self care

peach-plum buckle

Image & styling: Olaiya Land
Image & styling: Olaiya Land

I’m celebrating!

I baked this cake in honor of the fact that I am officially done with diets. Hopefully forever.

As I wrote here I have tried pretty much every form of controlling my body known to (wo)man. Starting with disordered eating in my teens all the way through the latest vegan, paleo and keto crazes.

We’re talking ALLLLLLLL the diets. And the un-diets. And the cleanses. And the “lifestyle overhauls”. Always seeking to be thinner. Smaller. To take up less space.

But I am done with that.

Image & styling: Olaiya Land
Image & styling: Olaiya Land

I am done feeling ashamed that I’m not a size 4. I’m done feeling like a failure because I don’t fit the beauty standard laid out by the diet industry. And fashion magazines. And mainstream advertising. I am done waging war on a body that keeps me healthy and strong. That allows me to experience the joy of playing tennis and lifting weights and hiking in the forest. I’m ready to start treating my body like the miraculous gift that it is.

Oddly, Instagram is largely to thank for this new-found liberation. I’ve started following fitness bloggers who value strength and self-acceptance over thinness. (Whassup @shethrivesblog and @anniemiller.co!) And brands that use models of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. (Hello @chromat and @universalstandard!) And plus size models who show me that you can be sexy and self-confident at any size. (Yes @jenniferatilemile and @jessicavanderleahy!) And anti-diet crusaders who have made me rethink my attitudes toward how I feed and care for myself. (Thank you @susanhyatt and @thefuckitdiet!)

Following all these women who choose to celebrate the female body in all its amazing forms has helped me realize I don’t need to change a single thing about my beautiful body.

And neither do you.

Image & styling: Olaiya Land
Image & styling: Olaiya Land

I know that if you are currently feeling the body shame I felt for years, this message is going to sound like a pile of blissed-out bullshit. I have been there. I mean let’s be honest: I’ve lived there for most of my life.

But something has shifted in me lately. Maybe because I’ve gotten older and a little bit wiser. Maybe because I’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe where I feel more balanced and at ease with myself. Who knows. I’ll take it however it comes.

If some part of you thinks you might want to make peace with your body, I highly recommend you check out the bloggers and Instagrammers I linked to above. Taylor Gage and Caroline Dooner have been especially valuable to me on my path towards greater self-love and acceptance.

And wherever you’re at on the path towards loving and cherishing yourself, celebrating yourself with a cake is never a bad move.


Peach Plum Buckle

  • 225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for the pan
  • 250g (1 cup plus 4 tablespoons) sugar, divided
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 215g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 70g (3/4 cup) almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 firm-ripe peaches, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 225g (8 oz.) plums, pitted and halved (if small) or sliced cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (if larger)

*Notes: I love, love, love this cake! I've been making versions of this one since way back in 2006. I almost never make recipes twice. So I guarantee you it's a good one!

- I made this version with cherry plums because we have a cherry plum tree in our front yard. I had never heard of cherry plums until we moved into this house so I don’t think they’re particularly common. I’ve made this with tons of different kinds of plums though and it’s always delicious.

- You can use any variety of stone fruit you like: peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries, sour cherries (mix these with a little extra sugar if you go that route). Whatever.

- This cake magically gets better and better as it sits. I leave mine covered with a tea towel on the counter and on days 2 and 3 it is PHENOMENAL. (Did I mention I love this cake?)

Image & styling: Olaiya Land

Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment. Butter the parchment. Then flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife. In a small bowl rub the vanilla seeds into 1 cup of the sugar until they are well distributed. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to remove any lumps. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the cup of vanilla sugar. Beat until well blended. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Transfer the batter to your pan (it will be VERY thick). Spread the batter evenly in the pan then arrange the fruit over the batter, pressing it down slightly.

Bake the cake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 80-90 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a small knife between the cake and the pan to loosen it. Then turn the cake out onto a large plate. Remove the parchment paper. Place another large plate or serving platter on top of the cake. Using both hands, hold both plates firmly together and flip the cake again, plum side up. Cool completely before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Image & styling: Olaiya Land

blueberry-hazelnut oat bowl + self care for the holidays

Image: Olaiya Land

Can you feel it?

We’re at the giddy precipice of the holiday season, looking over the edge before plunging breathlessly into it all. Like a roller coaster car suspended for a split second above a valley of curves and drops and loop-de-loops.

