Postcards from Tahoe

I had such a lovely time in Tahoe this weekend.  I will write more about it after it has had some time to roll around in my brain.  For now, here are some pictures and highlights from the trip.

 

Tahoo8

Time with KJ :)

 

TahoeEdit2

Gorgeous Views

Cooking, eating and chatting with KJ's family.

Cooking, eating and chatting with KJ’s family.

 

Sunbathing!

Sunbathing!

 

 

My Baby Sister Graduated!

DSC01310

My baby sister graduate from UC San Diego with a Bachelor’s in International Studies.  I am so proud!

 

UCSD

Rather than going through the traditional ceremony, Christi opted for a family created celebration.  We dressed her up in cap and gown.  Then, we wandered around campus and hummed the graduation march.

DSC01312

The highlight of the weekend was the graduation party that night.  We toasted my sister and her accomplishments, my parents for all their hard work putting both of us through college, and the friends and family that helped get Christi to the finish line.  It was a joy to see my Mom so very happy and proud.

 

Flow

 

Photo http://www.unprofound.com/viewpic.php?pic=buddha.jpg&photographer=jim

Life Coach for Students Photo http://www.unprofound.com/viewpic.php?pic=buddha.jpg&photographer=jim

I work as a life coach for students entering graduate school.  It is job that can be numbing and repetitive or deeply profound.  I talk to prospective students about why they want to go to graduate school.  I am trained to build a relationship and – within minutes of meeting them – get to a student’s core motivation for pursuing graduate school.  When I am paying attention, I hear their dark moments, their pain and their great hopes.  Or I’m not paying attention, and I hear the same story I have heard 20 times already this week.

 

I have always seen the potential to access people’s epic stories through this work.  However, just a few weeks ago, I entered my first prolonged flow state while listening to my students stories.  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi proposed the idea of flow, a concept within positive psychology which is described as intense focus and joy.  When I was a kid playing soccer, we called it being in the zone.

It was awesome.  I felt such a sense of purpose and joy.  I served my students in a more attuned fashion than I ever have before.  I was energized and drained and pumped.  After three blissful days, I lost it.  Which is, apparently, how flow works.

Photo http://www.unprofound.com/viewpic.php?pic=dance_on_glass.jpg&photographer=jim

Photo http://www.unprofound.com/viewpic.php?pic=dance_on_glass.jpg&photographer=jim

Although I haven’t been able to get back to that state, experiencing it for a few days left me with a few thoughts.  1)  I want back into flow.  2)  Flow is the gift or payoff from lots of hard work and learning.  Csikszentmihalyi proposes that flow is achieved when we are highly challenged and highly skilled at the task we are attempting.  So, I was unlikely to have achieved this state earlier in my tenure at this job.

 

A few things seem to have contributed to achieving a flow state:

- Taking good care of my needs.  Getting enough sleep, food, water, rest, solitude, quiet and connection.

- Yoga helped me practice presence and mindfulness.

- A training the week before that bumped up my skill and challenge level.

- Taping into why I care about the work I do.  My team has recently embarked on a project to categorize our “You’re Welcome” moments – those moments that we make an impact on our students.  Paying attention to these moments of impact help me remember that what I do is important.

 

Csíkszentmihályi hypothesized that people with several very specific personality traits may be better able to achieve flow more often than the average person.  These traits include curiosity, persistence, low self-centeredness, and a high rate of performing activities for intrinsic reasons only.  My company hires for these characteristics.  So the thoughts that are still rolling around my brain are: How can I personally cultivate a flow state more often?  How can I support my company in promoting a flow state for more coaches?

Have you experienced flow at work?  Would you want to?  What supports you in cultivating flow?

Social Media Magic

013

I had such a wonderful moment with social media this week.

I started thinking about decorating my cubicle.  As with any decorating project – I created a pinterest board!  I posted rugs, decorative bowls, and various plants.  My friend Rachel, who I haven’t had a chance to see in months, saw the picture of a spider plant pop up on her Pinterest feed. Her spider plant had babies so she reached out via Facebook and offered me a plant.  It gave us an excuse to grab dinner.

I went over to her beautiful apartment in downtown Portland, watched the sun set over the city, and enjoyed a leisurely meal with Rachel and her husband.  It was so good to catch up and relax with friends.   Now, the plant that I have in my cubicle is extra special and happy making.

I’ve heard a lot of arguments that social media is bad for human connection.  I’m sure it can be.  In my life, it generally a tool that facilitates connection with people in real life.  Occasionally, it creates magic.

 

 

Food and Family

My life and blog have been about community and family.  To talk about cooking is to talk about who I am cooking for.  For me, food is all about building connection with the people you are eating with.  So it seems relevant to share a change in who I am cooking for here.

Brett and I broke up shortly before Christmas.  It was painful and scary and absolutely the right decision.

I didn’t cook in any meaningful way for about a month before the breakup and for about 4 months following.  So I haven’t had a lot that is food related to post about.

