My Real Ingredients Challenge

I’m tired of being tired. Of spending money on junk and eating junk and not feeling nourished. And by junk,  I do mean organic granola bars. For so long I’ve wanted to do things like bake my own bread, make my own yogurt, make my own chicken stock. But I don’t.

Why don’t I do the things I want to do? Because, my kitchen is tiny, my oven is touchy, I’m to tired, it takes too much time.  I’ve fed myself so many excuses over the years.  But I’m done making excuses. So many times I’ve tried to prepare basic foods, like rice or quinoa. But I couldn’t get it right, so I just gave up. After one attempt.

The other day I did something revolutionary for me. I tried to make rice again. I figured out what I had been doing wrong and I did it right. It turned out perfect. And I realized something. I’m a quitter.

In school everything except for math came easy for me. I never had to try hard or study hard because if the teacher explained it and it made sense in my mind. I would just know it. In math class I felt like I was drowning much of the time. But I still didn’t really try. I just stumbled along and got Cs.

I don’t want to be a quitter anymore. I want to be a overcomer.  I want to be able to bake a loaf of bread, whip up a batch of yogurt, cook some rice… without thinking about it. I want to perfect these simple skills because, once that’s done, the dinner possibilities are endless.

So here is the plan, for the next month we are not going to buy anything but real ingredients. No granola bars, no chips, no store made bread. (Can you tell I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person yet?) Once a week we (Robert and I) will have preparation day. We will make enough bread, granola bars, energy bars, yogurt and chicken stock for the week. Other things will be optional, cookies, sausage breakfast muffins, sorbet, hard-boiled eggs.

We are going to Costco tomorrow (March 11) where we will buy only real stuff. Whatever we currently have will be phased out over time. I will take pictures or videos every week to show you what our food status is. Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE:

So we did it! Buying real ingredients pleasantly surprised us by being cheaper that our typical Costco trip.

I was busy Saturday and Sunday:

  • I made bread for the first time since highschool. It turned out lovely! It was so much quicker and easier than I had anticipated. I made the mistake of letting it rise the second time in a bowl instead of in bread pans. It ended up being a little flat because of the third rise, but it tastes good!
  • I whipped up a batch of 3 ingredient energy bars. Just almonds, dates and craisens in my moms food processor.
  • Also, I baked a whole organic chicken in the crock pot.
  • As for yogurt and broth I planned on making those monday but baby and I got sick.

Monday, I made pizza dough from scratch for the first time ever. It was amazing! Just 5 ingredients, no yeast. Quick and easy!

So far its been fun and liberating making things that taste good. I’ve gained a lot of confidence already!

Pictures:

Top: My homemade bread and power bars. Bottom: All our food before the challenge 🙂

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Positive Reading: Some Health Benefits of Receiving Flowers

I couldn’t help but smile as a warm soft scent filled the room, wrapping around my soul like a gentil hug and drawing me closer. A delicious sensation of joy and wellbeing filled me. I saw the star-shaped things and ran my fingers lovingly over the softly ruffled edges. Muted orange and cream paired beautifully together. I longed to linger here a while, close to this lovely embodiment of sunshine and spring.

Flowers! They are my favorite gift to give and receive. Even for a minimalist they are  the perfect gift. They lift the mood of a space like nothing else can. And it turns out the effects can last for days. They have an amazing ability to put people at ease and are a great way to do something intentional and positive for your mental health.

According to Huffington post: “reasearch consistently links indoor flowers with wellbeing… (a study) found that patients in hospital rooms brightened with flowers and potted plants needed less postoperative pain medication, had lower systolic blood pressure and pulse rates, were less anxious and tired, and generally were in a more positive psychological state than patients in rooms without plants.”

