The “S” Word(s)

by Jenn (eating bender) on November 30, 2011

There is something so calming about being on one of the many trails in the Arizona desert. If you stop walking and listen at any moment on your hike, you will hear a glorious sound (and see a glorious sight).


(And saguaros.)

Maybe it’s because I live in the city, where I am surrounded by one noise or another 24/7, but silence seems to be in limited quantities these days. My brain is constantly working, which is certainly not a bad thing, but while at home over the holiday weekend, it was nice to have time to simply be. Even nicer that this time to simply be was spent with the people I love the most.

Our first major hike was on Thanksgiving, but we proceeded to venture out almost every day after, even sneaking in our longest distance on the day Bobby and I were scheduled to fly back to Chicago. The scenery was beautiful.

Bobby, my brother and I went ahead of Mama and Papa Bender, snapping pictures at the highest point.

I still can’t get over how tall – not to mention fit – my brother has gotten. He even towers over Bobby!

It was a wonderful weekend for family, that’s for sure. We shared and ate plenty of delicious food, too. One of the highlight meals was on our way to the airport, when Mama Bender brought Bobby and me to Calistro California Bistro.

In the restaurant’s own words, “Calistro California Bistro brings that ‘Farm to Table’ mentality from California to Scottsdale, Arizona. We buy from the best local farms, prepare everything in-house from scratch, and serve you in a comfortable neighborhood setting.” I had been there for dinner previously, but their lunch menu looked equally tasty.

We started with a plate of hummus to share. It was a traditional chickpea hummus with roasted garlic, lemon and sumac, served with grilled pita. It was also incredibly smooth and rich in flavor – my favorite kind of hummus!

Mama Bender and I tried a Strawberry Lemon Shake Up to drink. Made with fresh strawberries and lemons, then muddled with sugar, it hit the sweet spot and was refreshing on a warm Arizona day.

For lunch, I went with the chicken pesto panini, made with walnut pesto, fresh mozzarella and oven dried tomatoes, and served on pressed herb focaccia. I chose sweet potato croquettes as my side.

The croquettes were so interesting! A few were a little too fried for my taste, but the bigger pieces that were filled with more sweet potato than fried batter were really good. They were seasoned with salt for my favorite salty/sweet combination. The sandwich was perfect all around – everything that pesto should be and I quickly devoured the whole thing!

The meal was over and we were at the airport too soon, but it was a great final Arizona treat!

I’m back in Chicago with plenty on my plate – pun intended, of course – for the next few weeks before Christmas fever sets in. Last night, Jill and I presented DreamChamps at an event called Technori Pitch. It was nerve wracking but also a lot of fun.

We’ve got a video shoot for another awesome company to work for today, and a few other to-dos to take care of before this weekend. Wish us luck!

Last but not least, check out this post from ZestyCook to enter to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer!

Do you try to find moments of silence throughout your day? If so, how?


1 Rose November 30, 2011 at 8:57 am

You and I are cut from the same cloth. There’s nothing I love more than going home for the holidays and surrounding myself with nature (and its silence!).

PS: Your brother looks totally different from the last time I saw a picture of him! Wow! How old is he now??

2 Jenn (eating bender) November 30, 2011 at 9:17 am

So glad to hear you feel the same way! And yes, he is an overgrown adult these days – an eighteen-year-old senior in high school. Gulp!

3 Megan (Braise The Roof) November 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

Yum, your lunch looks fantastic! I like the idea of sweet potato croquettes…seems like something I need to attempt. πŸ˜‰ What gorgeous scenery your parents are surrounded by!

4 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

We definitely need to find sweet potato croquettes in Chicago! :)

5 Erica November 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

How beautiful!!!!!!! Such a perfect vacation activity. And that restaurant looks neat. The sweet potato croquettes are definitely a unique side! I absolutely love when Kaylin falls asleep on me- the best moments of silence :)

6 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

That would definitely be my favorite moment of silence, too. :)

7 Irina G (Fit Flexitarian) November 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

I love the bit about silence. I live in NYC and it’s sometimes so hard to find that. I like going home (to FL) for the same reasons, though this Thanksgiving I actually couldn’t make it there. However, I spent most of the weekend inside just relaxing in front of the TV and cooking. I think the important thing is to have relaxing weekends away and also finding how you can do that inside of busy cities. For me, that means taking quiet weekends where I’m not committed to doing much and just letting myself relax. Honestly, that often means some bad TV and bubble baths. :)

8 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

Thanks, Irina! I think bad TV and bubble baths are a perfect solution in a busy city. :)

9 Melissa @TryingtoHeal November 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

You know I always find silence in my day…because if I didn’t, I’d probably go crazy!

That hike with the family looks amazing!! And your brother is growing up so fast! He looks different between now and at your wedding last year! Crazy!

10 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

You and me both, lady! And yes – he really is growing and changing so fast! He needs to slow down! πŸ˜‰

11 Cara (Twinthusiast) November 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Hope the pitch went great! Hmm…silence in my day. I’m laughing a little. I guess that would be the first hour the girls are asleep for the night. That’s about all I can count on for now!

12 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

Haha! Well I’m glad you can count on that hour! The pitch did go well – thanks for asking! :)

13 Scott Hendrix December 1, 2011 at 10:42 am

We appreciate the kind words and are happy that you had a great meal at Calistro….Thank You!!!

14 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:32 am

Thanks so much, Scott! Glad you found my blog!

15 Molly @ Hungry Hungry Runner December 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Great pics! Love all that Northwestern purple! πŸ˜‰ Um, and those sweet potato croquettes? Brilliant! I wish more restaurants would come up with creative sides like that!

16 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:52 am

Go U-NU! :) And I completely agree – intriguing side dishes are one of my favorite things about restaurants!

17 Elise December 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

such gorgeous views! hikes and family time and getting out of the crazy city is my idea of a perfect thanksgiving – glad yours was a good one.

props on the big pitch too.

18 Jenn (eating bender) December 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

Thanks, Elise! :)

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