Happy January Things

January is usually kind of a bummer, right? The holidays are over, the weather starts to get really nasty here in New England, it’s dark when I leave the house and dark when I come home, and in general I just kind of feel blah. It’s this time of year when I need to be surrounded with happy things to keep my energy and morale up.

Mid-month John and I saw Neil deGrasse Tyson here in Boston at the Wilbur Theater. He delivered an exquisite, hilarious, illuminating, sobering, perfect two hour lecture on our minuscule, yet enormous, place in the universe. He was excellent. I can’t stop thinking about so much of what he said. Why religion halts scientific progress. How the first photographs of the moon from space changed mankind’s perspective on the atmosphere, climate, and environment. How different countries/cultures around the world honor their scientific pioneers and innovators. How Cosmos, a primetime show about science/space, was so successful and changed the demand for this kind of programming on TV. We bought this print made just for the Boston shows and I’m so thrilled every time I look at it.

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Homemade chai lattes are heaven. When I can finally figure out the milk frother I’ve had for 4 months, that is.

A group of girlfriends recently taught me how to knit. It is just silly that I didn’t know how before. Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed picking up such a zen hobby and actively look forward to knitting at night. Big soft squishy yarn helps too.

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I know I should mostly patronize local pizza joints (and we definitely do!) but there is something about a Bertucci’s Silano pizza that is just the best thing in the whole world. I wish I knew how to quit you.

It snowed this weekend. The first real big snow of the winter. I caught it right at dawn. This pink/purple light is everything. So isn’t my 50mm lens. Taking pictures again makes me really happy.

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Recipe: Roasted Spaghetti Squash Seeds

Just about a year ago I discovered spaghetti squash. I don’t know why it took me so long! Trust me though, I’ve made up for lost time and have been using it almost every week since (my healthy carbonara recipe is totally my favorite use yet!). Up until very recently whenever I prepped the squash, I would scoop out and compost the seeds. It dawned on me that I could probably roast them like pumpkin seeds – a total facepalm moment. I searched around a bit online for recipes and came up with the following one. I’m in love!

Domestocrat’s Roasted Spaghetti Squash Seeds
The seeds of one large spaghetti squash (roughly 1 cup)
1 tsp. EVOO
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Start by cutting a large spaghetti squash in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous guts of the squash.

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Pick through the fibers and place the seeds in a bowl. This seems tedious but it really isn’t bad. The seeds are loose enough and slippery, so they kind of just fall out if you thumb through the fibers. It’s totally ok if you end up with fibers on some of the seeds since the next step is to rinse the seeds.

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In a large colander, rinse the seeds – this will remove any excess fibers. Also, it’s fine if some remain, they are yummy roasted along with the seeds! Once the seeds are rinsed, transfer them to a paper towel and pat dry.

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On a foil lined baking sheet, toss the dried seeds with the EVOO, salt, and pepper. Using your hands is the best way to evenly coat the seeds.

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Roast at 400 degrees for 6 minutes, toss again, rotate the pan, and roast for another 5 minutes until browned. When they are done they will smell like freshly popped popcorn (so random but so delicious!).

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Eat immediately or store in an airtight container for a few days. These seeds are the perfect wintertime snack – they are warm, salty, crunchy, and earthy. So worth making at home! Plus, spaghetti squash seeds are packed with fiber, iron, magnesium, zinc, and good fats.

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This recipe is a basic one but I plan to experiment further by making this with fresh herbs, a spicy version with red pepper flake, and maybe a sweet version with cinnamon sugar. Stay tuned!

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Looking Toward 2015

Wow, see ya 2014!

I’m writing this post with some hesitation – I sort of feel like I didn’t do anything in 2014. I know I did, and I accomplished some huge goals, but because I scaled back on blogging and social media I almost feel like I don’t have a lot to show for the year – isn’t that terrible? I’m hoping that by reflecting in this post I will revisit all of the great things 2014 brought and all of the exciting things that will come with 2015.

