Monday, May 30, 2011

my 23rd recipe

Begin at a wine bar, preferably sustainable, and with a best friend.
 Then, add the ballet with my sister
+ breakfast in bed
+ rooftop yoga with my roommate
+ strong coffee + a salad niçoise en plein aire
+ a fancy green juice and an "indulgent" snack
+ birthday mojitos + dancing the night away
+ a chocolate croissant and cappuccino gelato, shared with my cousin, at 4 a.m.
+ a day at the beach
+ sunbathing + games of badminton + devouring this book
+ long island detours
+ the catch of the day wrap, a cold beer, sparking water, and cole slaw
+ belated birthday flowers
+ the annual memorial day bbq + my aunt's green salad
+ birthday cupcakes, of course.
Finally, garnish with a neighborhood glass of rosé, and you have yourself... the most amazing 23rd birthday celebration/weekend a girl could ever ask for.

If only my camera weren't broken so my iPhone wouldn't have had to document it ;).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

happy, happy

Last night was amazing. And this morning, I woke up to this email:
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu, 

Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu, 
Happy Birrrrthday Dear Danielle, 
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu! 
A few years back, not so long ago, heaven and earth erupted into a major celebration with the news of your impending adventure into this very time and space. You see, someone like Danielle Alvarez doesn't come along all that often. In fact, there's never been a single one like you, nor is there ever ANY possibility that another will come again. You're an Angel among us. Someone, whose eyes see what no others will EVER see, whose ears hear what no others will EVER hear, and whose perspective and feelings will NEVER, ever be duplicated. Without YOU, the Universe, and ALL THAT IS, would be sadly less than it is. 
Quite simply: 
You're the kind of person, Danielle,
Who's hard to forget,
A one-in-a-million
To the people you've met.
Your friends are as varied
As the places you go,
And they all want to tell you
In case you don't know:
That you make a big difference
In the lives that you touch,
By taking so little
And giving so much!
Danielle, you are so AWESOME! For your birthday, friends and angels from every corner of the Universe, including buddies you didn't know you had, will be with you to wish you the HAPPIEST of days and an exciting new year in time and space. You won't be alone! 
We could all use some positive words of wisdom in our lives, so insert your name wherever it says mine, and wish yourself a happy day. You deserve it. Also, if you'd like to receive these kinds of emails daily, sign up for Notes from the Universe. It's my favorite... besides The Well Daily, of course. Alrighty then! The beach is calling. Hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a few of my favorite things

(Vegan) Ice cream in a waffle cone, smelling the ocean before seeing it, wine on rooftops, dressing up for no reason at all, a bookshelf of my very own, dancing in the rain, the moment before laughing hurts, scarves, lots of them, family out-to-dinners, wearing yoga clothes to work, basically all seasonal vegetables, natural lighting for beautiful photos, hair cuts & pedicures, going away for the weekend, sunrising runs, unexpected kindness, homemade fudge brownies with salt, hanging out with my siblings, just the three of us, loose-leaf teas, crisp stationary with cute designs, solo road trips, being surrounded by Spanish/French, a freshly clean apartment, boy-inspired butterflies, picnics in Central Park, getting competitive at sports games, salads made with local greens, candlelit yoga classes, gardens in bloom, skipping and flirting, not necessarily at the same time,  afternoons at the museum, the phrase: well done, brunches with unlimited mimosas, reading in hammocks, the darkest of dark chocolate.

And your comments. Thank you so much for your kind words on my last post, I truly do have the best readers and friends.

