August 13, 2014

Capsule wardrobe

I’ve been increasingly intrigued by capsule wardrobes. The concept is that you whittle your clothing options down substantially and that this (counterintiutively, perhaps) results in a wardrobe that feels much more versatile, usable, and fun. Although some blogs have systems which recommend a specific number of items (to really enforce the minimalist mindset), in general it’s understood that this can be tweaked to fit your personal situation. Some blogs that showcase capsule wardrobes are:

The Vivienne Files — great for thinking about color families and being inspired by the range of outfits which can be created from a small number of items.

Project 333 — SUPER strict as far as these things go; she limits EVERYTHING in her 3-month wardrobe to 33 items, including clothes, accessories, shoes, and outerwear.

Un-fancy — closest to my philosophy, although she wears mostly neutrals while I have a bit more color in my wardrobe. She recommends 37 items of clothing, shoes, and outerwear (but not accessories, those are unlimited). She generally aims for 9 shoes, 9 bottoms, 15 tops, and 4 dresses or jackets.

One week from today, I am moving to the Bay Area for a year. Although I’ll be coming back to my current home frequently for visits, and could certainly also ship my moderately-sized wardrobe to CA, I think this is the perfect time for me to attempt a capsule. I like the idea of moving fewer items, and I also would love to spend less time trying to figure out what to wear in the mornings. However, a few things about my situation in the coming year are making it hard for my wardrobe to be as strictly minimal as the examples above.

1. Work. I am starting a new job in a more conservative environment. Not “suits every day” conservative, but I’ll definitely want to be firmly business casual (as opposed to just “dressy casual”). A lot of the minimalist bloggers work from home or in more casual environments, perhaps with occasional client meetings or other “dress up” events.

2. Weather. This is somewhat specific to the Bay Area, which is well known for its wide temperature ranges and microclimates. I’m especially nervous about starting this challenge at the end of August and continuing through November! Seems like 3 months that have the potential for a LOT of variation in heat/humidity! I know I added a few extra pieces that are more like security blankets in case of truly dire weather shifts.


In any event, the total final tally (clothing, shoes, and jackets, but not accessories) is 56 items. That breaks down to 15 bottoms, 14 pairs of shoes, 20 tops, and 7 dresses/jackets. Although the number of items is way higher than 33 or 37, I’m trying to keep the wardrobe separated into 2 sections (work and play), and will only use items from the appropriate capsule. A handful of items are on both lists, but I didn’t intentionally try to add everything possible to both lists.


March 14, 2013

Eats 3-13-13

B: 3 hardboiled eggs with homemade sriracha mayo, escarole salad with creamy avocado ranch dressing (via Annie’s Eats), coffee with cream.

L: Leftovers of pineapple chicken curry over cauliflower rice, 1/2 baked sweet potato.

D: Leftover lamb chop with blood orange sauce (via Tartlette), roasted green beans.

Snacks: A couple Tanka Bites, two pieces of dark chocolate.

March 12, 2013

Eats 3-11-13

B: Liver and blueberries, via The Primalist.  Yeah, I went there.  M HATES that I eat liver (we have a pretty intellectually interesting disagreement on this point, which I should probably explore in another post, but suffice it to say he is not in favor of eating unpalatable foods purely due to their nutritional content).  Nonetheless, I have been eating meatballs with liver in them for breakfast once per week for awhile, and have no plans to stop.  And yeah, the liver and blueberries worked surprisingly well.  I think it was definitely made easier by the fact that I’ve been consuming liver in more “masked” forms for several weeks, so the flavor of straight liver is less offensive to me now.  I still prefer the meatballs overall, but this was good in a pinch*.

L: Pineapple red curry with chicken via Zenbelly, served over cauliflower rice.  Didn’t bring enough food, so supplemented with some Tanka Bites and a few macadamia nuts.  The curry is nice but I definitely need to add more than 1T of my weaksauce curry paste next time — not enough spice!

D: Leftover lamb burger with tzatziki sauce, roasted broccoli, and half an avocado.  Plus a few strips of dried mango and 1/2T coconut butter.



*The “pinch” was I got a HUGE grassfed liver from my friendly local farmer, and it was too much to fit into my standard batch of meatballs without seriously compromising the texture.  So I did my usual liver meatballs (1/3 pureed liver to 2/3 pastured pork, along with some other strong flavors), and used about 3 oz of sliced liver for my breakfast.

