Friday, June 24, 2016

Have a Delicious Weekend!

What have you been cooking lately? Last week, as a little going away dinner for my sister Amy before she took off for summer in Ireland, I made marinated steak kabobs and a salad that I used to make all the time back in Zurich. I love this particular salad so much that I actually had an airline pilot I know bring back some of the secret ingredient herbed vinegar for me when he had a Zurich flight. It is the BEST. I love how with each season, there are different cooking methods and opportunities to cook with different ingredients and produce. I'm loving our grill right now and I bought heirloom tomatoes for a Caprese salad this weekend. Long live summer eats!

In honor of my fixation on food and recipes as of late, all of this week's links are edible - or drinkable! Enjoy. Oh, and I'll be sharing the aforementioned salad with you in full next week. ;)

Bun-less, vegetarian, gluten-free and nutritious! Must try these.

Do you make your own sausage? (Hint: You definitely should!)

That amazing Paris sandwich, explained.

Yogurt sauce, my favorite vegetable and spiced meatball kabobs?! OMG, yes.

Rosé fit for a summer picnic.

I've died and gone to heaven.

The bacon one?! Jeez.

We are obsessed. Trader Joe's brand Brewed Ginger Beer yields the best results. And never add extra vodka. Measure that #@&*!

Altogether too often overlooked.

And, finally, so you can spend more time on the bike, or at the pool, or reading that book in the shade, a guide to creating an efficient mise en place.

I'm so excited that so many of you have signed up for the Swiss Lark 30-Day Clear Out Challenge. The ideas are flowing and it's going to be so good! Can you believe that July is just around the corner?! Our eight year anniversary is coming up. Coco and Theo actually start swimming lessons that very day. How sweet to think how far we've come in eight years. Enjoy your weekend and see you back here Monday!

PS - My Favorite Cucumber Salad, Authentic Creole Rougaille Saussice, and The Perfect Tuna Salad. All great for summer! xo

Thursday, June 23, 2016

30-Day Clear Out Challenge

Today is the two year anniversary of our leaving Zurich. Coco and I had to fly ahead of J because I was so pregnant. That was crazy. But Coco was an amazing traveler and it was one of our easiest flights of all time. I guess she had had a lot of practice by that point!

I don't miss Zurich any less, even after two whole years. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about why life in Zurich was so great anyway. The obvious reasons are obvious: urban lifestyle with no car, abundant opportunity to be outside, accidental exercise every day and no need for a gym membership. Switzerland on the whole is insanely safe and peaceful

But it was more than that. Something I keep coming back to in my mind is that for four years in Zurich, I basically did not bite my nails at all. That is unprecedented in my life! Nothing was perfect, of course, but I felt relaxed in a way that I hadn't - and now don't. So what was different? For months and months and months I was looking to the obvious things as the reasons. Then, somewhere along the way I began to realize that simplicity was the thing I was really missing. When I read this article about the connection between depression, anxiety and clutter, it finally all made sense. It was a seemingly small thing, and something we completely overlooked in our hasty decision to leave, but our lives in Zurich were wonderfully simple.

Simple is not dull; it is not boring. It's the delicious absence of chaos and frenzy. Since returning to the States, it seems that everyone is overworked and stressed out. The basic energy and rhythm of life is frantic. The things that matter like free time and time outdoors and time with the ones you love are scarce, while cheap crap is in great abundance! I thought I missed limitless access to inexpensive things to buy while we were in Zurich. But, in reality, that stuff is the key to feeling burdened and unhappy. We want to feel free and happy!

Consumerism is real: When I really stop and think about it, the biggest difference is the consideration we put into purchases in Switzerland, and don't here in the States. I routinely go to Target for one thing, like toothbrushes or diapers, and walk out with so much more. A lot of it is just junk the kids want, or little gimmicky things that seem great at the time. But they're so cheap, so why not?! In Switzerland, that just did not happen. Everything was so expensive that we didn't buy things unless we needed them. Once we knew what we needed, we shopped around and made a careful decision before making a purchase. Impulse buying was not financially feasible and it turns out that was a great gift! It's easy to feel like we should buy things because we can without feeling it financially. That is a trap!

