chicken verde soup

 

it’s been an actual while since i posted anything here about cooking. mostly because i’ve kinda settled into a routine that works and haven’t wandered out of my comfort zone recently. i’ve been making this soup weekly all winter, and it never fails to keep us warm and full. i adapted it from this wonderful recipe, with a few tweaks and changes and additions and subtractions. it’s ridiculously easy to make, and one of my fave raves.

ingredients:

  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 2 green onions, chopped
  3. 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  4. 1 zucchini, diced
  5.  1/2-3/4 serrano chili (depending on your spiciness preference), diced
  6. 1 chicken breast, cut into strips
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  9. 2 quarts chicken broth
  10. 1 avocado, sliced (for topping)

directions:

  1. coat the bottom of a stock pot with olive oil, and add in cumin seeds. toast seeds on medium heat (about 1 minute).
  2. add chopped green onion, serrano chili & cilantro (reserving a few leaves for garnish) and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  3. add in chicken & cook until lightly colored (about 2 minutes each side).
  4. add in zucchini.
  5. add in cumin powder and stir until everything is coated.
  6. add in chicken broth & cover.
  7. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover & let simmer about 15 minutes.
  8. top with sliced avocado & serve.

 

 

the end.

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10 ways to get your financial shit together.

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i recently came across this article by sallie krawcheck in harper’s bazar about women and money; specifically about how the majority of women do not invest their money-they hold it in cash and tell themselves they don’t have enough or know enough about it to invest. i remember reading this article by alice finn last spring and realizing that i related to the statement that women think that investing is too complicated and that it is “for men with white hair.” after leaving my job and becoming a stay at home mom, i had to make some major lifestyle changes and figure out how to manage what money i had better. looking over my 401k statement from the job i had left, i felt my eyes glaze over. i had originally set it up very conservatively on the advice of my father (a man with white hair who knows about these things), so that i wouldn’t have to think about it. i realized that that applied to all of the money i had in my life: i had largely tried not to think about it- kept it in low risk savings accounts and told myself i’d figure it all out one day when i had more of it.

below are the top 10 things that i have done to figure out money: how to spend it wisely; how to save it; how to live on a budget and how to educate myself about investing it.

