Wise words

"Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart—even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections."

-Rob Brezsny



Hello!  I'm a writer, yogini, tea addict, outdoors-enthusiast, and aspiring organic chef.  I was born and raised in the Midwest, and now live with my husband in Annapolis, MD, a beautiful town outside of Washington, DC.  We got married in June of 2010, and recently returned from our honeymoon in Italy, where we hiked the Cinque Terre and Tuscany.  (You can check out our honeymoon photos herehere, and here, if you'd like.)

I love to cook and I'm passionate about good, clean, and fair food.  Sustainably sourced + organic (when possible) + the freshest ingredients available is my philosophy when it comes to food and cooking.  I recently transitioned to a mostly vegetarian way of eating (I say "mostly" because I still eat the occasional piece of wild-caught fish).  I love to write about food and food issues, and am honing my food photography abilities.  

Over the past two years, I've immersed myself in the practice of yoga.  Yoga has changed my life in so many ways, and my dream is to one day teach others.  I try to integrate elements of yoga - such as setting an intention, seeking balance, and finding my "edge" -  into my day-to-day life.

When I'm not cooking or practicing yoga, I'm probably reading, writing, running, hiking, kayaking, tending to our herb garden, visiting museums and farmers markets, or spending time with friends and family.

This is my blog about food, yoga, inspiration, and my quest to build a creative and holistic life. 

You can contact me at tulipsandtea@gmail.com.  Thanks for stopping by!


True confessions of a yoga class dropout

If you know me, or read my blog, you know that yoga has become a big part of my life within the past year. This is largely due to the incredibly supportive and welcoming community of yogis I found at Studio Serenity, a vinyasa yoga studio in DC. Soon after beginning classes there last June, what began as a tentative interest quickly became a passion and then a neccessity, as vital to my life as eating and breathing. I became quite attached to the gentle, spiritual vibe of the place, as well as the challenging, yet informal teaching style. I felt especially connected to one instructor in particular, whose flowing sequences - infused with her warm, funny commentary -always seemed to be exactly what my body and mind needed.

One of the hardest things about moving to Annapolis was the realization that I would have to leave this yoga community behind since it would no longer be possible/practical to practice there.

I recently tried a yoga studio near our new place, and found myself disoriented and disappointed after the first class. I suppose this was to be expected on some level, as I had grown so attached to the style and environment of my old studio. However, it left a really bad taste in my mouth, and I don't think it's just because I was comparing it to the old one (though I'm sure that influenced my opinion). The instructor did not seem engaged with or connected to the rest of the class, but rather, seemed to be simply reciting a rote set of instructions. The sequences were totally unchallenging. Now granted, it was one of the easier class levels so I wasn't expecting anything crazy, but we spent almost the entirety of the class alternating between child's pose and sitting on our bums massaging our legs with tennis balls. Now there's a lot to be said for restorative (or yin) practice, but I do expect some kind of workout, especially when my monthly yoga membership costs more than my electric bill! The other weird part was that the other students seemed totally unengaged and were chatting, gossiping, and cracking jokes the whole time. Beyond being just...odd, the chatter totally threw off the energy in the room. There was no collective chi, which is really (in my opinion) a big part of why you would take a group class in the first place.

I don't mean to complain so much, but the whole experience really bummed me out, especially because I was so eager and excited to try a new place. The logical part of my brain told me to give it another shot (I had already paid for and committed to classes through September anyway), but my intuition told me that I should cut my losses and use it as an opportunity to start a home practice, something I've been wanting to do for awhile now.

Well, intuition won out, and I was able to get a partial refund on the rest of the classes. Very shortly after making this decision, I came across Sara's review of yoga DVDs on her blog, The Way of the Happy Woman (check it out if it's not on your radar yet!) and then, yesterday, City Girl's review of her Jade yoga mat. Inspired, I ordered two yoga DVDs (this and this) and plan to purchase a Jade mat soon. The funny part is this: I realized that the sum of these items is almost exactly the same amount (within a dollar) as the amount I was refunded for the rest of the yoga classes. I'm choosing to see this as a sign that this is the right decision for me right now.