In an effort to live in the present, I'm trying to recreate the lifestyle we had in Zurich. So far we are doing a good job of it. Our work and schedules allow us to eat dinner together every night and have lots of time together as a family - and, just as importantly, as a couple. We live in a tiny house that urges us to live simply. BUT - we need to have a massive clear out this summer and get serious about being mindful when making purchases. Beyond purchases, we are surrounded by family who give us well-meaning bags of hand-me-down toys and clothing! Unfortunately, we've found ourselves inundated with stuff.

Yesterday, I left our messy house behind and went on a bike ride with J and the kids. We really enjoyed the gorgeous day together. Sailing along on my bike, I thought to myself, 'maybe I can just ignore the clutter and focus on enjoying summer instead?' but then we got home and dinner and bedtime weren't as smooth as they could have been. The mess just makes me crazy. So that is not going to work!

As a solution, I propose a 30-Day Clear Out Challenge! Would you like to join me? Sign up here and I will send you daily tasks to complete each week to transform your home and life in just 30 days. Getting rid of stuff is so liberating and it truly creates so much joy. By doing it together, it will be so much more fun and manageable than trying to tackle it all alone. Go on! Sign up and get ready. We will start in two weeks on July 7th. And tell all your friends! The more, the merrier. It's going to be so great. xo

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Our Worst Habit

Over the weekend, I started going around our house identifying problem areas that need solutions. It seems that no matter how much I clean or tidy, certain things keep bugging me on a day-to-day basis. One such area is our bedroom, or more specifically the clothes on our floor in our bedroom! Both J and I are so tired at the end of the day that we just drop our clothes right where we take them off before falling into bed. In such a small room, it's an instant mess!

Truth be told, we have had this problem for a long time. A few years ago, I thought the solution might be a valet stand. The idea is that instead of throwing your clothes on the floor, you hang them up on a stand. I got this one from IKEA and figured it was a low-risk investment to try out. Once everything was on there, it looked much nicer than a pile on the floor and I was happy.

But, over the coming days, I was startled every time I walked into our bedroom! The valet stand looked like some ominous figure standing in the room and it really freaked me out. I thought I would get over it, but I didn't! The other issue, I discovered, was getting the clothes off of the valet stand. After a week or so, it was piled with clothes. It didn't look much neater than the pile on the floor. It was just raised in the air! Total fail.

The next solution was a large canvas hamper. We got a nice one from The Laundress, but I wouldn't buy it again because it collapses and loses its shape and looks messy. Exactly what we're trying to avoid! So now I'm on the hunt for an attractive and functional hamper. I absolutely love the dotted chambray one above, and you can never go wrong with stripes! Which would you choose? How do you keep your laundry under control?

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Best Tips to Beat Jet Lag

In honor of summer and peak travel season, I'm sharing with you my best tips and tricks for beating jet lag! Quite by accident, when Theo and I went to Zurich last fall, I cracked the jet lag code and it totally worked! If you're traveling with kids, or you're a person who can't sleep on planes, you need a strategy. Here is my step-by-step plan to stop jet lag before it happens!

Skip the coffee

This seems completely obvious, but somehow, I always went straight for the coffee on travel days. Having coffee when you're leaving at 5 am is such an obvious choice because how else are you going to be alive and get through security? But, when Theo and I went to Zurich, we got a Lyft to the airport at 4:40 am and I didn't leave myself enough time to get him ready and shower and make coffee, so the coffee wound up being skipped. When I got to the airport, the lines for security were longer than we had expected and I couldn't get coffee then! Finally, on the flight to Denver, they were out of coffee or something. I can't remember what it was exactly, but I couldn't have coffee then either. Then it dawned on me. It was already late afternoon/evening in Switzerland. I realized I shouldn't be having coffee just then. So I didn't. And I got the most massive headache of all time. So, whether your flight leaves at 5 am or 4 pm, skip the coffee on your travel day and bring several doses of Advil with you!

Set your watch ahead

If you wear a watch, switch it to local time at your destination. If you don't wear a watch (I don't!), then just start thinking on local time or add your destination city to your world clock. It does help to be thinking about which part of the day's rhythm you should be on at each transition.