  1. budget. it took me a long time to figure out how to budget, because i had to find a way to budget that worked for me. i tried envelopes (putting cash into a different envelope for expenses each week); using an app; and keeping up spreadsheets (google sheets has a basic budget and most banks let you input a budget/spending report into your online account). i found that without adjusting my spending habits, a budget didn’t do much for me. i had to first figure out how to get organized about shopping & curb impulse purchases; once i did that sticking to a budget was much easier. i recommend tracking your spending for at least 2 weeks, to get an honest picture of your spending habits. from there, you can build a budget that is realistic for you.
  2. clear the clutter. cleaning out my closet for the first time was daunting. i first tried the dreaded/lauded kondo method but found that several months later i had re-cluttered my life. i now keep a rotation: i have a beautiful antique trunk that i use to keep summer clothes in in the cold months; and winter clothes in in the warm months so that my closet doesn’t feel packed. other than that, i don’t store anything because if it’s sitting in a plastic tub somewhere, it might as well be gone. every new season when i feel the urge to buy all the things, i go through my closet & edit out what no longer “sparks joy” or looks cute to my eyes. selling clothes can make a little money, but it’s not for the faint of heart. don’t expect to make much, and prepare for lots of rejection. here is a good guide to some options if you’re looking to sell your stuff.
  3. shop online. often i feel like if i have free time to myself (a rarity!), i go shopping because it is something to do outside of the house. for me, avoiding temptation is crucial. i try to order household supplies online: through amazon prime or walmart (which typically has free 2 day shipping on orders over $35). it’s been a big money saver to avoid wandering the aisles of target & making impulse buys. buying clothes online can be tricky: i always look at return policies to find out if something is returnable & at what cost. i also check the measurements: against my own measurements and against a similar item that i have that fits well (if i’m buying high waisted pants, i measure a pair that i have that fits great and compare to that). for beauty products i try to shop at ulta, because they are one of the only places that actually has sales on beauty products. they regularly have coupons & promotions that give big discounts.
  4. quality over quantity. i have found that if i fall in love with something that i feel is too expensive, i tend to buy multiple fast fashion/cheaper similar versions, but they never seem to add up. the acrylic h&m version of the wool celine sweater or the crappy particle board ikea version of the mid-century cabinet falls apart, and often has to be re-purchased. i have also been guilty of buying cheaper knockoffs of something, only to eventually find the original at a good price and buy it after all. in the end, it’s worth it to invest in something you really love.
  5. get honest. before investing in something i ask myself: is this on sale somewhere else, or can i find it pre-owned (on sites like the real real or vestaire)? does this fit into my lifestyle: can i walk in these shoes; can i wear this on a school run; to a meeting or on a date? am i willing to take care of this: am i willing to have this altered if the fit is off; have it dry cleaned; or will i hand wash or iron this? if it’s more work than i am willing to do, it’s not worth buying. can i think of 3 items of clothing that i have that i can wear this with? do i love this because it will look good on me or because of how it looks on a model or insta-darling? when i got honest i realized that i continually bought things because i wished my body was shaped differently. i finally accepted that i will never be able to wear skinny jeans, off the shoulder tops or vintage 501s because they do not flatter my figure. it’s important not to buy something just because it looks good on someone else, or simply because it is on sale (!!!). you should buy what makes you feel great, and what feels great to wear.
  6. plan ahead. it can seem tedious, but planning meals for the week & making shopping lists saves money. i try to stick to a rotation of meals that are easy to cook, plan out the week on sunday & then do my shopping with a list. to get started i saved grocery receipts for a couple of weeks to get an idea of what i was spending, and then made adjustments from there. it helped to look at what i really spent, what impulse buys i made and food i wound up wasting. i now don’t run out or throw away much food each week, which is awesome.
  7. skip the drinks. this one seemed like it would be tough, but we found that not ordering drinks with dinner afforded us two meals out a week instead of one. having a drink at home after a meal as dessert is a good (and much cheaper) way to still get the booze in.
  8. workout at home. boutique fitness classes and gyms can be motivational, but they’re also hecka expensive. even with a membership or multi-class discounts, classes add up fast. i set aside time at home to work out online every day. some of my favorites are karen lord pilatessadie nardini for yoga, and ballet beautiful, all free on youtube. i also stopped paying for pricey spin classes and invested in a rowing machine.
  9. educate yourself. when i was 25 my dad gave me the book the wealthy barber. i of course didn’t read it, because i was more interested in putting my money into faux chanel handbags and sugary cocktails, but i have since come around to this book. the intelligent investor is a great book to learn how investing, stocks and bonds and all that shiz works. if you prefer online info to a book- i highly recommend jlcollins stock series. i also recommend the financial diet.
  10. put your money to werk. the basic financial rules are: 1. make a budget. 2. pay off debt. 3. build an emergency fund. 4. put money towards retirement. 5. invest. you don’t have to have a ‘uge pile of money or a vault filled with bars of gold to invest. there are apps like acorns that round up your purchases & invest the change (a good place to start but not so good for the long run). if you aren’t comfortable investing on your own and want to use a financial advisor, it’s important to find one that you like. i recently invested with ellevest, because i want to support a female centered firm.

tres organeasy.

tres organeasy.
i’ve been on a real organization kick lately. suddenly my house seems incredibly cluttered, and i feel the need to remedy that. i have to admit that i’ve always been a person who keeps things tidy on the outside, but behind closed drawers, closets & cabinets, not so much. i tend to get overwhelmed by stuff, so i either stuff it into a drawer or tub or box and stash it away, or i get ultra flustered and start throwing everything into boxes to take to the thrift store to donate. this usually involves a combination of pms, lack of time, and too much coffee, and is often followed by regret. so, this year, i’ve decided to be more careful and patient. because i’m a grown up. one who should appreciate the hard work that went into finding 3 different versions of the same vintage linen saffron yellow dress, but also understands that i don’t actually need 6 different pairs of reading glasses. one who gets the necessity of having 3 different cast iron skillets, but also knows that a full set of vintage corningware (gravy boat included) is not so necessary. one who appreciates the subtle nuances in the varying shades of 12 different red lipsticks, but who also knows that crusty sample packets of designer face creams should be thrown out after a certain number of years.
lately i’ve come across some pretty bomb ass pieces of furniture and items for organization and i thought i’d share them with the world. if you are looking, here they are:
  1. i feel like if you have kids, baskets are the only sane way to go. they provide quick access and cleanup. i also use them to hold rolled up throw blankets, and pairs of walking shoes. i love these quilted ones from target, and these ones from ikea that are cheap & can be rolled down if you want to show something off or stash it underneath something.
  2. i’ve been looking for an affordable, small dresser to keep inside my closet. i love this pretty white & gold one from all modern, this beautiful vintage marble top one on etsy, and this simple little pine chest from ikea.
  3. for storage i am crazy about this vintage bamboo trunk, and this bench with drawers seems like a perfect piece for an entryway.
  4. for shoe storage i like this 2-tone cabinet, this little mid-century style cabinet with drawers, and this cool little cabinet from ikea that mounts to the wall.
  5. for inside of drawers these clear plastic trays are the best. i also like these clear medicine cabinet organizers, and these little woven trays are great for desk or shelf organizing.
  6. i just got these space saving multi clip hangers for skirts & pants, and they are pretty legit.
  7. last are mason jars, which are not just for holding jam or quick pickled veggies! they are also perfect for storing kitchen dry goods or bathroom items like q-tips or cotton rounds.

