We’ve resorted to elementary school tactics over here. Thanks to the brilliant idea of my friend Hillary, I now am on a rigid star sticker system. Hillary, who is also in throes of finishing her dissertation, started studying her study habits (obviously) and made the observation that a graduate student spends 8+ hours a day trying to write her dissertation, only to get 1 real hour of work done and 7 solid hours of procrastination (thanks for supporting my tenacious lollygagging, The Oatmeal). Hillary reasoned that if she instead works a really productive uninterrupted three hours each morning, she’d actually get more done.
Roasted peaches and cream popsicles
Over Labor Day weekend in my hometown, it’s customary to throw on a bikini and float down the Sacramento River on inner tubes rented from the liquor store. Others head up to Lake Almanor to soak up their final summer tan (or in my case, cherry red burn). The first weekend of September in Chico feels like a warm summer hug in a way we don’t normally get down in The Bay. By this time, the dog days of summer have come and gone, but the sultry heat still begs for a few drippy peaches and cream popsicles to cool you down.
I’m neither of these places this weekend. With Lucas in China (AGAIN!) and my mom texting me picture updates of the family card game score sheet from up at their peak-of-the-lake cabin, I’m home with the kitties, cooling off the house with the screen door. Summer is finally creeping its way in, and I’m sitting on the couch wearing less clothes than normal eating three popsicles a day. Right when school starts back, summer grabs on hard to lure me back in with a slightly uncomfortable bear hug.
Tropical coconut mango chia pudding
I’ve got a case of the Mondays. This recipe comes to you from our bazillion year old laptop that warns me that the startup disk is full when I try to save something and has a noticeable ding just below the keyboard from that time the corner of my iPhone 3 dove into my once-brand new computer (yes, iPhone 3 – that’s how old this computer is). The heavy aluminum dinosaur came out of retirement while my younger, slimmer, faster Macbook Pro got shipped off to the doctor first thing this morning. Sniff Sniff.
Food lover’s guide to Tokyo
You can order all the comfortable walking shoes you want in preparation for a two-week trek all around Taiwan and Japan, but it won’t matter if you don’t bring socks. Don’t try to fool yourself with those little half sock liners that hide so well under ballet flats – they don’t count. Your feet will still have goosebumps all day long in the chilled autumn air. No amount of jackets or gloves will keep you from shivering if your toes are icicles.
In a fit of desperation during the last few days of our honeymoon this past November, I found myself wearing a pair of Lucas’s dirty dress socks to the nearest department store to find some new hosiery for my wardrobe. I even tried to convince Lucas into giving me the thumbs up to buy the warmest pair of boots I could find, but he reminded me that I would never wear them once we got back to the even-keeled Bay Area temperatures.
Packing is so stressful for me, but my mom always calmly reminds me that I need not over pack because “they have stores in __(insert destination)__.” It’s true, they do have stores in Tokyo. Expensive stores with the world’s priciest pairs of sensible socks. So I urge you: pack socks.
Oven-baked pineapple fried rice with cashews and tofu
I’m learning to measure my productivity on different scales depending on the day. It’s easy to feel accomplished on hyperactive get-it-done days, when tasks crossed off a to-do list display my success. Visible outcomes. These usually come dressed as Saturday house-wide cleaning sessions, or multi-course homemade Sunday brunches. Photographing a recipe or writing a new post are things you can check of a list.
Dissertations are much more akin to a rich homemade ragu bolognese that insists you stand vigil as it slowly reveals layer after layer of its deep flavors while you stir diligently over the stove. These things take time. Or maybe it’s more like a backyard pit pig roast that even after you spend hours past bedtime tending the coals, sometimes still comes out raw just at the moment when people are expecting to gnaw on something yummy.
Honey roasted fig and goat cheese popsicles
Most of my Friday evenings as a kid were spent at the ballpark. If my brother was playing, I could be found scrounging around under the bleachers for lost change to buy a few 5¢ smarties pops. For the record, you can make a racket with this strategy; I once even found a $20 bill that after a week of no one claiming from the little league ballpark lost and found became mine. Do you know how many smarties pops you can buy with $20??
Skinny black bean and veggie Mexican pizza
We make a lot of quesadillas in our house. Tortillas? Check. Cheese? Check. Random fillers from the bottom of the fridge? Boom – dinner. Lately, though, we’ve got a healthier quick and simple weeknight classic on repeat. This black bean and veggie Mexican pizza recipe is so darn fresh and tasty that I’m a little mad I haven’t been making it since I was a teenager. So many missed opportunities!
Strawberry mochi with red bean & A trip to Strawberry Land!
Based on the sheer number of strawberry desserts I churn out every summer, you probably already know that I’m a strawberry fangirl. So when the California Strawberry Commission invited me and nine other bloggers down to tour a Santa Cruz strawberry farm to learn about California’s sweetest crop, you can probably imagine how giddy I was. I mean, I’m ecstatic when the organic strawberries drop to $2/lb at our local market, but this was the opportunity to get up close a personal in strawberry land, eating juicy berries right off the plant. I may have squealed.