December 31, 2015

I USED TO BE A BOOK LOVER

read books

I wish I could sit down and read a book for three hours. 

I have an image of myself when I was twelve. It is such a clear memory. I remember the bed under the window, and getting all this wonderful natural light in the afternoon; I remember the pink sheets and the silence. I would get home from school to an empty apartment and lay on my bed and read. Read, read, read until it was time for dinner, or homework. And I could get into any book, like a sort of meditation. I could finish a book in a week, sometimes a couple days. One time I started a book at 11pm and stayed up until 7am to finish it. These days I only pick up my bedside book at 11:30pm and after two sentences I am fast asleep. This, of course, is done after I've checked instagram, and maybe twitter, and hey, who knows, maybe I got an email. I read this article and see that I am not alone.

Maybe we are a generation of addicts. 

Addicted to television. Addicted to the internet. Most days, my computer is open. I am either on the computer, or doing something else while I... a) watch a tv show, b) listen to a podcast, or c) listen to music. But I'm not an addict! What about the times I go up to la finca in Colombia? We don't have internet up on the farm. And I don't ever miss it. Not while I am there. But at home? It's weird to not have the computer open. Cleaning my room in silence? "But I could be listening to This American Life right now!" So there's that. 

When is the last time I didn't have a to-do list?

I am always busy. Even when I'm wasting time on the internet, clicking link after link, going down the dark never-ending rabbit hole that is the internet, I am busy. But I'm engaged enough that I can forget about all the things I want/need to do. But god forbid I sit down with a book at 3PM in the afternoon. Who do you think you are, the queen of the world? Get back to that to-do list right now. When I want to read, I remember all the little things I'd like to do. And the weird part is that somehow, they don't really ever get done. 

All I want is less. I want to be on the internet less (she says while writing a blog post on the internet). I want to be less busy. Is this going to be that hard?

Latest books I've actually been able to finish: Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. Since it's new year, let me say that reading more is definitely one of my 2016 resolutions!


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December 30, 2015

KITCHEN EXPERIMENTS

kitchen experiment 1

I love experimenting in the kitchen... but this is coupled with a laziness that often takes over when I'm too hungry and don't feel like lifting a finger. Luckily I haven't been too lazy these days. I've started to experiment more than ever. In fact, I woke up at 7am the other day and cooked all day long, preparing four different salads, veggies and dip and four different phyllo pastries for my entire family. I didn't know what the dressing for each salad would be until the very last minute. I threw a few things together, and luckily everything was a success! 

kitchen experiment 2 kitchen experiment 3

I realize that I eat a lot of raw vegetables. As much fun as it is to eat quiche or anything that requires the stove or oven, I don't always use those when it's just me. I might caramelize some onions to throw on my salad, or cook the tempeh a little bit, but when I'm just cooking for myself, I eat raw more than I knew I did. (However, I learned in this book that the most nutritious way to eat carrots is cooked and with some kind of fat.) 

kitchen experiment 4 kitchen experiment 5

After discovering Tesco's caramelized onion hummus, I decided to try to make it at home... it turned out fantastic! That's what you see above. All the hummus! That probably lasted four days max. In the other pictures you see that I've tried making fruit salads using the pineapple as a bowl, I've learned to cook octopus, I discovered purple carrots, and I've made so many variations on the regular delicious hummus. So much more though! You should definitely try new things in the kitchen. It's so fun and so great when your efforts turn into something amazing. 




December 29, 2015

MUSIC FOR THE SOUL


Today I'll share a video of a great Irish band called Ye Vagabonds that I met in November while I was in Dublin. My friend Myles made this video, and as always, it is so beautifully shot. This is also a great interpretation of Willie o Winsbury... I know this song well, I've listened to it countless times, always performed by Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer from their gorgeous sounding album Child Ballads. Here is some magic for your ears.




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December 19, 2015

DUBLIN TO COLOMBIA

Dublin November 1

Dublin was amazing.

I almost want to leave it at that. I'm going to have to look up synonyms for amazing. I had fun and met the most wonderful people and that is the best. Meeting people who make you want to never leave, who make you want to hug them because they are so open and inviting and kind and fun (but if you're me, you sit rather quietly and smile and people ask you if you're okay, which you are, but HELLO resting bitch face + shyness).

