Weekly Good Things 2024 – Week 5

Hello! Hello! Welcome to another weekly episode of Good Things where I give you a peek into my everyday life during the week, and roundup my good links, ideas, books, and more.

Set out for some change of scenery in Texas (Houston, at the Land Bridge)

Last week I found myself getting a last minute change of scenery in Houston, Texas. I made a snap decision to get a ticket to see 3 month old Michael-Poundcake, and help my bff Caroline get a little extra sleep during the night while I fed some bottles and got in some late night snuggles with the sweetest baby.

I’ve never actually been to Houston in January, and very much enjoyed blue skies and mid-50s/low 60s for most of my time there. In addition to lots of happy baby time, I also managed to get my requisite fresh tortilla eating, and consume two breakfast kolaches.

February Intentions

Each month I sit down and write out a list of intentions for the month ahead. It’s not exactly a to-do list, more like an “options” list. Place-holders also help me make space for more exciting adventures! How do I want to feel this month? January felt like a bit of a wallop, but I still managed to make time for myself. Many of my intentions remain the same month to month, but I try to pick out a few new things regularly!

Out and About

Photography Walk with my nice camera • Movie Theater on $7 Tuesday • Dog Walks with friends (already squeezed one in this morning!) • Movie Night at Home with Popcorn • Monthly Boston dinner with my friend Kathy • Monthly family dinner out with my mom and brother (Capital Grille?) • Disney in Anaheim!

Good Eats

Formaggio Kitchen Cheese Tasting • Still working off my Food in January List • Clementines, Grapefruit, Cara Caras, all the citrus! • Lunar New Year Treats: (Longevity Noodles, Eight Treasures Rice) • Food in California (I’ll be at a conference, and then a day at Disney)

Self Care

Yearly Dermatologist Appointment • Wax some things off • Self-Care List • Massage • Eye Masks in the fridge in the morning • Stick on Nails until you can get a manicure again • Float Spa (want to test Float and The Indoor Oasis) • Sauna at Kelo


Lift (Weekly Lifting 3x at home with lifting schedule printed out, 1 at gym) • CRAW

Update Lists

Inputs List (Podcasts, Reading, Watching) • Recipes to Cook • Cooking Projects 2024 • Bean of the Month • Hobonichi Monthly Review 2024 • Placeholders for “Once in a Lifetime monthly activities”


Daily Hobonichi Cousin (Food, Gratitude, Mood) • 2024 Calendar • Sketch in Sketchbook • 2024 Kitchen Resolutions


List 5 things to giveaway on Buy Nothing • Order lid screws for toilet • Get knives sharpened • Break down the massive cardboard box in the back • Finish TAXES • Quarterly Kitchen Purge


📺 Watch: Polite Society  Délicieux • Spirited Away • Reservoir Dogs • The Lost Boys • Anatomy of a Fall • True Detective (TV) • The Brothers Sun (TV) • Fargo (TV) • The Bear (TV) • New Season of Queer Eye (TV) • Jury Duty (TV) • Dr. Who (TV)

This Week in Good Things:

🔎 Taste Test: Girl Scout Cookie Throwdown: Caramel DeLites vs Samoas, for #science — some noticeable differences out the gate: bag and box. I grew up selling Samoas as a Brownie, personally. Samoas are generally a little smaller, darker and slightly toastier coconut. Caramel DeLites a tiny bit sweeter. Honestly I’m surprised at how similar they still ended up tasting! (Nominally prefer Samoas, but it’s hard to tell them apart much more than the color!)

💪 Let’s MOVE! I think the most wild thing – a few weeks ago, I decided to try out some Barbell Hip Thrusts. I had only tried them at home with a heavy dumbbell, and because it wasn’t ever very comfortable, assumed that I’d not be able to do well with the barbell. In week one, I started out getting to 315 pounds, and by adjusting the setup, got up to 495 pounds last week, which honestly is *wild* to me.

✍️ Writing: been enjoying writing in my Hobonichi, and also writing for guidance, where you write questions and then listen for the answers – with the new Julia Cameron book, Living the Artists Way.

🐾 Pup Walks with Friends: we had a very fun romp with Gus and Hazel, our pug friends in the little pen.

🌸 Flowers of the Week: Purple mums (two colors) from Trader Joe’s. Looking forward to my spring flower share starting!

Good Ideas

This wisdom from Marie Poulin. (I’ll note that for me, personally, chill nervous system usually is a result of a good dose of adventuring!)

