Good Things: 2019 Week 6

the second lunch instantpot batch cooking

It was a very good week.

One of the best parts of the weekend so far has been knocking out a million nagging tasks, cleaning out my inbox, and re-reading this article on configuring your phone to be less distracting.

And here I am, writing to you! I do hope it’s been a good week where you are. If not – tomorrow is a new day, fresh with new opportunity to do good things, see good people, and eat some great meals. Hopefully you find some inspiration in here to do just that.

{Good Things}

Hopefully I won’t lose you with this first one, but the Patriots won the SuperbOwl 🦉 Hear me out: over a decade ago, we really needed that win. I remember the first parade – I bundled up in cold weather gear and cheered and screamed. This year was different. We’ve been winning. The sport is problematic to say the least. But regardless about how you feel about the NFL or the Patriots – it’s been really nice to walk around a city that feels uplifted and a new sense of optimism. I’ve been thankful for that feeling during these otherwise depressing times. Sports can do that.

Plopping. In addition to my quest for curly girl hair care that had me acquiring a bunch of new conditioner last week, I’ve been back to “plopping” – a curl protective hair drying technique that involves me wrapping a shirt around my head and waiting for the curls to dry. (Unfortunately, I also managed to get hives from one of my new conditioners… except I’m not actually sure which one. Wish me luck.) 

This week in nagging tasks. This week I knocked off a bunch of them, including a long overdue 401k rollover, fixing my driver’s side rear view mirror, and an oil change. The Universe also reminded me that it’s good to fix things you’ve been stalling on. I managed to get pulled over the day AFTER I fixed the mirror… with a newly broken tail light. No ticket, and I’m so glad that I had made the previous repair. I fixed the light this weekend as well!

Heather came to Cambridge. The best part about having friends become super fancy experts in their field is that they come to Boston to speak at conferences and workshops, and then go out to dinner with you! I met Heather at Legal on Tuesday night for some chowder and a seared tuna bowl. Here we are not looking at the camera quite at the same time.

The Second Lunch Sam and Heather

Amanda’s Birthday Party at Naco Taco. It’s crazy to think that I’ve known Amanda for 25 years! To celebrate, I made the trek out to Elmendorf for a gift certificate, some candied orange peel, and chocolate dragées. (I’m a little ashamed to say that I managed to leave Naco Taco… without eating a taco. I will go back!)

Talking about baked goodness: my brother was in LA this week. In addition to his dream trip to The Price is Right (yes, I was jealous) he brought me back some treats. A Kouign-Amann from Dominique Ansel bakery. I was hoping for a cronut, but they wouldn’t sell it to him because it would get stale. He also brought me two pounds of Philz Tesora, one of my favorite coffees.

the second lunch dominique ansel kouign amann

This week in Movement + Meditation: Another good week of fitness! The key to success this week was that my workouts were scheduled mostly in advance. A year and a few months, my run streak continues!

On Ompractice – my online yoga and meditation company – I took a Yoga Nidra session with Amy, and Foundations of Yoga with Traci (Wednesday 7:30 pm) this week. If you are interested in taking yoga classes at home where your teacher can see you – our unlimited membership is only $5 for your first month right now! I’d love for you to try it out.

There were also walks around the neighborhood, and THREE Orange Theory classes: got my splat on – on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Except, I don’t have the OT watch, I just wear my Apple Watch and it’s good enough for me.

Because I was out several nights in a row, I skipped my usual combo of a creative date with myself and dinner, in favor of an early movie on Friday night and a meal at home. I chose The Favourite – which I greatly enjoyed. Notably, my fellow theater goers did NOT. So many people around me hated it. It was deliciously quirky. Emma Stone, Olivia Coleman, and Rachel Weisz are all *fantastic*.

the second lunch frank and momo

{Delicious Meals} 

This week brought me several trips out of the house, punctuated by quick meals, and leftovers. I cooked a few different things from Anita Lo’s award winning cookbook “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One” this week.

Dr. Bouley made me dinner! My friend Jacqueline is a chiropractor, health coach, and loves cooking as much as I do. She’s also the mom to two spunky french bulldogs, Frank and Momo (above). Dinner at her house is always a treat. She made me chicken thighs, roasted potatoes and broccoli, a salad, and baked me an amazing cookie for dessert. 

