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Big Things, people.

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I promise there are good reasons for my lack of posts and slacking on joining Yeah Write this week.

You see…. I have a surprise for you. I can’t tell you what because duh, it’s a surprise. But I can tell you the when. Here goes.

Sometime over the weekend (but definitely by Monday) you’ll see these Big Things. Check back with me over the next few days to find out! 

Yes, I know this is evil. But I’ll give you a few hints:

  • This has been a long time coming.
  • I’m seriously sweatypits right now.
  • No, I’m not pregnant. Or engaged.

Send me good juju that all goes well, please?

In the meantime, I’ll share a few pictures from yesterday, which was my birthday! It was an amazing day and I was showered with texts, calls, Facebooks, tweets, flowers, and LOVE. I’m so blessed to have so many wonderful friends IRL and here through this blog. This girl is grateful. Sniffffff.

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Cake Batter Pancakes. Enough said. Recipe here. 

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TROUBLE. Lululemon gift card. There goes a paycheck. #zerowillpower

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Gorgeous sunshine from my west coast bestie. ❤

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Amazon gift card, silicon baking cups, Bob Harper sweaty yoga and a new speed rope for CrossFit. Yay!

To make my birthday even better? Something really awesome happened professionally and they didn’t even know it was my birthday! Remember when I tweeted this?

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I GOT IT!!!

Again… blessed. 

See you all very, very soon!

~Peach

Come What May

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To write down your intentions is one thing. To begin to live with intent is quite another.

Starting The Mighty Peach List pushed me to attend Camp Mighty. It was there that I met the most incredible people and told the world my dreams. Suddenly, the dreams-turned-words-on-paper became tangible actions and realities. I had professional portraits taken, traveled to Portland, tasted foie gras for the first time, saw the Christmas tree at Rock Center and had a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity. I ran a 5K, 10K and a half marathon. I’ve planned to visit London and to hug a gigantic Redwood at Yosemite. I declared my desire to buy a house and start my book.

All this has been heady and empowering. But these are things. Stuff.

The real work appears when you realize that you’ve been living your life and dreams at the will of others, or at least in consideration of their judgment. The real work comes when you finally choose to stop letting THEM decide YOU.

At first, the change happens in small ways. Someone makes an assumption about your feelings, casually dismissing a hurtful remark. Calmly and honestly, you correct them and state your hurt aloud.  And the moment you receive acknowledgement – the moment you’ve shown up to be seen and heard – the moment you get a heartfelt apology and an admission of wrongdoing? That’s when you promptly crumple into an ugly-crying mess.

Because WOW you just put yourself out there, utterly naked emotionally, fully expecting to get your heart stomped on. And instead you were given validation.

The actions snowball. Other difficulties are confronted. Each instance is more awkward and difficult and scary, but you’ve grown to understand that you matter enough to be heard and seen. No more will you sit quietly and let assumptions be made about your heart or your life. Careless people that once would have been silently resented for their thoughtless actions are now admonished aloud for their behavior. Relationships are ended because you realize that if someone cannot make room for you in their lives, then they are not worthy of having your heart.

You learn to stand alone in your skin. To take pride in the person you’ve become and the person you’re still growing to be. You’re able to reflect on the thorny path you took to get here and you’re grateful for each tumble over twisted roots. You start to live with your whole being. You’re able to use this new-found strength to reach out to the one person who never left your heart.

And blessedly, luckily, find love in return.

The possibilities are staggering.

Because in the end, stuff is just stuff. Go seek out the scariest work. Face your biggest fears and don’t be afraid to eat some concrete. Once you set your intention to live for your own happiness and no one else’s, the rewards are significantly greater.  Do the work and be ready for what comes your way. You’ll be amazed.

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. Git you some.

Flexible only applies to me in yoga.

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At Camp Mighty, Maggie told the story of her Life List item to see the sun rise over the Aegean. Once there in Greece, fearlessly about to reach success, she realized that the sun only SET over the Aegean. Her attitude could have been Shitty McGrumpypants, but she chose instead to go with it. It may not have been *exactly* what she wanted, but a slight discrepancy in semantics wasn’t going to derail her enthusiasm. To her, this choice of perspective stood out in her mind as a huge life lesson.

Be rigid only if you want to break.