My yoga DVDs are supposed to arrive today, but last night, I just couldn't wait any longer, so I did a sort of impromptu yoga practice on the living room floor, using a sequence I made up on the spot. It felt SO good. I'm even sore this morning (in a good way)! I was happy to find that I can lead myself through sequences and challenge myself even without the presence of an instructor. I'm so excited to try my DVDs and really get my home practice going!

All you yogis out there...do you have a home practice? Do you find it more or less difficult to practice at home versus at a studio? I am a little bit nervous about foregoing the studio experience for awhile (though I think it's the right choice for me right now for various reasons), so any words of wisdom would be mucho appreciated!


Contact Me

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About Me

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Down on the farm

My sister just spent two weeks working on Figment Farm, a small family operated farm located 40 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. The farm grows organic fruits and vegetables for a CSA, and it also has chickens and sheep. She found the opportunity through WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Famrs), a worldwide network of organic farms that offer food and accommodation in exchange for volunteer help. She took such beautiful photos that I just had to share a few! Doesn't it make you want to throw on some overalls and a straw hat and get your hands dirty?

Aren't they purty? I'm now perusing WWOOF's website and drooling over all the amazing opportunities. (A coffee and macadamia nut farm in Hawaii, anyone?)

Have any of you done this sort of thing (either through WWOOF or otherwise)? I would love to hear about it!


Moving madness

You may have noticed I haven't been posting quite as frequently as I normally do. Things have been a bit crazy in my neck o' the woods, to say the least! In the past week or so, Jason and have:
  • Moved everything from my old apartment to the new condo. It was a HUGE relief to get this taken care of, although it was a bittersweet feeling to hand in the key.
  • Put together various pieces of furniture including our new dining room table, daybed, and dressers. (To be completely honest, Jason did most of the work, but I brought him cold drinks and provided moral support.)
  • Made multiple trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target to pick up things because we keep realizing that we need things we either don't have or can't find in our boxes!
  • Cooked most of our dinners from scratch to take advantage of the new appliances!
  • Gone for a run almost every day. Running is basically keeping us sane during this crazy stressful time! I'll post soon about the "new to us" park we discovered.
Our new challenge is to get the condo in shape (unpacking boxes, decorating, hanging art, etc.) for my parents' visit the third weekend in August. It feels like there's just so much to do! Despite all the insanity, we are LOVING the new place. I hope to take more pictures as soon as we get rid of some of the boxes/clutter currently clogging up every available surface...

Image via Flickr user movingcompanies.


26 Olive Street

So I just stumbled upon this adorable little vintage shop called 26 Olive Street via Apartment Therapy. I love the way the photos are styled. Very simple, yet beautiful.

Images via 26 Olive Street.


Miro Blue

I think Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miró must be my color soul mate. The brilliant, saturated blue he favored in many of his works is absolute perfection. Don't you agree?

Blue II. 1961. (Jason got me a huge framed print of this one for my birthday last year.)

Dancer. 1925.

Hand Catching a Bird. 1926.

Images via ABC Gallery.


Good Eat: Luna Blu

On Friday, after a long week of unpacking and getting stuff done around the new condo, Jason and I decided it was time for a little R&R, so, on a whim, we made dinner reservations at Luna Blu ("Blue Moon"), an unassuming little jewel of an Italian restaurant located in downtown Annapolis. Neither of us had been before, but I think I can safely say that we'll definitely be back!

The menu features traditional favorites from the southern region of Italy, with an emphasis on dishes from Naples (read: lots of seafood). For $35, you can have the Four-Course Dinner, with your choice of antipasti, house salad, entrée, and dessert (which is quite the deal when you consider that some of the entrées alone are in the upper $20's range), so we decided that one of us would do the four-course thing so we could split the antipasti, salad, and dessert.

