#121 Remembering Grandma
01 May 2017 // Bakersfield, California
Just got back from a very quick trip to Bakersfield with my family-in-law.
Today we celebrated the life of Deanna's grandma. The last few years were pretty rough on her, physically. I got to meet her just before that started, to get to experience the way Deanna remembered her growing up- with lots of personality.
I remember that meal at IHOP fondly. She will be missed.
#122 Life From Scratch
02 May 2017 // San Diego, California
“Being happy takes constant weeding, a tending of emotions and circumstances as they arise. There’s no happily ever after, or any one person or place that can bring happiness. It takes work to be calm in the midst of turmoil. But releasing the need to control it– well that’s a start.”
Book No. 16 of 2017
This book was totally different than what I expected, but totally beautiful, honest, and adventurous.
I know Sasha Martin from her blog and the project it revolves around– cooking dishes from every single country in the world. I was a fan of both, and I figured this book would capture much of the same spirit of adventure and culinary insight… it was, but that definitely wasn’t the foot that the book led with.
Instead, I got a book that explored her rocky and ever-changing childhood and all the emotional baggage that it came with. It was honest and vulnerable writing that I loved. There was definitely food involved, especially in the latter chapters, but it was the soul-bearing that left a more lasting impression.
#123 Meeting James Bishop
03 May 2017 // San Diego, California
This is James. He’s about to represent Plant With Purpose as he spends his summer on a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. In addition to being an advocate for the people we work with and an adventurer, he’s also a talented musician.
I’m excited to launch the Plant With Purpose Ambassador Program to give artists and adventurers the chance to promote our work while doing the things they love. Let me know if you’re an adventurer or artist wanting to tie your passion to the service of others.
#124 The Crack Shack
04 May 2017 // San Diego, California
My birthday week pretty much turned into my own personal San Diego restaurant week. Knowing myself, I shouldn’t be too surprised.
Here are a few of my early favorites in town:
The Crack Shack – Anyone who does fried chicken right has a fast pass to my favorites list. If only some Nashville Hot Chicken were also on the menu.
Farm & Fork – Not exactly in my neighborhood, being all the way out in La Mesa, but such a great spot for brunch.
Otono Sushi – I have many more sushi places to discover and explore, but for now, I’m glad I know I can count on this one.
05 May 2017 // San Diego, California
I looked in the mirror in this morning and what did I see? A few strands of white hairs mixed in amongst my sea of black. Wisdom. Experience. No wait... just Beignet's hair.
Thanks to everyone who made my day a fun one- everyone who greeted me here or texted me or bought me a pint or picnic'ed at the bay or got trapped in the Aztec temple with me. Thank you.
I'm happy about where I get to be in life right now. It's worth saying so many thank you's.
#126 Windy Cove
06 May 2017 // La Jolla, California
When I’m with you I have fun.
That’s been our bread and butter since day one.
#127 The Magicians
07 May 2017 // San Diego, California
“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there's nothing else. It's here, and you'd better decide to enjoy it or you're going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”
Book No. 17 of 2017
This book was pitched to me in a way that made it impossible to not be intrigued– Harry Potter for adults, plus a large amount of influences from Narnia. Of course I’d want to check that out.
That description was definitely accurate in a sense. The similarities to those classics were one-for-one enough so that it didn’t even seem “in the spirit of Harry Potter or Narnia,” it was intentional. A school for magicians otherwise invisible to muggles. A parallel land accessible through a grandfather clock… one that was visited by four siblings around wartime.
Unfortunately I didn’t find much more in the book beyond those curiosities. The characters weren’t likable… it was like Harry Potter but with Draco Malfoy as the protagonist. And the book blitzes through time. Midway through the first book, they’ve already made it through their academic career.
I’ll probably still try out the rest of this trilogy, under the rumors that it gets a little better, and because the ending seemed to be missing something.
#128 PB Macarons
08 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Every now and then I’ll head over to the massive Asian mega-mart for my lunch break. It’s always a bit of a scramble to find the rare ingredients that are on my list in such a short time frame and it kind of feels like I’m on Guy’s Grocery Games.
