Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: Nurture

nur•ture |ˈnərCHər|

      verb
  • care for and encourage the growth and development of...
  • help or encourage the development of...
  • cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition)


I love the idea of focusing on a word to shape experiences in the new year ahead. My word for 2014 is NURTURE, it came to me fairly easy and hit home hard. I was most drawn to nurture because it feels limitless and open. There are so many aspects of my life to nurture: self, family, my blog, friendships, our home, my marriage.

Unfortunately, I feel like a great expanse of time has passed when I have failed at nurturing many of the components of my life. I experienced a moment of clarity when I set my intentions in my new purple notebook, for the new year ahead. I cannot change the past, but rather recognize and work towards better nurturing more aspects of my life starting this very moment onward. I know I'm capable of digging deeper from within and truly living my life more fully and with gratitude.

The photo above was taken at the beach in Santa Barbara, California and is a wonderful reminder of my trip in November, a trip that was very self nurturing. Maybe I was subconsciously planting the seeds of the new year when I went away solo. I've created a nurture label and I am going to start using it in 2014 for all the moments I find myself nurturing my world. I'm so ready for this!

I hope you come along to see where my nurturing takes me...

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Monday, December 30, 2013

A Gem With Perfect Timing

We met for the first time at the bus stop. It was the Fall of seventh grade and there she magically appeared one morning. Her jeans were rolled, her collar was turned up, but she was bold enough to be wearing blue eyeliner and mascara. I was intrigued. She was edgy. She taught me how to steam open a report card envelope, bleach and razor up an old pair of Levi's, apply makeup and remove it before I went back home. She perfected the art of a side french braid to copy cat her brave hair cut, which was buzzed off on the left side and long on the right. She listened to punk rock on cassette tape. She had traveled all over the country and just moved to town from the West. She was home alone quite frequently and that fact alone made her place more appealing to hang out than mine.

We often could be found exploring our limited suburban neighborhood on foot together. She gave me a new found sense of freedom. There was a Chinese Restaurant merely a block away that I had driven by countless times my entire life, but never stepped foot in. She's the one that coaxed me there for the very first time. I still remember the red painted dragons on the soda glass and cracking open my first fortune cookie. We shared lo mein and pork fried rice. I gave her Pizza Friday and the nuances of life in a loud Italian American family. I gave her stability and a place to always turn to. I offered her a way to feel like a local in yet another new school, new town, new state. We became fast friends that year. We had a good run, before her father picked up and moved her to a High School out of district.

Sometimes I realize how people walk into our lives at just the right time and have the ability to open a world of discovery. She will always be remembered as a gem with perfect timing.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

December Whole Foods Market Gift Card Winners!

I chose two winners this time around, even though there were 28 total comments, I did not count the ones where it was just an email address after their comment (they simply forgot). Leaving a total number of comment entries at 25! Comments 2 and 8 were the random numbers picked! I will be in touch via email for your address, the gift cards will be shipped directly from my sponsor.

Thank you to everyone that entered. Please check back next month for my new giveaway sponsored by Whole Foods Market!


Comment #2:


Comment #8:


A (new) Year of Possibilities

I walked around and around the display of journals before noticing another wooden shelf with neatly stacked notebooks in various sizes. I was attracted to the medium sized lined journals with a soft cover, it was a two pack in shades of purple that were calling my name. They were just the right thickness, giving me some hope that I could actually fill one early in the New Year. I laughed to myself when I realized how much effort I put into choosing a journal.

Confession, I've never filled an entire journal from cover to cover before. 

It's always been a goal of mine to fill a notebook, maybe even feel some tension as my thoughts spill onto the last few pages wondering if my thoughts will be longer than my notebook. Deep down I know it will happen, someday. Maybe that day will come in 2014.

I bought the two pack of notebooks so I could write down my intentions for the New Year. I'm not quite sure if resolution is the proper word to describe what I'm feeling, but none the less my mind wanders through out the day with endless possibilities of what I want to accomplish in 2014. Then I started wondering, is it silly to hold onto the New Year bringing forth a wave of change, a rush of confidence to accomplish tasks big and small? Ultimately I've decided, I'm not silly. I don't ever want to  become a person that stops being full of possibility and wandering thoughts. If it takes the turning of the year on the calendar, then so be it! Filled pages of my journal may inspire blog posts and blog posts may inspire my journaling. Either way, more writing is what I've been craving.

