Salads can be simple or complex but freshness and flavor should never lack. They can be a side dish or the main attraction. When done well, you feel satisfied. Your body loves you for fueling it with loads of goodness. Here is my version of a salad I really enjoyed over the summer. A green dream that will go on repeat with different variations depending on the season. There is no stopping you from adding a piece of grilled salmon or a sliced steak to this salad. Endless options!
Washed mixed greens of your choice
1 cup of cooked quinoa (you will probably use 1/2 depending on how many people you are feeding so extra goes in frig for future salads and just saves time!)
One yellow squash and one zucchini diced up then saute in a bit of olive oil and salt & pepper
A few roasted peppers diced up
Roast a handful of pistachios then chop into small pieces ( I used a spice grinder)
One whole avocado sliced (1/2 an avocado per person is good)
Handful of sunflower seeds
Feta cheese for the sprinkling
Fresh pesto to dollop along the plate (buy it or make it)
A French dressing or any other simple dressing (I will be testing out some new dressings and will post them if I like them)
To prepare: It’s so easy!
Toss your greens with a light amount of dressing then place them on individual plate or bowls
Layer on quinoa, warm squash, roasted peppers, crumbled bits of feta, sprinkle on sunflower seeds, small dollops of pesto around the edges of the salad, place your sliced avocado on top, and then finish it off with a sprinkling of pistachios. Easy peasy! Done!
Plastic! Yes, we all know the very real side effects of plastics and our oceans. I struggle with removing plastic from my household. How do I live without Ziploc bags and plastic wrap? They are so damn convenient for just about everything when it comes to the kitchen. One needs to break the habit and look for other options. Straws, no problem.
Here are few plastic alternatives. All can be found on Amazon. I have yet to try all of these but I am heading there. Sooner rather than later. One hopes that even the smallest changes amount to something.
Greta Thunberg, a sixteen year old Swedish climate activist with a mission to bring awareness globally. She is nothing short of inspiring. A young girl that will pull at your heart strings and make you want to do better. Her impact is global and is inspiring our youth. I love the way she speaks and how she has the ability to be blunt and respectful in the same breath. So composed and confident. Greta is determined, empowered, and showing the world that you can not sit back and just talk about it. We need action! Like Greta says, “All we have to do is wake up and change.”
She believes the one small step everyone can do now is to read and educate themselves to understand the emergency of the climate and ecological crisis. The reports are fact based not opinion.
Flowers are happiness. Instant sunshine in my book. Fresh flowers have always been a weekly indulgence for me. Sometimes it is simple grassy greens in a vase. Other times, it’s a colorful assortment. Flowers have the power to make you smile. I have no problem buying them for myself. In fact I love it! A gift from someone I know, well that makes my heart sing.
Recently on a walk with friends, we saw a neighbor offering their fresh cut flowers from their garden to whom ever walked by. What a lovely, simple symbol of neighborly love. A few days later, I received on my doorstep a pitcher filled with fresh cut flowers from my friend. The idea of someone thinking about you instantly lifts your mood. Small gestures really do make people smile at the end of the day. Genuine acts of kindness is always trending.
I was recently speaking with a friend about isostilo. What sparked the idea?A very convincing and supportive Dutch friend encouraged me to start isostilo with the intention to define it as it evolves. Part style, fashion, travel, lifestyle, and everything in between. What I know is that I needed a push to just begin something and to see where it goes. A large part of my inspiration draws from my four years living in Amsterdam and the many return visits.
Amsterdam is a chapter in my life that opened my eyes. The wonderful part of my relationship with this city is that every return visit my connection becomes deeper. Spending time in Amsterdam gives me a gift that continues to grace me with love, appreciation, and curiosity. It continues to shape my thoughts, perspective, and personal style.
In a nutshell. My husband and I, along with our sweet dog Senna, moved to Amsterdam as expats three weeks after we married in 2004. Working for me was not option since I was not sponsored for a work visa. I explored every day by foot, by bike, made friends, took cooking classes, failed miserably at Dutch lessons (except for befriending the most amazing girl friends), joined a Bikram studio, spotted interesting designers, soaked up the culture, and drank up the city one coffee at a time. Two years into our stay, I became pregnant and gave birth to our son. I had a home birth and embraced the norm of not going to the hospital. It was magical. If you want to know more about this then you can read about my birth in Ricki Lake’s book, Your Best Birth. We built friendships that became our family. It was four amazing years before returning back to Boston. I have managed to visit once a year since our return in 2008.
It is the friendships that we cultivated during those years that I hold so dear to my heart. These friendships draw us back. Friendships that make me tick in a way I can’t fully explain but will try. I feel more grounded, more connected, and my life becomes simpler in a way. There is honesty and truthfulness from these friends (which is what led me to lobbing off my hair and bleaching it blonde a year ago). I can laugh at myself. My beat is smoother.
I have a true appreciation for the qualities that I admire from my Dutchies. What I see are non-followers who have a true sense of themselves. There is a sense of strength and confidence while being kind-hearted. They are not over thinkers. Straight forwardness is admirable. You want to do something, you just do it (I am trying to practice this) and not worry about what anybody else thinks. Hence isostilo! Beating to your own drum is a good thing. Traveling and experiencing the world around you is a given for them. Your perspective shifts when you leave your comfort zone. Mine certainly have.
