Thursday, January 31

the power of a book

on the train Middle-of-Nowhere, India

I once dated this guy who loved books and loved to read. Despite all of our issues, one of my favorite things about our relationship was that we could go to a book store and spend an hour or so, perusing aisles, making suggestions for each other to read and separately getting lost in the first chapter or so of a new book. Though that relationship failed quite miserably, I think back on those little moments and they make me happy. (Disclaimer: This is me trying to look at the positive. Am I growing up?)

Yesterday, I went to a book store and bought two new books, one of them being Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, a novel I've been told about several times but always forget to buy. The book takes place in India so I couldn't help but reflect on my own Indian adventure as I began to read.

While in India (fun fact: where this blog began), I wrote with such ease and as I read just the first page of Shantaram, Roberts' words came to life and I started to cry. There's something about India that I can't help but love like I've never loved anything before. The colors, the smells, the people, the food and basically every aspect of Indian life moves me in a way that nothing else does.

The aforementioned ex had traveled to India as well and that was one of the reasons we started dating: a shared passion for a country that many fear. Though that relationship was put to rest long ago, it's amazing how an activity as simple as going to a bookstore can bring back a flood of memories of both a person and the most life-changing experience of my life thus far.

{Does this ever happen to you?}

Wednesday, January 30

an easy & healthy & delicious salad

If you're allergic to avocado (in which case I'm really sorry, that blows) or if you don't like it (to which I'd say... , this recipe is not for you. But if you're like me and put at least half of an avocado on everything you eat, you're going to love this easy peasy treat.


Ingredients:
Avocado (one or two), one shallot, cilantro, olive oil, greens of any kind, salt & pepper, lime juice


Take a serving plate and layer greens, sliced avocado, sliced shallots and cilantro. Top with lime juice, salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil. Easy, delicious and healthy... what more could you want!

{This also pairs nicely with my cilantro lime chicken tacos. Nom.}

Tuesday, January 29

la dee da

san francisco

You guys, there's not much I appreciate more than feedback. Especially yours! Your sweet, empathetic and all around great advice in the comments from yesterday's post made my world. Thank you!

Today, Bekuh is sharing some fun facts that you maybe didn't know about... well... me! You'll likely get a good laugh out of it so it's in your best interest to head over there now!

Since I don't have a ton to say today (except have you guys heard that song Mountain Sound by Of Monsters and Men? I absolutely can't turn it off. Makes me wanna do a little jig every time I hear it), I'm going to share some of my favorite posts floating around the Internet lately.

Laura's wedding details (swooooooon)
Sam's view on being passionate
Sara's tiramisu recipe (just happens to be my favorite dessert!)
Kaylyn's interview outfit tips
Charlotte's spring-themed picks!

Monday, January 28

money vs. happiness

photo courtesy of daily dishonesty

We've all heard the phrase, "money doesn't buy happiness," and while I'll fully support that statement, it's a variation of that phrase that I find myself thinking about a lot. Recently, I had lunch with a wonderful friend and we discussed this transitional phase that many of us twenty-somethings are in.

Since I'm funemployed (I seriously wonder where that term came from... I don't think there's anything fun about not having a job), I've had lots of time to think and in the midst of applying to dozens of jobs per day, I often wonder what path I should chase.

I did the meaningless desk job and swore I'd never do it again. Doing a job you aren't passionate about just seemed like the worst thing in the world. I swore I'd write and write and write and become an editor. I promised myself I'd make that happen. But as reality kicks in, I'm realizing that my passion for writing might only ever be a passion. And that might be okay.

I'm not a money-driven person, but as I scour through pages and pages of job listings daily, I'm coming to find myself conflicted: do I settle for a job that I'm not fired up about and make a decent living for myself or do I struggle and struggle and get that dream job (or maybe never get the dream job), making hardly enough to live on... being stressed everyday about paying rent and other bills.

The answer may seem easy to some (and certainly the me a few months ago would have said, "Don't be a sell out! Follow your dreams!") I'm starting to think that maybe a job is just that: a job. If I can feel good about the work I'm doing and make a comfortable salary, I can afford to save some money. I can afford to travel, a passion equal to writing that I currently cannot fund. I can afford a membership at Bar Method. I can afford to live the life I want to live, even though the work might not be perfect.

