Tag Archives: Kate McClafferty

room

23 Oct

I saw “Room” the other night and I have not been able to stop thinking about the film since. It had such a profound affect on me. The movie is based on Emma Donoghue’s best-selling book by the same name. It’s a story of a young woman imprisoned for years in a single room in a tiny shed and the young son who was born to her there and knows no other world. I know…why would you want to see a film that sounds so incredibly depressing, right? Parts of the film were definitely difficult to watch. But the movie is less about the horror of the situation and more about the power of love- especially a mothers love for her child. I don’t want to give too much more away because the film takes so many beautiful twists and turns.

It’s honestly a must see.

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currently…

19 Oct

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looking forward to…

Carving a scary pumpkin with Brian, dressing Frank in his taco costume and parading him around town on Halloween, eating copious amounts of candy on Halloween, celebrating our wedding anniversary on November 9th (we’re turning two!), celebrating thanksgiving with our families (we are joining them all together for the first time), the holidays in general, getting a christmas tree (every year we name our tree Bert and this year it will be Bert IV), a quiet December with more time for creative projects, finishing some projects around the house, my upcoming trip to Kansas City to visit my step father Irv and to Atlanta to visit my girlfriend Chantal and her sweet family.

reading…

Oy. I got so many books going right now. My goal to read all these (& these) books by the end of the year has turned me into a reading machine (it has also set me up for failure. I still have so many to read!). I plan on putting together a book review post at some point. “At some point”- famous last words. Anyway, I read and LOVED “Everything I Never Told You”- I devoured it in three days. Then I moved onto “Luckiest Girl Alive” for one of my book clubs- still haven’t finished it. Can’t seem to get into it. What am I missing here? I think I still plan on finishing it. Maybe? It’s sits next to my bed waiting for me to pick it back up. In the meantime I’ve moved onto “Big Magic” and so far I am loving it. It’s all about living an inspired and creative life and I’m down for that.

watching…

So much tv- it’s embarrassing. I wish there weren’t so many shows that we liked. On Sundays we watch “Homeland” & “The Walking Dead”…on Monday we (or maybe I should say I)  watch the new sitcom “Life In Pieces” (have you seen it? I’m not one to laugh out loud when watching television but this show gets me every single time. The first episode literally had me crying)…on Tuesdays I got nothing (I usually catch up on my reading that night)…on Wednesdays we watch “American Horror Story”…on Thursdays we (ok, I force Brian to watch with me. It’s what marriage is all about, right?) watch “Grey’s Anatomy” (yes, some people still do. I can’t give up now, I’ve been watching it for twelve years at this point), “Scandal” & “How To Get Away With Murder”. Oh and then you have netflix…I am obsessed with “The Affair’ right now. We are six episodes into the first season and love it. Oh and lastly, we watched “Amy Schumer: live at the Apollo” on HBO last night. HAAAA. I love that women. So many inappropriate jokes but so funny.

you know what I’m not watching…

“The Leftovers”- I keep trying to watch it but I don’t think I’m smart enough. But really…is anyone smart enough? What is this show even about?? It frustrates me to no end.

practicing…

mindfulness in all things I do…from making the bed…to taking Frank on his morning walks…to spending time with the people I love.

loving…

My girlfriends. This is a constant feeling for me, but lately I’ve just been so in awe of the females in my life. Each relationship adds so much joy to my life and I can feel their support at all times. The tiny hints of fall in the air in Los Angeles, movie dates with my mom and brother (it takes me back to childhood. we have some good laughs), evening walks with Frank and Brian, flannel shirts,  avocados, pictures of my fiends babies (so many cute kids!), going to bed at ten (ok, 9:30) every night (I like my sleep) and my husband…I’m always loving my husband.

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What are you guys currently up to?

 

 

meditation update

13 Oct

 

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In an attempt to meditate more frequently I signed up for a month-long membership at Unplug Meditation. It’s a guided meditation studio in Los Angeles that offers 30 and 45 minute group meditation sessions. They range from mantras to crystal healing classes. While I would like to get to a point where I am meditating by myself at home, I thought a group atmosphere and guided practice might jumpstart my practice again. I was right. This place is a little oasis and it makes meditation easy. It’s a calm atmosphere with soft light and candles. They offer cushions that fold into little chairs on the ground- you can keep them flat if you want to lie down or fold it to give you support when you sit. These cushions are pure gold- I’ve found that if I am not physically comfortable during my practice then my mind never stills. Instead I’m focused on the fact that my foot is falling asleep and my back is aching.