Yes, the holidays are an exhilarating (and often anxiety-inducing) ride. The media says we’re supposed to pretend the holidays are all love and light and eggnog lattes and good cheer. While I’m an unrepentant lover of all things Christmas, I have been around long enough to know that sometimes the stretch between Thanksgiving and January 1 is the hardest part of the year.

Oatmeal Bowl.jpg

In addition to glittery Christmas trees and spiced apple cider and brown paper packages tied up with string, the holidays are also:

- A mountain of stress. Induced largely by the pressure to buy everyone on your list beautiful presents, each paired perfectly to the receiver’s personality and taste and lovingly wrapped in recycled craft paper and festooned with vintage ribbons, or perhaps fresh pine needles.

- Your annoying uncle Leroy who starts talking politics after his third scotch then steps outside to smoke a cigar while the evening practically deteriorates into a fist fight and everyone informs everyone else why their views are garbage and COMPLETELY WRONG.

- Boring-ass work parties where you have to make small talk with Barb from accounting and enjoy yourself enough that the party-planning committee isn’t offended, but not so much that you end up telling your boss what you really think of her.

- Figuring out how to sample all the once-a-year cookies and cakes and roast goose or whatever while simultaneously not feeling like a disgusting and very unhealthy blob of a human being.

- Judging yourself because another year has gone by and you still haven’t gotten a raise/found a partner/lost 10 lbs/made time to volunteer at your kids’ school/finally started meditating.

The holidays are a complex mix of joy, togetherness, beloved rituals, obligations and stress.

Too much stress.

Image: Olaiya Land

Which is why I want you to join me in my mission to boost the joy and ditch the stress of the holidays. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% there yet--I still get wound up about baking a gazillion holiday cookies and how to give meaningful gifts and have I posted enough holiday recipes to the blog? But things are A LOT better than they used to be. Five years ago, I was a mash-up of Martha Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow on speed. It wasn’t pretty. (Or very joyful for that matter.)

These days, I’ve got a solid repertoire of tactics I use to keep me sane at the holidays. Since I want you to find your holiday zen too, I’m going to be sharing some of my best tips for keeping the holidays manageable and joyful. Which means we’ll all have more time and mental space to focus on what really matters--spending time with people we love. (And baking lots of cookies. And watching Love Actually. And listening to LOTS of cheesy Christmas tunes, of course.)

Image: Olaiya Land

So as we dive headlong into the fun and the chaos of the season, my first piece of advice is to TAKE CARE OF YOUR SWEET ASS SELF. You are definitely not going to make the season brighter laid up on the couch with a nasty flu. And it’s hard to spread holiday cheer when you’re sleep-deprived and irritable AF.

By all means, plan parties. Trim trees. Sew stockings. Throw back a ‘nog or two. But remember to take some time for the things that make you feel good: Meet your best friend for drinks after work. Read a book just for pleasure. Go for a mind-cleansing run. Have a tickle fight with your kids. And for the love of all that is holy, try to get enough sleep!

Also, feed yourself nourishing food. Like, maybe, this Blueberry-Hazelnut Oat Bowl.

Image: Olaiya Land

I promise you, this is not your grandma’s oatmeal. There are a lot of sexy things happening here. Like toothsome (not soggy!) oats. And maple blueberries. And homemade hazelnut butter. (Because you’re fancy like that and hazelnut butter kicks peanut butter’s ass any day.)

This is a warming bowl of self-care. The sort of breakfast that leaves you feeling satisfied and sustained, with enough energy to ride the ups and downs of the holiday season and come out the other side feeling like you made the most of it all.


Blueberry-Hazelnut Oat Bowl

  • 3 cups hazelnuts
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus additional for drizzling (optional)
  • ½ cup raw pepitas
  • 1 cup almond milk, preferably homemade

*Notes: You can whip this up using store-bought nut milk and nut butter. But it’s WAAAAY better with homemade versions. I advise setting aside an hour on the weekend to prep up the almond milk, nut butter, blueberries and pepitas. You can even cook the oatmeal in advance if you want. Then just heat and go in the mornings if you’re short on time.

- The method below is how my mother cooks oatmeal--she uses water to let the oat flavor shine through and not too much of it, so the oats stay firm. Excessive stirring is discouraged. Feel free to use a different recipe if you like a different style of oatmeal, or even substitute a different grain for the oats.

- I use this almond milk recipe. But I use slightly less water to make a thicker milk that foams better for lattes. Sometimes I use a little honey to sweeten it. But normally, I don’t add any sweeteners to it.

