Creating Your Own Manifesto


Here is one from the archives of the old site. I wanted to revive it to see if this manifesto still spoke to me two and a half years later. It does.

I’m a fan of Creative Mornings which is a breakfast lecture series in over 250 cities across the world. The talks are so popular that there is often a waiting list. The New York chapter used to have field trips to local companies for people who are on the lecture wait list. In 2015 I attended a field trip at Holstee whose company manifesto is now famous.

The field trip was to encourage people to write a personal manifesto for themselves or their business. I want to eventually pen one for ModSpinster, but I thought it was important to write one for myself first. Why write a personal manifesto? Businesses have mission statements which they hopefully hold themselves accountable to. Shouldn’t we have something similar in our personal lives? I like the idea of using this when I’m faced with decisions or a crossroad to make sure the choice I’m making rings true to what I hold at my core.

There is no right or wrong way to write a manifesto. I distilled a list of beliefs, wants and truths into mine. I’m going to share mine and hope you’ll be inspired to write your own.  

Paula’s Manifesto

Karma exists, what you put out into the universe will come back to you tenfold. When it comes to empathy and random acts of kindness a small gesture can be huge to the person receiving it. Tell and show people you love that you love them often. You never know when you won’t have the opportunity to anymore. Never do something because you expect to get something out of it. If you have no expectations you’ll have no disappointments.

Go to bed each night feeling like you’ve made a difference in at least one person’s life. Travel around the world to see incredible sights, listen to people’s stories, taste local flavors, capture memories through smell, and tell the wonders you’ve experienced to others. Be the type of person people speak well of. Care less about what other people think and trying to please everyone. Treat your body like an instrument. Leep it in tune and love it for all its unique qualities. 

People aren’t defined by their jobs or careers, but by their hearts. If you put your energy into efforts where you aren’t valued or that you don’t value you’ll come out of the experience empty. Friends are the most valuable possession which is why they can’t be owned. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable makes us stronger. If you do what you love happiness will follow.

What’s your manifesto?

10 Years with the Love of My Life


Since this site is called ModSpinster one could easily come to the conclusion that I’m not into commitment. In reality, I’m an incredibly committed person. I commit to work, friendships, and personal projects that bring me fulfillment and where I feel I’m making an equal contribution. I haven’t experience that sustained feeling in a romantic relationship which is why I’m comfortable with being single.

Lincoln Center

There is one particular relationship that I’d like to acknowledge today. I’ve been in love with them from a far for years and our paths did cross from time to time. Ten years ago today was the start of my committing to that partnership so it felt right to give it some public love. A decade ago I moved to NYC and they say once you’ve lived here for 10 years that makes you a New Yorker.

Skyline NYC

Like any relationship, there is give and take and no partner is perfect. There are things about New York that I still find irritating such as the cost of living, the tourist traps that are flooded with people, winter days where it’s freezing and the sidewalks are a sheet of ice, stepping onto a subway car in the beastly heat of summer and realizing there is no AC and someone peed in it. I could go on, but you may be wondering why would I or anyone want to live in such a place. Simple, it’s the most amazing city on earth.

Washington Square

For every negative, I listed there are at least a dozen positives that make up for it. I live on the Upper West Side which means my backyard and running paths are Central Park and Riverside park, two of the loveliest places in the world. I enjoy take out and dine in from every cuisine imaginable. Some of the most memorable experiences of my life have taken place in NYC including swinging from a trapeze, dancing on a Broadway stage, watching incredible live performances from geniuses of dance, music, acting, and prose, I’ve made some incredible friends while living here, again I could go on forever.


I can’t predict what the future will bring and if I’ll be here for the rest of my life or not, but I do know it would take a lot for me to love. New York is not for everyone, but the city with all its faults and wonders speaks to my heart more than most people I’ve encountered. Words fail me so as Carrie Bradshaw said in the season five opener of Sex and the City, “…you only get one great love, New York may just be mine.” I love you, New York.

365 Project: Recipes 16-30


A couple weeks ago I wrote about my goal of making 365 new (to me) dishes. I’ll be posting every fifteen recipes I complete here along with my notes and ratings.

16. Smoked Eggplant Tahini


Source: Plenty 

Notes: The recipe suggested adding tomatoes and/or cucumbers if you wanted to. I found the cucumbers gave a nice crunch to the dish and the pomegranates the recipe calls for, give a hint of sweetness to cut the smokey taste of the eggplant.

Rating: Liked

17. Radish Salad and Lemon Pasta


Source: Blue Apron

Notes: My sister Esther and I made this together one weeknight. She’s a Blue Apron member. It’s a subscription service that sends you the ingredients and instructions to prepare three dinners for two every week. This was a very simple recipe of pasta seasoned with lemon juice and parmesan. The salad was bibb lettuce, radishes, and shallots. If you are a new cook or someone looking to try new recipes Blue Apron and similar services are great. I decided I’m too bossy for this kind of service, I don’t like being told what I’m having for dinner each week. 😉

Rating: LOVED

18. Pineapple Almond Coconut Protein Shake


Source: Passionately Raw

Notes: I’m a little obsessed with my Nutribullet. Protein shakes are great breakfasts when you’re on the go. Making them yourself only takes a couple of minutes and it takes so much better than prepared drinks. Spirulina is something I discovered this summer and I love it. It is an easy way to add a serving of greens to your protein beverage but it doesn’t overpower the taste of the rest of the ingredients like kale and spinach can.  I made some substitutions for this recipe. I used filtered water instead of coconut water and since I wanted this to be a protein shake vs a smoothie I also added a scoop of Vega One Coconut Almond Protein Powder. I didn’t add stevia because it is sweet enough with the pineapple. I did add some chia seeds which are a great source of fiber.

