Here we are, on the eve of Marathon Monday, Patriots Day, Tax day, getting ready for another week ahead.
I’m sitting looking through my schedule for the week, eating a bowl of pasta and meatballs, and getting ready to fight for the fate of Westeros with tonight’s Game of Thrones season premiere. (To be quite honest, I watch so I can talk about it on Twitter.)
The marathon is also a bittersweet day for me. I adore being a spectator, and there’s nothing like cheering for people putting in the hard work of a marathon, salty high fives, and losing your voice to the effort. (I’m a graduate of the Wellesley scream tunnel, and I live down the street from comm ave right around Heartbreak Hill.)
But I’ll never be able to fully shake the memories from 2013, the terror of not knowing where my friends at the finish line were, having to tell a runner that the race was canceled, the lockdown, hearing the shootout from our home. And though I likely have another marathon in me, I’m decently sure that I’ll never be able to run Boston. That said, come rain or shine, I’ll be out there tomorrow to cheer on the amazing folks putting in the effort and running their hearts out.
Before I get to good things, last week was a tough one, friends. We lost my grandmother (and last living grandparent), Rena, far too soon. Due to timing, we didn’t fly to Turkey for the funeral, but I’m hoping to get to spend time with my family later this year.
Rena was a fabulous, dominating force. Walking around the neighborhood she knew everyone. As a teen, I was always a little embarrassed by her, but looking back, the embarrassment has shifted to deep admiration – she’d come visit us and negotiate for lettuce at Market Basket. (And get the deal.) She was always put together – well coiffed, nails done, kohl eyeliner.
There’s not nearly enough space to sum up a lifetime of memories, but when I think of her, I think of the polyglot – speaking multiple languages at the dinner table, laughing with her friends. In the evenings, regaling us with stories with a deck of cards, or her favorite electronic poker game. (She also loved the lottery, and had a knack for winning.)
In the kitchen she’d cook for hours, making any number of meze, rolling dozens of Turkish sigara borek, making my favorite stews, or her delightful rose jam. When we’d visit, there’d always be a new fruit or cheese to try, a salty bite to eat, and a cup of tea or Turkish coffee made.
Last April, my mom and I flew to Turkey, worried that it might be our last visit. Despite bad news at the doctors, we spent many of the days eating, laughing, shopping for food, and cooking together. On one day, she summoned the energy to walk to a favorite restaurant, Şampiyon Kokoreç, to eat a plate of chopped offal, and through the neighborhood to pick out the best of the muşmula, a relative of the loquat. Still the consummate host, she cooked me my favorite dish – Mantı – turkish ravioli with yogurt sauce, and hosted the family for dinner and profiteroles.
This is one of my favorite photos of her. She will be missed.
Missing this week is a lengthy photo documentation of my meals: largely because when I’m overwhelmed with life or work, even my best intentions of meal planning can get tossed out the window to be replaced by Trader Joe’s meals where my goal is to simply feed myself. (Granted, I do love a good Trader Joe’s dinner!)
Sometimes self care is simply knowing when to cut your losses and stick to the basics.
One thing I did cook for myself – and with great success: Roasted Broccoli and White Beans, from Shutterbean. This is a super easy recipe that gives you crispy and lemony beans, and a heaping serving of vegetables when the rest of your meals are lacking. I added a little bit of turkey kielbasa for a more filling meal.
New bakery treats! If you are in Portsmouth, NH, don’t miss the new lovely bakery, Elephantine. After months of trying to make it over there, I finally managed to a few weeks ago, and it held up to the hype! Notably delicious: their stunning lemon ricotta danish, the olive fougasse, and a nicely made latte.
On that note, if you love a good bakery, Newton area folks should be sure to try Koko Bakery, if you haven’t made it yet. It’s a Japanese bakery with delicious sweet treats. My favorites include the sweet red bean bun, melon pan, and any of their cookies.
Attending the Health and Wellness Show with Ompractice We spent the day spreading the word about our company, one person at a time! This was actually our first consumer show – it’s always really fun to get out there and talk to real people!
We’ve come a long way in the past year! From proof of concept to a full schedule with thirty teachers on the platform, every day is an adventure, and it feels so good doing work that makes a real difference in people’s lives.
On that note, another kindly request – I’d *love* for you to try a class. Unlimited membership is only $5 for your first month, and $24.99/month after that. We’re building this business one student at a time – but we have a full roster of incredible teachers and I’d love to fill all of their classes!
[I’m also on the lookout for bloggers who’d like to work with us as we build out our marketing. If you are interested, please fill out this two minute form!]
Looking forward to:
📣 Next month, I’m stepping back into public speaking and doing an in-person workshop for entrepreneurs on self care. This is a private event, but, if you are looking for speakers on wellness, entrepreneurship, or preventing burnout – I’m looking to do more of this! (Email me at sam at ompractice.com)
Now you’ll have to excuse me for the abrupt ending – the GOT theme song has started and I’m off to participate in pop culture.