With our strategy settled, we started with Cozze e Vongole Possillipo, mussels and clams sautéed with garlic and olive oil in a white wine sauce (a traditional preparation by way of the Possillipo quarter in Naples). The mussels and clams were plump and fresh, but it was the sauce that made me swoon with its heady marriage of garlic and brine. We were dunking the freshly baked bread (provided, gratis, with a pool of very good olive oil) like there was no tomorrow. A glass of Friulian Pinot Grigio provided a refreshing accompaniment to all that heady flavor.

Next came the house salad, most notable for its dressing, a balanced blend of tang and creaminess. I find many Italian dressings to be cloyingly tangy, but Luna Blu's is a welcome departure from the norm. For my entree, I chose the Seafood Fra Diavola, a heaping tangle of lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops and calamari sautéed in a spicy marinara sauce tossed with linguine. The seafood tasted incredibly fresh - a major perk of living so close to the water, I suppose - and the sauce brimmed with nice lumps of fresh tomatoes and Italian spices. The linguine, unsurprisingly, was perfectly al dente. Jason had the Farfalle di Cremona, bowtie pasta sautéed with shrimp, scallops, crabmeat and peas in a creamy alfredo sauce. I managed to swipe a bite of scallop, perfectly tender and enlivened by the not-too-heavy cream sauce.

For dessert, we had to try the tiramisu, the true standard by which an Italian meal can be evaluated in my book. I'm happy to report that Luna Blu's is a winner: a soft (but not soggy) cloud of sweet, moist espresso-y goodness. With its fabulous food and pretty marine decor (the place is outfitted in subtle blue tones), Luna Blu earns top billing on my list of recommended eats if you find yourself in our neck of the woods.

After dinner, we walked around downtown Annapolis, an area known as City Dock. I was glad to see what a vibrant scene it is on a Friday night! There were all kinds of people walking around, eating outside on restaurant terraces, and hanging out on their boats. It was really fun to walk around and explore, knowing that it is now "our" town.

So, mes amies, what was the highlight of your weekend?

(Alas, I forgot my camera, so I don't have any photos to share...)


Seven tidbits

The wonderful Carolyn of Hang on Little Tomato awarded me this fun MeMe Blog Award this afternoon! Thanks Carolyn! If you haven't checked out her blog, be sure to do so, as it's a major source of inspiration and fabulousness!

The rules are:

1. Share seven tidbits about myself.

2. Share the award with seven blog friends!

So here are my seven tidbits...enjoy!

1. When I was a little kid, I was so enamored with the movie Grease that I painted life-size poster cut-outs of Sandy and Danny, which I proudly displayed in my bedroom for several years. And yes, I still know all the lyrics to every song!

2. I started doing yoga a year ago, and can honestly say that it has changed my life in so many ways.

3. I secretly LOVE cheesy 80's music. Er...not so secretly anymore...

4. I've somehow actually become better at math in the past few years despite not having taken a course since junior year of high school.

5. Jason and I share a love of artichokes and put them on everything. My favorite is pizza with roasted chicken, thin-sliced red onion, artichoke, and spinach.

6. In 4th or 5th grade, I became really intrigued by Cleopatra after reading about her somewhere. I dressed as Cleopatra for Halloween that year, thinking it was a really unique costume, but everyone thought I was just another Princess Jasmine (there were, like, a zillion Jasmines that year because Aladdin had just come out.) I'm sort of still not over it.

7. My parents are my heroes and my sister and boyfriend are tied for best friend. :-)

I know I'm supposed to tag seven people, but I honestly want to know more about all of you, so if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged!

Settling In

We're finally starting to get some of our stuff sorted out and properly arranged. Allow me to present....

Le bookshelf

(Buddha's ready for his close-up.)

My arts/crafts supplies on my new desk

It's starting to feel like home.


The Eight Principles of Fun

Check out this little video about The Eight Irresistable Principles of Fun.

Neat, huh?

Image via Eight Principles.