Other Good Things

  • 📖 Reading: I’ll be updating my reading list (here is last quarter). I’ve been reading Mistborn (Wax and Wayne) before diving into the new Sarah J. Maas Crescent City Book this week.
  • 📺 Watching: Party-watched ‘Echo’ with my friend Caroline, and finished watching BEEF. I can best describe BEEF as a show where each successive episode you say to yourself “well.. that escalated quickly”.. until you get to the very end. The Last Repair Shop on Disney+ if you need a heart warming 40 minute documentary about music in LA schools. Got started on the newest season of Queer Eye.
  • 🛍 Good Acquisitions: the Aquanotes Big Shower Edition (these are incredible). I use this the pad every time I take a shower. Still wildly enjoying my Duraflame Electric Fireplace, including our new morning routine where I read next to the fire, and Bertram sleeps in his dog bed in front of the fire.
  • 🤣 Memes and randomness of the week: This insane speedskating race at the youth olympics // I’m obsessed with this woman’s father who goes to the bar every week with a list of topics for his friends to discuss.
Bacon, egg, and cheese kolache at the Kolache Shoppe

The Weekly Meal Plan:

Still working through my long list of foods I’d like to eat in January. I’ve been eating my meals with some of the fruits of my labor (a Pondicheri cooking class where I made minced garlic, ginger, a green masala, and a coconut masala)

  • Sunday: Saucy scallops with mushrooms and rice
  • Monday: Tandoori chicken and naan, leftover vegetables in fridge
  • Tuesday: Steamed fish with rice, baby bok choy, braised mushrooms
  • Wednesday: Rice bowl with salmon, tomato, avocado, cucumber, pickled onions
  • Thursday: Yuba (tofu skin) peanut noodles
  • Friday: Out! to my neighbor’s for dinner
  • Saturday: Beef Nachos
  • Sunday: Formaggio Cheese Tasting (yes…. on Superbowl Sunday)

Lunches: Leftovers, baingan bharta (despite this review), tadka dal, tuna melts

Snacks: Yogurt and berries (I’m on a berry kick, even though they aren’t in season), soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, cheese sticks.

Treat options: Burdicks chocolate winter box (working my way through one bite at a time). TJ’s Pretzel Breadpudding. TJ’s Iced Gingerbread in the freezer. Peppermint Hold the Cones. Fried bananas. TJ’s Chocolate Cheesecake Freezer Bites

🥑 Good Eats from this past week: Trader Joe’s Peanut satay sauce with chicken, rice, and cabbage. Bacon Egg and Cheese Kolache from the Kolache Shoppe. Sonny + Joe’s Sauteed Eggplant. Copper Cow Churro Coffee Pourovers. Layla Peach Drinkable Yogurt.

What are you eating this week?

Previous Years:

Something I really enjoy doing is flipping back in my journal or my blog to the week of the year over the past several years. When I write it out in a list like this, it feels like a nice accomplishment!

That’s all for now! Hope you have a great week!

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things 2024 – Week 2

Good Things, and the Weekly Meal Plan.

Hello! Hello! Welcome to another weekly episode of Good Things where I give you a peek into my everyday life during the week, and roundup my good links, ideas, books, and more.

Got a fresh cut from Lucy Danger (can’t look straight into the camera though…)

Some moments for rest, and thoughts on doing less.

This week I stumbled through the week feeling like I was trying to ward off an illness that was threatening to appear.

Having experienced a bout of brain fog last year that I definitely do not wish to repeat, I’m trying to be more mindful of not just “pushing through” when I’m feeling under the weather.

Rest though, for me, is perpetually challenging. There’s a weird tension between having a lot of physical energy (which I do, most of the time!) and feeling limited by mental fatigue and tanked executive function.

Aside from rest, it’s also a challenge to know what to dial down and pull back from. As someone who enjoys self-imposed structure and strong commitments, I’ve learned to start checking in with myself more regularly: is this goal/commitment/idea actually supporting me right now? Do I have the energy to pursue it? Is it feeding me? Do I need to stop doing something else to make it happen? Do I need to do less of it?

💛 For those of us who chronically add more to our plate, this is your reminder that it is OKAY to stop doing something if it’s not working for you right now.

On that note, this afternoon I stumbled upon 

Anne Helen Petersen’s morning post asking “What is the right kind of busy?” and it hit the point home.

If you’ve reached the point in January where maybe you were hoping for a little bit more energy and get-go – and are feeling existentially tired, please give yourself a little bit of grace!

