Sunset Eat Fresh, Day 4: Whoops.

I gave up chocolate for the week, then proceeded to forget there was chocolate in the chicken mole enchiladas I had for dinner last night. Pure accident? I think not. Well, at least I’ve been eating more salad.

Westphoria

beet salad
Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges and Queso Fresco,
one of my favorites.

Who: Trina Enriquez, copy editor

I’m giving up: Chocolate (officially; unofficially, all refined/added sugars in desserts)

My biggest challenge: The Marketing team threw a good-bye party for a coworker on Tuesday and, in true Sunset fashion, this involved oodles of sweet things. Chocolate cream pie, blueberry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, apple pie, cookies. But most chocolate cream pie. I gazed at that lush mound dusted with chocolate shavings and felt pretty glum. But steered clear!

So I may as well confess now that the next day (Wednesday, Day 3), I forgot—you might say conveniently—that there must be sugar added to things that are not overtly desserts. Like the spiced yogurt muffin I had with my green juice for breakfast. Oh, and um, that the chicken mole enchiladas I ate for dinner had CHOCOLATE in them! Oops. No…

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Sunset Eat Fresh, Day 1: Five days is nothing

I’m blogging for work over at Westphoria this week, as part of Sunset magazine’s January Eat Fresh Challenge. Gave up chocolate for the week and it’s actually turning out to be not so bad. What I find myself craving is something with oodles of mouth-filling flavor … something spicy or just mouthwateringly savory. It makes me wonder: Is this why I snack on chocolate otherwise? To subconsciously fill a flavor void?

Westphoria

bowl of fruit salad banana kiwi orange pineappleFor the next workweek, whenever I’m craving some chocolate,
I’m going to eat something sweet and fresh like this fruit salad instead.
Maybe minus the candied ginger.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Fruit is my friend!

Who: Trina Enriquez, copy editor

I’m giving up: Chocolate (and—deep breath—any dessert with added/refined sugars)

I chose this because: I love chocolate not wisely but too well.

My biggest challenge: Making myself stick to a goal I know I don’t have to keep. In my day-to-day life, I know it’d be the healthier choice to eat less chocolate and more green veggies, but c’mon. A little chocolate here and there doesn’t hurt, right? Still, it adds up, I know. And the thing is, and this is probably the main thing: It’s never just “a little” chocolate.

My biggest temptation to cheat: If I walk by some cookies or other sweets someone has…

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The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World

There are times when I’ll be truckin’ along amiably and then suddenly be like, I need to be around books. Now. Any of these stores would suffice. :) I crave the feeling of safety, of connection, of being surrounded by words and ideas and worlds unknown.

Flavorwire

[Editor’s note: In celebration of the holidays, we’re counting down the top 12 Flavorwire features of 2012. This post, at #1, was originally published January 31.] With Amazon slowly taking over the publishing world and bookstores closing left and right, things can sometimes seem a little grim for the brick and mortar booksellers of the world. After all, why would anyone leave the comfort of their couch to buy a book when with just a click of a button, they could have it delivered to their door? Well, here’s why: bookstores so beautiful they’re worth getting out of the house (or the country) to visit whether you need a new hardcover or not. We can’t overestimate the importance of bookstores — they’re community centers, places to browse and discover, and monuments to literature all at once — so we’ve put together a list of the most beautiful bookstores…

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“My Hero” by Billy Collins

It’s startling how Billy Collins pierces through the verbosity of prose to the core of an emotion. Since I discovered “The Lanyard,” poems like “Old Man Eating Alone in a Chinese Restaurant” and his new work “Cheerios” and “To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl” from Aimless Love have found their way into my scrapbook. “My Hero,” below, made me smile with its twist on perspective.

baby gopher tortoise

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line,
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower.

