A bit of housekeeping

Dearest readers (and a hearty welcome if you are new to Tulips and Tea!),

I wanted to take a minute to update you on a few things.

1. I will be taking a petite break from blogging until the new year. The rest of this week is filled with holiday celebrations and festivities, so I'm going to "unplug" from the computer and bask in the simplicity of good times and good food shared with family and friends. Then, next Monday, Jason and I leave for Key West, where we will meet up with my parents and sister for a week of tropical fun. I'm looking forward to lounging on the beach with a good book and a cocktail, snorkeling, enjoying fabulous sunsets, and indulging in incredible food! Don't worry - I'll take lots of pictures to share with you! I will also post about my intentions for 2010 when I return, as I am still in the process of pondering those.

2. The Bloggers with Heart series is still alive and well, but due to a number of factors (mostly my own busy schedule), it's becoming clear that my original once per week plan was a tad overly ambitious. I have some really fantastic interviews in the pipeline that I hope to share with you early in the new year, and in the meantime, I appreciate your patience as I develop a workable rhythm for this series. (And please keep the great nominations coming by emailing me at tulipsandtea AT gmail DOT com.)

3. Finally: the fun news! I have been working with a totally rad illustrator/web designer on a very exciting makeover for Tulips & Tea, which I hope to unveil in early 2010. Along with the new look, I am toying with switching up my approach to blogging a bit, and possibly incorporating some new features. Recently, I've been so inspired by a number of sources and, as a result, feeling pulled to explore some new directions with this blog. As I refine my ideas further, I would LOVE to hear feedback from you all. What would you like to see more of? Or less of? Are there any topics you've been wishing I'd tackle? Any particular features you'd like to see (either within the posts or the site itself)? I would be so delighted to hear your thoughts, and if possible, would love to try to weave them into my plans for the blog.

I'm wishing all of you a joy-filled, relaxing, and peaceful holiday season! See you in 2010!

Analiese Marie

Image via Please Sir.


Savory and Sweet Rosemary Cake Loaf

Lately, I cannot get enough fresh herbs. Sprigs of parsley in anything; basil everywhere; cilantro, oregano, thyme, sage...all of it fresh and much of it locally grown. And rosemary! Oh, rosemary: such a wonderful herb for the winter. Woodsy, peppery, and evergreen, its needles hinting of its provenance in a magically fragrant forest somewhere.

This weekend, we used this divine herb to make a beautiful savory and sweet rosemary loaf cake. The aromatic rosemary contrasts so gorgeously and unexpectedly with the sweet and moist vanilla-infused texture of the loaf.

A not-too-sweet jam, such as fig or perhaps a tart orange marmalade, pairs well with this bread. I have been alternating between nibbling on pieces with jam and with fresh raspberries and blueberries piled on top and drizzled with a hint of Italian aceto balsamico. I enjoyed the latter while curled up on the couch with a homemade amaretto latte (Italian espresso+fresh cream+organic amaretto syrup), enjoying the warmth of the fireplace as the snow fell outside.

We made several substitutions to Nigella's recipe (noted within the recipe below) to suit our nutritional preferences.

(And while we're on the topic, a quick note about ingredients: my preference is to use organic ones whenever possible, so I tend to note the use of such in my recipes. However, I do not mean for this to be interpreted as an authoritative command. It is simply the fact of what I have used in a given recipe.)

Rosemary Loaf Cake (serves 8-10)
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess)
1 cup plus 2tbsp soft unsalted organic butter
3/4 cup sugar (I used Whole Foods' brand of organic zero-calorie sweetener instead of regular sugar)
3 large organic eggs
1 2/3 cups self-rising cake flour (I used Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix, which is made of brown rice flour and natural almond meal, and is wheat and gluten-free. I don't have a wheat or gluten allergy, but try not to consume it in large quantities.)
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk (I used organic 2%, but you can substitute soy or almond milk if you wish)
2 tsp chopped rosemary needles
1-2 tbsp sugar for sprinkling on top (again, I used zero-calorie sweetener)

9x5 inch loaf pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream soft butter and sugar or sugar substitute. Beat in eggs one at a time, folding in a spoonful of flour after each addition. Add the vanilla. Fold in the rest of the flour, then the rosemary. Thin the batter with the milk. You are going for a soft, drapey texture. Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle the top with sugar and bake for about an hour or until it there appears a golden crust on top.


