Good Things 2020: Week 21

Good Things – I’ll start with the lamb. Last night for dinner I made a meal that easily was in the top-five dishes of the year. In the morning I took some lamb stew meat, and coated it my Turkish dry rub spice that my grandmother (z”l) made for me.

This batch is probably a decade old and still has KICK. I have bags of various “vintages” – lately I’ve been trying to go through the older ones, but even though everyone is obsessed with good fresh spice, these seem to last forever. It’s heavy on cumin, oregano, chile, some coriander, and who knows what else.

One key to success in my kitchen is that if I don’t feel like being fussy, a heavy spice mix and TIME will always do the trick. I let it marinate all day and then roasted the meat in the oven at 400. Maybe about 25 minutes? I tend not to worry too much about temperature and time, just keep an eye on things. I cooked until it was done enough and I was hungry enough to pull it out and eat it. The lamb stew is fatty enough that you can’t really over cook it, so I keep things relatively flexible when I go in to cook. That’s how I cook most often these days.

The final treatment: served it over rice with tomato, fresh mint – while I try my hardest to avoid food waste, the fresh leaves were pulled from a generally withering stalk shoved accidentally in the back of the “crisper” drawer. Last up – I mixed a little Trader Joe’s European Style Nonfat yogurt (it’s Straus!) with some dorot garlic cubes and topped with some pul biber for that final Turkish kick. Perfection.

I’ll be honest here, the past few weeks have put myself and many around me through the wringer. A family member has been in the hospital – non-COVID, thank goodness, work has been demanding (for which, truthfully, I’m grateful!), many in my communities are grieving, and everyone around me is struggling in their own way. Good Things isn’t a highlight real, but my specific practice of noticing and observing the good – even during the darkest of times. I was particularly touched over the past few weeks by the people who reached out to let me know that it matters. (And as always, you, you reading this – you matter to me.)

Good Books. I know that many of us voracious readers have been struggling to sit and READ over the past few months, our focus zapped from too many hours on Zoom, or time spent connected to devices. (Let’s be honest, I have a library book from January that has been sitting 3/4 of the way read in my office.) I’ve found however that I’m craving books again, and have been taking advantage of my long walks to listen to more audiobooks than my normal routine.

I’ve been enjoying Bob Iger’s book – The Ride of a Lifetime. I’m an unashamed Disney fan, and the book was pretty riveting. (I did some vision casting with my women’s leadership group this weekend, and let it be known that if I could serve on any corporate board, Disney is at the very top of the list. #superbowlgoals)

After a phenomenal coaching session with my good friend Stephanie Stiavetti, who is building her coaching practice, I picked up a copy of The Empath’s Survival Guide.

For work, I’ve been reading a variety of books to kickstart my workday. I find a few chapters of a business book is generally enough to kick start me into productivity for the day. This week was The Team That Managed Itself (Christina Wodtke), Matt Mochary’s The Great CEO Within, and I’m starting off on Andy Grove’s High Output Management and David Epstein’s Range. (I’m always heavy on systems and processes!)

A quick note on long walks in the neighborhood – I’m so thankful to have my little walking buddy back in action after a winter bout of disc issues and a LOT of house rest pre-COVID. Watching him explore the neighborhood is such a joy. (For those who asked, baby-geese are still doing well!). And here’s a quick peek at my dream Wisteria.

{Good Eats} I already shared the perfect Turkish Lamb dish – but that in itself was a bit of a theme – with the same spice mix, I made a pot of Turkish zucchini, stewed with onion and tomato.

There was a GLORIOUS tuna melt on a bagel – the bagels are Whizzo’s which I get in my farm share, and I mixed in a little bit of Trader Joe’s Garlic Spread as the mayo, and a spoonful of my dad’s copy-cat Flo’s Sauce: a spicy onion relish that reminds me of summer in Maine.

Another standout dinner: in support of good things, I convinced my brother to order the Xi’an Famous Foods Chili Oil – and we shared an allotment. I made noodles with chili oil, vinegar, and baby bok choy, and I ate it gleefully as a late night meal.

My Bean of the Week was Rancho Gordo Large White Limas. I cooked them with a large piece of ham from my Walden Meat Share, and they found themselves happily participating in MANY different meals this week. 