the end.

on winter.

 

 

winter is difficult. full stop. each year i dread it, and each year i vow to try to do something about it. something to make it less of a drag. all of the things that make it such a drag: the bad weather; the cold; the lack of sunlight; the sicknesses- they feel heavy. but each year i get through it, and the first flashes of spring; the first warm days of summer; they feel so much lighter; like shedding the weighted blanket of winter that covered me. they seem to easily erase the winter past. it becomes a blur in my memory; like a trip to the dentist that felt like hell whilst sitting in the chair getting my teeth drilled on, but forgotten after the novocaine wore off.

yesterday as i was sitting with my son while he whined and cried for attention that i felt unable to muster; i let out a deep breath and realized: this is it. this is winter. i am in it. after a lengthy 2+ week winter break from school, my son came down with a terrible cold on the day that school started again. then, i came down with the cold. then, his therapist came down with it. on top of his nagging cough, my son started getting nose bleeds. on top of the terrible cough and nose bleeds, he is also going through a mysterious bout of diarrhea that has lasted close to a month. then, i awoke this morning to find my son had projectile vomited all over himself and his room. to recap: 3 weeks without school; cancelled therapy; a cold; constant nose bleeds; diarrhea; vomit, and my own cold. my son is beyond tired of being cooped up at home, but we can’t do anything about it. we are grounded. i see his speech starting to disappear into lazy babble; his anxiety over going places rising to match his level of boredom. and i, in my weakened state, feeling incapable of denying the constant craving for dark chocolate that i have been dealing with since the holiday season began. this is it. this is winter. nowhere to run.

last night we watched an episode of the show black mirror, where a worried mother has a tracking chip implanted into her 3 year old daughter. it also allows her to “filter” out disturbing things. when the girl walks past lunging barking dogs; sees a violent interaction; or sees someone upset; something explicit or someone having an accident; the image and sound are blurred out. the girl doesn’t experience anything negative. as she grows up she develops aggressive, violent behavior; and acts out sexually and with drugs. all of the things that she was protected from sort of explode inside of her. it felt pretty profound, this metaphor laden show. a mother trying to protect her child from bad experiences, from negative feelings; from all of the things that we cannot escape in the world and within ourselves. no matter where you go, there you are.

just before i got pregnant, i had decided on a new tactic to avoid christmas and beat the holiday/winter blues. i was going to start an annual tradition of going to a tropical climate every year at christmas. i would use my vacation time each year to spend a few days alone in the sunshine instead of dealing with mouthy relatives; card tables stacked with fatty, sugary foods; all while feigning delight over redundant, impersonal gifts. but by the next christmas, i was at home with a newborn. my plan of escaping winter would never come to be. that first winter as a newborn i saw my son in agonizing pain with colic as his digestive system; seemingly under-developed, tried to adapt. with his first winter colds he was paralyzed, curled up in a ball on my lap. the first time that he threw up he screamed with anger and confusion over what was happening to him. i could see how his body was just forming; learning to process those things; his immune system building itself.

