Me to Frank: You know, my Passion Planner review is my my most read blog post.
Frank to Me: You should probably review stuff more then.
Me: Ugh yeah.
I don’t normally review stuff because I’ve always set out to make sure this blog was not very “commercial” but it turns out that all of you freaks love STUFF as much as I do. So I’m reviewing today. I try a lot of weird trendy stuff so I might as well help you on your weird trendy journey too.
What are Adaptogens to begin with?
So I must have been sleeping under a rock for the past year or so but I just learned what adaptogens are in the new year. 2018’s got me learning new words and stuff! Adaptogen is used to describe a specific set of herbs and mushrooms that help the body adapt to stress–hence the name. Like any trend, most of these herbs and mushrooms have been used for YEARS (this time in Chinese medicine) but have gained a lot of attention recently because good looking women in LA are getting into. (This is how any health trend starts… sorry New York. At least you have Rainbow bagels?)
Moon Dust by Moon Juice, yes I realize that’s hard to follow, is a powder version of these adaptogens. (There are different ways to ingest this stuff and I have more to review, so stay tuned). You can mix it into anything: water, coffee, tea, pancake batter… whatever.
Why did you do this to yourself?
I know it seems a little woo-woo, whack-a-doo for someone who grew up eating Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies (still dream of these) and went two pitchers at a time in college… but I’m 30 now and I want to feel as bougie as possible. Also, I think if something like this works then that’s super cool. …It is!
What is Moon Dust?
I bought myself the trial pack called “The Full Moon“, which gives you a couple samples of their most popular Moon Dusts. (Have I lost y’all yet?) The Moon Dusts are:
Beauty – For inner glow (your skin)
Brain – To bust your brain function
Sex – Creative energy in and out of the bedroom
Power – Physical and entrepreneurial feats
Spirit – Bliss bliss bliss
Dream – Sleepytime Tea++
Ok first things first. If you like things that taste good I would avoid these. Certain ones taste better than others (Beauty Dust for example) but for the most part they do taste like you’re licking someone’s incense tray. I happen to like weird tastes, again I want to feel 30, so it’s bearable. I drink ACV every morning, so you know exactly what train I am on.
(I’ve been mixing mine in tea but I have read that OJ is a better mixer. I am too lazy to experiment but I am going to try and put it in some pancakes tomorrow and see if Frank dies… )
Have you noticed any changes with Moon Dust?
So far I haven’t seen any mega changes, but I know that these types of things take time. Here is what I have noticed…
BEAUTY DUST – I broke my nose last week and couldn’t do my usual skincare routine. For the first couple of days I was drinking beauty dust and I didn’t have a single breakout. My skin looked great and I didn’t have to do 15 steps to achieve it. As soon as I stopped however, break out central. I truly believe in the beauty now. SEX DUST – Full disclosure I took this before going to work one day. This is not Viagra. I didn’t feel anymore creative than usual. But I liked chugging it before heading to office, I felt like a rebellious pixie hippie.
SPIRIT DUST – This has actually made me more zen after I drink it. It’s hard to tell if it’s the tea, the caffeine or this pretty baby, but I do feel like I’ve just meditated after I drink it.
Cards on the table — Do I recommend Moon Dust?
If you are new to any sort of all-natural hippie activity (you had to Google ACV two minutes ago for example) I would stay away and start with something easier (grind your own Peanut Butter at Whole Foods this week!) But if you believe in the healing power of crystals and meditate daily — Moon Dust is for you!
For a person who not only plans to visit every major US city in this lifetime, but also prides herself in this endeavor, it was a little embarrassing that I had never been to Philadelphia. A historic city just an hour and 15 minutes away from New York on the train. Turns out, my boyfriend had never been either. I hired a dog sitter and we decided to run away for a weekend at the end of September.
