Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mundane Mysteries

With the unfortunate news of Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin's "Conscious Uncoupling" life hits perspective.

"Someone once told me a story about long term relationships. To stay the course, to stay intentional, to stay curious and connected — that’s the heart of it. But it’s so easy to lose track of the trail, to get tired, to want to give up or to want a new adventure. It can be so easy to lose sight of the goodness and mystery within the person sitting right in front of you. That continent idea inspires me and makes the ache when it comes hurt a little less. To know that it happens to all of us. What I’m realizing now is that sometimes the ‘same old same old’ can actually be rich, worthwhile and a great adventure.” 
- Joy Williams
(After searching in vain for a source to this quote, all I know is that it came around the time The Civil Wars went on hiatus. They are still on hiatus.)

I love this quote because it allows for the infinite possibilities of a person, and more specifically, for two people together. Stay curious and connected.

Life is an adventure and even the mundane is a blank canvas of adventure.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Loyalsock State Forest Trail Perceives a Saturday

Alls well that ends well, and this long, long winter is taking its cue with a wonderful spring ending. This past weekend, John and I took advantage of the sunshine and warmer temperatures to go hiking at the Loyalsock State Forest. It's a gorgeous three-hour trail that ends with a waterfall.

(Disclaimer: The pictures are from a month ago when there was still snow on the ground.) 

That is a frozen waterfall, which doubles as an ice cave. 

On that note, I'm in the middle of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and as trite as the mention may be in the hiking world, it's a powerful book that vividly illustrates the power of hiking through the wilderness. While, I may never hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, there's a breathtaking quality to any hike that can't be overlooked. In Pennsylvania, I am thankful that this sits behind me, constantly putting life into perspective. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The First Blogger

Netflix can breed more anguish than entertainment. The drinks are poured, the popcorn is seasoned, but the queue has not yet situated itself. So, for the next 45 minutes, we're left to browse film titles, read descriptions, and identify noteworthy cast members before finally settling on some mediocre movie from 1998. For the past few weeks, I've been carefully selecting quality titles that will breed quality recommendations. It's been a long, hard battle, but I've lived to share the lessons of my venture. You're welcome. And now, without further adieu, my Netflix Lately Haul:

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel
The greatest fashion documentary since The September Issue, this is a real Netflix treat. Diana Vreeland gives eccentric stories to every vision, every moment, and this film invites you into her world for a bit of time. She's the muse behind the fashion editor in Funny Face, the visionary behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, and Coco Chanel's best friend. There are notable appearances by all the industry movers and shakers to pay homage to the fashion icon. Even, Diane von Furstenberg respectfully recalls her office memos as the first insightful blog.  With all of the vibrant magazine shoots, historical bits of pop culture, and Vreeland's own red living room, The Eye Has to Travel is a great movie for a  dreary, winter snow day (or any day in Pennsylvania).

Let the Right One In 
While, I've never jumped on the vampire/zombie bandwagon and fail to see what all the fuss is about, this movie makes me reconsider my aversions. I first saw this Swedish film in 2008 at Alamo Drafthouse, and it remains amazing. Let the Right One In is suspenseful, with a touch of horror. There's a last minute twist that infuses infinite layers into the story that will leave you contemplating what just happened. Maybe I should give Twilight a go.

Frances Ha
If you have seriously contemplated just buying a ticket to Paris for no particular reason and with no particular plan, you will enjoy this adventure. It's for all the twenty-somethings trying to figure out their life. With little to no expectations upon pressing play, this awkwardly wonderful movie completely took me by surprise. An artistic dreamer (and dancer!) in New York City meets reality after college and struggles to adapt her expectations. There's a notable cast that includes Adam Driver (Girls) and Grace Gummer (Meryl Streep's daughter).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You Can Caul-mi-flower If You Want To

The first week of vegan/gluten-freeism is a success! I also had pizza on Friday night, so let’s not get caught up in the details. A few recipes from last week are worth sharing, so scroll down for some scrumptious nutrition. 

Cauliflower Soup
My mom makes the absolute best potato soup. She claims it’s all in the heavy whipping cream that is added at the very end – the secret ingredient for every creamy soup. Unfortunately, nothing about her comforting potato soup is nutritious. This cauliflower soup recipe is just about as creamy and, depending on the salt levels, really light and flavorful. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare and would be great with a number of toppings (chives, sage, or red pepper flakes). The husband went back for seconds - win.

1 Head of cauliflower, broken into pieces
1 onion, yellow or white
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (or vegetable stock)
12 cups of water
1 can of preferred white beans (pinto, cannellini, navy)
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion in olive oil at the bottom of your soup pot with a bit of salt and pepper. When onion is translucent, add 12 cups of water with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes and bring to boil. Add cauliflower and simmer for 25 minutes. Then stir in beans.

Use a hand mixer to roughly puree soup. (It worked best for me to transfer the soup pot to the sink for blending to contain the splattering. ) Enjoy! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Will of a Dreamer

A couple of days ago, my Netflix queue recommended the TED Talk Life Hacks and I obliged. The first episode launched into Amy Cuddy’s study on body language. Are you yawning? Don’t.
Amy Cuddy, TED Talk
Amy Cuddy is a professor at Harvard Business School and delivers a research-dense sociology report on body language and it’s effect on your life. Stop yawning.

