Right to Bare Face

Lady-Bug-Friend Lady-Bug-Nose Mindful-Lady-Bug

One of my Forty Acts was to spend a day out of the house ungroomed. This wasn’t too terribly hard for me. These days I rarely wear makeup and I’ve never known how to do anything to my hair except tie it into a boppity ball on the top of my head. There was certainly a more insecure time of my life, the college years, when I had a set routine of makeup every morning. I didn’t feel right if I didn’t go step by step through my strict regimen, if my hair was dirty, if I had forgotten to pluck that one really dark chin hair that always grows in the same exact spot.

Maybe it’s being on the other side of my twenties, the more mature and confident side, but I am totally embracing my natural looks! I feel beautiful rather than exposed when I’m barefaced.

I love my freckles! I love my eyebrows that mysteriously don’t match my hair color and are so thick they hurt sometimes! I love my stubborn, tangly, baby-fine hair! Get me naked and I will proudly show off my stretch marks! I’d be a whole different person if I was attempting to disguise or change these features. These things make me me.

 

Freckle-Nose Mindful-Erica Erica-Hart

I am certain your bare face is absolutely gorgeous! Which of your features are you learning to love and embrace?

 

Women Supporting Women

Lady-BusinessLady-Business-Is-Awesome

I used to be one of those girls that rolled with the dudes.

“I don’t really get along with girls,” said naive, ignorant, high school-Erica.

I thought shunning my gender made me cool. I was trying to be one of the guys, which included joking around and making snarky comments about other girls behind their backs. Often I was just laughing along with sexist humor and fueling my own insecurities and jealousies by belittling a fellow female. Ah, the dark days of teenaged girlhood.

One of the first epiphanies in my feminist awakening was that women supporting other women is imperative.

 

Ladies-Have-Fun

As a media-making woman, I am lucky to call many creative, talented female artists my friends. Jealousy and insecurity are facts of human life, though it seems everyone’s eyes are a little greener with envy in a creative community.

In 2012 I started Lady Business, a roaming group of women coming together once a month to discuss our experiences as women in the workplace, to support each other’s projects, art, and endeavors, celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and drink champagne! We started as a handful of friends and have grown to a group of over 200 women.

 

Jac-Lady-Business Lauren-Lady-Business Rosalie-Lady-Business

The support and love I feel from the Lady Business community is unmatched. What was once a struggle for me, now feels easy and good! Here are a few things I’ve figured out recently that have really helped me become a supportive ally to my fellow women.

 

WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN

  • Clean out your head – The change has to start internally. It doesn’t matter that I’m outwardly pleasant to another woman if I am secretly harboring jealousy and hate towards her, resenting her successes, venting about her, hoping for her to fail. Thinking nasty thoughts while being saccharine on the outside will only make supporting other women totally impossible. Eventually those negative thoughts and feelings will manifest themselves into outward hate and anger. Of course you aren’t going to like every woman you meet. Not every relationship has to be the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but a lot can be overcome by harnessing the power of the brain and spinning a negative situation into a positive. If I’m working with another woman who is getting on my nerves, I try to think of all the positives about her and her work, and usually that simple reframing helps me see more clearly. Often, the root cause of my negativity is my own issue I’m projecting onto her.

 

  • Pre-empt unasked questions with answers- Most of the women in Lady Business are in the entertainment and media-making industries, which are notorious “Boys Club” lines of work. The inequality we face everyday leaves us feeling pretty insecure. It’s so important, as a fellow woman, to not add to these insecurities. I see it all the time, women in this industry name-dropping and throwing around production knowledge and jargon. Anyone that didn’t understand the reference now feels totally insecure and embarrassed. And unfortunately, many women have been made to feel ashamed when we don’t know something, instead of getting help or asking questions. Pre-empt this and help guide women in your industry. Don’t try to outdo or one-up, no need to use flashy jargon if a common place word will suffice. Instead of trying to impress and dazzle, I make it my goal to be as dazzlingly helpful to other women as possible.

