This smoothie recipe is not as weird as it sounds

I am very into smoothies. I think it's because it's so hot and they are refreshing and a way for me to get more protein in my day, plus with the Ninja single serve it's incredibly easy to make with not a ton of cleanup involved. Tasty, easy, cool: that's my kind of drink. 

I discovered this recipe in July of 2014. We were spending the summer housesitting and I was cooking a lot, trying new recipes and figuring out how to actually enjoy the summer, which sounds wild; I know but for so much of my life summers have been about work in some form or another. I talk about this more in a post from #reverb15 . The point is that I was feeling adventurous and had recently gotten the Nutribullet when I saw Sarah's post about a Spinach, Pineapple and Peanut Butter smoothie. It may say something about me that when I first read that I thought, "ooh, sounds intriguing" rather than "that sounds weird," but I'd also tried to make black bean cookies that summer, so this was definitely going to be better than that! 

And it was! 

I altered her original recipe a bit. I use peanut butter rather than almond butter and I don't include chia, but you could do whatever you want with it. I don't really measure the ingredients any more and yesterday when I made this it was a bit more pineapple-y than before but still just as good. 

One thing about smoothies, is that depending on how you're blending it, it may matter the order you throw things in. With a blender, I don't think it makes as much of a difference, but with the Ninja or Nutribullet, you're kind of stacking ingredients so you have to decide what works best for you and your blender/smoothie maker.

If you love smoothies and you're up for an adventure, here's what you need: 

  • 1 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened almond milk and I like to add it last.)
  • 1 handful of spinach leaves (I'm pretty generous with this to give it the nice green color; you don't really taste the spinach)
  • 3/4 cup  pineapple (I use fresh pineapple but you could use frozen. You can also do a little less or a little more, depending on your tastes). 
  • 1-2 tbsps of peanut butter. ( I use Smart Balance Peanut Butter because it's lower in sugar; you could sub almond or sun butter). 

Pulse until well blended and enjoy! 

 

one part wisdom: a relaunch

For those of you who have been reading my writing online, you know the spaces in which I've written have had many iterations. There are many things I know now about design, about web hosts, about malware and hacks that I did not know I should even be concerned with when I began blogging almost 15 years ago. 

Because I research social media, I spend a great deal of time online, which means I'm spending much of my days sitting behind a computer screen. I needed a break. Or I thought I did. But the further away I moved from blogging toward Instagram, mostly, the more I felt the pull to return to writing, here. I've created drafts of posts I never published, and last week said "I should blog about x". I'm a reflective person by nature and I think I'm better at life when I have an outlet. 

For the past year, I've rolled around ideas in my head about the kinds of things I want to say and how I wanted to frame and brand the new site. I made a list of the posts people favorited. I made a list of the posts I like to write and the kind of longform expressions I long for that don't fit inside an Instagram or Facebook post. And hopefully, I've landed on something that feels like a conversation, a connection, a point of contact where readers can say, "I know what you mean." 

The title of the blog comes from a tag line I used on my old site: You Had Me at Neurotic which read 2 parts neuroses, 1 part wisdom, all parts true. While this sentiment accurately represents my thinking, "one part wisdom stuck" with me over the course of the year where I worked off and on on the blog design. It feels more fully aligned with the place from which I want to write. One thing I learned in moving content across platforms is that I'm the worst at file organization. I've lost many images along the way as I made the move away from Wordpress. There are many reasons I returned to Squarespace, but mostly it was because I hated the recent WP platform. I had many security problems, though some of that is blamed on my webhost. If you want to nerd out about blogging platforms, let's have coffee. 

You're likely to find broken links and images as you navigate through the site, though I'm working on cleaning everything up. (It's not like I have a team of people over here at  Ralstonia helping me). If you find something you think I should know about, use the contact link at the bottom of the page and let me know. 

In the next few days, you'll start to see posts about food, music and things that are on my mind. I'm working on the yearly Summer Playlist post, so you can stop holding your breath. 