Do you set your intentions for the New Year? You still have time. Dig out a notebook and let your thoughts wander.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Entertaining Guests, Invited To A Gathering? Charcuterie Board In A Flash With A Whole Foods Market Giveaway!

Sometimes it's just not possible to cook a dish for every gathering we are invited to. Potluck at school, work gathering on a Friday afternoon, holiday open house, drinks and dessert, and a hat party are just a few invitations we've received in the past month. Every time we've been asked to bring along a dish to share. My thoughts immediately go to chips and salsa, but then you realize you don't want to be that person.

Luckily we've honed in on what we like to bring to a gathering that seems to make everyone happy and we also get a ton of compliments with a Charcuterie Board. Our board always contains specialty meats, cheese like grass fed cheddar or goat cheese we roll in nuts, bread, mixed nuts, nut thin crackers, sometimes a spread, olives and pickles to round things out! If we have time we candy the nuts to have a sweet component to all the savory offerings. The Charcuterie Board makes me happy because it fits everyone's palate and even those with dietary restrictions. Something for everyone!



Here's an example of a recent board we tossed together, it doesn't always have to be a huge investment, simple is just as appealing (not picture nut thins crackers):



Interested in learning more? Whole Story Blog:  Food Trend Alert: Charcuterie


I have 2 Whole Foods Market Gift Cards ($25 each) to giveaway!


To Enter:

1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish. Please leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous.

2. Contest will close on Sunday December 29th, 2013 at 10pm MST. 

3. (2) Winners will be chosen by Random. Org and notified via email.

4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, gift cards will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

5. Open to US residents only. 
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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post and giveaway! Content is purely at my discretion. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Listen To Ben Harper

I pulled my rental turquoise Mini Cooper up to the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara and hopped out to pick up my ticket from will call. I felt so lucky to be inside this sold out show, I had booked my travel arrangements to California before I even had my hands on a ticket in. I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but as I was about to go into the show I stopped. I swiftly turned around and walked back to will call and asked if there were any released tickets. The woman said, actually we do have some released tickets.

"I've got AA dead center. That's front row," she said from behind the mahogany counter pointing at the screen.

Her words may have come out in slow motion or my heart may have been pounding so hard that everything else around me stopped, it took about a millisecond for my brain to say yes, for the endorphins to start rushing, and then finally my mouth caught up with everything that had just overcome my body.

I'll take it.

When I join in the audience of a Ben Harper show, it affects my deeply. The words, the music, the soul that is poured into a show transcends my experience. Seeing Ben Harper live may remind me of a piece of myself I lost or he may be leading me to the person I am becoming. It's more than likely both and why I keep returning for the last 16 years. Sometimes even on a special occasion, I am able to speak with Ben after a show. Each time I am fortunate enough to have a brief moment in his presence, I am reminded of his genuinely humble spirit. Ben has an uncanny ability to just look you directly in the eyes and make you feel like you have his undivided attention (insert weak knees).

My beautiful acoustic evening in Santa Barbara was topped off by a signed poster, a signed setlist, and a photo with Ben. The poster reads, Dear Denise, thank you for the front row love! Ben Harper. I'm the one that can't thank him enough for being such a gift to us. Until the next show...


Here's a playlist of songs I recorded at 3 of the shows I saw. Denver, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles:



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A special mention to Josh, for booking my airplane ticket and hotel room and of course for encouraging me to get away. Swoon. 



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Connecticut Becomes First State To Require GMO Labeling

The citizens of Connecticut had their voices heard yesterday when Governor Malloy signed a bill legislating the labeling of GMO foods (Public Act No. 13-183)! There is a part of me that believed I may never see the day when people won over the powerful corporations that have a strong hold over our government. I am hopeful.

Press release from the Governor's Office