Archive by Author

The Anti White-Whine, To Your Satisfaction

4 Aug

So I was recently made aware of the existence of, where people repost examples of other privileged people complaining about petty inconveniences.

I don’t know if it counts as “whitewhining”, but it got me thinking that, honestly, the dominant mode of discourse in my family really is complaining.

That’s weird to say because I consider us a fairly happy lot, but anytime we’re all together, we just bitch about everything!  I feel like it’s one way of sharing our day-to-day with each other.  It’s the fabric of the way we converse: one person complains, another commiserates, and we strangely feel closer.

And that’s alright with me, but I think it’s also good for state of mind to find absolutely no fault sometimes.  Pick something you just can’t complain about no matter how hard you try!

I can’t find a way to make any complaints about:

  • Hiking: spending time outside & exercising around nature
  • Eating seafood: I learned how in 2009, and now I’m never going to stop!
  • My Victoria’s Secret wall: the yellow pinstripes give me a sunny disposition, and they remind me of all my friends who helped me to make them :]

    cafe 21, north park

  • Champagne cocktails: (pictured here, raspmosa)
  • Edible flowers on top of food: (pictured here, nasturtium on poached eggs)

Dinosaur Egg Pedicure, To Your Satisfaction

3 Aug

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, which invariably reminds me that it’s time to change my polish since I’m hanging my head over my feet.  I refuse to go to a nail place because I have a somewhat intimidating collection of China Glaze that could last a lifetime, so it would be a disservice not to use it.  The only thing that professional pedicures do really well, in my opinion, is exfoliate.

olive oil & sugar

I made a really easy scrub, and it has two ingredients, and the ingredients are extra virgin olive oil and plain white sugar.

(l) cracked medallion (r) re-fresh mint

Just 8 Ingredients, To Your Satisfaction

19 Jul

I was watching an old episode of “True Life” on Mtv, and the subject happened to be extreme allergies.  There was this one teenage boy in particular who struck me because, basically, his food allergies were so severe that he was intolerant of all but something like 8 foods.  Of this entire wide world of foods, just 8!

Of course, he was suffering from a load of nutritional imbalances since his diet was so limited.  But it really started me thinking about how I eat foods with a million ingredients all the time, and that’s not very healthy either.  Anything processed, weird chemical dyes, etc.

chemistry in the kitchen

What if you had to limit yourself to eight, whole foods?

I posed the challenge to myself to create something healthy with 8 ingredients that I would be equally happy eating in the heat of the day or in the middle of the night.  My mission lately has been to incorporate as many vegetables into my diet as possible… so meet my salad!

pico de gallo, on the half shell

Just 8 Ingredient Salad

  • cucumber
  • bell pepper, multi-colored
  • tomato
  • onion, from my boyfriend’s nona’s garden
  • corn
  • lime juice
  • cilantro
  • tajín
1) Let the lime juice soften all the ingredients for a while in the refrigerator.  Come by every now and then to add more tajin & stir it around.
       1a. Or don’t wait, whatever!  I’m not your mother.  I just think it’s better cold.

Una knows healthy food when she sees it

photo credit 2

Intuitive Eating, To Your Satisfaction

17 Jul

Not to brag, but I actually lost weight on vacation.  While eating stuff like the chamomile creme brulee pictured above!  And it’s such a relief.

Writing down everything that you eat for two whole months makes you hyper-aware of the pervasive nature of food.  Exhausting hardly begins to cover it.  I’m grateful that I’ve learned how to eat in a healthier way, but I can’t go on being afraid of the things I love forever.

So I decided to just say, “fuck it,” and go on a real vacation from all the head games with food.   I was nervous about going off the wagon, but I think I knew intuitively that I could make good decisions.  Trusting myself in that way again felt foreign and very, very nice.

The craziest thing to say is that it was really easy.  I scavenged what I could from the continental breakfast, went outside and moved around a lot during the middle of every day, had fancy dinners with my sister, and everything turned out okay.

tree pose at the gravity garden in Carmel

I guess it’s all about striking a balance :]




Handmade Trail Mix, To Your Satisfaction

12 Jul

I’m so hungry for everything right now – food, views, life!  I was walking around the forest today, catching glimpses of pretty little bays and inlets through the trees, and thinking “I want to go to there.”  So, I used my legs and went to there!  Repeat as necessary, and chase with:

  • Teddy grahams
  • Cocoa almonds
  • Dehydrated blueberries


Point Lobos preserve, North Shore trail

Photo credit  1,2: personal

Feeling at Home on the Road, To Your Satisfaction

11 Jul

At home, anywhere: in this case, Pismo Beach

I’m currently on the road, hiking my weight in gold up and down central California.  My sister and I are having a beautiful trip so far, alternately driving up the coast & stopping to explore interesting cliffs, meadows, and possibly happy hours, too.

