Southern Style Kale

Ingredients

1 bunch Red Kale, torn from stems and ripped into pieces
1 vidalia onion, diced
3 slices of thick cut bacon, diced
Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
Sea Salt to taste

Process

In a heavy skillet, on medium to medium high heat, render the bacon until it’s cooked through and brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside.  In the drippings, cook the onion until the pieces are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the kale pieces and cover.  Let the kale steam for about 2 minutes.  Then using tongs, toss the kale and onions together.  The kale will dramatically start to reduce in volume.  Cook uncovered for about 3 more minutes until the leaves are tender.  Splash some apple cider vinegar to your liking, and sprinkle with a small dusting of salt.  Add the bacon pieces back in, and then toss together again, incorporating all the different elements.

I served this alongside beef stew stuffed acorn squash from Sarah Fragoso’s book Everyday Paleo. This woman has a BEAUTIFUL blog.

DA0A4602

DA0A4605

DA0A4609

DA0A4623

Advertisements

Mother’s Day Pictorial

Mother’s Day was extremely special to me.  I feel like my photos speak more than what I could say about it.  My sister-in-law and my mom and I spent Saturday evening harvesting things from my mother’s garden and eating on it for a very special 10:30 pm dinner and then a encore breakfast.

DA0A4476

DA0A4488

DA0A4507

DA0A4510

DA0A4524

DA0A4537

DA0A4557

DA0A4575

DA0A4581

Blackberry Barbecue Short Ribs

Let me just say… freaking YUM.  Honestly, I can’t believe I just whipped this up.  It was so phenomenal.

Brased Short Ribs with Blackberry Chipotle (Paleo) Barbecue Sauce over a bed of fresh greens, baked plantains and garnished with Micro Arugula.

pissedblissed_0503-4253

 

Ingredients

2-3 lbs bone-in Short Ribs (I got mine from a local farm.  These were grass-fed, local (Hickory Nut Gap Farms) and beautifully layered with fat and meat.
1 Tbsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black cracked pepper
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp mustard powder
3-5 cloves garlic, skinned and crushed with the side of a knife
4 Tbsp Coconut Oil (divided in two)
2 small yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 quart beef broth (I always get the best quality possible with broth, and reduced sodium because I like to control the salt that goes into my dishes, or I make it myself)
1 quart fresh black berries
2 Tbsp raw honey (local if possible)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 ripe plantains plantains (almost totally brown)
Fresh young salad greens
Micro Arugula (optional)

Process

In the bottom of a  dutch oven (5 qt) melt half of the coconut oil on med-high heat.  While heating, mix all the seasonings together.  Rub the meat down with the mixture until generously coated.  Gently place each of the ribs into the oil, and turn until all sides are brown (about a minute and a half per side). Once browned, throw in the garlic and onions and let those sweat for about a minute.  Poor in the beef broth until almost completely covered –  you don’t really want it to be drowning in broth.  Place in a 325 degree oven and let it braise for at least 2 hours.

Prep plantains by peeling and slice on a diagonal. In a heavy skillet, heat the remaining coconut oil on medium-high.  Once nice and hot, place each wedge into the skillet and let them get crusty brown sides.  This took me about 15 minutes. Once all are thoroughly crusted, place in a shallow baking dish. I did this process while the short ribs were finishing up.

Remove meat from oven and place plantains in the warm oven to finish cooking through.  (about 20 minutes)

Using a slotted spoon, because these guys will be super tender, fish the short ribs out of the broth mixture, and set aside.  Put dutch oven on a burner set to medium heat.  Let it simmer.  Add blackberries, apple cider vinegar, and honey.  Use a whisk to break the berries apart.  Let this mixure simmer and reduce until it starts to coat a wooden spoon (this took me as long as it took for the plantains to finish)

Strain the mixture with a sieve to remove seeds and onion/garlic residue.

Plating

Place a handful of greens on your plate (I didn’t put any dressing on the greens but you could.)  Gently place one spare rib on top of the greens and drizzle with the blackberry reduction.  Sprinkle a few micro arugula greens for an added peppery finish.  Place a couple of plantains next to your pile of  spare rib deliciousness.