Dublin November 3 Dublin November 4

I went to Dingle for Other Voices (which I kept calling Other Lives, my friend's band. Now I really want them to do Other Voices. Everyone would be so wonderfully confused) with my friend Luke and his lovely friend Daire. We joined Stevie and Myles and a whole lot of people who were all slightly hungover from the night before. We flew over during a storm and the turbulence during landing was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. I wanted to call my mom and tell her I loved her. Actually, I sat there wondering if I could write it down in my journal, and then maybe they would find it, you know, after we all died, and give it to my mom. Then I wondered if the journal would just burn with the rest of us. My thoughts were so dark. But the weekend was lovely. So many gin & tonics (with Dingle gin!) Even Glen H. asked me if I was okay. But at 4am, I was a bit tired which makes it harder to repress resting bitch face. I think Stevie and I discovered that there is a time during the night where I very suddenly go from 'tired but still good' to 'grumpy and I'm going the fuck home'. Good thing to know from now on. On a rainy Monday we all made our way back to Dublin.

Dublin November 2 Dublin November 5

(above: baker face & baker hair-do)

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would wake up at 5:30am to learn from the wonderful people at the Fumbally and from the genius Katie Sanderson, who I had been following on instagram but had never met in real life... So talented and calm in the kitchen. I now want nothing more than to experiment with fermentation and pickling. My days in the Fumbally Stables were incredible. Even though I would come home completely exhausted and feeling way too full from sampling all the cakes we were making, I wanted to go back every day and experiment more. (I also don't need anyone to tell me about the negative effects of sugar on the body. I tooootally get it now.)

Myles lent me his beautiful, amazing Gibson for which I was so grateful. Sadly, I didn't do anything musical during the month. It made me wonder how I could say "I'm a musician" if I didn't do a thing. But Myles kept introducing me to people as one, saying the kindest things and boosting my confidence by 1000%. I'll get there.

And way up on the list of good times, is getting to do most things with one of my favorite people in the world. I stayed with Stevie and his housemate Marisa (check out her project, Connect the Dots) and was so happy. I discovered Stevie can sing. We had loads of fun. We are professional fish taco makers now.

Dublin November 6

I learned that I can live with so much less... I lived out of a small carry-on suitcase, and a leather travel bag for a month. I ended up buying a faux-fur coat (only because I forgot to bring a real coat) and three thin tops. Other than that, everything I had was enough. Now I'm back in Paris, packing up my room as I prepare to move in January. And I have so. much. stuff. It's ridiculous. I leave for Colombia soon, and I have the apartment to myself which is lovely. A few days to pack up (which is sooooo messy) and say goodbye to my old room. I can't wait for January.

I had a lot of time to reflect on what is important to me. From the books that I read (Michael Pollan, Jo Robinson) to the websites and pages I follow (TakePart, Vox, Slow Food, Vice, Civil Eats, Fair Trade, The Good Trade) to the documentaries I watch (Just Eat It, The True Cost, That Sugar Film, Food Inc) to the way I buy and cook food and think about material things, I'm getting more passionate about – and this is the only way I can think to describe it right now – becoming a mini-Michael Pollan. But I want to make music, and I want to cook and bake and write and do something for the environment. So even though I might seem a little lost at times, I know very well the many things I want to do, it's just hard to find a way to do them all at once.

Dublin was wonderful and I cried the whole week before I left (but strangely, after saying goodbye to Stevie at the bus stop, I haven't cried once) and I don't know when I will be back, but I sure hope it is soon. Now, off to Colombia!

Dublin November 7



November 22, 2015

SUNDAY LINKS: HEALTH & FITNESS

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I've been talking a lot to my cousin's wife, Monica, about protein and working out and all things healthy. She's obviously been reading way more about it because she knows so much more than she did last time I saw her in December! It's been fun to learn from her, and it's made me start some of my own research. I've started following websites and blogs that write about health & fitness as well as people on Instagram who share healthy and mostly cruelty-free recipes. Starting a fitness journey is exhilarating and intoxicating but the truth is I hate the way most 'fitness people' eat. It looks so boring most of the time, I'm sorry to say. They eat loads of chicken hahaha. I used to eat chicken (and I loved it!) but since becoming a pescatarian, that's no longer an option. It seems like every day they eat egg whites for breakfast, turkey or chicken with sweet potato for lunch, turkey or chicken with rice and broccoli for dinner. Banana and peanut butter or protein shake or ten almonds for snack. None of these things are bad, but I just need more variety! and cooking is way too fun! I must say, I tried making protein balls for the first time while in Colombia and they were soooo delicious! Mmm... I guess there is some fun to be had and many recipes to try with protein powder and peanut butter ;) Here are some interesting links for you! Hope you enjoy them.


