Homemade Peanut Butter and Friendships

Last night I had some new girlfriends over. We ate cheese and crackers and veggies and delicious banana bread. We also drank wine while complaining about the weather and how hard it is to make good girlfriends as you get older. Over the past couple years I’ve heard this complaint a lot, from both myself and the ladies I’ve met and it doesn’t seem to be specific to Boston either.

When we are no longer in school with ample time to “hang out” but instead work full-time or take care of children all day it leaves little time for friendship. Seems we’re all yearning for more friends and yet we can’t figure out how to connect. Add a move and a new city to the mix and it makes it all the more difficult.

Plain and simple, as an adult it can be hard to make new friends!

It requires time and effort to develop close friendships and I’ll admit, it can be also be somewhat uncomfortable. It’s almost like a first date, meeting a friend of a friend for coffee or a perfect stranger for a yoga class, where I’m not really sure if we have enough in common to hang out but decide to try anyway. It can leave me feeling a little insecure as I wistfully think of my friends back home. But, then I remember that at some point they too were new friends. They were the awkward meet up for a run or book club or cocktail that grew into these deep, lasting friendships. And that keeps me optimistic.

I can never tell how much is too much to share here. Whether I shouldn’t write about this kind of stuff because it might make me sound childish and whiny. But then I think if I’m having this problem and many of the other women I’ve met are feeling them same, then maybe I’ll just be open about it. I’ll risk seeming less than blog perfect (ha!) if it opens up a dialog and makes us all feel less like we’re the only ones. If you happen to have all the friends you need then I’m a little envious and please ignore the above.

I wish at the end of this ramble I could give a solution. Like a fool-proof app where you could punch in a couple of criteria and presto you’d have 5 new best friends. I don’t have that app. 😦

What I do have is peanut butter. The fool-proof kind where you dump it all into a processor  and presto, you have a new best friend!

See how that worked? The perfect segue from friends to peanut butter in less than 30 words.

This recipe is not ground breaking. There are plenty of homemade peanut butter recipes out there, I’d just never tried any myself. Our last jar of store-bought peanut butter looked like this today.

peanut butter

So, I figured now was as good a time as any to try it. The process couldn’t be simpler and calculating the cost, making my own was about a $1 cheaper. Not a huge sum but I like the idea of being able to adjust the salt and am looking forward to mixing a couple of different kinds of nuts and flavorings together for tailor-made nut butters.

Homemade Peanut Butter (vegan, gluten-free)

1 16 oz bag of unsalted peanuts

1/2 tsp salt

————

Add peanuts and salt to your food processor.

peanut butter 1 minute

Run the processor for about 4-5 minutes until peanut butter is smooth. Scrap down the sides if necessary.

Peanut butter 3 minutes

Makes one jar. Store in the fridge.

homemade peanut butter 1

Enjoy and Exhale!

Weekend: This and That

Oh daylight savings, how I love thee. I know this morning was rough but how nice is it to have extra sunlight in the evenings? I taught at 4:30 yesterday afternoon and it was still light when the class let out! So wonderful.

Not in the mood to write a long post so here are just a few highlights of the weekend.

I went out of my way to get a nice wine for us to drink last week at a little wine shop right by Sangha. I spent 15 minutes talking with the wine people (are they considered sommeliers in wine shops or just restaurants?) I was told this would be perfect for our combined preferences of Pinot Noir (him) and Zinfandel (hers). We were sorely disappointed by this wine but the label was cute enough to share and aptly named, as some of this little troublemaker ended up on our couch.

troublemaker wine

Dinner with my friend Naina at the Beehive in the South End. I love that place, we’ve been at least 5 times! Probably should branch out and try some other restaurants in the neighborhood though.

Naina and Me

Mezze platter. Dip lovers dream. 7 dips on one plate!

mezze platter

We went to see a friend’s play.

The Lover Play

I did some yoga in our living room. Pincha mayurasana.

pincha mayurasana

Vrischikasana attempt. Still working on it.

Vrischikasana

We went on a 3.5 mile run an 8:29 pace. Then stopped in at Pavement Coffee while Eli waited patiently outside. Such a good boy.

