Dream House

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I have radically shifted from wanting to live in the creative hustle of a city like San Francisco or Brooklyn to craving a slow life set in a somewhat janky handmade house nestled in nature. So when I came across this book, Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Freindly Home Design, on the 700 shelf at the library this weekend I became completely hypnotized by the fantasy. (Which totally includes a shirtless Jeremy in bellbottoms holding a happy nekkid baby.) I don’t have a library card of my own, so I had my mom check it out for me – since then I’ve been thumbing through the pages, overwhelmed by want.

As Jeremy and I continue to grow our lives together the fuzzy possibility of one day building our very own dream house starts to come in focus. But sometimes that dream house looks like a cobblestone hut in the Himalayas. Other times it looks like a bungalow on stilts with a view of a sunset over the ocean. And sometimes it looks like an Airstream hitched on the back of a Land Rover. But when I’m feeling especially grateful, it looks like the very place I am right now.

Station Wagons and Other Dreamings

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I’m getting to that age. You know. The age my mom was when she had me. And Jeremy just turned 35, which is the age my dad was when I was born. And then I found these photos of my dad, younger than I am now, posted on Facebook (that’s him impersonating a vulture in the middle – and he’s on the far left in the other two).

I know my mom and dad once existed without me in the picture but it’s still a shock to the system… to see proof of a time before Kathleen but at the same time know that even then I’ve always been safely tucked away deep inside them. When they were smoking weed with Janis Joplin (yeah, I just outed you on the internet, Mom) or hosing down the evidence of too much tequila out of the back of a VW bug at a car wash… I was there too. Just waiting to join the adventure. To carry on where they left off.

I can’t help but wonder if Jeremy and I have got a free spirited wild child (or a total math & science nerd) tucked away somewhere deep inside us… ready to join the adventure.

I can’t wrap my head around what it would feel like to have a kiddo of our own. So I have to materialize that ambiguity and unknown with dreamings of station wagons, soft white onesies and family road trips and all the places the adventure will take us.

I’m A Lovely Lady!

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Emma Dime had me over on her blog as a Lovely Lady. Check it out here. This photo was an outtake from the shoot – we have this cat in our neighborhood that we call Orange Cat but it turns out his name is actually Blue. We like to watch him from our breakfast nook – some days he’s chilling on the driveway in the sun, other days he’s being attacked by blue jays or chased up trees by big scary dogs.

Orange cat and lovely lady-ing aside, I also thought I’d share a little more here on having a limited wardrobe. Here are a few keys and tips for rocking a minimalist closet:
• Signature / Statement Pieces – for me right now it’s my Blockshop scarf. It’s always on my neck whether I’m wearing a puffy down vest or a tailored leather jacket
• Great Accessories – like my vintage Ray-Bans
• The Little Details – freshly polished nails or a pop of lipstick can go a long way in making you feel put together
• Quality Staples – having fewer clothes makes me want to spend more on investment pieces like a solid pair of jeans or a jacket that goes with anything
• The Hair – I think hair is one of the first things people notice about personal style – so from having a shaved head to a nest of dreads and anything in between, if you feel good about your hair you’re going to feel good about everything else
• You Are Not Your Clothes – I love fashion and I think it’s a great way to express yourself and connect with others but know that you are not your clothes.

Anything you would add here? 

Chocolate Helps

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I like to end a very long and hard day, which is every day these days, with some really dark chocolate. I’d love to go into what a long hard day involves but my brain is tired and I’ll probably start crying. Nothing is bad but even the good stuff can feel overwhelming at times. Really dark chocolate helps with that too.

But yesterday wasn’t any ordinary long, hard day. It was also Jeremy’s 35th birthday. So I wanted to do something a little extra special with our daily chocolate indulgence. While Jeremy finished up his long and hard day at school I chopped, blended, melted, toasted, stirred and assembled these tarts while listening to some jazz on Spotify. It was just me and the ingredients and Donald Byrd’s Cristo Redentor getting it on. I was hoping to have everything done by the time Jeremy came home (with a bottle of red in tow) but I had already used up my super hero power to stretch time, meeting a deadline, earlier in the day. So I finished up the tarts while Jeremy worked on his broken computer. We enjoyed the tarts with some Shiraz and Game of Thrones.