I'm an idealist, to a fault, and this conflict seems to follow me around, finding me in many different forms. I have a serious dreamer side to my personality and though it might be a little unrealistic at times, it's one of my favorite things about myself. I believe that the true euphoria I feel and enthusiasm I have for so many things is rare. But is there a point where dreams and passions become just plain unrealistic? What do you think?

Thursday, January 24

take me there: marfa, texas

I've realized lately that although I've traveled to over 20 countries around the world, I haven't seen a whole lot around the United States. With the lack of funds in my bank account, I've made it a priority in 2013 to do some local traveling... starting with Marfa, Texas.

photo courtesy of annie's treasure trove

I don't know how I've made it this far in life not knowing about Marfa. Especially since I grew up in Texas. My super awesome friend, Kiera, told me about this lesser-known city in, well, literally the middle of no where, Texas and after researching my you-know-what off, I absolutely need to go.

Known for their mystery lights (UFOs?), art, desert landscape, hip hotels and all around (for lack of better words) weird stuff, Marfa is no easy place to get to. Eight hours from Dallas, six hours from San Antonio and three hours from El Paso, no matter where you fly in to, it's going to be quite the drive.

People rave about Mediterranean-esque cuisine from Food Shark as well as tacos (obviously a favorite of mine) from Tacos del Norte. If you want to get fancy, Maiya's ever-changing menu seems to draw in quite the crowd as well.

photo courtesy of food shark

My favorite part of this strange town, however, has to be the accommodation options. The Thunderbird Motel seems to be an Ace Hotel equivalent, boasting locally-designed custom furniture, an awesome pool and plenty of other vintage touches.

photo courtesy of nonsense and sensibility 

Or you can stay somewhere a little less conventional. El Cosmico offers super affordable renovated trailers, safari tents and teepees. TEEPEES!! I think my seven-year-old self is most excited about that option. 


photos courtesy of el cosmico

And while you're there, you cannot miss the incredible art scene. Chinati, inde/jacobs fine art and Ballroom Marfa seem to be the most popular galleries.

photo courtesy of west texas weekly

To be honest, I really have no idea why I'm so drawn to this place but since I found out about Marfa's existence, I haven't stopped researching or dreaming. How fun would it be to chat with the locals from this little town and explore for a weekend? I'll keep you posted on my potential plans to visit Marfa. Anyone want to be my date?

Wednesday, January 23

cilantro lime chicken tacos with homemade tomatillo sauce

I had a craving for some craft tacos and since a trip to the city wasn't going to happen, I took matters into my own hands. Based on a recipe from Bobby Flay, I came up with these feastly cilantro lime chicken tacos. Now, I don't like to toot my own horn but these tacos were definitely brag-worthy. Times 100. A little labor intensive but absolutely worth it in the end.

Ingredients
Chicken, two limes, olive oil, cilantro, six tomatillos, two serrano peppers, 
one large yellow onion (diced), corn tortillas, cotija cheese, pepper jack cheese, avocado, garlic


First, marinate chicken in lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and cilantro. In the meantime, shuck and wash tomatillos, then roast in the oven on 400 degrees until blackened, turning periodically to blacken all sides. In a food processor, mix tomatillos, two cloves of garlic, half an onion, one serrano pepper and the juice of one lime until a salsa forms. Transfer tomatillo into a medium sauce pan. Add marinated chicken and one-fourth of the remaining onions and cook on medium heat. Once thoroughly cooked, shred chicken and simmer in sauce on low heat until ready to serve.

In a small bowl, mash avocado, lime juice to taste, salt and pepper, the remaining onions and a bit of cilantro to make a guacamole mixture.

Next, take your corn tortillas (I love Trader Joe's Corn/Wheat Tortillas) and sprinkle a small amount of pepper jack cheese on them. Broil until cheese melts. Add shredded tomatillo chicken, a bit of guacamole, cotija cheese crumbles and any other ingredients you like (I chose some more serrano peppers and sour cream) and FEAST.