for the past few weeks i’ve been using a therapeutic light lamp that simulates daylight. every morning when i wake up i sit at the kitchen table with the lamp on for about an hour before my son gets up. this is my way of trying to combat the winter blues this year- a little faux-sunshine. while i can’t say it has magically transformed me into a ray of sun and erased winter from my psyche; it has taken the edges off of my moods. allowed me a little clarity; the ability to stand back and notice myself in the thick of things. i look outside and see how much the plants have needed the rain; how everything is now a vibrant shade of green. how my son now treats colds as an annoyance instead of an attack. how much he appreciates school once he returns from time off; how the teacher and the toys and songs and games there feel new again once he’s been away from them. i see how winter serves as a black background to the rest of the seasons- how it makes the colors of spring & fall pop; how living through the cold makes the warm feel somehow warmer. my new motto is this too shall pass. for now, there are oversized sweaters and over the knee boots; pink camelia & azalea bushes; simmering pots of pozole;couch snuggles under faux fur throw blankets; and clear plastic raincoats.

these days.

00-tout-okeeffe-closet

georgia o’keefe’s closet via vogue.

my husband and i have been doing a lot of cleaning out around the house lately. he totally re-did our laundry room storage area and put in open shelving (’cause he’s cool like that). we also re-arranged our son’s room, after sorting through the mountain of christmas gifts that he received and thinning out the herd. then we tackled our shared closet and cleared out quite a bit of old t-shirts, records and abandoned running shoes aka junk. i love the feeling of clearing clutter, it somehow has the ability to make me feel like my life is not a spinning spiral of cray and everything is going to be ok. here are some things that are catching my eye of late.

  1. although i love having an empty space in my closet beneath my hanging clothes, i kinda need a little piece to hold my ridiculous collection of brightly colored/ultra gaudy vintage belts, metallic and hand-made clutches and espadrilles (with varying heel heights). it’s between this brass geo stand from west elm, and (more likely) this wire organizer from target. also eyeing this quilted storage bin and these stackable wood bins for my son’s room.
  2. i plowed through joan juliet buck’s the price of illusion in about a week, i could not put it down. she has had such a super extra remarkable life. artfully told recollections of growing up around hollywood royalty like john (and her best friend anjelica) huston, peter o’toole and lauren bacall. crazy tales about travel, money, power and everyone in fashion from guy bourdin, karl lagerfeld, yves saint laurent and of course anna wintour. romances with the likes of donald sutherland, california governor jerry brown and leonard cohen. and at the center of it all, a complex relationship with her father. one of my favorite books of all time.
  3. current favorite lazy dinner from trader joe’s: roasted chicken patties over zucchini spirals, topped with either almond butter turmeric dressing or vegan kale cashew basil pesto. also fully hooked on their pistachio cranberry bites.
  4. i didn’t really make resolutions this year, but i have vowed to finally start taking care of my under-things. i got myself some new underwear, along with some mesh laundry bags to keep them from falling apart. i feel like a grown up now.
  5. brushing teeth is always a struggle with my son. i got him this dentrust 3-sided toothbrush and he loves it. it covers a lot of territory in way less time, so i can get in and out of there quick.
  6.  last weekend while standing in the candy aisle at sprouts i spotted this jo jo’s chocolate bark with a label that read “kick the craving.” i bought it based solely on that statement, and holy crow, it’s pretty much the best thing i ever tasted.
  7. i love this piece in the cut: 25 famous women on thrift store shopping.
  8. i finally found a non-dairy creamer that honestly tastes and feels like half and half without all the weird corn syrup chemical shiz. praise.
  9. how pretty are these little ballerina heels?
  10. can’t wait to watch the new david bowie documentary: the last five years.

the end.

the return of saturn.

i often forget how old i am. somewhere around my mid-thirties the years began to blur together. when i am asked my age i have to stop to think about it, calculate the current year, the year that i was born, the age of my son, the space between. contemplate where exactly the past year has gone. so beyond the time when birthdays were an event or a milestone, when my life had enough movement to it that age marked a place as well as time, some far off destination or new city that had been conquered. after settling into domesticity, standing still for a while, the years become muddy and indistinct. a tiny thread running along the hem of the giant quilt of day to day life.