I am a planner by nature. I have lists for my lists. So when we were told to narrow down our Life List to just five items for 2013, I was all over that shit. I carry them with me everywhere.

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Yet only a mere 49 days into 2013, and I’m already finding that my top five goals for 2013 may need some tweaking. Not for any huge, earth-shattering reasons… simply for the reason that situations change. Circumstances shift.

One of the main goals I’m speaking of is the purchase of my first house. Some outside influences have swept into my life and are postponing the house hunt until my footing is steady again. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen for me this year. It just means my projected timeline of early Spring is pretty much out the window unless some miracles of miracles happen.

I can choose to kick and scream about it or I can go with it.

Duh. I know what I have to do, because you know what? The curveballs? They’re good for me. They’re making me grow.

The same way all the curveballs of 2011 brought me to Atlanta and into beginning this journey in the first place, these new plot twists are getting me out of my own comfort zone and testing the mindset of the “new me”.

A shift of plans does not equal failure. It doesn’t mean that I won’t reach my goals. It only means that I’ll get them completed a little differently than anticipated.  I know everything will work out for the best, however curvy my path may become.  And I also feel in my heart that these changes are what is best for me in the long run.

Good things are ahead. 🙂

Mighty Peach Life List #58, #10 – Twinkly Lights and Serendipity…DONE!

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Back story to these life list items can be found here.

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On January 1, 2013, I awoke in darkness and stretched until my feet hit the end of my friend’s couch. Shoving the sleep mask up my forehead to push the bangs off my face, I squinted at the blinding winter sun and smiled simultaneously. I was looking over the rooftops of downtown Brooklyn prominently displayed through the windowed walls of the apartment. And then it hit me…Today was the day!

My lovely hostess and dear friend Might-E emerged from her room, came over to the couch and sat down next to me. She handed me a gift-wrapped package and said that she knew this would be perfect. For today.  For this year.  You see, Might-E has been one of my biggest sources of support since we met, but especially this year. She’s been there for me as I’ve tackled many tough changes in my life and cheered for me as I’ve gone after my dreams. I count myself lucky to have her as a friend. But hugged her HARD after I opened this.

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perfect, right?

After I’d pulled my sentimental/sniffly self together, we hit the ground running for our Big Day. During the subway jaunt over to Manhattan, we fretted over whether or not we’d be waiting for hours to get into Serendipity. The New Years Day crowd could go either way.

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Boy, did we get lucky! We only waited 20 minutes for a cute little two-top on the main floor.

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Loving the Tiffany lamps. Not so sure about Banana Hammock Guy back there.

Might-E and I delighted over the quirky, larger-than-life menu (seriously, they were bigger than the surface of our table).

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But of course, we already knew what we’d come for. We put in the order for my long-awaited Frozen Hot Chocolate immediately. Life is short, dammit. Everyone should eat dessert first.

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And then it arrived.

isn't it lovely?

isn’t it lovely?

gimme.

gimme.

oh, this will be finished.

oh, this *will* be finished.

Yes, I gave myself brain-freeze on this baby, which means that I did it right. The word on the street is that the FHC recipe consists of: Seventeen different types of chocolate, blended with milk and ice. So sayeth the server. All I know is that each sip through the straw tasted like a mouthparty of chocolate sin. May everything in this life be that delectably painful to finish. It was worth the wait and worth every calorie.

And then, with seventeen-types-of-chocolate-sugar coursing through our veins, it was time to journey to Rockefeller Plaza.

From the moment we left the subway stairs, we could feel the buzz on the street. There’s just something about that area of NYC, around 5th Ave with all the stores and TV studios and street vendors… it’s a living, breathing creature filled with bodies and shopping bags and picture-taking. Dozens of different languages are audible no matter where you stand, but the joy on people’s faces matched my own.

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first sighting

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Swarovski replica of the tree topper.

Swarovski replica of the tree topper.

I doubt any pictures could ever do this memory justice, but I know I’ll never forget what it felt like to lean on that railing and gaze over the ice skating rink filled with wobbly tourists. Even on that overcast day, the tree sparkled and shone proudly, despite the few limbs that were a bit droopy.  Hey, I can’t blame the tree. It’s New York. Living here can be exhausting.

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I’m sure I didn’t stand there longer than a few minutes, but it was long enough to realize that I was grinning like an idiot. Putting these emotions into words is difficult, but I can only compare it to the moment when the holidays start to really feel like the holidays. It’s that moment of recognition in your heart. That deep down, ahh. There it is. I was finally here.

