I am a health-conscious person. I eat really well, mostly at home, and have consumed a metric shit-ton of organic and local vegetables. Science. I measured. I’m also a hard worker. I am no stranger to fifteen, sixteen, and eighteen-hour workdays. Plus I’m a mom, and that makes me inherently more responsible than other kids my age. My life requires a lot of work, a lot of the time.

But a rather philosophical conversation with Synthesis contributing writer, David Neuschatz, about his current sabbatical from work, and a recent list I made of the things I need right now, got me thinking. Finding balance in life is sometimes about letting yourself fall off balance, doing things you didn’t plan on doing, shucking rules and norms out the metaphorical window, and just letting go.

Here’s the list of things I need for this moment:

1. Hendrick’s Gin. Have you tried this? I’ve recently been introduced. It’s a delicious small batch gin infused with rose and cucumber, and their master distiller is a woman, just sayin’. Get it at The Banshee. I like it best as a simple gin & tonic with cucumber instead of lime.

2. Lucky Peach. I know I’ve been talking about my favorite food mag a lot lately, but seriously, who could live without it? I can’t wait to sun myself creek side in a bikini with a Hendrick’s gin & tonic, stacks of magazines, and a good sun hat.

3. Homemade Peanut Sauce. It just seems like the best choice for right now because it goes on practically everything, and I need things to be easy. Remember, I’m letting myself a little off balance. Here’s the recipe I use:


1 cup dry roasted non-GMO peanuts, unsalted

1/3 cup water

1–2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce

2 tsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1–2 tbsp. fish sauce, depending on desired saltiness/flavor, vegetarians substitute 1.5–2.5 tbsp. regular soy sauce (I use tamari)

1/2 tsp. tamarind paste or 1/2 tbsp. lime juice

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or 1 tsp. thai chili sauce (more or less to taste)

1/3 cup coconut milk


Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.

4. Wi-Fi. Duh. I need this to do all the cool things I like to do.

5. Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” on replay. It just makes you dance. And dance is healing, freeing, and generally good for the soul.

6. Organic American Spirits (the lights, please) because letting myself a bit off balance means this is no time to quit smoking. I can get back to that business when I’m good and ready. It’s all about priorities, bro.

Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com