It’s Not About My Body

So recently I wrote about how I felt really fat and gross and out of shape and seeing a picture of myself ruined my night.

Well. The night before that, I’d gotten very little sleep, and everything was so off. After I wrote that post, I got a decent amount of sleep and felt normal the next day, and I liked myself again.

Yeah, it’s that fragile. Sleep is the culprit. Not the scale or my jeans or a bad pic. It’s about sleep, and while I rarely get enough, the night before that post I’d gotten almost none, somehow.

It really is not good for my head.

It felt great to be on firm footing again, after some sleep, and to realize I’m totally OK with my body. And I ended up not cutting carbs (because I don’t believe in cutting an entire food group), and I ended up not using a calorie-counting app a running friend recommended, because I had a bad eating disorder as a teen and if I started counting calories again I’d spiral right into a hole.

Eating disorder as a teen. Shocking, right? Maybe in some ways it never leaves you. I eat what I want now, and many days I don’t exercise, and–unless I don’t get enough sleep such that it really messes with my brain–I’m OK with the condition my body is in right now. I can’t train hard these days. I can’t run a lot right now. I’m privileged enough to eat well and exercise sometimes, but I have to take care of my children, do well at my job, and pay for my house on one income. Those are MUCH bigger priorities.

I have watched my thighs grow bigger and squishier without flinching, until I lost a night of sleep (and wore ill-fitting jeans), and that totally wrecked my perspective.

My body is fine. It looks great. I look good. I am definitely not as fast and can’t run as long as I used to, of course. That’s a little hard to accept, but it’s OK.

Chicken Dreams

the 2018 Chicken Flyer from the feed store

Do you see what I see? Decision day approaches fast. I want Rhode Island Reds, because that’s the breed we had when I was a kid, and they seem fairly smart and friendly (as far as chickens go).

But this will be our first summer in this house, and I have so much to learn about all the stuff already planted here (former owners were wise and inspired gardeners, creating a beautiful space where things bloom as late as December and as early as this week), and we’re putting in raised beds for a vegetable garden, my first.

That will keep us busy.

Chickens were planned for 2019. As in, I know we want chickens, and I know where I can put the coop, but I didn’t want to take them on just yet. First I’d have to clear out the brush pile that came with the property (next to the two compost bins that were also here, fortunately). And build or buy a coop. I found a decent one I can buy from Tractor Supply (yep, really) that fits my budget. My chicken budget.

People, I don’t have a chicken budget.

Anyway, thanks to a neighbor’s information-seeking Facebook post about backyard chickens, I have so many links to check out, and I’ve been reading up on it and looking at coops and breed hardiness. Three or four chickens wouldn’t be that hard to manage, right? Plus then we’d have a nice supply of fertilizer for the garden, and fresh eggs, and the hens could roam in the yard (supervised, of course) eating bugs.

OK. I have until April 19 to either make it happen or decide to let it go until next year.

Should I go for it? Is this year the year we should get chickens?

Turning the Tide

Here’s what’s up: Despite what I’d thought, the last two years took a toll on me. And last August, for sure, when the kids’ dad and I moved (separately) half an hour west of where we used to live, but to different towns, so the kids had to change schools and move to two new towns and join a new soccer team and everything, it fully kicked our asses.

Anyway, we’re all settling out. The kids are doing well, making friends and having playdates and activities.

And I’m starting to relax a little, turning my attention to an actually more mindful assessment of how I’m doing (and why) instead of being in crisis mode about how the kids are doing.

I still don’t have enough time to really train for a solid race or anything. But I’m trying to fight back against the feeling of inherent defeat (based on schedule), and I thought I was beginning to work hard again, fitness-wise. Goodbye, squishiness.

I have low expectations of myself this year, in terms of races. I had higher expectations of myself in the past, which made sense, when I could run a lot. I can’t now, and frankly, making a wage that keeps us afloat is more of a priority. I might have to take an evening/every-other-weekend gig (do such things exist?).