10 years ago i was 29- the amount of time it takes for saturn to orbit the sun. that period of psychic seclusion and forced reflection known as saturn return. the cycle of maturation that comes to call every 29 years. a period of facing oneself, asking questions about identity. shedding youth and facing adulthood. for me, it was a lonely time. i had quit drinking. replaced nights at the bar with hypnotherapy sessions, sewing lessons and autobiography workshops. most of my friends had scattered in different directions, off to other cities, new marriages or circles that made them feel remote to me.

my father was 59 at the same time. he was facing his second saturn return. we were both heavy with lessons unlearned. contemplating old ghosts. we had both been through major breakups and possible reconciliations that didn’t come together. both standing on the edge of new chapters. questioning our careers. uncertain where we were going. we were also not speaking at that time. that was the year that we both took trips by ourselves. my father flew into chicago and traveled through the upper mid-west/north east: through indiana, ohio, virginia, washington d.c. and maryland. i flew into nashville, rented a car and drove through the mid-south: through arkansas, mississippi, tennesse and kentucky.

i fell in love with memphis, a town that was hospitable to a ghost like me, offering up brightly colored windows of abandoned buildings and unlit neon signs, faint remnants of a vibrant past that had faded under the scorching bulb of the southern sun. i spent evenings watching salt water taffy pink sunsets on a bench overlooking the river where jeff buckley had drowned. i decided while i was there that i would leave san francisco, where i had been living for the better part of a decade, a city that was giving me the distinct feeling that i had overstayed my welcome.

my father wrote to me after his trip, the first contact in many months. i imagined him climbing the steep steps of the bleachers at wrigley field, watching the birds skimming the water on the ohio river from the window of a train, standing in the shadow of the extended foot of the lincoln memorial. i began to see how our lives ran as parallel as the trips we had taken. i began to see him more clearly, without the dark lens of an angry daughter. i knew then that i could not become myself without facing him first.

over the next two years i spent more time with my father than i had in my life. we traveled together. lived together, on and off. i took care of him while he recovered from surgeries, he took care of me while i tried to find my place in the world. i saw all of the ways that we were similar. all of the ways in which i tried to be who i thought he wanted me to be and all of the ways that i rebelled against what i thought he wanted me to be. and, all of the ways that he didn’t notice any of it. it was painful, difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and so necessary. at the time i had no idea how my life would unfold. where i would go. how i would survive outside of the world i had lived in during my 20’s. it was ground zero. i couldn’t see it at the time, but it honestly was the beginning of my life as an adult, as my own person.

here’s to all the saturn returns, to all of the ones out there questioning their lives. may your path to a new frontier be lit by southern sunsets, may you see yourself reflected in brightly colored panes of glass.

 

january covet.

january covet.
january! a new year! clean slate! peace out 2017, you were the worst! the literal, actual worst. i’m ready for a fresh start. i, like, gwenyth paltrow, will be starting a detox diet of kale stems and golden milks and iv drips to recover from my epic peppermint bark hangover. gonna power through until i come out shiny and de-bloated. here’s my list for surviving the d.t.s., and all the pretty things that nobody bought me for christmas :(.
  1. holy crow i want a vintage rugby stripe sweatshirt with BENETTON stitched on the sleeve so bad it hurts. too bad they are all located in malaysia.
  2. a wool celine skirt feels like a most necessary item for surviving winter.
  3. every january i decide i need to start wearing a watch in order to be organized and up to the minute at all times. this gucci plexiglas one is sick as fuq, but this urban outfitters gold metal one is more realistic.
  4. underwear refresh for the new year seems right, and a little girdle action can’t hurt matters this january.
  5. balenciaga knife pumps are 40% off. maybe if i focus on the percentage i can forget about the dollar bills i do not have. cause these shoes are the kind of legit fabulous that lasts a lifetime.
  6. my hubs got me a little uv lamp that is supposed to make me happy because it is effing freezing cloudy crappy wintertime blues. i think it is succeeding at making me less bummy. but i could be tripping the light fantastic.
  7. feeling ready to pull the trigger on this dr. dennis gross c + collagen serum to brighten my dull winter skin.
  8. i am really not a bag person, but man o’ malley, i am crazy about this rachel comey bag that is on maje sale at need supply.
  9. want to try this extremely woo-woo v expensive mushroom hot cacao stuff to try to kick my sugar habit. i feel like gwenyth would approve.
  10. also this sun potion ashwagandha which is supposed to help with the blues/stress/depression/anxiety/energy/save the planet/attain world peace.
  11. i am still OBSESSED with these celine boots. can’t stop lurking on them. so hard.
  12. sure would like to get my hands on a many moons workbook this year.

happy new year! the end.