Summer Playlist 2017

The best playlists (in my opinion) are ones that are eclectic but somehow loosely tied together either by sound, mood, theme, occasion, or something else, entirely. I could cop out here and say, "well, this is the stuff I'm listening to right now" and that would be true. But a Summer Playlist requires a little more care. I want my Summer playlist to serve as the backdrop, the soundtrack to the things I do. Lately, "what I do" has been traveling, driving, walking, sometimes working, sometimes relaxing. Summer tends to call up a sense of freedom, of days with very little planned, of hanging out with friends. Not all songs on this playlist were released in 2016 or 2017. Many of them were but I culled much of my monthly playlists for sounds, lyrics, songs that stayed with me. Playlists serve all sorts of purposes and making them is one of my favorite activities. If you're interested you can check out past playlists here and follow me on Spotify. I realize that I have a very specific aesthetic for what I like to listen to, but then again these playlists are for me. I share them because it's fun and because I discover music from many sources, so maybe you'll like something, too. Summer Playlist 2017's songs reflect the mood of Summer or at least give you a chance to imagine what this particular "playlist kind of Summer" would be like. 

 

Maggie Rogers "On + Off" sets the tone for the playlist. This may be my favorite song on the whole playlist though SOHN's "Artiface" is a close second. Both songs have strong vocals over repetitive, thrumming that shifts and moves, Rogers over piano and SOHN over drum beats and synthesizers. It creates an electronica blues mix that I can't resist. SOHN's "Conrad" also makes the playlist, which is an even stronger blues song with soulful reminders, "I can feel it coming/we can never go back." And if that doesn't represent a summer moment I'm not sure what does. 

Look, if Calvin Harris' collaboration Migos and Frank Ocean isn't the Song of the Summer, I'll be surprised. It certainly has the catchy pop quality of a summer song but there's also something in its synthy rhythm (technical term) that doesn't bug you when you hear it everywhere you go. 

If you haven't listened to Khalid's American Teen you've been depriving yourself. Rolling Stone listed it on the 50 Best Albums of 2017 So Far . I particularly like "Location" and "Young Dumb and Broke" and while there are other excellent songs on the album like "Cold Blooded", these two have a specifically Summer vibe that allow lend themselves to more than one listen. 

The Tame Impala remix of Miguel's "waves" is pure Summer playlist material. I'm a huge fan of Tame Impala and the lead singer Kevin Parker's producing talents show just how much of a musician he is. 

"Wish I Knew You" by The Revivalists is a tough song to describe. It's got mournful lyrics about seeking connection layered with brass and funk guitars with some dub thrown in for a rich, stomp your feet feeling. Just listen to it and thank me later. 

"Slip Away" by Perfume Genius is incredible. It has a celebratory vibe that makes you feel like you can take on a Summer night with the perfect amount of vulnerability and kick ass attitude. 

If you're looking for a song to sing out of your rolled down window as you drive look no further than HAIM's "Little of Your Love". 

Forgetting and Remembering: Gran's 89th Birthday

Today would have been my grandmother's 89th  birthday. A reminder is still set on my calendar but I didn't need it. Her death is too recent; I am still overly aware that she is gone. 

I've written so much about my grandmother through the years, about her influence on my life. Practically everyone who knows me knows how important she was to me. Through her dementia the past five years, I worked to honor her, who she was to her family and friends. I wanted to record as much as possible about her life while she was able to recall it. So I wrote essays and blog posts and half-finished snippets.  We had conversations (when we could) about places she'd seen, people she knew, food she'd cooked. She told me stories about my father as a boy, about my grandfather when they were dating. Sometimes she asked me about my friends, the ones she remembered hanging out in her kitchen, and on her carport late into the night. Through all of our time together, as a girl, a teenager, and especially a young adult, my grandmother always pushed the importance of listening and of being heard. I couldn't stop thinking whether she felt heard, whether she felt listened to, loved. 

