If you’re a working Mom or entrepreneur, and you don’t yet know about Hey Mama Co, you should! Building community in cities worldwide, Hey Mama is not just an online network of inspiring and helpful hustler mamas, but offers in-home and partner events as well so you can build connections in real life too. I’m grateful to be a part of this community, and today, in one of my favorite interviews so far, I share with them my perspective on conscious living, how motherhood changed me, and some of my life’s biggest lessons. Read the interview here!
To get back into blogging, I thought I’d start by sharing what I’m asked about most frequently- with easy, healthy, inexpensive weekday meals being at the top of the list. If you follow me on instagram, you’ve likely seen my “un-recipes”, so this may not be new to you. But for those of you who haven’t, here’s what I love to have in the fridge at all times, how to make it, and how to prepare it.
Quinoa + green lentil mix:
This combination is magic. One cup of this quinoa/ lentil mix has around 12g of protein, and 8g of fiber. It’s good alone or a great base for adding pretty much anything to. PJ loves it. Ben loves it. The dogs love it- it’s a win for the whole family.
:: to prep ::
Because I’m all about ease, I cook the quinoa and lentils together in a pot even though they have different cook times and methods, and am always happy with the result. Typically I’ll do 2 cups quinoa + ½ cup green lentils for a higher grain-to-bean ratio. Note that this makes around 5 cups which is more than the other items below! It’s because I’ll often have a little bit of this on its own for a snack, and if it’s not eaten by the end of the week, the pups finish it- but feel free to halve if you don’t want as much.
- Start by adding the lentils along with 1T of olive oil and a pinch of salt to 4 cups of water or veggie broth, and bring it to a boil.
- Turn it to a simmer and cook for 10 mins before adding the quinoa.
- Once the quinoa is added, cook for 15-20 more mins. Be sure not to take off the lid off during this time to avoid it getting mushy.
- Fluff with fork, taste, and cook for an additional 5 minutes if needed, even if water is gone.
- Let cool and transfer to container for fridge storage.
:: to eat ::
To eat, I use a 1 cup measuring scoop (otherwise my hungry eyes can make me think I need about 4 cups) and heat up on the stove. Then I top with Tahini sauce and Sriracha, because food without some heat just isn’t the same! Enjoy alone as a complete anytime snack, or with the below as a hearty all-seasons meal.
Kale is such a beautiful nutritious and filling food. It’s been having its moment in the spotlight for several years now but it’s still my favorite type of green to consume. And while I love a good green juice, I prefer to eat my greens over juicing them. Not only am I always surprised by just how satisfied I feel after eating a bowl of raw kale, but I love feeling the fiberous leaves working as busy little scrub brushes cleansing me from the inside out. Curly kale is just as good as Dino, but for the below purpose I find it doesn’t hold up for as long as the coarser Dino.
:: to prep ::
Start by de-stemming 2 bunches of kale (the fastest way I’ve found to do this is to hold the thickest part of the stalk in one hand, while squeezing the leaves with the other, pulling them off at the same time), then chop, rinse, thoroughly dry it, and store it in the coldest part of the fridge. We usually keep it in the salad spinner or a tupperware and it keeps well for a week.
Sidenote- Save the stems! Our dogs are obsessed with eating them as treats, and they’re great for thickening smoothies and adding an incredible source of fiber and nutrients.
:: to eat ::
Kale is so versatile, I love having it on hand to throw into whatever else I’m making. But most often I eat it either rubbed or stirfried, two methods that serve to soften the leaves so it’s easier to chew and digest.
To rub the kale, simply add a tiny bit of olive oil and salt (and a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar if you plan to eat the kale by itself), and massage it with your hands. The longer you massage it, the silkier it will get, but a good rule of thumb is rubbing it until it’s reduced in size by half.
To stirfry the kale, I love heating up a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil with fresh chopped garlic, chili flakes and salt, and then adding the kale, and stirfying for about 5-8 mins- just long enough for it to darken and soften but still feel fresh.
Garnet Yam/ Sweet Potato:
Another beautiful simple food that the whole family gobbles up. Although true yams aren’t often sold in US grocery stores, the orange sweet potato is regularly labeled ‘yam’, and the kind you want to get.
:: to prep ::
We do one of two things- roast or mash. Start by peeling (if you want- like many foods, the skins contain many nutrients) and chopping 6 medium-sized yams into uniform 1 inch cubes.
- To roast, toss the cubes in a bit of coconut or olive oil and salt and bake until browned and tender, around 50 mins at 375 degrees.
- To mash, add the cubes to a pot of boiling, salted water, cook until soft, drain and mash.
We eat them warmed up, plain or with tahini sauce!
Although these foods are delicious plain, the sauce is what makes me want to eat it all for every meal. I much prefer homemade dressings to store bought ones but in a pinch, Goddess Dressing does the trick.
