Sunday, May 22, 2016

Picnics are meant for slowing down.

#sponsored


Disclosure: I was hired by Mountain Valley Spring Water in Hot Springs to promote the awesome tasting spring waters from Arkansas. I was compensated on the link post noted below. All thoughts and opinions are my own, of course.

Today was a perfect weather day.

It started off a bit on the chilly side and as I woke up to meet the day I slipped on comfy sweats and a tee shirt. As the day ebbed on and we ran errands, I quickly released it was time for shorts and flip-flops. Summer is coming and she is ready to make residency.

Whenever I encounter perfect days such as today, when the slight breezes and half-sunshiney and half-shady days beg me to put up a hammock, I am reminded that life is meant for slowing down whenever we can. To really LIVE. Pick a flower, enjoy a long conversation, and just get your feet wet.

Does it seem to you that is all I talk about these days? Slowing down, enjoying life, and stopping to smell the flowers. Either I am getting way old before my time, or I think that life is just begging us to embrace it. I think I will go with choice #2! Yes, definitely #2!

Picnics.

Picnics are on my mind. Are they on yours, too?

I love a picnic.

They don’t have to be formal. They can be and that’s okay. Informality is pretty rocking, too. Tonight we picnicked on the boat at sunset with leftover frittatas from this morning’s breakfast, a few crackers, and a very limely gin and tonic. See, picnics don’t have to be all about cute baskets, complicated side dishes, and heavy expectations. Impromptu makes the best picnics.

If you need a little push in the picnic-planning department, hop on over to the Mountain Valley Spring Water blog for a recent post I guested on related to picnics. I shared five essentials when it comes to picnics. They are simple and straight-forward and well, a little bit of my philosophy of life shines through. I am really excited about writing for Mountain Valley Springs, an Arkansas company that has bottled delicious tasting spring water for more than 145 years.

Check out my list of five essentials for a family picnic and see if you agree. Maybe I missed a few here or there or maybe you agree with all of them. Who knows? All I know that I raise my (water) glass to picnics and wish you a merry week and to the joy of slowing down.

Happy picnicking, my friend.

Eat well, my friend. Eat well.


Lyndi

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Uplifting the mood in my dining room.

Stargazer Barn Queensland tulips - (c)nwafoodie

Our homes are our sanctuaries, our get-away-from-it-all spots, and our quiet refuge. At least, that is something we aspire to, isn’t it?

After my dad died, I started unpacking. Metaphorically and physically. You see, we were still living in boxes, waiting for that “one day” when work would slow down, when everything was decorated, remodeled, or just whatever. My home was minimal in décor and the kitchen was all but devoid of any personality.

Slowly, personal items made their way to countertops, on the bookshelf, and on the walls. And I decided that I would start buying flowers.

At first I placed flowers in the master bathroom. Then, slowly they made their way to the guest bathroom and the kitchen. I figured out which flowers lasted the longest in order to get the most bang (and buck) until one day I realized that the small investment in our home was well worth it. Flowers uplifted the mood of our home. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

“STIR. My broken brain and the meals that brought me home” book release + giveaway.

STIR paperback book release April 5, 2016 (c)nwafoodie

{Randomizer.org picked #1, Kaylin as the winner of a copy of STIR. Congrats, Kaylin!}

Stir.

Such a quiet and simple word that says so much.

A quick internet search reveals the nuances of the word stir. An act of mixing food or drink with a spoon or other implement. To move or cause to move slightly. Rise or wake from sleep. Leave or go out of a place. Begin or cause to begin to be active or to develop. Arouse strong feelings in someone. Prompt a feeling or memory or inspire the imagination.

Stir is the perfect word to choose for this book title.

Today is the paperback release of Jessica Fechtor’s 2015 award-winning inspirational memoir, Stir - My Broken brain and the meals that brought me home. Somehow I missed the original book release a year ago even though I follow her blog, sweetamandine.  

I can only imagine how a brain aneurism would be life changing. To wake up to a perfectly normal day with nothing but blue skies ahead. And just like that, snap, everything changes.

At 28, Jessica suffered a brain aneurysm and life, as she knew it, changed instantly. Happily married to the best-friend-who-she-never-imagined-to-fall-in-love-with yet everyone-else-knew-they-were-perfect-for-each-other, Jessica slowly but surely began her miraculous recovery by rediscovering the restorative power of cooking and baking and the connection that food has with who we are at our inner core. This is, essentially, a love story about food and its depth will surprise and delight you.

