Category Archives: Life and Style

Weekly Ponder (Sort Of)

I’m bad at keeping an ed cal.  Hush.

Okay, it’s late on Saint Patrick’s Day…scratch that, it’s early the day after Saint Patrick’s Day, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time extrapolating on these quotes.  But these are two thoughts from the Dalai Lama that have really helped me this week, dealing with unkind people and tough situations.  I always marvel at the simple but profound truths in what the Dalai Lama has to say.  I hope they can help you, too, when the time comes that you might need the wisdom:

“True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason.”

“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.”

I’ll also need to write a post on the seriously golden wisdom from my capoeira mestres…but first there will be cookies.

 

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Pulling Weeds

Starting tomorrow I’m pulling weeds in my life.  You know, the things and people that choke out all the good stuff in your life and leech sunlight and new opportunities from you.  I’m seeing less of toxic friends and cutting out bad habits (sadly, I’ve fallen back into a samsara cycle – but tomorrow it’s getting the boot for good!).  I’m moving froward in my professional life and hopefully kicking my old work environment to the curb in the near(ish) future.  I’m letting go of needless worry and giving people more compliments.  I’m still going to watch bad TV online.  Don’t judge.

See, things have been really good lately.  I am so in love (again, don’t judge.  Trust me I know how cheesy it is), I’m doing meaningful volunteer work that feeds my soul and I’m exploring new things all the time.  Unfortunately I’ve also been depriving myself of sleep in the name of all that awesomeness and falling into a lot of old, negative ways.  Even this blog has gotten a little stale…it’s okay, I know the writing is hurried and the pictures are sub-par.  But recognizing those things is the first step toward change, and I certainly don’t want to lose sight of the amazing things for all the petty not-so-amazing things.  So I’m pulling those weeds.  I’m going to re-focus on my health, show people more love than negativity and stop spending much energy on anything that doesn’t contribute to happiness.  And I’m doing it right NOW.  See you on the other side!

 

Oh, P.S.  I’ve stopped the clean eating for now.  I know it seems counterintuitive to stop eating clean when I just said I was going to re-focus on my health, but after trying it for several weeks I realized it was having the opposite effect that I wanted; it was making me think MORE about food and in turn sparking more cravings and more massive fails.  The idea was go get back in touch with my body and what I want, and it pumped too much thought and too little feel into the process.  I might try it again in the future, but for now, it’ll go on a shelf.  It’s kind of a weed.

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Clean Eating. But First, Banana Bread.

If you remember, dear readers, one thing on my 24 Before 25 list was to go a whole month without eating high fructose corn syrup. In the past month or so I’ve tried – and failed – about three times to do this.  Actually, I wasn’t really failing at not eating high fructose corn syrup – that turned out to be pretty easy.  What I was failing at was not eating something overly processed that technically didn’t contain HFCS (maybe just corn syrup) that then led me to feel like I was eating gross processed crap anyway and turn to more junky foods with the resolution that I would eat clean again starting tomorrow.  I’d get about a week again and then cave again.

The problem was, even though I was technically following my rule, I knew the real goal of the rule was to eat less processed food in general.  So even though my list item is still to go a month without eating HFCS, what I’m really going to do is a month – hopefully more – of clean eating.

There are a lot of ideas of good or clean eating out there.  No dairy!  No gluten!  Everything raw!  So what are my rules for clean eating?

What I will be cutting out:

  • HFCS
  • Chemicals I can’t pronounce or identify on a store shelf (i.e. those crazy stabilizers, flavorings and preservatives in packaged food)
  • Most refined sugar, with the occasional exception for things I bake myself
  • As much white flour and refined carbs as possible

What I won’t be cutting out:

  • Dairy (I rarely eat it anyway, but I like yogurt for breakfast sometimes)
  • Alcohol (but I’ll only drink my usual quality craft beer and whiskey)
  • Caffeine (green tea is totally good for you!)
  • Gluten
  • Fruit (yes, some extreme diets think fruit has to much sugar)

Basically I’m not going crazy orthorexic (orthorexic – obsession with right eating) fad diet here and cutting out whole food groups, I’m just sticking to a faith that anything whole and natural is good for you and anything packaged and processed is not.  Tomorrow will be the day I start, and I’ll go through the end of February – that’ll make a whole month.  Are you in?

But that’s tomorrow, and today, today there’s banana bread.  Not that banana bread necessarily breaks any clean eating rules – especially not my banana bread! My banana bread, which was sort of inspired by this recipe from Joy the Baker and this recipe from Allrecipes, is full of good things like millet and yogurt and fruit and had minimal bad things like sugar and oil.  Okay, so there is flour.  But it’s bread.  Duh.

Millet Banana Bread

  • 2 cups flour (try half whole wheat!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup millet

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a 9×5 loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, blend your flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, mash your three bananas until mostly smooth – it’s okay if there are a few chunks.  Or, if you’re like me and you froze a super-ripe banana just for this purpose, simply mush up the slimy mess you will find inside.  Seriously, it’s disgusting.  I actually had to call my mom to ask her if it was normal for the frozen banana to turn into a brown, smushy tube – I remember her doing this when I was a kid, and she assured me it was.  This is what the banana looked like out of the freezer:

And this is what it looked like when I opened it.  It stayed in one gelatinous piece, and I just shook it out of its skin into the bowl.