This Week in Good Things:

🖼 This week I went on one lovely excursion: to an evening event at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum! I had a good time with my friend Amanda. The museum is absolutely magical at night. If you haven’t seen “This Is A Robbery”, the Netflix special about the heist at the ISG, you might enjoy it!

💪 Let’s MOVE! Starting the year off strong, I’ve eased into my new fitness cycle. I’m committed to weekly strength training over the next 16 weeks that is my favorite: boring and effective lifts with progressive overload. I had a pretty fun milestone in the gym this week, too – I had never done Barbell Hip Thrusts, and worked my way up to a couple of reps at #315 pounds on the bar! (Not too shabby for a first time PR!)

✍️ Writing: I’ve focused my daily writing this week on short and sweet Daily Good Things – to continue in the groove of writing and releasing something daily.

🐾 Pup Walks with Friends: we ran into Josie the Pug and her human Jess this week; and several longer walks in better weather while it hit 60 this week after the storms. (In not-so-good things, we had an off-leash Belgian Shepherd come over to try to rough Bertram up yesterday while we were walking by right around the corner from our house – he’s okay! – but I’m still feeling rattled!)

Other Good Things

  • 📖 Reading: I’ll be updating my reading list (here is last quarter). Still reading Jessica McCabe’s new release How to ADHD, finished Richard Kadrey’s fun noir novella ‘The Pale House Devil’ and I’ve started Viveca Sten’s ‘Hidden in Shadows’ – The Åre Murders book 2, a crime drama based in a small ski town. I’m a fan of reading season-matching books, so Scandinavian winter mysteries are some of my favorite to read in January.
  • 📺 Watching: almost done with season 2 of Reacher, who solves problems with low emotional output and his large size. I’m about to kick off party-watching ‘Echo’ with my friend Caroline.
  • 🔎 A handy resource: Fun Activities for Kids (or frankly adults!) to do at Home for when you are bored and want something to get excited about.
  • 🛍 Good Acquisitions: influenced by BookTok, I finally got myself a Kindle page turner and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say it’s a *game changer*. I also got a gooseneck clamp to put it up so I don’t have to hold my device, but I think you can go without that one. Also? LED candles. The ones I got I don’t know if I’d recommend specifically, but I really enjoy the flexibility.
  • 🚘 Tackled a nagging task: after realizing that my registration doesn’t expire for another year and I’m not going to have to go to the DMV this month, I set out to first get myself to Valvoline for an oil change. (For those of you in the Boston area, the Valvoline on Main Street in Waltham is consistently great.) Next up? Inspection sticker.
  • 👁‍🗨 Spa Activity: I’m a fan of eye masks, and keep some in the fridge to put on while I sit and read. I’m still hoping to book some time at Kelo Spa in the next few weeks, but it’s always nice to do a little something for yourself at home.
  • 🤣 Memes and randomness of the week: experiments with malort and industrial food thickener // Lizzo birds (or when you ask a bird photographer what their favorite bird is // for those of you who remember Jessica Simpson’s chicken of the sea, a redux (also, I really do love her sense of humor) // if you’ve watched Saltburn, Edinburgh Rugby // Fendi partnered with Pokémon.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

Last week, made my long list of foods I’d like to eat in January, and published my 2024 Kitchen Resolutions. This coming week I’ve signed up for a zoom cooking class at Pondicheri which I’m looking forward to!

  • Sunday: Taco Night!
  • MondayKapuska (Turkish cabbage soup)
  • Tuesday: Chicken, lentil, caramelized onion rice pilaf (new from Trader Joe’s)
  • Wednesday: Rice bowl with cod, tomato, avocado, cucumber, pickled onions
  • Thursday: Leftovers (or PB Noodles with Edamame and Shrimp)
  • Friday: Out! to Kava Neo-Taverna for Greek. Hopefully. You can only make a reservation the day before!
  • Saturday: Nigella Lawson’s Chicken in a Pot with Lemon Orzo

Lunches: Leftovers, palak paneer, lamb vindaloo, baingan bharta, tadka dal

Snacks: Ricotta, soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, cheese sticks.

Treat options: Burdicks chocolate winter box. TJ’s Pretzel Breadpudding. TJ’s Iced Gingerbread in the freezer. Peppermint Hold the Cones. Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding. Fried bananas.