Sometimes, though, I don’t need to hurry so much, and that gives me a chance to stop in for a snack at Paris Baguette and take a gander at some of their visual splendor.
#129 Grown Up Toaster Scrambles
09 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission 14: I’m about to confess something… Pillsbury makes these things that are basically savory breakfast versions of toaster strudels. Ever see them? They’re usually filled with bacon or sausage and can be found near all the microwavable Jimmy Dean stuff.
Okay, here’s the confession. I really like them. Like, guilty pleasure status. They’re a total atrocity to put into your body with all the saturated fats and sodium, but in the most artificial way, they’ve hit all the taste- and-texture notes I love. Flaky crust, tasty fillings, breakfast meats.
I wondered if I could make some that were homemade and less awful for you.
The results: I went with my go-to puff pastry recipe and filled it with goodies. Japanese style scrambled eggs. Shredded cheddar. Bacon. I froze the insides earlier so the consistency would stay right. And these things kept pretty well in the freezer.
Now I want to make these in bulk, so I can have them on hand with out the awfulness of having to go the factory-made route.
#130 Farmers Market Sampling
10 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Wednesday nights adventures at the Farmers Market lead to samples galore.
#131 Kimchi Bulgolgi Pizza
11 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission 15: A Korean inspired pizza, some form of kimchi being absolutely necessary.
The results: Somehow the spiky acidity of kimchi and the sour-umami of bulgolgi are perfect matches for the rest of the flavors in a typical pizza. Just to make sure, I reduced the tomato sauce with some sriracha and hoisin to tie it all together.
#132 Massive Sushi Roll
12 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Our fusion food- It's like a sushi roll, but instead of fillings, there's a whole other sushi roll inside of it.
It's been great being able to hang out and make so many meals with Chris and Katie since moving to San Diego.
A) We have so much in common. A heart to see people grow. Interests in a pretty wide variety of anything and everything. A goal to build life around what we value the most.
B) We have so much not in common. Spontaneity versus structure. Doing versus becoming. Yet we benefit from the way those differences gel.
C) We've been friends for nearly a decade. With the past few years of my life consisting of so much movement and changing adventures, it's a real treasure having friends you can be confident about staying close after another decade goes by.
#133 PCT Trailhead
13 May 2017 // Campo, California
We woke up at three so we could get to the U.S.-Mexico border by sunrise. We met James at the Southern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, as he was on day one of his thru hike all the way to Canada.
James is an Adventure Ambassador for Plant With Purpose. His vision for his trek lines up so much with the things we value.
“It’s not about this rugged individualism,” he mentions. “It’s a pilgrimage. One that helps me realize my own dependence- on God, on other people, on nature.”
He nailed it. The best adventures are quests of humility.
14 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Compassion fatigue is real.
Lately, there’s been a rise of “positive news” sites. On the whole, I love them. They’re an important counterbalance to traditional journalism which is biased towards negativity, and there are many ways in which our world continues to get better. On the other hand, I’m not entirely comfortable with the escapism that this sort of curation suggests. I know I have the tendency to over-focus on the good, which can be a weakness if not managed.
Last week I heard an interview with the New York Times’ Tina Rosenberg. She writes the “Fixes” column which began when she tried to write about how big pharmaceutical companies and the Clinton Administration were fixing the prices of AIDS treatments and restricting generics, keeping medicine out of the hands of the sick.
She tried pitching that story. No takers. There’s that compassion fatigue in action. She then pitched a different story about how Brazil was working around these challenges to provide the treatment for free. That story had legs. It revealed the injustice alongside a sense of hope– and it challenged any major actors to question why they weren’t trying a similar approach.
The interview was a great reminder that positivity and spreading joy should never be an act of escapism. Good stories are reminders that a better world is possible, and a defiant challenge to injustice. Hope outlasts outrage.
15 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Happy Monday. Every new day, every new week, brings with it a new set of decisions– choices to make that will have subtle or drastic impacts on our lives.
Should Deanna go with Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel or Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt?
#136 Design Grind
16 May 2017 // San Diego, California
I’ve been having so much fun at work ever since my design software subscription started!
