Five Senses of Feast

 

Two years ago while visiting Portland with my parents my ears perked up at something I heard on the radio. I only remember sound clips: Sandwich. Invitational. Feast. Portland. Bon Appetit. I was still relatively new to the Pacific Northwest at the time so it was a mystery that grabbed my attention instantaneously. I needed to know more. Upon further Googling I learned 2 things: 1) Feast was an annual multi-day festival held in Portland, sponsored by Bon Appetit, that showcased Oregon’s bounty and featured several renowned Chefs from around the nation. 2) I HAD TO GO.

Fast forward two years to 2017. On the morning of June 2nd I sat at my computer, cheek in hand, impatiently refreshing the page where I’d purchase tickets for the festival once they were released at 11am. The moment struck and after surmounting a delay caused by an overloaded server I was in. I scored tickets to four events: Late Night Adventures in Takeout, The Grand Tasting (like a deluxe weekend costco sample experience), No Kilts Required: American Single Malts and—the piéce de résistance—Tillamook Presents: SMOKED (A BBQ PARTY, YA’LL).

June, July, and the early days of September crawled by, but finally it was time to pack up the Mazda3 and zoom down to Portland for Feast. The weekend unfolded in what I can only describe as a sensory extravaganza. One that I’m going to try and recreate for you now.

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Feast looked like –

  • A series of electric parties across the city accented by thematic mood lighting that gave every event charisma. My favorite was the neon, untraditional at a BBQ event.
  • Crowded, enthusiastic gatherings of all kinds of people—friends and strangers, groups and soloists, from different places, of different generations.
  • A tie-dye of stains on my shirts from who-knows-which saucy snacks.
  • A never ending sea of artistically composed dishes created by chefs whose home restaurants are peppered around the US.
  • A list to which I was always adding, documenting names of new restaurants I otherwise may have remained oblivious to.
  • Caramel colored splashes on my collar from that last whiskey cocktail I shouldn’t have had.

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Feast sounded like –

  • The ubiquitous hiss of raw meats sizzling on grills.
  • Exclamations between guests about which dishes were worth standing in line for—guiding my next move.
  • Bumpin’ music adding to the energy of the night accented by the percussion of iced bourbon cocktails being shaken in both fists by the boisterous bartenders.
  • Soft speaking between members of a restaurant’s staff underneath the tents.
  • The wise words of innovative chefs being interviewed by Bon Appetit’s Adam Rapoport.
  • Clattering of metal stock pots and pans. The metal clapping of tongs.
  • Joy during a time of political turbulence—laughter, casual conversation, excited statements punctuated by each new bite.
  • The low, slow groans of indigestion around 2am.

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Feast felt like –

  • Oregon’s warm September sun, it’s chilly twilight breezes.
  • The crunch of my first air fried dumpling, and the contrasting soft textures of regional cheeses.
  • The delicate balance of my wine glass in one hand and two small paper plates in the other.
  • Warmth from open faced grills.
  • Fumbling with utensils: chopsticks, forks, spoons, skewers.
  • The constant pressure of my finger on the shutter button of my camera.
  • Conflict because my stomach was full but MORE THAN ANYTHING I just wanted to keep eating.

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Feast smelt like –

  • Competing smoky scents from the forest fires of Jolly Mountain and the plumes dancing skyward from the charcoal grills.
  • Complex combinations of spicy aromas characteristic of single malt american whiskies.
  • An amalgam of currently-being-cooked dishes—fermented, peppery, sweet, mesquite, fruity, floral.
  • The perfume of Febreeze inside of a suburban mom’s lyft vehicle.

 

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Feast tasted like –

  • Fruit-forward wines from all over the pacific northwest.
  • Sweet baked goods and fragrant berry jams from local vendors.
  • Unique combinations of sweet and savory ingredients that I would’ve never thought to combine like brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds.
  • Umami.
  • A just-been-torched s’more donut from Blue Star that was crunchier than I was expecting.
  • The spicy, moist brisket from Langbaan served in a pool of spicy gravy poured from a hot silver kettle, and decorated with flowers that packed a peppery punch that you can’t even imagine.
  • Very high quality hot dogs with very high quality pumped cheese.
  • The kind of tastes that left an impact on your palate, and lingered even after you brushed your teeth—more like a fond memory than an annoyance.

