…in pursuit of what makes life good.

Follow Friday: Food Lovers


From left to right, top to bottom: @localhaven, @annawatsoncarl, @whatforbreakfast, @evakosmasflores

From left to right, top to bottom: @localhaven, @annawatsoncarl, @whatforbreakfast, @evakosmasflores

It’s been a few weeks since I have shared a Follow Friday post. Since the temperatures are finally starting to drop here in California, I have been in cozy mode, which means I am craving all things hearty and warm. With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, my Instagram feed has been flooded with beautiful food images. It’s such an inspiration to me to see people’s creations from scratch. Food photography is one of my favorite genres, so it was hard to narrow it down to just four. I’m sure there will be a follow up post again soon.







Barley, Kale, & Mushroom Soup



I just got back from a trip to Portland. It was freezing cold while I was there, and I loved it! It even snowed one day. Living in California, I was getting a little tired of the 70° weather. I know it sounds like a weird complaint, but I’m so nostalgic for seasons. Fall is the prettiest time of year; all the vivid colored leaves, cozy evenings knitting, and hot cups of coffee. I am so grateful that I got to experience a little bit of fall weather while I was there.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for one of my favorite soups at this time of year and I couldn’t think of a better time. I could live on soup when the temperatures drop. This one is so simple, hearty and delicious. I use kale, barley, and crimini mushrooms but the ingredients can easily be swapped out. If you want to make a gluten free soup, brown rice would be a nice substitute, just adjust cooking time accordingly. Chard and oyster mushrooms would be delicious.


3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 sprigs of thyme
2 cups of crimini mushroom
1/4 cup barley
2 handfuls of chopped kale stems removed
5-8 cups of chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

1. Chop garlic, shallot, and mushrooms.
2. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil.
3. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté until translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté until just browning. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt and pepper.
4. Add barley to brown slightly before adding the stock.
5. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
6. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the barley is tender (at least 35-45 mins.)
7. Stir in the kale for the last ten minutes of cooking.
8. Taste and adjust seasoning.


I like eating this with garlic toast. Just simply rub a garlic clove on toast with some olive oil. I always dip my toast in the broth. Do you dip? Some people are dippers, some aren’t.

What are your favorite recipes for this season?

Book Club: What I Had Before I Had You


Guest Post by Megan Magers


What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell challenged me emotionally in ways I didn’t expect. This story isn’t just an ode to mental illness and all the ways it effects and destroys individuals and their relationships, but also a declaration of love to the recklessness of youth and the confusion and instability that comes with trying to be a responsible, selfless adult, that comes with being human. I found myself wholly engrossed, questioning the expectations we place on others and ourselves as a society and independently and what it means to relate to both the sickness and the solidity described so eloquently and uniquely throughout these pages.

The juxtaposition of being both defined and defeated by the past, rocked by the waves of constantly being disappointed and being a disappointment, clenched and cracked my heart open until it fractured in a way that awakened me to this idea of forgiving without being forgiven, rebelling against and craving a world that both revolves and repeatedly explodes around us and our best and worst intentions. I reveled in the delicacy of the betweenness of things, how distorted and unstable the circumstances were, how high the stakes seemed. And, by the end, it felt almost therapeutic to be wrapped in such a warped sense of reality, to be broken and rebuilt, hurt and healed and, ultimately, lost and found again.

1. The main characters suffer from bipolar disorder (Myla, Olivia, Daniel), and those that don’t seem to suffer from the one’s that do, but there’s a difference between asking for and accepting help from others and the people close to us can sometimes step in too soon, or fail to step in at all. What do you think about the ways mental illness was “handled” here? Do you think it’s fair or at least understandable for Myla to refuse her medicine or for Sam to dismiss Daniel’s episodes entirely, etc?
2. Blame is also a big theme throughout in terms of leaving without saying goodbye, divorce, lost chances, temptations, etc. Who did you find yourself blaming? Why?
3. Olivia’s character changed and grew the most, what parts of her journey mirror your own so far, if any?
4. Did you relate more to the uncertainty or the durability these characters experienced? For instance, did you root for the idea of exploring and accepting the unknown or find yourself clinging to the makeshift sense of stability certain moments possessed?
5. Which side of the story did you appreciate and express interest in more? Olivia’s past in search of herself or her present search for Daniel? Did you think the switching back and forth worked?
6. There’s multiple secondary characters here that seem to hold such significant roles in the trajectory of Olivia’s life—Jake, Pam, Tom, James—do you agree with Olivia’s treatment of them and the way she views their roles in relation to her? Or should she have given them more?
7. The imagery here really spoke to me as both a writer and reader. What were some of your favorite lines, passages or scenes? Did this book change you, your mind or the way you see certain aspects of life, of illness?
8. Did you like the ending? What do you think happens next for Olivia and her family?

And for the next book, we are reading Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little.

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