February 12, 2013

Eats 7-16-12 (plus weekend)

Ugh.  I had icebox cake (from Smitten Kitchen) AND ice cream cake (not even very good, it was store-bought) AND many drinks this weekend.  By Sunday morning I was feeling gross and VERY ready to get back on the paleo bandwagon.

Yesterday B: 3 egg omlet, 1 c cherries, coffee with 1 T pastured cream.

Yesterday L: leftover Thai food (chicken gra pow and a slice of flank steak — some sugar in here), some baby carrots and snap peas.

Yesterday D: Lettuce-wrapped citrus carnitas (from Well Fed) with avocado, side of yogurt-mint cucumber salad.

Dessert: a couple of cherries.


B: 3 egg frittata with mushrooms and bacon, iced coffee w 1 T pastured cream.

Snack: 1 T coconut butter.

L: Moroccan meatballs (from Well Fed) made with pastured lamb, cold carrot salad and cold eggplant salad.

D: “Shephard’s Pie” (from Well Fed) using cauliflower puree as crust, pastured lamb filling.

Dessert: cherries and coconut milk.

December 29, 2012

Holiday check-in

This Christmas I headed to the Chicago area to be with family.  It was the first time being with my mom since “coming out” as Paleo (well, for ease of communicating with her I just refer to it as “grain-free” — she’s not really computer-literate, so she hasn’t been exposed to much Paleo information, but she is familiar with concepts like gluten-free).  Surprise surprise, when people are aware of your food needs they are able to accommodate them much more easily!  I was actually really grateful that my mom made an effort to plan meals that were grain-free (she and my sister occasionally supplemented a meal with bread, and ate several snacks/treats that I simply skipped).

For lunch the first day (23rd) we went to a local brewpub.  I skipped a beer this time 🙂  Mom and Sis had sandwiches, I had a very nice pork belly salad.  I asked them to not include the biscuit, but unfortunately the salad did come dusted with some fine bread crumbs — WTH?  Anyway, should have been specific about grain-free.  For dinner we made a steak salad with some nice cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and red onion.  Delicious!

The next day we had steak-and-eggs for breakfast.  A family member had very thoughtfully sent some bagels and lox to be delivered around mid-day, so I had a snack of lox and cream cheese while others loaded up bagels.  Then we traveled to see my other family for a Christmas Eve gathering.  There were many many treats and finger foods available at the house, the vast majority of which were SERIOUSLY un-Paleo (think chocolate-covered potato chips, velveeta cheese dip, etc).  I had a pretty clean meal nonetheless, sticking with sliced deli meats and cheeses and some cold shrimp.  Yum!  A few more chocolate treats were ingested than were necessary, but overall it was thumbs up.

Christmas day started with coffee, sausage, and eggs — thank goodness it was a holiday, my extended family doesn’t usually eat breakfast at all.  Again this turned into a two-meal day, as we had dinner around 4pm.  I was starving by then, but luckily my aunt had neglected to put out any nibbles beforehand so I wasn’t tempted.  We had turkey, ham, and many carby side dishes (I skipped all, though I did taste the sweet potato casserole — what a disappointment!  It was SUPER sweet, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it).  I did have a side of green beans.  And for dessert, my mom had made baked apples (grain-free again, woohoo!).

The next day (26th) started off with scrambled eggs with lox and cream cheese, one of my favorite breakfasts.  Again it was a two-meal day, though I snacked on some jerky in the afternoon.  Dinner was sushi/sashimi (gasp, RICE!).  I had a side of seaweed salad, both because I love it and because I was desperate for some veggies.  Also a glass of wine.

Finally, the last day in Chicago had arrived.  My friend and I had brunch together, where I ordered a very nice omelet with chorizo (only a tiny bit), arugula, and goat cheese.  Very cheesy, I actually didn’t feel super great after this 😦  Anyway, we soldiered on with some shopping and lots of chatting.  For dinner we went to another brewpub, and this time I couldn’t resist a beer.  I also had a great bratwurst with onions and sauerkraut, plus sweet potato fries.