DAY 1 – Friday
This is was one of the last hot days we had on the East Coast, so I was able to wear shorts and a t-shirt for the day. We were sweating but it was a beautiful day. We were able to check into our hotel early, the Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown, and we were even upgraded to a bigger room, on a higher floor.
Pro Tip: Business travelers typically check out early on Fridays which means you have a better chance of checking in early. This applies to hotels like ours that are in a business heavy district.
Reading Terminal Market: Absolutely our first stop was food related. Are you joking?! Had to be. We were absolutely overwhelmed by the early lunch crowd and amount of options but we settled on Franks A Lot because the BBQ chicken looked so good. (Not because Frank is my boyfriend’s name.) Food was solid but it was dessert that nearly made me cry.
He had a donut from Beiler’s Donuts (couldn’t help but notice the boxes all over town, people are obsessed!) I had Bassett’s ice cream. I chose coffee topped with melted marshmallow sauce. This ice cream was so freaking creamy and I admired how it was just ice cream scooped in a bowl. It was not made for Instagram… it was made for bellies. It was so delicious and really put me in a good head space to look at historical stuff.
Liberty Bell: Fully satiated we walked our way to the Liberty Bell. (We actually walked there twice because SOMEBODY had his pocket knife on him…) We passed a bunch of historical buildings on the way but these made me mostly sad. They were surrounded by a not so great part of town and looked lonely. But onward we went (twice). The museum was free and there wasn’t a long line. I’ll be honest when I say we skipped most of the history and zipped right on up to see the bell. It looked like you would imagine and we took pictures in front of it anyway.
Ben Franklin’s Grave: Since we did this trip without a set itinerary we sort of wandered around looking for what was cool and what had no lines. We saw a sign pointing toward Ben Franklin’s grave and so we followed it and wound up at a pretty old cemetery. We paid $2 to get in but had the same reaction as everyone else there: “It’s $2 to get in? What?” “I mean… I guess it’s only $2.” Walking this cemetery reminded me like walking Pere Lachaise in Paris… only I didn’t know who anyone was. Ben’s grave was covered in pennies, which made no sense, but he’s buried with his wife, which I found quite nice. In a creepy way.
Random Deli: Right after the grave viewing we needed alcohol so we stopped at a random deli, had a wine and a beer on the patio, and watched a lady ride one of those city tour buses, while riding a Segway. Simultaneously. #idontdolegs
Rittenhouse Square: After our historical duty was served, we wandered around Rittenhouse Square for a bit just trying to get our bearings and see what good food was around. It was on this walk that I spotted two of our Saturday activities that I LOVED and will point out later. (Sweet Charlie’s & The Dandelion) We also discovered a Tiki Bar that we would visit later. I can not recommend getting lost enough. It pays off!
NAP INTERLUDE THIS WAS THE BEST. TAKE NAPS. I never take naps in my real life. I always take naps when I travel. I believe in not getting crabby while exploring.
Village Whiskey:We went here on the recommendation of an old high school friend of mine. We waited for about 5 seconds for a table, got to sit outside, and I had hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. The Ginger Rogers (dry gin, ginger syrup, lemon, rhubarb bitters, sparkling rose). I do love a rose cocktail. Fries were pretty good (but I am a fry CONNOISSEUR, so it’s hard to impress me) and my cobb salad was really yummy.
Tiki Bar: Exactly what it says it is. Rum cocktails and a laid back vibe. I absolutely loved finding a rooftop in Philly. It wasn’t even crowded! It was a perfect night cap for a warm day.
DAY 2 – Saturday
We woke up eager for brunch. After a quick Google search of places that do boozy brunch we found Day By Day in Rittenhouse that was referred to as a Philadelphia staple no less than 5 times. I was thrilled. But first we made two stops along the way…
Fat Jack’s Comicrypt:We found this adorable shop on our walk to brunch and popped in. Amazing collection of comics and everyone working there was really nice. It’s such a pleasure to be able to go into a bookstore and not have it be loud and busy like most in NYC. So enjoyable!