  • This website called "Two Foods" compares foods. It sounds a bit boring, but it's really great to put two fruits side to side and see what the differences in carbohydrates and protein really are. I find it fascinating...
  • How to prevent overeating... it's so hard, especially when you're eating something incredible (like the cheesecake my grandmother made last week) but necessary. I'm tired of feeling so stuffed I need a nap!
  • oh superfoods... how often I look you up and then eat crappy food.
  • I used to love when my mom would make me rice crispy treats! It didn't happen too often, especially since Paris doesn't have Rice Krispies cereal. Here are some good looking crispy rice protein treats because all desserts I make from now on will have protein powder in them ;)
  • some more good looking protein bars: one / two / three
  • if you're brave enough to do seven minutes of squats (last time I did, my legs hurt for the next two days! I also forgot to stretch... ok, so it was my fault. I always forget to stretch) then here's a link to a mini workout you can do today!

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November 21, 2015

ON MINIMALISM // 06: MINDFUL EATING HABITS

octopus

minimalist view on eating 


Sometimes I forget the delicate, pure taste of simplicity. As any person of my age, I am on the computer more than I'd like to admit, and some of that time is spent on Pinterest and Instagram. I've looked up many, many, many recipes and am very fond of cooking. But it's good to remember how great simple food tastes. 

I keep learning from my "mistakes". In the past few years, I started to take pictures of almost of the meals I made. Especially breakfast. Something simple, something that is supposed to keep me alive became complicated. Work. I assembled meals. And then this utterly stupid thought came to mind and it hit me. "But I can't take a picture of yogurt and honey, it won't make a great picture." Oh, so that's it. A salad with fifteen ingredients, a soup with twenty vegetables, a tart of thirty fruits and flavors... What about just one or two? I try to remind myself sometimes to do less. You're hungry? Just eat a fucking banana, don't turn it into a fancy fruit salad, says a voice in my head.

I remember so clearly this one day at Smith... I finished a small lunch and I was a bit hungry an hour later so I wondered what I could eat that wouldn't be too high in calories and would keep me full for a while... I looked in my fridge and saw a peach yogurt. My first instinct was to ask myself what I could add to it... granola, goji berries, pumpkin seeds... Then I stopped myself and decided to eat it as it was. Something I hadn't done in a while. I'm not even talking about the difference between processed "edible food-like substances" (Michael Pollan) and a homemade risotto. I'm talking about the difference between a turkey-cheese-tomato-basil-bacon-lettuce-mustard sandwich (perfectly good and homemade) and a slice of bread and butter. In essence, what we might call 'boring foods'. The other day, my snack was a slice of bread with salted butter. It was so flavorful and real! My goal is to try to eat more simply more often. I still love going out to restaurants and I still love cooking and coming up with crazy recipes and experimenting but I feel like there's something about simplicity that is so magical. Not to mention the money, calories and time saved.

Some examples of simplicity: turkey + mustard, bread + salted butter, plain yogurt + honey, banana + peanut butter, celery + peanut butter, apple + peanut butter, rice + ketchup (my own weird thing), pasta + mustard (not for everyone), tomato + salt, rolled oats + maple syrup. Those are some ideas, maybe you have some interesting ones too? I'd love to hear them. 

I've unfollowed most of the food instagram accounts I used to follow, and I've deleted most of my food boards on Pinterest and started over only pinning things I actually think I will likely make. I still love food, and cooking, but it's so much nicer to not think about it all the time, and to just enjoy it without making a fuss over each meal. Today I had plain tempeh with brown rice and ketchup and then for dessert I had leftover rice with a fresh date and a bit of cream. It was boring but it was good and I tasted every flavor. Let's not forget where our food comes from, and to feel grateful for the nourishment it provides. Here's to simplicity!


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November 20, 2015

TRAVEL DIARY: MY "ANIMAL FARM" IN COLOMBIA

Valentina's Farm 1

There isn't much I love more than being at the family farm with my animal friends. If you've been following on Instagram, then you have already met Zelda (above) and Scott (below), my two new friends that I love so dearly already. When I am in Colombia, I need to go to the finca weekly. I like to spend two or three days there, though some people in my family just drive up in the morning and stay a few hours and drive back in the evening. Staying longer helps you get away from everything though. No internet, just the farm, and the animals, and the wilderness. Sometimes I shower. 