I am so grateful to have had the chance to attend my first Feast. For every moment I was there I was filled with joy and was able to momentarily forget about daily stresses that often overwhelm me. It wasn’t just me, I was surrounded by other people who were just as I happy as I was. I already look forward to the next Feast I’m able to attend. Next time I’ll go to one of the suppers, I won’t miss the Night Market, and I’ll bring more than 2 doses of indigestion tablets.

 

To learn more about the festival check out their website at feastportland.com

 

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UPCOMING: Holiday Giving Guides for the Hungry People in Your Life

When I was in high school, scouting out unique holiday gifts was one of my specialties. I could cross the threshold of Target’s big red doors with a mission in mind and be back out in 10 minutes flat, arms full of thoughtful randomities sure to make someone in my friend group (or my mom) shimmy with excitement.

As I’ve gotten older (and more aware of expectation and whose taste is what) it turns out that gift hunting has lost a little bit of it’s sparkle. It’s not quite the exciting quest that it used to be, in fact, I think we can all agree that sometimes it can get a little frustrating. There have been desperate moments when I’ve walked into, what I’ve deemed is, the last store of my sad attempt to find a gift for someone and have picked something up, sighed as I settled on something mediocre, and felt guilty that I didn’t start shopping in September like I meant to.

And let me tell you something else, there’s truly nothing like quickly, softly whispering, “There’s a gift receipt in there if you don’t like it,” to really get someone excited for what awaits them in your haphazardly wrapped package. My favorite part is the hyperbolized excitement they show afterwards to prove how stoked they are for the thing you have ~blessed them~ with.

For those of you also feeling overwhelmed, clueless, like you’re blindly combing the shelves at the Very Posh Store That You’ve Always Meant to Go Into for the perfect something…these upcoming seasonal gift guides are for you. Of course, it’d be worth mentioning that these are for the people who hold my same interests near and dear to their hearts. Those interests, of course, are the consumable kind: food, cocktails, coffee, restaurants, cooking, recipes, kitchen supplies (ok, less consumable), etc. I’ll be listing them all!

Another thing that’s happened since I’ve gotten older is that I’d rather receive an experience, like an outing or a trip, than a thing (unless that thing is a mandolin slicer because SHE is currently burning a hole in my Amazon wishlist). That means I will not only be sharing my ideas for things you can buy for someone, but also things that you can do together.

The holidays shouldn’t be all about gifts, but I hope the ones you do give are received graciously and produce imminent hunger pangs.

Be on the look out for the first one next week!

PS: Throughout the holidays I’ll be posting some of my recommendations for where to eat and drink around The Emerald City as well. Stay tuned!

X Marks the Spot | Trove, Seattle

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Trove | Seattle

The first time I saw the big, red X was on the day that my office moved from Fremont to Capitol Hill. It hung proudly on a Pike Street facing wall next to several giant, almost floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun poured inside and I could see a sleek, white counter facing an open kitchen, something that looked like an ice cream truck in the corner and a menu boasting various dishes whose ingredients triggered my curiosity. “Trove?”I read out loud from the sign. What was this place?

After a few weeks of being in our new digs, rumblings about the restaurant could be heard in my office. “There’s Korean BBQ in the back,” someone said excitedly. “AND they sell parfaits!” I didn’t know what Korean BBQ was yet, but I did know that I had to go.


What you need to know
Trove is broken down into three* main parts:

  1. The Counter
    Asian-fusion will never have tasted so good as when you watch it being cooked over a giant flame. The air is thick with aromas that hold promises of imminent umami-bombs, and the menu items change regularly. Believe me when I say that you’re going to want to try the sauces that you’re offered by the chef.

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    Trove | Noodle Bar


  2. The BBQ
    While this isn’t your hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ joint, it sure does make a strong case for itself. The quality of the meats at Trove is evident from the get-go, and the chefs are happy to cook them for you if you’re feeling a little timid about your tong technique. I’d recommend trying a variety of things from different areas of the menu. Our server (who was fantastic, BTW) was happy to help us in our selection of items, and gave us an honest opinion about how much food would be the right amount of food. He was dead on.