Monday, January 21

perspective


I thought long and hard about actually posting this post, but Kaylyn's post last week gave me the courage to share. Unemployment has been an uphill battle for me. It's a full time job... looking for a full time job. As someone who's easily discouraged and a little more than a little bit self-conscious, I have had more than a few meltdowns in the past month. Why don't I have a job? Why is this so hard? Overqualified? Is that even a thing? are just some of the questions that have been running through my mind lately. I spend probably three to four hours a day applying for jobs, following up and reaching out to everyone and anyone I've ever met that could maybe help me... even a little bit. And let me tell you. It's discouraging. 

After meltdown number 504 this past week, I had some real talk with myself. How many people do I know currently in this position? More than a few. How many people do I know who have been in this position in the past? Most. So I'm not special. I'm not going through anything that everyone else hasn't gone through.

I have a degree... one I worked hard for. I have experience... something I also worked hard for. I have a lot of heart. And most importantly, I have opportunity. Something's gotta give one of these days; we'll all find our place in the workforce. Sometimes, though, you just have to put things in perspective. 

Friday, January 18

things i dig: just because

One of my most favorite things in the world is sending or giving little tokens of my affection... just because. I know I always enjoy getting snail mail and I think it's fun to surprise those you love with fun little things that just might brighten their day.



Tuesday, January 15

DIY: life is but a dream (catcher)

Growing up, I always had a dreamcatcher on my bed post to ensure that my dreams stayed light and happy. Somewhere between my family moving in high school and going off to college, though, my childhood dreamcatcher got lost. It wasn't until I saw this tutorial that I considered making one myself. All in all it was an inexpensive and easy craft... plus I channeled Free People when I was shopping for my supplies. 


Take your hoop and wrap the yarn of your choice tightly around it until it's completely covered. Then, take your doily and tie to all ends of the doily to the hoop. Use beads, feathers, lace and any other trinkets and tie them to pieces of leather and hang them from the hoop. Tie it to your bed and prepare for the sweetest dreams.


Speaking of DIYs, I'll definitely be making these awesome gloves by Katherine over at Of Corgis & Cocktails. How cute are they? I especially love the pair with the heart. They look like something out of a Madewell catalog; so adorable and unique!

Monday, January 14

insta-lately

one: new year's eve with some amazing friends
two: hiking mt. tamalpais (a painful six miles)
three: a homemade feast of asian food... made by me!
four: speedway stout for just a mere $20 (oops)
five: blue barn build your own salads. nom.
six: golden gate bridge. it never gets old.
seven: philz mint mojito iced coffe
eight: ain't too proud to beg: doggie edition

do you instagram? let's be friends! 
@alliesafran

Friday, January 11

friday's letters

photo courtesy of my revelment

Dear The Bachelor, I'm so happy that my guilty pleasure has finally returned. I think the best part of this new season is the women's professions (not that I'm to talk since I'm the one unemployed, but still): jumbotron operator, professional organizer, cruise ship entertainer?

Dear Lengthy List of Restaurants I Need To Eat At In San Francisco, I can't wait to cross one or two of you off this weekend!

Dear Kaylyn, Thank you for my amazing socks! We really would be friends in real life.

Dear Bar Method, As much as I complain that I can't walk normally after class (for several days), I really do love you. You're whipping me into shape.

Dear Bear Republic Brewing Company, Thanks to a reader's recommendation, I'm dying to pay you a visit. Racer 5 from the source? Yes please!

Dear Companies I Want To Work For, (insert witty comment about hiring me here).

Dear New Dress, I just can't wait to waltz around the city in you.

Dear Dallas, Texas, I will see you in February!

Dear Quote Above, I need to start believing you.

Thursday, January 10

that time i fell in love...

...with a taco. To be fair, I think I actually fell in the love with the queso. But now I'm getting ahead of myself. After impatiently waiting and eating stupid healthy in order to justify this meal, I finally went to Tacolicious. I ordered a mere four tacos (two fried cod, one butternut squash and one short rib), when really I probably only needed two. But I just couldn't care. They were just plain and simple delicious tacos (ha! I think that's where they got the name) and not overdone at all. 

