in this way as “[couples practicing loving-kindness are] calm and connected together, which translates into warm and affectionate behavior… they create a climate of trust and intimacy that makes both more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.” it is, to me, the difference between feeling completely comfortable with your partner versus holding back…allowing yourself to speak freely about your worries and dreams without any thought that they might be dismissed.

it’s something that doesn’t just come. it is learned plain and simple, and strengthened by exercising it at every opportunity.

i’m writing this down because i have felt this so strongly lately…the silver lining, i suppose, to going through a challenging time. the feeling that you are genuinely and wholeheartedly loved and understood is like no other; it begins by easing nerves surrounding change or fear of disappointment, but it’s reach is much more powerful than even that. loving-kindness encourages me to not only reciprocate this kind of love, but make an effort to be kinder to myself, too.

we know that the first step to loving another truly and fully is loving yourself. the same thing goes for finding the good in and practicing kindness towards yourself. loving-kindness meditation is something that i think we all can incorporate in our lives. almost like dedicating a yoga practice to someone who needs your positive energy, this is simply taking the time to wish yourself and others well.

“May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
“May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.”

because kindness is where it begins and ends…the integral component of happiness. if we all listen a bit more, judge a bit less and leave ourselves open to being loved by ourselves and others, imagine what can happen.

++
awareness
deepening loving-kindness
the article on love everyone should read
other notes on marriage (me)

7.18

It takes us till we age to realise how grateful we should be for what we have had all along :)

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+the world is a heartbreaking place and i need to practice more gratitude for the safe and healthy conditions i’m so fortunate to have.
onlookers call it “dark tourism”, participants call it expressing interest in every part of our world, especially the parts in turmoil. either way, it’s on the rise.

+what happens when we ignore the template for happiness and create our own? ( an interview )
+there’s something called concierge medicine. would you pay a membership fee for more personalized care?

+almond milk
just may be a scam. between environmental impact, additives and cost, we should be  making our own
+there’s more heart in creating a cocktail and surviving and thriving in nyc as a woman that we might think  (video)

+in an effort to create a true community, there are no employees at this flower shop in paris
+neil young is coming to the academy house! are you going?

 

making your csa work: rockfish stew with sorrel

i’ve tried to meal plan time and time again, but it just doesn’t work. i don’t remember to compile meals until i’m en route to the market and then i just can’t think of a damn thing.  i do best when i have a solid a variety of staples. the list has been expanded and refined over the past few years, and includes items that are equal parts healthy and cheap(ish) and delicious. starchy foods for their filling nature, quality protein, fresh vegetables, butter and olive oil (and a little acidity) come together to create something special every time.

a typical shopping yield looks something like this:

grains and starchy vegetables|white rice, millet, yellow potatoes (my favorite), oatmeal

vegetables|whatever is in the CSA (including herbs), green lettuce, Jersey tomatoes, onions, garlic

fruit|CSA, whatever is on-sale (currently Jersey peaches)

protein source|ground lamb, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild-caught fish, dry beans and/or legumes

fats and acidic ingredients|butter, olive oil, nuts, white wine, vinegar, olives

on a good day, our fridge and pantry are stocked with these items and i’m able to pull something together without braving the elements. philadelphia has been experiencing the beginnings of the apocalypse as of late, and this little stew was created while the lightning cracked and the rain slapped against the house.

i’ve mentioned otolith seafood before and i will again-simply, it’s the best. in addition to selling it at the headhouse farmer’s market in philadelphia and through  their website, they bring their products to retailers around the city, including my favorite health food store. when i arrived the other night, they were out of all but rockfish. i consulted a couple of websites but not surprisingly, otolith gave me all the encouragement i needed.

a few days later, with a bouillabaisse in mind, i looked to my pantry and fridge for everything i could use up- from the csa came the sorrel (that lemony bite!), a big ‘ol onion and garlic. tomatoes and tomato paste from the market, along with that pretty piece of rockfish. just a little inspiration for you, as it’s absolutely meant to be made to suit your own taste and available ingredients.

a sort of recipe for rockfish and sorrel stew
serves 4

butter, a tablespoon or two
1 big onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 big Jersey tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste
water
white wine
1 large rockfish fillet  (~1 pound), cut into bite-sized pieces
a few handfuls of sorrel
salt and pepper

i heated the butter in a big dutch oven and added the onion and garlic all at once. After they softened up and became fragrant, in went the tomato and tomato paste. after a minute or so i added water and mixed it all up into a nice little base. to it i added a little bit of wine (what was leftover in my glass, you know) and brought it to a nice simmer. i brought it down a bit and added in the fish carefully, making sure all pieces were covered by the broth. i reduced  covered the pan and let it bubble for 15 minutes or so, adding the sorrel at the very end and,letting it wilt and serving it over some basmati rice.

++
a more proper seafood stew from bourdain
making your CSA work