Her spice cabinet inspired my project last week:

the second lunch livewell chiropractic spice cabinet

The chicken has Northwoods Seasoning (so good!) and got crispy in the cast iron.

the second lunch livewell chiropractic makes me dinner

The cookie dough was gluten free from Twist Bakery in Millis. UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. With some nada moo ice cream and a drizzle of Soom chocolate tahini.

the second lunch gluten free chocolate chip cookie twist bakery millis

Other good meals:

Anita Lo’s Kale Salad with Tahini and Dates from Solo My absolute favorite kale salad is this one from Epicurious – but this one has come in a close second, and is significantly easier to make quickly. I ended up making it for two separate meals. (You put all the ingredients in a bowl, and stir.)

The Second Lunch Anita Lo Solo Kale Date Salad

Later in the week I followed up with her Red Cooked Duck recipe from Solo with some jasmine rice and broccoli. The store was out of duck legs, so I ended up going a little fancy with some duck breast.

the second lunch anita lo solo red cooked duck

Lots of quick meals this week:

  • Leftovers of Chrissy Teigen’s Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe from Cravings. I had put a portion in my freezer last week for a future perfect night.. but hadn’t realized that night would be less than a week later. Oops?
  • Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Sorrentina. I keep bags of this in my freezer for days when hunger strikes and I’m seeking comfort food. 
  • An omelette with leftover green vegetables and a side of sauerkraut. It turns out Eggs and Sauerkraut are a lot of people’s jam in my friend group.
  • A romaine salad with blue cheese, blue cheese dressing, and a whole bunch of marinated anchovies. 
  • A bowl of rice with eggs, chicken sausage, sauerkraut, and green dressing. 
  • Trader Joe’s Macaroni and Cheese in the red box mixed with some Green Vegetable Foursome. When I’m not feeling like cooking, at least I can microwave. (Below. See, that looks at least a bit virtuous.)
the second lunch trader joes macaroni and cheese and vegetable foursome

Batch Cooking this week: this week I got my cook up on, and made soft boiled eggs, a charmoula-ish green dressing with anchovy, garlic, and my leftover parsley and mint, baked chicken thighs with za’atar for my upcoming lunches, and made a batch of pepita chili in the instant pot

the second lunch zataar chicken thighs

I leave you with Bertram on the yoga mat, hoping you’ll try out his tongue to nose pose. 

the second lunch bertram the frenchie touches his nose

Here’s to a great week! –– xo Sam

Good Things: 2019 Week 5

the second lunch winston flowers delivery purple flowers

There’s something incredibly satisfying to recapping my week by looking through the photos on my phone these days. This is my blog version of a regular gratitude practice – something I’ve committed to over the past few years and can’t recommend enough in order to really appreciate the good things in life. (And for that matter, I appreciate each and ever one of you reading this. Hello!)