Doing without hasn’t been that much of a sacrifice…

So far, I’ve actually felt really great this past week, despite the fact that I’ve gone without a drop of coffee since last Tuesday and I haven’t had a beer since last Thursday.  I will say I had some hard cider on Saturday night, and my suspicions are that I should go ahead and do without that for a while too.  I’m not saying that I’m giving these things up forever, but I think that in order for me to repair my body, I need to give it up for the time being.

My mindset has changed about what food means to me – and this part feels really significant.  I’m not sure that I would even feel this way if things in my life hadn’t lined up exactly the way they have. Okay, so anthropologically speaking, food has had many purposes. It’s a community thing, it’s about enjoying something biologically profound, and it’s of course, our fuel.  I knew that food was fuel, but I guess I wasn’t as focused on that.

This inside-out state of mind has really been changing my thoughts and emotions when it comes to food.  This is all so new in terms of how I’m thinking, but it feels like I’m on to something.  I’ve always been really resentful of my body, that it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do.  I was pissed off that everyone else seemed to have it a lot easier than me.

Right now, I’m thinking about my body as this priceless gift, a vessel of light and spirit and existence.  I think it’s basically been a litmus test of my own self-abuse.  My skin breaks out with eczema and acne.  My midsection is coated in fat.  I think I’ve been beating it down so hard for not being what I want it to be that it’s been reacting in the only way it knows how: stressing out, and holding on to everything I’ve ever put in it.

So here’s the thing. I’ve gone a week without coffee.  I’ve gone a few days without alcohol.  More-so with the coffee than the alcohol, but I don’t even really miss it, because I’ve realized the reason I’m doing it is to take care of myself, to be kind to myself, to put the right kinds of nourishment in it, because I deserve it. It’s not fair to be so unkind to myself. I think I’ve entered this phase of attempting to woo my own body.  Does that sound weird?  Not really to me.

So I’ve been taking a good bit of care and love in making my meals, almost like I’m preparing something for a romantic partner – like I want to impress myself. And honestly, I have!   I made this beautiful meal last night.  It took hours, and I usually don’t spend such an exorbitant amount of time preparing a meal unless I’m having guests.  But believe me the time spent was well worth it. I sat outside on my deck and thoroughly enjoyed each bite, like I was at a fancy restaurant.

Breakfast of Champions

pissedblissed_0503-0607

Full Steam Ahead Breakfast Bowl

Last weekend I had this enormous Crossfit event that I had to photograph, and I made this as my breakfast both mornings because I knew I needed as much nutrition in my body that I could pack in at once.  Photographing athletics of any type is a difficult endeavor, but because this was a two-day event, I was basically on my feet for 10 hours for 2 days.  It was crazy!

Ingredients:

2 strips of bacon, diced
1/2 of a small onion, diced
4-5 small sweet peppers, chopped (the kind that come in those little ziplock bags… is anyone else OBSESSED with these?)
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Small amount of baby or micro greens

Process:

Sauté the bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat until it’s about halfway rendered (about 6-7 minutes), and then add onions and peppers and salt.  Allow these to cook for about 5 minutes, and then add the zucchini pieces and cayenne and give your pan a stir or a shake! Turn the heat down to medium, and cover the pan, and allow everything to steam and warm together for about 5 minutes.

After everything is cooked through, put that mixture in a bowl using a slotted spoon.  Since my pan was nice and coated with drippings, I used those to cook my eggs in.  I did mine over medium (my favorite way) but you can prepare them however you like.  I placed those on top, and put micro arugula on top for an extra little peppery-green flavor.  I loved dipping the zucchini hunks in the yokes. It was a happy breakfast that really prepared me for my day.

 

White Plate Syndrome?

First of all… TOMATO SEASON IS UPON US!

DA0A6955

 So I’ve made the decision this week that I need to start transitioning to a paleo-approach to eating.  I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of research, and it just seems to make the most sense for me.  I already eat MOSTLY this way anyway, except some key things I’m totally cheating on.  Like beer.  I love beer.  This is basically a tragedy. But my metabolism needs to heal.  And alcohol doesn’t help.

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my favorite dishes like this:

DA0A6929

A simple bruschetta made with yellow heirloom tomato slices on a mozzarella cheese toast.  Basil  on top added an extra special zing to it!  This is without a doubt one of my favorite meals ever.  Let’s face it.  Cheese and bread are delicious.

So tonight I made an alteration and made it this way:

DA0A7409

This, of course became more of a caprice salad. but I used grilled chicken instead of mozzarella, and it did actually have a similar feeling to it.  I seasoned it with herbes de provence and salt and pepper and it was quite delicious!

