Saturday, March 5, 2016


I've always been passionate about cooking. Not the kind of cooking you see on TV or on Pinterest, but the kind of everyday, good, clean cooking that gets everyone through the week. I've always been a healthy eater, and I'm always trying to find ways to maximize the health benefits I get from food. I try to focus on eating mostly fresh, whole foods while avoiding most foods that are packaged or processed. I've tried going vegetarian, vegan and raw, but I've found that what works best for me is just keeping things simple and straightforward-- I'd rather have a pad of real butter than whatever process goes into making Earth Balance.

Lately I've been following an Ayurvedic diet in hopes of alleviating some mild but uncomfortable health ailments I've experienced recently, including heartburn, indigestion, inflammation and allergies. This has me avoiding nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, chilis), strawberries, bananas, cashews, peanuts and shellfish. Taking this on was a major shift in some of my favorite staple foods-- I used to eat at least half a dozen tomatoes a week, put bell pepper on anything and everything, and I swore that if I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be potatoes. That being said, making the shift in my diet has alleviated my digestive problems in powerful ways, so these days it's much easier to say "no thank you" to a plate of french fries (Ok, maybe I'll have just one or two).

On that tip, I have been searching for recipes which incorporate Ayurvedic principles and I stumbled upon kitchari, which literally means "all mixed up." It's a hearty porridge of mung beans and Basmati rice intended to balance the digestion and promote cleansing. It's not a very glamorous meal, as you'll see from the photos, but I appreciate any recipe that allows me to get creative with the ingredients while also filling me with good nutrients.

All the ingredients ready to go in the pot!

All the spices looked so beautiful together!

Voila! Kitchari! It doesn't look like much, but it was so satisfying and filling, and few things make me happier than putting a meal together for myself (especially when there's a big pot of leftovers for the week!). Here's a loose recipe of what I put together so that you can make your own nourishing kitchari! Remember that the name means that you can more or less throw whatever you have into the pot as long as its got the mung dal and basmati rice, so just try to avoid using nightshades and otherwise get creative!

Serves 4


1 cup whole green mung beans (or split yellow mung dal)
1 cup brown basmati rice
3 tbsp ghee (or coconut oil for a vegan option)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns

1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Himalayan pink sea salt
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
4 cups water
8 ounces coconut water (optional)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1.5 cups fresh leafy greens (I used baby chard, baby spinach and baby kale)
1 small head broccoli, chopped
fresh cilantro (optional)

  1. soak mung beans for at least four hours (preferably overnight), soak rice for at least 30 minutes. Drain soak water before the next step.
  2. In a large stockpot, heat ghee over medium heat and add mustard seeds, peppercorns and ginger and saute until mustard seeds begin popping. Add the other dry spices and give a quick stir, then add the mung beans, rice, onion and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes, then add 4 cups water, coconut water and all the vegetables and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover, cooking for 20-30 minutes or until the consistency is like that of a thick stew or porridge. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dreaming of Tulum

Last February, I had the opportunity to travel to Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico with one of my closest friends. I didn't take nearly enough photos. Now it's been a year and I can look back at them and smile, but I'm also dreaming of the next time I'll be able to get back to Mexico. This was the first vacation I ever took where I wasn't ready to come home at the end. Usually I'm ready to get back to my friends, my family, my dog and my bed, but after a week in Mexico, I was ready to leave everything behind. A year later and all that's on my mind is the wish to get back to this magical place. Enjoy these few photos.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Best Songs of 2014

I have to confess that in 2014 I struggled to understand and appreciate new music. I've begun to feel chewed up by the indie music machine. I think we all romanticize the music that was released as we became adults and learned what it meant to be human, what it is to be real and to exist alongside everyone else— to feel ourselves and to begin to understand what we are so the music released between 2002 and 2010 is very romantic and nostalgic for me. These days, I watch my coming-of-age get repackaged and resold as reunion tours and vinyl “10th Anniversary Edition"s and festival headlining tours and “the first new release in 7 years” and it’s only been a few years since it all happened and in a lot of ways it makes me sick. I was a devoted festivalgoer for many years, but these days the thought of loading up my car and going to Coachella to spend four days in a drunk, drugged haze sleeping on a flattened air mattress in a hot tent just makes me feel used up. I used to do anything to see a band at a free show locally or in a residency gig before they hit it big, but these days, I feel like everything new is a rehash of something I once loved, or hardly music at all. Nothing is what it used to be, and I guess that’s what it is like when you get a little older and a little wiser.

Case in point: I hate FKA Twigs, I love The War on Drugs, and maybe my music taste isn’t what yours is, but I have the tinnitus to prove that I’ve spent years listening, absorbing, feeling and learning. Sun Kil Moon divides me because of his cynicism and sarcasm; If I admit I align with it then I admit my own defeat my own "old man from the porch" attitude— but at the same time, I admit that The War on Drugs IS "beer commercial rock". That doesn't mean I love it any less. My cynicism is probably what now attracts me to acts like Father John Misty, LCD Soundsystem and Courtney Barnett, and what in the past attracted me to acts like Bright Eyes. There is nothing as easy / lucky / free

All this being said, I struggled to comprise a list of songs that I truly loved this year when I first sat down to write it, but as I listened my attitude shifted and my heart opened and I found that even though I'm getting older, there’s a lot out there to hear. Maybe I don't have the energy or the stamina to explore it all, but I’m happy to share with you here what I've loved, and I hope you have an ear for some of it, too. So here we go, in no particular order, my favorite songs from 2014.

tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain
The War on Drugs – An Ocean In Between the Waves
Father John Misty – Bored in the USA
Ray LaMontagne – Ojai
Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy
Real Estate – Talking Backwards
Amen Dunes – Splits are Parted
Sun Kil Moon – I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same
Allah-Las – No Werewolf
Pure X – Starlight 
Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me
Perfect Pussy – I 
Broncho – Class Historian
Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting on You)
Elbow – Charge 
Hozier – Take Me to Church
Fink – Looking Too Closely
TV on the Radio – Happy Idiot 
Lana Del Rey – Brooklyn Baby
Jungle – The Heat
Mr. Little Jeans – Good Mistake
Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
Sylvan Esso – Could I Be
Kero Kero Bonito – Sick Beat 
Shamir – On The Regular
Captain Planet – Un Poquito Mas
Zero 7 – U Know
Flight Facilities – Merimbula 
Slow Magic – Girls
Prince – Funk n Roll

And for those of you still without Spotify (or those taking a moral stand against it, I understand), here's a YouTube version of the playlist in its entirety (excepting my Slow Magic selection, which I've replaced with a remix that I don't like as much, but what can you do?). 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Long Time, No See

It's safe to say I haven't been putting These Things First.

But I have a lot in the pipeline; there's a year worth of photos to process, edit, upload and share. I've been listening to music, and I want you to hear it. I've been living, loving, and working out a lot inside myself so that what I share is worthwhile. And I'll be back. And it will be good. And I hope somebody, anybody is along for the ride.

Coming Soon... I should have been one of these things first.

Catch me on Instagram at @thesethingsfirst

Otherwise I've been dead on the web, but trust that I've been busy!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Selection of Photos

Here's a small selection of photos I've taken on my adventures over the past few months, hope you enjoy!

Here's another outtake from last summer when I went up to the Tahoe National Forest to camp and swim and have a little fun.

Nova got attacked by another dog in the neighborhood and got a little bite on her nose, poor baby!

Spent a lot of time this fall & winter exploring the Angeles National Forest, driving up the Angeles Crest Highway and taking hikes off the beaten path with my friend Andrew.

There is nothing quite like a California sunset, especially up in the mountains. The time I've been spending outdoors has been such a blessing for my health and my state of mind. When I get back from quality time spent in nature, facing the crushing work week and crippling traffic of Greater Los Angeles doesn't seem quite so bad.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Inspired by "Her"

Illustration by Melissa Cruz

It's not often that I'm moved by a film these days. Since the rise of long, serial television dramas like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, the level of depth that can be reached in a two hour cinema experience pales in comparison to the character exploration that actors are given the chance to pursue in the hours and hours that make up a television season. It seems to me that movies ought to expend their energy on telling smaller stories-- stories that offer a window into something pure and simple and just out of reach-- something like a dream. So it was a delight and a true pleasure to have the opportunity recently to view Spike Jonze's Her at the historic Cinerama Dome at the Arclight Hollywood.

The movie touched on themes of isolation, surrogacy and detachment and made a powerful impression on me. Even today, it doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine someone falling in love with an operating system, or that people could become so detached from human interaction that they believe that it's acceptable to simulate sex involving a dead cat. I found the isolation crippling; in an early scene, Joaquin Phoenix's character, Theodore Twombly, asks his phone to play him a melancholy song-- in spite of him standing in an elevator surrounded by people. There's no true reason for him to feel isolation except for the walls he has built around himself. The visual tone was stunning, a pastel pastiche of a not-too-futuristic but connected and fully developed Los Angeles. The walkways and expansive public transportation system serve to highlight Theodore's detachment-- he can travel from the mountains to the ocean in a sprawling metropolis full of people doing the same thing and still he feels alone. Even the cool, muted fashion choices seem apropos-- as stated in a New York Magazine review, "When you live so much in your own imagination, communicating through screens and ear pieces, who needs innovative clothes?" The staid fashion choices serve to make Scarlett Johansson's Samantha all the more alluring.

I didn't realize until the credits rolled that my favorite band, Arcade Fire, had not only written the score for the film, but had also been nominated for an Academy Award for their efforts. Unfortunately, it's also the only nominated score that isn't available for purchase (and as of now, it appears that there are no current plans for release), though you can stream the soundtrack online for the time being here.

The soundtrack was so moving that I immediately came home and put together a playlist of songs inspired by the score and the general themes of the film. In the score, I heard the desperation of Ben Folds, the lo-fi murmur of Washed Out, and the classic AOR smoothness of Atlanta Rhythm Section. Sometimes touching and often desperate, the songs reflect my interpretation of Theodore's loneliness and desire to connect.

And for the non-Spotify users, here's a YouTube playlist.

Last of all, I'd like to leave you with one more video, also directed by Spike Jonze, for Arcade Fire's performance at the first YouTube Music Awards of their song "Afterlife" from Reflektor, my pick for Album of the Year in 2013.

Please enjoy, and if you do, link to and share my blog with your friends and family. Thank you!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

30 Before 30: Evergreen Memorial Park

Established in 1877, Evergreen Memorial Park is the oldest cemetery in Los Angeles and many prominent early Angelenos are interred here. Being a lover of the South and it's great history, I really desired to come to this cemetery for its Old World feel... we just don't have many old cemeteries on the West Coast. It took nearly a year, but I've notched at least one item off my 30 Before 30: Los Angeles Edition list-- spending a day taking photos here in this memorial park.

The Downtown skyline almost looks like a ghost outside of the cemetery.

Spending a day in the sun at Evergreen Memorial Park was an excellent exercise for me to practice my photography and I look forward to more adventures here in Los Angeles. Hope you enjoy the photos-- feel free to leave comments, keep up with me on Instagram, or contact me about things you'd like to see me cover in future posts!