(photo via The Nature Conservancy)

“Normal Day” by Mary Jean Irion

farmher woman hay bale Marji Guyler-Alaniz

Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
Let me learn from you, love you,
bless you before we depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest
of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
Let me hold you while I may,
for it may not be always so. One day
I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in the pillow,
or stretch myself taut,
or raise my hands
to the sky and want, more
than all the world, your return.

(Farmher photo by Marji Guyler-Alaniz)

Amsterdam: Anne Frank’s Merwedeplein

Anne Frank once roamed these Amsterdam streets. She played and posed, sunned on the roof and leaned out her window. Before she became an icon, this is where she was just a girl.

anne frank friends merwedeplein then now collage

A photo montage of Anne (right) and her friends
Eva Goldberg (left) and Sanne Ledermann (middle) in 1936,
superimposed over what the streets look like today.
Photo: Anne Frank House / Anne Frank Fonds;
photo Montage: Michel Dankaarts, LBi Lost Boys 

This is Merwedeplein, a residential triangle of workaday Rivierenbuurt, in turn a neighborhood in south Amsterdam. This is where the Frank family lived out their relative, if diminishing, freedom before going into hiding on the Princes Canal. I thought it would be poignant to walk the streets where Anne and Margot grew up, so on my way home from bike riding to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, I detoured to Merwedeplein to see what I could see.

anne frank's amsterdam map app

The app Anne Frank’s Amsterdam, which I’d downloaded at home, registers several places to “check in” on Merwedeplein and unlock facts, photos, and videos about Anne. Since I had to switch off my data roaming once abroad, though, it did me little good. (You need to be connected to the Internet and physically close to an item location in order to “pick it up” and open it on the app.) So instead I used my old Google Maps to chart the way.

rivierenbuurt amsterdam

I knew I was getting close when the buildings started to look like this: all brick with big white-paned windows. (Google Maps’ street view helped a lot in this regard.) After some bumbling, I found my way to Hunzestraat 25, the home of two of the Franks’ helpers, Miep Gies and her husband, Jan, a member of the Dutch Resistance.

hunzestraat 25

I believe that below and to the right of those third-floor red awnings had lived the Gies family. Miep would bike from here to where the Anne Frank House now is on Prinsengracht for work every day. On July 11, 1943, Anne wrote,

Miep is just like a pack mule, she fetches and carries so much. Almost every day she … brings everything in shopping bags on her bicycle. We always long for Saturdays when our books come. Just like little children receiving a present. Source: Pocket Books version, 1952.

I hadn’t realized it when I walked my bike through in search of #25, but the small park across the street was renamed this past June in honor of Miep.

Finally I turned onto the street where the Frank family lived (it’s only half a kilometer away from Hunzestraat).

merwedeplein street sign

And I found the Franks’ old home.

anne frank merwedeplein house

Their apartment comprised the same third-story windows seen in a brief film of Anne leaning out to watch a neighbor’s wedding procession—the only known video footage taken of her.

I didn’t want to feel any more like a stalker than I already did, so I sat on a bench across the street and took in the scene. It was clearly a lived-in neighborhood, not a museum at all but quiet and tree-lined, with one man sitting on a nearby bench reading, a young couple lolling on the grass, and a group of friends gathered at the other end of the park with their bikes.

anne frank statue merwedeplein

In fact, were it not for the small statue of Anne at one end of the greenspace, you’d never know this neighborhood had any particular historical significance.

The curtains in the windows indicated someone was still living in Merwedeplein 37—there, in the same rooms where the family took their meals, Margot must have studied, and Anne scampered up the attic stairs to the roof.

Anne Frank Merwedeplein roof

Photo: Anne Frank House / Anne Frank Fonds

merwedeplein 37 roof

Fortunately, people have already taken care to preserve and show the details of the Franks’ home life, from the antique mahogany writing desk to the circa 1930s light switches and switchplates. The everyday details humanize the icon, adding dimension to the stories behind The Story.

To walk the streets where she laughed and played is to step into the pages of history.