Connecting pen to paper.

Letter Writing

In thinking about how I wanted to round out February’s theme of connecting more, I wanted to stretch myself a bit.

I have been doing all of the things I talked about; scheduling more coffee and playdates (weather permitting), Facetiming like crazy with family, connecting more through social media (particularly email and Instagram), connecting with myself through daily meditation, and trying to be more present in my day-to-day life.

And while that’s been great, it doesn’t feel super out of the ordinary. I was already doing most of those things anyway.

This week, I want to do something that I don’t normally do. Or, at the very least, that I stopped doing a few decades ago…

Writing handwritten letters just because. 

I send out Thank You notes and birthday cards… occasionally.

I write grocery lists and menu plans all the time.

I even talked about the power of the personal note over on the Propelle blog. (Yeah… I’m not always great at taking my own advice.)

But none of that is the same as writing a letter to someone and putting it in the mail.

I’m a huge paper fanatic. I love pretty stationary and cards. And I am obsessed with pens and markers. You would think that I’d be a shoe-in for sending out a hand-written note.

I seriously used to be. I can remember being in high school and pouring over letters I’d write to my best friend in Cincinnati.

The last one I sent was a 14-pager (front and back). I filled it with quotes and doodles, thoughts about life and boys, and other teenage angst. My brother did his damnedest to try and steal it so he could get a window into my world and have blackmail material for life. (He tried to wrestle me for it. He didn’t get it.)

And then I went off to college and left the handwritten note behind.

Email took over. Cell phones became all the rage. And instant communication was way more exciting that anything done by hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I seriously love those forms of communication. I just think that there is something absolutely special about a handwritten note. The thought someone puts into selecting the right card. The time they take out of their day to write. And the way it stands out amongst the piles of bills and junk mail…

I want to take back a little slice of this art form.

This week, I’m going to write and send one hand-written note a day.

That’s 7 letters in 7 days. The hardest part is going to be figuring out who those 7 people are!

Will you join me?

Recipe: Sriracha Lo Mein

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

I honestly don’t remember what life was like before sriracha.

Okay, okay, I do remember what it was like. It certainly wasn’t as exciting. Or spicy. Which, in hindsight is probably a good thing since spice made me… sick.

Maybe I’m just making up for all that lost time; relishing in the ability to load it on without any repercussions.

(Totally.)

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

Other things that I’m relishing? Broccoli. Sounds weird, I know. But it’s been finding it’s way into pretty much everything I cook lately.

The Hubster is quite happy about that arrangement.

As is The Babe. She freakin’ loves broccoli.

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

If broccoli’s not your thing (which I totally get, I used to be just like you), no matter. This recipe is super flexible and can be made with whatever veggies you have on hand and/or love.

Our favorites: broccoli, green beans, carrots, snap peas, and zucchini.

Which, by the way, Trader Joe’s had the cutest baby zucchini’s in the store the other day. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to use those cutie-patooties. (Ugh. I just called zucchini cute. I’m blaming the lack of sleep for that one.)

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

Speaking of lack of sleep, this is a great recipe for those nights when you’re a.) too tired to think about dinner, b.) pressed for time, and c.) just wanting something super flavorful to go in your mouth.

This definitely hits all three, making it a TRIPLE THREAT.

Yeah. I totally went there. (LACK OF SLEEP.)

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily LevensonSriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

One final thought about this lo mein: I was very proud of myself at the green vegetable ratio. It’s like a billion to one, with a cameo appearance from a carrot.

I was going to add cauliflower into the mix, but that would have made it a billion to two.

What? You don’t feel virtuous when you eat green vegetables? Just me? Huh…

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

BOOM.

Ain’t she purdy?

Sriracha Lo Mein | Emily Levenson

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sriracha Lo Mein
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients:
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbs tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp minced ginger
  • ½ tsp (1 clove) garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tsp corn starch or arrowroot powder
For the lo mein:
  • 8 oz noodles (lo mein, spaghetti, linguine)
  • 1-2 tbs oil (safflower, sunflower, coconut)
  • 2 eggs, scrambled lightly
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 large carrot, cut or in sticks
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced (or 5 baby zucchini's sliced)
Directions:
  1. Combine tamari, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, sriracha, and corn starch in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Cook noodles according to package.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add egg and scramble. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Add broccoli, green beans, snap peas, and carrots. Sauté until veggies turn bright green and are crisp-tender; approximately 3-5 minutes
  6. Add zucchini and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add noodles and return the scrambled egg back to the wok.
  8. Pour sauce over noodles and veggies and stir until everything is thoroughly coated.
  9. Sauce will begin to thicken after about 30-60 seconds.
  10. Remove from heat and serve.
Allergen Information:
Dairy free and egg free. **CAN BE gluten and wheat free depending on choice if noodles. Corn free if using arrowroot powder. And nightshade free by simply omitting the sriracha.

 

Everything is connected.

"I mean the whole thing about meditation and yoga is about connecting to the higher part of yourself, and then seeing that every living thing is connected in some way." Gillian Anderson

Funny story.

When I was in college, I was obssssssessed (that’s putting it lightly) with the X-Files. We would have a viewing party in my dorm room every week to watch it, all crammed on an extra long twin bed and squinting to see the episode on my 13-inch TV/VCR combo.