Spring has finally arrived in New England – yesterday hit 67 degrees, and over the course of the day I saw people in winter parkas, sweatshirts, shorts, and runners in tanks and short shorts. I always do love the visual contrasts that come along at the change of season.
A real spring is welcome. I was not expecting such a frenetic March, but here I am, catching up here after a brief hiatus where my organization and routines went out the window. With travel, some housing uncertainty, daylight savings, and the certain chaos of running a startup, the month saw me running around like a bit of a chicken with her head cut off – I’m ready to get back to some comforting routine!
Travel. The highlight of my month was a Spring Break trip to Disney World with my college best friends and regular travel companions, Heather and Caroline. Some pictures, below, but a quick note that this was the first vacation I’ve taken in over 10 years where I did not open my laptop to work once I arrived at my destination. Balancing energy and boundaries is a fundamental principle of self care, and one of the most important ways to prevent burnout. You need to take care of yourself in order to have the energy to do good work in the world. I’m proud of myself for actually doing this for myself.
Good Books and Films. Reading this month has been a little lighter than last. I’ve been working through the Deborah Harkness witchy trilogy, quite enjoyed listening to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime on Audible. I have about six books in progress at the moment. Films faired a little better: I quite enjoy the How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, and Captain Marvel – which I loved. Aquaman wasn’t a critical masterpiece, but was enjoyable, because when is Jason Momoa not enjoyable?
Good Lighting. Because many of you have asked: no, I don’t have a fancy marble table. I have a fancy marble cutting board from Crate & Barrel, a Lowel Ego lamp (which doubles as a sun lamp during the winter) and internet magic. Here’s the entire set up.
Acquiring Riches. In Trader Joe’s a few weeks back, an older gentleman gave me a million dollars. Since I didn’t win the HGTV dream house this year even though I could have sworn I had, I’m going to put it to good use in my own house hunt.
This Face. Seriously, how thankful am I that I get to look at this face on a daily basis. (This is also as close as he gets to actually using this particular set of pet steps. They have been repurposed as a “desk” for my couch work space, and to prop up my computer in front of my mat while taking Ompractice classes.)
A trip to the most Magical Place on Earth. (Fight me.) I’m an unabashed Disney fan. I’ve never been a pink princess, but I *love* Disney. The rides, the food, even the lines. For that matter, I love IKEA for similar reasons… Plus, Florida agrees with me.
My last trip to Disney was in 2015 for the Princess 5k (a race with hundreds of sparkling clean port-o-potties – truly magical!), but I wanted to return with no training requirements! Happy to report that my run streak continued though, even with 10-15 miles a day of walking in the parks!
Highlights of the trip include: planning for the trip on a shared google doc agenda, staying at Caribbean Beach, Park Hoppers and fast passes, an excursion to Harry Potter world, a private Animal Kingdom lodge safari and tasting menu at JIKO, and hot ticket reservations at every Epcot restaurant I was aiming for. I go to Disney for two things: to eat and to walk – everything else is a bonus.
Delicious Meals in Disney: to make up for the 10+ miles of daily walking, we did a lot of eating.
JIKO tasting menu. Our first evening in, we went on the Wanyama private safari and tasting at JIKO, which I’d recommend heartily if you don’t mind extending your Disney budget. The evening started with appetizers before you go out on safari – a range of sweet and savory treats (the highlight of which was the Boerewors sausage. The main meal was served family style with the 12 or so of us on the trip: breads, dips, amuse, appetizers, a massive amount of food with both drink and wine pairings, of which I managed to get bites of absolutely everything. Their beef short rib was a real gem that rivaled the memorable stellar lamb shank I ordered at JIKO several years ago.
Harry Potter World – The Leaky Cauldron: fine dining this was not, but I enjoyed my Beef, Lamb & Guinness stew, and the sugar bomb that was their version of sticky toffee pudding. And of course the ambiance of Diagon Alley can’t be beat.
Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs: we were a mere week too early for Jose Andres’ openings in Disney Springs (SIGH), but I was happy to get a patio seat at this Bayless outpost. We shared toasted pumpkin seed “hummus” and mango guacamole. Knowing that vegetables would be missing from the majority of my next several meals, I went for a big salad with carne asada, and the ancho chile chocolate cake for dessert.
San Angel Inn – Mexico: our first lunch in Epcot, we shared guacamole, and I opted to go wild with the Carne Asada Tampiqueña for an indulgent lunch. Served with a cheese mole enchilada, rice, refried black beans, guacamole, onions, rajas poblano with tortillas. Under the “evening sky” – this is one of my favorite magical places to eat at Disney.