Stay hydrated

Throughout your journey, make sure you eat well and drink tons and tons and tons of water! It also helps to have a revitalizing hydration mist to keep your skin supple and to avoid that shriveling up feeling. Dehydration makes fatigue worse, so I aim for 3 liters over the course of 24 hours.

Get some rest

If you can sleep on the plane, go ahead and have a nap or a sleep whenever the mood strikes you. If you have no one to care for in flight and you can take a sleeping pill or similar, and that's what you like to do, go for it! I would recommend doing that after dinner on your transatlantic red eye, keeping local time at your destination in mind for a big sleep like that. The idea is not to avoid sleep and stay up until bedtime at your destination the day of your arrival. That's just crazy. You want to rest at times that aren't at odds with local time at your destination.

Bring back the coffee

Most flights to Europe from the US are red eyes. The overwhelming majority. Typically, breakfast is served right before you begin your descent. Drink as much coffee as you want at that breakfast because it is morning and breakfast time at your destination! That coffee will get you through customs, baggage claim and transport to your hotel or accommodation.

Drink more coffee and then take a nap

So, when you arrive at your hotel or accommodation, take a shower, drink a big glass of water, and then drink as much coffee as you would normally drink on a normal morning at home. You can factor in, or ignore, the coffee you had on the plane at breakfast, depending on how tired you are and how much sleep you got on the plane. When Theo and I went to Zurich last fall, I didn't sleep a ton on the plane and I had one cup of coffee at breakfast on the plane. So, when we got to my friends' apartment, I had two big mugs of coffee! YUM. :)

Apparently, Japanese businessmen take "caffeine naps" in which they drink an espresso and then go to sleep for 20 or 30 minutes. When they wake up, the caffeine is kicking in and the nap has revived them, so they're doubly ready to go having the effects of both the coffee and the nap kick in simultaneously. Smart, right?

Set an alarm for 1 1/2 hours, or one sleep cycle for this nap. You'll wake up feeling pretty refreshed and good.

Get outside

Now it's time to get outside! If it's sunny, perfect. Get sun on your face, walk, move, breathe fresh air and reset your circadian rhythm. If it's not sunny, do all the same stuff anyway. Getting outside is key!

Stay awake until bedtime

Don't sleep again until it's bedtime. For the little people, make sure that all baby or toddler naps are over by 2 or 3 pm. Chances are with the nap you had after your arrival, children will be doing okay. In my experience, they sleep like little champs on the plane. Go to bed nice and early if you're really tired, but try to make it at least until 9 pm.

Spend time with people who are on local time

One pitfall is spending time with other jet lagged people in those first few days. Obviously, when you're traveling, your travel mates are also jet lagged and they're the only people you're spending time with if you don't know anyone else! But, go out to a restaurant for dinner, or go out walking after dinner to reinforce the local rhythms with your biological clock. The city will naturally go from day to night, shops will close, the sun will set, restaurants will close. On the other hand, if you stay in and none of you is tired and you've got the lights on and you're playing cards or chatting away, you'll look up and see that it's 1 am and be totally shocked because it doesn't feel like it's 1 am. Watch the clock, participate in local rhythms and go to bed on time.

Set your alarm for the following day

If you do the whole sleeping pill thing and you're going to bed at least 8 hours from when you want to wake up, take one! If you tend to wake too early, bring along some Melatonin (not always available in Europe, FYI) and take one in order to get back to sleep in the wee hours. Then, set your alarm for the next morning and get up and drink tons of coffee! Throughout those crucial first few days, limit naps to 20 minutes in order to avoid REM sleep and eat at the appropriate times. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. If you manage to make it through the first few days, you should be out of the woods. Hooray!

Do you suffer terrible jet lag? What has worked for you? If you're a non coffee drinker, what other tips would you share with your fellow weirdos, non coffee drinkers? ;) Leave your tips in the comments below!