Rating: LOVED

19. Maple Poached Pears with Mascarpone 


Source: My Recipe Magic 

I love fruit desserts much more than chocolate. This was fantastic and simple to make. I didn’t add the caramel sauce because I found the maple syrup made this dish sweet enough.

Rating: LOVED

20. Mexican Rice Stuffed Peppers 


Source: Everyday Jenny

Notes: This dish takes a little bit of time but despite the multiple steps it was easy. If I wanted to make a vegetarian version I’d either omit the chicken for extra beans or substitute it with ground soy.

Rating: LOVED

21. Mushroom Parcels


Source: Plenty 

Notes: This was easy and made a great presentation. I found the dish to be very rich, though.

Rating: Okay

22. Black Pepper Tofu


Source: Plenty 

Notes: This dish called for green onions which I’m not a huge fan of. Most onions and green bell peppers don’t agree with me so when possible I substitute them with another vegetable. In this instance, I steamed baby broccoli and it was delicious. I served this dish on top of zucchini noodles.

Rating: LOVED

23. White Chocolate Sauce 


Source: The Grant Life 

Notes: My sister Sarah gave me a Nespresso maker for Christmas which has really helped me to cut down on my Starbucks habit. I usually make straight up espresso or a cappuccino but I was craving something a little sweeter so I made this sauce and poured some in the bottom of my cup and topped it off with espresso, foamed milk, and cinnamon.

Rating: Liked

24. Spinach Egg Muffins 


Source: An Original 🙂

Notes: While I did throw this one together on my own I want to give a shout out to 21 Day Sugar Detox because this is where I first tried my hand at Egg Muffins. They have amazing recipes for low carb apple strudel muffins and broccoli muffins. I was craving some spinach so I sauteed a bag full in a pan with some oil. I blended it in the Nutribullet with eight eggs, half a cup of sweet red peppers, and some salt and pepper to taste. I lined a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and spread the batter evenly among the cups and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Make sure if you try this that you use not stick spray both on the tin and a little inside the liners too. Otherwise, the eggs will stick to the paper.

Rating: LOVED

25. Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake


Source: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

Notes: This recipe calls for coconut milk but I used almond milk instead. When I make protein shakes I tend to use filtered water or almond milk for additional liquid over coconut water, coconut milk, soy milk, or cows milk. This is a taste preference more than anything else. My choice of protein powder is also a taste preference. There are various whey and soy protein powders on the market but I prefer plant based protein powders. For this particular shake, I used Plant Fusion Natural Flavor.

Rating: LOVED

26. Pumpkin Hummus 


Source: Vegetarian Ventures 

Notes: This is a nice twist to your everyday hummus. Next time I’d probably add a little more salt and pepper. It could have used just a little bit more of a kick.

Rating: Liked

27. Braised Balsamic Cabbage 


Source: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

Notes: This was very satisfying as a side dish but also as a snack on its own.

Rating: LOVED

28. Buffalo Cauliflower


Source: Miss Frugal Mommy 

Notes: This was a lite alternative to traditional buffalo wings. I served this with carrot and celery sticks.

Rating: Liked

29. Beet Pizza with Veggies and Dip


Source: Runnin Srilankan 

Notes: This is a great low carb snack that spices up serving a plain crudite plate. Instead of green onion dip, I made my own ranch dip. I topped this off with purple cabbage, sweet corn, celery, and bell peppers.

Rating: LOVED

30. Strawberry Grapefruit Ginger Smoothie 


Source: Aggie’s Kitchen

Notes: I subbed out the apple for a banana. I’m starting to warm up to bananas in protein shakes. I was never a huge fan, but I’m trying to get more magnesium in my diet and they’re a great source. I also added a scoop of Vanilla Vega Protein Power.

Rating: Liked





Bonus Recipe


Earlier this week I posted some new recipes I’ve tried. I’ve been posting these recipes on Instagram and I’ve got a lot of requests for the recipe to broccoli crust pizza. This isn’t one of my 365 recipes in a year since I first made it in 2016, but I’m including it in the blog since so many people have asked me for it.

Source: Gimme Delicious Food

Notes: Make sure you squeeze as much water from the broccoli as you can otherwise the crust won’t get crispy.

Rating: LOVED



Mindful Monday: Sparkpeople


Given last week’s setback, I want to focus my posts this week around what I’m doing to hit the ground running and let this change of plans become a challenge to help me prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever imagined vs a defeat that I have no control over.

