RPL at Home (October 2023)

Welcome to the October 2023 edition of RPL at Home!

This month, I’m sharing all the fun events I’ve been to recently, how I’m finally learning to improve my rocky relationship with time, and more.

Pour yourself a pumpkin spice latte or black coffee (you do you), get cozy, and come hang out for a few minutes :)

Welcome to the October 2023 edition of RPL at Home, where I share what I’m up to when I’m not in the kitchen or in front of the camera. 

Each month, I’ll share snippets of what I’m working on, habits I’m cultivating, things bringing me joy, books/TV shows/podcasts I’m enjoying, and more. Think of it as stream-of-consciousness blabbering meets a semi-curated list of recommendations meets life update.

What I’m watching, listening to, and reading

📺 Watching

This month has been all about the feel-good shows. As I write this, I have one episode left of Only Murders in the Building, season 3. No spoilers, plz! 

How many times can it be said? OMITB is 100% delightful. The murder-solving, podcasting trio of Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez sounds bizarre on paper but works so well in practice. Plus, I love that Steve Martin has been squeezing in more of his trademark physical humor this season. 

It’s the kind of feel-good show that makes you forget about all the insanity happening in the world right now. 

The other show I’ve been catching up on is Abbott Elementary. It’s a mockumentary created by the brilliant Quinta Brunson that follows a group of dedicated but under-resourced teachers at a predominantly Black elementary school in Philly. 

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The casting is so perfect (fans of ‘90s pop culture get to enjoy actresses from both Moesha and the 1998 Parent Trap remake), and it truly has the best combo of witty zingers, hilarious awkwardness, timely pop culture references, and feel-good fuzzies. 

📚 Reading

In the last edition of RPL at Home, you might have seen that I was reading The Covenant of Water. It’s the second and long-awaited novel from the author Abraham Verghese (check out last month’s edition for my review on his first novel, Cutting for Stone).

The novel centers around a family in Kerala, a tropical state in southern India, and opens at the start of the 20th century with a very young bride who marries into a family with a haunting medical condition. Like his first novel, this one is a sweeping family saga that will completely pull you in with its vivid detail of the land and the characters’ lives. Verghese has a unique gift for storytelling, particularly across generations and continents. 

I couldn’t agree more with this quote from the NY Times’ review of his book: 

Verghese has a gift for suspense, and his easy relationship to language draws you through the narrative so effortlessly that you hardly realize you are plowing through decade upon decade and page upon page. 

Andrew Solomon, The New York Times

I recently listened to an interesting interview with British author Zadie Smith about her new novel, The Fraud. Since I hadn’t read her previous work, I decided to start earlier with her 2016 novel, Swing Time.

It tells the story of two half-Black girls who both grow up in London and want to become dancers. One girl, Tracey, is a natural dancer. The other, our narrator, is not as talented but is an astute observer. The novel follows the narrator from 1982 as a child to 2008 as a 30-something, spanning across London, New York, and West Africa. 

Smith is an excellent writer and the novel felt absorbing in the first half, but I left feeling a bit dissatisfied and unsettled. 

Perhaps it was because the narrator wasn’t that sympathetic of a character, or perhaps it was the fact that the novel weaved in so many cultural touchpoints that it never felt quite deep enough or like it had a consistent narrative. Or maybe it was that the novel is ultimately about friendship but it’s a friendship that is extremely complicated and often icky. 

Whatever the reason, I walked away not entirely sure what the book was about. That said, I don’t regret reading it and I’m still planning to read her highly acclaimed debut novel, White Teeth

🎧 Listening

One of my all-time favorite podcasts is Ear Hustle, the first podcast created and produced in prison. I’ve been listening to it since it launched in 2017, when it centered on the everyday lives of men incarcerated at California’s San Quentin State Prison. Since then, the podcast has interviewed hundreds of people at other prisons, including family members and those who have been released from prison. 

A recent episode delves into how elderly female prisoners deal with aging in an institution clearly not built for aging. There were moments of laughter and sweetness alongside pain and fear, and the episode is a great example of why I think Ear Hustle is so compelling.

Through incredible storytelling and raw human emotion, it has given me a glimpse into the lives of people who have radically different stories and experiences than me. And in doing so, each episode has made me a little more empathetic. Highly recommend subscribing!

Just finished: Swing Time plus the Underground Railroad and Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Currently reading: Afterlives (novel), The Book of Delights (short essays on delight), Deep Work (productivity).

🕰️ What I’m working on in life

Confession: I do not have the best relationship with time. As in, I pretty much always think there’s not enough of it. And I want more of it. 

The problem, as you might know, is that time is the least compromising and least flexible partner to be in a relationship with.  

Since starting my business full-time about four years ago, I have felt strapped for time. Not enough time to work on all the projects I want to work on, not enough time to create as much content as I’d like to share, not enough time to get all my work done and have a social life, not enough time to see my family or travel as much as I’d like to.  

