A New Season: Spring

Happy official spring!

Finally! The weather may not have caught up yet, but I can see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In the cold, grey days of March, it was such a pleasure to think of the bright and bold things to come.

As you might have been able to tell by my last post, the end of winter tends to be a down point in my year. It’s the strangest thing, but it’s pretty consistent (and annoying at that). But at last, we can rejoice in sunny days, brighter colors, and fresh and crisp food! Everything comes down to food, you know.

In celebration of the warmer season, here is a collection of things that I’m ready to bust out for our first Spring dinner. We’ll invite some close friends over, light up the grill, and enjoy the warm air outside under the clear evening sky!

To Drink

Drinks of course can be non alcoholic or alcoholic, but I find the second kind to be a bit more enjoyable. This pomegranate-grapefruit paloma is just right with a bit of the winter citrus but a distinctly warm weather feel. If you prefer something without any extra work, a fresh lemonade or a crisp glass of rose will absolutely do the job!

Pomegranate Grapefuit Paloma 

To Eat

Early spring may seem a bit early to break out the big guns on the bbq. Instead, ease in to the season with a grilled pizza. It’s easy to make, gives your party goers something fun to watch while they wait, and is ridiculously delicious. We tend to go the traditional route with our toppings, since my husband isn’t fond of straying very far, but I am dreaming of a caprese with balsamic reduction. Heaven in my mouth.

Grilled Pizza

While you’re at the grill anyways, you might as well throw on some seasonal fruit. Sprinkle slices with a little brown sugar and grill it up. Once you have a nice crust, top it off with some vanilla ice cream and call it dessert. We’re not here to be fancy, we’re here to relax and eat well.

Grilled Peaches

This recipe is a little more complex, but still incredibly easy. Plus, look at it. Seriously.

The Setting

Some of my favorite warm weather moments are the nights that you talk with your friends outside in the warm air. Imagine sitting back on your chair, chatting with your friends under the soft glow of these pretty lights strung up over you.

Outdoor Lighting

Ahh, isn’t that better? Oh spring, I’m so happy you’re finally here!

Delicious Words: Charles Frazier

I have periods where everything I ever encountered– grass and trees, music, the taste of food, the way people move, the miracle of colors, even my own worn thoughts– seems luminous and razor-cut in clairty, exactly like the whole world seemed to me at seventeen. What a gift at this late date. Memories from deep into the last century come blowing through me and I can hardly stand against their force.

We all reach a point where we would like to draw a line across time and declare everything on the far side null. Shed our past life like a pair of wet and muddy trousers, just roll their heavy clinging fabric down our legs and step away. We also reach a point where we would give the rest of our withering days for the month of July in our seventeenth year. But no thread of Araidne exists to lead us back there.

Charles Frazier, Thirteen Moons

March Sucks

I’ve decided today that March officially blows and is the worst month of the year. I’ve been feeling so bummed out lately and I thought it was strange until I read a journal entry from this time last year. Turns out, we had gone on a mini trip around this same time. Why? You guessed it, because I had been feeling crummy and wanted something to take my mind off this lousy, good for nothing month.

What is it about this month that’s so bad?

It’s cold- no wait, it’s hot!

San Diego is notorious for not being able to decide what temperature it wants to be, but it’s especially bad this month. Mornings can leave a frost on your car and require a thick sweater, but by mid-afternoon, you’re sweating into your winter boots. The touch of sun also is a fleeting flirt. You miss the beach so much, but you know if you go you’ll only be a sad, shivering mess on the waterline.

There aren’t any holidays

At least, not for anyone with kids. Honestly, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the lamer holidays. Yes, drinking is encouraged, but you can only get away with this in your early twenties without looking like an alcoholic. Green beer stains your teeth, and ugh- crowds. No thank you. Plus, you don’t even get the day off of work, which is a basic requirement of any holiday.

It’s no longer winter, but spring is just out of your reach.

No more chestnuts roasting by an open fire but you are still an arm’s length away from picnics and warm weather days. Honestly, what are you supposed to do in your off time?

The food is SO BORING

In November and December, you party it up with delicious, hearty winter eating. Breads! Chowders! Cookies! Cheese! This changes to a lot healthier eating January and February, in line with your New Year’s Resolutions, but it’s still early so it’s fun and exciting and you’re feeling awesome! March is when you’re in the thick of it and you’re just staring angrily at your lentil soup, dreaming of the fresh and happy salads (and margaritas) that only really feel right after Spring has arrived.

You are still months away from any vacations

Ugly cry.