Plus I’m trying to keep my house clean. And I am dipping my toe into online dating, which is generally a horrorshow.

But people, I have porked out. I knew I was getting bigger, but my workout clothes still fit, and I’ve been working out when I can (mostly strength training/Tabata stuff, because I’m feeling time-stressed lately, like I cannot take the time for a good relaxed run).

I went out last night (to an axe-throwing event, to which I was invited for social-media-influencer reasons). It was hard to get dressed for. My jeans don’t really fit anymore. I’d like to think it’s because I’ve been doing so many squats and lunges that my quads and glutes are just too big, but I don’t think that’s quite it. So I squeezed myself into my “loose” jeans, which are now my “only jeans I can still squeeze into” jeans.

I added a belt (hey, when did that belt get so short?), black t-shirt, and necklace, plus my favorite boots.

I was uncomfortable all evening, like my clothes didn’t fit right. Then my friend took a video of me throwing axes and I looked at it and felt like shit. I looked so chubby and awful and porky.


I feel gross. So much self-loathing was churned up by this.

So I’ve decided to do something about it. Not just work out more, but cut out the wine, cut carbs, whatever. Plus I joined a DietBet, which I have done before. Basically, you pay $20 (or whatever amount) and everyone in the “game” puts in that amount, and you have four weeks to lose 4% of your weight, then you split the pot with whoever else also lost that amount. So it’s a good motivation to lose it.

When I’ve done this in the past (maybe six years ago), I didn’t take the healthiest approach. I think nothing much changed about me until I had a week left, then I googled a Cosmo article about losing weight fast, then I basically lived on water for three days or something, then fasted completely (no water, even) for 12 hours, then did my final (successful) weigh-in without passing out somehow.

This will not be my approach this time. I just need to be more mindful about food and exercise.

Also, this is weird, but after all that self-loathing last night, I did the mandatory full-body photo (has to be submitted to DietBet, plus a photo of the scale with my weight and the word they send me for proof) and guess what? 

I don’t think I look terrible here! I don’t think I look like a pudgy chick squeezed into jeans. I think I look like a strong person (in a bathroom crammed with litter boxes and a hamster cage, sure).

So maybe my jeans are the actual problem, not my body.

In any case, it’s time to drop some of my adjusting-to-our-new-life weight and feel like I am at one with my body again.

Wish me luck. Wish me luck in getting fit, and wish me luck in learning to love myself, which is actually the real problem here.

Thanks for reading (*blows dust off mike* does anyone still read this thing?).

Sick Days

I get up, because there’s not much else to do.

On one side of me is my older son, hot with fever; on my other side is my younger son, coughing up a storm. At my head is the alpha cat, so alpha–“I will lie here, where I want to, and you will rest your head on me and I will lick your chin and you will pet me, but not too much.” Yes, sir. Whatever you say, 9-pound kitten. He’s still a kitten, but so big that when he clumps down the stairs we sometimes can’t tell if it’s him or my younger boy.

It’s 2:30 a.m. I’d been hoping it was later. I’d like a good night’s sleep. Both kids are sick. The younger one is technically well enough to send to school tomorrow, assuming the school doesn’t mind him coughing all over the place, and the older boy is going to his dad’s.

Today, Wednesday, the plan was to finally get in a full day’s work (and make up for yesterday and Tuesday, when I was caring for sick children and needed a nap myself yesterday to make up for a terrible night of sleep). I have a full-time job but am paid hourly. I get some vacation pay but no sick days or PTO.

Alpha Cat has diarrhea. I don’t know if I should take him to the vet or change his diet to grain-free for a week first. Between my own illness (norovirus? food poisoning?), divorce prep, divorce court, and sick kids, I haven’t put in a full week of work in weeks. Can I take the time to take the cat to the vet?

A full day’s work, finally, plus a hill workout because I am training for a hell of a trail race in early May and am behind in training, then maybe going out to meet a friend.