 

  • Girl, love yourself!- I mean, this is so important. Self-care and self-love take time and work, but are super worth it. I still struggle with comparing myself to other women, but that sneaky little envy monster fades away when I am feeling like my best self…mostly that means I operate on a schedule that feels right for me. Instead of burning the candle at both ends, I live in balance. I get sleep. I am active. I eat well. I spend time with my friends. I sometimes hang out with this little Chihuahua named Walnut. I mean, these things keep me sane and happy!

 

  • Celebrate a woman’s successes- Shout from the rooftops when a woman succeeds! Tell everyone about the women you admire. Cheering on another woman’s accomplishments in no way takes away from your own. Spreading the word about awesome women only helps pave the way for further equality.

 

You-Silly-Ladies

I love this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt for its simplicity and humanity:

“When it’s better for everyone, it’s better for everyone.”

 

Almond Meal and No-Bake Coconut Hemp Macaroons

almond-meal

After I made the Almond Milk and the Almond Pulp Hummus videos, people were asking me how to turn their leftover almond pulp into almond meal, an option I had mentioned but had never actually tried…UNTIL NOW!

Almond meal is pretty much awesome. It’s gluten-free, if you roll that way. You can substitute some of the regular flour in a dessert recipe for almond meal, or just go on Pinterest and discover the treasure trove of almond meal desserts out there!

And it’s so crazy easy. This almond meal actually came from a batch of almond pulp I had frozen a little while back. I referred to two different recipes: DIY Almond Flour from All Sorts of Pretty and Homemade Almond Meal from Nature’s Nurture Blog. It ended up taking about 3 hours in the oven at 200 degrees with the oven door cracked open.

And since I had all this delicious homemade almond meal, I could finally make the No-Bake Hemp Macaroons from My Name is Yeh. Holy moly, these are good! They taste like the Caramel Delite Girl Scout cookie, but full of lots more wholesome ingredients!

 

No-Bake-Hemp-Macaroons

These macaroons and the thousands of girls in green sashes hawking cookies at every turn got me thinking, if I could invent a Girl Scout badge to work on this week, what would it be? What would yours be?

I think mine would be Loving Myself and Others for Who We Are Right Now, Not How We Want (Them) To Be. Maybe I’ll pitch that catchy name to the Girl Scouts of America?

The Colors of Culver City

Bird-of-Paradise

Many of my friends who have never visited Southern California assume it’s all cement and smog. It’s true, we have much work to do to clean up our air.

But the thing I love most about living here is the lushness! Just a walk through my neighborhood (Culver City), and the variety of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes on display are awesome! I love all the tropical, drought-tolerant, and succulent plants…something I had never seen before moving here. And I was overjoyed to see a bee! Keep fighting the good fight, little bee!

 

Yay-Bees White_Flower_House Succulents-Ablaze Succulent-Alone Spider-Webby So-Succulent So-Spiky Red-Peppercorns Red_Flower_Branch Pink-House Little-Rubberies Flamingo Cacti_Silhouette Buncha-Baby-Spiders-Probably Banana_Tree ErHeartCa

I assume this is someone with initials ER who loves someone with the initials CA, but also it’s just Erica Hart…right?

Love,

Er <3 ca

 

Mango Lassi Overnight Oats

Mango-Lassi-Overnight-Oats

If you haven’t heard, I love convenience and I love jars, so I’m fairly obsessed with overnight oats. Stir up some oats, milk, and whatever else you want to jazz it up, refrigerate overnight, and you’ve got yourself a perfect grab-and-go breakfast come morning.

This Vegan Mango Lassi Overnight Oatmeal Parfait from Fo Reals Life is a fancier version of simple overnight oats. The dish pairs oats with chia seeds to make an overnight oat chia pudding, then layers in a homemade mango lassi to create a delicious breakfast parfait.