{Week 5}  Good Things

  • a gorgeous floral delivery from Winston Flowers – my aunt and uncle are excellent at pick me up gifts. These purple flowers are stunning, and they’ll last for a while!
  • my curl quest – last week I ran out of conditioner, and decided to go wild testing out a bunch of new options. My typical go-to is Acure, which I pick up at Whole Foods. But to embrace my curls, I know that there are better options, so I polled some curly friend (and the cashier at Marty’s) and ended up getting a bunch of sample size – Shea Moisture, Carol’s Daughter, Kinky Curly, Cantu, and the Trader Joe’s Shea Butter and coconut oil hair mask. I’ll keep you posted.
the second lunch curly girl conditioner haul
  • Movement, amplified. In my quest to “spend out” – gift certificates, passes I haven’t used, memberships, I realized that I had a 10-pack to OrangeTheory that is going to expire this month. So I took my first class on Friday, another today, and I have my next two scheduled this week. Not sure how this is going to affect my year long run streak – so I’m going to be mindful of not overdoing it.
  • Yoga: four times! To ensure my mobility, stretching, and well, because I founded the company and get all the free yoga and meditation I want: I took FOUR! live classes on Ompractice this week. I’d love for you to join me! Unlimited membership is only $5 for your first month, and I’d be happy to meet up virtually for a class on me! Here was my lineup:
    • Yoga Nidra with Amy a cross between yoga and meditation – all about conscious relaxation, a chance to renew, and recharge yourself. Mondays and Wednesdays at 1 pm ET, 10 am PT. (Amy was in the polar vortex of the midwest while I was complaining about our 10 degrees…)
    • Yoga for Office Workers is a 25-minute break from the world. Tuesdays at 3:30 pm ET, 12:30 pm PT with Charina. Harkening back to my Runkeeper stretch-o-clocks! (Charina was actually in her “outside office” for class because…. southern California..)
    • Chair Yoga with Marie. Chair yoga is great for anyone, but is especially recommended for those who want a gentle practice. One of the surprising things was how much I enjoyed seated sun salutations!
    • Yoga for Low Back Pain with Traci – a perfect low impact class. Thursdays at 7:30 pm ET, 4:30 pm PT. Also – Traci was a sport for not laughing at me as Bertram decided that instead of his usually nap, he was going to “assist” me by licking me, sitting on the mat, and generally speaking being adorable but in the way.
ompractice amit ray quote
  • Two large library hauls: one of my favorite “activities of abundance” (a.k.a. making your self feel better through shameless acquisition without affecting your wallet) is checking out a huge stack of library books. I had to go to two different libraries this week. (On the literary note, I had about 50 recommendations from friends that I was going to post here but the list was too long. I’ll make a separate post if you need ideas of good reading!)
  • Team Retrospective: each week, one of my favorite personal activities is to reflect over the week with three questions: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what do I want to stop doing? This is straight from the “agile” playbook that most tech companies use to keep their teams celebrating their wins (hello, gratitude practice), and learning from their misses. We had a *great* team Retro this week!
  • New folks on my weekly *Do The Thing virtual co-working. Each week I gather together friends (from around the world!) for a weekly digital co-working session on Wednesdays at 1:30 – 3pm Eastern. We go around, each share what we want to get done, and then I mute everyone and we get to work. Want to participate? Sign up here.
  • On that note, I had an “in-person” friend come to participate in *Do the Thing hour this week. Amanda came with lunch she had prepared for us, and work to do! Salad (TJ’s cruciferous crunch), roasted delicata squash, warm farro, freshly made black beans, an herb-buttermilk vinaigrette, pickled shallots, an avocado, and tomatoes. I added a little bit of chicken and cilantro from my fridge. My friends are amazing.
the second lunch farro and black bean salad with avocado vinaigrette

{Delicious Meals:} 

Got ahead of myself there with a delicious meal in good things! There were so many more!

This was another week absolutely smitten with Alison Roman. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve cooked this many recipes out of a cookbook in years. If you don’t have your own copy of Dining In, RUN!

On that note, I think I’ve cooked more from cookbooks in general this month than I have in the past five years.

Here’s some of the highlights this week:

Takeout From Kimchipapi. Kimchipapi is new to Allston on Harvard street. Korean fusion poke bowls and other good stuff. (#SendNoodz.) Recommend! I had the crab fries – thin fries topped w/ crab salad, spicy mayo, eel sauce, fish eggs, scallion, and black sesame. And then a make my own poke bowl with kale noodles (thin starchy noodles), spicy tuna tartar, salmon, crab salad. Pickled radish, pickled ginger, kimchi, fresh corn and carrot, spicy mayo, ponzu sauce, fish eggs and roasted seaweed. I regret nothing.

Black bean soup with chimichurri chicken. No shame, my secret recipe is that I use Goya black bean soup in the red can. It’s excellent. 

Chicken Tikka Masala with chicken thighs arugula salad with mint, basil, and cilantro. There’s no recipe here. Truthfully, I ordered a container of sauce from Shan-a-punjab, and then cooked some chicken thighs in it. Paired with an arugula salad with mint, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. My salads are usually half greens half herbs these days.

the second lunch butter chicken and arugula herb salad

Alison Roman’s turmeric roasted carrots with seeds and labne. This was *outrageously good*. I used Samira’s Homemade labne with black olives as the base for the recipe. If you are in New England, I highly recommend picking up some at Whole Foods!

the second lunch Alison Roman Dining In Turmeric Roasted Carrots with seeds and labne

Alison Roman’s scallops with corn, hazelnuts, and brown butter chermoula. Over another arugula salad with cilantro and some lime. Another complete stunner of a dish. Also: the key to golden scallops is to NOT TOUCH THEM when they are cooking in the pan. Look at these beauties.

the second lunch alison roman dining in scallops with corn hazelnuts and brown butter chermoula

Alison Roman’s fennel rubbed pork – so, technically I did a mashup of two of her recipes here because I had pork tenderloin and not chops, and wanted to roast everything while luxuriating in a long shower with one of my new conditioners. The pork marinates in advance in a seed bath of glory. I opted for the double fennel situation, because… why not?

the second lunch alison roman dining in fennel rubbed pork with fennel

Chrissy Teigen’s Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe from Cravings. You guys. This dish. Here’s the goodness: lots of crispy pancetta, olive oil, garlic, black pepper, red pepper, lemon juice, cheese, more cheese. And then you add arugula for virtue and bite. The recipe is here, but I recommend the cookbook.

the second lunch chrissy teigen cravings lemony arugula cacio pepe 1
the second lunch chrissy teigen cravings lemony arugula cacio pepe 1

Arugula salad with avocado, green goddess, and marinated anchovies. Apparently I’ve just been craving arugula for weeks and am finally fulfilling my cravings.

the second lunch arugula salad with avocado green goddess and marinated anchovies

Well, that’s about it for this week!