 

T minus 5 days until Spring officially begins, people. From there, the weather will meander it’s way over on its own accord.

Until then, all we can do is run to the end of our chains and bark.

Living The Good Life

Last August, I began a search to really redefine the way I lived my life. When Jack was first born, I was taking every day as it came and just doing what I needed to do to get by. Over time, though, as he grew and became more independent, my own actions didn’t follow suit. I was still doing the absolute minimum of getting by, and I was miserable with how I was approaching several aspects of my life. But the end of summer came with the resolve to fix my approach.

I made a pact with myself to be more mindful, to direct my actions to something useful, something I wanted to accomplish. To lean in and achieve what I wanted out of life. This process has been slow, but as I have learned in the past eight months- time passes anyway, I might as well use it to my advantage.

I am significantly happier now than I was back in August, my body looks and feels healthier, I feel like I have direction in my career (and I’ve FINALLY made peace with where I am now). Overall I’m just more content.

However, I have noticed that I started slacking on my mindfulness the past few weeks, and this has had a profound effect on my level of joy day to day. Instead of feeling rejuvenated, every day I felt like I was under a bit of a cloud. While it’s good to be a peace with where you are, I’ve found that I’m truly happier in a daily sense when I feel like I am working towards a goal.

With that, I’ve reevaluated my daily schedule so I can take steps towards mindfully leaning in every day. It’s not the full-scale renovation I did half a year ago, but a little booster to what I’m already doing. A reminder of what is important, and with it- the intention of creating more joy in my day to day life.

The next month will focus on the following-

Participating at home: I constantly catch myself looking down at my phone throughout my day, especially when I’m at home. I already work 40 hours a week, and so often I feel like I’m missing a significant portion of Jack’s childhood (and my relationship with Glenn!). Back in August, I was determined to put my phone down for several hours a night and instead be fully present for playing, preparing and eating meals as a family, and talking with my husband (and son) about their days. Since I have strayed from this practice, I’ve noticed that at the end of the night I’m disappointed that I didn’t make more of my free time.

This month, I will make a point of participating in the life that is going on around me. Whether it be a making dinner, a dance party, or even a tantrum- I want to be present.

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Seriously, you wouldn’t want to miss out on stuff like this.

Choosing healthier foods more often: This seems obvious, but I’ve noticed that the more I’ve lost weight the more I’m compelled to give in “just this once” since “I’m doing so well”. This, of course, is not self-sustaining and I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve made.

I really want to take this month to retrain my brain to not give in just because it’s there. I will be more mindful of everything I eat. I don’t want my actions to be influenced by outside factors, I want to be the one making the decisions that shape my body. Treats are fine (and strongly encouraged!), but I want to make the conscious decision to enjoy them rather than realize after I’ve already begun to eat them.

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Walnuts and honey are healthy, right? And goat cheese is milk. It counts.

Getting outside: This action made a massive impact on my general happiness. Since our schedule is pretty packed during the week with work and a long commute, I don’t often get outside. When I started doing long walks on a trail outside every weekend, I noticed a distinct change in my attitude. I felt significantly more refreshed, happier, and willing to be more active.

This month I will take a few hours to go outside and get the movement my body craves. I will breathe in the crisp morning air, I will look at the beauty of the nature that surrounds me, and I will be so damn thankful that my body allows me to do this. I am so lucky to have this opportunity, and I should take full advantage of it.

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This doesn’t do the view justice

Begin classes: I really accomplished a lot in finally determining what direction I wanted my career to take. While I’m an editor right now, the work that I do is in a very limited field. This has always been a source of deep-seated concern since I wasn’t sure how to direct my focus when it came time to move forward. I didn’t know what I would want to do, and I had no clue how to do it. In the past six months, I’ve finally found a niche I believe I would work well in. I’m still incredibly lucky to have a stable job, with no signs of needing to change it anytime soon, but I want to prepare myself if something ever happens. I spoke to people in the field and found a program that could help ease me into the market. It’s been a month and a half since I decided to start this new era of school, and I kind of put it off. But the new semester is beginning soon, and this is just the push I need to begin. I’m looking forward to learning something new and having a career that my children can look up to.

This doesn’t quite fall into the mindful category, except that I want to be aware that this is still very much a resolution I want to accomplish, even though it will take a significant amount of time. So I will begin by taking the introductory course this month and sign up for the class that will begin in April.

I already feel significantly lighter after writing this all down and I’m looking forward to putting my plans into action. I’ll check back in a few weeks to make sure that I’m doing everything I want to live my best life.