PS - In case you missed it, my awesome Zurich Summer Travel Guide. Also, How To Pack Light When Traveling With A Baby. Plus Travel Tips For International Flights With Kids. And, Tips & Tricks: Road Trips With Kids. xo

(Photo from a stopover in Toronto on the way home to Zurich in 2013)

Friday, June 17, 2016

An Ode to J for Father's Day

What are you up to for Father's Day? We are going to a big backyard party at my sister Amy's house. She and her husband are leaving to Ireland for five weeks at the end of the month, so it's a combination Father's Day, Going Away and Grad party for Coco and Theo's cousin Henry. We can't wait. Everyone we know is following our lead on the romantic patio lights and it's such a game changer. Can't wait to drink a Moscow Mule or two, celebrate what an awesome dad J is, and usher in summer. Happy Father's Day, J! We think you're the bee's knees. xo

And here is what caught my eye around the web this week:

Bwahahaha! (I totally get this.)

Does suburbia crush your soul like it does mine?

This might be the best news of all time.

Italian beach rules.

How often do you shower?

The exact wine every new mom needs.

Micro apartments are more than small.


A good screen time reminder as summer begins.

Spokane Summer Parkways is on Tuesday. We are so ready and excited!

And, I think I need this essential for my bike. ;)

I hope your weekend is wonderful, with gorgeous weather and good company. See you back here Monday!

(Italian beach rules via Mom in Zurich

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Zurich Summer Guide

Last week, a reader wrote to me to say that Swiss Lark had inspired her and her husband to visit Zurich this summer! Naturally, I was thrilled. She was looking for tips, so I offered to put together this post for her. Gathering all these photos and ideas made me remember all the many reasons I love Zurich in the summer! When the weather cooperates, it's pretty tough to beat. All my favorites and must-sees, straight ahead!

Sick Day

Oh my. Yesterday, I was completely knocked down by a 24-hour stomach bug. I spent the entire day in pain on the couch. It was miserable. Luckily by nighttime, I was able to eat a little bit and this magical tonic saved me. It seems like a miracle that I'm feeling pretty okay and back to normal today!

Right now we are off to Coco's last-day-of-school picnic, but I have a super exciting Zurich Summer Travel Guide coming up for you this afternoon. Stay tuned for that, and if you're not already signed up, you can get email alerts when I post! Just put your email in the little box on the right. Okey-doke?

This Zurich post has me feeling seriously nostalgic. I think you're going to love it. See you soon!

(Photo of me and Coco at Donut Parade on National Donut Day by J).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Do You Cook With Your Kids?

I've written about children making their own food, getting children involved with chores from a young age, and I am absolutely adamant about making one meal for everyone, but I have a confession to make.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Two Duvets

One of the customs we adopted and brought back with us to the US from Switzerland is using two duvets instead of one. Initially, we thought it was a pretty hokey idea, but after just one night, we were hooked. Why, you ask? Because it means no more fighting over the covers, or waking up freezing cold in the middle of the night. It makes the entire bedding situation more streamlined and customizable. 

Using two duvets instead of one is something that people ask me about all the time, so I thought I would give you the full run down of the logistics. Who knows, maybe you'll give it a try, too?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Happy Weekend!

Oh, you guys. Alt Summit 2017 registration opened yesterday and sold out in less than 24 hours! My roommate Rachel and I are going again, we are sharing a room together again, and we can't wait. Instead of freezing cold Salt Lake City in the winter, Alt has moved and it's going to be in Palm Springs. I understand that for the desert people, it's cold in Palm Springs at the end of January. But for people in Spokane, it's not cold. Give me 65 degrees and sun and I'll be lounging by that pool. Hurrah! It's hard to believe it's already been nearly 6 months since Alt 2016. Alt 2017 will be here before we know it!

This weekend is going to be crazy! We have multiple grad and birthday parties to attend and the heat wave is officially over. It is cold and wet and dark out there, folks. Not so great for parties, but my pots are loving it! ;)

Here is a bit of what caught my eye around the web this week:

Now you can make Pavlova for vegans!

How to think like a genius.

Passion is overrated: "Consider your first job as an opportunity to begin an unpredictable, inefficient trial-and-error process."

So excited for this to arrive!

Does this food quiz correctly guess your age? (Mine was way off!)

Theo is so fair. I think he'll be spending the summer in these. And, definitely going to snag these while they're on sale!

Visible mending as an art form. So creative!

Good enough is good enough.

The perfect conditions under which to reinvent oneself.

A friend of mine is documenting her five week long mother-daughter trip through Europe on Instagram.

I hope your weekend is tip top! See you back here Monday. xo

(Photo via Alt Summit)

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