I’ve taken a range of classes at Unplug led by a different people and found that each teacher brings a whole new energy to the practice. One guided meditation that I absolutely loved (it may sound a little strange) the teacher led us back to the days of our ancestors- we weren’t told how far to go back so I decided to visualize 100 years or so back. I found myself standing by myself on a hilltop in Ireland…different shades of green as far as the eye could see…I could literally feel the wind in my face and hear the waves crashing on the rocks below. It was so incredibly powerful. I felt tethered to all that came before me. It was interesting letting my mind explore the new world- I wandered villages, watched people work, children play & animals wander.

When I left class that morning my perspective had shifted from what I could only see and touch in front of me to a vast and endless world beyond…past, present & future. It’s truly amazing where your mind can take you.

My visualization looked much like these photos…

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Slea Head - County Kerry Ireland

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My membership ends at the studio soon (after the month-long new student deal it’s pretty pricy to continue- major bummer!) so I will have to develop a space in my home that inspires me to calmly want to sit for long periods of time. Preferably one that Frank can’t bring his tennis ball into.

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For any of you interested in meditation here are some tips that have worked for me.

meditating in the morning before the day begins. I find my head space is clearer at this time

setting a timer for a desired amount of time so my focus can be on my practice and not the clock

stretching my body before so I feel less restless and more open

putting on light music or an online guided meditation (these free guided meditations are great)

focusing on my breath to anchor in the present moment

lastly, when unwanted thoughts appear I gently let them go by returning my focus to my breath. Don’t try to stop your thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave.

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“Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness. It enlarges the container, every time you transcend. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.”
David Lynch

 

my little taco…

12 Oct

 

frank halloween

Big news- I’ve purchased Franks Halloween costume. I wasn’t even thinking about his costume yet but then I saw it hanging on a rack at Petco and I knew it was the one. I was praying it would fit his funny little cinderblock body. Luckily, it fit perfectly. I’m not sure Frank enjoys it but I certainly do….and that’s all that matters, right? He’s smart enough to know that if he complies with my wishes there’s really tasty treats in his future.

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Sunday night dinner

29 Sep

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As I mentioned in a previous post I want to get back into kitchen this fall. We fell into a bad habit this summer of eating out or every single night. Seriously…every single night. We had four restaurants in our neighborhood on rotation…Thai, Mexican, Greek & Italian. I knew it had gone too far when the lovely lady who works at the Thai restaurant down the street knew my name and order without any direction- I guess it’s my fault for ordering spicy eggplant with chicken every single time.

Originally I wanted to make a savory fall recipe in the slow cooker this Sunday but the weather in Los Angeles has been SO hot (over it) and it just didn’t seem fitting. I would’ve had to draw all the curtains and blast the AC to make it feel cozy and fall like in our place.  So I switched gears and settled on a lighter chicken dish instead- roasted chicken with potatoes, arugula and garlic yogurt.

I forgot how much I love cooking on a lazy Sunday. The light is always so pretty that time of day in our home. We put on music…Brian cracks a cold beer and chats with me as I chop (he’s also kind enough to document the cooking session for my blog- thanks love!)…Frank plays with his toys by my feet.

It’s one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.

The dish was an absolute success- such an interesting mix of flavors with the sriracha, cumin & garlic yogurt!

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Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt. 

ingredients-

1 1/2 pounds chicken things and drumsticks

1 1/4 pounds of small Yukon gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

2 tablespoons of sriracha

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

4 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white and green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 cup of plain yogurt (do not use greek)

1 garlic clove

2 ounces of baby arugula

chopped fresh dill

lemon juice

directions-

  • combine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together sriracha, cumin and 3 tablespoons of oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  • meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil.
  • heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden, 30 minutes longer,
  • While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, spoon yogurt over chicken and vegetables. Scatter arugula and dill over mixture. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice and serve.

celebrating my momma’s bday…

28 Sep

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My momma’s birthday always feels like the kick-off for the upcoming celebratory season. Her birthday, September 24th falls the day after the first day of fall- my absolute favorite time of year. Even though it’s usually still unbearably hot in Los Angeles on her birthday I am in full fall mode.

Her lovely friends Mary & Francesca hosted a casual dinner for fourteen of us to celebrate her birthday. I am a fan of celebrating my mom because she is hands down one of my favorite people to walk the earth. She’s full of so much joy, love and laughter. She’s the kind of person you want to be stuck in a room with for hours. She’s just fun.

We feasted on a Moroccan chicken dish, roasted veggies, an arugula salad & a fruit salad while sitting outside in the garden. After dinner we moved into the living room to eat dessert (the most delectable bread pudding I have ever tasted) while watching her open gifts.

It was the kind of evening that left me heart feeling full.

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Momma.

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fall / winter booklist part 2

21 Sep

Happy Monday!

Here is part 2 of my fall/winter desired reading list. I realize it’s a strange mix of books! Everything from the history of Alice In Wonderland to a book about the human brain and it’s powers- I like to keep it varied.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

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Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.

