Mindful Baby, One More Time

YOU KNOW, I love to dance.

I love to dance anywhere. I love to dance silly, dirty, big, like a three-year-old at a wedding, like my mom at a wedding, like a Beyoncé backup dancer.

I think it’s important to dance! Or at least to do the thing that makes you the happiest in the entire world. Dancing with my roommate who happens to be my best friend from childhood makes me the happiest lamb in the flock. And since Easter is nearly upon us and two of my Forty Acts were to dance and to listen to a song from my childhood, I’d figure I’d combine the two with this lovely dancing vid brought to you by me and my roommate/bff John!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Cold Brew Coffee and Homemade Cashew Coffee

Cold-Brew-Coffee

I have a deep and undying love for coffee. Like most humans, I have to be cognizant of my coffee intake, going ham on the java can make me quite a wild woman. Lately I’ve been making a lot of Cold Brew. It’s super easy to make and I find the end result tastes smoother and doesn’t feel quite as acidic on my stomach. I’m not sure about the science of the caffeine content in cold brew vs. regular, but I find when I cold brew I don’t get the jitters quite as bad.

Cold brewing coffee is simply wonderful. I just grind a good batch of beans, stir them up in a jar of water, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, all you have to do is strain and you’ve got a delicious Cold Brew Concentrate to keep in the fridge and dilute 1:1 with water when you’re ready for a cold jolt!

I make Cold Brew so often, I’ve got the process down, but I originally consulted this recipe on Man Made Guide and this post from Nap Time is My Time (the latter is where I learned to stir the coffee with a wooden chopstick instead of a metal utensil as the metal can alter the flavor of the coffee, a fact I was confused about while making the vid.) I love diluting my concentrate with some homemade almond milk (instead of water) for a creamier iced drink.

 

Cashew-Coffee BluePrint-Cashew-Coffee Cashew-Milk-Coffee

Speaking of creamy coffee drinks…have you ever tried BluePrint drinks? Well, okay, I haven’t, but I’ve seen them in Whole Foods. They look delicious but are crazy expensive. So I was so super excited when I found this copycat recipe for Homemade BluePrint Coffee Cashew Cinnamon Vanilla drink from Janny Organically. And boy oh boy, is this a keeper. It’s like the big leagues after you get the hang of making Cold Brew. The first time I tried the recipe, I didn’t strain the cashews through a nut milk bag. It was still delicious but there was chewing involved. This time I strained it and it was smooth but still creamy.

I mean, what can you strain out this week to make your life a little smoother?

Earth Hour

Earth-Hour

This past Saturday was Earth Hour. I had never heard of Earth Hour until that morning when I noticed some chatter about it on Twitter. Everywhere across the world people celebrated by turning off their lights at 8:30 pm local time. Here in Los Angeles, the lights went out at the Staples Center, the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier, and the colorful pylons at LAX.

I celebrated at home. I’ve been wanting to work toward less electricity use in the evenings so it was a perfect experiment. I timed it so that I ate my dinner by candlelight.

My reaction to my dark hour was such a cliche, I can’t even. I CAN’T EVEN. I started out feeling totally unhinged. In addition to turning off the lights, I tried to unplug. No phone, no computer, no TV, no devices. I felt anxious. I’ve always considered myself an independent person. I like to be alone, I like to go to the movies and out to eat alone. I had spent all of Saturday on my own and was still alone when I sat down to dinner in the dark. It was just me with my thoughts and the knowledge of my own inevitable mortality. I couldn’t forget about my dumb humanness by checking Instagram or Facebook, and that made me feel suddenly quite lonely.

Earth Hour also made me tired. With all the electric lights off and just the flicker of candlelight, I realized how many extra elements I depend on at night to keep me alert far past my internal clock’s bedtime– the tungsten lights, the blue glow of screens, the excitement of one more episode of House of Cards, the pint of Cherry Garcia. I’m tired at 9pm but end up going to bed after midnight because of these distractions.

It’s obvious to me that an “Earth Hour” practice would be a beautiful addition to my evening. An hour before bed, just switching off the electric lights, and winding down without screens. I think it’ll help me sleep more and better, as well as helping me become more comfortable truly being alone with my thoughts. Not to mention the money it would save in power bills and the added environmental boost! Here’s to EARTH HOUR every night!