While the discussion is worth the 21 minutes of your life, the final point is exceptional. “Fake it until you make it,” is an important adage, but Dr. Cuddy propels the statement forward, tearfully encouraging that you “fake it until you become it.” Whatever desires are in your soul, work hard to make it happen, but don’t just settle there. Continue forward, until you become exactly the person you desire to be.

People sometimes turn to significant others for help in validating who they want to become, but this is temporary at best.  Questions like, “Am I special?” Or “Does this make me look fat?”  accomplish momentary satisfaction or (more) momentary angst. It is a constantly insufficient battle that will need to be fought indefinitely because the underlying issue is of more permanence. A person needs to believe they are pretty for an external affirmation to register. If you don’t feel special, this needs to be addressed within. So, fake it. Pretend that you are the most special person (albeit a tad egotistical) for a bit.

No one is able to generate self-worth for you. They can encourage and support who you are and what you love about yourself, but they cannot create something that doesn’t already exist within. So, strut around, dance in the mirror, and give an acceptance speech for the Golden Globe you just won. Fake it, until you become the person you dream about being.  As Kid President eloquently pepped, "We were made to be awesome."

This spans into every area of life. If I want to be a professional writer, then I need to fake it until I become it. This means, posting on my blog like I have hundreds of thousands in the audience clinging to my every word. I need to be reading like it’s my day job, studying my craft and participating in workshops. If I want to have the best marriage, then I need to post the cheesy pictures with equally cheesy captions until we slowly become that cheesy couple that’s so in love, even hash-tags become subjected to the affection. #lovehim #besthubbyever #solucky

As a writer, integrity and transparency fuel the stories, and while it's not all "diamonds and rosé"  recognizing my dreams and pursuing them unabashedly is outstanding. 

It’s your life and it will be what you will.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Let’s Draw Some Martha Stewart Parallels, Shall We?

An amazing thing happened on the way to the news this morning, Martha Stewart gave an exclusive, and ridiculously thorough, glimpse into her skin-care rituals for a piece in the New York Times. As a skin-care fiend, this Top Shelf-esque article is worth the read, and re-read.

She swears by Yon-Ka, so that’s sure to become a household name any day now. An esthetician at Equinox told me about Yon-Ka a few years ago and I quickly ordered a few products online at a rather reasonable price point. My personal recommendations are the Gomage 305, Serum, and Crème 15. Now, thanks to Martha’s inspiration, I will try the Gomage 305 in the morning pre-shower as oppose to sporadic blocks of irregular free time.

SkinCeuticals also makes Martha’s name-dropping escapade. This is a well-respected brand, particularly by dermatologists, but I have had mixed results with the products. The CE Ferulic Serum is constantly touted as the only serum you need and it does wonders for your complexion. I also love the sunscreen. It’s zinc-heavy and goes on as a rich moisturizer that lasts throughout the day. However, a few products did not deliver outstanding results. The Physical Fusion UV Defense that Martha cites is not my favorite thing in the world. It is a greasy attempt at a tinted moisturizer and left skin imperfections (aka breakouts) after every use. So, proceed with caution.

Additional Personal recommendations from Martha’s Cabinet:

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Delicious Turn of Health

In the spirit of a new year’s resolution, I’m going to eat healthier with a combination of gluten-free veganism. My gluten-free attempt is more of the Gwenyth Paltrow-fad variety as oppose to legit celiac disease necessity so proceed with caution. For example, soy sauce is not gluten-free and honey is not vegan. I think it should be, but I'm new to this.

John is obliging me in this adventure, with the exception of milk. The food-venture starts today. Kale on, my friends! This is a glimpse into day one (previously seen on Twitter).

Baked Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Noodles with Cilantro- Tahiti Sauce
 I adapted this to gluten-free from Naturally Ella and love how it’s already portioned perfectly for 2.
3 cups peeled butternut squash, cut in ¼-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1-2 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces brown rice noodles
1 clove garlic
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
¼ cup lightly packed cilantro
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 25 to 28 minutes.
Mince cilantro, garlic and ginger. Combine in medium mixing bowl.

Add the tahini, soy sauce, lime juice and honey to bowl with cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Mix until well combined.

Prepare noodles according to package. Pour cilantro sauce over cooked noodles.  Place squash on top/side of each dish. Enjoy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hercules in Pennsylvania and on Twitter

Well, it’s Hercules out here. The snowstorm hit last night, and I’m currently continuing my winter hibernation. Call me high maintenance, but when it’s 4 degrees outside, I stay inside.

Pennsylvania is quite a new experience for this lifelong Texan. (Among my new talents: I can now identify snow trucks as they roam past my house.) There is a novelty to getting married and moving across the country to start our new life together as Amy and John, married couple. Married life is all it’s cracked up to be and there is something so endearingly special about having your forever friend by your side through it all. I’m so thankful for him and to share this unique opportunity with such a caring person.

Romanticism aside, Pennsylvania is cold and a bit isolating.  It’s not the Southern Hospitality that John and I took for granted in Texas. People tend to stay to themselves, which makes for an interesting obstacle when trying to meet new people.

The most humbling part is the inevitable job search. In Dallas, I was able to grow my marketing career with numerous PR and social media opportunities with a decent network of support.  In Montoursville, they ask you to snail mail your resume on over with a cover letter and formal application. While, I love a good paper product, I’m also a big fan of efficiency (i.e. email correspondence). This also doesn’t bode well for demonstrating the value of social media. So, tweet me. (@aavercher)