Image: Olaiya Land

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and roast until the skins start to loosen and the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a clean tea towel. Gather the four corners of the towel and twist them together to form a parcel around the hazelnuts. Rub vigorously to remove as many skins as possible. When you open the towel most of the skins should have fallen off. Lift the nuts off the towel with a slotted spoon, leaving the skins behind (it's ok if some are still attached) and place them on a plate to cool.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

When the hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, place them in the bowl of a food processor with a pinch of salt. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the nuts have turned into a smooth nut butter, 5-10 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark spot. You will have extra for future breakfasts and snacks.

To make the oatmeal, heat 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat. When the water comes to the boil, stir in the oats and a small pinch of salt. Cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the oats sit until they absorb most of the cooking liquid.

Heat the blueberries, maple syrup (if using) and a tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the berries start to burst and the juices thicken a bit, about 10 minutes.

Toast the pepitas in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until they start to turn golden and some of them start to expand and make a popping sound. Sprinkle with a little salt and transfer to a plate to cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the bowls, heat the almond milk in a small pot over low heat. (I use my milk frother because it’s faster and easier.) Divide the oatmeal between 2 bowls. Pour the almond milk around the oatmeal. Top the oatmeal with a generous spoonful of hazelnut butter. Spoon some of the blueberries and their juices over the top then sprinkle with some of the toasted pepitas. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and drizzle with additional maple syrup if you like. Serve hot.

Makes 2 servings

Image: Olaiya Land

because you are

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

When I was single, Valentine’s Day was depressing. This was pre-Galentine’s, so there was no celebrating sisterhood with my lady friends over waffles and mimosas.

In all my relationships before I met my husband, Valentine’s Day was stressful. (He only got me this little box of chocolates? There’s no card? Is this the beginning of the end? Should I break up with him or give him this masterpiece of a handmade, vintage-inspired sweater that took me 80 hours to knit?)

All the years I worked in the restaurant industry, Valentine’s Day was a shit show of trying to cram three hectic turns and a “special” menu into one (hopefully profitable) evening. High romance it was not. 

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

To this day, Beau and I don’t really celebrate Valentine's. No champagne. No hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries. And certainly no dinners out. (After all those years in the trenches, going out on Valentine’s Day still spikes a stress response). 

Despite my Grinch-like attitude towards this amorous holiday, there’s one V-Day gesture I can get behind: buying flowers for your special someone. And this year, I propose that your special someone be you.

Image: Olaiya Land
Buy Yourself Flowers-1-2.jpg
Image: Olaiya Land

There’s a distinctive pleasure in receiving an armload of blooms. Flowers are a mood-lifting burst of color wrapped in a parcel of soothing green foliage. With their assorted perfumes, velvety petals and, in the case of edible flowers, subtle flavors, they engage our senses as few other gifts do. There’s something about an artfully arranged bouquet that feels luxurious and, depending on how puritanical your upbringing was, maybe even a little naughty. Flowers are by their very nature fleeting--the precise opposite of a practical investment. The most stunning bouquet will soon wilt and fade. And even dried flowers will eventually crumble to dust.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

Which is exactly why you should get yourself flowers this Valentine’s Day, or any other day for that matter. You should buy yourself this supremely impractical present to remind yourself that you are a magnificent goddess (or god--no gender stereotypes around here!) who deserves to have beauty in your life regardless of your relationship status. 

Gifting yourself flowers is a statement of self-love and thus a small act of empowerment. 

Image: Olaiya Land

And before you start to list off reasons not to treat yourself like a queen this Valentine’s Day, let me say this: beautiful flowers don’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Though you can easily spend well into the three figures on a bespoke bouquet from an artisan florist, you can also spend $3.99 at Trader Joe’s, like I did for the miniature carnations below, and arrange your flowers in a jam jar--with or without some greenery foraged from your yard (or, under duress, your neighbor’s yard). Ten minutes, $4 and voilà--you’re a Valentine’s Day goddess!

Image: Olaiya Land

However you choose to go about loving yourself this Valentine’s Day, the thing to keep in mind is that you deserve it--whether you’re in a relationship or not. Whether you have your dream job and loads of money or not. Whether you’re #winningatlife or not. So before next Wednesday, I want you to gift yourself a bouquet that will brighten your space and make you feel special every time you look at it.

Because you are. 


Bouquet in progress at  The London Plane

Bouquet in progress at The London Plane

If you're in Seattle

My favorite places to buy flowers are The London Plane and Glasswing. Both have a beautifully curated selection of unique blooms and are currently taking orders for Valentine's Day bouquet delivery and in-store pick-up. 

The self-serve flower bar at  Glasswing .

The self-serve flower bar at Glasswing.