A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

bookmark love.
this camp firewood pie which involves bourbon, brownies, and a cookies and cream meringue.
this maple pumpkin seed butter.

annddd because obviously I finished reading through the first mess archives and am now onto top with cinnamon, a barrage of recipes from this lovely new-to-me-but-not-to-the-rest-of-the-universe blog:
healthy 3 ingredient chocolate fudge sauce
whole wheat blueberry scones.
homemade coconut milk + ground coconut.
banana bread ‘ice cream’

kitchen love.
this zucchini “butter”.
this summer fruit salsa & pesto hummus.pinterest love.
this donut stack cake design gaahh.

just…love, love.
how to live wisely [ny times]

The past two years were the first ever where I did not have the summer vacation of childhood, two plus solid months of nothing to do but live. Even when I held a summer job, it was summer, and nothing could ever be too serious when daylight stretched into infinity. Oddly enough, right now, with September towering before us like a tsunami, I feel all of the laziness and ease that I used to reserve for summer, brimming up to the surface for the first time all year. I’m ready for Fall. I’m ready to buckle down, I suppose, but more than that, I’m ready to shirk my blinders and see the full landscape of work and play.

work life balance? via @floptimism

I think many of us feel a shift in priorities around this time of year. It’s back to routines: brown-bagged lunches, curfews, family dinners, homework. The days are already growing shorter. There never seem to be enough hours in the day – I’m guilty of that thinking, too. How do we work, study, cook, clean, care for ourselves, care for others, discover new passions, and not lose our sanity?

A little while back, I was contacted by TheLadders, asking if I (and many other bloggers) would write a piece on the work-life balance conundrum, how to achieve our goals not just in the office, but out of it as well. This isn’t a sponsored post. I don’t really know much about TheLadders at all, but they sparked the idea for this post, and so I have to give credit where credit is due.

We’re going to get to the answers, or at least my answers, some answers, to how someone can begin to fit together all of the seemingly mismatched pegs of life’s five thousand piece puzzle. First, though, I have to say that I think all of that is meaningless unless we establish one very important thing: there is no such thing as work-life balance. There is only life, and filling it with things we love or finding ways to love the things we fill it with. No one should spend forty hours — or thirty-two, or eighty if you work for Amazon apparently — every week doing something that they don’t consider part of their real life. So the title of this post, its sole purpose, is really misguided. When we try to balance “work” and “life,” we’ve missed the point entirely.

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A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

bookmark love.
this “zero waste” DIY toothpaste…am I seriously considering this? [yes, yes I am.]
these vegan chocolate-fig cinnamon buns.
this trick for diy peanut butter chips. [ scroll allll the way to the bottom ]
this cinnamon, raisin, & walnut sourdough.
these maple nut pastries.
these blueberry almond butter pancakes which are begging to be made with the white chocolate wild Maine blueberry almond butter I just bought.
these adorable bite-sized pop tarts even though I actually….hate eating miniature food?? L would probably like them, though. And they are super cute.

kitchen love.
these charred corn crepes, following the instructions for “mexican street crepes” and using homemade mayo…I wish I had a bottomless plate of them, for real.

just…love, love.
I’m too old for this [ny times]
things that will happen if I don’t take my phone out right now [the new yorker]

A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

bookmark love.
this summer fruit & pesto hummus.
this vegan cauliflower steak caesar salad.
this avocado dill potato salad.
this chocolate peanut banana “soft serve”.
this chocolatey s’mores bread.
this tropical melon breakfast bowl.
this vegan “queso”.
these vegan mocha chip muffins.
this cacao nib strawberry waffles.
this brownie batter breakfast bake.
these chocolate banana muffins.
this homemade pomegranate molasses.
these tofu tacos with chipotle tahini.

kitchen love.
this thai kale salad made my week.

just…love, love.
how do you become comfortable in your own skin? [inspiredrd]
beginner’s guide to night sky photography [also inspiredrd]
Mindy Kaling’s guide to killer confidence, & now I really want her book. [glamour]

It is a sad day in the Floptimism kitchen. I have learned that my BFF (best food “friend”) is more like a BFFrenemy. That’s right, me and peanut butter, we apparently don’t get along quite as well as I thought.

peanut flour butter square

Before we get to that, though, we need to start the beginning, and the beginning, here, is my recent sugar reset. I had primary reasons for wanting to try a period of time without sugar, and there were secondary reasons, little convenient consequences that I hoped would come to pass. One of those side effects I had hoped for? Clearer skin. So, I eschewed all makeup (ok, ok, I totally still use a little eyeliner for work) and skincare products, to get an unbiased look at what my skin did. Spoiler alert: nothing good.

Look, my skin is never that terrible. I really can’t complain. I get lots of little red bumps, plenty of blackheads, and only the occasional actual white-headed spot. I notice them more than other people do, but what I notice more than the breakouts themselves is this general feeling of ickiness. I just don’t feel fresh and clean when my skin is breaking out, and obviously, sugar wasn’t what was keeping me from feeling like I was the star of a Clean&Clear commercial.

skin cleanse by adina grigore

Around the same time, I started to read skin cleanse by Adina Grigore. Now look, I find the concepts she discusses fascinating, but she’s not a dermatologist. She tried something radical (actually not radical at all, but radical in the flying-in-the-face-of-convention kind of way), it worked for her skin, and she wrote a book. Still, it’s worth a shot, right? I mean, I just finished eight weeks of not eating sugar because I was plain curious what would happen – obviously I’m willing to be my own guinea pig from time to time. And though I’m still reading the book, I learned a few things about my skin and the food I eat.