We walked even closer and realized the full expanse of the tree’s formidable height when we were directly underneath its branches.

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Peach-approved.

And with one last upward glance, I said a silent goodbye and we took our leave.

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Thank you to Bing and Go Mighty for giving me the opportunity to check off these life wishes!!

I’m still smiling.

Mighty Peach Life List #62 – Try Foie Gras…DONE!

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The intro to this Life List item is here.

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Russell’s research led us to The Iberian Pig in Decatur, GA. If you’re worth your weight in the Atlanta foodie scene, you’ll know that Decatur is actually challenging Atlanta “proper” in regard to the food & bev industry. The Iberian Pig not only stood up against but surpassed the few restaurants I’ve tried in Downtown or Midtown. Our outrageously knowledgeable and charming server aced our barrage of menu questions and threw in fun facts about our selections as the night progressed. I dig a server who guides your choices instead of tapping their foot impatiently waiting for you to decide. Whether it involved our wine selection or inquiry on salad portion size or which cheese HE preferred – ours rocked.  He handled our raucous table of nine as efficiently as a timid two-top. We were never without drinks and each round of plates came out as if they’d been choreographed. We always had just enough time to enjoy the afterglow, but never so much time that we were missing our next course. Have you ever booked a reservation at a pricey lovely restaurant and then felt hurried along to free your table for the next seating? Nope, didn’t happen here. We felt relaxed and were able to enjoy the meal along with each other’s company.

Another bonus: unlike most upscale restaurants that require one check and auto-add the gratuity, we were appreciative that we were allowed to split our check 5 ways… and I’d bet you anything that our server came out with way better than 18%! The restaurant itself played a big role for us, too.  Russell, awesome organizer that he is, called ahead and gave a fellow named Ian a heads up about our special evening’s focus. You see, their menu’s foie dish was a play on french toast (“Foienche”)  but my friend wanted my first tasting of foie gras to be more traditional.  After inquiring with Ian, Russell was assured they could accommodate us!

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And that was just the service and experience. Let’s move on to the food.

The Iberian Pig boasts a menu that can seem overwhelming at first. How can one possibly choose a *reasonable* amount of food from the vast array of charcuteria and cheese plates, salads, flatbreads, tapas, entrees, desserts and cocktails?!? Ummm, can I have one of each, please? There were so many unbelievable flavor combinations we all wanted to taste, so we decided to stick with the tapas menu as the bulk of our meal.  This way, we could share and taste more than if we’d all gotten a single entree.

Hold on for the culinary ride, folks.

First we needed booze. Because, duh. Terrazas de los Andes, Reserve Malbec Mendoza, Argentina 2009

First we needed booze. Because, duh. Terrazas de los Andes, Reserve Malbec Mendoza, Argentina 2009

Traditionally prepared foie gras, served on a crostada with slivered pears and honeyed nut medley. I didn't catch what the sauces were.

Traditionally prepared foie gras, served on a brioche crostada with slivered pears and honeyed nut medley. I didn’t catch what the sauces were.

My first taste of Foie Gras. LifeList #62? Check! It was... interesting. Crisp outside, creamy inside, slightly fatty-bacon tasting but not as pork-y. The texture and flavor were not what I expected! It wasn't grainy or liver-esque at all. Kinda made me tilt my head to the side and go, "... Hm. It's weird, but it doesn't suck". Do I crave more? Not really. Would I eat it again? Certainly.

My first taste of Foie Gras. LifeList #62? Check! It was… interesting. Crisp outside, creamy inside, slightly fatty-bacon tasting but not as pork-y. The texture and flavor were not what I expected! It wasn’t grainy or liver-esque at all. Kinda made me tilt my head to the side and go, “… Hm. It’s weird, but it doesn’t suck”. Do I crave more? Not really. Would I eat it again? Certainly.

    Didn't last long at a table of nine...

Didn’t last long at a table of nine…

#2 Cheese plate - Manchego, Mahon, and Canja de Oveja with blackberry, apricot and fig? fruit compotes. Served with artisan bread with the most amazing olive oil.

#2 Cheese plate – Manchego, Mahon, and Canja de Oveja with blackberry, apricot and fig? fruit compotes. Served with artisan bread drizzled with the most amazing olive oil.