🥑 Good Eats from this past week: Spinach and tofu with rice and yogurt. Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon from Zabar’s. Noodles, crispy pork, mushrooms, bok choy and tahini vinaigrette. I love the combo of tahini and black or rice vinegar and a splash of soy sauce. It was so good I made it twice this week. Also, having the Thai wheat noodles from Trader Joe’s on hand made a few last minute meals easy. Rice bowl with grey sole, bok choy, pickled chanterelles. After my trip to New York, I’ve found myself craving Korean food. On the coldest day, I ordered myself seafood pancake, kalbi, and tofu soup from Kaju. Perfect Shinko asian pears.

What are you eating this week?

Previous Years:

Something I really enjoy doing is flipping back in my journal or my blog to the week of the year over the past several years. When I write it out in a list like this, it feels like a nice accomplishment!

That’s all for now! Hope you have a great week!

xo, Sam

Good Things 2019: Week 8

the second lunch weekend brunch

This weekend I found myself slightly under the weather – likely a factor of working out in a group fitness environment several days a week… and having a co-founder who has a toddler! On the plus side though, my immune system is as fortified as ever, and illnesses these days are really only days of feeling a little under the weather, rather than anything more sinister. After a generally chronically ill childhood and teenage years, I don’t take this for granted!

{Good Things} 

I found myself resting more this week – after a couple of full months, this week had packed days of hard work on Ompractice, coupled with more intentional downtime. More reading, a little bit more time in front of the television, and delivery instead of a night out. As I get older, I continue to double down on my self care practices to make sure that I have the energy to do the work I want to do in the world. It’s *so important*.

While keeping the relaxation intentional, I still fit in daily workouts, a combination of some higher impact fitness classes, relaxing yoga classes, and my daily mile streak. 

Fitness, this week: 

  • Monday: a mile outside. 
  • Tuesday: OrangeTheory
  • Wednesday: OrangeTheory and Foundations with Traci at 7:30 on Ompractice (60 minutes) 
  • Thursday: Yoga for Tight Shoulders and Neck at 12:30 ET with Niki on Ompractice (amazing!) and another OrangeTheory! 
  • Friday: a “rest day mile”
  • Saturday: OrangeTheory – I’ve been going to the 9:15 am class, and it feels good to get it done!
  • Sunday: “recovery mile” outdoors.

Out of the house

the second lunch cambridge naturals the coconut cult

A quick trip to Boston Landing – for a pit stop at the new location of Cambridge Naturals, and a cup of coffee at Kohi. In addition to a FULL STOCK of pretty much every natural food product I’m ever on the hunt for, I was delighted to see the wildly overpriced but delicious Coconut Cult yogurts at Cambridge Naturals. I resisted ($27.99 will do that to you – hello two dollar coastal mark-up), and instead filed away the note to self, and grabbed myself a Topo Chico for the road. At Kohi I picked up a Cortado (They have Tandem Coffee!) About two dozen banana breads were coming out of the oven just as I arrived, and the place smelled like heaven.

the second lunch kohi cortado boston landing and topo chico

A Target trip – notable because I had a definitive shopping list and left without making ANY extraneous purchases. Can you believe it? (I could barely believe it myself.)

This post on building Willpower: we’ve been blogging some longform articles on Ompractice this month! Chris did the heavy lifting on this one, but it was a collaborative effort! 10 concrete tips on how to build and strengthen your willpower.

A manicure – after months going without, I finally have been working on making my hands presentable again. I took myself to a Miniluxe treat on Friday night, getting my favorite “Rodeo” color. (Side note: I always thought it was Rodeo – like the cowboys… until I realized one day that it’s supposed to be the classy Ro-de-o drive. I choose to be cowboy classy.)  My first trip back since having to pause my $65/month unlimited mani membership because I couldn’t make the time for trips. Locals, this is a *steal*.

the second lunch miniluxe rodeo manicure

Watching: On the plus side, more downtime means more progress towards my 52 new to me movies this year. (Preferably without a cell phone in hand.) In preparation for the newest theater release, I caught up with How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2. Both very cute! 

On television: I finally succumbed to Russian Doll on Netflix. (I’ll join the chorus: it’s SO GOOD!)  And a few minute into the Oscars, I decided to actually turn it on and watch – despite having avoided it for many years. Aside from the rotten best picture vote, I was happy to see some of my favorites win awards – including Olivia Colman for her role as queen Anne in The Favourite, Into the Spider-verse, and Ruth Carter for the costumes in Black Panther, and Hannah Beachler for the Production Design in Black Panther. I’m so excited for Bao – I haven’t watched it yet, but it’s at the top of my queue!

davis museum tour lavinia fontana

Creative Date: 

On Saturday, I went for a museum tour at the Davis Museum at Wellesley – actually the home of my first museum internship (I worked in Development), and where I spent four years on the Davis Museum Student Advisory Committee. I hadn’t been back for years, and was thoroughly thrilled at the updates. For anyone local to the Boston area, the museum is truly a gem. One of the missions of the director of the Davis is to update the museum to better represent the diversity of the student body – and this is clearly seen in both acquisitions and the exhibitions on view.  
We went on a tour of women artists, and I spent another hour wandering through the galleries.