As a lifelong health advocate and nurse, she tirelessly worked to be a voice for her patients, for those in need of care. Gran believed in saying exactly what you meant, and doing so quickly. In her line of work, minutes, seconds counted. She loathed a conversation where it took to long to get to the point. It was the same with books. If it took too long to get to a plot point, she would stop reading. Like her mother, she enjoyed a good story but as someone who never stopped moving, it better be worth her time. This seemingly contradictory trait was born from necessity. As an OR nurse, expectations, jargon, and being in charge eked into her life with us. She perfected the art of cooking while telling a story. She was a fan of doing two things at once, but only if you were good at it. 

A thousand little moments between us filter though mind on a daily basis: the way she sang in church, head slightly tipped up, how she sat in her recliner moisturizing her hands at the end of each day, the quiet hum when she folded clothes or searched the fridge for a meal. I appreciated the morning ritual of coffee and toast, morning devotional, going through her calendar, reading the paper. At her funeral, I talked about the way that living her (and her mother) made me appreciate the small details of life, the minutiae of our routines, how we lived together like a symphony, each of us knowing when to come in and exit.

It's impossible for me to imagine my girlhood without her. She was so present in my life, every milestone, every accomplishment, but also darker days of grief and tragedy and trauma. Though we often lived hours from her, she made every effort to spend quality time with my brother and I. She'd meet my parents halfway at a highway Stuckey's so we could spend months with her in the summers. She visited often. She helped us decorate birthday cakes. She let us eat ice cream on her front steps. She always listened to the radio, had some music in the house going while she cooked, or put on her makeup, or washed my hair. She would sing, and hum, and play records, and tapes, and eventually CDs though she told me she never liked them. 

In the house where my father grew up, we would open the windows and doors. Music filtered out into the night and a chorus of frogs and crickets would join in. I wonder if this is why I have to sleep to some kind of noise.  I slept in a twin bed on risers, wedged into the wall space between my grandfather's desk and the window. Though the room opened into the hallway, I felt secluded, safe. The small house of my father's youth was comforting. His history was there and my present. I felt connected to family both in the abstract and literal sense in ways that didn't always happen during the rush of a school year when other distractions were pressing. I read my father's childhood books, took tea in mason jars packed with ice to my grandfather in his outdoor shop/garage as he "tinkered away". The man could put away some iced tea. To this day, tea tastes better, colder out of a mason jar. 

Southern girls my age may have similar stories about their grandparents. I don't know that my experiences are unique but they are significant because they build an anchor for me, a way to root and tether myself particularly on difficult days. Days like today. 

I am so unbelievably grateful to have been loved so fiercely by a woman like my Grandmother and her mother and relatives. The women in my family have provided a lineage and a legacy of which I am both proud and also in awe. I want my niece to know these stories. I want to tell her about her own father as a boy and all the silly things we did together, often at Gran's house in the summer. I want her to see the influence of my grandmother in her own life because of the time we spent together. And I want her to know the importance of being heard, of using your voice on behalf of others. 

My grandmother was many things to many people. At her memorial service so many of them stopped to tell me stories of her influence on their lives. She was so dearly loved and respected. I hope she knew it. Because she never let a moment pass where she wasn't ensuring how deeply we knew of her affection, care, and love for us. 

As dementia was taking her from me, I felt like I was in a state of mourning. The woman I'd known my whole life was no longer the stable presence I'd come to depend on. She was some version of that person at times, but without the memory of the experiences that shaped her, she was left to invent someone else. I often felt discouraged; it was challenging to reconcile the person I knew with the person she was. So it felt like I mourned her frequently, the more she forgot. But today, to wake up on what would have been her birthday, and not be able to call her or send a silly video, I mourn her in the way she encouraged most; I write about her. I will always write about her. 

Other Gran-focused posts: Something Else About Kitchens, The Keeper of Stories, All We Do Not Know, If I Had a Time Machine