When it was all said and done it wasn’t a perfect day and it most certainly wasn’t a perfect birthday. But the chocolate helped.

Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Ginger Tarts
These tarts are vegan (depending on the chocolate you us) and gluten free
Makes three little 4″ tarts or probably one large 9″ tart

For the Crust 
1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
4 soaked and pitted dates

For the Ganache Tart Filling 
1/4 cup of finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 bar of really dark chocolate (we use 85 – 88% and make sure it’s vegan if that’s important to you)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Topping 
A few finely chopped walnuts
A small handful of coconut flakes
A pinch of salt

Make the crust first by heating your oven to 350F. Combine the almond flour, shredded coconut, salt, melted coconut oil and the soaked dates in a food processor using the S blade. The dough will look crumbly but should stick together if you pinch it with your fingers. Spread it in the bottom of your tart pans using your hands to pack it into the bottom and along the sides of the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes – just until the edges of the crust are beginning to brown. Let cool for an hour (I stuck mine in the fridge to cool when I became impatient). 

In the meantime toast your walnuts and coconut flakes for the toppings. I do this in a cast iron pan on medium heat for a few minutes – you can also do it in the oven. Just keep an eye on them! They burn fast. Once toasted sprinkle a pinch of salt (and cinnamon if you like) on top. Remove from the pan onto a plate to cool. 

For the filling chop up your chocolate bar and put in a small bowl – add the cinnamon. Heat the coconut milk over the stove in a small saucepan until just boiling. Pour the heated coconut milk on top of the chocolate in the bowl. Let sit for a minute. Then whisk to incorporate the chocolate and coconut milk. 

Make a layer of the finely chopped crystallized ginger on the tart crust. Then pour the chocolate ganache on top until you fill the crust completely. Top with the toasted walnut and coconut flakes. Let the tart set in the fridge for at least an hour before eating. 

The Meaning of Dreams

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I know dreams have the potential to make for really boring stories. But I had a brief, yet profound and insightful dream last night. I was tempted to keep it to myself but I feel a bigger urge to share – not only the dream but the technique I use to interpret my dreams every morning, as a way to understand myself and the world around me a little better. I first started the practice of remembering my dreams, writing them down and interpreting them a little over a year ago when I began studying metaphysics. Metaphysics is defined as the abstract philosophical studies : a study of what is outside the objective experience. I’m just now talking about it because it’s embarrassing to go from a staunch atheist to a truth-seeking spiritual hippie – I had some stuff to work through before I could talk about it here). If dreams fascinate you keep reading.

MY DREAM LAST NIGHT: 
So last night I had a dream that I was standing on the edge of a very tall and rocky cliff with Shauna (aka Nubby Twiglet). She had a pile of rocks, gems and crystals ranging in size. She took one about the size of a loaf of bread and threw it over the edge of the cliff. I remember feeling nervous and even a little sad as she let it go. As it sank in the water it only became larger, clearer, and more illuminescent. It was growing and glowing at it made its descent to the ocean floor.

RULES FOR INTERPRETATION:
Interpreting dreams is part science, part art. I consistently follow a system of perimeters for interpretation using The Dreamer’s Dictionary by Barbara Condron. But I think you can use any dream interpretation book as a guide and reference. Just to outline a few (of thousands) of the “rules” I follow when it comes to decoding my dreams:
• The dream is always a reflection of the day prior 
• Every little detail matters. If you can remember it, it matters and can be interpreted.
• Everyone in your dream represents you. Women (or people of the same sex) represent an aspect of your conscious self (the you that exists in the physical world). Men (or people of the opposite sex) represent an aspect of your subconscious self.
• To know which aspects people in your dream represent list one or two characteristics about that person – but it has to be personal. It has to be what that person means to you, how they specifically make you feel – even if you know very little about them.
• If someone in your dream is unfamiliar they represent an unfamiliar aspect of self – something you may want to explore more in your waking life.
• The elements: air signifies movement, water represents conscious life experience, earth is the substance of your subconscious mind, fire is expansion.
• Animals represent habitual ways of thinking. Food is knowledge. Vehicles are your physical body.
• Conversations typically don’t matter. You really want to interpret the symbols from your dream – not necessarily what is being said (unless you wake up and it feels significant… then go ahead and make note of it).