Eli

Finally had a chance to take Michael to The Hawthorne for a drink and some nibbles.

bar nibbles

He hates this picture. I love it. I write the blog so I get to post it! 🙂

Michael

And with that, we’re back to Monday and everyone is pooped.

Eli napping under the table

Enjoy and Exhale!

Weekend Happenings

I find my weekend update posts the hardest to title. I wish I could think of something more clever.

This weekend flew by, like they usually do. We made more of an effort to get out and about, mostly because the weather cooperated. It was nice to get outside and enjoy the city.

However, Friday night we did our typical thing and stayed in. We made pizzas and a huge garbage salad with miso dressing, drank some wine and watched Dateline. I have a crazy fascination with who-done-it shows and Dateline is my favorite. Michael always obliges me in watching an episode on Friday nights. Now that’s true love. 🙂

pizza night

Saturday I taught and did some work. I also took a luxurious afternoon nap before we headed to Kristy and Erik’s for game night. They live in Somerville and it was our first time venturing out there.

We were greeted by their new rescue dog Tucker. He’s so loving and wonderful, the perfect addition to their family.

tucker tucker

We ate sushi and then set out to play some games. First up was a game called Dirty Minds, which turned out to be incredibly complicated. Kristy’s face pretty much sums up how all of us were feeling (what?!).

game night

Next we moved on to ImaginIff which was way easier and way more fun.

game night

Lastly we plated Uno. I used to play this all the time when I was a camp counselor in high school but it had definitely been a while. I still managed to call a few Uno’s on Michael though.

game night-Uno

After a later than usual night, yesterday morning we slept in and then made our way to the Friendly Toast in Cambridge for brunch. This might be my favorite restaurant in Boston. They have a ton of veggie friendly options and amazing gluten-free pancakes. Win-win for both of us.

Friendly Toast Menu

I had the BLT with faux bacon. I’m not much of a faux meats person but there’s something about Morning Star’s bacon. The sweet potato fries were also delicious. Michael had the chocolate chip pancake seen right and an unpictured scramble of some sort.

veggie blt and sweet potato fries

We left full and happy to hit up Whole Foods, spend way too much money at Target on nothing and take Eli for a bath.

Here he is in a brief moment of happiness, he does not like baths. You’d think he’s being tortured. I try to tell him how lucky he is to have two people basically massage him for 20 minutes. This doesn’t seem to matter to him.

Eli in the bath

We also went on a 5 mile run yesterday afternoon. We stopped and started a lot but our average pace was 8.29. Michael doesn’t usually run longer routes with me but he killed it and beat me handily on the sprints.

We rounded out the weekend with burrito bowls and some lounging and napping on the couch.

burrito bowls

Perfect end to our Sunday.

Back tomorrow with quinoa filled spring rolls.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Love: In All Its Forms

hearts

I’m not one for the forced gift giving or expensive dinners of Valentine’s Day but I do like the sentiment behind it.

Love.

I looked up love in the dictionary today and this was the definition that resonated most strongly with me.

Love: (noun) an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

Because at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about?

When we strip away the roses and the cards and the candles and the huge heart-shaped mylar balloon I saw a college student walking out of the grocery store with yesterday, we can see love for what it really is: selfless concern for others. The hope that good happens to those around us, whether we know them or not, that their load isn’t too heavy to bear, that their hearts feel surrounded by warmth, that no one has to walk alone.

It isn’t about a singular day on the calendar and it isn’t just about romantic love.

May we know love in all its forms.

Be it a phone call from a good friend. The taste of a thoughtfully prepared meal. The enthusiast greeting of a dog after a long day at work. The unconditional support of family. The hand of a small child’s in yours. The sound of an old favorite song. The kindness of a stranger. The forgiveness of a long-held grudge. The legacy left by those no longer with us. The softness in the eyes of your beloved. The allowance of some tenderness toward yourself.

Today we are reminded to open our hearts more fully, appreciate love in its non-traditional sense and know that in the end, it is indeed all around us (thank you Love Actually), if we care enough to see it.

Continuing to spread the love this afternoon. 12:15 and 7 at Sangha Yoga Boston, 4:30 at All One Yoga.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy and Exhale!

 

Weekend Update

Weekends are just the best. Even though I ‘work’ on Saturday mornings they are still so much better than the rest of the week. This weekend was no exception.