Now if only I could figure out how to make this in a way that’s not horrifying:

DA0A6945

I made this for Easter for my family.  Trifle made with poundcake, custard, whipped cream and fresh South Carolina strawberries.  OMG.  You don’t even want to know.  This got DEVOURED by my family.  I only had one portion.  Thankyouverymuch.

So… This is a doozy… But as I mentioned before, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of research and I’ve reached some conclusions on my health.

I have something called “White Coat Syndrome” which basically means doctors, nurses, medical tools… Basically stepping inside of a doctor’s office makes me SUPER nervous. The issue here is that it affects my blood pressure.

This started when I was in my teens (don’t most bad things? Haha…) I remember going to my pediatrician when I was around 16 and I’m sure he was just trying to do his job, but I remember this incident very clearly. I was dealing with some hormonal something or another. He asked if I was pregnant.  I, being 1,000% sure of the answer to that said “No.” He then looked from my chart to over the rims of his glasses at me and asks “Are you suuuure?” He made me nervous.  I didn’t like him touching me.  He always questioned me as if he thought I was lying to him. He then tested my blood pressure and I can’t remember the diastolic, but the systolic number was 180 over something or another.  He tried to diagnose me with hypertension… that’s right… at 16. To this day, when doctors pull out their BP cuffs I can literally start to feel my heart pounding.  I think my mother’s worry about the issue affected her blood pressure as well… She was extremely concerned.

This is a problem.  And I’m not sure I’m allowed to pass judgment on the medical professionals of America.  I’m sure they’ve seen so many horrible things.  And I’m sure that people have lied to them on such a magnificent magnitude, I don’t really blame them for being suspicious.  I’m not sure anyone really enjoys going to the doctor, but it’s something I dread.  I mean… cold sweats, anxiety, sometimes even a self-pep-talk in the car before I go in. “You can do this, you can do this…”

After the whole “hypertension” ordeal, I went to a different doctor.  She read my vitals and noticed that my BP was high.  (This time it was a bit lower though.)  Her first instinct was that it was wrong.  She then introduced me to the machine.  She told me how it worked. She educated me about how a proper BP should be taken, and how to hold my arm.  She told me that if I ever was having my BP taken, that I needed to make sure that the nurse was doing it properly.  That if they weren’t, I needed to correct the placement of my arm.  She asked me to close my eyes and take some deep breaths, and imagine myself on a beach and listen to the sound of the waves. She then took out the cuff and took my BP again –   perfectly normal, optimal even. This was the first time that I ever realized that I had control over what happens within my body and the power of deep breaths.  She then explained what “White Coat Syndrome” is, and that I have it, bad. I’ll never forget this particular doctor and what she gave to me in terms of understanding that I could control how to bring down my BP.  Since that time, unless I’ve been ill, I haven’t had any issues.

Even though the blood pressure lesson did me a lot of good, I ended up not going back to this doctor because she tried to take too much responsibility for my weight-loss journey.  I had been told ever since I can remember that I’m overweight, and to be honest I was tired of the “come to Jesus” serious conversations on what to do to about it and how it would eventually kill me.  Such fun to think about when you’re a teenager. As if I didn’t think about this stuff already, as if I wasn’t already super insecure about it as far back as I can remember… This doctor gave me this whole condescending lecture about how she was going to make me into a beautiful butterfly.  Oh god… I’m getting nauseated just thinking about it.  I was really put off by this. This is the thing:, no one is really going to “make me into a butterfly” other than myself.  I KNOW she was trying to help, but it made me feel mortified. I’m a human.  Not an insect.  No matter how pretty they may be.  And, yes, I know it was a metaphor.

I’m not really sure what these doctors could or should have done differently.  All I know is that I felt like a freak, and disgusting. I felt unworthy of things that other people were just given naturally. I felt kind of like they were treating me like someone who was crazy and couldn’t take care of herself.

And, honestly, I wasn’t taking care of myself.  But they weren’t really telling me how.  I’m pretty sure they thought I was just eating Doritos and Oreos all day and sitting on my ass.  And I wasn’t.  I tried to do the right things.  I was a kid, though, so of course I wasn’t perfect.  But I did soccer, cross country, swimming, and track.  I was active.  And I never let anyone hold me back even though I was bullied, even by those who I thought were my friends.  So I went to school, felt different and miserable, and then went to the doctor and they told me all these things are wrong with me… How was I supposed to feel? Fantastic?