The rest of the bananas I just chopped and rough mashed with a fork.  When that’s done, stir in your oil and yogurt.

Add the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla, and beat with a hand mixer on low for a few seconds, just until everything is blended.  Again, it’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.  No big.  More banana goodness.

Next, stir in your dry ingredients until they are just incorporated.  Add the millet and stir in until it’s evenly distributed, then put it in your prepared pan and make sure the batter is spread to the corners.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top starts to look toasty and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  I know this doesn’t sound like long enough for banana bread, and I was just as surprised when I checked the oven after 40 minutes and the top was beginning to brown.  But hey, it works.  That’s what happens when you make up recipes: you have to adjust when things come up.  And it will come up, into a dome of crunchy banana goodness.  The millet is a great textural component, but walnuts would also be good here.  You know I’m going to tell you to play around with it yourself.  Whoever said baking is an exact science was lying!

So, banana bread for dinner tonight, clean healthy eating starting tomorrow.  The hardest part will be going to work on Monday and not snacking on all the chips and treats we have in the classroom.  But I have faith.  It is on the list, after all, I have to do it!

Speaking of the list, I’ve been making a little progress.  I already told you I watched a football game, and I’ve also started (really) volunteering at a therapeutic horseback riding center.  I’m looking into swing lessons, researching the stock market, and I’ve signed up for a program that matches international pen pals.  I also started taking capoeira lessons, which is an awesome Brazilian dance-martial arts thing that I LOVE.  I know it wasn’t a list item, but I’d been wanting to go to an intro class in Denver for a long time now, and in the spirit of the list and trying new things I finally went.  Now I can’t stop.  Of course I’ll have to wait till my body stops being so sore after every class before I can start swing dancing and rock climbing.  But I’m so glad I faced my fear of the unknown, and my fear of failure, and went for it.

You know what they say: you should do at least one thing every day that scares you!

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New Year’s Wishes

Happy New Year!  In about seven hours, that is, at least if you live where I live.  2011, though not always pretty, was definitely a year of some amazing things.  If I was going to assign a word for 2011 it would be “growth” – there were a lot of changes and I learned a lot about myself, through all the ups and downs.  2012 will hold more of the same, I’m sure.  Things will get hard again, and then they’ll get better – there is no wholly perfect year, but it can still be a good one!

In 2012 I hope you…

Stay healthy – your health is your greatest gift.

Love a lot of people.

Find enjoyment and excitement at least a little bit every day.

Keep learning, keep exploring, keep trying new things – challenge yourself at every turn!

Become more and more the person you want to be.

I love you.  I really do.  See you next year!

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End of 2011 Updates and 2012 Resolutions

Hey there.  I don’t really have any cool new projects or recipes right now, I just figured I’d say hi since I’m pushing ten days since my last post.

Of course the holidays happened, and of course I cooked for Christmas.  In our family we don’t really do a sit-down Christmas dinner, we just make a lot of appetizers and finger foods and graze all day.  And I do mean ALL DAY.  I’m pretty sure I consumed like a week’s worth of calories…and there are still leftovers.  So what did I contribute to the menu?

Only the caramelized onion dip was a new recipe, and I pretty much followed it as it is…and it was super tasty!  Plus it’s a lot healthier than regular dip, since I used nonfat Greek yogurt (lots of protein).  And like I said, I had a ton of leftovers afterward, which has forced me to be creative in how I can use them in healthy ways (after two days of eating peanut brittle, cream cheese canapes and pecan pie, I’ve vowed to be really super healthy this week).  My favorite repurposing has been to put loads of the tomato bruschetta topping on a spinach salad and garnish it with a little goat cheese – so good!

So now that I’m done with holiday cooking, my time has been mostly spent crafting, watching reruns of Project Runway online, hiking (see the pic of Saint Mary’s Glacier below) and thinking up new blog posts.  On the lineup: friendship bracelets, apron-sewing, spicy gingerbread cookies (when I work through the TON of gingersnaps I got from various people for Christmas…I guess my love of ginger cookies is notorious), leather tassel necklaces, garlands…there’s so much I want to do!

Oh!  And I almost forgot to post the pictures of my cookie-baking adventures with my friend Ashley!  We made sugar cookies based off a sour cream recipe her family uses, but I don’t want to post the recipe because we (SHE) accidentally doubled the butter so I don’t know how the original cookies taste.  The ones we wound up with were tasty though, not to sweet and ind of shortbready – they went nicely with the homemade buttercream. We had so much fun making silly shapes and using lots of color!