    BBQ

    Trove | Korean BBQ

  1. The Parfaits I have had the parfaits at Trove more than I have had anything else. I will say this: if you don’t have a sweet tooth, these might not be for you. If this is the case please go inside and get yourself a sake. However if you fall into the Sweet Tooth category I’d recommend following your heart and trying as many as you can while the flavors last. They change them every season and I’ve hardly ever been unimpressed. Bonus: If you bring back the branded glass jar that they serve your parfait in you can get a dollar off your next one! (As if I needed more motivation to go back…)

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    Trove | Parfait


Still need convincing?

Here’s 10 Reasons You Should Go to Trove This Summer

1. Who doesn’t like to grill on the dinner table? It’s like the adult-friendly version of playing with your food

2. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S WAGYU TRI-TIPS. Honestly, they marbeled to perfection

3. The parfaits alone give you at least ~6 reasons to stop by. I tried the cookies and cream with homemade Oreo last weekend, and I had a taste of the Tea Lime Pie (with Matcha custard). Both were divine and I NEED to go back from the peanut butter cup…and the other Matcha one.

4. NOOOODLES. While the noodle bar’s menu changes pretty frequently, I’ve always enjoyed a savory, flavorful, and satisfying meal there.

5. AGAIN WITH THE PEA VINES. They had smoked cashews on them and a hint of a vinegar taste. A perfect side dish to our meat selection (My other favorites so far this season were at Ma’Ono)

6. THERE IS A  ALSO BAR. There’s an  international beer list, a great sake/shochu selection, unique cocktails (of which I want to try MANY), and six beer taps pouring cold, local beer. Happy hour from 4-6!

7. Because there’s not only meat to love, but also veggies dishes. The asparagus and mushroom entree was SO flavorful. Please eat as much of the sauce as possible.

8. Impress your date (or your crew) with a beautiful Asian fusion restaurant on capitol hill

9. Because a Netflix binge of 90’s movies is 300 times better with to-go noodles from their counter (pro tip: favorites right now are the rice cake/curry/kale, the Pad thai/ chipotle/pork belly/yu choy/chili peanuts, and the kimchi pork dumplings)

10. Because, truly, you’ve got to see what all the fuss is about:

Other restaurants in the Trove family include Revel and Joule. I could go on and on about both of them, but I’ll save that for another day.


Please feel free to send any hot tips my way, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall or a trendy place that lives up to the hype (in Seattle, OR ANYWHERE ELSE). Key items I look for on menus often include: Shrimp and Grits, Manhattans, Burgers with Creative Toppings, and Complimentary Baskets of Warm, Salted Tortilla Chips.

Follow me on instagram or snapchat to keep up with my never ending snack journey in real time!

instagram: @lacunningham  —  snapchat: lacunningha

Saturday

saturday

Saturday mornings are great, but there is a particular kind of Saturday morning that stands above all the rest for me.

That kind of Saturday begins by waking up gradually and not to the dreaded, repetitive tones of your cell phone’s alarm clock app. Lazily you toss and turn, take your morning dose of social media, and once you feel like your blankets have agreed to set you free you casually make your way to the kitchen.

Within mere minutes the aromas of hot, fresh coffee and over-medium eggs have replaced the morning’s breath (much different than morning breath). It’s quiet, other than your playlist, and you’re able to live slowly. You plan your day — or not — and you’re able to peacefully breathe for a minute, free from the stress off the past week’s responsibilities.

That’s the kind of Saturday morning I’ve had so far and I’m probably enjoying it too much. I have little to no plans of changing out of this baggy sweater any time soon, and there’s probably a second french press in my future (shout out to Caffe Vita for beans that are giving me life).

These are the jams that are on my Saturday playlist today. What kind of Saturday is revitalizing to you?

Smoothie Move | Fitness Friday

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Before I started working out, getting a smoothie was a great way to relieve myself of calorie guilt after a particularly shitty day/week of eating.

