This is Alison Roman’s magical roasted carrots from her book Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. I make a batch a few times a week when I have carrots on hand. They are in fact highly cookable!

Last week I finished reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. I recently read his book Deep Work (which I’d recommend as well) – and this served as an excellent complement. It’s been one of my bigger goals this year to reduce my time spent on devices, and be more mindful and intentional with my mind spent connected to the world. (Work in progress.)

Digital Minimalism doesn’t offer draconian advice about removing all of your access to technology, but offers specific advice on reducing your time spent on devices, improving the quality of your connected time, and improving the quality of your personal connections.

A useful rule of thumb: rather than just setting limits on your devices, get a clear idea of how you actually want to spend time on the internet, your phone, etc. (I’ll note that this is a useful principle for your time in general: it’s a lot easier to live a fuller life if you know how you want to spend your time and your downtime.)

With my closest friends living all over the country, and my family spread all over the world, I’ve been laying down some better foundations for friendship and connection.

For me this looks like:

  • Identifying who I want to prioritize in my life: Who are the people who support me? Who are the people with whom spending time together improves both our quality of lives? Who could use a phone call? How can I better nurture these relationships? Who do I need to spend less time with? (Energy drains…)
  • Working to actually build and develop relationships with those closest to me – well beyond an occasional facebook like. The first step is stopping the mindless scrolling. I haven’t cut social media completely out of my life, but I’m making the effort to actually pause and use these tools for conversation rather than a quick transactional exchange of likes or hearts. Stopping to actually comment on posts, and when possible, turning the conversation to the phone, or in-person.
  • Getting over my allergy to the phone. I’ve started actually using this newfangled device to call people. (I also use Zoom hangouts, but the phone is great for my walks, runs, and any time I can squeeze in a quick conversation with friends and family.)

Celebrating my birthday. Last week was my birthday – I’m thankful for another year around the sun. It’s been a challenging one, but also an amazing one – I’m looking forward to the new year to come. I’m a low key birthday celebrator, but I did get to spend this year on the field at Fenway park for a few hours at batting practice yet. Also I was directly responsible for Rick Rolling the stadium, so I’ve achieved peak success on day one.  (Well, to be fair, my brother helped with that one. It was a gift!)

Things I want to do more of this year (the short list):

  • write
  • grow Ompractice to support our amazing teachers and students
  • spend quality time with friends and family (and my dog)
  • travel
  • invest in myself. 

Things I want to do less of this year: mindless time wasted somewhere in the internets, resisting delegation, wasting time before making decisions.

Good Things in Difficult Times

This weekend I sat down to write, and started this way: “It’s raining. I’m tired. Things aren’t always sunshine and good things.”

It seemed particularly difficult to write a list about good things when our siblings in Alabama and Georgia just got damning news about the stripping of their bodily autonomy, and the potential future challenge to Roe stripping us all of our human rights.

It seemed particularly difficult to write a list about good things when the latest school shooting in America was relegated to a blip in the news coverage. (Yes, there were more than one last week..)

It seemed particularly difficult to write a list about good things when world politics are at a tenuous balance, and our problems in our own backyard are growing.

But this is why I do this exercise for myself. In a challenging and difficult world, it’s important to celebrate the good just as much as call out and act upon the bad. In order to maintain the hope, energy, and initiative to fight good fights – we must top up the tank with positive inputs.

Starting the Summer Garden

It felt late this year, but I finally got my start with spring planting. I have a shaded 10×10 back plot (to be filled with zinneas, dahlias, and herbs), and I set to work in front beginning my potted garden. (Which resists bunnies, and can be moved around with the sun.)

To start: the herbs – basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, thyme, oregano, lemon verbena, rosemary. I still have a few weekends of planting to go, and have yet to make choices on everything I’d like.

For reference for myself: last year’s potted garden included: mint, basil, parsley. A bowl of kale varietals, several varieties of basil, thyme, mint, rosemary, oregano. Dill, parsley, cilantro, a few basil varietals in the small pots. The metal pot had a big tomato plant that I grabbed. Then cucumber, yellow bean, Cubanelle pepper. Side of the house had sunsugar tomatoes (such a good choice!) Romano beans, zucchini, green beans.

Connecting with the past

Two of the communities that are deeply important to me, the two institutions that I feel wildly privileged to have grown up in are my alma maters: my Wellesley community, and my Exeter community.

Much of what I do in life is guided by the two latin mottos of these communities: Non Ministrari, Sed Ministrare – not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and Non Sibi – not for one’s self.

I spend a lot of quality time connected with my college both in a volunteer capacity, and because my house is 15 minutes from campus, but less time in New Hampshire, at the beautiful school I developed a deep love of learning at.

Fortunately, it was my high school reunion last weekend, a three day affair that brings us back to take classes, have conversations about our roles in the world, and inspires us to do better.

I’ll pat myself on the back because some of my best wing people weren’t attending, so I opted to head out to the three days of nostalgia solo. (Sort of my nightmare…) Not only did I make it through, I had a great time. Highlights included a crayfish lab, AP physics class, “Spring in Love”, and some deep Harkness discussions with old friends and classmates. And dining hall. Unlike your average school experience, I still *dream* of the desserts that were served, and still contemplate crashing campus to eat every so often…

More Good Things, a short list:

  • It was the height of spring weather – I spent a lot of time outside walking, sitting on the porch, in the grass, on my patio, and generally reveling in the sunshine. (We’ll just ignore that blip of the 40’s over the past few days. 
  • A corgi named Sawyer moved into my neighborhood. Corgi puppies are ridiculous. 
  • I went to the Boston Public Library for an event – it’s such a GEM of a building. 
  • Spending time with Sara, my childhood best friend, over the course of a few evenings while she was in town. Teen movies, Game of Thrones, and Gentleman Jack for entertainment!
  • I got a free dinner at Cava! I’m the lamb shot girl… I’ll tell you the story some time. 
  • I met a super FLOOF! puppy.
  • Cats in closets. I found one.
  • Research: the optimal filling of the dishwasher. Readers, I read the manual. Highly recommend. 

Good Food: Of course, this wouldn’t be a sometimes food blog without me noting some of the delicious things I’ve eaten over the past few weeks. 

This pasta with spring vegetables dish from Giuliano Hazan’s 30 minute pasta. (A gem of a cookbook!) The recipe is here. I usually double the amount of vegetables.

Chicken Marbella: if you lived through the 80’s, you likely had this classic recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook  – a sweet, salty, sour party recipe that was on rotation at most dinner parties. (Including my aunt’s.)

The chicken is cooked with vinegar, capers, olives, prunes, brown sugar, and wine, and is delicious on day one or prepped a few days in advance. After eating the chicken, I keep any leftover sauce, and use it a second time to braise vegetables.

Elise from Simply Recipes has a simple adaptation (halving the amount of chicken) that I usually pull up to grab the recipe.

A very good snack: cottage cheese, drizzled with good olive oil, salt, plenty of black pepper, and a few soft boiled eggs.

A High-Lo Dinner: Trader Joe’s Diner Macaroni and Cheese topped with 6-8 ounces of lobster meat from Whole Foods.

Shutterbean’s Spicy Chicken with Chickpeas. Such a lovely recipe! Bookmarked to make again! (I’ll note: it’s a sheet pan recipe, but I cook almost all my meals in my Cuisinart Steam & Convection toaster oven because it’s an amazing little oven.)

Parsley Salad: I use the parsley as a green, and toss with lemon vinaigrette, chopped shallot, and chopped tomato.

With that, I bid you adieu!

Have a great rest of your week!

xo Sam

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