Chia-Seed-Parfait

So, um, okay, this is embarrassing, maybe even a little shocking, but I HATE YOGURT. I know, everyone is obsessed with it! And I’m jealous! You get to eat out of those cute little containers and try all those yummy, healthy, slimming, probiotic-filled varieties! You can even enjoy yogurt from other animals besides cows! How cool! But still, it leaves me gagging. But I can trick myself into eating a little bit of it, here and there– using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on baked potatoes or in soups, choosing the ‘tart’ flavors at FroYo places, and, of course, lassis! I used regular dairy yogurt (instead of vegan) in the lassi and, yes, I ate my parfait all up!

Enjoy the video and the parfait! What thing that you DESPISE can you add a little sweetness to and layer into your life this week?

 

Daddy

Daddy-Birthday

Today is my dad’s birthday.

I love my daddy a ton. Both of my parents are super helpful. They’re just the best people to have around if you need an extra hand. When I forgot my performance shoes for a Show Choir concert in middle school, my dad rushed home and back in record time to retrieve them and save the day! In high school when I realized the Civics citizenship project was due the next day (and I hadn’t started), he left work and took me down to the courthouse to sit and observe a trial for hours. In college, my parents drove the eight hours to Chicago each time I directed a student film, serving as a couple of extra hands on set, cooking for the cast and crew, bringing props and set dressing, and meeting my friends. At the end of every school year in college we had a big premiere of all the student films. Of course my parents attended all four years, whether I directed a film or not, but they were also somehow the only ones that stayed after to roll up the red carpet and clean up the catering.

I remember making my dad carry me up to bed until I was far too old…and we had quite a large flight of stairs.

 

Fathers-Day

Thinking back on it now, the poor guy had to sit through SO MANY dance recitals, speech contests, volleyball tournaments, and performances of Annie. Sounds brutal, but he was always there, he always watched and supported me and leant an extra hand.

He calls me “Little Buddy,” which I think is a Gilligan’s Island reference, and I love it.

Happy birthday Daddy! I really hope you enjoy today!

 

Glass and Plastic

Glass-and-Plastic

I’ll admit, I can’t keep up with all the studies and scare-tactics surrounding personal health and environmental impact, especially when it comes to food storage. I prefer glass to store food rather than plastic, but if you have plastic tupperware, I wouldn’t recycle it just yet!

 

Flour-and-Sugar

My rule of thumb is simple. If foods are purchased that come in their own handy-dandy storage container, we keep the container, regardless of its chemical makeup. But we don’t purchase any plastic tupperware (though we’ve acquired some over the years from friendly leftovers.) I’ll admit, our “tupperware” drawers are filled with plastics, but almost all are plastics that were once something else– a container for hummus, yogurt, shredded parmesan, crème-fraîche (I worked really hard on getting those accent marks right!) I don’t put these containers in the dishwasher or microwave but I still don’t completely trust them. And I feel like I will seriously reconsider plastics if I ever have small children in the house.

But reusing plastics once they’re in the house seems as best an option as I have. And if a container won’t really work to use over and over, of course, we recycle! I’m proud of my roommates, our recycling bin is always fuller than our trash can!

 

Oats-Glass-Jar Rice-Glass-Jar Sugar-Glass-Jar

I prefer glass for many reasons, but it comes with its own caveats. Most notably, it’s heavy. That means it was heavy to ship, meaning it takes more energy to get to you.

But if we are already purchasing products that come in their own glass jar, and reusing for years, I feel like we may just offset those shipping emissions. I keep all the salsa, pickle, tomato sauce, nut butter, and coconut oil jars and reuse for food storage. I’m not as worried about glass reaching high or low temperatures. It doesn’t take on the color or smell of the food as easily as plastics do (how many reddish plastic tupperware containers do you have in your house from storing spaghetti?) Even though you can use it probably for the rest of your life, if you do need to recycle a glass container (if you are me, you probably dropped it on the kitchen floor), you can rest assured that recycling glass is better than recycling plastic, with most glass being reclaimed instead of downcycled, like plastic.

 

Nuts

Then there is the simple fact that glass is SO CUTE and CLASSY and storing my grains and dried goods looks so PINTERESTING and NEAT! I love jars so much I received a bunch of jars for Christmas. Oh, my loved ones know me so well!

 

Forty Acts

Forty-Acts-Lent

Somehow the weeks flew by and the start of one of my favorite holidays totally snuck up on me! Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent!