Sophisticated Seconds:I had Googled good thrift stores the day before but all the returns, including this one, read like consignment shops with pricier stuff. When I went in however, I was super surprised, and pleased to find a whole range of stuff. I picked up an adorable red cashmere sweater dress here.
Day by Day: Ah, finally brunch! We messed up a little and didn’t realize that this place, like many others, was BYOB. But it was probably for the best as we had a long day ahead of us. Frank ate an INSANE stack of Challah French Toast and I had a yummy, healthier omelette. I really liked the atmosphere here and the food was as good as the reviews said.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: We had originally intended on going to The Franklin Institute to look at the impressionists, but as we neared that building we couldn’t help but notice the GIANT, BEAUTIFUL building down the way. We guessed it had to be the PMoA, so we decided to walk toward it. (See how not having an itinerary can be so fun!?) As we neared it we noticed a Rocky statue, not realizing we were at the Rocky steps! We of course raced up them and snapped a ton of photos (of the steps, of this crazy sculpture out front, of each other) before entering the museum.
What an absolutely pleasurable experience. I am from New York so I am so used to being in an overcrowded museum just mushed in a mix of people. On a Saturday afternoon the Philly Museum of Art felt practically empty and we were able to amble about at our leisure and see some seriously cool art. I have never felt more relaxed in a museum! Ever. We had so much fun here and since it cooled down considerably and was cloudy– it was a good dark day activity.
Sweet Charlies:Frank paid for a cab to take me to Sweet Charlie’s so I could eat more ice cream. This was closer to what I am used to. A long line, Instagrammable treats, and a cult following. BUT WOW. This is the best, best, rolled ice cream I have had. It is so rich and creamy. Incredible.
NAP TIME WHAT WHAT
McGillin’s Olde Ale House:After my rest (haha) we went out for happy hour drinks. College football beer bar. Standard fare, but loved that it was in an alley with a beer garden. People were able to gather in the street without getting run over.
Jamonera: It turned out that some friends from NYC were also in town, who knew!? We met them at Jamonera, which had been consistently packed since we arrived. I was so excited. We even had an outside table! Here we had two pitchers of sangria, and I again, ordered some fries. These were yummy thick cut fries, almost like potato skins, and they paired nicely with the sangria.
Tinto:We still had some time before our 9pm reservation at The Dandelion, so we had a glass of sangria at Tinto, next door to Village Whiskey. This had also come recommended from my friend so we popped by. Service was excellent. Sangria was yummy. And I definitely wound up leaving my credit card here, but didn’t know it until I woke up the next morning… sorry Tinto crew.
The Dandelion: The cutest restaurant ever! It reminded me of One if by Land, Two if Sea in New York City. The restaurant is an entire townhouse and there is seating in different rooms on different floors. I got to sit in a little booth nook! I was thrilled. We split a bottle of red wine here (Cannonball, a favorite) and we both had the Crab Risotto after a few appetizers. I typically like my risotto softer but the ambiance, all the red wine my system, and the olive plate made up for it. Adorable date spot. My coworker also brought her parents here a week later and they enjoyed it as well.
DAY 3 – Sunday: Our train was at 10:30. We had somehow been given a free breakfast at the hotel with our upgrade but I was a little hungover to enjoy it. I did definitely have some eggs though, before dragging myself to Tinto. Thank god the team there is SO nice and accommodating. The card was locked in a safe, so I left my address and got on my train. In the end, I made my friends go pick it up. What a mess!
Visiting Philly for the weekend was perfect. It’s so close, so you have almost no travel time, and the food is really phenomenal. I would definitely recommend going if you’d like to do Major City Lite. All the perks, none of the crowds.
I’m having one of those weeks where I feel bogged down but can’t find the source of the bogging. I am searching in every drawer but I can’t find what it is bringing me down. The grind of 9-5 job doesn’t help despite the love and support of coworkers and each day I find myself coming home depleted, worn out, and demotivated. Probably sounds familiar and despite my sadness, it makes me feel better knowing I am not alone.
