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!

2019: Weeks 1-3

Well hello there! A fond dispatch from my couch, where I’m snuggling with my pup, avoiding both shoveling and the outdoor mile that’s going to happen as soon as it stops sleeting. So here I am, taking a moment to pause and reflect on the first few weeks of the year.

2019, so far: there has been hard work, discomfort, challenges, and growth, but also, January has been full of running, reading, writing, watching new films and taking myself on creative dates. I’ve been reading new cookbooks, and cooking with intention.  I’ve been actually cooking from my cookbooks, which I must admit is a bit of a new revelation. Normally I read them, absorb, and create something from the ether – admittedly, having someone tell me what to do in the kitchen via their “rules” a.k.a. a recipe – is a lovely change of pace.

alison roman citrus slow salmon dining in the second lunch

My resolutions this year are not grand or particularly audacious – they are simply to continue to do more of the things that I love to do, do more work to discover those things, to continue the habits that give me energy, and reduce the activities that drain me. (I’m looking at you, endless scrolling through my phone.)

Life is complicated, at times challenging. My year so far hasn’t been without these things. But, it’s easy to dwell in negativity, unless you cultivate the habit of focusing on the good things – and that’s just what I do.

To that end, one of my daily activities is practicing gratitude – taking snapshots of my everyday life on my phone, writing out the things that I’m thankful for. Noticing more. Trying, as best as possible to fill my life with little things (and big things) to be thankful for.  

That said, it’s no surprise that 60% of the photos of my phone are of my dog.  

But the first few weeks of the year I’ve been good to myself, and my hours have been filled with many good things, big and small. Here are some of them.  

{Week 1}

  • I started the year with a 5k race. I’ve run the same race several years in a row, and I love the ritual of lining up at the same starting line, with my new intentions, and a year’s worth of improvement. Last year it was about 13 degrees, this year, closer to 60. I beat the past several years of times, my reward for a year of running a daily mile in 2018.
  • Inspired by my friend Christina, I started a yearly film project – a spreadsheet where I track the movies I watch, with a goal of 52 (new to me) movies this year. Do you have any suggestions for me? So far, some of the better ones have been Quartet, A Man Called Ove, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. 
  • Yes, I’ve been watching Marie Kondo. I came across an interesting conversation questioning the choice of translation of “tokimeku” literally (flutter), which is somewhat passive, to it’s permutation for the US audience as “spark joy” (active).
  • My co-founder Chris gave me an ivy plant of significant provenance. It’s living in our new office space in Springfield at the home of Valley Venture Mentors. 
  • My weekly creative date: I took myself to the Museum of Fine Arts for the final weekend of the Winnie the Pooh exhibit. It was so utterly charming. 

Delicious meals:

  • Duck breast, over frisée and parsley salad with baby potatoes roasted in the duck fat. (Picture up top.)
  • Delivery: Shan-a-punjab. Butter chicken, garlic naan, masala chai. All of the condiments. 
  • This Instant Pot spaghetti and meat sauce recipe. I used Rao’s and it was startlingly delicious. 
  • Alison Roman’s Slow Salmon with Citrus and Herb Salad from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. Copious amounts of olive oil, and a winner. 
  • Leftovers: a bowl of quinoa with leftover Slow Salmon, feta, and Trader Joe’s fresh green goddess dressing. 
alison roman dining in citrus slow salmon the second lunch

{Week 2}

  • A dentist appointment. Overcoming fear and dread to take care of those teeth.
  • Our first week in the new office space!
  • My creative date: I took myself out to see Spider-Man, Into the Spider-verse. It was excellent, I highly recommend it. My planned dinner at Cava didn’t pan out (the movie got out too late), so I came home and toasted myself a St. Viateur bagel with cheddar on one half, and Soom chocolate tahini on the other. 
  • Reading: “How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price. I’m not looking to dump the phone all together, but shift to much more mindful usage. This had some pretty good specific tactics. 

Delicious meals:

  • Leftovers: Instant Pot Spaghetti, my favorite Epicurious kale and date salad, and roasted brussels sprouts with lemon tahini dressing. 
  • A food court gyro with rice pilaf and greek salad in Springfield. Surprisingly delicious!
  • Alison Roman’s Paprika-Rubbed Sheet Pan Chicken with Lemon from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. Repurposed for several meals: as is, the next day with autumn harvest sauce. After that with eggs, and olive labne. And then after making a few different meals, I made stock with the carcass, and am still enjoying it.
alison roman paprika chicken the second lunch

{Week 3}

  • I realized that I could set my computer up with Zoom open to watch my dog sit in the window when I’m at the gym. 
  • I let my curls stay curled. 
  • Another great day at the office. A bonus? Huey sitting behind me. Have I mentioned how much I love my Push Journal? I’ve been using these for much of the past year, and am loving my Turquoise (Ompractice colors!) with rose gold spiral binding. 
  • Creative date: I took myself to the MFA to see the Ansel Adams exhibit (do go!) – fully enjoying an hour an a half of trees, the West, up close, and far off. A few things to note: I was completely captivated by some of the other artists’ works they chose to complement the work of Adams. I’ve been entranced by the work of Laura McPhee for over a decade. Her pieces in here were stunning. Also captivating: the works of Abelardo Morell, making captivating art with overlaying these iconic views with images of the ground. And then finally, this bright pink chromeograph by David Benjamin Sherry of dunes. So good. I’ll note, finally, that the instance of the gift shop at the end of this exhibit was possibly one of the most overtly thematic experiences I’ve seen the MFA attempt.. for better or for worse. I restrained myself from purchasing the faux fur fashion vest or sitting in the Adirondack chairs huffing pine candles. (Topped off the evening with a parking space directly in front of Cava for pickup.) 
Museum of Fine Arts Adams Gift Shop

Delicious Meals:

  • Turkish green beans and zucchini, a love letter to myself from my summer freezer. With feta, yogurt, and soft boiled eggs.
  • Ribollita from Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Pictured above, in the pot. What a beautiful soup with so many layers of flavor. (I’ve been eating it now for days.) 
  • Jossy’s Chicken Liver Curry from the Leon cookbook. (Pictured below.) I didn’t have enough chicken liver, so I added a can of chickpeas. Shout out to Patak’s tikka masala paste, which I ordered from the internet. It’s a pretty glorious base paste. 
  • Alison Roman’s soy brined fish from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. (I had cod), over leftover cabbage. 
Jossys curry leon coobkook the second lunch

For the rest of today?

I’ll be spending most of it curled up with this one, planning, plotting, and scheming. Here’s to a great week ahead.

Snow Day Feels