Another study found that, ” flowers are a positive mood ‘inducer’… The Duchenne (or genuine) smile is common on the presentation of all the stimuli (candles, fruit, flowers) however, the highest (100%) response rate occurred to flowers… Women who received flowers reported more positive moods 3 days later… Flowers presented to elderly participants elicited positive mood reports and improved episodic memory”. In other words, flowers not only change your current mood for the better, they actually introduce new positive emotions. Also they can lower the need for pain medication and improve your memory. If you want to give them as a gift, you will be sure to get a genuine smile from the receiver.

Flowers are the embodiment of fresh. Fresh by definition can not last forever. Even potted flowers bloom and die and start over again. A synthetic “fresh scent” will not compare because it’s not truly fresh.

Be careful though, dead flowers can be draining. If you’re like me most potted plants cause more stress than happiness because of the struggle to keep them alive! Cut flowers are great because you can throw them away without any guilt after they have brightened your spaces with their loveliness. Throw away any decaying plants the moment they no longer bring you joy.

If you are looking to induce a certain mood with your choice of flower here are some ideas:

Soft warm tones: Comforting

Pinks with cool tones: Romantic, nostalgic

Bright or dark reds and oranges: Passion, sophistication

Soft blues greens and purples: Calming

Bold contrasting colors: Youthful, energizing

Want to do something easy to improve your mental and physical health? Go buy or pick some flowers for yourself and someone you love.

Sources: Phillip’s Flowers, huffpost.com/The Mental Health Benefits of Flowers , An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers.Journal of Evolutionary Psychology

 

Digging deeper: My Fear of Immaturity

Am I emotionally immature?

What a thought. This is probably my biggest fear. The fear that I dont have some great intuition or gift for feeling. But that I am inadequate. That other people are actually better than me and I am missing something. That I am childish and immature.

Oh how his has been my fear since I was so young. The fear of being childish. As a child I loathed being a child. I tried with all my might to concentrate on creating some superior maturity. I think I may have been  intellectually more advanced than my peers but I am afraid that perhaps this stifled my emotional development. I want to imagine that this all leads to some great intelligence. Like Einstein or Benjamin Franklin who were socially awkward but geniuses. But maybe I am just underdeveloped. And if I am. How to I get over this? How do I become this stoic beauty of a whole person?

The Project: Conquering the Fear of Being Known

I have always been afraid of people knowing me. I don’t think I am a critical person, except when it comes to, well… me.

I am so afraid of people getting close to me that I used a fake name in high school. I created a whole fake identity and had an imaginary boyfriend that I convinced people was real. I wore perfectly tailored pants that my mom made for me and put on an air of total confidence. By junior year I had relaxed a bit. Jeans and hoodies became more regular. I had a real boyfriend but still used a fake name.

One day I mentioned my boyfriend to the closest friend I had at school. She was totally confused. “What about Jim?” she asked. “Oh I made him up.” I said. “You didn’t know that?” I think she was a  hurt that I hadn’t told her the truth about something so central to my life.  I just figured I forgot. I didn’t see it as a red flag. I should have.

Another friend somehow found out my real first name and started calling me by it. I felt totally violated. I stopped talking to him until he agreed to call me by my nickname. Then one day  he asked my dad if he could call me by my real name. My dad said he could, innocently thinking it wasn’t a big deal. It was. I felt not only violated but now betrayed. Ya. I’ve got issues.

I am 22 years old  and am still crippled by fear. I am most afraid of showing my true self to people who are close-ish to me. Its like this..

  • Total strangers: “No big deal, I’ll tell you my whole life story!”
  • Husband: “Sorry you are the one person who literally knows everything about me.”
  • Everybody in between: “Look at this perfect image I place before you. Do not dig any deeper or I will shut you out!”

But I long to be known. I just want to be honest. To know that its ok to be honest. That people will still love me with all my flaws and brokenness. All my crazy.

Here is what I’m going to do. I am going to stop holding all this fear inside me and I am going to share it. This blog will be my honest and most venerable thoughts. I’m not looking for debates. Not everyone will be able to identify with my thought processes, my beliefs or my theories. But I am going to put it all out there anyway. Because I need to conquer my fears.