The queso, described on the menu as, "sustainable? no. local? nope. delicious? yep." pretty much blew my mind. Growing up in Texas, I became quite fond of this semi-fake spicy cheese dip and since moving to California, a bit of a healthier state, queso has made very few appearances in my life. But anyways, it really was perfect in every way: the consistency, the chunks of vegetables and peppers in it, the right amount of spice... plus I discovered that dipping the tacos into the queso was a complete game-changer and a totally brilliant idea. 



cool ceiling 

THE queso.

feastly tacos

{Tacolicious: 741 Valencia Street, San Francisco}

Wednesday, January 9

let's...

photo courtesy of dream a little dream of me

I have a friend moving to Australia. A friend who might visit Australia. A friend who just moved back to India. Friends leaving for Thailand later this month. I know I know, I'm so deprived. (Not.) But, I am itching to get out of the country for a bit. Besides hardly having enough money to even consider traveling, I haven't yet convinced any of my friends to take an epic trip with me. I'm dying to go back to South America and hike Machu Picchu, explore Argentina and Bolivia and maybe even go back to Chile. 

I think what I'm craving is that feeling of awe when you're in the presence of a landmark, a building or just the beautiful outdoors, that, before that moment, you'd only seen in photos. Where it kind of knocks you off you're feet because you can't believe you're seeing something you've dreamed about in real life.


That's how I felt when I visited the Taj Mahal. It was 6:30 a.m., sunrise, and there weren't too many people there yet. It was weirdly quiet (if you've been to India you know that quiet is not something you experience often, if ever) and even more spectacular than I imagined, if that's even possible. Seeing the Taj Mahal left me pensive and humbled and I remember wishing we had allotted more time to just sit and enjoy its presence. And that's what I miss so much. Maybe the key is finding people and places like this in your everyday life. Living in the Bay Area, that shouldn't be too tough. That way, unlike me, you aren't daydreaming about being somewhere else but really cherishing where you are in that very moment. 


{Something to think about!}

Tuesday, January 8

826 Valencia

Have you guys ever heard of The Pirate Store or 826 Valencia? I stumbled upon this curious shop after an incredible meal in the Mission (post coming soon) and couldn't help but ask the employee a million questions about the store and non-profit connected to it. Founded by Dave Eggers and Kevin Powers, 826 Valencia is dedicating to helping kids of every age better their writing in a fun, classroom-type setting. I can't think of anything better. (I applied to be a volunteer. It's too cool.) They host creative and enticing workshops that I would love to attend, you know, if I wasn't several years over the age limit. Storytelling, Singable Stories and Comic Drawing... just to name a few.

Anyways, by this point, I needed to make a purchase because I was so psyched on the place, so I bought the latest 826 Quarterly which is a collection of poetry, fiction and essays all written by kids ages 6 to 18. This was my favorite (obviously):


Too cute, huh? Slash I couldn't have said it better myself.

Friday, January 4

steak salad to die for

As if I didn't already know, last night it was confirmed. You guys. It's really amazing what a good piece of a meat and fancy balsamic vinegar can do for a salad. I may or may not have cried tears of joy. Here's what you'll need:


Marinate a good piece of meat in lemon, salt and pepper, soy sauce and garlic for a few hours in the fridge. In a large bowl, add a heaping helping of fresh spinach, bleu cheese, apple and pecans (toasted). Grill steak until cooked to your liking and top salad with warm steak.

For the dressing: Combine two parts olive oil with one part Lucero balsamic vinegar (I can't stress enough how much this stuff makes a difference. It's worth every dollar.) Add a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a couple crumbles of bleu cheese, salt and pepper and mix. Toss and enjoy!


Thursday, January 3

...but i'm pretty good at drinkin' beer

Perhaps you've noticed... I'm kind of a beer snob geek. 2012 really was the year of the beer. I went from drinking Red Stripe (still good, don't get me wrong) to drinking the hoppiest of IPAs and stouts as dark as night. I braved the crowds and was able to sample Pliny the Younger (not overrated, by the way) and I even made a new friend in blog world when I found out she and her husband brewed beer. What can I tell ya... I love beer. I really do. Luckily, I live in a state seriously crawling with breweries. In San Diego, I frequented Societe and Ballast Point and now that I've made the move to north, Lagunitas and Russian River have been nothing less than a second home to me. 

Lagunitas, Petaluma, CA


tehehe; love this.

around the world... aka... every taster


Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA

also every taster.

guilty. as charged.

What beers do you love? I'm always looking to fall in love with a new brew!