:: to prep ::
Blend the following in a high-speed blender:
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked)
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 – 1 cup water (gradually add water until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine on the thin side)
- Salt to taste
So there you have it- what you’ll find me having for lunch basically every day. Eaten on it’s own or as a base to add other fresh toppings (I love adding pumpkin seeds, sunflower sprouts and avocado), this really saves me from eating out or snacking on emptier, less satisfying choices. Plus it winds up costing less than $2/ meal which really can’t be beat for such a complete source of vegan protein, carbs, healthy fats, and overall fresh nourishing goodness. Enjoy!
In the past two years I’ve written two blog posts total. I had the best intentions to write more, but for many reasons, didn’t. And the longer time went without posting, the more pressure I put on that first post back.
Isn’t it ironic how when the most things are happening, there’s the least time to share about them? The past several years have been my busiest and most transformative. I look back at my old posts and barely recognize the person who wrote them. And while during this time it’s felt refreshing to simply live without the burden (bringing my big camera, editing the photos, sorting out my thoughts, actually writing the post) of sharing it all, I look back and feel a loss for all the things left undocumented.
In preparation for reviving this site, I recently sorted through all the old drafts that never got published and silently hit “delete” on each one. Even if I connected to the words, their time had passed, they were no longer relevant. The pang I felt with each erased entry served as a reminder to just say what I have to say in the moment, and not to wait. Things change so fast, it’s hard to remember what is new after the fact. We simply become, and forget about the becom-ing.
One of my favorite ways to start the day is to read a daily meditation from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening. In a February passage titled What is not Ex-pressed is De-pressed, he writes:
“It seems the more we express, that is, give voice to our living, the more alive we are. However, the more we push down and keep in, the more experience can lose its essential tenderness and poignancy, and we may mistakenly conclude that life is losing its meaning. To a man unaware of the cataracts filming his eyes, the world seems dimmer, not his seeing. How often do we find the world less stimulating because of all that remains unexpressed?”
This resonated so deeply with me- both the concept of expression as a vehicle to process experiences, and the consequence of non-expression as well. A written entry is the same as a physical entry; an opening to somewhere new. No entry = locked door. What is missed by not attempting to open it?
The past few years, my main focus was building financial security for our family. This meant working around the clock, taking zero maternity leave, and generally leaving time for little else besides clients and caring for a little one. I felt depleted, disconnected, numb. The opposite of a contemplative life. Our journey to Nicaragua was the turning point for finally stepping away from this conveyor-belt lifestyle and deciding how we actually wanted to spend our days.
During that time I made a list of the “things most important to me above all else” and it came down to:
1- being a present mom for Ben and wife for PJ
2- being present and loving to my closest friends and family
3- blogging from the heart
4- journaling daily
5- meditating daily
6- seeing a therapist weekly
I’ll admit, this list made me feel very self-indulgent, and I wrote and crossed out some version of “build my business” several times. Deciding to step into the slow lane felt scary and wrong, but also oh so right. I knew that in order to lead my best life, I’d need less “do” and more “be”.
It’s been 8 months since creating that list, and in this time I’ve changed my business model and significantly reduced my client load. We moved from vibrant, energetic Venice to magical, peaceful Ojai. I feel closer than ever to my favorite people, our family is thriving, the days feel slow, my journal is full, and my mind is clear. The last piece of the puzzle is sharing it with you all.
So here I am, ripping off the band-aid of that first post back. Returning to this space with renewed interest in digging deeper into life around me, and for recording what’s happening in the moment.
I hope you’ll enjoy being back on this journey with me.
Thank you Meredith for these beautiful pics of our family
Honored to share a few favorites over on Dahlhouse Nutrition today- my routine is simple but filled with favorites… take a peek! xxx
After only blogging once in the past year and half, I have so much to share. But none of it matters if I didn’t first introduce our sweetest little boy! Born on July 31, the morning of a full blue moon after 33 hours of labor, Benjamin River Garahan is the most delicious babe I ever have met.
heart outside of my body.
We thought his blonde hair, receding hairline and wrinkly little face made him look like an old little businessman. Mr Neidermier. From ze bank.
10 days old! All professional pics of us in this post by my favorite Jen Simon
Both PJ and I are brown-haired and hazel-eyed and while PJ was a tow-headed child, we were so surprised to meet a blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby! I even dreamt him to be almost Egyptian-looking, so for him to arrive looking more Scandinavian instead took a moment of adjustment. I get how genetics work but I just kept thinking- who is this blonde baby and where did he come from? I thought that when I met him I would look into his eyes and feel like I was seeing an old familiar friend, but that was not at all the case. Staring back at me was a completely unfamiliar new person to get to know. Needless to say I fell in love the second his heavy, wet wriggling body was placed on mine– but my first in many lessons of what it means to be “expecting”. I like to think his big blue eyes are a symbol of his being born on a full blue moon but even more special is that the only people in our family with light eyes are my dad who had swimming-pool blue eyes (he died when I was 19) and PJ’s dad who has gray-blue eyes. So Ben’s, which are a bright, deep blue, are a combination of both his grandfathers.