Fast forward a few years and I did some pretty amazing things.  I lost 85 lbs and ran a marathon.  But I was still not at “a healthy weight.”  And it was stubborn to come down anymore.   And then of course, after I injured my back, and decreased my activities, some of the weight came back on and QUICK. I’m not back up to where I was at my biggest, thank God.  However, I don’t want to get back there either.  My back is still a little wonky.  I can feel in my yoga classes that it’s not as flexible as it once was, but I know that if I continue working on it, that it will get better.  I want to get back to the place that I was a year ago, and then even better.

This got a lot longer than what I had intended, but all of it ties together eventually.

So, I have developed a theory.  I’m listening to Arianna Huffington’s book called Thrive. She is such an inspirational woman.  There was one point she touched on that really struck me.  She mentioned that there were studies that showed that children who experience chronic stress will experience increased cortisol levels.  This can cause prolonged damage to the metabolism and could lead to obesity.

Ummmm…. BINGO.

I’m not saying I didn’t have a good childhood. (I promise, Mother.) My parents are amazing people who made me feel cared for and loved.  However, for whatever reason, my weight was an issue.  My theory is that the stress of dealing with a weight problem and all of the ramifications of this caused a catch 22 effect that has carried over into my adulthood.  The blood pressure response, the constantly feeling belittled and unworthy… it all adds up to me. I did some additional research and it seems as though people who suffer from chronic stress and increased cortisol levels gain weight in the middle part of their body (the most toxic place for it to be stored, naturally) their metabolism slows down drastically, making it really easy to gain weight, and it increases appetite and cravings. All of these things match up with me.  And it all seems so… contradictory.

I think I have what I’m going to call “White Plate Syndrome.”  I think I have developed a fear of food.  Especially lately, since everyone and their dog has some new theory that a particular food is basically going to kill you.  I think the simple act of eating a meal stresses me out, when in actuality, it’s something that we need to do to survive.  I rush through my meals, trying to clear away the evidence.  I’m embarrassed to be seen eating as if people are thinking “Look at that fat ass… eating… typical.” I remember my mother telling me to slow down when I was younger. “Enjoy your food!” she would say “Savor it.”

I think I need to develop a sort of meditation when I’m eating.  Take a bite. Enjoy it.  Think about how blessed I am to have this food. Chew it. Savor it.  Then, after swallowed, take a sip of water.  Clear my palate so that I can repeat these steps. This is going to be something that I work on. I really think that freaking out about food is actually increasing the opportunity to confuse my body into storing extra reserves.

Of course, eating isn’t the only trigger for stress, and I need to do everything I can to cultivate healthy responses to stressful situations. I’ve always thought I’ve had a higher than average response to stress. I think working on a more consistent yoga practice will assist in this; additionally, I think that I need to be focusing on walking as much and as often as I can.  Keep it simple.

Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef, Kale and Black Beans

This is my first official original recipe that I’m posting. I hope you enjoy! 

DA0A6915

Roasted Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

4 red bell peppers, halved through the stem and then all the way through, gutted of seeds and white stuff
1 lb ground beef (lean, grassed, etc… high quality meat) (vegetarians could substitute this for another can of black beans)
1 large carrot, cut into thin discs
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch of Kale, stemmed and torn into small pieces
1 can of black beans, drained and rinced (if you want to go paleo, substitute this for another carrot or two)
1 tsp cayenne (this can be super spicy, half this if necessary)
1 tsp chili seasoning
1/2 tsp chipotle seasoning
8 strips thick cut bacon, cut strips into thirds (again, mindful of the quality of your meat) (vegetarians could top with slices of zucchini cut into strips)

In a large saute pan, brown the ground beef over medium heat, stirring frequently, until cooked through and easily crumbled (about 10 minutes).  Once done, add chopped onion, garlic and carrot discs, and sauté until it until almost soft. Since these are going to bake, they don’t have to be done through. Add black beans and then add seasonings and allow the mixture to come to temperature. Toss the kale on top of the mix and cover and let steam for about 5 minutes, then stir to incorporate kale into the mixture.  Add a small amount of salt to taste. (This is a fabulous mixture. You could only stuff two whole peppers, then freeze half of this and use it for napa cabbage tacos and give it all the fixings!)

