The List: I'm Obsessed with this Brilliant New Pantry Staple

Plus the book that made me laugh out loud, and how to safely travel as a woman.
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A shot of our hike this weekend

A shot of our hike this weekend

Is it as beautiful where you live as it was in Los Angeles this weekend? This is my favorite time of year. The night blooming jasmine is flowering all over our neighborhood, so all we have to do to make our house smell fantastic is open all the windows (this expensive candle is the closest thing I've found to the real thing). On Saturday, Jonah and I went on one of our favorite hikes in Angeles National Forest to Sturtevant Falls. But here's a tip: While most people head straight towards the main attraction, the waterfall, take a left after the cabins where the sign says "top of the falls." The hike will give you a bird's eye view of the falls (and the hundreds of people who flock there on the weekends), but also to the secret swimming holes above it. We spent over an hour there, and only saw three people the entire time. And, it's only thirty minutes from downtown L.A.! Here's what else I'm loving this week: 

1

The cover copy for Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, billed as Americanah meets Bridget Jones's Diary, caught my eye in a bookstore on Saturday, and I was thrilled to find, after devouring it this weekend, that it's exactly as advertised. The story of Queenie, a twenty-five-year-old woman living in London had me laughing from the first page, as she awkwardly (and endearingly) navigates a breakup, her relationship with her friends, online dating, and her first "serious" job. The messages from her friends' group chat alone made me laugh so hard Jonah had to ask if something was wrong. 

2

It's a bit presumptuous to call a new album, "My Finest Work Yet," but that's exactly what Andrew Bird did—and exactly what it is, in my opinion. I first fell in love with the singer-songwriter's music in high school with his song Tenuousness but have never enjoyed a full album of his as much as I do this one. The album's title is of course a joke (the album art features him as Jacques-Louis David’s Marat), and the subject is nihilistic, with a wink. We're all doomed, but we have Bird's whistling solos before we go. To borrow his words, "Don't pretend you can't hear."

3

I've written about this in the past, but a few times a year, I clear-out my freezer and pantry by enacting a 'grocery buying freeze' on everything aside from spinach (so I still get some greens!). As a result, cans of beets, lentils, and chickpeas dominate most of our meals, but the saving grace in our pantry are the bags of Right Rice we stocked-up on during a recent sale. The product, which we came across at 365 by Whole Foods, has 10 grams of protein per serving compared to 4 grams in white rice, thanks to the fact that it's made from a blend of legumes, peas, and rice. I've been loving the Lemon Pepper flavor, which we're planning on cooking with some scallops from our freezer this evening (this is my favorite scallops recipe!). I've never been a fan of the phrase "guilt-free" when it comes to food (food should never make you feel guilty!), but I do feel a bit healthier having a huge bowl of this over traditional rice. (Pssst, here are easy recipes you can make from just your pantry and freezer.)

4

A little over a year ago, I wrote about my experience going on a solo trip in Angeles National Forest. It wasn't my first solo trip ever (I've also traveled to New Zealand and Prague alone), but it was the first, and only, time I've spent 24 hours without any human contact at all. It made me feel uncomfortable and a little scared, but ultimately left me feeling so confident and empowered that it permanently changed the way I view alone time. But then, this weekend, I read an article on the dangers of traveling alone in NY Times that reminded me it isn't always smart to suppress those feeling of discomfort, especially fear. The stories in the article are enough to put the fear of travel in anyone—but that isn't the point of it. The point is to be smart, and prepared, which leads me to this article on safety tips which should be required reading for any woman interested in solo travel. My favorite unexpected, yet brilliant, tip? Always pack a doorstop so you can "lock" any door from the inside.  

P.S., Thank you to everyone who saw my Instagram Story and Tweet about making Jonah's grandmother's dream of throwing the opening pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers come true for her hundredth birthday! I'm cautiously optimistic... buuuut it looks like it's going to happen, and it's all from your help and the contacts you sent my way. Thank you, thank you!