One thing that did not surprise me was that Ben is a boy. Since we both felt strongly that a baby’s gender is one of those surprises worth waiting for, we didn’t find out beforehand what we were having. The wait was excruciating, but less so because I was so sure of his boy-ness.
But we’d been calling him “baby” for so long that once we were actually gazing at his cute little face, it was so hard to call him anything other than that. I just kept singing “baby, baby, baby” … calling him any other name felt so strange.
Ultimately we chose ‘Benjamin River’ because we wanted a name that was both strong and gentle, and in the past nine months we’ve been getting to know him, he has been just that. Strong, gentle, driven, alert, and completely enamored with his senses. If I snuffle or say something into his ear, he smiles so big and leans back for more. He loves to pat and squeeze the arm or chest of whoever is feeding him. He is silly, and with an “impish sense of humor,” his Nana says. He eats most everything with gusto, and studies everything intensely. In baby music classes he likes to sit in the middle of the circle and watch what everyone is doing- god forbid I try to hold him in my lap and puppet his arms to the group song! His independence breaks my heart a little, although the irony is that I bet he gets it from me. The fact that he likes crawl far away from us in the grass (FAST!), then turn around and smile, or scoot all over the house and tap doors until they click shut (at which point he will play happily) totally cracks me up now but I don’t even want to know what this will mean for when he’s older.
Generally content, easy to please, and happy in the arms of many, I couldn’t have asked for a better baby. At 9 months old, he’s now standing without holding onto anything and I’d say just about a week or two from walking. I can’t believe he’s so big already, and watching him reveal elements of his personality is the very best. While being a Mom is for sure the most challenging thing I’ve ever been called to do, nothing has ever felt so natural and I just burst with pride to call him my son.
And while I very much have missed this space and wish I’d been documenting this phase of my journey, the effort I made to be present during it is one of the choices I’m most proud of- even picking up our family and moving to Nicaragua for two months simply to enjoy each other and nothing else. I intend to share more about that trip, our new life as a parents, my work transition, and what the future holds for us as a family– but because this post is all about Benito, I’ll save that for other posts and leave you with a gratuitous amount of pics:
where we were planted for the first 3 months
getting through doctors appts
mr. alert at the dog park, 8 weeks old
our first day in Nicaragua, settling right in
Benito on his 6-month bday. My sister gave us these overalls while I was still pregnant and I could not wait for him to wear them. All the happy crying emojis!
forever my view
those little swim shorts! so impractical. so worth it.
my boys toward the end of our magical trip
Back in Venice. “Whatcha got over there?”
seriously who is this child?
an impossible amount of love, 8.5 months
And to my sweet Benjamin River, thank you for choosing us to be your parents. You make every day, every moment, and everything we do so much brighter. We love you so much!
This is not to say that by pasting pictures on a page they will simply appear in real life. However- having a clear vision is incredibly powerful, and something magical does happen when we point our energy in one direction.
So the first step is to identify and call forth what you want. (Or even better, take a tip from Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map and start by considering how you want to feel.) And the second step is to let go, allowing your life unfold, presenting you opportunities that may come to you in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Instructions for Conscious Collaging:
Start with a collection of magazines that inspire you. It’s best if you are able to source ones that align with your goals— for example a culinary magazine if you would like to spend more evenings cooking at home or dream of opening a restaurant. Also collect scissors, posterboard or firm paper, a gluestick, a frame that fits your paper (if desired) and a bag for trash.
Consider this step a moving meditation. Find a space where you can spread out uninterrupted, and get into the flow of flipping through your magazines and tearing out pages. Don’t give too much thought to it— when you see a word or image that resonates with you, simply tear it out. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let your subconscious do the work.
Once you have gone through your stack, sort through the pages you’ve torn and cut out the pieces you like. If you can’t seem to remember why you tore a page in the first place, let it go. This is part of the editing process where you are really getting clear on what you want on your page (and in your life).
This is an optional step, but the one I have found to be the most therapeutic: Once you have all of your cut pieces, divide them into categories. Home, personal project, community, relationship, wealth, fitness, what have you. Notice the relative ratio of images in each category. Where has your mind’s attention been flowing?
I remember a particularly informative experience with this step shortly after becoming engaged a few years back. Because the proposal was one I had been wanting and expecting, I was surprised about the ambivalent feelings that immediately surfaced. My allegiance to my independence was strong and I felt split between my past desires and future ones. Was there still a place for my wandering gypsy spirit? When would I ever live on a Greek island? Was I really made for a lifelong commitment? And if so, what could married life look like for me?
