Read, Eat, Drink: Overcoming Distraction, Homemade Ravioli, and a Sage Cocktail


Last week I was thinking about the themes that ran through my list of the 9 Books That Will Make You a Better Writer, and I realized that one of the things that attracted me to those particular books was the way many of the authors dealt with the issue of writing and mental fortitude. The two are so intertwined and so crucial to success. As Betsey Lerner writes in The Forest for the Trees, “There is no stage of the writing process that doesn’t challenge every aspect of a writer’s personality. How well writers deal with those challenges can be critical to their survival.”

As I wrote about here, procrastination is one of the biggest mental roadblocks that holds writers back from creating books and building audiences. It’s a lesson we have to learn again and again–how to step away from all the noise and create space for productivity. I love that Leo Babuata of Zen Habits is so honest and helpful about this–he calls himself a distraction addict, and I think it’s safe to say that most of us are just as hooked on pop-up windows and scrolling news streams as he is. As he writes:

Distractions, of course, are often about the fear of missing out. We can’t possibly take part in every cool thing that everyone else is doing, but we also don’t want to miss out on any of it. So we look online for what’s going on, what other people are doing and saying, what’s hot. None of that actually matters. What matters is being content, doing things that make people’s lives better, learning, being compassionate, helping. So let’s let go of what we’re missing out on, and focus on the difference we want to make in the world.

Read the rest of his article here, which includes a list of 10 things to do when you feel the pull of procrastination!


I’ve been daydreaming about homemade ravioli lately. The cold weather just won’t let up, and spring still seems to be light-years away.

The only real solution is to stay in bed with a giant comforter and about 10 pillows. And since that’s not possible due to, you know, life, I’ll have to settle for snuggling with these adorable little pillows of ravioli.

Taleggio Ravioli

We’ll be making this recipe for Taleggio Ravioli with Garlicky Butter and Kale Mushroom Sauce this weekend when we have friends over for a Sunday dinner. Bring on the red wine and rav pillows!



Take it away, Bartender Jarrett:

So I’ve been on a grapefruit and sage kick the past few weeks. It started when Maria and I ate dinner at Bidwell’s, the restaurant inside the incredible Union Market in DC. They had this great bourbon and sage cocktail, and it got me thinking: Hmmm, I need to try my hand at this sage cocktail game. Then, a few days later, I was flipping through our new go-to cocktail book, Shake, and BAM. They had what I needed — a sage cocktail with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.


The only problem is that the recipe in Shake called for a fancy (and probably expensive) sage liquor. In my ever-continuing effort to rebel against cocktail recipes that require pricey and niche liquors, I decided to make my own sage liquor by infusing vodka with sage. Infusing alcohol is actually really easy, so don’t be scared away (just check out this easy-to-use and affordable infuser Maria’s mom got me for Christmas this year). Once I had my sage vodka, I was ready to roll. Here’s what we used:

2 oz. sage-infused vodka (The Shake authors say you can also substitute gin.)
3 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 strips of grapefruit peel
2 sage leaves
1 mini bottle of champagne or other similar sparkling wine

Briefly mash the sage leaves and the grapefruit peels with a muddler in the bottom of a shaker. Add the sage-infused vodka, grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and ice, and shake for a few seconds (don’t bruise it, big boy). Then, strain the mixture into any martini-type glass you have on hand and top with the champagne. Float a sage leaf on top as a garnish.

Congratulations, Derek Brown probably just hired you to be his new lead mixologist at Southern Efficiency!

Spoiler Alert: Next week I’m continuing the sage-and-grapefruit theme with yet another new creation. And I think it might actually be even better. Until then, take my sage advice and make this drink.

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