But it’s 2:30 a.m. and I am wide-awake. I could work, but I don’t feel like it. I crack open a beer my friend stashed in my bag after our amazingly icy ski day on Sunday and read an essay about late-term abortion. I wish women didn’t have to write these things to explain why abortion laws need to change. Not everyone can fly to that one clinic in Colorado when they learn at 20+ weeks that their baby will have a short, horrible, painful life, IF it survives birth. Abortion can be compassionate, you know.

(Here, read this: or this:

The younger child comes down, crouches on the kitchen floor. “Why are you down here?” he asks. It’s now 3:20 a.m.

I offer him honey, tea, ginger ale, water, lemon-honey tea. He wants none of it. He finally agrees to cold water out of my second-favorite coffee mug. I explain I can’t sleep and will be upstairs soon. I lead him back to bed.

As if I can sleep in the middle, between a feverish furnace and someone with a hacking cough, the usual knees and elbows, plus Alpha Kitty on my head. As if I’d rather be anywhere else or sleep alone.

I rub backs, give water from cups with bendy straws, reassure everyone I’ll be up soon.

It is 3:34 a.m. and the coughing has stopped. I can’t hear the moaning from the fevered boy.

Tomorrow Coughy will return to school, because he is technically well enough (hasn’t had a fever all day, hasn’t vomited). I will bring the older boy to his dad’s house. This sounds heartless, yes? Monday was my custody day but the younger child was too sick to go anywhere, so I returned home, got my laptop, and returned to my ex-husband’s house to work there and tend our younger child, because I can work from home and my ex cannot, so I worked from his house so he could go into the office.

I told him I’d bring my own food and coffee and wouldn’t touch his stuff. He offered to make me a pot of coffee, anyway.

By Monday afternoon I told the sick child that I’d carry him to the car wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, we’d get his brother from school, and go back to my house, a 20- to 25-minute drive. This time, he didn’t protest.

I think this is pretty functional co-parenting, right?

It is nearly 4 a.m. now. Alpha Kitty is watching me. I don’t want to climb back into my hot germy bed with all the knees and elbows and people moaning and coughing on me. I don’t know where to sleep. I need to sleep. I don’t want to sleep.






Pro tip: Easy Bedtime for School-Aged Children (Happy Halloween!)

Pro tip for managing the easiest, most fuss-free, no-yell-or-threats bedtime for your school-aged children:

  1. Plan a fast, crappy dinner, such as boxed mac-and-cheese plus/or hot dogs plus steamed broccoli.
  2. Insist everyone put on costumes, including yourself.
  3. Shout that they put the kitties down and get shoes on.
  4. Put a bin of candy on your porch with a sign saying “Please take just one.”
  5. At dusk/just after dinner, go outside.
  6. Wander around the neighborhood having your kids ring doorbells for almost two hours, with strangers giving them candy for their efforts.
  7. Allow the children to each eat exactly two things while walking around.
  8. Stop at your new friend’s house and accept a beer before realizing your children ONLY want to be walking around, getting candy from strangers. Accept to-go cup from extremely gracious new friend.
  9. Make your way home, still with your kids ringing/knocking/gathering candy.
  10. Arrive home at the time your children are usually bathed/brushed/homework done/lunches packed/in bed.
  11. Let them spread candy all over the living room floor and sort it into piles. Help with sorting.
  12. Agree to let them each choose two things to eat tonight, plus one to put into lunchbox for tomorrow.
  13. Agree that three things tonight is ok. They can each have three candy-things tonight.
  14. When someone asks if they can watch a show–at this point 17 unbrushed minutes past bedtime–agree to it, shocking them.
  15. When show ends, insists on the usual floss/brush/fluoride rinse.
  16. Read for only 10 minutes instead of the usual 20 or 25.
  17. Snuggle each kid for only 1:30 each instead of of big battles about it.
  18. Go downstairs and hear nothing from either kid for the rest of the night.