My 2014 highlights include (in chronological order): celebrating one year of my morning workout routine, having some medical issues but ultimately being ok, getting a waffle maker and going nuts on waffles for the rest of the year, discovering massaged kale and spaghetti squash, celebrating Valentine’s Day at L’Espalier, going to a BC hockey game in a luxury box, discovering my new favorite restaurant: Sarmapassing my huge work/credentialing exam, discovering the best music video of the year: Turn Down For Whatroad tripping from San Francisco to Denver, obsessing over my favorite record of the year: Say Anything’s Hebrews, seeing Paramore and Fall Out Boy on the Monumentour with my friend Melissa, seeing my favorite movie of the year: Obvious Child, getting a Cat Tipi and sprucing up our living room, touring the USS Constitution twice before it was dry docked through 2018, going to the Arnold Arboretum, camping, getting real about blog burnout, celebrating Reggie’s 13th birthday, marking 3 years as homeowners, celebrating 7 years together with John, completing our bedroom makeover projectbooking our June 2015 Alaska cruise, going to a BC football game, seeing Lena Dunham speak at The Wilbur with my friend Nicole, being surprised by John with a beautiful birthday dinner at Clio, ringing in my actual birthday with prosecco at Lake George, taking a birthday road trip to The Adirondacks, reading my favorite book of the year: Yes Please by Amy Poehlergoing to Foxwoods for a friends weekend, seeing Louis CK in a secret show right in our town, seeing Say Anything, Saves The Day, and Reggie and the Full Effect, and in general, watching great TV shows (Orphan Black, Fringe, Broad City, Sherlock, The Fall, True Detective, Orange Is The New Black), doing a bunch of hot yoga, having a freelance job for 7 months, and finding new and engaging professional endeavors all year.

On to 2015! As you know, I am not a resolution person. I usually like to pick a theme and have that idea or concept guide me throughout the year. In 2011 it was Holistic Well-Being, in 2012 it was Balance, in 2013 it was Take Care of Me, and in 2014 it was Clutter-Free.

All of my goals for 2015 are interconnected. I didn’t realize it until I sat down to write this post but they all sort of fit like a puzzle. When I looked at all of my goals cumulatively the common thread is that simply doing the best I can is enough and every day should be a celebration of that (rather than a pity party or a should-have fest). I have a tendency to be a black and white person; all or nothing has been the name of my game. But in 2014 I learned that this prevents me from doing things, stops me from trying, boxes me in, restricts me from being open minded. This is, flat out, dumb. I want to try even if I fail. I want to start even if I can’t finish. I want to have goals even if I can’t do them perfectly. I want to have expectations but to change what meeting them looks like.

For my 2015 theme, I want to Do My Best which includes simply being enough and living in the gray areas of life a little more. Also:

1) Stay healthy and fit. No diets, no pant size goals or lbs. to drop goals. Just eat a nutritious range of foods, move my body, speak nicely to myself; making healthy choices every day.

2) Diversify every day food. Food ruts are real. So aren’t the way in which we eat food. I’ve been doing the same thing in regards to meal planning for 15 years (making all of my food for the week on Sundays, eating the same meals every day all week), and I’m so ready for a change.

3) Stop letting perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s ok to ask for help or to take shortcuts. It doesn’t mean I’m “cheating” or cutting corners, it means I’m being realistic about what I can and cannot do and that I’m placing value on my time, giving certain things energy and other things a pass.

4) Celebrate what’s right in the world. I feel like 2014 was full of things wrong with the world – war, suicide, racism, strife, hunger, drought, disasters, sadness, desperation, unfairness – but there is so much good too, it just doesn’t stick as much. The brain holds on to negative thoughts and sad stories more easily, but in 2015 I want to give more attention and acknowledgement to what’s positive and joyful in the world by celebrating small wins and finding ways to hold on to positivity and praise. Also, more random acts of kindness on my part as well.

5) Rediscover my passions, and do them for me rather than for credit. This includes so many things like finding new meaning and place in my life for blogging, forgotten hobbies, trying things I’ve never done before or that I have actively dismissed in the past. Ultimately my biggest goal is to follow the quote below and have that be a big factor in the 2015 theme.

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Some really specific things I’m looking forward to in 2015 are our Alaska cruise in June, setting and meeting professional goals, John graduating from grad school, my mother-in-laws’ retirement, and our trip to Las Vegas in October to celebrate those two things.

Onward, and Happy New Year!

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Top 10 Domestocrat Recipes of 2014

Thank you for your continued readership of my lil’ old blog! Despite a change in posting regularity, you all kept tuning in and asking me for quality recipes, and I appreciate that so much. I hope I delivered! I felt really proud of the recipes I brought to you in 2014 and am looking forward to what 2015 will bring.

I crunched the numbers and present to you the top 10 viewed recipes on Domestocrat in 2014:

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1. The Best Chicken Parmesan Ever
2. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites
3. All Hail Kale Caesar Salad
4. Healthy Alfredo Shells and Peas
5. Quinoa Hash Browns
6. The Most Magnificent Carrot Layer Cake
7. Sausage and Kale Stuffed Shells
8. Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Cakes
9. Italian Wedding Soup
10. Healthy “Spaghetti” Carbonara

John’s favorite was #6, mine was #7 – which was your favorite?