For me there is something comforting about leaving my Cambridge life that is also full of wonderful friends and family. Flying across the pond to slide into another life that is equally familiar but completely different. Catching up with friends, embracing a different environment, and conversations helps me gain a fresh perspective that is so good for my soul. I can walk Amsterdam all day and never get bored. This recent visit, I walked over 150 city miles during the month of August (crazy indeed but I also didn’t do any other exercise). I love the cobbled streets, the bikes, the lifestyle, the charming homes, the history, and the apple cake. It is easy. I also love the personal style of this city. It feels like anything is possible with no restrictions. It is all accepting. Be who you are. A denim and kicks kinda crowd. I find it all inspiring. Sneaking in a little shopping where I score a few lifers for my closet is an added bonus.
Secretly (well at times I am pretty outspoken about this) I have always hoped that my family and I would return just for a year or two. If you think I love Amsterdam then you should talk with my son. His love runs just as deep. He is building his own connection through friendships and memories. In the mean time, I am thankful for all the time I have been able to spend in this city. For the gifts it has graced me with and the new friendships it inspires. The most precious gift being my son. I am so appreciative of my husband who understands my deep connection and encourages me to visit as long as I return! Hugs and kisses to those friends that have moved on from Amsterdam to other exciting places for me to visit. The world is full of beautiful places but it is the people you meet along the way that truly make it so special and so memorable.
isostilo is not just about fashion. Sharing new finds, designers, ways to wear your closet is part of it. Trends are fun but come and go. I’m really not into big labels. They are not terribly interesting to me but I do appreciate them and have a few pieces that I have collected over the years. I love classic, timeless pieces that go the distance. I respect craftsmanship. I tend to hunt for designers with a clean modern aesthetic. Denim, t shirt, blazer and sneakers is my uniform of choice. At the moment there is so much stuff out there, that it is difficult to know what you like. It feels excessive and not very special. The art of buying to just buy is very off putting to me. Buy it because it means something to you not because everyone else is wearing it. I don’t practice retail therapy but would rather go for a walk or catch up with a friend.
When you find your own personal style, now that is interesting, label or no label. Style to me encompasses it all. When it is not a focus and it’s your own look and it doesn’t wear you, that is far more intriguing. I love when authentic and personality is what you notice. I believe you are shaped by exposure, life, exploring, and the people you meet. This is where isostilo lives.
Practicing to be healthy and respecting your body is so very important. Over all fitness is a focus of mine. Now in my forties, I feel stronger and more committed than ever to keep embracing the changes that come with age. I have found a very healthy balance for myself. When you shift from just focusing on your external that is when the magic happens. To feel good in a pair of jeans and tee, I am happy. Keeping up with my 12 year old keeps me motivated. Health is everything. So, yes, isostilo goes beyond clothing. But rather just trying to keep everything in balance. Not being afraid to change the course when needed as life evolves. Sometimes it is messy and sometimes it is great.
Who knows where isostilo will go but for now it is a journey. It is an outlet that I enjoy and hope you take something away from what I share. I will say that the past year and half plus has taught me a lot about myself. At the beginning the writing, grammar, technology, and self-doubt really challenged me. The question “what is your goal” really annoyed me. Not anymore. You like it or you don’t. I am ok with either. When I don’t feel inspired, I simply don’t post. I have nothing to lose and a ton to gain. I am finding my way around all this and I am forever thankful to my husband and son who give every long post a glance over. I love the fact they are both encouraging and curious about what I am interested in or questioning my latest read. Grammar will forever challenge me (bear with me)! I am ok with not being perfect. Hopefully we all are.
Forever in my heart, Amsterdam
A side note: This most recent trip has me looking at my life and the influence of my friendships. How fortunate I am to have wonderful friendships near and far. Each friend is so very different from the next. Put everyone in one space, well it is a bit like the United Nations. They all have one trait in common, genuine and honest with a whole lot of humor. There is always a different way to look at something and you can agree to disagree but understanding where they are coming from is so very important. A diverse group of friends is pure gold! Forever evolving is key. Taking the time to chill is important. Having fun is a must. Being yourself is beyond cool. Sitting still in comfort needs to be shaken up a bit. I’m in my forties with something to do is the new goal. I hope to make a difference, small or big.
I have made a commitment to myself that I would stop shopping fast fashion. In fact, I am taking a breather from any purchases. That place of way too much of everything is how I am feeling. Fashion is pumping out garments in record speed and at the same time landfills are filling, factory stores are over filled, and high end fashion houses are burning their goods that don’t sell. Being more conscious is my modo. In all honesty, I have plenty of clothes and need nothing. Wanting is totally different. Window shopping, reading magazines, and sharing my finds or thoughts is where I am dwelling for a bit.
I am so encouraged to see that ZARA is showing some positive efforts when it comes to acknowledging the impact fashion has on the environment. I recently discovered their partnership and collaboration with Water.Org. Their Care For Water capsule collection is very eye catching! Decide for yourself. That flowy, feminine tan suit!!
Here is blurb taken straight from ZARA:
Care for Water capsule collection is the beginning of a new project in support of our partnership with Water.org, to create a water-positive impact on ecologically grown cotton communities. All the garments have been produced taking care of water management, with materials and technologies that help us reduce water consumption and preserve freshwater resources.
Through this project, ZARA is supporting Water.org to extend the power of microlending to ecologically grown cotton farmers taking part in the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) programme in Madhya Pradesh (India) enabling them to meet their household water and sanitation needs.
You can read about here it on their website as well as at Water. Org. Change has to happen.
Here is a little something to keep you current in the music department. I saw this on a friend’s social feed and it instantly made me laugh. Lizzo brings down the house with her recent VMA performance. This may not be appreciated by all my followers but hey that is ok. Lizzo is proud, confident, and speaking her mind. Isn’t she fabulous?! You will love it!