Small on space, big on style

Wow! Check out this elegant 350-square-foot studio (pictured above), featured in the Home & Garden Section of the New York Times. Having lived in some rather small apartments, I am always interested in seeing how people manage to make tiny spaces feel spacious and open (granted, the vaulted ceilings and huge windows really account for a lot of it, though I also love her simple & sweet decorating style). The lucite(?) chairs and clean-lined dining table are especially wise picks for a small space, since they don't take up visual space and allow for an unfettered view out the window. The whole effect is calming, sophisticated, and surprisingly airy given the apartment's lilliputian dimensions.

I must admit that I am enjoying the additional space I now have since moving into the new condo (almost 1200 square feet versus my previous space of 500 square feet), though I think having a small space forced me to be more creative with the decor.

What about you? What kind of space do you live in, and if it's a small one, how do you make it feel larger?

Images via NY Times.


My weekend

Sushi at Sakura with Jason. Going running (twice!) in our new neighborhood. Eating breakfast on the balcony. Putting together our new bookcase and arranging it with a combination of our books (my Hip Tranquil Chick now co-exists with his Zombie Survival Guide). Moving more of our stuff into the new place. Stocking up on groceries at Whole Foods. Dinner at Lemongrass + seeing Bruno with Nikki and Brian. Making a batch of delicious Jambalaya on Sunday (we used this recipe, but substituted fresh thyme and parsley, plus fresh diced onion - sauteed first - instead of the dried onion flakes...it was SO good.)

What did your weekend entail, my friends?

Photo by Alicia Bock.


Love him

I sent Jason to the grocery store to pick up a couple things we forgot to get yesterday, and he came back with a bouquet of flowers "just because." What a guy.

Shiba Inu

Though Jason and I love dogs, we are not ready to take on the responsibility of owning one yet. When we are, however, I think a Shiba Inu will be near the top of the list. I've been seeing these dogs everywhere recently, and at first I thought they were miniature Huskies or Akitas, but I did some research and it turns out they are a separate breed (though related) which originated in Japan. I think they are so beautiful, and they average only 20 pounds or so (17 for a female), so they are well-suited to living in modestly-sized spaces.

Do you have a pet and if so, what kind? If you don't have a pet, are there any kinds that you would like to have?

Image via Daily Puppy.


Five Good Things

1. CB2 opening a store in DC! (CB2, for the uninitiated, is Crate & Barrel's hipper, laid-back cousin - sort of a Will Smith to Crate & Barrel's Carlton Banks.) High-quality, modern furniture at reasonable prices? Count me in. I recently ordered the Lubi daybed (in mocha) for our guest room and some Orbit arm chairs for the dining room.

2. The Weber Q320 grill. I went over to some friends' house the other night for burgers and veggies on the grill, and fell in love with this cool little number they'd recently purchased. It's small enough to fit on the tiniest of balconies (the sides fold down), yet it has a decent sized cooking area. By the way, grilled eggplant (sliced thin and brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher sea salt) might be my new favorite food.

3. These multi-tasking lavender towelettes from Herban Essentials. I picked some up at Whole Foods the other day and can't wait to try them out as a refreshing post-yoga facial cleanser or an alternative to icky-smelling hand sanitizer. They also come in orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint scents, as well as a special yoga blend (to wipe hands, feet, and mat before or after class).

4. This house tour from Apartment Therapy. The owners make terrific use of dramatic contrast, yet keep things light-hearted and fun. It's given me some great design ideas for the new condo!

5. Rose green tea from Ito En (pictured above). A refreshing and all natural blend of green tea and delicate rose flavor. I stash one in my purse for a yummy mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

Image via The Nibble.


Morning person

The lovely Carolyn of Hang On Little Tomato recently blogged about her July goals, one of them being to create a morning ritual. This got me thinking about my morning routine.

I've always been a morning person, but over the past year, I have purposely focused on creating a relaxed and morning routine. I started really implementing this when I was at my previous (stressful) job and thinking about ways to make my days more rejuvenating, but I've happily stuck with it since changing jobs and have found that it makes a HUGE difference in the quality of my days.

I love waking up slowly, allowing my mind to gently transition from sleep to wakefulness, and that delicious, half-awake feeling where you're still sort of dreaming yet sort of conscious. When the pillow is cool against your skin, but your toes are nice and warm.