 

Beet Soup with Beet Green Pesto

Beet-Soup

If you are following along with the One Weird Thing cooking vids, then you already have a whole bunch of delicious, homemade Veggie Stock filling your fridge and freezer. Great! Let’s use it to make soup!

This Beet Soup with Beet Green Pesto recipe actually comes from the Le Creuset website but you don’t need any fancy cookware to make it, except a food processor or blender (by now you’ve probably noticed that most of my favorite recipes require some sort of motor-powered blending action.)

I already love LOVE beets and beet soup, but this recipe just nailed it with the pesto made out of the beet greens. I love having an immediate action to take to use up the whole plant. Often I’ll come home from the farmer’s market with a bunch of beets or carrots with beautiful tops and think, oh the glorious ways I’ll use these greens, only to cut them off and forget about them til they are far from usable.

Enjoy the vid and the boldy colored soup! How are you gonna use your tops this week?!?

Samuel and Melesse

Samuel_Melesse_Erica

One of my Forty Acts goals (and just general life goals) is to meet more of my neighbors. I’ve lived in the same apartment in LA since 2010 and I only know a handful of people that live in my building.

Recently I’ve made friends with a young boy named Samuel and his father Melesse, who live just two units away on my floor. I notice them coming in and out of the building with their bikes and always smile and wave. I finally took a second to introduce myself to Samuel a couple weeks ago and since then, we’ve become super fast friends.

 

Samuel
Samuel-Looks-Away

Samuel is from Ethiopia. He moved here less than a year ago, though his parents and sister moved to my building five years ago. Samuel stayed back in Ethiopia with his brother during that time while his parents were getting a sense of the United States. His brother is famous in Ethiopia, part of the group Jano Band. I’ve been listening to Jano Band lately, check them out, their music is awesome!

We really hit it off in terms of movies. Samuel speaks excellent English and he credits it to the American movies which were “like his best friends growing up.” He knows way more than I do about cinematic classics, despite the fact that I studied film in college… when I told him that in film school, your homework is to watch movies, he was pretty blown away. (Don’t tell my parents that’s what my tuition paid for!)

Samuel is ambitious, he studies hard at high school and wants to go to Princeton. But he told me he wants to eventually go back to Ethiopia, even though he likes the US. He wants to give back to his country. “What is life if you don’t serve?” he said.

 

Melesse

Samuel, Melesse, and I spent a lovely afternoon together this weekend. Samuel made some delicious sweet tea and we talked about our lives. Melesse showed me his sketch book (he’s awesome at sketching horses and lions, among other things) and his official citizenship certificate which he just received on his 67th birthday. I gave Samuel some of my text books from film school and this month when he gets a laptop from his high school, we’re going to start writing some screenplays together.

Despite the fifty year age difference between Samuel and his father, when Melesse was out of the room, Samuel told me he and his dad are best friends. All that love and new friendship and sweet tea behind one door…I can’t wait to continue hanging out with Samuel and Melesse, and start knocking on a few more doors!

 

What Does a Cyclist Look Like?

Bike-Graffiti I-Am-Biker-Girl Bike-Bike-And-Away

When I first started biking as my main form of transportation, I was scared. Not just of all the 3000 pound cars I was up against, but also of the other riders. I was terrified of doing something wrong, something embarrassing or dumb. I haven’t felt so insecure since middle school–I was the new kid in school and all the other cyclists were the popular kids.

And just like in middle school, there are sub-groups within the popular kid clique. There’s the rich kids (with their super light bikes, spandex, clip-in shoes), the too-cool-for-school kids (the hottie bike-messengers and fixie riders), the preps (with their panniers stuffed with blue prints, riding in a suit coat and sensible jeans) and the super babes (that somehow look amazing and straight out of Copenhagen in their super chic outfits and heels…what?!?)

 

Bike-Chilling
Checking-Out-Those-Sauconys
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I didn’t feel like I fit in. I don’t feel like I fit in.

I don’t have a fancy bike, I have a bike I got from a guy on Craiglist. It’s too heavy for me to lift and it squeaks like a tricycle in the opening of a horror film. I like it because it’s yellow.