There’s a phenomenal new exhibit – Art_Latin_America, including a wide selection of protest and propaganda art, that I highly recommend visiting! 
Here’s a peek at some of the art: 

Next museums on my list? Thanks to some great Twitter suggestions this week, here are some next ones for my list. I’ve been to many of these, but most it’s been over a decade! Who wants to join me?

A few suggestions that I’ve been to recently: the Whaling Museum in New Bedford (I went this summer!), and the Seacoast Science Center in Rye., NH. I’m also trying to work my way through some of the Historic Houses and Trustees Properties. And many thanks to all of you who chimed in. You know who you are!

Three other smart suggestions I’m bookmarking: getting a museum membership high enough to provide reciprocal membership at other museums (it’s.. possible I have that already.) This resource to look up participating museums: NARM – the North American Reciprocal Museum Association. And the Highland Street Foundation which sponsors free museum Fridays in the summer.

{Good Eating} I found myself eating a lot of leftovers this week.

the second lunch algerian jewish beef onion coriander stew clifford wright real stews

Algerian Jewish Beef, Onion, and Coriander Stew. From Clifford Wright’s Real Stew – a cookbook I’d highly recommend. This was INCREDIBLE. Here’s the recipe: I used ground beef instead of stew meat, and canned diced tomatoes, but everything else stayed the same!

Chocolate “Dessert” Hummus. Okay… don’t hate me. I bought two different kinds – Joseph’s and Boar’s Head, and they are both great, and I’ve been eating them after dinner, with a bunch of collagen hydrolysate stirred in as a end of the day protein boost.

the second lunch david lebovitz chicken lady chicken

Chicken Lady Chicken from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. I marinated this gorgeous bird for three days in the wildly flavorful marinade, and then roasted it in the oven. The recipe calls for spatchcocking, but I wanted to cook it in my Breville toaster, so upright she went. Recipe here. Giving into a meme, I served it with generously buttered noodles with parsley. Meme – worth reading the tweets: https://www.eater.com/2019/2/11/18220148/generously-buttered-parsleyed-noodles-meme

the second lunch generously buttered noodles and chicken lady chicken

Hodo Sesame Yuba Strips and a soft cooked egg. I was surprised to see West Coast tofu maker Hodo in my local Whole Foods, and couldn’t resist. These were nutty and good.

the second lunch barbecue pulled chicken and turkish beans over kale

Barbecue pulled chicken and Turkish beans over a bed of kale. A bit of a cultural mashup, this made for a satisfying dinner. 

the second lunch turkish manti trader joes cauliflower gnocchi

Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi deconstructed Turkish Mantı with ground beef, yogurt garlic sauce, and urfa pepper chile butter drizzle. This was a genius move on my part – hitting all my favorite flavors of one of my favorite dishes, but with my favorite TJ’s vegetal freezer item: the cauliflower gnocchi. 12/10 will make again.

the second lunch shan a punjab butter chicken takeout

Shan-a-Punjab Takeout butter chicken, raita, garlic naan, and potato naan. A masala chai, and kheer for dessert. (I have to restrain myself from ordering this three times a week.)

the second lunch soba stir fry with kimchi

A somewhat disappointing stir fry with soba, tofu, and tahini.  (What I should have done was made the Otsu recipe from 101 cookbooks…alas.

Brunch: lucky 7 grain toast with Bavarian Rubius cheese, applegate maple chicken sausage, and some soft eggs.  (At the top of the post.)

A bowl of mac and cheese. I don’t think I actually managed to take a picture of it, because I was hungry, tired, and under the weather. I stirred in a spoonful of Trader Joe’s Garlic Spread-Dip (which is basically Aioli), because, why the heck not? 

Here’s to a good week!
xo Sam

Good Things 2019: Week 7

It’s feeling just slightly like spring! Well, maybe not, it’s snowing here, but I can fantasize. This week, I’ve been thankful for consistency, good food, good company, and getting back into the swing of things here. And thank you to the two people who actually texted me to say you’ve been reading my blog!

the second lunch bertram loves sleeping

{Good Things} 

CPR + First Aid: I did the first step re-upping my first aid and CPR certification (required for my RRCA run coaching cert, and my ACSM personal trainer certification.) You can now take part of the class online as long as you do the in-person training to actually get a little hands on time. I passed the online modules, but unfortunately my in-person was rescheduled because of the snow storm, so I still have to take it!