Restaurant Marrakesh: my last trip we had a glorious meal outside in Morocco at Spice Road (which I’d highly recommend), but it had been over a decade since I’d been at Marrakesh, and I wanted to try it. I opted for the Harira, a Taste of Moroccan salads, and shared the appetizer sampler – beef brewat rolls, chicken bastilla, and Jasmina salad. A cup of Moroccan coffee, while we enjoyed the belly dancing and the piano guy who seemed delighted that we were paying attention – as so few other people were. The restaurant felt a little dated, but we enjoyed ourselves.
Be Our Guest: I was *thrilled* to score us a table at Be Our Guest, because I hadn’t been there, and everyone raves over the “Grey Stuff”. We ended up going for lunch, which is an order of magnitude less fancy than dinner, but nevertheless the food was good – I ended up with the gloriously cheesy french onion soup, and the braised pork (coq au vin style) which I thought was very clever, and tasted quite good. My dining partners both ordered the Tuna Niçoise salad which was a generous portion. Ironically, the one pass for next time – the masters cupcake with the grey stuff was a total throwaway for me. Bland and boring. Save space for an extra dole whip.
Teppan Edo: it’s probably been 15? years since I’ve been to a hibachi restaurant, and we ended up having a great time here at the Japanese pavilion. I’d never been before! We had an 8:50 reservation that didn’t seat us until around 9:15. (The park “closed” at 9, but you can get dining reservations up until then, which is perfect for spacing out meals.) The sushi sampler wasn’t worth ordering, but I was needing some nibbles before the grand event, so went for this and some iced green tea. For our meal, you can order your protein of choice. Most everyone went with the steak and shrimp combo, but I opted for the sea scallops, which were *delicious*. I skipped drinks and dessert, but the cocktail menu here looks incredible.
Biergarten: I have fond memories going here with my parents as a kid. The German pavilion boasts this all-you-can-eat buffet that is always a treat. My plate(s) included salmon, multiple kinds of sausages, salads, liverwurst, potatoes, spaetzle, potato dumplings, sauerkraut, and more. And we hit perfect timing of the show, as well.
Other tasty treats: our trip coincided with the Flower Festival at Epcot, which brings a pop-up tasting shack to each of the country pavilions. I didn’t end up eating at any of these, but I did snag a Mickey boba tea twice in China. Other treat highlights include: a Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich, the famous Carrot Cake whoopie – now found only at the Starbucks in Hollywood Studios, and a double trip to Dole Whip. (Pro-tip: the new mobile ordering in the parks is actually kind of amazing because nobody has figured it out yet. You can mobile order your dole whip, skip the line, walk up to the mobile order counter, and they make it fresh for you right when you arrive.)
In my tourist uniform.
The glory that is DOLE WHIP float. (I had it twice.)
Making a point to make every photo a great one. That’s me with my hands up.
On Safari. Making new friends.
Reluctantly I re-entered the real world and returned home.
Good Eating: after returning from Disney, I ordered both a Freshly box (prepared meals) and Blue Apron box to ease my re-entry. In hindsight, I should have probably just hit up Trader Joe’s and gone with some quick staples. My first experience with Freshly wasn’t great (I’ll do a round up post after my second – and likely final – box.) Nevertheless, here are some of the highlights of my past few weeks of meals.
Sirloin Steak over Broccoli and Spinach Artichoke Dip. One of my easiest Trader Joe’s hacks: take one of their frozen Spinach artichoke dips, and mix with a bag of organic broccoli. It makes for a delicious creamy base for steak, chicken, or frankly, is satisfying eaten on it’s own.
Jaleo-Inspired Meatballs with Pan Con Tomate & Saffron Mayo: hands down the best thing that came in my Blue Apron box.
Enjoy Life Chocolate Protein Bites – these are currently $1.29 for a bag at Trader Joe’s. After the first time I bought them, they were out of stock at Trader Joe’s for weeks because of fulfillment issues, but are now back. With 8 grams of protein per bag, they’ve been a not-too-sweet chocolate treat for dessert that I’ve been enjoying.
Omelettes with lots of herbs. I added some Applegate turkey breakfast sausages in here – breakfast for dinner!
Soba with miso butter, garlic, and parmesan. The occasional night strikes where I crave a big bowl of pasta. This is the result.
It’s a little astounding to me that we’ve reached March already. Spring was peeking out, and then we got a snow storm – there was almost a foot last night here, and I’ve finally dug myself out and acquired pet friendlier ice melt, so my day is a success.
A part of my regular routine this year has been sticking to a “weekend template”. At some point, I realized that 90% of what I do each weekend is the same – home chores, errands, business work, and if I add in dedicated time for weekly creativity, I get to enjoy more of the things that I love to do on weekends: creative dates with myself, sketching, reading, etc.