Plans for this weekend

Watching the snow falling outside while staying warm inside underneath a soft duvet
Lots of hot rose tea
Twinkling Christmas tree lights and stockings hung by the fireplace
Savory and sweet rosemary cake, with fig jam and strong coffee
Wrapping presents: beautiful, crinkly paper and brightly colored bows
Layers of cozy sweaters and wool socks
Deep yoga by candlelight
Reading, ensconced by the warmth of the fireplace and the sounds of Coltrane
Lasagna made with fresh spinach, San Marzano tomatoes, handmade ricotta, and organic spicy Italian sausage
Hot lavender-scented bubble bath
Cookie baking: sprinkles, cookie dough, licking the spoon, the scent of almond and vanilla in the air
Neroli and Jasmine incense
Lingering over the Sunday New York Times
Drawing with charcoals

Image via 1x.com.


Three gifts to give yourself this holiday season

I just got back from the mall, where I finished all my Christmas shopping. Whew, is that a good feeling! Sometimes I have trouble staying focused while shopping for others because I get distracted by things that I would like to buy for myself. But this year, I vowed to stick to my list and, for the most part, did a pretty good job. As part of my effort to stay on track with my holiday budget, I've been thinking about what gifts we can give to ourselves during the holiday season that don't cost any money. We are often so focused on doing things for others this time of year that it's easy to lose sight of our own needs. Yet, it is critical that we replenish our own internal resources. So, without further ado, I present my gift guide for the most important person on your shopping list this year: yourself.

1. Self-care.
As women, we fulfill so many different roles, especially around the holidays. More often than not, we are the chief gift buyers and wrappers, card writers, meal makers, cookie bakers, party throwers, holiday decorators, and trip planners, on top of our roles as girlfriends, wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, friends, siblings, colleagues, and the myriad of other personal and professional responsibilities that fill our days. Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love this time of year (and all of the festivities that go along with it) and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. But if we're not careful, it's easy to burn out, which is why it's so important to take seriously good care of ourselves during the holiday season. Take a minute to check in with yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Feeding yourself nourishing foods? Taking time for yoga, running, or whatever exercise gives you energy and makes you feel great? Drinking enough water? These might seem like basics, but for me, they're the first things that slip when I'm stressed or short on time.

2. The word "No."
The ability to say "no" is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, not only during the busy holiday months, but throughout the year. It's also something that a lot of women struggle with. As Nina so eloquently wrote in her guest post for Totally Tay, "a lot of us over-extend ourselves and try to please others...I believe this is a symptom of an underlying anxiety that we are not enough as we are." It's so true. What would your life look like if you were able to say "no" to the people, situations, and activities that don't fulfill you or bring you joy? Imagine how wonderful that would feel, how much space and time and energy it would free up. Granted, there are a lot of things we do in pursuit of a larger goal. For example, researching 401K options might not exactly bring us joy, but it's something we do because it moves us toward a larger goal of financial security. That's not the kind of thing I'm talking about though. I'm talking about saying "no" to the stuff that depletes our energy and doesn't give us anything in return. The drama queen friend that leaves you feeling exhausted and drained. The co-worker who tries to pawn off his or her responsibilities on you. The time-consuming project that no longer aligns with your interests or dreams. What better time of year to free up some mental space and energy for yourself by learning how and when to say "no"? (You can find some great strategies for saying "no" here and tips on setting boundaries here.)

3. Mini bursts of luxury
Once you get into the habit of saying "no" to toxic people, situations, and activities, you'll may find yourself with some extra time and energy on your hands. What to do with the newfound freedom? Indulge in a little bit of luxury, of course. The word luxury might conjure up images of Ferraris, private jets, and shopping sprees. But luxuries needn't break the bank, and in fact, the best ones are often free or quite inexpensive. Write down a list of five things that make your heart sing. Once you've got your list written down, take out your planner and schedule ways to indulge in mini bursts of luxury for each item. For example, I am a dog lover, so my luxury might be to volunteer an hour of my time at a shelter or the humane society. I also love to cook, so another luxury might be to peruse a gourmet food store or spice shop and then make a fabulous meal. And so on. It's amazing how luxurious it feels to indulge in the things we truly love but don't typically make enough time for!

What gifts will you give yourself this year?