BUT, I am proud to say that I am (slowly) changing this mentality of time scarcity. And the irony is that the one thing that started to change my relationship with time was the lack of time itself. 

When September started approaching, I knew it was going to be a busy month. Within a period of 4 weeks, here’s what I had on my calendar (in addition to the usual workload): 

September Calendar

  • Review the copyedited manuscript of my forthcoming cookbook in a period of two weeks (basically, I had to review my 130,000 word manuscript line-by-line, make written changes, and because I can’t help myself, I also did a final retest of a few recipes for a sanity check). 
  • Review 200 applications for our Operations and Content Manager job opening, narrow down the list, write interview questions, and review interview videos (Thank you so much to anyone who applied! We sooo appreciate your interest and were amazed at how many qualified and talented applicants there were; we are excited to have our new employee start this month). 
  • Fly to the Washington D.C. area for a four-day trip for my best friend’s bachelorette party.
  • Fly back to Washington D.C. two weeks later for another friend’s wedding.
  • Do my civic duty and attend jury duty (I happened to have received summons for both state and federal jury duty during the same window, but luckily, you’re only required to do one if they overlap).
  • Celebrate my mom’s birthday with an all-day ladies’ spa situation.
  • Attend a blogging conference (luckily, this conference was here in San Diego).

A year or two ago, if you had told me I had to do all of that in a short period of time and keep up with my regular job, I would not have dealt well. 

I would have declined at least one event and felt massively stressed the entire time. And let’s be honest, I would have been that insufferable person who constantly mentions how busy they are. 

But, this time around? I did it all. I didn’t decline any events, I felt only a healthy amount of stress, I genuinely enjoyed every event I went to, and I kept the “I’m so busy” talk at bay. 

How did I do it? Well, I guess I just decided that I was tired of fighting time. I accepted that it was going to be a busy month, and that I would just get done as much as I reasonably could given the constraints on my time. 

I say what I reasonably could because I did not compromise on the three most important components of my self-care and mental health regimen: 

  1. Sleep: good-quality restful sleep, a minimum of 7 hours per night, usually closer to 8 hours
  2. Exercise: five times a week, even if it’s just a 20 minute pilates class
  3. Outdoor walks: at least once a day.

Do I have more to improve in my relationship with time? Absolutely. But am I proud of the improvements I’ve made so far? Hell yes. 

All of this, of course, would also not have been possible without my previous commitment to working less, which I detailed in the August edition of RPL at Home.

New Recipes and Videos

recipes you might have missed:

  • Roasted Pumpkin Salad. The *most* fun salad for fall. Maple-roasted pumpkin meets a caramelized pumpkin seed crunch meets a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. SO many fun flavors and textures.  
  • Garlicky Sesame Edamame Salad. Edamame is tossed with sizzled garlic and toasted nuts, coconut, and sesame seeds and tossed with a savory, tangy tahini-soy sauce dressing. Colorful, wholesome, and so flavorful. 
  • Baked Tofu. The easiest recipe for baked tofu that you’ll want to keep in your back pocket. It’s simply seasoned so you can pair it with virtually any kind of meal or cuisine.
  • Fried Tofu. Looking for something a little more indulgent? This pan-fried tofu is incredibly crunchy on the outside but soft and pillowy on the inside. Plus, there are fun flavor variations!

RPL Recipe Club

Oh, and don’t forget, RPL Recipe Club is still going strong! Each month, I choose a different recipe for the RPL community to make, and October’s recipe is a ridiculously creamy and hyper-flavorful Thai Pumpkin Soup. Anyone can make the recipe, then submit a photo to win amazing kitchen prizes. 

This month, we’re giving away the 12-piece spice set from my favorite-ever spice brand, Burlap and Barrel

For all the details check out the October 2023 edition of the RPL recipe club.

Videos you might have missed

  • Ever wondered whether cooking dried beans from scratch is actually worth it? I did lots of experiments in our recent YouTube video to test just that and even blind taste-tested five different types of recipes to get to the bottom of this question. 
  • I recently changed my approach to meal prep, spending just an hour or so on Sundays, and it’s improved my life so much! Watch the video here and learn how to incorporate this method into your life.

📰 Rainbow Plant Life in the News

Last month, I chatted with food journalist and author Mayukh Sen about one of my favorite ingredients, kala namak, (AKA black salt). Check out the beautifully written article he wrote for the Washington Post

I also recently chatted with Bustle about the best blenders for vegan cooking in case you’re in the market for a new blender! 

Fun Things 

My sister and I are blessed to have two special friends in our life, Lucia and Sonia. Their mom and our mom met in the 1980s as new immigrants from India while both of their husbands were working as medical residents. Despite living on opposite coasts, our moms continue to be besties and so do we (I will be the maid of honor in Lucia’s upcoming wedding; my sister in Sonia’s upcoming wedding). 