Getting dressed to go for a run in the first moments after sunrise, hearing the occasional passing car or bus as the city comes to life, and running across the Ellington Bridge, admiring the sky still streaked with periwinkle and pink, and then returning to my apartment and running a nice hot bath or shower while I sip water and then green tea.

Taking my time with my hair and makeup (and maybe even squeezing in time for a face mask treatment or quickie pedicure if I'm ahead of schedule).

Eating a healthy breakfast and knowing I'm doing something good for myself (I used to never eat breakfast, but I have reformed my ways!) - usually oatmeal or whole grain cereal with soy milk and some fruit - while catching up on email and blogs.

Talking to my mom on the phone while walking to work (we talk almost every day), enjoying the sunlight on my face and the beautiful Dupont townhouses.

Are you a morning person? Do you have another favorite time of day? I would love to hear about it.

Photo by Flickr user anah na uwr.


Mupdate (a combination of "Monday" and "Update")

Happy (late) 4th of July everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

We spent the weekend in Annapolis at our new place! Even though the only real furniture we have at this point is a mattress and box spring, it was still great to spend some time there. I can't get over how quiet it is at night compared to DC, although it shouldn't be a surprise.

On Saturday, we went to Jason's grandma's house. We hung out on the dock and then feasted on crabs, potato salad, sandwiches, and more. I'm convinced that his grandma makes the best crabcakes in all of Maryland. It was quite delicious.

We spent the rest of the weekend getting stuff done: making trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond (to stock up on towels and such), Whole Foods (to fill the pantry), Home Depot (to order appliances and buy some plants), changing the locks and putting on a dead bolt, and ordering the rest of our furniture online (thanks CB2 and West Elm for having awesome stuff at reasonable prices!)

I have today off for the holiday (instead of Friday), so I'm hanging out at my apartment, packing and checking things off the to-do list. It's weird to pack up all the remnants of my life from the past two years. This was the first place where I lived alone with no roommates (which I strongly believe everyone should try at least once as there's no better way to get to know oneself) and the first that really felt like my own, so I'm getting a bit sentimental about leaving it.

Anyway, back to packing for me. I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!


Red, white, and green

Maybe it's the Italian in me, but I absolutely can't get enough fresh basil.

I use it in everything. Mozzarella-tomato-basil salad (aka insalata caprese); roasted vegetables and basil aioli on focaccia; homemade tomato sauce with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic; omelets with basil, avocado, and fontina...I could go on and on!

I love the sweet, grassy smell, which reminds me of summer and being outside. I think I may need some basil candles to help make my new home smell fresh and yummy.

Tell me...what's your favorite herb?

Photo by Flickr user C.Mariani.


Tell the universe what you want

One year ago, I wrote the following passage in my journal:

I see myself working in an art gallery, museum, or other creative environment, surrounded by beauty and visual stimulation. I would like day-to-day schedule to involve a lot of writing, and give me the opportunity to exercise my creative voice and also use my ability to analyze and clearly synthesize complex information.

I remember the day I saw the advertisement for a Grant Writer/Researcher position at the art museum where I now work. The description matched my interests and strengths so strongly that I felt an almost eerie connection to it. I remember feeling chills run up and down my spine, accompanied by a strange intuition that I would end up working there.

I applied immediately, and interviewed for the position soon after. A week or two later, I received the job offer...on my birthday. (Now if that isn't a sign from the universe, then I don't know what is!) But more importantly, I don't think I could've recognized and pursued the same opportunity if I hadn't given voice to it. I may not have even allowed myself to be on the lookout for it.

I am so glad that I took the time to clarify what it was that I wanted, so that I could be open to receiving it. It's really amazing how much we can empower ourselves when we name what it is we want.

Today's To Do: Take five minutes to name something that you want to happen in the next 6 months of your life (even if it's just 1 or 2 sentences long - the more specific, the better) and hang it somewhere where you'll see it every day.

Image via Flickr user Laurennicole81.


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