I also set aside some time this weekend to do a little recap on my month before writing out my March Intentions – and then proceeded to get very little actually done because I was under the weather. That’s how it goes sometimes.
This was the first week in a while that I found myself scratching my head at what I actually did this week when I sat down to write. (One of the reasons I do this exercise: we tend to forget things that we’ve completed and keep hold of things that were unfinished. This is good for keeping track of things in progress, not great for gratitude and appreciating the good stuff.) But despite feeling that I did nothing, I actually got quite a lot in.
Gave Blood – the last few attempts at doing this were a resounding failure (due largely to dehydration), so I was thrilled that hydrating well this time around gave me a quick 7 minute bag fill. If you have the capacity and ability to do so, this is a quick and easy way to help save lives. Also: my favorite part about giving blood is that somehow, the conversations always turn to food? (I have no idea..) But while I was there, several of us had a long conversation about using dried fruit in home made meatballs. While I’m a raisin hater, I can concede that a golden raisin in a meatball is probably a good idea. (Also, I ended up eating oreos and two bags of cheez-its’ because my decision making capacity was strengthened by blood loss.)
Fitness, this week:
Monday: a mile outside, Ompractice Yoga Nidra with Amy.
Saturday: was feeling a little run down, so ended up doing another rest day mile and a 20 minute Peloton ride.
Sunday: “recovery mile” outdoors.
Do yoga with me! A quick note because I’m so proud of this work we are doing and would love to see more of you on the mat with me: annual memberships on Ompractice are only $149.99 right now – unlimited live yoga and meditation classes with teachers who see you. (That’s less than two months cost of a regular studio membership!)
Creative Date: because of my schedule and generally being under the weather, I took myself to see Free Solo on the big screen. The film documents Alex Honnold’s (successful) attempt at Free Solo’ing El Capitan (ie: rock climbing up thousands of feet with no rope). We all know he made it, but I had to practice ALL of my meditative skills to keep from losing it during this film. If you can watch it on the big screen, do!
Food Shopping Special: I took myself to Russo’s in Watertown for some extra fresh vegetables and little treats. They always have a delightful assortment of hard to find vegetables, fruits, and goodies. And beautiful flowers! I get most of my plants there in the summer.
For the past week, I’ve been ravenous. It’s taken me 20+ years to realize that yes, this is a cyclical hormonal shift that happens pretty much the same week every month. Funny how that works. Fortunately, there were plenty of good meals coming out of my kitchen. Here’s some of them:
A cafe au lait at George Howell. Somehow the perfect beverage before the snow storm.
Tikka Masala Chicken and Tofu with arugula and lime salad. I keep a jar of Patak’s Concentrated Tikka Masala Curry Paste in my fridge to make quick flavorful meals out of leftovers. I had some tofu and some leftover roasted chicken that needed eating, so I heated them up with some curry paste and a little bit of yogurt.
Hodo Soy Moroccan Tofu Cubes over rice with arugula salad. I’m not a frequent soy eater, but last week I went to the grocery store hungry, and told myself I could purchase anything as long as it was protein rich. So I came home with a lot of tofu. These were a little bit on the bland side, which was disappointing!
Shan-a-Punjab takeout. On Thursday, my parents came to spend time with their granddog, and we ordered Indian takeout and I introduced them to their first episode of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. (How often is too often with Shan-a-Punjab deliver? Asking for a friend.)
Trader Joe’s Chicken Piccata over herb and cucumber salad. This is one of my favorites from the fresh case – not too lemony, not too salty. While it’s technically convenience food, I really enjoy these for lunches.
Snack: Black Forest Ham on Lucky 7 Bread – I ran out of the St. Mang Rubius cheese I was spreading on the bread in the earlier part of the week, but ended up just going french and making myself a beurre jambon with my salted sweet cream butter from my Walden share.
Vietnamese Noodle Bowl with Lobster. I picked up Andrea Nguyen’s Vietnamese Food Any Day cookbook, and before getting to cook a recipe, found myself craving my favorite Bun. I grabbed her Nuoc Cham recipe, and made these PERFECT rice noodles. (This was my FAVORITE DISH ALL WEEK.)
Mediterranean Chicken Bowl with Baba Gannoush and Labne. Trader Joe’s has Shawarma marinated chicken thighs that are delicious. I cooked some up and made a salad bowl with eggplant, a cucumber and herb salad with tomatoes, and a bit of Samira’s olive labne. Also wildly delicious.
Fish Curry with Cabbage and Herb Salad. When I order from Shan-a-punjab, I usually order the side of masala sauce to make a new meal later in the week and extend my gustatory joy. I opted for a fish curry, which I served with a lime punched cabbage salad that I adapted from Niloufer King’s My Bombay Kitchen.
And for your weekly Bertram (part deux) – here’s the little buddy with a sleepy lip, not interested in getting up in the morning.
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