Lucia had her bachelorette party a few weeks ago in Northern Virginia (I had never been and was blown away by how beautiful the landscape is). I flew in a day early to spend the night at her parent’s house, then we drove to the festivities together. Lucia is one of those people who clearly makes a special impact on all of her friends’ lives and it was such a joy to be surrounded by friends who love her dearly. 

Lest you think it was just a sappy fest, you should know I created custom dare cards that were extremely ridiculous (if you’re ever planning a bachelorette party and need ideas, please reach out; I have lots of fantastic ideas). 

Two weeks later, Max and I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the wedding of one of our law school friends. 

Some highlights: spending time with dear friends from law school, meeting my new recipe tester Callie IRL, watching the sun set over the Lincoln Memorial during the wedding cocktail hour, and eating some fantastic meals. 

I loved our meals at (1) Lapis, which serves homestyle Afghan food (SO many amazing vegan options, about half the menu) and (2) Planta Queen, which serves very fun Asian-inspired vegan eats; check out their other locations here

All of this travel means I’ve been living out of a suitcase, so here are a few of my favorite travel items (affiliate links): 

Favorite Travel Items

And today (October 9) happens to be my birthday! To celebrate, we spent an afternoon on a boat, courtesy of my sister who is a certified boat lady, and it was the perfect sunny 80º San Diego day. In true millennial form, our playlist contained songs only from the ‘90s and 2000’s, and we spent at least 10% of the boat ride discussing how crappy music today is in comparison.

💁🏽 Help Request

We need help with some email marketing projects in the future. If you’re an email marketing expert or know someone who is and would be interested in chatting, please get in touch with us at help@rainbowplantlife.com.

Okay, that’s it for this month! I’ve been loving writing these more personal posts, and I hope you’re enjoying them too. 

Drop me a line below and let me know what you’d like to see in next month’s edition!

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46 comments on RPL at Home (October 2023)

  1. Bridgette Van Winkle

    Happy Birthday!! Thank you for sharing and the book suggestions! I’m looking forward to catching up on the videos I missed because I haven’t had time to watch youtube in awhile but I also have always wondered if making beans from scratch is worth it. :D

    1. Nisha

      Hi Bridgette, thank you for the birthday wishes! I hope you will find the video on beans informative and useful :)

  2. Leah Van Tassel

    Happy Birthday, Nisha! I really enjoy your personal updates, and your thoughtfulness, vulnerability and humor!

    Ear Hustle is one of my favorite podcasts, too! And you’ll love White Teeth by Zadie Smith!

    Cheers – looking forward to future updates!

    1. Nisha

      Hi Leah, thank you so much for the birthday wishes! I’m delighted you enjoy my personal update posts :) And glad to meet a fellow Ear Hustle fan. What a unique and fantastic podcast.

  3. Tammi

    Hi, Nisha!

    Happy Birthday! Love these personal posts (and that black dress)! Keep ’em coming! Just not sure what else I’d like to see, but I’m sure it will be lovely. :)

    Thanks for sharing the books you’re reading and giving honest critiques. I’ve been buying more books to try and get back into reading. I was an avid reader of books for the majority of my life, but I’ve slacked off in the last few years replacing it with internet reading. So, I’ve made a note to checkout The Book of Delights.

    1. Nisha

      Hi Tammi, thank you for the wishes and kind words :) I got back into reading at the beginning of this year, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The book of delights is a fun, breezy, and very sweet collection of essays that will make you smile.

  4. Steve

    Hi Nisha,

    Thanks for all the great recipes and tips.

    Just came in here to say that my wife loves the Verghese book you’re reading and that The Fraud is my favorite Zadie Smith novel. I bought the audiobook and the hardback. Zadie is the narrator. She has a gift for accents and pitches. Reading and listening to a book like The Fraud is wonderful.

    Take it easy,
    Steve

    1. Nisha

      Hi Steve, thanks for stopping by :) I do love an audiobook where the narrator does accents, so that is a great recommendation. I’ll be sure to add The Fraud to my list.

  5. Grace

    Hi Nisha, happiest of birthdays!!

    Thank you for these monthly updates! It’s always really fun to hear what you’ve been up to, what you’ve been enjoying, and I look forward to these updates. It helps add variety to my own lists.

    Thank you for sharing your own personal struggles with time. I appreciate the vulnerability sharing it with the online world but also I love seeing how you’re making a lot of effort to change your approach. It’s encouraging!

    I’ve been wanting to read The Covenant of Water as well. I’d like to hear your thoughts on Afterlives (I read it recently. Let’s just say I thought it was supposed to be a ‘this’ kind of book and ended up realizing it was a different kind of book LOL.)

    Saving your DC food recs for the future as my brother-in-law and his family are currently living there!