Two things

1. I am really excited to be the featured Design Insider interview on DC Ladies today! I had a blast answering interview questions for my friend, the fabulous Jenn who writes the always-stylish Department of the Interior blog. (Seriously, isn't her blog so pretty?) This interview was especially fun because it reminded me of everything I love about living in the DC area. If you have a chance (*get ready for shameless plug in 3, 2, 1...*), check it out!

2. I'm having one of those super busy weeks (busy in a good way, though), so please be patient with me if things get a little quiet around here for a couple days. I hope to be back at it soon!

Image via Ronnie R.



Sunday moodling

"So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering."
-Brenda Ueland

This rainy Sunday has me curled up on the couch with a big mug of chai and thinking that today would be a perfect day for some moodling. What the heck, you might ask, is moodling?

Brenda Ueland coined the term when she wrote the book, If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit in the 1930s. If you Google the term, you'll find that numerous people have tried to put "moodling" into words. Personally, I like this way of defining it: "To moodle is to engage in an act of divine laziness, that lovely inactivity that leads to moments of creativity and inspiration."

Divine laziness. What a wonderful concept that is. In this culture, we are generally taught that productivity = good and laziness = bad. But what if it's the moments of "happy idling, dawdling, and puttering" that actually enable us to be our most creative and productive selves?

As a blogger and writer, I will often sit down at the computer only to find myself staring blankly at the screen, unable to translate the current of thoughts and ideas streaming through my mind into words. So what do I do? I wander into the kitchen to chop vegetables for soup. I take a walk. I look at old photo albums or sort through my jewelry box. When I return to the computer, I find that the words flow more easily. Sometimes I'm even able to articulate some new tidbit of inspiration or glimmer of an idea that tiptoed into my awareness while I was engaged in the "non-productive" activity.

Sound familiar? This is moodling at work. But how does moodling work its magic? Engaging in pleasantly "non-productive" activities lulls your mind into a relaxed, receptive state, enabling it to synthesize and assimilate information on a sub-conscious or semi-conscious level. Judy Anne Brenneman writes:

In order to moodle we need to make space for alpha waves to operate in our brain. If we are too exhausted our mind will quickly move into theta (drowsiness) then delta (deep sleep). If we are too focused on a problem or given objective we are using beta waves (consciously focused). Alpha waves bring in that in-between, meditative state where our mind can gather together conscious thoughts and unconscious information in order to create something brand new. Inspiration occurs with a great burst of alpha waves.

The next time you find yourself at a loss for inspiration or feel resistance toward completing a task, consider that your mind might be telling you it needs some playful puttering in order to do what you're asking of it.

You might try one of these moodling activities:

Browsing cookbooks for new recipes
Knitting, sewing or any craft that requires calm, repetitive motion
Organizing your spice cupboard
Folding laundry while listening to music
Re-organizing your closet
Sorting through a box of old photos, letters, or keepsakes
Re-arranging items on a shelf or another surface
Gardening or yardwork
Walking or jogging
Cooking a meal from scratch
Painting your nails, deep-conditioning your hair, making a homemade beauty mask
Baking bread or muffins

You can apply the same concept at work. At work, you might moodle by:

Filing papers
De-cluttering the surface of your desk
Getting up from your desk to stretch or walk around the office
Cleaning out one of your desk drawers
Re-stocking your office supplies (tape, paper clips, pens, etc.)
Sipping a mug of tea and clipping interesting articles from a publication related to your industry (like Chronicle of Philanthropy for you non-profit workers)

Moodling doesn't need to be inherently creative, although it can be. However, I find that the less conscious thought the moodling activity requires, the more effective it is. That's why activities that involve some element of physicality or repetitive movement are perfect because they don't take up too much "intellectual bandwidth." The mind is then free to wander in a relaxed, unfocused way, producing the essential "alpha waves" described above.

Do you moodle? What is your preferred moodling method?


Wishing you a cozy weekend

Hooray - it's Friday! I don't know about you, but I'm so ready for le weekend.

My weekend plans include some yoga, a run, working on some writing projects, cleaning + organizing while listening to Christmas tunes, a dinner date with a friend, and some holiday baking (I've been obsessing over recipes at Smitten Kitchen, thanks to this gal's recommendation!).

Oh, and on Sunday, I'm planning to cook one of my favorite meals ever: turkey meatballs. With the wintry weather settling in, it seems like a good time to make a hearty and comforting dish.