Back on my mat, where I belong. And where I cry, apparently.

I’ve been hesitant to find a new yoga studio in my new town/area because I have practiced in the same studio for the past 10 years, and I love it. I’ve also practiced in a few other studios and was never fully comfortable. I was OK with the other studios/classes, but they had a very different feel — different order of things, poses that didn’t flow together, a different vibe. They’ve been good studios/classes, but they weren’t MINE. They didn’t feel like the place that I knew.

I loved my yoga studio so much that I wanted to do their teacher training (in terms of money and schedule, this fall is not the time for me to start my yoga teacher training, but I know I want to do my eventual teacher training with them). O2 is still the place for me.

So today I looked around for local studios and found one that had classes today. I looked up the instructor. She had done her teacher training with my old yoga studio! And so had half of the other teachers.

I went to the 4:30 Vinyasa class. I haven’t practiced in a few months. I’ve been holding so much in for the past year and a half, which I am JUST starting to realize.

Even before the instructor arrived, when I was already on my mat, I felt at home. Like I was unquestionably in the right place.

And then Saundra walked in, and the class was more than a little different that my old studio, in some ways, but it was so, so familiar and something broke open in me and I started to cry. I tried to focus on my breathing while tears flowed and my nose ran, and it was a pretty massive emotional release. This went on for a while, me crying while moving through the various poses, occasionally grabbing my towel to wipe my face or blow my nose.

I couldn’t stop it, and I felt no need to hide it.

I kept on breathing and listening and flowing, and the emotions eventually subsided. It really felt like something had been unlocked. Something I had no control over. Like I have locked up so much over the past year and here on my mat I could finally let it out.

Let it out I did. It didn’t hurt. It just felt like stuff needed to get out from behind the wall it had been trapped behind, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Do you know that feeling? When all the stuff you’ve been holding back everywhere, including to yourself, to keep things in control, just bursts out from behind the dam, and there’s nothing you can do? And you don’t feel sad or anything but just relieved for the release and a little surprised and start to recognize how much you haven’t actually acknowledged or processed?

Oh. Sorry. Let’s get back to me on my mat. Sometimes people crying makes other people uncomfortable, even if the crying person is OK with the in-public crying and glad for the release. Let’s normalize public crying.

And let’s reach out to each other more.

* * * * *

So, weirdly, in a connected story — I’ve had back/hip problems lately, including both of my SI joints locking up so tightly and weirdly that I was crooked and my left ilium was slightly sticking out the wrong way.

Yeah. In case you wonder why I haven’t been running.

So I went to see my beloved chiropractor of the past nine years, and she tried to release my SI joints, and I totally burst into tears, surprising both of us.

It didn’t hurt. Nope. Her thought is that I hold all my stress and pain in my hips. I know that sounds hokey. But. Any time I’ve done any kind of hip release (ask me about the Yin Yoga class I did at Kripalu), I’ve had a release. It’s not hokey: Google “hip release emotion” and you’ll find many such articles like this one. Seriously, like Shakira, my hips don’t lie.

Oh and also my chiro couldn’t unlock it that first time. I had a lot going on, emotionally.

* * * *

Then I was smiling and feeling good in tonight’s class, ferociously sure, more than I’ve ever been sure of anything, that being on my mat is exactly where I need to be right now. This is the space I need more than ever. And yoga teacher training is for sure in my future, when I have the money and the schedule works out.

And until then, spending as much time on my mat as possible with this yoga community is exactly what I need. And in this space I can grow and stretch and cry and release and be safe.

Near the end of class I had another crying jag, this one not lasting as long (but seriously, if you’re going to play “Hallelujah” you have to expect some tears from someone). By the end of class, I was fully calm and peaceful and feeling more like myself than I have in so long. More in touch. More able to let go. I’ve kept up a public front for the last long while, on absolutely every front, and it had ended up extending to me — like I haven’t been honest or in touch with myself for too long.