As I sifted through my cut pieces, the answers appeared. In neat piles were images of families hiking in dunes, a man baking bread, the words “a week of Sundays”. Sure there were some images of women alone, scripty text that read “the dark side” or “the road is home” — but this pile was very small. And unlike my collages from highschool, absent were images of surfing girl camping trips or lines of camels riding off into the sunset.
By seeing (literally) that the large majority of pieces were aimed toward a rooted family life, I understood there was so need for ambivalence— the split was not 50/50. My desire for an untethered life of adventure was vastly a thing of the past. And with this new insight, I was able to reserve proportionate space for those feelings both in my collage and in myself, and move on.
5) LAY IT OUT.
Pull your favorite images from each section. What is speaking to you the loudest? You likely will not have room for all the pieces you’ve cut but that’s okay. Place your most powerful images on the page and allow your vision to take shape. If you have leftover pieces, save them— perhaps they will find a home in a future visionboard.
Once your board is laid out the way you want it, take a quick photo to remind you how it looks in case the pieces shift in the gluing process. Then— paste it all down.
With your vision board complete, take a solid moment to sit with your finished piece. What does your life look like? Or more importantly, how do you feel when you look at it? Is there a particular section of your board that makes you feel most vulnerable? Take note. Then place it somewhere you will regularly see it, looking to it often and anytime you need grounding, focus, or reaffirmation— keeping your eye both figuratively and literally on the prize.
7) EVOLVE & REPEAT.
As part of my annual creative cycle, I create a new collage every 4-6 months or whenever my most recent creation feels no longer relevant. This feeling typically signals resolution or “accomplishment” of items on the current board, and therefore, of crossing a threshold to a new phase of life. A moment, when noticed for yourself, deserves recognition. Please not to forget this very important celebratory stage of gratitude for the moment you are in, as it is so easy to continue desiring more without appreciating what we have. For items that have not come to fruition, perhaps they appear again, or perhaps you’ve evolved your goals into something different. No matter how your life evolves, remember to trust the timing of it all and be clear with what you want- the universe is listening.
Aura photo by Radiant Human
Well here I am, 7 months pregnant, finally sharing the news here that in August we will be a family of 5! (Dog babies totally count.) It is crazy how quickly these months have flown. Back in December, I couldn’t imagine how to possibly manage an entire 9 months — every day felt eternally long. In that first trimester I was shocked at how little energy was available, and going to bed early, sleeping late, working a few hours and then dragging myself to the couch for a HGTV/ Food Network/ Travel Channel binge sesh was pretty much all I could manage. But other than about 48 hours of feeling truly ill around 6 weeks, I’m grateful to share that it’s been a super easy pregnancy.
on the go
Paros was the smallest of the three islands we visited, and of the 4 days we had there, one was spent motorbiking through all the small towns, checking out local art galleries, cafes and any other place that caught our eye: a beach that was like a ski resort but for wind surfers– covered in an epic amount of colorful kites. Or Kolimpithres National Park, where all the rocks looked to me like sleeping walrus. We really didn’t plan or bookmark too many things this trip, we just wanted to relax, enjoy, and see where the roads took us.
on the go
Like any good trip, ours began with a long day and a half of travel. We arrived in Athens early on a Sunday morning in a jet lagged daze but day-1 good spirits. The streets were mostly empty, and we oooh-ed and ahh-ed over the honey-suckle-smelling jasmine, bumping our bags through the cobblestone streets, the air hot vibrating with the buzz of cicadas.
We had several hours before our ferry to the islands, so we read books on park benches and eventually made our way to a restaurant at the top of a hill where we had our first Greek meal overlooking the city from their gracious balcony. Moussaka, grilled eggplant wrapped with feta and mint, carafes of chilled red wine, bread with pink vinegar and of course the classic greek salad. We had hours to kill and were concerned that they might not let us stay so long, but we quickly were reminded of the luxuriously long amount of time Europeans spend at tables.
Later that day we took the metro to the dirty port town of Pireaus and boarded the ferry to Paros. Does anyone else sleep really well on the water? We conked out on the top deck and when we woke up, the sun was setting and Paros was in sight.
Once in Paros we headed north on the island to Naoussa, a small fishing village known for it’s quaint boutiquey low-key vibe. Our hotel was the most adorable, greeting us with milky white iced ouzo and pointing out nice places to visit on the map.
One of our favorite things to do on our first night in a new country is head right out to the town no matter what the time is and cheers a cold drink under the stars. People watching on Khao San Road in Thailand at 3:30 in the morning was quite the experience,
It’s the season of supermoons and eclipses, busy yet scattered days and intense communications. There is more happening behind the scenes than we know. In these wooded months, the things that no longer serve us fall away and we plant our seeds for the new year. Let this playlist pull you through the thick of it and out to the other side.