Crossing the Oregon-California border I could feel the familiarity of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood – 25 years of life – slip away. But the nostalgia quickly passed. Perhaps naively, all I could think about were the new opportunities I’d have at my fingertips.
Working remotely, I’ve found myself hunkering down in coffee shops during the day, and exploring as much of the city as I can during the evenings and weekends. And for the first time in a long while, I’m making a conscious effort to explore and really get to know who I am and what I want. I’m focused on doing things that have long been on my list to tackle, and actually doing them. Writing more, bringing my camera with me wherever I go, studying CSS, and making the time to unplug and read are just a few things enabling me to be truly content and satisfied in this time of transition.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving to San Francisco, it’s this: inspiration doesn’t grow on trees. I can’t sit idly by and expect it to come to me. I have to seek it out, move fearlessly down avenues uncharted. Recently, someone very dear to me said, “you have to mine for life’s gemstones.” Full of cheese and spot on.
A few weeks ago I found myself in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. High desert country. My hiking legs tend to gravitate towards bodies of water, but I was eager to break out of winter hibernation and trudging through feet of snow in the Cascades wasn’t an option. We drove east optimistically, excited to explore new territory on a sun-kissed weekend.
Shortly into the hike we came to understand why the area received its designated name. Sagebrush and juniper trees for miles, eery stillness except for the occasional airplane passing overhead, dry sand as far as the eye could see. Land not fit for lush growth.
Climbing a giant rock outcrop near our campsite we could see the sun cast its final glow on the Three Sisters. The evening was spent writing and reading via the beam of our headlights. I fell asleep reading Mary Oliver’s Winter Hours, falling in love with her words all over again.
It was a weekend of quiet hiking, story telling and pushing our limits. And left us hobbling out of Bend’s Deschutes Brewery dust covered and sore to the bone. Mission accomplished.
A couple of Sunday’s ago, Joey (my roommate and partner in crime) and I decided we’d try the impossible: make Deb Perleman’s fig, olive oil and sea salt challah bread. How were we going to get the dough right? How in the world were we going to be able to do THAT braid? Two people who had never made bread before said screw it, and rose to the challenge. What resulted from our feat in the kitchen was the best challah I’ve ever had.
Deb, my friend! You never let me down.
Below are a couple of photos I snapped with my phone during the process.
“Husbands and wives should have separate interests, cultivate different sets of friends and not impose on the other. You can’t spend a lifetime breathing down each other’s necks. We are very, very different people and yet somehow we fed off those varied differences and instead of separating us, it has made the whole bond a lot stronger.” - Paul Newman
This is one of my favorite quotes from a gem of man (and my all-time favorite actor). He and Ms. Woodward certainly seemed to have something special.
There’s nothing better than bringing people together through food. And while I enjoy throwing dinner parties and sharing my favorite recipes with my favorite people, sometimes it’s pretty damn awesome to be on the receiving end of a wonderful home-cooked meal in an intimate setting.
Last year, Josh and I decided we’d like to spend more time exploring new cooking techniques and recipes…and came up with a (brilliant?) plan. Each week we’d cook one meal for each other. The catch? We had to explore foreign land and create something we had never attempted before.
We’ve carried this plan into the new year, and I must say it’s pretty rad. Each week I get to improve my skills in the kitchen and look forward to having someone cook a delicious meal for me. What’s not to love?
I’ve been admiring TOPO Designs for more than a year. Their bags are made of Cordura and lined with coated pack cloth to protect gear against adverse weather conditions (bonus: they are handmade in Colorado). I recently received their classic Klettersack as a gift, and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the perfect size for toting school books, office necessities or everything you need for a long day hike. Heavy duty Cordura paired with buttery leather – it’s a modern take on a classic design. I’ll be using the Klettersack for years to come.
It looks like they’re currently sold out of the Navy/Leather color combination, but check out these other awesome options (and these sweet tees)!
Today I’m leaving rain-soaked Eugene for five days and heading down to Nevada City, California for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival (and the gorgeous High Sierras). Five films my organization co-produced will be featured at the festival, along with dozens of other amazing works (like this!). I’m stoked to hang with talented individuals, do a little hiking and see what the nation’s premiere environmental and adventure film festival is all about.
Anne McClain is doing it right. The creator of the Brooklyn based MCMC Fragrances is inspired by personal stories and memories, uses natural ingredients for every fragrance and ensures all MCMC products “come to life in a way that feels natural, fun and elegant to the wearer.” Anne is also pleasantly wonderful when it comes to corresponding via email about special requests and inquiries.
Lauren and I each have a favorite MCMC fragrance. I love Hunter, which was inspired by an old friend of Anne’s who played guitar and taught her to love the natural world. It has notes of tobacco, vanilla and fir, and is perfect for winter days in the Northwest. Lauren prefers Noble, the fragrance that started it all. It’s both floral and woody and can be worn 365 days a year.
The best part about her fragrances is that they are all subtly rich, and never overbearing. And for all of the bearded men out there, MCMC has something for you too. Meet Dude No. 1, a beard oil inspired by her husband. It’s 100% natural and with cedarwood, coriander and peppercorn it’s both woody and spicy.