When I thanked the instructor as I was leaving the yoga studio, she asked my name. Another instructor at the studio, who’d been in the class also, was next to her.

I introduced myself. Then I added, “I just moved to the area. I used to practice at O2.”

They both visibly reacted. “Get out of here!” Saundra exclaimed. “That’s where I did my training!”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m here,” I said. “I looked you up. And knew this was where I wanted to be.”

They both smiled at me.

“I moved here in August, but I wanted to connect to the right studio. I’ve found it.”

They took this in.

“Welcome,” Saundra said. The other instructor grinned, and I can’t wait to work with her, too.

I’ve found my new yoga studio. I feel calm just envisioning it. I’m going again tomorrow.

This is part of how I’m rebuilding me.

Saturday: Or, Friday Night’s Flapper

I bought a house and moved into it three weeks ago. The first week, I was dealing with a tough personal situation while trying to work and get the rest of my stuff out of my old place. Then I went away for almost two weeks, with the kids, to visit my parents.

I’m finally home. I have spent some time unpacking. My lawn looked like hell, because the maple tree out back has black tar fungus and it’s dropping leaves. I couldn’t mow the lawn until I raked up and disposed of all the leaves. I didn’t have time this week until today. So, here’s my first real Saturday as a homeowner:

6 a.m.: Woke up on couch (oops). Went upstairs to my bed until 8:30, when I finally considered that I had a very full to-do list and had better get started.

8:30: Drank a cup of coffee. Raked back yard.

9:30: Went for a run. Stopped at town farmer’s market. Learned about local organizations, volunteer opportunities, the cultural council, fitness options. Bought bread, ran home. Drank more coffee.

10: Biked to hardware store in next town. Bought new supplies to fix my toilet, as the “universal flapper” I bought last night conflicted with my float, leading to a sub-optimal flushing situation. Also bought black Rustoleum, gloves (a 5-pack for $5! What a deal!), and black bags for the leaves. Biked home.

Lost track of time. Bagged leaves. Raked front lawn. Mowed lawn. Weeded flowerbeds. Ate some leftovers.

Made kidney beans in the pressure cooker.

Laid out about 1/3 of the rusty wrought iron metal fence thingies for my front lawn and painted them.

Moved a lot of furniture and finally put down a rug and set up the spare room as a playroom as well as set up my home office (which is in the dining room).

Returned to hardware store to return Friday night’s flapper (hey, that will be the name of my band if I ever start one) and buy more paint and a bigger dropcloth.

Stopped by local humane society, fell in love with two kittens and a dog, and filled out an application.

Ran other errands.

Cleared out most of the brush pile (that’s where the chicken coop will eventually go!).

Made chicken in the pressure cooker. Ate it standing up while prepping soup.

Cleaned hamster cages.

Currently: Am making French onion soup in the pressure cooker.

Next up: Dry and set up hamster cages, shower.

After that: Collapse on couch w/ French onion soup and a remote.

Tomorrow’s agenda: NOTHING. Ideally mountain biking and kayaking. Who knows?

Moving to Friendlytown, USA

We’ve moved!

We just moved yesterday. I’m still dazed. It was about a 13-hour moving day, from the moment I got out of bed at dawn to move my car in front of the house to save the spot for the moving truck (otherwise a commuter would park there for the day) to the moment I walked in the door of the new house with my kids and said, “Here’s our new house!”

It’s been a dizzying week. Fortunately my children were with their father for 9 days straight (vacation), which gave me plenty of time in the evenings to pack, sort, discard, organize. Stay up far too late. Get up too early. Do it again the next day, before and after work (and, since I work from home, perhaps I packed a box or two over lunch, or had someone stop by during the day to buy an outgrown bike or pick up something I no longer needed).

