Everyday Inspirations

This week we have had horrible, frozen, icky, wet weather in Salt Lake City. That amid other stress of this week, I have been in need of taking a little trip to my happy place. My happy place is on this warm, sandy beach where there is no work, no cell phone, no technology (which is really how it was when I was there). Oh, and did I mention it's happy hour?

Lately I have had a craving for shrimp scampi. It's such a light, fresh, irresistible dish. There were a few nights last week where I made quick pasta dinners with ingredients I had hanging around the house. The pasta was good, but both nights I had wished for shrimp to add to it. It's such an easy way to transform a meal from "good" to "amazing".

This craving for shrimp scampi can be traced back couple months ago to when Dan and I went to the grocery store to find dinner. It was a Sunday and neither of us felt like cooking, so we were wandering the aisles looking for inspiration. In the frozen food section we found those complete Italian meals and decided to just get one and call it a day. However, something in me snapped when I saw the pasta with shrimp.

"We could make that," I said. "We could make shrimp scampi. It would be so easy ... and taste a lot better."

Out came the cell (I mean, seriously, how did we live without smart phones?). Thanks to my trusty friend Tyler Florence, we quickly found an "ultimate" recipe, grabbed the ingredients, and were off to make our own home-cooked meal.

As always, we had a blast in the kitchen. The ingredients were so beautiful (I can't resist the bright yellow of the lemon or the green of the parsley) and the kitchen quickly began to smell like garlic and shallots. We were drooling the entire time. That, of course, is the sign you're about to have a memorable meal.

What I love most about this version of shrimp scampi is the pinch of red pepper flakes. Even if you don't really like heat in your dish, I recommend you add it. It provided just the right amount of spice, taking the pasta to a new level of delicious.
Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present.
I am a planner. I always have an agenda, itinerary or list. Sometimes it's hard to stop and live in the moment because I want to be one step ahead of myself. People like me may exist in the present but we don't always appreciate reality because we are already planning for what is next. We get so caught up in what we are going to do with our lives that we forget to enjoy today.

If there is anything I have learned from my husband (and there are many things) it is the importance of living in the now. To be successful it is often important to plan, but sometimes you need to just be. Take a moment to just exist—a moment to appreciate what you have. Take a moment to applaud your successes without worrying about what is next. Otherwise, time will fly by and you will have amazing experiences you can't remember. Choose a moment and live in it. 

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why they call it the present."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Ever since I was a kid I have loved books. I've definitely drooled over Kindles and Nooks, but there is something so comforting about having a real book in my hand. I love collecting and revisiting them, snuggling up with the perfect story on a quiet evening. My shelves are filled with novels that hold tales of characters I know as well as any friend, stories from my childhood and even texts from meaningful classes.

My books are proudly displayed as part of my decor. Alongside them, you'll find photographs, awards and mementos. The space where my books live provides inspiration and will always be a special part of my home. (And oh, how I adore houses with built-in bookcases! You better believe I will have one of those.)
This weekend I took a big pile of winter scarves out of my closet and into a box in storage. Now there is so much more room to appreciate my lightweight, flowy spring scarves. My mom recently came back from New York with this beautiful white pashmina for me. I love its subtle sheen and paisley design. What is great about spring scarves? They keep you just the right amount of warm in temperamental spring weather. You can don one wearing sunglasses with the window rolled down or wrap it around you on a cold, rainy day when you are adamant not to put that black turtleneck back on until fall. I can guarantee I will be wearing it this week to help me deny the snow we may be seeing. Happy spring!


This weekend Dan and I took a trip to Zion National Park in southern Utah. I definitely recommend it. While the weather was absolutely glorious, it was still just chilly enough that I kept pretty covered up. When I had on capris, though, I saw how white my skin is. Oh boy.

I've made peace with the fact that I'm a white girl. I don't tan and that's fine with me. However, I do still want to avoid frightening the people hanging out with me next to a pool. The best option? A fake tan. It should be your go-to option too, even if you can tan. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation's web site, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases in two million people are diagnosed annually. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, and up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. Yikes.