Even when I’m in itinerant mode, I still feel pretty at home.  I guess maybe that’s not so strange.  I find comfort in a mixture of the familiar and the (as of yet) unknown.

In the last 2 days, I’ve found secret waterfalls, collected beach glass, climbed cliff top trees, scraped my knees while clambering over mysterious rocks.  But I’ve also sat in the room & done just the right amount of nothing, watched Harry Potter on ABC Family (which is, exactly what I would be doing at home).

current view from my static position


Being flexible, not sweating the small things, and making a practice of relaxation is a good thing :]

Your Life as a Bento Box, Part 1

7 Jul

The Bento fruit salad: both an art and a timeless pursuit

I have a friend (who also created the layered pillars of fruit pictured above) who I may or may not have accused of having a life like a bento box.  What I mean to say by that is – uniformly portioned; aesthetically pleasing; and segregated by color! I don’t mean colors found on people duh, more like on blouses and foods!

And though I’m not always the most orderly person, sometimes there’s harmony in a system… Case in point, my own latest foray into the Bento Box lifestyle.

Rows: red, thru violet

Recently, I found myself in the unique position of having: (one) freshly moved-away boyfriend and (one) awesome New-to-Me bookshelf that got left behind during the moving process. Not exactly tit for tat.

But to make the whole installation and shifting of stuff more exciting, my art-oriented sister decided to color organize my books.  She had a burning desire for rainbow book that was, so burning, it could only be quenched by rainbow book! rainbow book!

rainbow book!

So she color arranged (almost) my entire collection, and added a shoe, and it looks great!  A veritable reading rainbow.  Sometimes, a little aesthetic appeal goes a long way towards making things feel special :]

other fun ways to arrange your books (other than by subject) –

  • stack them on their sides to make pyramids/geometric shapes
  • use sparkly shoes or other decorative objects to act as bookends
  • rig a lazy susan or other rotating device to hold your books

New Inspiration home design

  • utilize open space!  especially if you have tall books and narrow shelves
  • if you’re a monochromatic control freak, cover all of your books in matching scrapbook paper!
Organization is more than kind of a sport, I’m coming to realize.
photo credit 1

photo credit 2,3 personal
photo credit 4 here

A Defense of Diet Coke, To Your Satisfaction

30 Jun

As far as I’m concerned, the only soda in the world (diet or otherwise) is Diet Coke.  I don’t drink it because it tastes like caloric Coke, I just purely love the way it tastes.  The flavor has got that je ne sais quoi, unnamable quality .  I mean, I certainly wouldn’t describe it as caramel, though I’ve sometimes heard that was the original prototype for the elixir’s flavor.  And the ingredients do include vanilla and cinnamon, but again, that’s definitely not what I would call it.

In any case, I don’t really care that I can’t name the flavor.  I feel like I’ve been catching so much flack for drinking Diet Coke lately, though!  I’ve been making appointments with a trainer/nutritionally minded person as of late, and part of what that entails is keeping records of everything I eat and drink.  Every time that diet soda plays part of the day’s log, the red pen comes out.

And I understand that from a nutrition standpoint, Diet Coke is an empty food.  It’d be better to drink water.  Duh.  But what I think is being discounted here is that – okay, let’s say it’s a given that at some mealtimes you want a beverage that isn’t water.  Now, on the spectrum of Non-Water Drink Choices, hasn’t Diet Coke got to be a lot smarter than many many other options?  Like Coke. Or a smoothie. Or beer.

So what I suppose I’m trying to say is, let me drink my diet soda in peace! Stop telling me that it will make me fat! I took Data Methodology classes in undergrad, and I know that there’s a difference between correlation & causation!

The afore-linked article references a study where people who drank diet sodas were shown to have bigger waistlines than those who didn’t. To that I say – so what! Just because you can prove that the kind of person who is drinking diet soda is more likely to be fat, you can’t prove that diet soda is the reason they’re fat.

Here’s a related example that draws on the same logic: My sociology professor told us in class once that people who read the newspaper report feeling safer & trusting the government more than people who watch the news on television. He asked us why that might be.

Lots of people sat there pontificating on how perhaps the newspaper doesn’t report as much violent crime, or television makes us jaded.  That’s looking for Causation, the same as saying that drinking Diet Coke causes you to be overweight.