One of my older brothers offered to come up and help with the move. At first I refused. After all, this year I’d hired actual movers! Actual professional movers who came recommended. But then I reconsidered, and for many reasons agreed to it.*

He was amazing. He refused to let me leave the little piles of crap “for next week, I can deal with them then.” No, he wanted the apartment EMPTY. He bagged stuff. He brought a load to the new house himself, came back, and loaded my plants (including container-garden tomatoes and rhubarb, not just houseplants!) into his minivan while I followed the movers to the new place.

He’d hoped to return home (a different state) before traffic got too heavy, but when I couldn’t connect my new Internet service, he helped troubleshoot it. I was on the phone with tech support while he put together my kids’ beds and rolled out their rug. Then he jerryrigged something in the basement (missing coax and splitter) and got things up and running, and moved and set up the TV so that my kids could have their usual Friday movie night in the new place (keeping things normal for them…and the TV is an old street find, and I really truly don’t know what connects to what or how to make things work…but I do know how to use the Roku remote at this point, if everything is properly connected, and he made sure it was).

He hit the road, I picked up my children in our old town, and together we walked into the new house, furnished but of course with boxes everywhere. We ordered pizza delivery based on our new next-door neighbor’s recommendation. The lovely neighbor herself showed up soon after our arrival with homemade frosted cupcakes, chocolate for one child and vanilla for the other (she’d asked me their preferences a few days earlier).

We checked out the new neighborhood while the pizza cooled on the coffee table. (By “checked out the new neighborhood,” I mean that the children ran outside shirtless, and one jumped on the baby-toy inchworm-on-wheels while the other pushed him down the hill in the middle of the (no traffic at that time) street (yes I was by their side), lots of shouting and mayhem and observing some of our neighbor’s amazing front-yard fruit trees and joy, until I made them put shirts on and eventually made them come home for dinner and a movie.

I was so tired, I didn’t read to them, kept bedtime short, and crawled right into bed after saying goodnight to them.

AND THEN I COULDN’T SLEEP. WHAT IN THE HELL. I couldn’t find my regular blanket. I think that was part of it. It’s weighty but not hot. I like that. I had a lightweight blanket on me. And the window AC’s (which I’m not used to) seemed loud.

I fell asleep, finally. And then I woke up. Like, fully woke up. It was midnight.


I gave in, came downstairs, and made lists. Grocery lists (I mean, my kids were gone for 9 days, I ran out of everything, and I just moved. We need groceries; they’re not going to eat raw scallions, stale pita bread, and miso). Meal plans (ha!! As if I can find any pots or anything yet!). An IKEA/Target/hardware store list.

When I ran out of lists, I was ready to go back to bed. It was close to 4 a.m.

I slept.

Children piled in with me/next to me/everywhere (there are so many of them, sometimes, even though really there are only two) and I didn’t want to wake up, then they remembered they had to finish the movie from last night, so they scampered downstairs and I half-slept on for a bit until I realized if I didn’t throw food at them soon we’d all be sorry.

I had bought mini chocolate croissants the day before from the bakery, so I offered those and juice (yes! all the sugar! Sometimes I make exceptions to all my usual rules). We had no milk, anyway, and the coffee tasted like crap so I wasn’t about to offer that (kidding! about offering them coffee–but it did taste like crap).

For some reason the kids were gung-ho to go out and get what we needed: a water filter pitcher (because we agreed our tap water doesn’t taste good), a longer extension cord for the lawn mower, gardening gloves, groceries. These children normally hate running errands or going ANYWHERE on a Saturday morning, but they wanted to get stuff done. We stopped for breakfast, thankfully, because we were all running out of steam.

And let’s fast-forward the long sleepy day, we ended up at Walden Pond in a hard rainstorm that soon cleared and it was gorgeous and fun and refreshing, then we grilled dinner while playing in the yard.

Anyway, let me sum up. So an hour after we move in, the neighbor shows up with TWO PLATES OF CUPCAKES, each kid’s favorite flavor. Then tonight someone parked in front of my house (it’s a little neighborhood where everyone has driveways) and she ASKED ME IF IT BOTHERED ME THAT SHE PARKED THERE. My heavens. I said no, that I’m new here and don’t know the parking rules, but it doesn’t bother me, and thanks for asking.