These meatballs are just so delicious, especially served with some marinara sauce over linguine. Sometimes, if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make my own marinara sauce, but there are so many tasty and high-quality varieties available these days that, more often than not, I will just pick up a jar from the store. I highly recommend Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce with this dish. In addition to having a fabulous name, the sauce is quite "herby" to the point of being almost tangy, and pairs really well with the savory richness of the meatballs. We typically use fresh handmade pasta from Whole Foods's pasta bar, but any kind of boxed linguine works fine.

The best turkey meatballs ever (Serves 4, or 2 plus lots of yummy leftovers!)
Cooking spray
1 lb organic ground turkey (I usually do half dark meat, half white meat)
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. greshly ground black pepper
1 lb linguine, cooked and drained
1 24-oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce

Turn on the broiler. Add the turkey, onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs. Place meatballs on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and put under the broiler until you can see a nice golden crust on the top. At that point, remove them from under the broiler and set them aside.

Heat the marinara sauce in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the sauce is hot and bubbly, add the meatballs to the pan and cook an additional 5-10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Using large plates or bowls, spoon the sauce and meatballs over the pasta, and finish with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pairs well with a glass of red wine, cozy slippers, and a roaring fireplace.


An addiction

I have a confession to make. I'm an addict. A magazine addict, that is. My addiction is so bad that I've actually considered building extra shelves in our condo just to house my ever-growing collection. Instead, I mostly just stack them in random corners and underneath coffee tables while trying to convince myself that the hoarded piles count as interior decor.

My infatuation with magazines began at the age of 12, when I stayed home from school one day with a sore throat and fever. My mom, being the awesome mom that she is, went to the grocery store and stocked up on ingredients for chicken noodle soup as well as a small arsenal of magazines to help keep my boredom at bay. I have a crystal clear memory of opening my very first
Teen magazine that day and feeling as though I'd been transported to a glittery and exciting new world: a world of celebrity quizzes, boy advice, and beauty tips. This was all very intriguing stuff to a kid who typically had her nose stuck in a Nancy Drew novel!

Of course, my taste in magazines evolved over the years. Teen remained a favorite for awhile, but was soon replaced by Seventeen and CosmoGirl. I think I was 16 or 17 when I discovered "women's magazines" like Glamour, Marie Claire and Allure, which I devoured like candy, even though my primary concern at that age was getting elected to the student council and prepping for the SATs...not the latest metallic eyeshadow trend. But that's what I loved so much about magazines. It was like peeking into someone else's impossibly fun, chic, and sophisticated life for an hour.

I think Glamour especially has done a good job of reinventing itself to remain relevant to the modern woman, and I still pick it up from time to time when I'm craving something light and fun. But these days, my taste in magazines runs more toward the likes of Real Simple, Oprah, and Body & Soul - magazines that I'm ashamed to say I used to think of as "boring old person magazines" (guess I'm officially old!).

I also love to indulge my culinary obsession with mags like Food & Wine and Bon Apétit, though Gourmet remains my favorite of the cooking publications (*tear*). Domino was a favorite for decor ideas (*another tear*), and though it's no substitute, I like the pretty spreads in Elle Decor as well. I also regularly pick up Wired, Vanity Fair, Vogue, ReadyMade, and various magazines devoted to yoga, crafts, technology, culture...you name it. After a long day, there's nothing better than settling into a hot bath with a mug of tea and my latest magazine purchase.

Not that I need to add any more fuel to my obsession, but I can't help asking: what are your favorite magazines?

Image via Morning's Light.


Baked Goodness

At about this time each year, I catch the baking bug in a serious way. In fact, "obsessed" might be a good word to describe my baked goods infatuation during the holiday months. I could spend hours looking at pretty pictures of sweet confections and browsing heaps of recipes. (As always, Martha has some great recipes for holiday baking, as does Food Network and Epicurious.)

I dream of whipping up batches upon batches of gingerbread cookies and chocolate hazelnut biscotti. Italian almond cookies and raspberry macarons. Buttery apricot shortbread, peppermint fudge brownies, and cinnamon rolls. Candy cane cupcakes and carrot cake cupcakes (with cream cheese frosting, bien sur).

I've even started thinking about what it would be like to have my own bakery.

My bakery would double as a café and have a colorful storefront. And did I mention it would be someplace like London, or possibly Paris?

Alongside the baked goods, I would serve espresso, hot chocolate, and all kinds of tea in mismatched vintage teacups atop pretty lace tablecloths.