Photo courtesy of E. Flamm & Florence

Monday, May 23, 2011

party of five

When I was younger, it upset me that travel contests were reserved for families of four. How unfair. Thankfully, without ever winning any getaways, my parents prioritized them at least once a year: my father sought sun, my mother, relaxation, my brother and sister, excitement, and I wanted discovery. Yet these days it seems we've replaced beach vacations with family dinners. And for the most part, that's fine by me. (I'll save my next personal destination for another post).
This past weekend, I ventured to my parent's house for an overnight. It was surreal despite having only moved out three weeks ago. My room was just as I left it... without any of the things I needed it. My house was exactly the same... minus my favorite foods in the kitchen. It was weird, but nice, to be "home."
Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture our sweet moments Saturday night dining at the Bridge View Tavern (fantastic beer selection, by the way, if you're ever in the area), the hysterics that followed my sister and I's viewing of Bridesmaids (not my favorite comedy but definitely a good laugh), or a heart to heart between my brother and I as we rushed to get to my cousin's First Communion party. My beloved camera, you see, is with the Geek Squad getting fixed all over again. 
So, instead I'd like to share belated photos from previous meal I shared with them at Josie's West. This casual restaurant serves almost entirely organic food with healthful options for all taste buds. I had a Veggie Plate Deluxe--wok-sautéed bok choy over roasted acorn squash, grilled asparagus, fennel and peppers, roasted beets and organic tamari brown rice--and enjoyed it greatly. Not one of my familial companions was disappointed either:
We do love to dine together. We appreciate eating quality food, trying new restaurants, and for some, even new things. Still, once again, each one of us has our preferences: mine for health/authenticity, my father for spice, my brother (sadly) for fried, and my sister for bready, doughy carbohydrates.
But just as we could always agree on the beach, a meal is hardly ended without a communal dessert. This time it was a Warm Three Berry-Ginger Pie with walnut oat crumb topping, multi-grain crust, and vanilla soy ice cream. It was delectable. I couldn't have imagined enjoying anything less at our table of five.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Later this morning I will go to the farmers market. I will walk down the block to admire fresh ramps, rhubarb, nettles, asparagus, strawberries, rainbow chard, amongst other goodies, and decide on a few that would be a useful addition to my kitchen. Which got me thinking: there are already quite a few existing items that I always have residing there. And as a better-late-than-never to my friends question of  "how do I stock a healthy kitchen?," I'd like to share them avec vous :).
Organic Walnuts, TJ's Almond Butter, Local Raspberry Preserves (farmers market buy), Organic Peanut Butter, Annie's Goddess dressing (I usually make my own with oil and a vinegar but this is a nice treat),  Bob Mill's Golden Flaxseed Meal (Omega 3s), Nutiva Hemp Seed (It's great for protein, but because of the price, I don't usually buy it; this bag was a gift from a press event).
TJ's White Bean Hummus, Stop & Shop's Roasted Garlic Hummus, Whole Food's Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (My mom bought too much last week and shared the wealth; Gotta love variety).
Organic Mixed Greens, Romaine Hearts, Local Asparagus (last week's farmers market buy), Organic Celery Hearts, Cucumber. (With the warm weather joining us, there's almost too much beautiful produce available. Each week I let myself choose three vegetables and one bunch of greens. That is it. I would hate for endive to go bad without being able to enjoy it... hypothetically speaking).
Bananas (The oranges belong to my roommate; I save my money on sweet produce and simply enjoy the morning fruit plate at the office).
TJ's Steel Cut Oats and essential spices like Garlic & Onion, Herbs de Provence, Pepper, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Salt, and Basil. 
Other must-haves include Organic Olive Oil, Jarred Sauces by Russo Rustica, and a variety of Lucini Vinegars (Balsamic, White Wine, etc).
Tea, tea, and more tea: Green, Peppermint and un-pictured Chamomile and Chai. Yogi is my favorite.
Canned Salmon and Tuna, Muir Glen Canned Tomatoes, Beans (Garbanzos and Lentils this round) and Canned Coconut Milk (for my favoritest recipes).
[Insert photo of frozen goods here
Sunshine Veggie Burgers (for quick protein), Van's Buckwheat Waffles (for weekend breakfasts), Whole Food's Organic Frozen Vegetables (just because), Amy's Vegan Spinach Pizza (I crave them every now and again).
Doctor Kracker Crackers, Lundenberg Brown Rice Cakes, Whole Grain Bread (this isn't it, but I prefer Rudi's Organic).
Sweet Potatoes (a carbalicious, year-round, just because treat).
Shiloh Farms Quinoa and Spelt, Polenta, Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Brown Rice.
And, of course, sustainable breakfast items like Bran Flakes, camera-shy Almond Milk, Earth Balance, Gluten-free Pancake Mix, and Vermont Maple Syrup (courtesy of this lady). That, my dears, is what makes up my complete "healthy kitchen." Although, I must admit that I forgot one very important item: Theo's Dark Chocolate. Buy it, try it, love it... it's all a part of the lifestyle.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

personal definitions

Yesterday's post has had me reflecting over my life in the past year. It's been an interesting one, emotionally and professionally, and it's that unique combination of uncertainty, heartbreak, open roads and Central American getaways that led me to exactly where I am today: residing in Manhattan, working at a start-up, doing what I love, and living the way I choose to.
Which leads me to my next thought - how I choose to live. Healthfully is the first word that comes to mind, but upon further examination, it appears as though such a word is often vague. And so, I will define it for the both of us. Doing so is most likely the only way I'll be able to maintain some sense of equilibrium around here.
Foremost, I believe in having a healthy mindset. This means making sure I eat vegetables daily but not being critical of myself if on a busy day that merely means a few carrot sticks for a snack. This means prioritizing those extra few minutes each morning to make myself breakfast and pack a lunch. This also means being very okay with skipping a homemade, balanced dinner to meet a friend for drinks and appetizers. And, finally, this means enjoying copious amounts of wine, chocolate, and salads without any concern for their respective nutritional content.
Next, I believe in having a healthy approach to daily life. Enjoying the long walk to the subway, for instance, because I realize that the physical exercise is beneficial and the time spent meditatively moving calms my thoughts. Or perhaps working diligently in the office all day and then unplugging at home to give my eyes, and my brain, a rest. Or maybe even reveling in a suprise lunch of baked goods, corn chowder, raw broccoli salad, and guacamole and then listening to my body as it calls for green juice that evening. Traveling whenever possible, honoring that passion, is probably an example as well.