After having to re-schedule an in-person coffee date, I had a great zoom call with my friend Sonya, who closed her (successful!) photography business to embrace her calling, and pursue coaching for creatives full time. It’s always great seeing people step into their zone of genius.  

the second lunch VVM Hub Springfield coworking space

The plants in our Springfield Office (VVM Hub) I’m delighted each week to drive out and work in this beautiful space!

Worked on some speaking applications! This year, as I build Ompractice to serve thousands of people through yoga and meditation, I’m also looking to speak more about the things that I love helping people with: wellness, productivity, business, and women’s empowerment.

the second lunch sam run streak snow day

Fitness, this week: I’m starting to feel back to my old self. This week I got in a series of excellent workouts, while maintaining my run streak – including in an accidental flurry. On days I head to OrangeTheory, I try to start on the weights, and then I simply do my mile when I hit the treadmill before joining everyone else with the pre-planned tread workout. 

  • Monday: Yoga Nidra with Amy at 1pm on Ompractice (45 minutes); OrangeTheory
  • Tuesday: OrangeTheory
  • Wednesday: Foundations with Traci at 7:30 on Ompractice (60 minutes) 
  • Thursday: Yoga for Tight Shoulders and Neck at 12:30 ET with Niki on Ompractice (amazing!)
  • Friday: walking meeting and “rest day mile”
  • Saturday: OrangeTheory
  • Sunday: “recovery mile”
the second lunch bertram dog nanny cam

Bertram and I are practicing alone time. Because I’ve worked from home over the past three years that I’ve had Bertram, we’ve not been diligent about practicing alone time beyond my daily runs and the occasional grocery shop. I’ve been practicing progressive alone time, including when I’m at OrangeTheory and still feel the need to check in with him on the nanny cam. Here he is quietly howling like a baby husky. We just have to keep working at it. 

Watching: I’ve been chipping away at my goal of 52 new to me movies this year. (Preferably without a cell phone in hand.)

  • This week I watched a documentary – Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski. Had no idea where it was going to go when I sat down to watch it. Clearly, neither did the director and producers. Pretty wild. CW: nazis.
  • The Incredibles 2 – great! 
  • Flavorful Origins – a Chinese cooking series of the flavors of Chaoshan (on Netflix). I’ve noticed that Netflix has been auto-playing dubbing lately, which, if you watch with subtitles, you’ll notice a HORRIBLE mis-match. I complained about this last week when watching BorderTown. I highly recommend just listening in Chinese and reading the English subtitles rather than the dubbed version.  
the second lunch newton historic jackson homestead
Newton Historic Jackson Homestead

Creative Date: after driving by the Jackson Homestead and Museum over a thousand times (literally), I finally decided that this would be the weekend to explore it! (For $8, I got myself a ticket that gives access to the Jackson Homestead and the Durant-Kenrick house, which I’ll save for another weekend. 

The house was stop on the Underground Railroad, and the museum is three floors of history including a history of slavery and anti-slavery in the North, a rotating exhibit which featured the Newton architect Annie Cobb who was one of the women who exhibited at the World’s Expo in Chicago, and a historical toy exhibit, which even featured the now “vintage” game boy color, circa 1992. 

I was delighted to find it to be a well curated little museum with things to see and read around every corner.  Here are some of my favorites from the trip. (Including the mustache mugs!)

{Good Eating} 

This week brought the delivery of a Green Chef box, another new-to-me box which I had yet to try. While I love these kits for the novelty of having my dinner picked for me, the cooking time on these is always nearly double what it takes for me to make a fairly sophisticated meal from scratch. (Want to try Green Chef? Feel free to use my affiliate link for 4 free meals.)

the second lunch trader joes channa masala and tomato soup

Batch cooking this week: for meal prep last week, I made a green tahini charmoula, soft boiled some eggs, made a batch of pepita chili, and baked chicken thighs with za’atar. All good choices! This weekend I cooked up eggs and a batch of Algerian Jewish beef, onion, and coriander stew. I also started the marinade on a chicken that I plan on roasting later in the week. 