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Holiday Break Bucket List

I can’t remember a year where I needed my holiday break as bad as I do this year. I don’t know why but it just feels so overdue right now. I’ve always worked in higher ed so every year I get a pretty awesome break, and this year it works out to almost 2 weeks of time off. I . Am. Thrilled. Even better is that now that John and I work at the same institution, we get a big huge break together!

I plan to do a whole lot of nothing over break but I know myself: I need a little fun thrown in there too! Here is my little 10 item holiday break bucket list. No pressure, just good things I want to do for myself to occupy my time off.

  1. Listen to all of Serial (because the hubs, and everyone else in the universe, won’t stop telling me to).
  2. Make latkes.
  3. Go to the movies, like a bunch. (I want to see so many movies! The Hobbit, Wild, The Imitation Game, Birdman, The Hunger Games, The Theory of Everything)
  4. Take many walks.
  5. Plan our 2015 budget.
  6. Do a big deep clean of the house and donate a bunch of stuff.
  7. Reorganize our basement. We got several inches of water two weeks ago and I’ve been avoiding the aftermath ever since.
  8. Read two books.
  9. Go to yoga as much as possible.
  10. Be present and really enjoy not being at work, not being locked into my regular routine, taking a mental break, no obligations, no appointments, and no commitments.

How will you spend your holiday time off?

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My Christmas Wishlist ver. 2014

It’s official – Christmas season is among us! There’s not a whole lot I actually need this year but putting together a little wishlist is always fun. My shopping is basically done – I went really minimal this year. I was wondering on Black Friday if people really still go nuts at the stores at like 4am; it seems like there are some really great deals to be had online (and not just on Cyber Monday).

Here are my picks for Christmas this year. What’s on your wishlist??

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1. Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner (I did a lot of research on this bad boy; it’s super light, works on carpet and hardwood, and has a rechargeable lithium battery/is cordless!)
2. PNY 256GB USB Flash Drive (because my external hard drives have been slowly dying on me)
3. Bon Appetit Magazine Subscription (thinking this will kickstart my cooking/baking slump)
4. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favorite authors, how have I not read this one yet?)
5. Rose Gold Nuggest Necklace from the Burnish Etsy Shop
6. Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream (my favorite brand for beauty products)
7. Morning Walk Print from Leah Duncan’s Etsy Shop

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Thankful: The Day After

I’ve been up since 5:45am. It’s snowing outside. It’s dead silent in my house, my street, my whole neighborhood. I have a piping hot mug of peach green tea. I’m cozied up in my big fluffy robe. Everything is perfectly still; this is my happy place.

I tried to write a post last night about what I am thankful for this year but it wasn’t coming out right. I’m thankful for so many things, the standards really – my husband, our home, our cat, my job, friends, family, my health, all of the good fortune and good luck that has seem to come our way. But what I am really thankful for this year is the calm, the stillness.

I often feel self conscious about being a homebody, a person who loves peace and quiet. For a long time I thought it prevented me from doing things but it doesn’t; I simply don’t enjoy those things. I prefer quiet conversations over tea, reading a good book, a long drive with someone I love, yoga, writing in my journal.

Finding my place in this world, my quiet place, has been a lifelong search. I took an active journey of self-care this year, reaching out for help both professionally and from my support system. It’s not easy to talk about here. Which is a big reason for the radio silence as of late. But if I’m being true to myself I will admit that I’ve enjoyed the silence. It slows down my thoughts and helps me focus on the things that deserve my attention. There is so much busy-ness to life that I honestly feel swallowed up by it most of the time. So much that is pointless and superficial and excessive and expendable in this world; constant streams of information, consumerism, making life picture perfect (literally). I need quiet time to reflect and to give my thanks but it’s hard to find that time every day. Even in moments where I have downtime – on my commute, making dinner, during my before-bed rituals – I’m not actively reflecting. My mind is churning over my to-do lists, and dwelling on all the things I have to do or didn’t get to do. It’s really hard staying in the present because of that. But discovering my natural inclination and need for silence has made all the difference.

So what I’m thankful for the most this year is the silence I’ve been able to recognize and accept as required, to slow myself down, permission to stop worrying about what’s next, to take stock of the things that truly matter and deserve my undivided attention, to serve as a place to listen to my needs. I hope that whatever brings you joy and satisfaction has been abundant this year, and that there is much more to come.

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