So…there’s that.  Now we have new year’s to look forward to.  I’m not really a big fan of new year’s resolutions – after all, if you want to make a change, why not start today?  But I have to admit it provides a convenient mental time frame for making committed changes.  When I make them they’re never things I want to accomplish, but more reminders of the mindset I want to have in the coming year.  For 2012 my new year’s resolutions are:

  1. Be present and mindful – live in the moment, do away with fear and worry, appreciate my life more.
  2. Don’t let fear hold me back – follow my passions and take risks.
  3. Show people love and compassion at all times.
  4. Break the cycle of samsara.  This is the Buddhist notion of the cycle of suffering, and a lot of it is linked to desire and attachment and repetitive behaviors that we continue to engage in despite the fact that they’ve only been destructive in the past.  I need to remember that “one more time” will only keep me in samsara, so I have to be committed to breaking patterns and making change.

I know it sounds kind of wishy-washy, but it’s not about sticking to something or failing at something, it’s about practicing the kind of life I want to live.  It’s a reminder to strive for these things in the coming year.  And if I’m sincere about what I want then they’ll be successful.  What are your new year’s resolutions?

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The B Word

It’s budget.  Stop being so vulgar.

I’ve officially started to freak out about money.  Again.  Now that I’m all stocked up on boots and cardigans it is most definitely time to start SAVING.  So what do you think?  Are you along for the ride?

I actually cut my credit card bill in HALF this June by making and sticking to a budget, and I think I need to do that again starting in October.  Of course it was a lot easier in the summer, when I could live solely on Fudgsicles and there were plenty of free festivals and hikes to entertain me.  But I have faith.  I can eat peanut butter and go sledding a lot.  Or something.

Basically my budget will work like this: pay all necessary expenses (rent, utilities, cell phone, internet, gas, car insurance and the odd medical and pet bills that pop up).  Then I get $250 a month for food and $100 a month for entertainment and other miscellaneous wants.  That sounds daunting, right?  It’s actually not that bad, I’ll just have to get really creative with how I spend my time.  Actually, I bet having to entertain myself without spending money will be good for my artistic/crafty side.  And that’s good for you, because I’ll have lots of fun posts!  So I’m not worried…mostly.

I’ll keep you posted on the clever ways I find to save money and spend my time, and update the blog on my budget progress.  You’ll keep me accountable, like in And Then She Saved.  Deal?  It will be better than it sounds, I promise.  This is valuable Indie Girl living advice, people.  And it is totally FREE.

You’re welcome.

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Sweater Weather

So, in addition to the cool-weather cooking (pumpkin cookies and spiced lattes and roasted root vegetables…mmm…) fashion is another thing I love love love about autumn.  Except not fashion.  I hate the word fashion.  I like the clothes.  I like scarves and boots and cozy sweaters and going thrift store shopping with my mama, which we only ever do when it’s cold out.  I heart thrift stores like whoa.

So, true to obsessive form, I’ve been poring over style blogs like mad lately.  Particularly Elsie’s A Beautiful Mess and Elizabeth’s Delightfully Tacky, but I’m also constantly discovering new little quirky nooks of the interwebs to inspire me.  I think I might start doing more style news and outfit posts, yeah?  Just a forewarning, though, I am not as adorable as Elsie and Elizabeth.  But maybe Christine can help me with some good shots?

Elizabeth from Delightfully Tacky

So the lesson is there are lots of lovely style blogs on the internet by a lot of lovely ladies.  And then there’s Urban Outfitters.  Can I just take an uncharacteristic paragraph to rant for a second?  Because…seriously. What exactly is going on with Urban Outfitters?  Their new catalog looks like an awkward, cracked-out mashup of the nineties, like The Craft meets SLC Punk meets Lizzie McGuire if she grew up and developed a drug problem.  Urban Outfitters is now almost too hipster for itself.  Not that I really have anything personal against the store (hell, I used to work for Anthropologie.  Employee discount…swoon), I just find the intentionally hideous styling to be trite and annoying.  And then there’s the whole thing about Urban stealing ideas from independent designers

From Urban Outfitters' fall catalog. WTF?

Okay. Rant over.  I’ll go back to my normal happy-but-awkward demeanor.  So can we maybe talk about Anthropologie a little bit more?  About how I love it and how they have an amazing design team because their catalogs always make me believe their products will lead to a perfect life (hey, at least I recognize it) and how I can’t afford it and how talking about clothes like this makes me feel like a materialistic whore of capitalism but I don’t care?  Can we talk about that?  Can you buy me this skirt?

From Anthropolgie's fall catalog.

I totally mean what I say about them having an amazing design team.  I’m pretty darn savvy to marketing and media and all that jazz, but I completely fall in love with the notion of the Anthro lifestyle every time I look at their photos.  Not the clothes, mind you.  The idea of Anthropologie.  It takes talent to do that, to market a lifestyle concept.  I mean I know advertisers always try to place their product within a certain context, make it an integral part of the framework of a certain kind of life, but Anthropologie isn’t a product, it’s a store.  It’s not even marketing items, it’s marketing itself, and very successfully at that.  So hats off to you, Anthro.  I’ll buy in.

So…this post is sort of convoluted and directionless.  I apologize.  I will be sharing more bits of fall style though! And collaborating with Christine on doing style shoots.  She, after all, is the one with the nice camera.  And the talent.  So stay tuned!

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