Then TWO HOURS LATER some people knock on my door. They notice the car’s lights are on and want to know if it’s mine because they don’t want me to have a dead battery in the morning. We all introduce ourselves and I say that the parker of the car was going to visit “Leslie or Leah or something like that in the yellow house, but not the yellow house next door because the people who live there are named _______ and ______,” and the people knocking at my door, who live just down the street, said, “Oh, LEAH, right!” and say they will to go her house to tell her visitor about her car lights.



*And let me here give massive thanks to one of my other older brothers who showed up for the inspection and offered his advice, and to my parents, massively. Thanks, family, for all your incredible support and belief in me.

Hiking Home

I’m moving next week. To a new town no one’s heard of, apparently, except for the people who live there and know it and exclaim what an awesome town it is.

It’s an old mill town. Not sprawling, not huge, but it has a downtown. Which has (thank god) some restaurants I can’t wait to check out (like the tiny hole-in-the-wall Korean place, which you can barely tell is a restaurant from the outside). I feared ending up in a “meh” food desert — not that I eat out much but I am comforted by knowing that interesting, good, and genuine food is nearby.

Even if I cook at home almost all the time and rarely splurge on takeout.

I scheduled the movers for next Friday. Actually I scheduled them for next Thursday but they couldn’t show up until sometime between 2 p.m and 5 p.m., and knowing how moves go I knew it would be on the later side and also they’d get stuck in rush-hour traffic, adding to total move time/cost, so we agreed on Friday morning.

It should be quick. I’ve boxed up most stuff except our necessities (though without my constant handwashing [no dishwasher here] we’re constantly running out of plates/bowls/glasses. Also I realize we have about 3 real glasses and the rest are Teddy’s peanut butter jars).

Drinking glasses are on my IKEA list.

As are two new beds for the kids (they have bunkbeds now but we’re ready for regular beds, and I found a cool one on the street but they want matching and that’s fine with me).

And a fuzzy high-pile rug for their room, because we’re all sick of the flat hard rugs and they deserve cushy.

So the last weekend the kids weren’t here, I cleared out a TON of stuff. I purged a lot last year when we moved, but there’s always more! I sold a lot of stuff (including non-family antiques I have lugged around for 20 years). I gave away a lot of stuff. Today, some organization came by and picked up 3 boxes of stuff from my porch.

We’re down to clothes and furniture, plus the last few dishes.

So what am I doing this weekend? Going to IKEA to buy the beds and rug? Boxing up closet stuff?

Hell no. I am heading to the mountains, to my calm and happy space.

Because most high campgrounds are kind of (and I mean this kindly) an overcrowded shitshow this time of year, I will car camp down low, hike all day Saturday, camp that night, and drive home Sunday. I don’t need to haul all my gear up the mountain to end up in the absurdly over-crowded Guyot scene we ended up in last year (there were people pitching tents on the trail, the overflow camping was full, and if there were one more tent it would have ended up on top of the bearbox, I think).

I love Guyot. It’s beautiful and lovely and wonderful. But by george, it can get crowded in the summer!!

I reached out to an outdoors womens group about camping (most regular campsites are booked; I’m looking into “pull off the road and hike into the woods” stuff).

One suggested that the Whites are much too busy right now and I should look elsewhere.

No. I need to go to my familiar places. I need to hike the trails I’ve hiked so many times before, hike my favorite peaks (or nearby ones). I don’t want a whole new set of circumstances. I have enough of that right now.

I’ll be in the Whites this weekend, if anyone needs me.


Summer Favorite: Buffalo Kale Pizza Recipe

What would you do with a big box of organic baby kale? What would you do with four of them?