Green smoothie? I’ll take it. Jesus, I’m a health food nut!”

Now? Smoothies are a quick and easy way for me to get all my nutrients that help me reap the benefits of the lifting I’ve been doing in the gym, as well as the vitamins that keep me healthy. I’m about 90% convinced that the reason I haven’t gotten a cold this winter is because of how many greens I’ve been consuming (and there’s hardly been a salad in sight).

Smoothies that I drink after working out are high in protein and full of fruits, vegetables and fiber. I’m still learning about the textures and flavors I like and have yet to dive into smoothie-aficionado additions, like wheatgrass and aminos (or something), but I’m pretty excited about the discoveries I’ve made so far. Check it:

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Spinach + Kiwi + Chia seed smoothie (from Joy the Baker)

makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

For the Smoothie:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk, cold
  • 1 1/2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1 ripe kiwi, peeled, cut into chunks

Awesome Extras:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons wheat grass powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon maca powder

In a blender, combine almond milk, spinach leaves, frozen banana chunks, and kiwi chunks.  Add some of the awesome extras if you’re so inclined.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy immediately.


Almond Butter + Banana Smoothie (+Protein)

makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut+almond milk, cold
  • 1 1/2 cups packed spinach and kale leaves
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey powder
  • 2 table spoons almond butter
  • Cinnamon to taste, I usually do about a teaspoon (+ great for metabolism)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal/seeds
  • 4 ice cubs (this is personal preference…room temp smoothies don’t cut it for me)

Combine all ingredients in blender and let ‘er rip! This smoothie is super high in protein and healthy fats so I find its a really hearty/healthy way to follow up intense workouts.


ABJ Smoothie (+Protein)

makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut+almond milk, cold
  • 1 1/2 cups packed spinach and kale leaves
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey powder
  • 2 table spoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal/seeds

Again, put everything in the blender and goooooooo. This smoothie is a spin on PBJ sandwiches (obvs). I was feeling really clever when I got this tart treat all worked out.

For the Coffee Enthusiast | Holiday Gift Guide

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If you know me, then you know that one thing I’m completely unapologetic about is being a coffee…snob. That’s right, I said it. With a history of working next to talented baristas, experience in espresso training and a hell of a lot of tastings and cuppings to boot I know what I like my coffee to taste like and love to educate people on why it tastes that way.

I have a few friends who are adamant that coffee is “solely for caffeine.” While that is partially true (I mean it does have caffeine), coffee is so much more than that; it’s chemistry, it’s agriculture, it’s a combination of factors that come together to form this perfect combination of… I’ll stop.

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Regardless of how you drink your coffee, I’m willing to bet you have a coffee-loving friend who you are idealess on what to get for a gift this holiday season. BOY DO I HAVE A TREAT FOR YOU. I present to you… my the coffee lover’s holiday wishlist:

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Hario V60 kettle – Perfect for pour overs and making people feel like their coffee is going to be served with tasting notes of nuts, cocoa and pretentious eye brow raises.

• Falcon Enamelwear mug – Enamelwear for the city dweller who likes to trick people into thinking they spend a lot of time outdoors. (“Yeah I love to take this mug with me when I go camping…”)

• Joco travel mug – Eco friendly and clear so your coworkers know exactly how serious you are about brewing your coffee at home before coming to work. Why use that Keurig in the breakroom? That’s for coffee peasants.

• Hario v60 – I don’t have any jokes to make about this because I want one so badly. A V60 is a way to brew a single, clean tasting cup of coffee. Highly recommend. (Pro tip: To look like a real sucker, put one arm behind your back and use with the kettle from above).

• Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder – One of the best at home coffee grinders on the market; great for a variety of brew methods and for making your friends feel insecure about their at home coffee routines.

Mistobox – A coffee subscription is an awesome way to try different beans from different roasters and different regions of the world. Mistobox was my favorite one that I saw out there; they customize your monthly box specifically for you based on your preferences. Perfect for those friends that love to Instagram their coffee pouring action shots or well composed shots of them holding things. (RLTC pick!)