Friday night we laid low. We are obsessed with a little Thai restaurant in Allston called Brown Sugar Cafe that happens to deliver. The food is so good that we’re basically on a first name basis with the delivery boy. I had the veggie rolls with peanut sauce and the vegetable curry which is spicy but not too hot. Michael had the tofu pad thai which is pretty much the same thing we always order. What can I say, when it’s good why mess with it?

Brown Sugar Thai

Saturday morning I taught. I’m starting to get some regulars in my classes and it’s so nice to see familiar faces every week. I love sharing a part of the weekend with such lovely people. I’ve said it before but Saturday morning classes are extra sweet. Everyone’s mood is a little brighter and the energy is so positive.

Saturday night we headed to Somerville to meet up with our friends Kristy and Erik.

Kristy and Erik

We watched the playoff games at the Thirsty Scholar which happens to also be where they shot scenes for the Social Network. It’s a pretty awesome little restaurant but they do make it out to seem much more glamorous in the movie.

The bar was filled with Packers fans and after a half of listening to them hoot and holler we headed over to Kristy’s sister and husband’s house. We ended up playing the world’s greatest game, Apples to Apples, until way too late.

We had a game group in SF that we miss terribly so it was really nice to find some friends to play with out here. As the night wore on the winning cards started to make less and less sense. This is just an example of the winning cards…spiders are glitzy? I know this means nothing if you haven’t played before but trust me it’s as nonsensical as it seems.

Apples to Apples

We slept in late Sunday morning, an anomaly for me, then went for a coffee walk.

It was sunny and warm this afternoon and by warm I mean in the 40s (I can’t believe my definition of warm is this warped) so I took Eli out for a run. We did our usually loop along the river at a moderate pace with a couple of stops in between for puppy sniffing.

01/06 Run

It sort of surprised me but parts of the Charles have frozen over; I assumed it was too deep to freeze. It gives the river a surreal quality.

Boston winter Boston winter

The rest of Sunday has been spent watching football and looking for a decent vegetable stew recipe. Haven’t found one quite right yet so I’ll be experimenting on my own version tonight. If it’s any good I’ll share this week.

Hope your weekend was lovely.

Enjoy and Exhale!

A December Weekend

This morning I woke up to sunshine, blue skies, 50 degree temps and a bright sparkling river outside my living room window. We bought our Christmas tree this weekend so the house smells like the holidays and despite having been on hold with BofA for the past 30 minutes, life feels very cheerful and full. I’ve chosen optimism over last week’s pessimism. It was getting tiring feeling glum. I am incredibly affected by the state of the weather, can you tell? 🙂

Regardless, the weekend was very nice.

It started on Friday night with a special class with one of my favorite San Francisco yoga teachers, Les Leventhal. He was in town for a weekend of workshops. Friday’s class was so heartfelt and warm with a dynamic sequence that included lots of standing twists and arm balances, my favorite. Being in his class again made me really homesick for San Francisco and its yoga scene but as class went on I became more and more grateful for the chance to be homesick at all. If I’d never left home, I’d never have known how wonderful it is. Wow, I’m all sorts of PollyAnna today!

Saturday was snow filled. White flurries came floating down as I made my way to my Saturday morning classes. After teaching, Michael, Eli and I headed out for a walk and coffee. I must say having a proper winter jacket makes the cold much more manageable. Imagine that.

Saturday evening we picked up our Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree ShoppingIMG_2635

Saturday night we met our friends, Kristy and Eric, for dinner at Cafe Sushi in Cambridge.

I had a slew of vegetable rolls.

First up, a piece of fennel and wasabi. Tasty.

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Then an asparagus roll on the left. Best of the night.

And a roll with assorted pickled vegetables on the right which was okay but I probably wouldn’t order again.

IMG_2638

After dinner we went to the Miracle of Science for a drink. They were playing old 90s R&B hits. The whole place was like a big bizarre dance party. The people watching was amazing. Below is a dark picture of Kristy and me.

Kristy and Me

There was lots of discussion about Kristy’s new hashtag #lifebetweentwofingers so naturally there are about 30 pictures like the below.

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And one sweet kissing one of course.

IMG_2692

I swear Eric was there too but I didn’t have a good pic and didn’t think he’d appreciate a blurry call out.