I don’t have fancy bike clothes. I usually wear some mix of workout clothes and pajamas for my daily commute. I wear Saucony running shoes because I have super wide feet. My helmet came from my parents many birthdays ago, probably from a Midwestern big-box store. I like it because it’s purple.

I don’t have fancy bike gear. I have lights. I have reflectivey things. I have brakes and two tires and a seat and handlebars. All of which I think are ergonomically incorrect for my body. But all those parts work together to get me where I need to go.

 

Biker-Girls-Are-Awesome

Hey, you remember what happened before middle school…? We were KIDS! And you know what we did when we were kids? WE RODE A BIKE! Any bike! Most of us probably grew up riding a crappy department store bike that our parents spent very little money on knowing we’d outgrow it in a year or two. We didn’t care about the specs of the bike back then. As long as it was the right color and had a bright pink squirt bottle attached, it was perfect!

AND WE HAD FUN!

 

I-Whip-My-Bike-Back-And-Forth
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I wanted my biking experience to still be fun! So I kinda stopped caring about being one of the cool kids at Bikeland Junior High. Maybe I don’t look like other cyclists but we all have one thing in common, the two-wheeled self-powered vehicle between our legs unites us and makes us all part of an inclusive community!

All this is not to say that you shouldn’t invest in quality gear or learn as much as you can about your bike, nor do I think less of people with fancy bike stuff. All I want is for anyone out there who is scared to jump on their bike because they think they don’t fit the mold, or they think they’ll look stupid…to just do it!

 

Erica-Hart-For-President

I’m a freckle-faced girl with hairy pits AND I’M A CYCLIST.

Whatever you look like, THAT’S A CYCLIST!

 

Homemade Slow-Cooker Veggie Stock

This video really cracks me up. I’m so surly at the end! I think my roommates were laughing at me for spilling broth everywhere and my natural comeback was “How much broth did you make this year!?!” …as if that’s something people say.

Veggie-Stock

This week I came down with a nasty little bug. It was so bad that it got in the way of my sick-day TV watching, I kept falling asleep during Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! (Don’t worry, I woke back up and finished the whole season!)

Luckily, I had already made a big batch of this Vegetable Broth from the Premeditated Leftovers blog, adding a few extra ingredients to the recipe. You can easily freeze this stock, just transfer into smaller glass jars leaving room at the top so when the liquid freezes, the jar doesn’t break. I separated my stock into roughly 2 cup portions before freezing. Then you can easily defrost the broth in time for whatever soup recipe you are making, without having to use store-bought mystery stock!

So, I ask you, HOW MUCH BROTH DID YOU MAKE THIS YEAR?!? huh?

Farmers Market Friends

Baby-Goat-Farmers-Market

I am so grateful to have a farmers market on my street once a week, all year long! The Tuesday market in Culver City is dear to my heart, as are the familiar faces of smiling vendors and hard-working entertainers.

That baby goat is only a few days old. For years I’ve been befriending baby goats at the market, letting them nibble on my hand. I probably talk to the goats more than to the humans. I wish I knew the people at the market better, learned their names and about their lives. I’m going to try a little harder each week. To start, I took portraits to encapsulate some of those faces I see every week that make me smile.

 

Market-Jessica Jessica-Farmers-Market Trumpet-Market Moises-Market Jammin-at-the-Market

Do you know that feeling when you are already nostalgic for the present moment? You can nearly time-travel to the future where the present-tense is now a memory? I get that feeling at the farmers market. The smells, the sounds, the faces–the familiar space I’ve been coming to for five years and I know I will miss so much if I ever leave this street.

 

Market-Clown Farmers-Market-Clown

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Mousse

Peanut-Butter-Mousse

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to be more mindful in my daily life is to eliminate undue stress. And the most delicious way to do just that is whip up a dessert with only THREE INGREDIENTS, two of which you likely have in the house already!

I present to you the magical Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Mousse from The Food Click. Oh yes ma’am, this peanut butter mousse is decadent and so wildly easy to make. I doubled the recipe to eliminate the stress of having half a can of leftover coconut cream in the fridge. But I actually kept the maple syrup at 3tbsp just to let the peanutty coconutty flavors shine through.

What flavors are you gonna let shine through this week?