It is the rise from falling that Brown takes as her subject in Rising Strong. As a grounded theory researcher, Brown has listened as a range of people—from leaders in Fortune 500 companies and the military to artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers, and parents—shared their stories of being brave, falling, and getting back up. She asked herself, What do these people with strong and loving relationships, leaders nurturing creativity, artists pushing innovation, and clergy walking with people through faith and mystery have in common? The answer was clear: They recognize the power of emotion and they’re not afraid to lean in to discomfort.

Walking into our stories of hurt can feel dangerous. But the process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process, Brown writes, that teaches us the most about who we are.

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

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In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan

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Mutant Message Down Under is the fictional account of an American woman’s spiritual odyssey through outback Australia. An underground bestseller in its original self-published edition, Marlo Morgan’s powerful tale of challenge and endurance has a message for us all.

Summoned by a remote tribe of nomadic Aborigines to accompany them on walkabout, the woman makes a four-month-long journey and learns how they thrive in natural harmony with the plants and animals that exist in the rugged lands of Australia’s bush. From the first day of her adventure, Morgan is challenged by the physical requirements of the journey—she faces daily tests of her endurance, challenges that ultimately contribute to her personal transformation.

By traveling with this extraordinary community, Morgan becomes a witness to their essential way of being in a world based on the ancient wisdom and philosophy of a culture that is more than 50,000 years old.

Get In Trouble Stories by Kelly Link

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She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction” and by Neil Gaiman as “a national treasure.” Now Kelly Link’s eagerly awaited new collection—her first for adult readers in a decade—proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.

Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The nine exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids . . . These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty—and the hidden strengths—of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Adventures For Your Soul by Shannon Kaiser

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Sometimes the one thing you need to make a change is to see things from a fresh perspective. Discover twenty-one innovative emotional explorations to boldly confront the habits that are holding you back in this breakthrough guide that provides the tools you need to fearlessly embrace your innermost desires.

Drawing from her own transformational experiences, Shannon Kaiser’s program utilizes an empowering process that encourages you to go on adventures for your soul so you can:

• Achieve your goals
• Remove limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging patterns
• Feel freedom from fear and live with purpose and passion
• Be unapologetic about your innermost desires
• And make happiness your natural way of life

By focusing on how your life feels instead of how it looks on the outside, you can passionately experience your own life adventures. By changing the way you see yourself, you can ultimately live life to the fullest.

The Story Of Alice by Robert Douglas- Fairhurst

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Following his acclaimed life of Dickens, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst illuminates the tangled history of two lives and two books. Drawing on numerous unpublished sources, he examines in detail the peculiar friendship between the Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell, the child for whom he invented the Alice stories, and analyzes how this relationship stirred Carroll’s imagination and influenced the creation of Wonderland. It also explains why Alice in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871), took on an unstoppable cultural momentum in the Victorian era and why, a century and a half later, they continue to enthrall and delight readers of all ages.

The Story of Alice reveals Carroll as both an innovator and a stodgy traditionalist, entrenched in habits and routines. He had a keen double interest in keeping things moving and keeping them just as they are. (In Looking-Glass Land, Alice must run faster and faster just to stay in one place.) Tracing the development of the Alice books from their inception in 1862 to Liddell’s death in 1934, Douglas-Fairhurst also provides a keyhole through which to observe a larger, shifting cultural landscape: the birth of photography, changing definitions of childhood, murky questions about sex and sexuality, and the relationship between Carroll’s books and other works of Victorian literature.

In the stormy transition from the Victorian to the modern era, Douglas-Fairhurst shows, Wonderland became a sheltered world apart, where the line between the actual and the possible was continually blurred.

You Are The Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza

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Is it possible to heal by thought alone—without drugs or surgery? The truth is that it happens more often than you might expect. In You Are the Placebo,Dr. Joe Dispenza shares numerous documented cases of those who reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even the tremors of Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo. Similarly, Dr. Joe tells of how others have gotten sick and even died the victims of a hex or voodoo curse—or after being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness. Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies to try to exclude the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs.

Dr. Joe does more than simply explore the history and the physiology of the placebo effect. He asks the question: “Is it possible to teach the principles of the placebo, and without relying on any external substance, produce the same internal changes in a person’s health and ultimately in his or her life?” Then he shares scientific evidence (including color brain scans) of amazing healings from his workshops, in which participants learn his model of personal transformation, based on practical applications of the so-called placebo effect. The book ends with a “how-to” meditation for changing beliefs and perceptions that hold us back—the first step in healing.

You Are the Placebo combines the latest research in neuroscience, biology, psychology, hypnosis, behavioral conditioning, and quantum physics to demystify the workings of the placebo effect . . . and show how the seemingly impossible can become possible.

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