I'm pretty good about getting rid of things—I love spring cleaning and don't feel particularly nostalgic about physical objects—but the other week, I looked around my house and realized there are still a lot of things I feel guilty about not using. Most of the items are things that were gifted to me, or items that are too "nice" to giveaway. There's the beautiful lace bra my mom gave me years ago (given the choice, I'll always reach for a plain t-shirt bra), fancy eye cream I purchased in college then forgot to use every morning following, the French butter keeper that's sitting, sans butter, on a shelf. Since most of the items aren't things I'm necessarily ready to just give away, I settled on a compromise: I set a large paper bag by the front door and decided to put anything I even thought about not needing into it, to re-assess after two weeks. But then a funny thing happened. I filled one bag, then a second, and began to forget what was even in them. Not once did I think, "Man, I wish I had some royal honey eye cream right now" or miss a single item. Without the definite promise of getting rid of items, I was able to giveaway much more than I would otherwise—in the end I recycled / donated / sold five large bags of items. Getting rid of the tiny physical burdens ended up being much more enlightening than the security of having something I'll need "one day." And the process of getting rid of things I don't use gave me something I didn't even know I needed now: extra time and fewer burdens.
Every day, it feels like another book comes out touting something another culture is doing "better." Want to relax? Try a dose of Danish hygge. Want to clean? Detox with a Swedish "death clean." Want to eat baguettes and be fabulous? The French can show you a thing or two. So when I came across an article about finding mindfulness through shinrin-yoku or Japanese "forest bathing," my first reaction was, "Oh, another one." But then I clicked. Forest bathing is far from a new concept (who hasn't recognized the rejuvenating feeling of a few hours in the woods?), and 90% of the articles I found on it are from the summer of 2017, so it looks like the fad faded as soon as it hit mainstream, but it's also a valuable reminder to get outside. While there's evidence that even looking at a photo of nature can be calming, there are also tons of registered forest therapy guides around the world (how cool is that?!). If you're in L.A., you can find a nature walk on Shirin Yoku L.A., or find a guide in your area here. Or, just go for a hike!
Three weeks ago, my boyfriend and I stumbled straight into a new Sunday tradition. It all started when we walked out of a late afternoon movie into a Trader Joe's, with no set dinner plans. "This," I said, tossing gnocchi into our cart. We improvised a recipe with staples already in our fridge: sautéed spinach, lemon juice, (tons of) butter, and Parmesan, then ate it outside with Negronis (we'd just seen Call Me By Your Name, so al fresco Italian cocktails felt appropriate). The following week, we took a more intentional approach, adapting Jon and Vinny's Fusilli alla Vodka to a gnocchi canvas. We added extra butter plus a little more tomato paste and Parmesan than called for, and it was delicious. Like, so good that when we ordered it at the restaurant the next weekend, we deemed ours better (but then again, we were on a gnocchi high). Last night, we raised the bar even higher, adapting our all-time favorite pasta to be vegetarian and gnocchi-friendly, with Trader Joe's soy chorizo. There are two reasons gnocchi works so well for a Sunday dinner, the first being that I love ending weekends with a beautiful, home-cooked meal, but don't want to spend that much time actually cooking or cleaning. Each of the gnocchi dishes we made took about fifteen minutes from start to finish (fresh gnocchi itself takes three minutes to cook)—and created enough for a full dinner for two, plus leftovers for lunch! A delicious dinner, plus leftovers? Perfecto.
P.S., If you're making your own gnocchi (I promise it sounds much harder than it actually is!), this is my favorite recipe.
Last month, Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Bloomberg reporter Emily Chang's upcoming book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley. The article exposed Silicon Valley's "secret orgiastic" side, citing bacchanal sex parties that often take place in San Francisco mansions. To many of the men interviewed, these parties are just another way to challenge the norm and serve as "an extension of the progressiveness and open-mindedness;" to the women (who are often younger, more attractive, and lower in their careers), these parties perpetuate "a culture that keeps women down." While Chang's book doesn't come out until tomorrow, I received an advanced copy that included similar hard-to-believe stories, but also important career advice from top women executives like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer on cracking that glass ceiling. You can pre-order it here before it comes out tomorrow.
I'm not the biggest fan of stand up and my dream car is "whatever can drive on snow," so I quickly wrote off Jerry Seinfeld's online series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, even after several friends recommended it to me. But I finally watched it last week, and I have to say, I'm in love with it. Each episode is only fifteen to twenty minutes long, and the premise is charmingly simple: Jerry picks up a comedian in a car (he loves old cars) to get coffee (he loves coffee) and chat (he loves chatting). Beyond his teasing and hilarious back-and-forth with other comedians ("Your life has been one unbroken boulevard of green lights, hasn’t it?" Alec Baldwin asked him), it's also an ode to getting coffee with old friends—even if we can't all pull up in a classic car when we pick them up. My only recommendation is: Don't watch it at night—you're going to want a good cup of coffee in hand.
In Panoply's latest podcast, The Walk, you're the hero or "the walker." After a city's attacked, you have one goal: Get a mystery package from Inverness Station, Scotland to Edinburgh. When trains and cars stop working, your only option is to walk the 160 miles. Created by Naomi Alderman (author of the book, The Power) and the makers behind fitness game Zombies, Run!, the characters in the podcast talk directly to you. It's unique and interactive—each episode is designed to be listened to while walking, and amounts to a roughly one to two-mile walk. It's the perfect thing to listen to on the treadmill, a walk to the subway, or a lazy weekend day. Listen here!