On to the other tapas! #3 Crispy pork belly with candied fruits over goat cheese creme fraiche. #mouthgasm

#3 Crispy pork belly with candied fruits over goat cheese creme fraiche. #mouthgasm

#4 Pulpo a la Parilla - Grilled Mediterranean octopus, roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic, watercress pistou, Benton’s bacon salbitxada

#4 Pulpo a la Parilla – Grilled Mediterranean octopus, roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic, watercress pistou, Benton’s bacon salbitxada. This wasn’t my first rodeo with grilled pulpo. I found this one very well executed and it avoided being rubbery. The little suckers made me laugh. 🙂 The seasoning and sauces were a great addition, but potatoes were a bit underdone.

#5 Vieras - Pan seared scallops, butternut squash-morcilla puree, saffron roasted cauliflower, tempura artichoke. I'm a new lover of scallops after this one. They were sweet and buttery with a caramelized sear on one side and sitting in a delectable puree. #wantedmore

#5 Vieras – Pan seared scallops, butternut squash-morcilla puree, saffron roasted cauliflower, tempura artichoke. I’m a new lover of scallops after this one. They were sweet and buttery with a caramelized sear on one side and sitting in a delectable puree. #wantedmore

#6 Manchego Mac 'n' Cheese - Garganelli pasta, Manchego-pork belly cream, butter toasted panko, thyme. After I tasted this, I wanted to run to the kitchen and grab the nearest chef and hug him/her. This was a table favorite, but was so rich we couldn't finish it. #incredible

#6 Manchego Mac ‘n’ Cheese – Garganelli pasta, Manchego-pork belly cream, butter toasted panko, thyme. After I tasted this, I wanted to run to the kitchen and grab the nearest chef and hug him/her. This was a table favorite, but was so rich we couldn’t finish it. #incredible

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Copa Catalan – Bruleed Espresso custard served with fresh berries

Closer. #8 Cappuccino. When brought to me, the server mentioned that it may not be up to par because he had a colleague make it and to let him know if it was not good.  It was milkier than I prefer, but I didn't mind enough to send it back.  It was a comforting end of the meal nightcap instead of a smack-your-mama jolt of caffeine.

Closer. #8 Cappuccino. It was a bit milkier than I prefer, but a comforting end of the meal nightcap instead of a smack-your-mama jolt of caffeine.

And there you have it. You can’t say I didn’t go big for this experience!

We left The Iberian Pig happily stuffed and all smiles. I’d finally gotten to try foie gras for the first time and having my friends with me for the experience made it so much more fun! I feel so grateful that I have adventurous-eater-foodie-people who are willing to help me tackle my dreams. Love you guys! And just to make him blush again – thank you again, Russell!

If any of you are in the Atlanta area and want an amazing food experience (and not just another expensive meal) – try this place. And take me with you. 😉

Later, y’all.  I’m off to New York to take on Life List items #58 and #10. Happy New Year, everyone.

Mighty Peach Life List – #62 Try Fois Gras…happening tonight!

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GoMighty.com link here.

Thanks to my Southern upbringing, I’m no stranger to deep fried, covered in Hidden Valley Ranch-style comfort foods. As a half-Cajun I learned young how to de-head and peel a crawfish, but never came around to liking their fishy taste. I didn’t mind gumbo as long as the okra didn’t get slimy, but loved the hell out of some Low Country Boil. My mom is a Texan so there were many a chicken-fried steak and mashed potato dinner. The worst I remember was the corned beef and cabbage. She and Dad loved it. Big bro and I thought it smelled like feet, tasted worse, and we staunchly refused to eat the boiled, salty pink meat. “Fancy” veggies like brussel sprouts rarely made an appearance in our house and my first encounter with asparagus was as a mushy, broccoli-turned-bad tasting thing from a can. I didn’t consider myself a picky eater, as long as it involved normal things. Like mac and cheese, fish sticks, shake ‘n baked pork chops, chicken nuggets, tacos, or chicken pot pie.

There’s nothing wrong with these humble foods, but I’ve come a long way since then.