Lest you think that reading a book about someone with a brain aneurysm is horribly depressing, this book is nothing but upbeat and lovely and hopeful. Jessica not once considers herself a victim but rather takes the time while bedridden and recovering as a time to deeply observe her life. The love story about food unfolds as she realizes that who she is, who we are, is often connected to food memories and to our loved ones. Erase all the madness and folly of life and it comes down to the simplest pleasures of life: a family-loved roasted chicken, matzo ball soup, and that goofy smile that you give someone because you are utterly happy to just be with them… and alive.

If you are wondering how “meals that brought me home” actually helped her broken brain, I was wondering the same thing when Penguin House asked me to read this book and share my thoughts about it. I almost said no thank you and was poised to move the email request into a delete folder. Instead, I paused and decided otherwise and am so glad that I did.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Five Foodie Finds for Friday, March 25th.

Five foodie finds for Friday March 25 2016 (c)nwafoodie

Hi there.

If you stumbled upon my instagram or facebook feed last week, you would have quickly surmised, “hey Lyndi, you aren’t in (Ar)kansas anymore.” The hustle and bustle of NYC is in stark contrast to the quiet valleys and hills of the Ozarks back home and our I-wanna-be-like-a-big-city-but-we-aren't rush hour on Hwy 49. Before I settle back to home sweet home, I want to share a few treasures from the Big Apple that are right at our fingertips. No cab fare needed.

1.
Brooklynese Cawffee tray. Every trip to the city is worth a quick five-minute browse in the Fish Eddy store located within a few blocks of the flatiron building. This jumbled storefront is full of whimsy and one-of-a-kind vintage NYC restaurant serve ware. This cawffee tray comes out whenever guests arrive at my doorsteps and the coffeepot goes on the stove.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sometimes it is just better to cut up a whole chicken.

How to cut up a whole chicken (c)nwafoodie

My sister-in-law Alicia gets icked-out by food with a bone in it. I wonder what that would feel like if you were a butcher? Or a fish-monger. Or a chef. Then again, if you had that particular aversion you would not want to be any of those things. It would be like going to med school if you fainted at the sight of blood.

Not goin’ do it.

We ate a lot of chicken backs when we were a kid. They were plentiful and economical and that little nested oyster spot was my absolute favorite part. It is funny what you remember. Why can’t I remember any other parts and pieces?  

The first time I remember cutting up a whole chicken was during Food Lab at college. This class was a companion class to Nutrition 101 and therefore it must have been Food Lab 101. The memories are sketchy at this point. What I DO remember is cutting up that chicken and being surprised how easy it was, how inexpensive it was to do it this way, and all the “leftovers” parts and pieces that were perfect for chicken soup!

If you have ever been intimidated by cutting up a whole chicken, don’t be. It really is quite simple.

Friday, February 12, 2016

In praise of comfy-cozy.

Stargazer Barn Gazing Gift Collection - comfy cozy PallenSmith (c)nwafoodie

For many of us, we wake up and it is dark. We drive home and it is dark. We go to bed and it is dark. Early morning arrives again and the alarm sings its morning wake-up song as our eyes adjust to the fact that another day begins. Coffee, prayer, study, breakfast, more coffee, shower, take the dog out, feed the cat, pause to look at the beauty of the sky above, more coffee, slip out of the bathrobe and into the clothes to face the day. Think that is a lot for the early morning? Okay, now add your touch such as attending to the kiddos, the husband or the wife’s routines, and don’t forget that ever-pressing temptation to check all the social media channels and email accounts before heading out the door.

We’ve got to slow down.
Breathe.
Pause to look up at the beauty of the sky above.
Below.
And all around us.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The joy of setting a table.

#IloveStargazerBarn Sensory Seduction - main

I love setting the dining room table. Like a good outfit, layering brings out the best and adds personality. I like to think of it as telling a story. If you want a casual meal, the table setting should reflect it. Want something formal? Bring out the silver candlesticks. Want to encourage conversation? Scattered candles, fresh flowers, and conversation pieces do the trick.

As a child, it seemed like I “set the table” more often than I do now. I wonder why. Collections of tablecloths, candleholders, serving trays, linen napkins and specialty dinnerware are housed in well-organized tub upon tub. Frequent antique mall shopping only adds to the collection. Yet I rarely venture into the storage room to retrieve them. Yes, life as an adult is definitely more cramped than a young child who yearns to make everything special and old-fashioned (as I used to say it). But doesn’t setting a table actually set a mood? Think about Thanksgiving and the decorations that go into the table setting. Think about a special date or anniversary dinner at your favorite restaurant where the lights are dimmed and candles on a table cast a magical glow. Ahhh… now you see what I am saying, don’t you.

While my personal goal is to get back to basics of joyfully setting a table, perhaps focusing on a new habit is a good start. Okay, I’ll say it. Friday nights will be the (re)start of my joyfully setting the table. I am curious, is this a habit that interests you, too?

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