DA0A6874

Arrange the bell pepper halves on a large baking dish with sides, sprayed with coconut oil.  Fill the peppers till they are heaping with the beef mixture. Cover the peppers with one slice of bacon each (three thirds).

Now, you could do this the traditional way and bake in a preheated oven at 375 for about 45 minutes, or you could do what I did, which was put them in a cool oven, turn it on to 375, grab the dog and take her for a run for about 45 minutes.  When I came back the bacon was perfectly crisped.

DA0A6882

This way, the dog is as happy as you are!

DA0A6899

I served one if these bad boys alongside a simple salad of arugula, tomatoes, and lemon vinagrette.  I loved this meal!  It was super satisfying, and I had plenty of portions to freeze for future lunches/dinners.

Spring Inspiration

DA0A6859

It’s spring in Asheville, and it’s doing good things for my soul.  I love all the seasons so much.  They all offer so many opportunities for different  kinds of introspection.  I feel as though I’m very affected by the seasonal turns.  I feel like they set the tone for what needs to be happening in my life: what kinds of activities I should be participating in, what kind of music I should be listening to, the foods I should be eating and the mood that should be set… It’s a nice way to be influenced I think.  There’s a sense of “coming out of hibernation” in the air.  The outdoor seating at restaurants is bustling, there are people out on the french broad kayaking, paddle boarding and sun bathing on the rocks of the shore.  You can practically feel the excited energy buzzing off of everyone.

Spring in Asheville always seems to be slow-going and reluctant.  The weather can’t make up her mind.  She teases us with beautiful days of 75 degrees and beautiful sunshine and then she goes back to a wintery nap for a few days as if she’s too tired to keep it up for too long at first.  She comes out of her groggy mood swings eventually, and then it’s glorious, and things bloom and bust at the seems with life and busy energy.  I think out of all the seasonal turns, winter to spring is my favorite.  As I mentioned before, I love all the seasons and what they represent, but it’s always a nice juxtaposition as the world around me thaws out and the reawakening begins.

This week has been an interesting one.  I’ve been giving a lot of thought about what’s next for me.  I think I may be experiencing a bit of a quarter-life crisis and perhaps that’s where all this funky moodiness is coming from.  Apparently, I’m not alone in this.  Many of my peers are in a similar state of confusion and restlessness.  Short of a few lucky individuals, most of the people I know in their 20’s are feeling like they aren’t meeting their potential and feel extremely distressed by this.  This is kind of a new era.  Things are changing in a super rapid manner and it’s hard for everyone to keep up with all of it.  But I think this is kind of exciting. (Frustrating, but exciting.)  Perhaps the key to staying sane is to stop fighting this current of ever-changing everything, and instead, ride it out.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  It’s easy to panic when you feel like you’re being swept away from everything that feels safe and comfortable.  I guess I need to start getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

I think that might be hitting the nail on the head, though.  I have lots of things that I’m starting to think about doing that feel extremely uncomfortable.  One thing that keeps coming up is the idea that I might need to go back to school.  The thing is, I’m not really interested in pursuing another artistic degree.  I am beyond happy that I have my BFA and I worked extremely hard to obtain it.  I wouldn’t take back my time at SCAD for anything.  It was a monumentally rewarding experience.  However, now I feel like I need to use a bit more of the left side of my brain.  I’ve always been a balanced-brained person.  I’ve always been extremely interested in being creative and I’ve been told by many people that I’m pretty intuitive and sensitive.  All that being said, I’ve always tested well in math and I’ve always been fascinated with science, animals and the environment.  If I were to go back to school for anything, it would be nutrition.

This thought hasn’t left me this week.  I’ve started researching schools and seeing if it would even be possible for this BFA-carting-photographer-creative-type person to even pursue a scientific master’s program.  I thought living in Asheville would bring about ample possibilities, but surprisingly this is not the case.  If I wanted to pursue some sort of ancillary program in herbology, yoga or massage, there are oodles of choices.  But nutrition, not so much. This was just plain mind-boggling to find out.  Nutrition is the foundation from which healthy living stems, it would seem.  If I’m serious about doing this, I’m going to have to work my ass off to make it happen.  I’m going to have to go to a school nearby and take a bunch or prerequisites as a non-degree-seeking student.  This means that I will have to pay for everything out of pocket.  I could also do an associates degree in biology at AB Tech.  There are serval caveats to this though.  They don’t really have any nutrition classes and they are missing some of the other pre-reqs. Additionally, I’m not sure if these credits would be recognized by some of the master’s programs out there. On the pro-side of the list, if I were seeking an associate’s I could qualify for financial aid, and have another degree.  I’m just not sure how to go about doing this.  I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and say that I think it’s going to be too hard and quit before I start.  I want to keep my outlook positive and say that I know I can do anything I set my mind to do.