 

My Inner Hero: Why I Wanted to be a Boy

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a boy. Adventure seemed more within reach for boys. The thrill of fighting bad guys, protecting the helpless, noticing a beautiful woman. Even now, thinking of the adventures of Robin Hood, King Aurther or Disney’s Peter Pan can make my heart beat faster at the promise of a great adventure. They were dashingly handsome heros admired by even their enemys. They were sometimes venerable, but always overcame with strength and whit. Sometimes I feel that my spirit might explode out of my body from the longing to be like them.
I am a grown woman. So what’s up with me? Do I just have an overactive imagination, am I totally manic or do I just an affinity for adventure stories about guys.
Here is the thing. Now that I am grown up, I am quite comfortable in my femininity. In fact, I consider myself a “girly”(I use this word only for lack of a better one) type, much of the time. So why do I still get these “masculine” feelings? The answer is simple. What I’m feeling is quite feminine.
Here are some attributes of my ideal inner hero.
Adventurous: I have no idea why a strong sense of adventure seems to be more associated with men than women. It’s a universal call. It might be because men are often more “outdoorsy” or more apt to wondering into the mountains. It’s true women get cold more easily on average. But give me an adventure in the tropics and watch me go! It seems to me that women in general are more spontanious, but this could just be me. I’m thinking of Audry Hepburn in Funny Face and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. When it comes to blood, women faint… Just kidding. Hello, we bleed every month. Blood is an everyday reality for us. The truth is everybody loves a good adventure.
Whitty and calculated: Always able to outsmart the problem in every situation. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Protecting: While men are traditionally thought of as being protective. Who fights more fiercely a man protecting his own or a mama protecting her babies? I don’t think one could outdo the other.
Admired by all: Ok who doesn’t want to be admired by all? Anybody? Nobody.
Appreciating female beauty: Who says only men can appreciate female beauty? Look at magazines marketed to men verses women. Do you see beautiful women on both? Yes. In fact, the womens’ focas more on general beauty, while the mens’ focas on simply the female figure. Both are overly appearence based, but you get the picture. It’s totally normal for women to notice and admire the beauty of other women.

Strong: I just want to be strong, so much.
Venerable: Venerability is traditionally thought of as a feminine trait. I find it attractive in my ideal male hero. I’ve noticed that for me, the most thrilling part of the story is when the hero is most venerable. The exciting thing isn’t just the venerability, but the venerability of a strong and courageous person. I’ve always been afraid of being “a sissy”. Like my hero, I just want to be able to be venerable without it bringing down my strong image. Isn’t that what every woman wants? To be allowed to cry and feel and hurt and still be viewed as a strong capable person who will make it through with triumph.
My inner hero is surprisingly feminine.
I used to think that when I was feeling “girly”, I was not being completely true to myself. But I have learned to embrace my feelings as they come.

Femininity is so much more than being “girly”. A girl who doesn’t feel “girly” need not suffer from an identity crisis. We all have a “girly” side and an “adventurous” side. Both are feminine. Both are every bit woman.
I am not saying women are superior to men. On the contrary, they are equal but different. Im also not saying that the “adventurous” woman is superior to the “girly” woman. Both sides are beautiful and powerful in different ways and I am fully and completely both!
The older I get the more I feel a need to nurture the “girly” side. I can do this by tanning, talking long hot baths and buying myself flowers. But there will always be a hero inside me seeking the thrill of the quest. I can nurture this side by exploring nature, wearing converse shoes or just channeling that hero aura in my everyday life.

In summary, it is totally ok for a woman to want to be the hero of the story. It doesn’t mean you were supposed to be a boy or that you must be a lesbian. Why did I want to be a boy? Because I thought the feelings I had were masculine. Turns out, I am every bit a woman.
Make a point to notice both sides of yourself and always be a hero.

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