What I ate: 

the second lunch green chef chicken katsu

Chicken Katsu bowl, with cabbage, carrot, and pineapple slaw with sesame seeds. Tonkatsu sauce, and a togarashi spiced mayo. (Green Chef) 

A big green salad, with romaine, green goddess, chunks of feta, and za’atar chicken. 

the second lunch green chef roasted garlic herb chicken

Roasted garlic-herb chicken with cheesy mashed potatoes, sautéed chard, cabbage, and apple. (Green Chef) It’s amazing what a little cheese in mashed potatoes can do to brighten my mood. 

the second lunch green chef hawaij rubbed steaks

Hawaij-rubbed steaks with herb sauce, feta, pistachios, farro with a tomato sauce, and collard greens. (Green Chef) The leftovers were great the next day with some eggs and sardines. 

the second lunch caviar rice bowl

A caviar bowl: sushi rice, salmon caviar, soft boiled eggs, green tahini, picked daikon and garlic flower, and a little bit of sharp mustard. I got the caviar at Bazaar. (When I’m not blessed with a delivery from Zabars, I’ll either pick it up there or at Berezka.) 

the second lunch trader joes pepita salsa turkey chili

Pepita turkey chili, with peppers. With whole foods parm crisps crumbled on top.  (The secret ingredient is Trader Joe’s new pepita salsa, which if you haven’t tried it yet, go, and grab two.) 

the second lunch annies macaroni and cheese and turkey

Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese with herbed turkey. Sometimes I’m craving comfort food, and this is one of my top contenders. 

Trader Joe’s Mash-up: Channa Masala + Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (see the photo up to there). This was genius at the tasting station, but I made tweaks using the low sodium tomato soup this time around, and adding some more of the herbed turkey breast.

the second lunch kale salad with pollo asado chicken and delicata squash with egg

A kale salad with pollo asado seasoned chicken, roasted delicata squash, pico de gallo, and an egg. (Yes, I did say chicken chicken.) 

the second lunch thai green curry with cod and eggplant

Thai green curry with eggplant and wild cod. Topped with a little yogurt and cilantro. 

the second lunch vermont village turmeric and honey vinegar shot

Snacks of note: the crispy okra from Trader Joes. I munch through the whole bag with glee. Also – this delightedly vinegar shot that I snagged from my friend Jacqueline’s pantry last week. So good! (I snagged a bunch of these at Star Market today. I suspect making my own would be wildly cheaper, but portable is great!) Our Springfield office was stocked with laughing cow cheese wedges and string cheese, so my day was made.

Desserts of note:Whole milk ricotta two ways: day one with maple syrup and cacao nibs, and day two with chocolate sesame butter.

Also: Enjoy Life sunseed chocolate protein bites. These were on the “new” shelf at Trader Joe’s, and are already backlogged from the supplier. 
Wild Ophelia Vosges Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bites with Soft Caramel. (Pro-tip: these are something like $11 at Starbucks, but can be acquired for free with the free food/drink reward on your Starbucks card!)

And: a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Crunch.

 I’ll leave you with a parting shot of Bertram – doing what he loves best – napping in the sunpatch. 

the second lunch bertram the frenchie sunpatch nap

Here’s to a great week.

xo – Sam

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!

Fall Self Care Bingo + November Intentions

Self Care Bingo on My Desk

I had to look it up, today. There are 40 days left of fall. 50 days until 2019 has arrived.

I woke up this morning – for the second time, the first was with the dog needing a 4:45 am potty break, parents of toddlers, I feel for you – and thought, today is a good day to write. So here we are. Writing, like many things, begets writing. So here I am.

We’ve passed Daylight savings, and have been weathering the transition. Fall is usually my favorite season – the lights twinkling through the auburn, red, and golden leaves. Sweaters, and layers, and hot hands slipped into my pockets before heading out into the neighborhood. Walks around the Wellesley campus are spectacular this time of year. In my kitchen, squash gets roasted, the Pot finds itself in use, and I find myself forming a re-acquaintance with hot chocolate and those perfect vegan mini marshmallows from Trader Joe’s. Why they aren’t available year round is a mystery to me.

Truthfully, I haven’t quite found myself feeling the same level of enjoyment of late. After a long stretch of feeling content, I’ve been back feeling less-than, lately. Noticeably abrupt at the changing of seasons, the optimism of summer shifting into a feeling of stuck-ness, of in-between. While this has been one of the most full years of my life professionally, it has also been challenging, and come fall, I’ve found myself squirreling away energy to make it through the days.