My dream is to one day write and photograph my own cookbook.  But I don’t want it to just be another pretty recipe book.  I want it to be backed with science and a true understanding of how things are metabolized and how the human body reacts to food and combinations of food.  There’s SOOOOO much bullshit out there on the internet and I don’t want to fall victim to the confusion that results from endless contradictory information.  I know the basics.  I want to know more.  A lot more.  Like, seriously, a lot.

I spent a good bit of time in the kitchen this week.  I made several recipes and lots of salad.  I about wore myself out on vegan lasagna and my mouth sort of lost the taste for it after a while, so I ended up freezing a ton of it.  I also made this recipe for coconut “buttermilk” southwestern chicken and it was super tasty.  I made two servings and had one of them with forbidden rice and zucchini for dinner, and then I cut up the other serving and had it on top of a salad made with arugula, red and yellow peppers, leftover zucchini, and lemon vinaigrette for lunch the next day.

And then there was this recipe for a Butternut Squash and Fontina Galette.  Holy shit.  First of all, it had two ingredients in it that I just about NEVER let myself have: white flour and cheese.  I cut it up into a bunch of small portions and ate it alongside salad, so hopefully the damage was minimal.  I still have a little piece left and I made it on Monday.

This is a terrible picture but I was really eager to eat it, so I didn’t take the time to do it justice.

 DA0A6846

Butternut squash is such an amazing vegetable.  It really can be used in so many different kinds of ways.  I did a little research on it, and apparently it’s a good food for weightless because it’s nutritious and filling so you’ll feel satisfied after you eat it.  Butternut squash is rich in vitamins E, A and C, Potassium,  Manganese, Thiamin, Niacin, B6, Folate, Calcium (surprising!) and Magnesium. I’m not really sure what all these things are good for, but I’ll figure that out later.  Read More 

DA0A6841

I really love this food because it’s so beautiful.  It has such a lovely orange color.  Additionally it can be prepared in so many different ways.  It has a naturally sweet flavor, but it’s fabulous in savory dishes.  I’ve made butternut squash soup many times and it goes wonderful with the flavors of curry and cilantro.  It’s also fabulous as a side prepared with nuts and dried (or fresh) cranberries.  This will not be the last time you see butternut squash pop up in this blog I’m sure.

So I’m going to continue researching grad school.  I’m going to continue making efforts in the kitchen to make nutrition food, and I’ll be sharing the progress as I go.  Stay tuned as new excitement develops.

Kale and chicken in my cart, darkness in my heart

Okay… There is no darkness in my heart. But I am frustrated. Basically… this is where my frustration comes from:

The Tragedy of the Healthy Eater. This article is all in good fun.  It’s hyperbole, but there’s a lot of truth nestled between those jokes.  But mostly, this just made me laugh.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that I need to focus on putting myself out there to find a new job.  I just want to spend more time trying to “save the world” or at least work with an organization that cares about the state of our environment.  I don’t want to bleed environmentalism because, ultimately, nature will have her way in the end.  I have no doubt about that.  But I would much rather be trying to do good than blatantly participating in something I don’t believe in.  I just want consistency in my life.  I can’t ignore the ugly truths that need to happen: insurance, income, regular schedule etc…

But this whole project is about attracting abundance in my life.  It’s there for the taking.  I have my goals and I’m putting them out there.  Everything that has happened and is happening is for a a reason, leading me to where I need to go. I certainly have faith in that.  My life is mine alone and no one is going to live it for me.  SO I really need to take each decision I make about my well being seriously.  However, I want to make sure that I make room for simplicity and light.