Today's market offers a lot of products that will give you the tan you desire without hours of being outdoors (or in a tanning bed), or that icky orange glow. Every person has different needs and it's best to experiment to find what you like best. Some of your options include:
  • Gels, creams, lotions or foams: These are the most common at-home products you can use for a tan. There are pros and cons to each, but the best part is that you can control the product. I really like the lotions that "build up" a tan over a few days. It's easy to see how much you like the color. (Tip: Only buy products based on your actual skin tone, not what you want your skin to look like. Meaning if you're pale like me, go with the "light" shade instead of "medium" or "dark.")
  • Spray tans: Spray tans usually last longer than lotions or creams. Most people get a spray tan at a salon, where a professional will apply an all-over shade. 
  • Bronzers: You can get a glow with a simple bronzer powder as well. Bronzer is a great option when you need to add more color quickly.
And remember to ALWAYS wear your SPF. Yes, even over your cute, new (fake) tan.
mama bird
There's something about nesting mothers that makes it feel a little more like spring (that and the incredible weather we're having here in Salt Lake). Looks like this birdie is prepping her nest for her very own Mother's Day celebration. Reminder, Mother's Day is coming up May 9th. Your mom probably didn't build your crib out of carefully selected twigs and shrubbery, but I'm sure she made a lot of sacrifices to mold you into the upstanding person you are. Think of something special to do for her this year. Or if she's like my mom, she's already sent you hints. 
Raindrops on grass

This morning I woke up to rain. Today, water droplets are clinging to grass shoots, tree leaves and window panes. There is a chill in the spring air, and everywhere I look I see lovely shades of green and gray.

You'll have to pardon me as I get sentimental for a moment. I just can't help it.

Walking outside, I realized how deeply I love this home we share. I love the diversity of nature's gifts and the changes brought by each new season. I love the colors and shapes and textures. I love that I'm alive and able to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

A few years ago, a family I adore shared a quote that was treasured by their grandfather, who was a very special, amazing man. When I heard it, I knew I would remember it forever. It spoke to me in a way I had never experienced before. I was young, and for one of the first times in my life I had been given a simple, beautiful verse that accurately describes the joy and pain of living.

It is with love that I share it with you all.

"I am in love with this world. I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings." (John Burroughs)
Happy Earth Day! Today marks the 40th anniversary of people uniting to save our planet. We all know how we can help—recycling, driving fuel efficient vehicles, turning off the lights, turning off the water, supporting green businesses, utilizing paperless billing and online bill pay, buying energy efficient appliances, using renewable energy—the list goes on. I highly encourage you to make a change, as each of us doing something small can make a big difference. But today I want to focus on something different—the food we eat.

Modern industrial agriculture damages our planet more than emissions from automobiles. Overused pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics pollute our air, water, and soil. Then there is the transportation and packaging. The corn and wheat in your hamburger bun might be locally grown but manufactured in another country, then shipped back to the U.S. That bun may not cost much monetarily, but it leaves a lasting impression on our world. Many of our food products are individually packaged, which not only wastes resources and creates trash, but also pollutes our air.

Now I don't expect you to completely change the food you eat. Just try to keep this in mind this when you're shopping. Choose the locally grown tomatoes even if they are $0.10 more per pound. Try planting your own garden. Perhaps do a little research on restaurants in your area that choose greener agriculture and livestock. These are the little ways we can relieve the stress on planet.
Cherry blossoms, sunset
We're surrounded by beauty every day. Take time to notice it.

Too often I think it's easy for us to not chase after the things we want because of the excuses we make. I don't have enough money. I haven't accomplished something else first. I'm afraid of failing.

We all do it. It's scary to take the steps necessary to make our dreams reality. But what if we don't take those steps? Then what happens?

Today, think of one small thing you want to change about your life. For me, it's to become a better cook. I want to get comfortable experimenting with different ingredients and not rely on a recipe every day. My excuses for not doing this already? I don't have enough time. I don't have enough experience. Cooking with the very best ingredients costs too much. Yada yada yada. No more.

Now... make the change.

Once you get comfortable with that change, make another. Then another. Sound easy? It is, but you can't try to take on everything at once. Don't overwhelm yourself looking for the dream life today. Take baby steps toward it. Believe in yourself. And remember that happiness is a journey, not a destination. Sure, maybe I'm not the perfect chef yet. But does that make tonight's dinner taste any less delicious? Am I any less happy with myself because I haven't yet mastered a dish?

Make the change and love your life. I'm here to listen, if you need someone.