Moving to the Midwest for grad school helped – it was a very large and very diverse college town with a plethora of international cuisines my palette had never tasted. Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Mongolian were a few. Who knew I’d love Butter Chicken or sushi so much? But I also came to know and love better quality ingredients. I fell in lust with fine cheeses. I worked at a winery and educated my palette on wines from sweet to dry, white, red, port, late harvest and ice wine. My favorite spot’s filet with port reduction and desserts so good I wanted to hump the chef paralleled my awakening to the understanding: with better ingredients came better tastes. Brussel sprouts and asparagus when fresh and cooked to perfection? Now a whole different story. This was around 2005, the front end of the farm-to-table movement. If it meant food tasted this good, I was fully supportive.

Then I moved to the NY area and my food world exploded. I wanted to try it all, from the salty boiled bagels with lox to matza ball soup to real New York pizza. From Little Italy’s gelato and gnocchi to Morimoto’s steamed pork buns to Mario Batali’s Lupa, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, wild boar pasta from some place in the Village and 2am Korean barbecue-it-at-the tables with steaming cauldrons of bibimbap.  My ex was half Ecuadorian and introduced me to maduros, chicharones, papa rellena, chuletas, adobo, yuca fries, ropa vieja, pan con bistec, churrasco, ceviche and the list goes on.

Good grief, I’m a grown-ass foodie but it’s amazing to me that there are still so many types of food I haven’t tried.

Next up on my life list is a controversial one.

Here’s where I say that I’m just a girl… standing in front of a boy… telling you that I want to try foie gras. Be nice.

A lovely friend with many Atlanta chef contacts decided he wanted to tackle this item with me. He not only tracked down the best foie gras place for me, but handled inviting all our friends and booking the reservations. Thank you, Russell!  (ps – Russ is awesome. And blushes easily, which is why I’m doing this. He’s probably red to the tips of his ears by now.)  I decided my Paleo diet is being put into time-out for the evening, too. Gimme the bread, bitches.

Excited doesn’t cover it and we plan to make an evening of it! My friends don’t know this yet, but I want everyone to try a food they’ve never tasted tonight.  Because it’s not just about the foie gras, it’s also about the whole experience. Being brave. Trying. Living.

Now excuse me, I have to go figure out what I’m wearing since the temperatures decided to drop from humid-rainy to BALLS-IT’S-COLD. I’ll report back soon on how it went!

What foods have you never tried, and are a little scared to try!, but are going on your Life List anyway?

Mighty Peach Life List #58 and #10 – Twinkly Lights and Serendipity

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When people ask me if I’ve ever lived in New York, I have to admit, “I’ve never lived in New York, but I lived in Jersey for six years.” That statement is usually met with pursed lips, a brief nod, and a pitying “hmmm.”  Jersey just isn’t the same. It’s not better or worse, save Snooki and The Situation, but it’s not New York City.

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During my time in Jersey, I adjusted to the frantically-paced lifestyle and the “kill or be killed” driving mentality. I gave in to the reality that rats were fair roadkill game and that the enormous potholes could swallow a small child. But you don’t brag about those things to visiting family who can’t believe you moved to Jersey in the first place. Instead, I used their trips north to tackle big ticket NYC items and relished being a wide-eyed tourist with them. A few friends from college lived there too, and through them I experienced the lesser-hyped NYC phenomena. I danced on the bar at the real Coyote Ugly, saw operas at the Met, got lost wandering Central Park, and threw my 30th birthday bash at a bar on 8th Ave.

After six years, leaving Jersey wasn’t tough. I learned so much about myself, and I’d never trade my time there for anything, but it was time to go home. Now that I’ve been back in Atlanta for a year, I’ve realized I regret not doing a few things before I left.

With Christmas around the corner, I’m especially bummed that I never saw the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. When I tried to rally my native Jersey friends to go back then, they made the tree lighting ceremony sound like the worst of horrors—a crush of holiday-frazzled humanity who made it impossible to be near the tree at the magical moment. The big day always came and went, and in the holiday-filled weeks afterward my excuse was that I was too busy. “I’ll go next year,” I said. But I never did. Then I moved. Onto the Mighty Peach Life List it went.

This year, the folks at Bing told me to pack my fanciest Santa hat, my camera, and my walking boots, because they are sending me to New York to gaze lovingly at my tree. Bonus? I’ll get to check off #10 on my Life List—have a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity! I’m counting the days and plotting what other trouble I can get into while I’m there.

I’ll report back when I return, but until then, tell me: What are your favorite NYC must-do and must-sees?