Now, let me preface this by saying I don’t practice or subscribe to any particular religion. Nor was I raised in a household that actively practiced a religion. But I do love learning about and borrowing from religious traditions, especially when it comes to holidays, especially especially when that holiday is focused on self-reflection, introspection, and simplification. And I have always “given up” something for Lent. I actually get kinda excited, even giddy, at the thought of my upcoming forty days of monk-like adherence to a certain abstinence.

Yesterday, my friend told me about the book Simplifying The Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit by Paula Huston. The book outlines a plan for the Lenten period, with a different practice and meditation each day. Though the book is specifically geared toward the Catholic tradition, I have started reading it and loving some of the ideas on how to declutter, refresh, and show compassion over the next 40 days. I’m just going to have some trouble on that day where I’m meant to say the Rosary, and I have no idea how to pray the Divine Office.

I love the idea of over the next forty days doing one thing each day that works towards larger goals. I’ve made a list of my own 40 acts I’d like to do in the next 40 days, and hopefully these acts will inspire me to keep up similar work throughout the year. If you’d like to follow along with me, you could make your own list of 40 acts or borrow mine!

 

FORTY ACTS
  • Do something fun you’ve been meaning to do for a long time
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Don’t set foot in a car
  • No grooming for a day (skip showering, shaving, hair styling, make-up)
  • Educate yourself on an issue you don’t know about
  • Talk to a neighbor you’ve never met
  • Spend time alone in nature
  • Identify something you consume everyday and don’t consume it
  • Change your language/perspective about one thing today
  • Tell someone about a woman you admire
  • Tell someone about a person you admire who is a different race from your own
  • Go on a date with yourself
  • Dance
  • Clean out a storage area
  • Reorganize a junk drawer (borrowed directly from day 1 of Simplifying The Soul)
  • Don’t use electricity all day
  • Don’t throw anything away all day (ie: don’t use anything that requires throwing away)
  • Start a book you’ve been meaning to read
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Play a game
  • Try a new (fun) activity that will likely make you look silly/foolish
  • Write to a local politician for change
  • Find one thing to make at home instead of buying from a store
  • Listen to a song you loved as a kid
  • Don’t eat meat all day
  • Only shop and buy local all day
  • Learn about your local government and politicians
  • Attend a religious service different from your own
  • Apologize to someone you hurt
  • Forgive yourself and let it go
  • Do something today to conserve water
  • Get all bills paperless, if already done, unsubscribe from all paper junk mail
  • Get a pen-pal in a different country
  • Read a text or listen to a podcast about gender and/or women’s studies
  • Read a text or listen to a podcast about an ethnic group/race not your own
  • Identify elitism/privilege in your speech today and brainstorm alternatives
  • Volunteer for a cause you care about
  • Install a clothesline
  • Take public transportation
  • Spend time with someone you haven’t seen in awhile

 

I plan to document my experience with the forty acts throughout the Lenten season on this blog. And luckily, though I missed Ash Wednesday, I already accomplished one of my acts by not setting foot in a car yesterday!

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

Thai-Chicken-Soup

I received my beautiful purple crock-pot for Valentine’s Day last year. So I guess you could say I recently celebrated the anniversary of the most amazing relationship I’ve ever been in. Oh how I love the convenience of plopping a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker, pressing a button, and LEAVING IT ALONE. Next thing I know, dinner is ready! I’m obsessed with time management and efficiency so The Almighty Slow Cooker is right up there next to The To Do List in the greatest inventions of all time, at least in my opinion.

It’s still quite cold in many parts of the country, despite the recent heat wave we had in LA. This Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup from Foodie Crush is perfect for a blustery winter day. It’s got just the right amount of kick from the curry paste but the coconut milk and peanut butter make it super comforting. Plus the ginger is great for any little winter bugs you might be fighting!

Set the crock-pot, take a four hour nap, then treat yourself to this comfort in a bowl! I guess if you don’t want to make the soup, that’s cool, but at least try to fit in that four hour nap! You deserve it!