Valentina's Farm 2 Valentina's Farm 3 Valentina's Farm 4 Valentina's Farm 5

Dogs, dogs, dogs. Again, if you follow on Instagram, you've met Sargento (above). He is the most loyal dog I've ever known. I swear, sometimes I think he's a human stuck in a dog's body. Sargento loves attention. He jumps up and sticks his paws on your up-to-then clean sweater and stays there like he wants something. He wants love, I pressume. I think the arrival of Scott made him jealous and left him feeling a bit forgotten at times. I say this because I could FEEL his desperation. Yes, Sargento, I DO LOVE YOU! We all do! 

Valentina's Farm 6 Valentina's Farm 7 Valentina's Farm 8

At the farm, I am myself. Nothing physical matters – I wear the same things again and again (washing them of course, because soooomehow I tend to get clothes dirty (clue: dogs). I read, I eat, I think, I listen to podcasts until I run out of podcasts to listen to, I dance to music, I play with the dogs, I visit the pig and the hens, I think about planting more and about what it would be like to have a magnificent garden, I lay down on the floor with the dogs (I do that more than you'd think), I write, I sleep. 

Valentina's Farm 9 Valentina's Farm 10 Valentina's Farm 11 Valentina's Farm 12 Valentina's Farm 13

I feel so lucky to have a family farm in Colombia. I wanted to share these pictures with you because they show you my immense love for animals hahaha. Going through my pictures from last month, I realize half are of animals, maybe more. I hope you like looking through these pictures... I just think they are all so adorable and I love being able to share my love for animals and the farm! I mean, just look at those baby ducklings! 

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As you can see, the horse and I share the same hair color. Maybe we go to the same stylist.

Valentina's Farm 19 Valentina's Farm 20


November 18, 2015

FOOD IN COLOMBIA

Food in Colombia *1

I'm thinking about everything I eat in Colombia. The thing is I don't eat like a Colombian. I usually don't have rice. Ever. I don't eat more than two empanadas (and that was once the whole month I was there) and I the only fried thing I have once a week is the 'hojaldra' that is made at our farm. Colombian food can be very heavy. Fried this, fried that. But I have found things I love over there. Like that aloe vera juice (that I can find basically anywhere but for some reason I love in Colombia). Like the Juan Valdez coffee which is Colombia's version of Starbucks. Like all the green fruit (green mango, green guava) with lemon and salt (yes. This is my favorite thing ever). 

Food in Colombia 1 Food in Colombia *7 Food in Colombia *2 Food in Colombia 2

Those purple 'potatoes' are ullucos and my grandmother's housemaid cooks them into something so delicious and magical. Fruit, fruit, fruit. There's loads of that. A lot of plantain with every meal. And then ceviche. Oh ceviche, how I love ceviche. The colombian version is just as good as the peruvian... but different... BUT JUST AS GOOD. "Queso soya" which is a tofu cheese that blows my mind, and I don't know what I'll do in Paris without it. 

What did I notice when I became pescatarian my second week in Colombia? Colombians eat meat. Lots and lots of meat and chicken. Sometimes it was a struggle to find vegetarian options. But we found some great vegetarian restaurants and stores in Cali! Slowly, they are becoming more popular. 

Food in Colombia *3 Food in Colombia *4 Food in Colombia *5 Food in Colombia *6 Food in Colombia *9 Food in Colombia *8

So yes... here are some pictures of food from my time in Colombia last month. Some from parties (ahem, people don't eat cookie monster cupcakes every day... right?), some from restaurants, some from the farm. I'll be back next month and will try to remember to take even more pictures. Oh, I forgot to say... Colombian food isn't always very photogenic ;)

Food in Colombia 3 Food in Colombia *10



November 14, 2015

PARIS

lately on instagram Valentina D10 IMG_1879 IMG_1257 Bits P 10 Valentina Paris Bored 2

No words can describe the sadness and heartbreak over yesterday's shootings in Paris. I was up until so late following the news and speaking to friends. I am not at home in Paris. I am safe in Barcelona. Friends and family still in Paris are alive and safe. Thanks for the concern... Much love. Big hugs to everyone.



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