I think the favorite treatments were:

  • as a large lunch salad with Gotham Greens Basil Caesar, fresh tomatoes, and Dorothy’s Keep Dreaming cheese
  • with leftover striped bass (cooked with a mix of garlic mayo and mustard), over arugula with lemon
  • with fresh Valicenti Ramen with pesto, arugula, lemon and parmesan. SO GOOD.  

Odds and Ends: Good Foods that Weren’t Meals, Per Se.

I’ll give another shout out this week to The Humble Roasted Potato, which I ate by itself with a variety of dipping things on a handful of occasions this week.

And another nod to my favorite late night snack: Cottage Cheese with salt, pepper, and good peppery Bariani Olive Oil.

And the perfect prepared food: the Cafe Spice Chicken Tikka Masala.

And finally, my dessert of note: the end of a container of Ben and Jerry’s Justice Remix’d: Cinnamon & Chocolate Ice Creams with Gobs of Cinnamon Bun Dough & Spicy Fudge Brownies – a flavor, that also serves a good cause: benjerry.com/justice –  the flavor and action campaign dedicated to criminal justice reform.

With that, I bid you adieu until next week. Here’s to a very good week!

xo Sam

Good Things 2020: Week 20

Some moments, 2020 feels like an endless bizarre loop, other moments I’m jolted out of the dream sequence with something new – good, bad, or otherwise. It’s a weird sensation. Time is doing funny things – the endless March, a non-existent April, somehow we are past the halfway point of May. It’s all a little unsettling, so I’m doubling down on routine with a dash of adventure and hoping for the best.

This week was my birthday. I had some reservations about a birthday during this pandemic, but all in all, I toasted myself to a year of getting older, wiser, and making it through. I shucked some oysters, literally and metaphorically. I took a stab at a list of hopes and dreams for the year – one for each year that I’ve been alive, and somehow made it to about 16 before giving up on list making. I’ll come back to it this week if I get the chance, it seems like a nice way to focus my thoughts.

I’ve been pausing to snap photos of the blooming flowers in the neighborhood at every turn. I rescued a Weigela from destruction in a neighbor’s discard pile. In one of my daily loops, I stop to say hello to the family of geese – each day counting to make sure that the five little ones are still together. Last week on my walk a coyote darted right past me, so I’ve been checking in each day and hoping for the best.

The Garden Commences! One of my generous birthday gifts was an allotment of plants from my mother – with a nod to my brother who generously dropped them off.

We started this week with herbs: the planter got four parsleys, dill, and the first of the basil. In the pots: lemon verbena, lemon balm, swiss chard, kale, rosemary, and mint. In the two long planters, three types of thyme in one, three rosemary plants in the other. I have early girls and sungolds, and variegated nasturtium ready for planting once I find the self watering planters of a certain size this afternoon. A strawberry plant is waiting to be hung up.

More to come in the next few weeks: a trip to Russo’s and Mahoney’s, weeding the back plot, and planting potatoes and other hardy herbs that won’t require much watering back there. A few more flowers: dahlias and others that I’ll be able to snip for blooms as the summer progresses. It’s a good beginning.

While I try not to collect too many material things, I did get myself a few small gifts: a new signed copy of Joe Yonan’s Cool Beans from Celia at Omnivore for inspiration for my Rancho Gordo hauls, and a new painting of the ocean from my friend Judith.

{Good Food} The one consistent thing has been my farm share, home cooked meals, mostly simple. I’ve not had the patience for much elaborate cooking. My dad made me a batch of Flo’s sauce, an onion-relish to eat on hot dogs, or with eggs, or in tuna salad. My brother picked me up a handful of treats at Sevan: stuffed grape leaves, pastirma, and kazandibi (my favorite pudding), as well as the small green Turkish plums that I love with fish.