One of the interesting things about being single is that I have a lot a chances to rethink what I want.  Where do I want to live?  Who do I want to spend most my time with?  Where do I want to go with the blog?  I want to talk about food here but I also want to talk building a community, navigating career, and creating a home – the things I spend most of my time thinking about.

So – it is good to see you all again.  I’m happy to be back.

Fig and Corn Muffins

fig1

My Fantasy LIfe

 

My fantasy life: gorgeous food, successful recipes, and time to revel in my success with a good book and a big mug of tea.

 

DSC01291

Real Life

Real life does not always (often?) work that way for me.  I had been fantasizing about a fig cupcake with a goat cheese frosting for months.  There is about a three week stretch in which figs are available.  So, despite it being a super busy month, I forced myself into the kitchen to give it a go.  I tried 3 different versions of the recipe and none of them were what I was imagining.  Grainy corn and grainy fig are a weird texture combination.  My goat cheese frosting was runny and did not hold a piped shape no matter what I tried.  After several attempts, it occurred to me that I didn’t like figs last year. .. or the year before that . .. so perhaps I don’t even like figs.

DSC01292

 

Frustrating!  But ultimately worth it.  Dreaming helps me know where I want to go.  Sometimes, its exactly what I was hoping for and I get to live the fantasy.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t match up.  I realize that I just don’t like figs and I have renewed energy to work on the basics and hone my skills.

Postcards from Portland

Wish you  were here!

tom1

I am so in love with Portland this Fall – the colors, the sunny crisp days, and the produce!

In August and September, we had a series of house guests.  My parents, my sister, and some friends were all up at separate times.  Showing them around and seeing Portland through their eyes really highlighted what a gorgeous and tasty place I live.

Indigo Rose Tomato

Indigo Rose Tomato

 

One of the highlights of  living here is living so close to local farms (about a 15 minute drive) and close enough to OSU that we get to try the new produce that is being developed there.  For example, the produce in these pictures are Indigo Rose tomatoes developed at OSU. A little bit sweeter and less complex than some tomatoes and a striking addition to a salad.

tom2

The other fruit pictured is a pineapple tomatillo.  I don’t know where these were developed but they are so much fun.  Small and sweet, they are delicious eaten by the handful like cherry tomatoes.  I also make a nice salsa with them which I served as a garnish for chile verde stew.  The play of the sweet pineapple tomatillos with the more savory green tomatillo stew tickled me.

Anyways, its gorgeous and tasty here right now.  I wish you were here.   I would drag you through the aisles of the Beaverton Farmers Market, feed youpineapple tomatillos, and make you scoop the gross bits of the pumpkin out for me.

Closet Strategies

DSC01218

 

I mentioned that I am working on updating my wardrobe.  The goal is to look put together, appropriate, and to be able to put it together cheaply and easily.

The first step was to organize my closet.  We separated it into work, weekend, and super casual.  We also defined 4-5 colors for each category.  By limiting the colors in each category, the hope is that it will be easy to interchange pieces and create more outfits.  Also, the hope is that a limited number of colors will make it easier to shop.

Work Clothes

Work Clothes

 

Work clothes are grey, blue, black and white with pops of yellow and maroon.  What shapes or fabrics will make it through my work day?  I get up at 6, take public transit for an hour in, sit at a desk, and sometimes go to yoga at lunch.  I need work clothes, make up, and a hairstyle that will make it through all that and still look put together.

Weekend

 

Weekend clothes are almost harder because there is more room to play.  The colors I’ve picked are black, green, and maroon. Brett says I should just pick whatever catches my attention and who cares if it is cohesive.  I don’t know.  I think it takes me two hours to get ready on the weekends and it could be easier.  Also, give me a project and I go into it whole hog.

As you can see from the above photos, cleaning out my closet left my closet a bit bare.  Where do you go for wardrobe inspiration?

Kafte + Wedding Update

Kafte1

 

We are no longer wedding visioning, we are wedding planning!  We made a budget, we are starting to look at venues and still I can’t shake the idea of self catering.  I haven’t followed through on the 300 deviled egg challenge but I have continued to think about feasibility and a menu.  (I will do the deviled egg challenge soon.)

Our menu would probably be pulled pork, lamb kafte, and some sort of lasagna/baked pasta.  The goal would be to have a menu that could be completely finished 24 hours before the wedding itself so that we did not have to worry about cooking on the day.

Kafte2

I love kafte – lamb, tomatoes and cumin!  Additionally, one of our first dates was grilling lamb together so it seems like a natural fit for the wedding menu.

Lamb Kafte

Recipe:

1 lb ground lamb

1/2 onion finely chopped

1 egg

1 Tbs cumin

1 pinch of salt

Non Stick Spray

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix all ingredients.  Roll into large walnut sized balls.  Spray cookie sheets with non stick spray.  Bake for 15- 20 minutes until the center of the meatballs are no longer pink.

Serve with cumin tomato sauce and mint yogurt sauce.