I’ll leave you with this week’s best dog portrait: Bertram, in his element.

the second lunch bertram the frenchie in gray

Here’s to a great week! –– xo Sam

PS: every month or so I send out a newsletter of wellness wisdom, good things, reading, and more. I’m due for a new one imminently.

If you want to subscribe, just sign up below!

2019: Week 4

The Second Lunch Lobster Cobb Ish

Here we are, the last week of January, and I’m here to document some of the good things this week that happened in my life. I’ve taken back to writing out the good parts of my week as part of my regular gratitude practice – so here we go with a second blog post in 2019! On a roll!

You Got This Valley Venture Mentors Wall Art
{Week 4}  Good Things
 
  • My kitchen project: working to organize my spices this week. I went to the Container Store for an expandable spice rack, and did some well-needed culling. I still need to figure out how best to store my assorted bags and vacuum packs of spices from the spice bazaar in Turkey. Right now they are just hanging in a variety of places. (Pictures below are the “after”. I’m not a minimalist)  
  • A facebook thread about [the oldest thing in your refrigerator]. While I didn’t win any awards (I think that went to a can of paté from the 60’s, my own contribution to the thread was a dried mushroom packet from around 2007. This may have been the catalyst to do a little bit of cleaning. (Oddly enough that isn’t getting tossed.) Fess up, what’s the oldest thing in your fridge? (Drop it in the comments.) 
the second lunch spice overhaul
the second lunch spice overflow drawer
  • My creative date: I ended up punting on my planned creative date on Friday (the creative time I take to myself every week out of the house) but I ended up watching a movie and ordering some Indian takeaway, which was pretty spectacular. So I ended up squeezing in a last minute creative date on Sunday: a.k.a. a trip to the library where I acquire as many books as I want. (Bonus: free.) I ended up with a new to me Korean cookbook, some YA fiction, the new Reid Hoffman book about scaling your startup, and Mimi Sheraton’s 1000 things to Eat Before You Die – which I plan on making my own list for. 
The Second Lunch Winter Library Haul

  • Lunch with a friend at Rox. 10 years of catching up!  My regular meal: classic breakfast with two eggs, ham, and a side of hollandaise.
  • I went out to an event at MassChallenge. Looking forward to more events, conferences, and panels this year as I take put on the “start-up founder” hat (cape? spandex) for my online yoga and meditation company and spread the word of what we’re doing to take make yoga and meditation accessible to every body, not just the 1%.
  • On that note, TWO yoga classes this week. I took Yoga for Office Workers with Charina on both Tuesday and Thursday this week on Ompractice. You can take the class right from your desk – in my case, my couch. She was kind to deal with my creaky-ness and tight hips! Want to join me this week? One of the best ways to stay accountable to fitness is to do it with friends!
Ompractice Yoga for Office Workers with Charina
  • My new sketchbook and pen. Inspired by so many of my favorite creatives, I realized I was long overdue for a sketchbook. (See my first doodle this week.) 
  • I got a new plaid shirt from StitchFix. Usually I just get my box and return everything (I don’t pay a styling fee, so I just keep them coming.) This week I found something I loved!  (My affiliate link if you are interested in signing up, and you get $25 off your box.)
The Second Lunch Sketchbook Doodles
The Second Lunch Stitch Fix Top
{Delicious Meals:} 
 