And we enjoyed every second of it.

I loved everything there was to love about Scully—from her science-based skepticism to her willingness to keep an open mind. And, of course, the amazing chemistry between her and Mulder.

When I went to work in London immediately following grad school, I happened upon tickets to a show featuring Gillian Anderson at the half-priced ticket booth. I seriously almost passed out from excitement when I realized that I would be able to see her in person in a really small theater.

The play—What The Night Is For—was beyond anything I could have hoped for. Gillian Anderson was flawless, with her performance really shining a light on pharmacology and mental health. Two topics that were very near and dear to my heart at the time.

All of this to say, today’s quote is particularly meaningful to me.

And I love that my connection to Gillian Anderson still rings true after all these years.

Recipe: Sweet Potato + Dried Cherry Oatmeal

Sweet Potato + Dried Cherry Stove Top Oatmeal

Every now and then I feel like all of my food mojo gets lost.

I’ll be rocking and rolling for a few weeks, buzzing with creative energy and excitement around menu planning and cooking. And then BOOM. It’s gone without a trace. No note left behind for where it’s gone, or even when it will be coming back.

And into the mix two other mouths to feed and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Sweet Potato + Dried Cherry Stove Top Oatmeal

All I have to say is thank god there are other food blogs out there to help pull me out of my food rut.

Case and point: The Oatmeal Artist.

How that gal finds a way to stay inspired and creative with one single ingredient is beyond me. Believe me, I’m not complaining. Quite the contrary, I’m freakishly enamored with her and her uncanny talent for creativity when it comes to oats.

Sweet Potato + Dried Cherry Stove Top Oatmeal

This bowl of yumminess is a take on her Sweet Potato + Cranberry Oatmeal.

I had initially made it for The Babe, but it looked way too good to let her have it all. So, I took a spoonful to taste. And then another spoonful, and another spoonful…

Don’t worry, she definitely got her fill of sweet potato oatmeal yums. She kept pointing at the spoon, squealing, and opening her mouth for another bite. LOVE HER.

Sweet Potato + Dried Cherry Stove Top Oatmeal

Sweet Potato + Dried Cherry Stove Top Oats
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
Directions:
  1. Peel and chop sweet potato and place in a small saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and cook until sweet potatoes are fork-tender; approximately 5-7 minutes.
  2. Drain water and mash with fork or potato masher. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Combine water and almond milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Add oats and reduce heat to medium.
  5. Let simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until oats begin to absorb the liquid.
  6. Add in ½ cup mashed sweet potatoes, reserving the rest for tomorrow (or another use). Stir to combine.
  7. Add in cinnamon and maple syrup, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed or at desired consistency.
  8. Add in dried cherries and stir.
  9. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm!
Allergen Information:
Nightshade free, dairy free, wheat free*, gluten free*, corn free, soy free, egg free.

*Oats are inherently gluten (and wheat) free, but can become contaminated during the processing. If you have Celiac Disease or have an allergy, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats.

The disconnect.

"The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug." Pico Iyer

Since declaring February the month to connect more, fun things have been happening.

I’ve definitely been spending more time connecting in-person. The Babe and I hit up a local coffee shop and a drop-in play center for some fun during the week. We also went as a family to bring a delicious meal to friends that just had a baby and attended a local food tasting event.

All incredibly fun.

I’ve also been making a concerted effort to FaceTime and talk with family more. (They have definitely been on board with that goal.)

One thing that has become increasingly obvious through all of this connecting, is that I spend a lot of time connecting with my phone as well.

I know, I know. I have to connect with my phone when it comes to talking to long-distance family members more. And I truly love being able to do that—for me and The Babe.

But what I don’t love is how dependent I have become on it.

I feel a tingle of anxiety when I realize my phone isn’t next to me. I check it 15 times an hour (maybe more) just to see if I have an email or to read messages on Facebook and Twitter. I refresh Instagram constantly, waiting to see the next amazing image.

And yet, the most amazing image is right in front of me: The Babe playing, laughing, and exploring the world. And I’m missing out because I’m staring at a tiny screen in my hand.

And then I saw it…

On the eleventy billionth time I checked Twitter for the day, I came across a challenge of sorts called Bored and Brilliant—a week of challenges designed to help one detach from their phone and spend more time thinking creatively.

Huh.

Detach from the phone. Something that made me feel instantly twitchy and anxious. Something that I ultimately knew would help me do what I had set out to do this month: connect more, and connect more deeply to the world around me.

Even though I didn’t sign up for the official challenge, I have decided that I am going to keep my phone out of sight as much as possible.

I have already turned off pretty much every banner notification, as they were making me seriously anxious and on edge every day. That was a huge weight lifted. But I still find myself checking every few minutes just in case something important pops up. Even though it doesn’t.

That’s the big task for this week: stop picking up the phone so goddamn much and connect with the amazing things happening all around me.

Want to join me?

Do you find yourself obsessively checking your phone all day long? Do you want to give yourself a day (or even an hour) to unplug and put it away?

Let’s both commit to disconnecting so that we can be more present to the people, places, and things around us.

Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter and tell me what you’re up to. And then come back tomorrow and tell me how it went!

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