With so many shirts and poster boards and website drafts to design by the first week of June, this week has been crunch time in the world of Adobe Products.
It’ll be so fun to see the finished products this week leads to.
#137 Johnnyswim Surprise
17 May 2017 // La Jolla, California
I told Deanna to come by the office for a little surprise when I got off of work.
The surprise was this– date night featuring Johnnyswim at the Birch Aquarium! We got engaged to their music so it wasn't exactly the first time I surprised her with their songs.
What a show. Gorgeous outdoor stage with paragliders overhead and the sun setting in the backdrop. Plus these two are pure chemistry, and I'm pretty sure I'll make a good effort to see them every time they come around.
#138 Bike to Work Day
18 May 2017 // San Diego, California
National Bike to Work Day, AKA, sorry for the sweat, co-workers!
It’s also a good day to discover all the points along your daily commute that would be so much more dangerous without a car.
#139 Pleasant Surprises
19 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Starting a sunny weekday morning up atop Downtown SD. Urban. Idyllic. All at the same time.
Some notes taken from earlier at Creative Mornings inspired by Jeni Amaraneni’s talk.
+ Talent is evenly distributed throughout the world, but opportunity is not.
+ The solutions to a lot of the world’s problems already exists, and it’s often a matter of bringing them to the people who need them.
+ You get to be somebody else’s pleasant surprise today… how fun is that!?
#140 Out of the Darkness
20 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Got to participate this weekend in the opening festivities for the Out of Darkness #overnightwalksandiego to prevent suicide.
It stood out to me were how many lives are affected by suicide. Most walkers were walking in honor of somebody who they knew personally. I think at least half of the people gathered in Ruocco Park were there on behalf of parents, partners, children, friends.
This isn’t something I really think about too often. But my own blinders aside, it’s such a real pain that confronts people every day… way more people than we’d probably realize until it confronts us directly.
It also stood out to me was the instant connection between people who had gone through the same sort of profound loss. The presence of community was powerful. Struggles can bring people together in a way success can’t. I don’t think it can be said enough times– you are not alone.
21 May 2017 // La Jolla, California
Need a quick lesson in humility? Don’t we all? I highly recommend hopping into the ocean when the waves are in full effect and letting them thrash you around a little bit. It usually does the trick.
I really respect people who show restraint when it comes to taking on projects and ventures if they aren’t sure their motives are pure. That definitely doesn’t come natural to me. At the same time, there’s something to be said about jumping in and doing a cannonball into life. It’ll probably get messy, but life is a pretty good teacher if you take notes.
#142 Tteokbokki Burger
22 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission 16: Confession– Mac & cheese cheeseburgers have become such a trend lately, to which I raise an eyebrow. Macaroni noodles underneath a bun simply double up on the starchy-carny ingredients, and I’d rather have a gooey patty of cheese rather than the inconsistent texture of mac & cheese. That said- if we’re going to be putting noodles in burgers, I thought the one with the most potential was tteokbokki, the large, super-gooey Korean rice noodles with their own distinct taste.
Results: I remain skeptical of noodles in burgers, but I did like the taste of this. The tteokbokki sauce played nicely with the beef patty, and I was able to marinate shredded lettuce in leftover kimchi juice with a few more pieces of cabbage to complement the flavor. I like the way these turned out.
#143 Age of Anger
23 May 2017 // San Diego, California
“Our unit of analysis should also be the irreducible human being, her or his fears, desires and resentments. It is in the unstable relationship between the inner and public selves that one can start to take a more precise measure of today’s global civil war.”
Book No. 18 of 2017
I think I totally had the wrong expectations for this book going into it. I was expecting a pretty thoughtful reflection on the current hostile social climate that seems to be a global phenomenon, and thoughts on facets like online discourse, outrage culture, and the false promise of overconfident authoritarians.
Instead, this book is simply a synthesis of different philosophical and political-scientific writings throughout history as modernism comes into being. I didn’t really catch on to any thoughtful insights or ideas that came as a result of different thoughts being connected. It was my only reading material on a flight to Portland, though, so I ended up finishing.