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chimichurri tacos via @floptimism

A meal like this deserves some serious food description. It should come with a fun, playful story with a surprisingly poignant ending. It should make you think, Summer! and smile. And yet, all my brain wants to do is word vomit exclamation points and blubber some barely-coherent version of, Oh my gosh, you guys, this meal is like, so amazing. I just…I can’t even. Yikes.

chimichurri tacos via @floptimism

But really, this meal truly is, like, so amazing. It’s not even that adventurous or bold in flavor, which is generally a prerequisite for me when it comes to getting excited about any food. These tacos are ridiculously simple, which is honestly what I crave this time of year, when the sun comes out with guns blazing by 10am and you swear that your produce has never tasted so fresh. We don’t need anything too fancy to enjoy these ingredients. No, in fact, I think their simplicity is exactly what allows me to enjoy them so much.

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After eight short weeks without sugar (ish), I’ve decided it’s time to bring this little experiment to a close (ish).

sugar reset recap @floptimism

To read more about the sugar reset, read my introductory post.

This is all very anticlimactic, and quite a bit wishy-washy, and not particularly news-worthy, if you ask me. You see, I’m “ending” the sugar reset, but it’s not like I’m going out for breakfast this morning to get an ice cream sundae, or anything. I really don’t have any immediate plans to eat sugar in any obvious way at all. Also, I’ve totally eaten small amounts of sugar here and there over the past two weeks. Sometimes accidentally, and sometimes because my options were either “eat this thing with 0g sugar but sugar in the ingredients list” or “not eat the dinner that L prepared for me and didn’t realize happened to have sugar until I double checked the label,” to list one example. So the experiment has kind of been trickling off as I go, and I think this is a good thing. I don’t actually think of it as an end to the experiment at all, but rather a new phase. Phase One< ?a> was crazy strict, no sugar in anything, no fruit, for realz, you know? And then phase two was, ok, let’s bring fruit back, and not hyperventilate if I happen to eat something with a trace amount of sugar.

A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

So this phase, phase three, is like…ok, I don’t have a particularly strong desire to eat very sweet things, but I’m pretty sure I’ll want cake for my birthday next month, and making my very favorite huge roasted veggie salad that calls for just a touch of honey in the dressing needs to happen…like a-sap. Mostly, though, I’m just so excited to not have to explain to everyone who offers me food that I’m not eating sugar. I try my best to be all nonchalant about it, but is there any way to not come off like a total a-hole when saying something like that? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth every time.

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apple mango muesli via @floptimism

It’s late July and there is no escaping the suffocating heat any longer. My phone buzzes every two minutes with a new heat advisory. My top floor apartment traps the heavy air and, without the luxury of a ceiling fan, we can only hold off on the a/c unit for so long. In such a small space, there is no closing off one room from another, and the heat from the stove or oven seeps out and hangs heavy around us for the rest of the day. I am desperate for cold, raw meals – salads and almond butter sandwiches and a giant disk of frozen pureed watermelon that was perfection this morning for the ten minutes it took to eat.

apple mango muesli via @floptimism

My favorite summer breakfast is a jar of overnight oats, prepped the day or days before and ready for me in the morning, cool and creamy. If we’re being honest, I turn to them more often than not in colder weather, too. I have quite a few recipes on the blog already, including a favorite find from my soon-to-be-ending sugar reset (more on than later!) posted not long ago. They all involve milk, yogurt, or some such non-dairy alternative to allow the oats to soak and swell just a little overnight. Muesli, being any mixture of oats, nuts, and fruit, is unique in that it doesn’t use any additional liquid. The chopped or grated fruit helps soften the oats just enough, leaving them with a satisfying chew come breakfast time.

apple mango muesli via @floptimism

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A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

bookmark love.
these chocolate chunk granola bars
this garlic olive oil bread dip <-- L is all about that bread + olive oil combo.
this grape & white peach bulgur salad.
these late night snacksicles, like, omg. !! Good thing I’m still not eating sugar. Better thing I don’t own popsicle molds.
these very blueberry scones.

kitchen love.
this lime-cilantro cauliflower salad, only with steamed cauliflower florets rather than boiled. So good!
these summer stuffed peppers, unfortunately roasted instead of grilled because…apartment life.

just…love, love.
stop buying in bulk [slate]
everything is yours, everything is not yours [medium]
the way women talk, devil’s advocate style [ny mag]

black bean burger via @floptimism

I remember the first time I had a veggie burger that hadn’t first been frozen and lazily, unenthusiastically, robotic-ally heated, either by my own hands or those belonging to some underpaid, overworked line cook at a lackluster chain. It was during college at a restaurant in town, and they described their veggie burger as being house-made. I ordered it, and what they set before me was a total. game changer. It was soft and messy, spilling out every which way with every bite. I dared not put it down, partly because I feared it would fall entirely to pieces without my hands as anchors, and partly because it tasted too good. It’s funny, the flavors I don’t remember distinctly — only that I was immediately enamored, and ordered it the very next time I went to that restaurant [something I rarely do, always looking for some new plate to explore].

ultimate black bean burger via @floptimism

Too often, we think of veggie burgers as these flat, sponge-like UFO’s [I would use the term “puck-like” but I fear even a hockey puck’s thickness is too generous a comparison] with little going for them aside from a few grams of protein and a shape reminiscent of a fast food quarter pounder. They are the narrow view of vegetarianism that most people encounter, justification for the pitying of meat-eschewers. Surely you must be deprived, subsisting solely on these sad replacements for meat. If that’s all vegetarianism was, I don’t think I would blame them.

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