  • Oysters. I picked up 8 Wellfleet oysters, and set about shucking them at home. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done my own, and was relieved that it really wasn’t much of an ordeal.
  • Ham and Cheese and Egg Pasta. Too lazy to make myself a carbonara, I made thick cut Canadian bacon, egg, cheese, and arugula with lemon, and tossed in some fresh Valicenti spaghetti.
  • My “bean of the week” was Rancho Gordo black caviar lentils. I cooked them with an onion and two bay leaves. They had a variety of different iterations. First: with tomato, feta, and cucumber. Then they got lovingly tossed into palak paneer with yogurt. Another bowl had pesto and a few soft boiled eggs.
  • Roasted potato with garlic aioli. I’m of the firm belief that there’s nothing wrong with an entire meal being a potato every so often. Potatoes are too far oft maligned, which is disappointing because they are bursting with nutrients, taste good, and there are so many wonderful varietals! On one evening I roasted a filling amount, and ate potato gleefully with garlic aioli and some of my dad’s Flo Sauce. No greenery in site.
  • Lemon Pudding: Sticky Toffee Pudding Co. A notable dessert. It’s a nice lemon sponge with a tart curd. Served with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. I absolutely adore this brand, and freeze the single serve desserts for emergency cake whenever needed. (The Sticky Toffee and the Molten Chocolate are also perfection.)

I leave you with Bertram in our weekend office, planning the week ahead.

Here’s to a good week.

xo Sam

2020 Q1 Reading Ideas

Sam Tackeff 2018 Personal Development Reading

Coming off of a great year of reading (who would have guessed, 2019?), I’ve been keeping up the momentum with a list of books to start with in 2020. Having a reading list helps me make decisions about getting in quality reading without falling into decision making slumps. I aim to have a large percentage of my reading written by women, POC, and international writers. I typically make a list, request books from the library a few at a time, and then will supplement or swap as I find reading that calls out to me. 

A few notes and observations:

Audio Books: yes, I definitely count audiobooks as reading. I process information better when on my walks and runs, and thus prefer listening to memoirs or non-fiction this way. It’s also easier for me to stay engrossed and follow along while I’m moving physically. 

Don’t forget FOOD! Last year I read almost zero food memoirs, literature, or history – some of my favorite topics. So I made this one of my kitchen resolutions this year!

The library is your friend. Grabbing things off the Speed Read Shelf is my jam. I aim for one a week. Not two, because I can never finish two in 7 days and will get fined. (Plus, if I have a list, I can reserve things in advance.) 
Still working my way through my list of Personal Leadership Development Books, and the BBC Big Read. 

Here are some of my next reads (vaguely categorized):

YA fiction

  • VE Schwab – Villains Series
  • Tomi Adeyemi – Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) 
  • S.A. Chakraborty – The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) 

Leadership / Business:

  • Marshall Goldsmith – What you got there won’t get you here 
  • Dr. Spencer Johnson – Who Moved my Cheese?
  • Danny Meyer – Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
  • Tom DeMarco – Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
  • Bill Aulet – Disciplined Entrepreneurship

Mindfulness / Brains:

  • Dr. Oliver Sacks – Musicophilia 
  • Nicholas Cook – Music, A Short Introduction
  • B.J. Fogg – Tiny Habits
  • Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk – The Body Keeps the Score
  • Jenny Odell – How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
  • Louise Aronson – Elderhood
  • Bill Bryson – The Body, A Guide for Occupants

Audio Books:

  • Ann Patchett – The Dutch House
  • Dr. Jen Gunter – The Vagina Bible
  • Kate Moore – The Radium Girls
  • Casey Cep – Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

BBC Big Read (1-100, 101-200)

  • Joseph Heller – Catch 22
  • Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong
  • Louisa May Alcott – Little Women

Memoirs / Non-fiction Reporting 

  • Patrick Radden Keefe – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
  • Bill Browder – Red Notice
  • American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind

Books Started But Unfinished 

  • Atul Gawande – Being Mortal
  • H is for Hawk
  • Yuval Harari – Sapiens 
  • Philip Pullman – The Secret Commonwealth (done!)

Others to get to if I get to them: 

  • Joe Biden – Promise Me Dad
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates – The Water Dancer
  • Rebecca Solnit – A Field Guide to Getting Lost
  • Sally Rooney – Normal People 
  • Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient

Anything great on your reading list? Do you keep a list?

Good Things: Week 28 and 29

shrimp and scallop ceviche the second lunch

Scallop and shrimp ceviche – perfect for the hot summer weather.