Lastly, I believe in having a healthy fullness. Yes, I did just make up a phrase, please allow me to explain. Health aside, a full life for me means meeting a friend for wine-filled dinner on a weekday night. It may also mean canceling plans with people I love so that I can unwind, clean up, and relax with my own perfectly happy heart. It is a sense of emotional wellness that is just as important to me as being content with my overall physical well being. That, my sweets, is what living healthfully means to me. How do you define your balance?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

one belated note to self

Dear recent graduate,

Congratulations! You probably don't yet understand why I'm saying that. It's not because you've accomplished so much in those four years of college, although I'm sure you have. It's not because you've grown more than they ever could've imagined, although, again, I'm sure you have. It's because you're on your way into the next phase, the most challenging and exciting one, and I know you're ready.

There's a few things you should know about this place known as "the real world." For one thing, it is not unlike the one you already know. The friends you've surrounded yourself with are very much still there. College may be over, but your relationships are not. Savor them and continue to enjoy them. Just because you no longer live with your best friends, does not mean that you're now alone in this. The bond between friends, the love that resides there, knows no bounds. Not even distance, I promise. And, of course, realize that the support from your family will never falter. You'll find that with each "grown-up" hurdle, you'll appreciate them more and more.

Secondly, please know that nobody out here has any idea what they're doing. Sure, they may seem like they have a plan; yeah, maybe they can tell you where they hope to be in five years; but the beauty of this crazy world of ours is in it's flexibility and freedom. If you're like me, make a schedule to create comforting structure for the time being. Next, since you're probably seeking employment or further education, (unless you're one of the lucky few that have already acquired it), I tell you: Dreams do come true but life is not a fairy tale. Each one of us is doing our best, slowly figuring things out along the way, and you can and will do the same. You want to be happy, right? I know it. You know what you love and you know what you are already good at, but do you know why you're good at these things? Probably because you love them too. Children enjoy most what they do best and true passion has a way of creating a practice that leads to improvement. Take these things, focus your time and energy on them, and they will lead you exactly where you're supposed to be, towards what you're supposed to be doing. 

With that said, note that for most, this journey is not an expressway. It's not supposed to be. There will be wrong turns and minor detours but have faith that they are all a part of the adventure. They are, and you deserve the experience. You'll discover your true self along the way.

Finally, and this point is no less important the previous ones, embrace the uncertainty. I know it's not easy, trust me, I do. I know you're afraid, I promise you that I still am, too. But just because you are now supposedly a "grown up" in "the real world" does not mean that you're no longer allowed to live your life. If you're moving to a new city, make sure you're open to creating new friendships. If you're adjusting to a work week and a 9-5 job, make sure you keep your hobbies and try new things. If you still feel like you're at square one, be kind to yourself, listen to your heart, and trust what it is telling you. And, when you feel like everything around you is moving far too fast for you to deal with, STOP. Take a deep breath. Let go of all the pressures. It may not seem like it, but there really is no rush. You truly can enjoy yourself while finding the right fit of an income and giving back to society in some way. Yet, it's also true that the options and possibilities are overwhelming. Take each day, and each moment, at a time. You are ready and everything will be okay. The best things are yet to come.

With love and encouraging hugs,

(a girl that was in your shoes just one year and two days ago)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a balancing stroll

May has certainly been a busy month thus far. I moved and settled into my new apartment, I'm slowly but surely surviving a marathon work week, and apparently my birthday is the weekend after next. It's been fantastically exhausting. So, for the next few days, I am going to take a long, hard look at the areas of my life that need balance and determine how it is I'm going to find it.
Sleep: I don't often sleep as much as I should. I intend to go to bed early and then stay up, lying in bed, as I ponder all the things I need to do the next day. Then I watch Hulu for a few hours. Unfortunately, lack of proper rest has physical effects as that of stress. You can imagine how pretty things often don't look as a result ;). I need to get myself on a regular schedule while also finding moments throughout the day to mentally rest. Meditation comes to mind, quite literally.
Nourishment: I cannot say that I haven't been eating healthfully, but recently, convenience has taken priority before nutrition. Now that I have my weekends again, I'd like to visit my local farmer's market more purposefully, seeking seasonal produce with an idea as to what dishes I'd like to whip up later in the week. I never though I'd be the one to plan my meals, but perhaps I will. Albeit loosely. It might be the only way I'll properly use my new Vitamix, and it'll certainly be a way to make sure my eats have variety.
Movement. Oh dear yoga, how I have neglected you. Exercise always seems to go to the wayside as I accumulate more and more into my schedule. I miss it. Believe it or not, I'd actually like to get into the habit of running at least once a week. I also must use of my Yoga PassBook, in addition to trying out local rooftop yoga at YoYoga! NYC and a few other studios I've acquired trials for. Thankfully, no matter what, I always have my walk to and from the subway. It keeps me centered.
And there ya go; My general plan for re-balance. Throughout these next few posts, I'm going to highlight a few of the tools that have and will help me in this ever-necessary process including a round-up of kitchen staples, new activewear, and general thoughts. I know I'm looking forward to writing and then practicing them more than anyone :) hope you'll enjoy too. Have a good night, lovelies.