Acaia Coffee scale – The most unneccessary, neccessary coffee item you never knew you needed. The scale connects to your iphone/android via app and gives you all the info you could ever need. (I’m in lust.) Why would your friend need a coffee scale? Learn more here

**Coffee lovers do not include: people who brew dunkin donuts coffee in a coffee maker daily OR people who seem like coffee lovers because they have an “espresso yourself” print in their kitchen.

Speak to you soon!

x

**couldn’t find image credit for the first one so sorrryyyy**

Happy Thanksgiving from RLTC

thanksgivingIt’s here. My favorite holiday is tomorrow; the day we celebrate the things that create our happiness; the one instance out of the year when competitive eating feels much closer to arms reach than it ever does. THANKSGIVING.

Thanks to my cross-country move, this is my first time not celebrating with my family. Although I am a little heart broken, I’m so grateful to be able to spend it with one of my most favorite people on the earth + their family.

Seattle has been great to me–and for that I am overwhelmingly thankful. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on this marvelous day…

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If you’re reading this THANK YOU SO MUCH for this year of clicking on my weird blog/just looking at this post in itself. This site is a place for me to create and hopefully give people a little ray of sunshine as often as possible.

Have the GREATEST thanksgiving.

 

Speak to you soon,

 

x

 

(turkey photo by Williams-Sonoma)

Paleo Poser | Lifestyle Post

bakedeggsI want to start out this post by giving a shout to to anyone who has ever completed a successful Whole30 or Paleo diet program because that shit is hard stick to. Seriously, congratulations, I don’t know how you successfully said no to pancakes at breakfast (I don’t want to hear about your special flours right now) or how you decided you didn’t need french fries at 2AM after that halloween party with all the jello shots, but you did it. Kudos. Mazel tov. And I…didn’t.

I should preface by saying that, although I’ve adopted some Whole30 and Paleo principles to my life recenlty, I never really fully committed to one of the newest crazes. I left myself the salvation of brunch, occasional emergency burritos (gluten/dairy free of course) and the “I deserve this” chocolate chip cookie to interrupt a stressful day. I have, however, introduced a whole slew of new vegetables and fruits into my diet as well as cutting out most dairy, gluten and sugar (don’t revisit the aforementioned cookie right now.) I’m eating more meat than usual to get my protein fix and backing that up with an hour of working out every other day. I definitely do feel better and can tell the difference in my mood and overall being when I interrupt my healthy flow, so I think I’m going to keep this thing up.

As I write this, I’m sitting here (petrified that my old, tiny oven in my ancient studio apartment is probably going to catch my dutch oven on fire) deeply inhaling the aromas of apple porkchops wafting through my apartment so I thought I’d list out a few of my favorite Clean/paleo/whole30 substitutes and recipes from the past couple of weeks:

Breakfast– Last weekend one of my favorite new Seattle friends and I decided to make brunch instead of going out like we normally do on Sundays. We made these baked eggs , brought to us by Minimalist Baker and they were to diiiiie for. Another breakfast option I’ve been loving is a bowl with strawberries and walnuts topped with a splash of hemp/coconut milk. The Tempt brand has an unsweetened one that is everything to me.*

Lunch//Dinner – Pasta is such a quick easy meal when you’re eating like a normal human, but turns out wheat pastas/noodles aren’t as good for you as vegetables. One of my favorite pasta alternatives so far has been zucchini pasta. This recipe calls for fresh cranberries and pinenuts (how festive for fall, right?) but on my second batch I subbed for blueberries and slivered almonds and it was AWESOME. Highly recommend. The pork chops that are currently flooding my apartment with savory aromas and audible stomach growling symphonies can be found here.

*I know that with most of these programs you’re supposed to make your own milks/not have any at all but let me live a little, ya’ll. I’m new at this
**I’m not a dietician or really even good at dieting so take everything I just said with a grain of salt (but not too much or you’ll bloat, AMIRIGHT?)

Eating healthy doesn’t suck.  Pro tip: You probably will get sick less this cold season if you just give it a little extra effort. Sleep, Water, Excercise, Healthy diet. Do yourself a favor and feel better.