I am fully capable of psyching myself up, repeating mantras, believing, and feeling inspired but I find very few outlets for that good energy. I have yet to find my gift to give and the process is endlessly draining, discouraging, and tiring. Hanging on to the belief that I’ll find my gift is not easy.
When I got home last night, unable to use my subway commute to determine what I should do with my life, I focused on dinner. I wanted to eat something that would taste like comfort food to take my mind off of the chaos for a bit. I wanted something to stick to my ribs but not weigh me down anymore than my own thoughts already do. So I decided to make shakshuka and make it for the first time. And of course, being as inwardly focused as I am, I recorded the process and wrote a little recipe.
I started by surveying what kind of spices and vegetables I had on hand to build this yummy egg dish around. I did not use a recipe. I am happiest when I am just grabbing whatever I have on hand and experimenting.
I love cooking but don’t have strong feelings toward recipes. I am including one here today and yes, I read them all the time. I believe the true pleasure of cooking is not following rules but taking something and make it your own. I like to use recipes as guidelines.
From my fridge and cabinets I pulled and used the following:
3 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of green onion
1 handful of Picholine olives
3/4 cups of tomato sauce
Pepper, parsley flakes, and turmeric
1 cup of arugula
I do love simple and minimal recipes and this one certainly falls into that category with a fairly short ingredient list and the use of a single pan.
To start I diced up the garlic while heating up a decent amount of olive oil in my pan. I kept the heat on low as I added the garlic. Next I rough chopped the green onion and tossed it in. And followed it up with some olives. The only olives I had on hand had pits so I spent a good amount of time both eating them and pitting them. Do yourself a favor and just go buy pitted olives and rough chop them as well. Toss them in with everything else and keep the heat low. Low heat requires patience but I usually use that time getting myself organized.
I let everything get tender but not mushy and poured in my tomato sauce. I used a Barilla pasta sauce that, while cheap, is pretty tasty. I stirred everything all together.
After that I sprinkled on some pepper, parsley flakes, and a tiny bit of turmeric because I like its anti-inflammatory properties and add it where I can. I did not stir these in, I left them on top to help season my eggs. Which I cracked right on top of the mixture. I wish all 3 eggs would have sunk in a little bit more from an aesthetic standpoint but in the end they all cooked nicely so it wasn’t a big deal.
After the eggs were cracked and plopped in, I covered the whole thing and turned up the heat to medium. I let them cook for about 10 minutes but should have done 7. The sauce cooked down just a touch too much. Full disclosure, I was texting my friends and making my lunch for the next day so I wasn’t paying as close attention as I should have!
I pulled everything off the heat and after a little photo shoot I dumped the mixture onto a bed of arugula.
And then I ate until I felt better. Which is perhaps not a healthy statement, but it is true.
Cooking is soothing and keeps me feeling level when days are long and difficult. Cooking dinner gives me a sense of purpose when I feel like I have none. I think perhaps that is why I cooked elaborate meals every single night when my former relationship was falling apart. It makes me feel needed and accomplished. It is the best escape.
Give the recipe a try and let me know what changes you make. There is a million things you can add to this! (Avocado, feta cheese, tomatoes, etc.) Also, what do you cook when you are feeling blue? Why does it make you feel better?
SHAKSHUKA FOR ONE
3 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of green onion
1 handful of Picholine olives
3/4 cups of tomato sauce
Pepper, parsley flakes, and turmeric, to taste
1 cup of arugula
In a small to medium pan, heat olive oil over a low heat and add diced garlic, green onion, and olives
Once tender, pour in tomato sauce and stir
Sprinkle with pepper, parsley, and turmeric, do not stir
Crack eggs on top of sauce
Cover and turn heat up to medium
Cook for about 7 minutes or until eggs are baked through
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.
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.
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.
A 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.