A little bit of a hiatus here – good things still happening! June escaped me – I ended up on a last minute trip to Istanbul (the food!), had a lovely retreat to Wanderlust in Vermont with Ompractice, and then came home to a summer cold that I have been working to shake. I think I’m about to be free from it! Here’s crossing my fingers.

Trying out AIReal yoga at Wanderlust.

sam does AIReal yoga the second lunch

At the top of Stratton Mountain

wanderlust stratton 2019 the second lunch

A few things that I’ve been doing the past few weeks that have had the most impact in my day to day:

Declaring Email Bankruptcy on Newsletters: don’t skip the personal emails, but if you have swathes of email newsletters you’ve intended to get read, just go ahead and delete them all. You have my permission. On that note, if you want to hire me to completely organize your 67,000 emails, create folders of the important stuff, and purge for you, just hit me up. I find the process so cathartic.

Adding some more accountability to my workflow: always a good thing! In addition to my weekly *Do the Thing Hours that I lead (virtual co-working on Wednesdays at 1:30 Eastern if you ever want to join!), I recently committed to an accountability group that has us sharing our daily stand-ups on a regular basis.

Using free-writing as a way to ease myself into doing any particular task. I find that if I’m stalling on something, a simple free write for 10 minutes or so is a good way to get myself going.

Daily time apart from this little zombie puppy. Yep, we practice separation. Usually I go to the store or the gym, and watch him staring at me on the nanny cam.

zombie bertram the second lunch

Good Things, in no particular order:

{{ Meals of Note: }}

Trader Joe’s Lemon Ricotta ravioli with olive oil, chopped cucumbers, shredded chicken, and parmesan. With plenty of black pepper.

trader joes lemon ricotta ravioli with chicken and cucumber the second lunch

Trader Joe’s Egg Frittatas with swiss cheese & cauliflower. LOVE these. I’ve been making them for lunches and just breaking them up over arugula salad.

Trader Joe's egg frittata with swiss cheese and cauliflower the second lunch

Chicken sausages with kale and broccoli slaw salad. My mom makes great use of her IKEA grill pan.

broccoli kale salad and sausages the second lunch
  • Ben and Jerry’s “Pucker Upper” at Target. Raspberry and tart lemon sorbet. Very good!
  • Trader Joe’s Kunefe – a Greek dessert in the freezer section with crispy bits, salty melting cheese, a sweet syrup, and pistachios.
  • Roasted strawberries and rhubarb.
  • An incredible ceviche. (See the first photo.)

This Trader Joe’s beet pasta is pretty.. but a little bland?

trader joes beet sauce pasta the second lunch

Yellow beans and rice, with cucumbers salad and yogurt. The cucumber salad can be made in advance and lasts me a few days. Same with the beans!

rice and beans and cucumber salad the second lunch

{{Books}} I’m working my way towards 52? 75? books this year? as part of my quest to read rather than interwebbing during my downtime. We’ll see where I get.

Re-listening to Steven Pressfield’s ‘War of Art’. This is one of my absolute favorite books. The concept is about overcoming The Resistance – all the things that hold you back from creative pursuits. I had a bit of driving to do over the past few weeks, and so I downloaded the audio book for a refresher.

cucumber and goat cheese salad the second lunch

Re-reading Tamar Adler’s ‘An Everlasting Meal’. After a month away from my farm share, I returned with a large amount of produce and needed reminders about what to do with them. This is a wonderful book about the foundations of building good cooking systems.

Outer Order, Inner Calm. Gretchen Rubin’s newest book – a short read about cleaning, which actually prompted me to let go of a few extra things and get back on the tidying wagon. Recommend as an afternoon break.

A few in progress: Free to Focus (Michael Hyatt), Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach) and Radical Candor (Kim Scott) – I swear I didn’t plan that!

As far as fiction goes, I’ve been reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – which while highly entertaining (and bizarre) is about 782 pages and taking me *forever* to finish. I’ve been managing a few chapters before bed each evening. I’m also listening to Circe on audiobook. Similarly, a little stalled on this because I don’t find that I’m often in the mood.

flowers in the garden the second lunch

{{ Activities of note: }}

Beach walks! Finally got my toes into the sand, and did a long walk on Jenness with my mom. Bonus – got in a run last week on the ocean as well.

sam and elian at the beach the second lunch

Whole Foods Focus Group. I had a grand time at my local Whole Foods as part of a focus group – paying me for my feedback and feeding me free food? Yes, please! Plus the session was full of delightfully quirky people, and veered quickly into writing letters to Jeff Bezos and anti-nuclear policy.