    Thank you as always!

    1. Nisha

      Hi Grace, thank you so much for the birthday wishes and lovely message. I’m so delighted you look forward to these updates! I have been enjoying writing these posts, as they’ve helped me stay more accountable to myself. I think you’ll love The Covenant of Water! Unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress on Afterlives since the font in the paperback is tiny and I usually read at night when I’ve dimmed the lights. I need to find a way to rectify that lol.

  6. Pam

    Happy Birthday Nisha! Thank you for sharing your incredible talent developing vegan recipes! Wish you continued success and good health!

  7. Jodi

    Thank you for this wonderful letter. What a welcome change from current politics. I really enjoyed it. Continue to thrive and be well.

  8. Kathleen Frasetto

    Happy Birthday! I love your posts and your videos! I’m not vegan, but I do make many of your recipes and I’ve loved them all.

  9. Monika Holzschuh

    Happy Birthday, belatedly, Nisha! Loved reading this RPL at Home (October 2023). I bought your Mezze cookbook and made some of the dishes for a big Canadian Thanksgiving brunch, and everybody LOVED it! Possibly inspired my future daughter-in-law (I hope!) to start cooking more. Travelled to Europe for 6.5 weeks this summer with hand luggage only – not much room for gifts, so gave everyone the spice mix and recipe for your Red Lentil Curry. A big hit, and am getting photos of people making vegan food… :) Love all you do! Thanks! Monika

  10. Eileen

    Happy Birthday Nisha❤️
    Grateful for you and the kindness & compassion. You are a positive influence in our world today.
    Special thanks to your Mom & Dad for
    providing you with strong values 🤗
    You Go Girl 👏

  11. Julie

    Happy belated Birthday Nisha! I love reading your blog and plan to check out your book recommendations ! I have made many of your recipes and have your i- pot cookbook. Hope you have a wonderful year with many blessings 🙏

  12. Vicky

    Happy Birthday!! Reading all your activities in the month made me exhausted!! I’m glad you were able to ‘live in the moment’ and enjoy it all…😀

  13. Sharon Knorr

    Love this, Nisha, sounds like quite a month. Am always looking for new books to read, so will check some of yours out. It is so funny what you said about music. I am an old lady and we mostly listen to 60’s and 70’s stuff and lament about the advent of grunge/punk/rap (although I do actually like some of it) just as my parents complained about the Beatles and all that, though I do still love me some good swing music or Sinatra. I swore I would keep up with music as I got older and not end up like my parents, but here we are – most folks are stuck on the music from when they were in their teens and early twenties, it’s usually such a defining time in their lives, coming of age. Anyways, always looking forward to new stuff from you and enjoy your recipes and cooking tips.

  14. Alan (RPLr)

    Happiest of Birthdays, Nisha!
    I consider myself a certified RainbowPlantLifer!! The term perfectly encapsulates how I feel about RPL! Literally about 85% of recipes I use come from you – and I have never been let down yet. Every single one I’ve tried was at least a 7/10! I even started two cooking clubs with friends of mine in Australia. We pick a RPL recipe and make it together at the same time over a video call and a glass of wine. It’s not only lots of fun but it also encourages me to keep trying new delicious recipes and sets me up for a week. (At the moment I still have left-over Potato and Pinto Bean Chili in the freezer 😄)
    We are all lucky to have you & Max!

    1. Leah Van Tassel

      RainbowPlantLifer – yes!!! 🔥🔥🔥

  15. Sissi

    Happy belated Birthday, Nisha!

    My birthday was also on Oct 9th. :)

  16. Ranjani Srinivasan

    Wish you a very happy birthday nisha!! Loved reading your newsletter.

    1. Nisha

      Thank you for reading and for the birthday wishes, Ranjani!

  17. Perry Albertson

    Happy Birthday, Nisha!
    You are just so beautiful and awesome and amazing!
    You have a piece of my heart. I am so happy that my path has crossed yours!

    Love,

    Perry

    1. Nisha

      Hi Perry, you are so very kind! Thank you for making my day with your sweet comment.

  18. Demi Griffioen

    Happy birthday!!! Is Hannah gone or are you getting a second recipe tester?

    1. Nisha

      Hi Demi, thanks for the wishes! Sadly, Hannah moved out of state! She’s still a rockstar and we miss her dearly.

  19. Padma Hariharan

    Love reading your updates! Happy birthday to you – hope you further improve your relationship with Time :)

    Also would love to see what you think of White Teeth!!

    1. Nisha

      Hi Padma, thank you for the birthday wishes! I too hope to continue improving my relationship with time :) Did you read White Teeth?

  20. Jenny

    Congrats on your birthday and dealing better with time. Thanks so much for sharing all of this!

    1. Nisha

      Thank you for stopping by and for the wishes, Jenny!

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