Sunday morning I woke up with a lovely sore throat. So,we ended up spending the majority of the day watching football on the couch while Michael played with his new Ipad and I drank lots of tea.

And that brings us back to this sunshine filled day.

Hope you can enjoy a dose of vitamin D as well!

Weekend Eats and Travels

More wind and rain but otherwise nothing significant to report here. Except the elevator in our building is making quite a raucous and it’s driving me CRAZY! I’m now hiding out in our spare bedroom to get away from the constant screeching.

Before all the wild weather started yesterday we had a lovely weekend.

On Friday night we went to dinner with some friends, Kristy and Erik. Kristy and I worked together when we were both living in Sacramento many years ago. We both happened to move to Boston within a month of each other and wanted to set up a double date now that we’re both settled in Boston.

Kristy made reservations at a place called West Bridge in Cambridge. The food was good, but rather expensive for the portion sizes. The company was wonderful.

We started with cocktails.

Then onto apps.

I had the mushrooms and sunchokes. It had some kind of yogurt sauce. The sunchokes tasted amazing. I plan to pick some up soon and find something to make with them.

Michael’s app was quinoa and carrots, which sounds boring but was actually incredibly flavorful. I snuck many bites of this dish.

He had the monkfish for his entrée which he raved about.

I had the farro. I am a huge fan of farro but don’t make it at home because it’s not gluten-free so whenever I see it on menus I gravitate toward it. The flavors of this dish were good but it was overly salted which was a bummer because otherwise I would have eaten the whole thing.

Afterward we went to a brewery across the street and the boys talked for many hours about the Broncos (they are both from Colorado).

On Saturday Michael, Eli and I took a drive to Cape Cod. One of the things we were most excited about when moving to the East Coast was its proximity to great weekend trips. Neither of us had ever been to the Cape so we thought we’d check it out before winter hits.

We drove all the way to Provincetown or P-Town. It’s pretty much what I expected. An adorable, quaint beach town with lots of restaurants, coffee shops and tourist-y stores. I wish we had been able to stay the night. I would love to have spent more time exploring the other towns on the Cape.

P-town also has a large gay population and they really got into the Halloween spirit. They almost put the Castro to shame, almost. It was such great people watching.

We also went to the beach where Michael proceeded to show me how to skip rocks. Epic fail! I couldn’t stop laughing as I sunk one rock after another.

It only took us about an hour and a half to get back but we were starving when we got home. We made the best sweet potato, brussel sprout tacos. I took approximately zero pictures of the meal but when we make them again I’ll share with you all. Don’t worry, it’ll be soon.

Off to figure out how to get down to Allston in the rain.

For those local folks reading, I begin teaching at All One Yoga this week.

Vinyasa All Levels on Thursdays at 4:30 and Power Yoga All Levels Saturdays at 10:30. Come join me!

Dinner Party Puzzle

Last weekend we were invited to a dinner party at our new friend’s home. There were four couples in total and a lot of dietary restrictions. We were a difficult group to cook for and finding recipes that fulfilled all our needs was probably a bit like a frustrating crossword puzzle.

But, our hosts Inga and Jason did a fabulous job of creating a variety of dishes that catered to all sorts of diets: vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. I obviously know a lot about most of the aforementioned, but soy-free is new to me. I didn’t realize it was in everything until my friend Amanda pointed it out. Soy in cooking spray? Who knew!

Despite the tricky puzzle, the food was divine. The meal started with assorted breads, cheeses and wine. Then we had a spicy and flavorful vegetarian carrot ginger soup. I’ll have to recreate it at some point, it was the perfect fall soup.

Next up, salad and a root vegetable hash that was so good I asked for the recipe so I could recreate here and attempt to make it vegan. There was also fish for those fish eaters in the group.

Dessert was brownies and ice cream for most.

It was a really fun night spent chatting around the table.

And later in front of a big fire.

Although four of the eight are co-workers, they did a really great job of leaving the shop talk behind. There were lots of how we met, where we’ve lived and pets we love stories; my favorite kinds of nights.

All in all it was such a fun night getting to know some new friends and eating tasty food. Thank you Inga and Jason.

Recipe to follow tomorrow, I have to pick up the ingredients first.

Have a great Thursday.