It’s not often enough that we thank the universe for the simple gifts around us.
A little over a year ago I was living on the other side of the country. I had accomplished a lifelong dream of moving to California and despite a long battle with homesickness, was still standing on my two feet all by myself. The positive part about being by yourself is that you have a lot time with your own thoughts. This can be good and bad. You can drive yourself a little crazy, and it’s really hard to silence the voice in your head when it’s saying “no YOU shut up” right back at you.
On the bright side, this quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) experience with your inner conscience can truly be a gift. I discovered something about myself that was a complete surprise. I like being outside. Specifically hiking–which was very unexpected as my first letter home to my parents from camp at age 10 began with:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
I started driving outside of my Hollywood bubble–that’s a big deal for LA–and exploring new heights and new views. Sometimes I would just drive and look for the tallest rock I could find and tell myself I was going to climb to the top.
And I would.
Now that I’m back on the other side of the world and in a town where there unfortunately aren’t any mountains around the corner, I’ve turned to another form of nature for solitude: water. Almost every night I put on my headphones and my running shoes and set out on the downtown Wilmington riverwalk.
It’s not a lengthy journey, maybe an hour long walk, but it brings me peace. Somehow it centers me and I’m able to re-visit those moments I once found on top of those west coast hills 2,500 miles away from everything I knew. As I realize that following a river while the sun sets over my shoulders is one of the keys to my serenity, I feel incredibly lucky. I’m reminded that there are quiet gifts like that all around us every day and we need to stop and take the time to be thankful for them. Be thankful for the walks that calm you, the people that love you, and the most simplistic experiences that fill your heart and quiet your mind.
I bet you have no idea that this is really a post about oatmeal.
Oatmeal is another one of life’s unassuming treasures. What person woke up one day and decided to pour boiling water over oats? What if I decided to dunk my favorite pair of socks in milk? Could I possibly invent the next breakfast classic? Probably not. But what I CAN do, is show you how to take an ordinary pile of oats and turn them into a comforting bowl of flavors and textures. It’s the kind of meal that you want to sit down quietly with and savor every warming bite. The kind of meal that makes you appreciate humble ingredients like blueberries and cinnamon. And ironically, the kind of meal that will give you the energy for a long walk or an uphill climb.
Brown Sugar Fruit Compote:
Pinch of Salt
1. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in a saute pan. Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and mix to combine. Toss in sliced fruit (Note: Cascadian Farms makes an organic frozen fruit medley that comes with blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries so you don’t have to buy them all separate). Let the brown sugar and butter coat the fruit. Add a splash of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, and a small pinch of salt. Remove from heat.
2. Pour boiling water over your favorite oatmeal (I use the maple brown sugar for this one) or over plain oats. Stir and let it sit until the oatmeal has absorbed the water. Stir once more.
3. Place fruit compote in the middle of the oatmeal.
4. Drizzle with maple agave or honey.
5. Top with granola (I used a chocolate nut granola) or toasted pumpkin seeds or nuts
6. Add a splash of your favorite coffee creamer right in the middle (I used SO Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk creamer, but use what you have)
7. Serve with a big mug of coffee and a side of reruns.
8. Take a deep breath and remember how lucky you are.