#144 Fried Green Tomato BLT
24 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission 17: Essentially recreate a sandwich from Prodigal Son Brewing Co. in Pendelton- a fried green tomato BLT.
Results: An overpriced green heirloom tomato from the farmers market cut into steak like slices, breaded and fried were the centerpiece of this sandwich. Complementing it were crisp bacon, lettuce, pepper jack and pesto. I was pretty happy with my results here.
#145 Write Space
25 May 2017 // San Diego, California
It’s amazing how much a good physical space can do to get my creative juices flowing. A couple hours at Moniker before work means I’ve done some of my best writing in weeks before the clock turns nine.
I’m making it an active goal to try and do more of my creative work in spaces outside the home or office… also, it makes pleasant surprises a little more likely to happen.
#146 Mom’s Birthday Dinner
26 May 2017 // San Diego, California
You may not know who half of the celebrities are when we play Heads Up, but that doesn't matter because you raised me to be kind and to always do my best at everything... including accents and impressions.
Happy birthday, mom! Here's to many, many more years of nobody believing you when they find out your age.
#147 Noble Canyon Trail
27 May 2017 // Pine Valley, California
This became a very familiar sight for miles and miles. I'm now back from the wilderness after a long weekend's backpacking trip with the bug bites, sore legs, and exhausted puppy to show for it.
Felt so good to get outside. Now if you'll excuse me, putting on a movie marathon and sitting very still sounds like it'll feel pretty good too.
#148 On The Trail
28 May 2017 // Pine Valley, California
I lived in Italy for a summer, years ago. Adapting to my surroundings, I did everything really slow. I walked wherever I needed to go. I got my ingredients at the market every night, not weekly. I'd start conversations I wouldn't expect to end for hours.
Oddly, it felt like there was more time for everything. What a paradox. The slower you went, the more time also slowed to accommodate you. It started to make sense why Rome gets called the eternal city. There was no rush from one day to the next, but each one held so many flavors, so many new sights, so much life.
When you're in a familiar place, it takes more effort to slow things down and take it all in. That's exactly what I want to do right now, though. There are so many people to get to know, so many new things I can't wait to try. But I want to slow things down so I don't miss any of it.
#149 Ginger-Garlic Shrimp and Grits
29 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission 19: Make some shrimp and grits with a bit of an Asian twist. I’ve heard of people taking the ginger spin on grits before, and I figured I could add some miso as well and double down on the Southern/Asian fusion.
The Results: Hey- not so bad! The market didn’t have maize that I could use for grits, so instead I went with millet and that wasn’t a shabby replacement. I cooked trace amounts of shredded cheddar into the grits too so I could get it even creamier.
30 May 2017 // San Diego, California
“Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies' histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.”
– Jared Diamond
Book No. 19 of 2017
During my job interview, actually, I asked my now-boss if he had any book recommendations to help me fill my void in knowledge about environmental science. He recommended Collapse, and I immediately added it into my Amazon cart.
I had a few other books to get through, but I eventually took on the quest of reading this. It is a large, thick book that is pretty dense with information. It took me much longer to get through this book than any other this year, even when adjusted for pages.
Safe to say, this book was terrific. I learned a whole lot about what it’s looked like when different societies fell apart when resources were poorly managed, when cultural sins led people to destroy their environments, and when leadership put people into conflict with their places. That’s led to the fall of some really powerful civilizations. Much of it seemed ominous when put up next to today’s leaders and societies.
It’s not a doom and gloom book, though, as Diamond also gives plenty of examples of how people have done things right. He’s especially hailed certain big business efforts, and pointed out how economic interests and environmental interests were often linked. I got a lot out of this read.
#151 Thai Basil Peanut Butter Meatballs
31 May 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission 21: Recreate the signature item of one of my favorite food trucks that I left behind in Eugene– a Thai peanut butter coated meatball wrapped in bacon and basil.
The Results: Hey, not too bad! The key was making meatballs that were good enough to stand on their own, and that wasn’t so hard when you have quality ground beef and bacon wrapped around them inside the oven. The basil and spicy peanut butter helped round out the flavor- I only wish I had better noodles to pair it with. Some flat pad thai noodles would’ve been perfect.