Ramping up my runs: we’re three months out from the Reebok Boston 10k for Women. (This is the 43rd running of the race née Tufts10k / Bonne Bell Mini Marathon). This will be my 8th year running the race! And – I’m thrilled to be an official sponsor with Ompractice, and partnering with the race to provide Ompractice yoga classes leading up to and post-race for all runners! I’ve been running consistent miles with my year and a half long streak, but it’s been a while since I’ve run consistent long runs. I’m building back up! So far it’s been fairly low impact relaxed 2 mile runs and some intervals. I like easing into things!

rye beach rocks the second lunch

A few good films: I made the point to see the new Spiderman and Yesterday (so cute! go see it!) in the theater. Still working my way through my 52 new to me movies spreadsheet this year. It’s a fun pursuit.

flowers the second lunch

Gardening: I’ve been consistently weeding my plot, and my planted potatoes are thriving. Herbs are doing well in my front pots, and someone (I’m assuming the rabbits) have eaten my kale.

rye beach greenery the second lunch

{{ Acquisitions of note: }}

New sneakers: on that note, at some point I realized that my “new” sneakers I acquired in the fall last year have some 300 or so miles on them, so it was time for a refresh! Proper footwear is one of the keys to avoiding injury. I went for a pair of Zoom Pegasus 36s in BRIGHT red, because YOLO.

nike pegasus zoom 36 red the second lunch

A Nest. Which I installed myself! I love that I can manage my AC from my phone, particularly to adjust down when I’m out of the house. I also had an energy audit, got fresh LED lightbulbs to replace old bulbs, and am getting some insulation to help reduce heating and cooling bills.

A big bucket of Maldon salt. I decided to delight myself with a this large bucket that I ordered from across the pond. You can never have enough on hand.

bucket of Maldon sea salt flakes the second lunch

The Turkish Cookbook. A new Phaidon hardcover, written by Musa Dağdeviren (the owner of Çiya, one of the best places I ate last spring in Turkey. Regretfully, I didn’t get to go last month, but if you find yourself in Istanbul, it’s not to be missed.)

{{ Bertram }} the majority of the 30k photos on my phone. How could I not?

bertram in his bed the second lunch
bertram cooling off the second lunch
bertram frenchie bulldog bee harness the second lunch

Here’s to a great week!

xo Sam

Good Things 2019: Week 20

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

Good Things 2019: Week 16

* * *

This year, I’ve committed to writing more, and it’s been working.

Aside from this blog post, this week I wrote about leadership goals, running project management at Ompractice as we grow – with Agile methodologies, agile sprint planning, and the sprint retro. Personally, I wrote about documenting and codifying my Ideal Week.

While the bulk of my writing remains unpublished, I’m thinking of this writing a little bit more like book writing than blogging.

The end goal is to build a bigger body of work on topics that I’m interested in, both for myself, and to share with others. While I love blogging, I want my thinking to be better organized, more structured, and edited to reflect developing insight over time.

I know this to be true about myself: writing is the best way for me to clarify and organize my ideas. It’s a process. Whenever I start a new project, I sit and brainstorm on paper. Then I take to the road for a long walk, or the shower, with a structure to ruminate upon. Back to my desk, I make more notes, and edit accordingly. Sleep on it, and edit again. Rinse and repeat.

But like many things that are obvious – knowing something that is true, and consistently committing to put it in practice are two separate things. This year I wanted to make sure that my desire to write actually turned into work written.

Fortunately, writing begets writing, so here we are. Like my run streak (it’s been over a year), one of the keys to success for me was to build daily doable habits. So this is what I’ve been doing loosely: writing about work during the work week, writing about life on the weekend, posting on this here blog, and then adding good things to my notebooks in between.

The two biggest shifts that has positively impacted my writing habit: scheduling the time for it, and reducing my actual time spent on my phone consuming social media.