 I’ve mentioned both lap band surgery and running in previous as tools that have helped me loose and maintain my weight. Another tool that has helped me is SparkPeople. When I initially got my lap band SparkPeople was a place I’d turn to almost daily. In the past couple of years, it has been more of a resource that I occasionally visit for a reminder. Last week I got back in the habit of using it daily.

SparkPeople is a website and app that allows you to track calories, fitness goals, and water intake. In the past beyond nutrition and exercise journaling what I found really useful about SparkPeople is the community aspect.  The platform allows you to join teams made up of people with similar backgrounds, interests, or goals.  For example, I belong to teams for people who have lap bands, fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes, and writers.  You can join team goals, chat with each other in the forums, but most importantly cheer one another on.  The mini goals set by the teams and the camaraderie of supporting one another in victories and setbacks is what kept me coming back.  

I have to say since I was last regularly using the site the activity in the teams has died down a bit. My day job is in Community Managment so I know that this is pretty typical. I’m finding new teams with more active members to help me with the support aspect of this journey.

What is really helping me right now is the trackers for nutrition.  I do plug in my exercise too, but since I use a Fitbit for that, food is really what I focus on with SparkPeople. I love being able to easily pull up foods and enter them for each meal. The site automatically pulls up all the nutrients for me. You can set nutrition goals and trackers. Aside from calories I also track protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. I wish I could track sugar since that is something I’m really reducing, but unfortunately, that isn’t a current tracking feature on SparkPeople.  

Do you have other nutrition or fitness trackers that you swear by?


Intro to Essential Oils

Among the various types of yoga classes I’ve been taking over the past 18 months one of my favorites has been aromatherapy yoga. This is a restorative class where one focuses less on flow and sequences and more on the connection between the mind and the body. Poses are often held for longer periods of time, minutes as apposed to seconds. Essential oils are applied to different pressure points on the body depending on the oil and the intention of the practice.

This had led to using essential oils around the house and during meditation practices as well. Here are some of my favorite fragrances and what I use them for.

Clary Sage:  This is one of the first fragrances I was exposed in aromatherapy yoga. It’s supposed to be good for helping gain focus and clarity so I use it in a defuser when I meditate.

Geranium: A friend recommended Geranium oil as a natural repellent for bugs and tics. After a few outdoor excursions this summer I can say that it seemed to work well.

Lavender: This is a calming oil. Sometimes I put it in the defuser if I’m having trouble sleeping. I also use it on pressure points like my forehead, outer ears, and heels to help relieve headaches.

Lemon: What is it about lemon that is so refreshing? I use it with coconut oil and vitamin E as a homemade lotion.

Peppermint: Like lavender this is good for relaxing. It’s perfect to add to a homemade foot lotion and to help relax sore muscles.

What’s your favorite essential oil?


Mother’s Day and Other Updates

In March, I was focused on making, going meatless, and motivation. I did very well in those areas. It’s a good thing that writing and posting to this site wasn’t a concentration for the past couple of months because I would have failed miserably. This break was a good thing, though. I needed to focus on some minor health issues (everything is fine now) and some other areas in my life.
I also took some time to assess what I wanted to focus on right now with this blog and setting up a schedule for future posts. I’m happy with what I’ve come up with. Those of you who were following my old site know that I used to post seven days a week. I don’t have the time to do that at present, at least not at the quality I would want so I’ll be trying to post three times a week. Look for updates starting next week on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  
Changing gears, I just want to say a bit about Mother’s Day. This is a challenging holiday for many, myself including. When you’ve lost your mother it is hard to be on Facebook and see all the photos of friends enjoying brunch with their moms. I find myself dreading checking my email this time of year because of all the promotional “Don’t forget to buy mom a gift” emails from various retailers. 
I lost my mom a few years ago, just five days before my 30th birthday. My dad had passed away when I was 11. My thirties in many ways has been the decade of exploring what it is like to be parentless. No matter if you were incredibly close with your parent(s) or had some frictions, it’s odd to know that you can’t call your mom or dad up for advice, to share your victories, or look for comfort when you’re having a rough time. 
I’ve been thinking about the term motherhood. I don’t consider myself a traditionally maternal person. Having children isn’t something I feel strongly about and unless I have a dramatic change of desires in the future, being a mom isn’t something I envision for myself. Yet, without that title or want we all have people in our lives that serve that role of nurturer and we find ourselves supporting others in that way at one point or another.  
When you’ve lost your parents holidays can be rough. I still struggle with finding where I belong during these times. I’m very lucky in that I have an incredible family including two amazing sisters. My sisters always invite me to join them for holidays and I sometimes do. One of my sisters is married and the other is engaged so holidays often are spent with their in-laws or in-laws to be. I feel accepted by both of my sisters’ new families, but they aren’t my family and it is a much different connection I have to them than my sisters’ do. 
Aside from my remaining relatives I consider my close friends my family. This works out most of the year, with the exception of holidays, because the majority of my friends have parents and/or in-laws they are celebrating with. Finding home and family is something I struggle with even though to an extent I have both in my life. I have a feeling discovering and shaping those areas is going to be the other major definition of this decade for me.