I want to make sure that I have my priorities straight and keep working out of love and service to the divine.  That’s so important in creating an authentic existence.  Something that I heard in the lecture I’m listening to is to love those who challenge me anyway- perhaps don’t keep them close, but send them love and light.  People react more favorably to positive energy than negative.  This seems obvious, but it’s harder to practice than it would seem.  The people who are the more difficult are the ones who need love the most.

 

How far is too far?

Yesterday I spent the day in the kitchen making meals for the week ahead, and no matter how much cleaning-as-I-go I do, my kitchen always is a DISASTER zone after I spend an extended period of time in there.  I’ve kind of come to accept this.  It’s a tiny kitchen- not quite efficiency but kind of close to it.  Thankfully I have a large sink area with ceramic drain boards on either side, so that makes clean up a bit easier.  I haven’t lived in a house with a dishwasher or a microwave (sorry Mark) for years.  There is just NOT the space for it.  I do like getting into the zone and scrubbing everything down once I’m all finished, but (gasp!) I sometimes wait until the next day to do a final scrub down.  Sorry, but when you live alone… It’s kind of nice to know this is an option.  One day I’ll have a big beautiful kitchen with loads of organized cabinets and a dishwasher.  A girl can dream.

So this was the aftermath of my culinary pursuits yesterday, and then the “after” shot once I was done with my scrub down this morning.

DA0A6825 DA0A6833

It definitely feels so much better once all this is said and done.  Also, I kind of like this comparison.  It’s like those puzzles you see in Highlights magazine (yes I did just go there) and you have to find all the differences.  I also made a fabulous breakfast with my new favorite thing, a little something called “Blanket Sauce” and the recipe can be found at My New Roots.

DA0A6831

That sauce… Oh… my… God.  It’s a miraculous mixture of tomatoes, onions, raw cacao powder, dates and spices.  The recipe it goes with is for a stuffed sweet potato, which is super good and I made it earlier this week but I had a lot of this sauce left over. I discovered it’s so unbelievably good with eggs.  I roasted some sweet potato hunks while I was cleaning the kitchen and over mediumed some eggs and gave it a healthy douse of that sauce.  I guess it’s a modified huevos rancheros.  Breakfast food has always been my favorite.

My New Roots also had a great recipe that I worked on yesterday for a Butternut Squash Lasagna.  I spent a good bit of time preparing this yesterday.  I try really hard to prepare during the weekend for the week ahead.  Since I work in an office Monday through Friday, 8-5, my time gets pretty devoured if I plan on having any kind of sanity or social life.  This is a pretty typical American way of life.  I’m trying desperately to make it work.  This will be lunches and dinner during the course of the week.

This recipe is vegan, which I very rarely follow, and instead of noodles, it had a really neat new ingredient for me, “celeriac” or celery root.  I was unsure of what to expect from this root vegetable.  As you can imagine, it had a mild celery smell and flavor, and you cut it into super thin slices and use it in the layering process.  All in all, a very tasty dish.

DA0A6820

So… on to not-edible things.  Today, unfortunately is filled with subtext.  I’m trying not to think about it, but I was supposed to participate in a wedding this evening.  I wasn’t the bride or anything, but I was friends with one.  And the short version of this story is that now… I’m not.  I did something very out of character about a month ago and decided that it was time to sever my relationship with a friend of 8 years.  This was a very difficult decision. But in the long run, it became clear that it was the right one.  I could no longer stay in the relationship and continue to take care of myself.

So this makes me wonder; how far is too far when it comes to protecting and taking care of yourself?  I know that I hurt this person with this action of cutting ties. I see photographs popping up on Facebook, I do feel those little inklings of nostalgia and confusion.  I know I made the right decision, but sometimes it’s hard to feel that through and through. It’s hard to know the absolute right thing to do.  The thing is, I know it hurt this person for me to do this, but it also hurt ME to make it.  I don’t want to lose a friend in whom I invested so much time and energy.  Unfortunately, we all have to make tough decisions.  I’m really the only person who can control what happens to me, so when I feel berated and dragged down, sometimes I have to make a super difficult choice: continue making the steps towards hurtful behavior, or step away from it entirely.  I know this is all a bit on the mysterious side, but out of respect for this person and myself, I really do not want to publicly describe too much.

Onward and upward!  I’m making room for authentic connections and relationships.  I’ll be better, stronger, and more prepared for my future by nurturing my own needs.  Happy Sunday everyone.  The sun is peeking out, and I think the pup and I need to go play outside.