INTERPRETING YOUR DREAMS: 
First recount your previous day. What did you do? What was your attitude? How did you feel? For me yesterday was intense. I hit the ground running finalizing a recommendation for a big deal client (all of my clients are a big deal but this one literally got a phone call from Oprah while I was Skyping with her… so you know… big deal.) Tara and I presented to said client and we almost made her cry she was so happy – this dream customer is already a personal hero so I was feeling pretty good about myself and my career. We went straight from that into finalizing another brand recommendation, presenting and making another amazing creative entrepreneur (a photographer in Boston) tear up because she was so happy. Again, feeling good. At the end of the day Jeremy came home from school with a really sweet Valentine’s Day gift and I went to yoga. I was feeling wound up from my day but had the most amazing practice followed by the most amazing meditation where I could feel my pulse and this buzz throughout my entire body. I felt connected and content. I felt completely detached from my ego and the amazing work day that was now behind me. I had a great evening with Jeremy and fell asleep with the the desire to be more dedicated to my yoga and meditation practice.

So if I’m interpreting my dream from last night I first look at the elements: 
• Shauna – represents an aspect of my conscious self. Shauna is a badass designer and blogger with loads of style. I admire her creativity and drive big time.
• Cliff – A steep ledge between land (substance of my subconscious mind) and water (my conscious life experience).
• Gemstone – the value of subconscious existence.

So, as I interpret the dream and relate it to my previous day I can see that Shauna reflects me feeling really good about myself creatively and in my work. But that I found real beauty and expansion, even if hesitant at first, when I explore the more subtle, subconscious aspects of myself during my conscious life experience (the water). The gemstone (value of subconscious existence) expanded and was glowing as it sank deeper into the water (my conscious life experience). This dream tells me that I’m finding satisfaction in my work but that I find light and expansion when I detach from the experience to go within.

STEVEN PRESSFIELD ON DREAMS
Have you guys read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? You should. It’s a life changer. So even as I picked up a practice of interpreting my dreams I still didn’t put a whole lot of weight in them. Maybe because it was this radical new idea that only mystics and hippies were into. It just didn’t seem very… practical. But then there I was reading The War of Art and Pressfield, a very smart man and brilliant author, begins talking about this dream he had:

I was part of the crew of an aircraft carrier. Only the ship was stuck on dry land. It was still launching its jets and doing its thing, but it was marooned half a mile from the ocean. The sailors all knew how screwed up the situation was; they felt it as a keen and constant distress. The only bright spot was there was a Marine gunnery sergeant on board nicknamed “Largo.” In the dream it seemed like the coolest name anyone could possible have. Largo. I loved it. Largo was one of those hard-core senior nomcoms like the Burt Lancaster character, Warden, in From Here to Eternity. The one guy on the ship who knows exactly what’s going on, the tough old sarge who makes all the decisions and actually runs the show. 

But where was Largo? I was standing miserably by the rail when the captain came over and started talking to me. Even he was lost. It was his ship, but he didn’t know how to get it off dry land. I was nervous, finding myself in conversation with the brass, and couldn’t think of a thing to say. The skipper didn’t seem to notice; he just turned to me and casually said, “What the hell are we gonna do Largo?” 

I woke up electrified. I was Largo! I was the salty old Gunny. The power to take charge was in my hands; all I had to do was believe it. 

Where did this dream come from? Plainly its intent was benevolent. What was its source? And what does it say about the workings of the universe that such things happen at all?
Again, we’ve al lhad dreams like that. Again, they’re common as dirt. So is the sunrise. That doesn’t make it any less a miracle. 

… 

A dream like that is real support. It’s a check you can cash when you sit down, alone, to do your work. 

P.S. When your deeper Self delivers a dream like that, don’t talk about it. Don’t dilute its power. The dream is for you. It’s between you and your Muse. Shut up and use it.

The only exception is, you may share it with another comrade-in-arms, if sharing it will help or encourage that comrade in his or her own endeavors. 

(You guys are my comrade-in-arms). I feel like I could talk about dreams all day. But for now I’ll just leave it at this. But if you guys want to continue the discussion let’s chat.

 Do you remember your dreams? Do you ever sit with them while you’re awake to find deeper meaning? Have you ever had a really impactful dream?

Image source unknown (I know, terrible – call the blog police) – graphic overlay by me.