I’m in Love with Brandon from LUSH

Going to take a quick detour from my usual blog posts centered around living your best life, and writing your best stuff, and eating your best food, to announce that I have a crush on the man that makes my face lotion.

If you aren’t a Lushie (someone obsessed with Lush products) you probably don’t know that all of the organic, vegan products that this store carries are handmade. Yes, a store that sells face wash and hard soaps has a cult following and we have named ourselves. Get over it, that’s not the point of this!

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To prove that the products are handmade, each one bears the sticker with the name and a cartoon of the person who made it. If you shop there enough you will have repeats; actually you’ll have repeats more often than you would think. This is such a nice touch because you feel like you get to know them.

Brandon is by far the cutest Lush product maker and I can just tell by his subtle ear gauge, nineties chin-only beard and charmingly uncomfortable smile that he’s the type of guy to buy a girl flowers but then follow-up by taking her to a concert for an obscure Ska band or what’s left of Blink-182. He believes in the vegan products he makes and would probably shame me for all the pepperoni I eat, but deep down he means well, and will even indulge in some ice cream from time to time.

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How cute is this man?!

This man pops up on so many of my products I am starting to wonder if we’re meant to be together. Should I be ordering a custom plug for his ear so it arrives in time for Christmas? Does he celebrate Christmas? So many thoughts when really all I should be doing is washing my face and going to bed… and oh yeah, texting my actual real life boyfriend. (Who will totally be cool with this because I am normally pretty stable and funny and nice and I’ve brainwashed him…)

But really, who is this adorable man? Where does he live? WHO ARE YOU MAKER OF 9-5 and Celestial?! He’s by far my favorite product maker and if the sales people at Lush weren’t so aggressively helpful, I would always seek out his face when buying my vegan face goods. He’s that dreamy!

I went as far to Google “Brandon from Lush” to make sure I’m not missing some cult phenomenon. But there were only two returns, and those were reviews, not love letters. So the playing field is wide open…

I’m just wondering when he can come over and teach me how to make my own damn face wash. Leads on Brandon appreciated…

Blueberry Cobbler, Playlists, and Mid-August Feelings

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For my very first recipe post, I am sharing a recipe for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Blueberry Cobbler. Blueberries always make me think of summertime in Massachusetts, where I grew up, and I often romanticize their fine balance of sweet and tart, purple and blue, fruit and dessert. There are few things more satisfying than popping a blueberry open with your teeth.
August is also my mother’s birth month and so I wanted to come up with a recipe that she and I could share that we’d both enjoy. You see, my mother hates anything too sweet and I love all things sugary.
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Lucky for her I tend to want to be healthy, which helps us balance. This recipe is succeeds because it can be served alone (for Mama) or with vanilla ice cream (for me and my sweet tooth). It’s also gluten, dairy, and added-sugar free so you can eat it for breakfast too! I did this and it was a fantastic experience.
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As some of you may remember, I just moved to a new place, so this Blueberry Cobbler was only my second time using my oven and my, can I say what a pleasure it is to use an oven with electric settings? I was so exited to preheat my oven!
My old oven was gas so I had to sit and wait for it to light and then had to guess when it was preheated. After 3 years I got used to it but it really was a pain. This thing preheats like a wizard and also has a built-in clock in timer. It feels magical, really.

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A New Borough & Drive Renewed

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Moving absolutely depleted me. And for that I am grateful.

It doesn’t need to be explained again, but I am a person that enjoys feeling busy. Actually “enjoy” is probably too positive a word. I am a person that needs to feel busy, I find value in busy, and that is a very dangerous way to be. I fill my days to their max which in many ways makes me very accomplished but in many ways inefficient and completing tasks that don’t mean much to me.

Because I am a busy bee, I lack focus, and jump from one project to the next with reckless abandon wondering why I’ll never “publish that book” or “finish that collage” or just “get my shit together.” I know what I am like and I am trying, really trying, to change. (Mean it!)

Having to move forced me to focus. For the past three weeks my mind has been set on a singular project, with many different tasks, with a very strict deadline. It was all I thought about and all I worked on. I was focused and driven and exhausted! But… It got done. I moved. And I love my new place! I even found my passport after I panicked that I had lost it in the move.

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Post Move//Pre AC & Bed Frame

The move reinforced what I already knew– that I work best under pressure and with an immovable deadline. Now to create those sorts of deadlines for myself… well… I am working on this. I need to find an accountability partner. (Taking applications now! Must be a hard ass!) Or a system that will place high value on real deadlines.

The move also showed me how much time I have in a day if I really dedicate it and direct it to one goal, not many. I was worn out, exhausted, and sore every night but I also was moving through my tasks on deadline (sometimes ahead of deadline) and went to bed each night with a sense of accomplishment and little panic about how I was going to get it all done. Because I was getting it all done. (The novelty.)

Moving myself, with no partner or roommates, was a terrifying task. But as I moved through the steps I realized that I was fully capable of doing it. I even called my mom and said, “Apparently I became an adult at some point and missed it.” Moving, like living alone, is not something you think you can do by yourself until you just do it by yourself.