  • The last of my hot paprika chicken broth with tortellini. While watching the second of the Fyre festival documentaries. (Watch Netflix first, then Hulu.) 
  • Scallops, mushrooms, and cauliflower gnocchi. I had to call Trader Joe’s to put aside three cauliflower gnocchi for me, because they keep on selling out in a flash. Could be the woman who bought *12* last week. But who am I kidding, I’ve been that person. 
  • Trader Joes Vegetable Biryani with yogurt. These are very good. (I also really like their fish korma curry and the lamb vindaloo. I try to keep them stocked in my freezer!) 
  • A stir fry with ground turkey and escarole, topped with Odd Flavor Sauce from Lucky Peach: 101 Easy Asian Recipes. (I make this sauce every few weeks. It’s *very good*. 
  • An avocado with fig balsamic vinegar
  • Trader Joe’s Mash Up: Cauliflower Gnocchi + Gnocchi alla Sorrentina. Sometimes you really want gnocchi, but you also really want vegetables. 
  • Delivery (twice this week… yeesh):
    • Pho Viet: the Allston one has a new outpost in Newton Centre. I went for Bun with a spring roll and a jasmine bubble tea. (Oh bubble tea, it’s been a while.) 
    • Shan-a-punjab. Butter chicken, garlic naan, aloo naan, raita, masala chai. All of the condiments. I also ordered an extra masala sauce to re-purpose for a meal in the coming week. 
  • Lobster Cobb-ish. (The first photo in this post.) This got some major love on Instagram this week, and frankly it was as good as it looks. Fresh lobster meat from Whole Foods, arugula, mint, basil, and a lot of lemon. Tomatoes, avocado, and a little bit of stilton. Pretty much the *perfect* dinner. 
  • Omelette with Peas and Cheese, shallots and peas cooked in butter, with a couple of eggs, some leftover Mexican blend cheese, served with some tomatoes and a bunch of sauerkraut. 
The Second Lunch Vietnamese Bun and Bubble Tea

And because in flipping through the week, at least 60% of my photos are photos of my dog, I leave you with this image from the week of Bertram, the couch seal.

Oh, and this link, just because I had to explain it to someone this week, and you might enjoy it as well: Dishwasher salmon. Did you know this was a thing?  

The Second Lunch Bertram The French Bulldog On the Couch Lounge Seal

Have a great week! xo Sam

PS: every month or so I send out a newsletter of wellness wisdom, good things, reading, and more. I’m due for a new one in a week or so. If you want to subscribe, just sign up below!

My Word for 2018

The Second Lunch 2018 Word for the year FINISH

I’m not one for new years resolutions (except for kitchen resolutions!) but I do like setting a word of the year when I get around to remembering to do so. I like having a single word to focus on – a word of intention, or mantra to help me focus on the things that matter.

For 2018, after quite honestly a limited amount of thought on my part, my word for the year is: FINISH.

It’s a nice reminder to finish what I’ve started – spend more time getting to check things off as DONE. As someone who is a serial starter, I’d like to spend a little bit more time working on completing projects, tying loose ends, editing those half written blog posts, the 7/8 completed projects, and sharing the work that I’ve put time and effort into but haven’t finished the final step of pushing out into the world.

Do you have a word for 2018? 

Tech Talk: Apps Corner


Two apps I’m having fun with:

Canva is an easy to use (free) graphic design software program with drag and drop features, plenty of fonts, and sizable graphics. The relevant news is that it now is available in as a free iPhone app for your design needs on the go. I used it to make the header graphic of this post.

The second app I’m loving is Prisma: which applies artistic filters to your photos. (The picture in the header was original one that I took of the ocean at home in Rye). It’s free, and it’s a lot of fun. At some point I’ll probably move on from playing with it; but right now, I’m having a great time making art.

Have you downloaded any great apps lately? What should I play with next?

Wednesday Thoughts

Bertram The Frenchie

Every year around the middle of December I make a nice ritual of looking back at my accomplishments – the highs and the lows of the past year. This year was certainly a full one – I made leaps personally and professionally, traveled internationally, cooked and ate a lot of delicious food, took some risks, made better friends with my fear, and feel pretty thankful for where I’ve ended up today. Plus, I get to spend my time with this wonderful puppy of mine!

I’m going to be doing an offsite in the next week for my health coaching and wellness business, and working on goal setting for my digital strategy business. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery to think about your goals and dreams.

Speaking about a change of scenery, you may notice that this site got a little bit of a facelift this week. While prioritizing my dreams for next year, I realized that I want to spend some of my time building affordable starter websites for small businesses and entrepreneurs. I was feeling a little ashamed at how long it’s been since I gave either The Second Lunch or samtackeff.com a facelift – sometimes when you put others first, you forget to take care of yourself!

No longer! Both sites now have a cleaner, streamlined look, and I’ll continue tweaking over the next couple of weeks until I feel like I’m in a good place. In the mean time, if you know anyone who would like a basic website, feel free to give me a shout! sam at thesecondlunch dot com.