Friendships and relationships have suffered. A sense of ease has been missing, but somehow, anyway I can, I know I’ll find myself out the other end soon. Whatever that other end may look like. And it’s hard not knowing, isn’t it? So when I feel that feeling of un-ease, that’s where I know to double down on my self care – to focus not on the past or an uncertain future, but the present, right here, right now. Self-care is a form of meditation. It’s doing the things that we can do, in this moment. To be present, and to feel rooted, in the now.

This year, like last, I’ve been slow to post my seasonal self-care ritual: my Fall Self Care Bingo. But we have 40 days left of the season, and the board is a great way to help fill your days with the goodness needed to get through it all, without forgetting to notice the present moment. Hopefully it will bring you some enjoyment as it does to me. I think I’ve missed the boat on apple picking this year, but the rest are totally doable as the season goes on.

Grab your copy to download and print here:

[Writing as Self Care]

I’ve been thinking about ways to write more, as a form of creative outlet, catharsis. Each morning, I write to myself. Long handed morning pages – not always three, but at least one, in my notebook. This practice keeps me focused. Each morning, I also start with gratitude. A list of three things, or ten, that I’m grateful for.

I’ve taken back up with The Artists Way – I pick up the book and put it down again every so often, picking up on the creative exercises from Julia Cameron’s seminal course in discovering and recovering your creative self. There’s a passage in there that I’ve noted and noted again: Choose companions who encourage me to do the work, not just talk about doing the work or why I am not doing the work.

On this note, I’ve wanted to write more. I suspect that you might want to write more as well. To do this, we need to surround ourselves with others who encourage us to do the work. As we lead our way into 2019, I’m hoping to do this with like the like-minded.

I’ve contemplated forming a writing circle that meets in person, but think I’d like to start the way I know best: a weekly video call, along the lines of my format for “Do the Thing!” hour – we gather, let each other know what we’re working on, and get to work with our pencils to the page. The idea for ‘Write the Thing!’ will be to meet weekly or every other week at a time that I’ll hold as consistent as I can.

Does this interest you? Would you like to be part of my writing circle? Just send me a note, and I’ll add you to the list of writers, and we’ll make this thing happen.

[Reading as Self Care]

I’ve started putting together my reading list for November and December, to round out the year with positive influence on the page. This year I’ve read less than last, but I always boost up the last few months. Here’s what’s planned so far. Several are chosen from my Personal Development reading list. I always add a handful of new ones as I read along.

  • Brené Brown: Dare to Lead
  • Steinbeck: Travels with Charley in Search of America
  • Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
  • Jasmine Guillory: The Proposal
  • Dana Velden: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen
  • Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carloton Abrams, Dalai Lama: The Book of Joy
  • Trevor Noah: Born a Crime
  • Celeste Ng: Little Fires Everywhere
  • Atul Gawande: Being Mortal
  • Oliver Sacks: Musicophilia

Missing – some good YA fantasy to take me through the holidays. It’s possible that I’ll just do what I do every year and re-read Sabriel. Do you have any favorites I shouldn’t miss?

[Food as Self Care]

This blog, of course, started out as a meditation on eating – a thing to do during my transition to living in San Francisco. At the time, I was full of wonder, but homesick, finding solace in cookbooks, my neighborhood, and everything I could get my hands on at the Farmers market. That feeling of grounding myself in food is always present. Some days I dream of waking up and checking in for a stage at Noma, giving up all of my responsibilities and peeling a hundred pounds of parsnips to get through a busy shift and feel rooted.

But I’ve resigned myself, for now, to the life of an over-educated home cook. Surrounded by my cookbooks, my days are punctuated by the delivery of my monthly meat share, the weekly pickup of my vegetable CSA, or a trip to Trader Joes for a daily sample for the novelty of the thing. Every so often, I give up on making decisions and try out another meal kit. At first I was ashamed of it, but now I see clearly: sometimes you just need to eat without spending hours debating the merits of one dish over another.

Right now, I’m dabbling with Marley Spoon, the meal kit that Martha Stewart aligned her star power with. A few boxes in, I’ve mixed feelings. The dishes have been decent but not mind blowing (they rarely are). But I’ve appreciated getting to work – spending a little bit more time than normal prepping my dinner, and then sitting down to eat something I wouldn’t have likely chosen for myself.

As for fall foods that I’m looking forward to, there’s still so much to eat and to try. I still go back to the same seasonal list that I wrote about here: delicata squash, squashes of all varietals, apples, boiled cider, apple cider donuts, chili, pumpkin whoopee pies, Turkish pumpkin dessert, persimmons, and my all-time favorite pumpkin chocolate chip bundt.

Happy Fall!