And like my best friend, Kate, once told me, “Fear means go.” And so… as I shop for curtains and strange wall art I need to regain my strength to totally and completely drain myself with the projects that mean something to me. And to focus for crying out loud.

Food for Healing

Lets JamA lot of old pain bubbled up this month, mostly stemming from my rent being raised and my scramble to find a new home. I’m still looking, but not as passionately as I should be. It is one of those rare moments that I am faced with decisions I’d rather avoid and hide from. It seems so much easier to pretend that it’s not happening and that I don’t have to make a decision that will so greatly impact my life. It’s hard living in a city where your home can be thrown into complete flux. It makes you feel imbalanced. And very alone.

Strangely, as a result, I find myself spending more time alone. I didn’t notice it until days passed and I hadn’t spoken to anyone but my dog. I wasn’t working on projects either. Just sitting, thinking, reading (maybe). I am what you would call listless and what for me is a rarity. I feel my fire put out and I am worried it isn’t just the apartment thing anymore but a host of other things, all simmering just below surface. What they are, I’m not sure, but my desire to do anything other than worry about where I will live, has been quelled. I do not, in any sense, feel like myself.

So where did I go?

More importantly, how do I come back?

Over this same course of time I’ve been thinking very hard about what I want to write. Have you ever seen a writer who doesn’t have a genre, a home, a comfortable place? It’s embarrassing, frankly. I’ve been trying to teach myself to listen and look for opportunities where I would normally ignore them. What I heard a couple of times was the same question, “Why don’t you ever write about food?” Which is funny since I spend 80% of my time thinking about food in one capacity or another. I am either hungry, researching restaurants, ordering groceries, reading about trends, or eating.

It had never once occurred to me to write about food in a serious way. I think in the back of my head I just assumed that food writing was for people that were chefs, or former chefs, or food critics with insane palates. I guess I never thought about letting just a simple passion manifest itself in such a way.

As I mulled this over I also considered how I stopped cooking (really cooking) this time last year. While I’ve been marinating in limbo I didn’t realize I had stopped cooking or baking. That a year had gone by without any attention paid to one of my favorite pastimes. I used to cook full, intricate, and delicious meal 3-4 nights a week. I’d bake. I’d scheme. I’d eat. A year has passed of so-so meals, tried and true recipes. Flavorless turkey burgers and bowls of cereal. I lost the thrill I had for cooking. It went away with the close of a long relationship.

I let it leave the baggage and take my cooking away. My heart breaks to even write this knowing that I drowned out an important part of me because someone else used to play a part in it. Here I was thinking that I was fine but I erased something important to me because it reminded me of something sad. I wasn’t that strong after all.

So here I am, a year later and prepared to face some weird food demons. But it will be interesting and (maybe exciting) to reconnect with a former version of myself. I also can not wait to share whatever fun things I find along the way with you. It’s been a challenging couple of weeks but I keep hearing that when things get tough is when the magic happens.

Don’t Take for Granted How Far You’ve Come

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On Father’s Day last week I was scrolling through my Facebook photos to find a favorite one of my father and I from my brother’s wedding 5 years ago. I did find it:

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I love this picture because our relationship has always been about laughter. Challenging ourselves to tell the worst joke possible, or swapping stories about the crazy people we have the misfortune of meeting in our respective workplaces. My mom is the first person I call when I have a crisis, my dad is the first person I call when I want to laugh.

I am stunned by the sheer amount of my friends and acquaintances who have already lost their fathers. The memories of these men now gone from our world to another stack one atop another on my Social Media feeds like blocks. I don’t know what it means other than the fact that I am lucky. Two living parents. Two living souls to call upon when I need that extra support I can’t find anywhere else.

I am not going to be ashamed now to pull from the now removed/now famous Instagram post from Khloe Kardashian. I get it, I am a writer and I am supposed to be above pop culture and people famous for being famous and all of that but… I AM a writer and my job is to pull inspiration from wherever it may come, to consume all that I can, to shape words the best that I can. So here we are.

'You knew what you had, you just never thought it could slip away': Khloe allegedly decided to stop helping Lamar out unless he decides to beat his addiction once and for all

Set aside for the moment that she is most likely talking about Lamar here and take in this:

“We take things for granted on a daily basis, always with the assumption that whenever we need something, it will be there. There are many things that we fail to realize the value of until they are missing from our lives.” 

There is so much I take for granted. People, places, things… It’s important that I strive for more, to be better and to do better, but if I cannot appreciate what I have already fought for and have won, nothing will ever make me happy.

Sorry…but Khloe is right… I have fought (and I have fought so hard) to be where I am in this exact moment. I have cried, I have counted every penny, I have done things that have scared me to my core, I have been lonely, I have felt like giving up (like… everyday) but, without any of that I would not be where I am today. I am who I wanted to be 5 years ago. I surround myself with people that love AND support me. There is still SO much more to do but today I am going to sit down and take in everything I have accomplished and every failure I have survived. And I suggest you do the same.

Take 5 minutes and look around you. Look inside you. You have done so much, you have come this far, you have survived when you thought you wouldn’t. And you’re going to do it again. Don’t take anything you have for granted today. And I will do my best to do the same.