Of course, the whole thing would really just be an excuse to wear an adorable apron.

And to use this gorgeous pink KitchenAid mixer (swoon!).

Have you been bitten by the holiday baking bug? What are some of your favorite sweets for this time of year? I'm planning to indulge in a baking marathon this weekend, so please share any fabulous recipes you've come across!

Photo by Sandra Lane via Sarah Kaye//Image credit unknown, found here//Image via Flickr user *wanderlust*//Image via Champagne Kisses//Image via Megalomaniac//Image via Anthropologie//Image via KitchenAid


Weekend Snippets

This weekend
I slept in both days
Browsed at Borders and picked up Malcolm Gladwell's Blink
Partook in a decadent & delicious wedding cake tasting here and decided on our cake flavors and design (can you believe they baked us our own cake, just for the tasting?)
Did some gentle yoga poses
Ran two miles at the gym
Cooked an omelette with smoked salmon, green onion, shallots, and cheddar for Jason and made a sandwich with smoked salmon with green onion, capers, and sea salt on rye for myself.
Savored a skim chai latte
Relaxed on the couch and watched the snow falling outside
Took a hot shower and used my new almond-scented soap
Picked up some Life is Good snuggle socks at the mall and refused to take off for the rest of the weekend because they are so incredible comfortable
Ate delicious food, mingled, and danced the night away at Jason's office holiday party (ok, I took the snuggle socks off for the party, but I put them on again right when we got home)

It was a good weekend.

Photo by Sandra Lane via Sarah Kaye.


Snow day

I snapped this photo while the snow was coming down hard yesterday. Jason and I stayed inside and curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace with our respective books, then cooked a simple and delicious dinner. It felt so nice and cozy to be in our home together, watching the snow falling outside. The first snow of the year is always exciting, isn't it? If you got snow this weekend, how did you spend your snow day(s)?


This weekend

Why not...

Pick out an environmentally friendly Christmas tree; light a peppermint candle; take a hot bath with lots of vanilla-scented bubble bath; download some fun (and non-cheesy) holiday music; hit up an antique store for some vintage ornaments; sip espresso at a neighborhood cafe with a good book in hand; give yourself permission to take a nap; create a seasonal centerpiece for your dining room table or another surface in your house; cook a wonderful, nourishing meal and eat by candlelight; bake a batch of sugar cookies using holiday-themed cookie cutters and decorate them with colorful sprinkles; write an email to a blogger you admire; linger in a bookstore; start a gratitude journal; treat yourself to a couple fun magazines (cooking, decor, crafts...whatever catches your eye) and settle into a comfy chair with a mug of chai; download some new podcasts (try Kimberly Wilson's tranquil musings, available here) and listen to them while cleaning or folding laundry; think about making a donation to charity (even if you can't afford much) or donating your time or services to a local non-profit; built a fort like you did when you were a kid; put on some warm, fuzzy slippers and do a crossword puzzle; and, if geographically applicable, enjoy the snow!

You can find more weekend suggestions here and here.

What kind of weekend merriment do you have planned? I would love to hear about it!

Image via Martha Stewart.

Bloggers with Heart: Lauren of Everyday Revelry

For any new readers, Bloggers with Heart is a series of interviews with bloggers whose voices resonate with authenticity, sparkle, and soul. You can read past interviews here.

My dears, I am thrilled to introduce you to this week's Blogger with Heart. Lauren is the talented writer behind the beautiful "constellation of words, passions, and inspirations" that is her blog, Everyday Revelry. I actually know Lauren "in real life" but had fallen out of touch with her until finding her blog in recent months. I'm so glad I did. As a blogger, Lauren has the unique ability to seamlessly weave together a wide range of her passions and interests - from books to yoga to international affairs to cooking and more - with a perceptive eye and an open heart. Her writing rings true and her voice is genuine. I especially appreciate that it is consistently infused with gratitude (check out some of her great gratitude lists here). As you can see from her blog as well as her answers below, Lauren is truly a Blogger with Heart.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging primarily to connect with other like-minded souls. Yoga, writing and creativity have become huge parts of my life, but not necessarily parts that I use all the time in my day job. I wanted a place to reach out and hopefully connect to others. I also was seeking to have a space to explore the many new interests I have acquired in the past few years.