All in all, a very successful trip from a Paleo perspective!  It was great to be (mostly) around people who know about what I eat and could therefore help me find something suitable.

November 21, 2012

Paleo Thanksgiving 2012

On Sunday I cooked up a paleo feast for M and I!  We had these items:

Roasted turkey breast — I stuffed some sauteed leeks and carrots between the skin and meat, then just roasted for about 1hr and 45mins.  Very moist!

Paleo gravy via Nom Nom Paleo

Beet and apple salad — based on a Serious Eats recipe, but essentially just roasted beets cut up into cubes (I used both golden and regular beets) mixed with diced apples and tossed with a mustard-y vinaigrette.

Cranberry sauce from the Whole9

Sweet potatoes via Serious Eats

Stuffing from PaleOMG — to be honest, this was a letdown.  Nothing to do with the recipe itself, but stuffing is a really hard thing to replicate.  The texture of the bread in there is….really not approximated by mushrooms and other veggies.  I think in the future I will just not bother making a stuffing substitute.  It’s better to just have a small portion of the real stuff.

Of course, we also needed a seasonal cocktail (it was okay, next time I’ll go with something cranberry-based).  Finally, there were two treats, some lovely cookies and some AMAZING caramels.  Seriously, those caramels…..with the salt and the cider, yuuuuuum.


Today we’re heading out to see M’s family for what will likely be a minimally-paleo couple of days.  I’ll be juggling several goals (1. Don’t insult our lovely hosts 2. Don’t deprive myself of anything truly wonderful (see also: stuffing, caramels) 3. Eat what makes me feel best).  Happy Thanksgiving!

October 26, 2012

FAQ: My paleo

Many people have described that “paleo” is not one way of eating.  While there are (many) things that are clearly Not Paleo (soda, cheese doodles, crack cocaine), a lot of things are…..iffy.  Do you consider it “not paleo” when you eat a small amount of white rice?  What about dairy (local, raw, organic, fermented….any of those adjectives make a difference?)?  What about “paleo-ized” desserts, gluten free and sweetened with honey or maple syrup?

For myself, I eat the following foods without trying specifically to limit them in any way.  They are the core of my paleo diet:

-Meat/fish/eggs, with a heavy emphasis on local, pasture-raised/grassfed/wild-caught


-Healthy fats (avocado, coconut (oil, milk, flakes), olive oil (low/no heat), animal fats, pastured butter)


The following are foods that I keep an eye on.  Overeating any of these foods has the potential to cause problems (see other paleo blogs for the details, I’m not going to rehash the science here), but what constitutes “overeating” varies from person to person:

-Fruit.  My most commonly consumed fruits, from highest to lowest, are: blueberry, any other berry, banana, apple, melon, all others.

-Starchy veggies.  I eat these primarily post-workout (Japanese sweet potatoes FTW!).  I don’t severely limit them at other times of the day (especially not after reading this article from Paleo for Women), but I don’t include them at every meal, or even every day, because they can make me feel too full.

-Dairy.  I take a good amount of pastured heavy cream in my morning coffee, but most days that is my only dairy.  I will eat cheese, yogurt, and even a bit of milk (if called for in a recipe) without considering it a cheat, but I try to keep those items minimal.

-Nuts.  I use nuts as a snack or fat-source maybe 4 times per week, but try not to overemphasize them in my diet.  I’m conscious of the omega-6 levels in nuts, and also (to a lesser degree) their caloric load.  Favorite nuts are macadamias, almonds, and cashews.

-70%+ dark chocolate.  I have 1 square or less per day.  I’m not tempted to eat more because too much dark chocolate makes me feel like I’m going to have a migraine.

-Alcohol.  This may be a controversial one.  First off, this category does not include beer or mixed drinks involving soda — those are still off the plan.  However, we enjoy a traditional Wednesday night margarita (high-quality reposado tequila, juice of 1 whole lime, 1/2 oz Patron Citronge), and on weekend nights we will have a mixed drink or wine.  The cocktails are usually low-to-no sugar affairs, and I will have a MAX of 3 drinks in an evening (usually 2).  I consider this amount of alcohol to be acceptable for my paleo diet.

