the writing life & almond milk (three ways)

How things seem isn’t always the way they are.

From where I sit in the office, my desk faces a white wall. Window light spills into the room from back and side walls. On putty gray fall days like today, I’m happy with my little white corner. I look around the room and know I desperately need to purge old files and the white wall.


It’s on the list. Always. The one I rewrite daily. The one that pushes me forward. To find a way to breathe deeper into life so that when I write, I wake up. Take notice of everything around me. Tune into my senses until the humming office equipment and keyboard tapping becomes sweet music.

The list reminds me to write (as if I’m ever unsure of this expectation) and holds me accountable to do so. Not in a guilt-inducing way, but as a modest reward system for list lovers—you get to cross it off the list and feel like a writer no matter what the office looks like (total chaos people, I simply cannot show you this space yet) or how urgent the need to procrastinate becomes.


It’s amusing the lengths I go to in order to avoid truly looking at myself and my writing practice with objectivity. I throw any number of obstacles at myself. The obstacles I throw at myself, which would be terrific if I were the main character in a story about to get stuck up in a tree and then left to get down. Basic writing craft turned inside out.

Although cleaning the office isn’t one of them, cooking and baking usually is. Gratification feels more immediate after spending an afternoon or even a few minutes in the kitchen. I wonder about my need to cook sometimes. Yes, it’s a basic need that leads to better health and independence and time spent with my son in the kitchen. It also is a permissible way to duck out of the first line penciled on the list every day.


Like everything else, writing is practice. While I do feel out of sorts and less able to plant each foot on solid ground when I haven’t been at it, pencil to paper, I find that accountability is everything. Whenever I’m in a classroom or workshop setting, I write. I sweat through the call to the kitchen or the need to slip on my running shoes, until I’ve written something. Whatever word count or timed writing experiment model I’m currently subscribing to. One isn’t better than the other as long as I’m putting something down.

No, it’s not the glowing warm sunny day I wish it were and the words aren’t flowing from my pristine nook in a shared office space, but I can pretend anyway. Inhale. Chaos. White wall. Square viewfinder to write through.


Now this almond milk, that’s another story.

Almond Milk
makes a little over 1 quart

1 cup raw almonds
4 cups water
pinch sea salt

Place the almonds in a jar or medium bowl with enough water to cover. Soak in the refrigerator overnight.

Drain the almonds and place them in a regular or high-speed blender with the water and salt. Blend on high until smooth.

Strain the almond milk into a bowl through a nut milk bag, fine mesh sieve, or a colander lined with cheesecloth (you can reserve the almond pulp to use in quick breads, muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, cookies, scones, etc—I’ll post you a pulp recipe soon). Pour strained milk into a quart-size jar and cover with a tight fighting lid. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Shake or stir before using.

Vanilla Almond Milk: After the almonds are soaked overnight and drained, add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey (to taste) to the blender with almonds, water, and salt; proceed with recipe.

Cardamom Vanilla Almond Milk: After the almonds are soaked overnight and drained, add 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey (to taste) to the blender with almonds, water, and salt; proceed with recipe.


    • ArtandLemons says

      Rosa, As much as I wish writing to be fluid every time, it’s not. It’s hard work. So yes, the practice.

  1. says

    Even with a lot of practice, I often wonder — why is writing so tortuous and other things like almond milk or, oh, Facebook so easy? I suppose self-expression is painful, no matter how much practice we get. I look forward to reading more of yours soon.

    • ArtandLemons says

      Ann Mah, As always, I like reading your comments. Wouldn’t it be great if writing were so easy? Well, maybe not. The rewards wouldn’t be nearly as sweet though. Sigh.

  2. says

    Love hearing the behind the scenes of another writer’s work days and list making, especially when you find yourself drawn to the kitchen instead of putting pen to paper — me too! me too!

    • ArtandLemons says

      Shanna, Alas, the pull of the kitchen. A curse and a blessing. But without one downstairs from the office, I would probably pace and make instant or percolator coffee nonstop.

  3. says

    Ah yes, I think it’s important to realise that writing is practice. So many people get caught up in the idea of creativity and artistic expression that they don’t acknowledge the fact that it’s a job like any other and sometimes you just have to get the words written on the page (says the person who is procrastinating from writing by reading blogs!)

    Loved this, thank you.

    • ArtandLemons says

      Kathryn, Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts on writing practice. As I mentioned in the comment I left for Ann, if writing came too easy, it would be as personally gratifying or challenging really. At least this is the argument I’m presenting to myself right now…um, yeah. I do the same. Read blogs when I should be writing. Reading enrichment right?

  4. says

    The List…always The List. I’m glad you found writing on Your List and shared this post. I haven’t made Almond Milk for ages and I had forgotten how easy it is. Now raw almonds is on My List. Keep making those lists and do show us your white corner and office/studio space soon.

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