2. How do you come up with ideas for posts?

I struggle with this a lot. I search for inspiration everywhere: magazines, books, music, art, other blogs, news items, etc. Sometimes it seems that there is a never-ending stream of things to write about (the world is so interesting!) and then there are days where I don't have much to say. It's a never-ending process.

3. Why did you choose to call your blog "Everyday Revelry"? What does the phrase mean to you?

I wanted something to reflect the joy and gratitude that I try to infuse into my life at every moment. It was meant to be a sort of word play: seeking revelry, whatever that means for you, every single day, but also in the everyday, ordinary things.

4. What is the best thing about blogging?

I have "met" so many wonderful women through blogging! I feel like I learn something new every day from them! It's been wonderful to find a virtual community for support, advice, celebration, commiseration, inspiration and joy.

5. What is the hardest part about blogging?

I often struggle with how many details I should share about my personal life. I want to make a connection with my readers but I also worry about having too much information out there on the internet. It's a fine balance.

6. Your writing has a natural grace to it that makes your perceptive and articulate posts a true pleasure to read. In addition to blogging, what role does writing play in your life?

I have always been attracted to words, quotes, books, poetry, etc. I was an English major in college and always thought I would end up writing for a living. Since then life has taken some unexpected turns and my day job doesn't reflect that interest, but I am hoping to be able to marry this interest with others at some point. Other than my blog, I try to write in a paper journal several times a week. I am finishing up my graduate studies now, so while that involves a lot of writing in terms of papers, I can't wait until May so that I can get in some writing on topics that are important to me.

8. Which bloggers inspire you and why?

Analiese from Tulips and Tea because your writing and the images you choose are so beautiful! I fall more in love with life every time I read your blog. (Aw, thank you so much Lauren!)

Kaileen Elise I feel like Kaileen Elise and her blog are kindred spirits!

Kimberly Wilson from Tranquility Du Jour Yoga, do-gooding, flair, fashion, sparkles, creativity....what's not to like?! Plus I am one of the lucky ones that get to practice regularly at Kimberly's yoga studio.

Kelly Rae Roberts I often find, well after having read one of Kelly Rae's posts, that her words and paintings have touched me much more deeply than I realized. I admire her commitment to living a creative and fulfilling life.

Smitten Kitchen I have a dream. In this dream, I have all the time in the world and I can use it to test out all the wonderful and yummy looking recipes that get posted here! For now, I'll take just reading about them.

Stephanie from Heart Piercing Life We met virtually through an e-course we took at the same time. We have an insane amount of common interests and the honesty of her posts always inspire me.

9. What else is inspiring you right now?

I feel like everything is inspiring me right now! The holidays that are quickly approaching, love, yoga, beautiful words, other bloggers, bold colors....I could go on and on! I also finished the Mondo Beyondo e-course a little while ago. My Mondo Beyondo List has kept me busy dreaming and planning recently.

10. What advice would you give to someone just getting started as a blogger?

Patience, patience, patience! I'm still working on this one myself.

11. Five by five. Tell us your five favorite: books, movies, albums, foods, and simple pleasures in life.

Books: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Movies: Amores Perros, Bridget Jones' Diary, Water, Wedding Crashers, American History X

Albums: Carole King's "Tapestry", Counting Crows' "August and Everything After", Madonna's "The Immaculate Collection", Ray Lamontagne's "Gossip in the Grain" and Sarah McLachlan's "Mirrorball"

Foods: Pineapple, chocolate, hummus, artichokes and empanadas

Simple pleasures: Reading, bubble baths, yin yoga, vanilla sandalwood candles and pedicures

12. If you had the opportunity to create "the perfect space" space for blogging and other creative pursuits, what would yours look like? (How would it be decorated, what objects would surround you, how would it sound, feel, smell, etc.?)

I've always dreamed of having a single room dedicated to writing. It would have hardwood floors and a giant window overlooking beautiful flowers. I would make sure it had big, oversized chairs, a beautiful desk, lots of turquoise, pictures of the people I love, tons of way-too-full bookshelves and inspiring quotes scattered all over.

13. In five words or less: what is the meaning of life?

To live your truth.

Lauren currently lives, works, writes and plays in the greater Washington, DC area. She is a firm believer in the power of love and yoga. In addition to her blog, you can also connect with Lauren on twitter.

Thanks Lauren, for sharing your thoughts with us and for blogging with heart!

Image courtesy of Lauren.


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