The reason turned out to be that, on average the kind of person who reads the newspaper is older than people who get their news from television, and older generations report trusting the government more.  That’s Correlation.

The point is that Diet Coke can, but doesn’t have to, accompany bad eating choices.  If you eat an entire large movie popcorn and wash it down with diet soda, I can see how that would cause your waist to expand.  And plenty of people do exactly that.  But what if I want to eat broccoli with my Diet Coke, can you look me in the eye and tell me that’s wrong?

Photo credit1
Photo credit 2

Clean Yoga Mats, To Your Satisfaction

27 Jun

I enjoy yoga as much as the next person.  Stretching and contorting and letting the blood rush to your head is always good practice, and nothing gets rid of a headache faster.  But I’m also part of the school of thought that for it to be a good workout, you should be sweating, right?  So I’m a big fan of vinyasa yoga since it gets you moving.  I like hot yoga from time to time (I’ve never encountered another exercise that makes my ankles sweat)

But one, possibly obvious, caveat to this athletic approach to yoga is that you’re dripping all over the mat.  I don’t want to scale back my intensity, but I also am struck by the feeling that a yoga mat is, well, absorbent material.  So basically, a good cleaning method is needed.

a good clean feeling

I tried a few different articles with suggestions { here } {here } ranging from throwing it in the washing machine to diluted dish soap and essential oils in a spray bottle.

I didn’t want to put it in the wash because I feel like the agitation would tear it up. Actually, I liked the idea of the tea tree oil best because it’s a natural astringent.  But I didn’t feel like driving to the store, so I used what I had on hand.

Attempt 1: I have a surplus of face toner right now, the first two ingredients of which are water and isopropyl alcohol.  Sounds like a cleaning agent, yeah?  So I suppose if I’m willing to clean my face with it, then I can clean my yoga mat, which sometimes has my face resting on it.  I used a damp sponge and just threw some toner on the mat and scrubbed it around.  This was not satisfactory, and I do not recommend it.

Attempt 2: I then turned to a solution of baking soda and water. Which is natural, and totally effective!  In fact, I was so pleased that after I finished with the mat, I went to town on my walls, door, and switchplates, and it all worked nicely.

Are there any cleaning shortcuts that you use?

Photo credit 1

Photocredit 2

Light Summer Reading, To Your Satisfaction

24 Jun

mornings done right

For me, reading is ritual. I like to get my hands on a good hardcover book. Paperback is less expensive, but something about the way I hold the book when I read curls the covers in a way that drives me crazy. I borrowed a book of Peter Gizzi poetry from my boyfriend and bent the front cover so bad that I threw it under a heavy dictionary for a week (trying to recover the damage), with no success!

These first couple weeks of summer, I’ve been reading like a banshee for plenty of reasons, but mostly because the more I read, the more I write, and that’s always a good thing.  This is what I’ve had my hands on lately:


1.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Have to finish the re-read before the 2nd movie comes out, of course.  Beyond that, I’m starting my studies for an M.A. in Children’s Lit. in about 6 weeks, so I’ve been very into all things Young Adult/Adolescent lately.  Harry Potter is just, a thing, for me; I can’t explain why I love it so much, but there’s substance there!

A very meta-literary 'whodunnit'

2. El Móvil by Javier Cercas

El Móvil (which means, “the motive,” in Spanish) is the story of a young author struggling to pen his first novel about a pair of young newlyweds who murder their elderly neighbor.  Meanwhile, the author himself lives in an apartment complex with a pair of young newlyweds and, you guessed it, a seriously unsafe elderly neighbor.  And the walls are thin.

The detective-esque genre in Latin American literature is always an appealing one to me.  It’s especially close to my heart right now because I’ve been preparing to do a little Columbo work myself.  My (sadly) ailing grandfather has set one last charge to me – research a 60-year old murder case in the San Bernardino microfiche archives.  It’s going to be a strange journey, but I can’t wait to see what I find.  And this book definitely puts me in the mood for sleuthing, murder, mystery, and intrigue.

3. The Green Tea Book by Lester Mitscher & Victoria Toews

I picked up this book in a bargain bin at the UCSD bookstore for $1.99, and it’s given me enough tea trivia to last a lifetime!  Did you know that green tea’s active polyphenols cause carbohydrates to digest more slowly and help regulate blood sugar?  Or that green tea provides flouride for strong, healthy teeth while simultaneously inhibiting the primary bacterial cause (S. mutans) of cavities?  Well, I didn’t, but I do now!  And many more weird facts about the health benefits of green tea.


Have you read any summer-worthy page turners lately?


photo credit 1