Whole 30 & Flirty | Lifestyle Post

Beef-Pumpkin-Stew-WMI’ve found that, generally, people in Seattle tend feel guilty about two things:

1. not being able to find the recycling bin (I’ve been the receiver of these confessions more times than I can count) and 2. their diet. The words “whole 30”, “paleo”, and “gluten free” have been sung into my ears so many times, in fact, that I’ve actually decided to give them a shot.

Why?

It all started a few weeks ago when I noticed that, if I was reclined a certain way, I could use my stomach as a table to hold my microwaved burrito while I watched Game of Thrones.

Now, it would be unfair to neglect to mention that ever since the Beyonce concert in Paris I have been on a mission to reshape my body to the proportions of the queen…but we all know that booty doesn’t come from half-ass squats done on a yoga mat in a studio apartment on Capitol Hill. So as I was half-sitting up on the couch, audibly pleading for Jon Snow to love me I then thought, “what if I change up my diet and add in some lunges to the apartment workout circuit? THEN I’ll be on the yellow brick road to booty-ville.”

So now here we are–knee deep in protein, leafy greens, and a vicious craving for those pillsbury halloween sugar cookies with the little ghosts on ’em. My favorite paleo-friendly recipe I’ve made so far is very “fall” apprope: Pumpkin+Beef stew (via meatified).  It’s super hearty and flavorful and it makes a lot (which is great because this meal prep thing is a strenuous activity for us modern microwave-burrito-eating women).

Super excited to see how I start to feel with the introduction of a healthier food pyramid into my life. I’ll keep ya’ll updated on how it’s going with the recipes and use you as a support group for when I start to miss bread so much that I’m writing it sonnets.

Hopefully the combination of the lack of pizza and additional, vigorous lunging means that my transformation into the queen will happen sooner rather than later. This once basic booty is about to get bey-utiful.

 

Speak to you soon!

 

x

Sunday Inspo | A Note on Patience

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12 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11

A little inspiration for the beginning of a new week. I know, for me, this is may be a little bit of a challenging one. Why? Because patience is hard. Patience is one of those things that’s easier said than done in almost any situation, but it’s also one of those things where I have to drop my hands because I am not in control. Why worry about something that you can’t do anything about until you can, right?

Hang on tight this week. Remember that whatever you’re waiting on is worth the wait.

10 ways to distract yourself from the waiting game:
1. Put on your jogging shoes and go out the door before you have a chance to change your mind. I know from experience that just going on a brief (and still struggle filled) run around your neighborhood can help to put things into perspective…or at least help you focus on how awful the hill you’re about to run up is (*life metaphor, am I right?!?*). Spoiler alert: you are going to make it to the top. Promise.

2. Drive. Go anywhere. Blast your favorite music,  blast Coldplay’s new album (or Ed Sheeran if you’re into that kind of thing) and watch your city roll on by. And SANG. Loud. Who cares who’s next to you at the stoplight (unless it’s that person you smiled at, at the bar last weekend…then you cool it).

3. Find yourself a snow cone. There is nothing that a snow cone on a hot day can’t help. (If you live in Nashville figure out where Retro Sno is because it will not only change your day IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE OKAY?

4. Say yes to things this week. I know that I’m really guilty of holing myself up in my room and shutting down when I’m stressed out, but I’ve found that if you actually LEAVE your room (aka the center of all stress) then you will be able to breathe a lot easier.

5. Make a to do list and check thangs off. Getting things done always makes me feel a sense of accomplishment and makes any stress I have seem a lot less daunting.

6. Pizza.

7. Fill up your schedule so you don’t have time to think about whatever it is you can’t stop thinking about.

8. Laugh as much as you can; watch a funny movie, binge on buzzfeed, hunt down the next big youtube sensation, cruise the internet for comedy gold…I swear it helps. I make a point to spend some time on my favorite funny websites before bed most nights. Laughing relaxes you and makes your brain feel 100 times better. Or call me because I’m hilar.

9. Plan something really great for what happens after you know you’re going to find out about whatever it is you’re waiting on. That way you’re looking forward to something and not dreading it.

10. Pizza. (Needed to reinforce how important this step is. Ask for ranch.)

 

 

Speak to you soon!

x