The following are my most common non-paleo foods, from most to least frequent

-Ice cream/fro-yo.  About once every week.  I try to stick to gluten-free flavors and toppings.  The ice cream is from a great local shop, high quality and delicious (the fro-yo is chemical-laden grossness, and I’m trying to stop giving in to it).  I tend not to make homemade, even though I have a great ice cream maker, because I’d rather it be a one-time thing rather than having a whole container sitting in my freezer.

-Other sugar.  Once in a great while I’ll eat a cookie/piece of cake/other treat.  These are pretty much always homemade, I can totally skip any packaged cookie or cake (with the exception of ice cream cake.  Yum.).  This literally comes up about once per month.  I don’t add sugar to anything I cook at home or to my coffee.

-“Paleo-ized” baked goods.  You know the drill.  Gluten free chocolate-cherry muffins made with almond flour!  Coconut flour pancakes (with additional maple-apple compote)!  Caramel-banana-bread!  Yes, I make these things, but I don’t kid myself.  These are hyper-palatable treats that are many steps removed from whole, real food.


-Corn and white rice.  I do think of these as “off plan”, and honestly they don’t tempt me too much.  I don’t like to be a pain at sushi restaurants, so I usually just get sashimi and avoid the whole issue, but if I’m feeling like having a sushi roll I go ahead and eat the rice.  Same with corn, a few kernels in a dish won’t put me off, but I do think of them as outside my typical diet.

-Bread products, pasta, etc.  These are rarely “worth it” to me.


August 15, 2012

Eats 8-14-12 and flight planning

B: 3-egg frittata with leftover grassfed beef, zucchini, tomato, and pepper jack cheese.  Kimchi, iced coffee with 1 oz pastured cream.

L: 1/4 pound grassfed lamb with sauteed carrots and onions, 6 fresh lychees.

Snack: 1 small roasted sweet potato, 6 large cherry tomatoes (farmer’s market!), 1/2 cup strawberries and raspberries with 1/4 cup coconut cream.

D: Meatza with kale, tomato, and bacon and a side of roasted spicy zucchini.

Went to the farmer’s market today finally, but they didn’t have any organ meat (boo!).  Did pick up some tomatoes — they are the BEST in August and early September — and 2 pounds of pastured breakfast sausage.  YUM, can’t wait to cook it up!

I need to start planning my food for the trip to Portugal.  I’m a bit concerned about the flight itself — checked US Airways’ site to look at the food and it’s a sugar-fest.  I went ahead and ordered the fancier dining option; it’s overpriced but so is everything when you travel, and at least this way I get wine 🙂  Anyway, it’s a citrus-marinated chicken skewer thing (probably like a scant 1/4 pound of meat, if that) over orzo (will skip) and topped with mango chutney.  There are also crackers on the side (skip), a shrimp cocktail (could be scary — but will eat if it seems fresh, I love shrimp and rarely get to eat it because M is allergic), marinated grilled veggies and a creme brulee with fresh berries.  So, overall not too bad.  I’m also planning to bring a small amount of jerky for breakfast, plus some almonds for snacks.  Unfortunately I can’t bring anything I won’t finish on the plane itself, since it’s international and you can’t bring back nuts/meats etc.  But I think once we’re there it will be easier to put together good meals.

Can’t wait to go!

August 7, 2012

Eats 8-6-12

B: 1/4 frittata (total had 5 whole eggs plus 1 yolk and 9 oz grassfed ground beef with italian sausage seasoning), 1/4 cup kimchee, iced coffee with 1oz pastured cream.

Snack: 1T coconut butter

L: 6 oz deli turkey, 1/2 avocado, 6 baby carrots, 2 squares dark chocolate.

D: 1.5 chicken sausages, sauteed bell pepper and onion.

Snack: 1/2 japanese sweet potato (no skin), 1/2 cup blackberries.

July 16, 2012

Eats 7-12-12

B: 1/2 cup steam-sauteed cabbage, 2 diced chicken thighs, 2 T homemade sriracha-mayo, iced coffee with 1 T heavy cream.

AM snack: 1/4 cup raspberries and slivered almonds with coconut milk.

L: Czech meatballs, steam-sauteed cabbage, cauliflower puree.

Snack: 1/2 green pepper, sliced, handful of snap peas.

Dinner: Meatza with mushrooms, broccoli, and a few green olives.

Post-physical therapy snack: 1 small roasted sweet potato.