{Assorted Good Eats:}

You’ll have to imagine them, because most of the week my phone was away from me on the charger, and I only took a handful of blurry unlit snaps of my meals. (That gorgeous spread above is what I was eating a year ago in Istanbul!)

  • Chicken marinated in Trader Joe’s Amba (fermented mango sauce). You can find it in the fresh case by the pesto and hummus, and it’s a phenomenal marinade or all purpose sauce for any meat or fish. I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Whole Foods Matzah Crack. If you go by your local Whole Foods this week, I recommend picking up this seasonal treat: matzah coated in a sweet and just slightly salty caramel/toffee, and dipped in dark chocolate. Smitten Kitchen has a good recipe if you feel like making your own.
  • Trader Joes’ Braised Beef with mashed potatoes and cruciferous crunch salad. This beef (with demi glaze) is one of the best things at Trader Joe’s.

Lot’s of good meals on tap for this week. This is what my lightweight meal planning looks like most often. I also keep a spreadsheet when I’m inspired to do things digitally.

{Good Things}

I cleaned and re-foiled the grill to get ready for grilling season. All that’s left is to hook up the new gas tank, give the grates a bit of seasoning, and I’m ready to go.

I cut the cord! After far too long overspending, and time wasted with the television just on in the background, I finally got rid of cable tv, and switched from Comcast to wildly faster fiber internet with FIOS. I’ll still have Netflix, Hulu, and the occasional live TV access when desperate, but I’m decently sure that I’ll be using it far less than I have been. And while I do enjoy watching live sports, I *love* listening to sports on the radio. The only thing I anticipate missing is the clicker to my Xfinity box.

A pup walk with my friend Teri. Teri was in town for the Boston marathon (which she CRUSHED with solid training, and a 10 minute PR), and I was delighted to get the excuse to head into town with Bertram for an active recovery walk with her on Wednesday evening. Normally I don’t bother reaching out to people who are visiting for the marathon – they usually have enough on their minds! But I was SO delighted to get to see her, and the weather was beautiful.

Great reading this week: Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism (I opted appropriately, for the hardcopy), my friend Anna’s forthcoming book Shadow Magic, Ben Horowitz’s Hard Thing about Hard Things (Audible), Karen Wickre’s Taking the Work out of Networking, some Essential Jim Rohn, the last in the Discovery of Witches series (Audible), and got started on a galley of Sarah Gailey’s upcoming Magic for Liars.

Passover Dinner: this year we had a smaller dinner at my Uncle Allan and Aunt Roz’s house than normal, with many family members spread across the country and unable to come home for the meal.

This didn’t keep us from some of our favorite traditions: reading from several different Passover Story Haggadahs (Haggadot?), singing songs, opening the door for Elijah, Miriam’s cup, and some sephardic traditions including the Moroccan Bi Pilu (going around the table and blessing each participant with the seder plate over their heads.) Our youngest participant was just shy of 27, so the four questions were a collaborative effort.

In addition to our regular updated Silverman Haggadah – which I’ve always enjoyed for it’s Retro late 50’s artistic style, we read from the Gateways Haggadah, a pictorial version of the Passover story, which is written to support families with children of all abilities and disabilities, and is meaningful to our family. And this year, some new readings from the HIAS Haggadah, connecting the Passover story to today’s global refugee crisis. Ex: the section about the modern ten plagues of the refugee crisis: violence, dangerous journeys, poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to education, xenophobia, anti-refugee legislation, language barriers, workforce discrimination, and loss of family.

For dinner, we ate traditional seder plate fixins, two types of charoset from my mother – “New England Style” with a lot of apple, and “Turkish Style” with spices and dates, hard boiled eggs, a terrine like gefilte fish with plenty of horseradish, matzah ball soup, Moroccan mini meatballs and peas (we do kitniyot), my aunt’s Tsimmes, green beans. And for dessert: fruit, macaroons and a berry crisp my mom made.

Looking forward to:

My birthday gift from my mom: a generous MFA museum membership with reciprocal privileges at top institutions!

Spring planting in my potted garden! Fresh herbs, flowers, and vegetables, I’ve missed you.

Have a great week!

xo, Sam