For a recent campaign for Stonyfield Yogurt in partnership with Taylor Farms organic greens (for which I was compensated and received product), I realized that when you have a lot of Whole Milk Greek and Whole Milk Smooth and Creamy yogurt and baby greens (Power Greens: Baby Kale, in my case), I came up with three recipe ideas.*

The first two — true to how I usually cook — don’t have actual recipes. I made a delicious pasta with baby kale, garlic, and Greek yogurt (I put the baby kale in with the spaghetti near the end of cooking time, then tossed all that with olive oil in which I’d cooked some chopped/minced garlic and red pepper flakes, then stirred in Greek yogurt — so good, though chopping the kale first would have been a good idea, as even the baby kale stems can be…chewy). 

Then I made a yogurt-based garlicky herb dressing to toss on the raw baby kale leaves.

And then, dear friends, I had the most wonderful idea of all: Buffalo Kale Pizza. I didn’t come up with that name myself; my friend Diana did. I’ve been on a big homemade pizza kick this summer. I make a batch of Mark Bittman’s pizza dough (whole wheat, and so easy!), then I have dough to make pizza whenever I want.

I make pizza on the grill. I make it in my oven, if it’s not a sweltering day. I have even made it in the toaster oven when I just wanted a small pizza for which it would have been hot and wasteful to heat oven or grill.

homemade whole wheat pizza dough from Mark Bittman's Easiest Pizza dough recipe

homemade pizza dough

So on a Friday night, after yoga, I invited Diana to come over for pizza, as neither of us had any plans. She brought some fresh-picked lettuces from her window box garden and some mushrooms while I rolled out dough.
Diana made a pizza with tomato sauce, mushrooms, and mozzarella. I wanted to use tomato sauce, blue cheese, baby kale, chopped yellow sweet peppers, and mozzarella.

Buffalo Baby Kale Pizza, before baking

While the pizza cooked, I had an idea for topping mine. I put some Stonyfield Smooth and Creamy Whole Milk Plain Yogurt in a bowl, shook some red chili pepper flakes on it, then poured some hot sauce into it, before whisking it with a fork.

My pizza came out of the oven.

Buffalo Baby Kale Pizza, after baking

Looks so much prettier after the drizzle of sauce, right?

Buffalo Baby Kale Pizza, with hot-sauce drizzle

post-yoga pizza-making

Behold, homemade pizza and grown-a-mile-away lettuce! And while eating a slice of the pizza I’d made, Diana realized that the combo of blue cheese and creamy tang and hot sauce reminded her of…Buffalo wings. Except this wasn’t wings. This was homemade Buffalo Baby Kale Pizza.

So: Not exactly a recipe, more a method, because that’s how I cook. But I’ll do my best:

    1. Preheat oven with pizza stone, or grill, or just oven because you’re going to use a pan.
    2. Roll out/stretch pizza dough.
    3. Roughly chop a pile of baby kale and toss with a little olive oil so it doesn’t merely crisp up and dry out in the oven. Chop sweet pepper (yellow or red) if using.
    4. Prepare dough for toppings.**
    5. Spread thin layer of tomato sauce over dough.
    6. Sprinkle chopped oiled kale, peppers, and chunks of blue cheese onto sauced dough.
    7. Scatter mozzarella on top, followed by a little grated Parmesan.
    8. Bake pizza (timing depends on cooking method).
    9. While pizza bakes, put whole milk yogurt in a bowl. Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes, then add hot sauce. Whisk with fork.
    10. When pizza has been removed from oven, drizzle the hot yogurt sauce over it. Cut and eat.

*So…I was supposed to come up with and share a salad idea. Sorry! But really, you’ll be very happy with the Buffalo Baby Kale Pizza and you don’t even need a salad with it! You’re welcome. #efficiency

** Grilling: Throw flattened dough on grill for 5-8 minutes, then flip onto peel/cutting board to put toppings on grilled side.
Baking with pizza stone: Move flattened dough onto a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal.
Baking without pizza stone: Move flattened dough to a rimmed sheet pan that’s either been greased lightly with olive oil or sprinkled with cornmeal.