12.31.2012

5 Things That Kept My Butt From Being Kicked By 2012

I haven't written on here lately because I really haven't had much to say.  In a season full of noise, static, and an overwhelming amount of celebratory junk assaulting our senses, I felt it best to just sit, stay quiet, and listen.  My 90 days of being clean slipped to a mere 30, falling off after enthralling and emotional travels to New Mexico with Matt and his family in early November.  New Mexican food is certainly some of the best food on the planet and one can never consume enough Hatch green chiles through any combination of culinary craftsmanship.

I have since allowed myself to be quietly swept away into two more months of travel, an abundance of gatherings and outings, and just general lethargy.  Most of my time was spent in constant introspection.  What I came to realize was that 2012 was a really shitty year.  I'll spare the details, but if you follow the blog you have a surface scratch of an idea of how things panned out for my family throughout the months.  Since I'm sure there are a few of you that had a first-class ticket on this year's Journey of Suck, I invite you to share YOUR own coping tactics in the comments below.  For those of you looking for a few more ideas - here are MY 5 Things That Helped Me (Barely) Survive 2012:

(1) LOTS OF HOT BATHS:  quiet time for me submerged in hot water.  Sometimes with Epsom salts.  Sometimes with dried rose buds and baby oil.  Sometimes with a mountain range of Mr. Bubble's best.  Lights on.  Lights off.  Candles burning.  Or not.  Words with Friends.  Better Homes & Gardens.  Staring at the ceiling.  Any combination of the above.  For that solitary half hour or sometimes more, life's SuckFest dissolved away like a Lush lavender bath bomb.


(2) SLEEP. SLEEP. SLEEP:  and more sleep.  At the risk of sounding a little too "Inception", dreaming became a welcome respite.  I stopped feeling guilty about spending so much time with my blankets and pillow and embraced the numerous opportunities to recharge mentally and physically.  Also, being in bed meant a) I wasn't in the kitchen eating and b) I wasn't in the kitchen fretting... and then eating.

(3) ACCEPT CURRENT STATE:  Physical.  Emotional.  Spiritual.  The last thing my overwhelmed little brain needed was negative self-talk and a self-inflicted "you should be..." beat down.  Don't mistake this as giving up or making excuses.  It is merely me owning up to the results of my decisions and actions over the course of the year.  I only have so much willpower and motivation in my arsenal.  By September's end, I was completely tapped out.  I knew the repercussions of my decisions and plans are in place to improve on my current elastic waistband condition.  I also know that being hard on myself and judging myself will not help me feel any better any faster.  Accept current state.  Plan for change.  Move on.

(4) GET OUT AND ENJOY QT WITH A LOVED ONE:  Hubby Matt did an incredible job of getting me (us) out of the house before I turned into an over saturated prune (see #1).  Since he was a co-passenger on this year's Sucktastic Voyage, Matt needed the mental release as much as I did.  Night after night we enjoyed $5 seats behind home plate, cheering our local Single A baseball affiliate to their California League Championship win.  Go Jethawks!  Or we were trying new restaurants and frequently returning to our newest favorite.  And funeral after funeral (yes, there were three this year) we made the most of our travels to each of the out of state towns we were visiting.  Boston kept us entertained with her glorious clam chowder and her Duck Boat Tours.  We broke bad in Albuquerque taking in local filming locations and engaging in valuable business discussions with The Candy Lady.  It is nice to look back on this year's events and be able to attach happy memories to the ones that would have otherwise torn me asunder.



(5) PRAY:  I talked to God more this year than I probably have in all of my 33 years combined.  I spoke.  I cried.  I questioned.  I cursed.  Sometimes softly.  Sometimes at the top of my lungs.  In my backyard at 2 in the morning.  In the bathtub.  Before falling asleep.  After waking up.  I'm pretty sure I said prayers in my dreams, too.  And then when I couldn't think of anything else to say... I just listened.  There is great comfort in laying it all in God's hands.  In waking up every morning and being able to give thanks for all the good things nestled into this year.  "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  I think of this quote every. single. day.

Slightly related to #5, I want to share one of the greatest blessings that capped off the month of December and brought great joy (following a week of sheer panic and fear) into my heart.  My bestest friend's 18 month old daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in early December.  Within the course of a week and a half, the cancerous tumor was discovered and identified.  On December 12, 2012, my precious little Olive had her right eye removed.  Enucleation as the professionals call it.  Oncology results came in 6 days later.  The great news is that all of the tumor was removed before it could snake its nasty bitchy cancer way down her optical nerve and into her brain.  18 month old Olive can say she kicked cancer's ass and is living (cancer free!) to tell the tale.  She even has a very cool scar to prove it.  I figure giving thanks and being joyful for her health is a pretty good way to end the year.  Going back to Texas to visit Olive and her parents will be an even better way to start the next one.


Look out world.  This chick has some chutzpah.
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So there it is.  This is how I managed to get through 2012 with some raw emotional scars, a few new stretch marks, and very pruney fingers.  And now I'm ready to storm my way into 2013 because I am clean.  I am well rested.  And I have Olive on my side.




10.23.2012

Moments of Zen for My 90 Day Cleanse - #8

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#8
Go for more walks with the dogs.

I'm a terrible doggy parent.  I've taught my not-so-little furry babies that eating carrots and apples from my cutting board and lounging around the house is perfectly acceptable dog behavior.  The carrots and apples, perhaps... but the lounging has gotten out of hand lately.


In an effort to get myself and my dogs moving more, we've started taking frequent and brisk morning walks.  Volt enjoys getting to visit with the school children waiting for the bus or playing on the playground and Ellie can't get enough of lunging at the rabbits sprinting across her path on their way out into the desert.  I just enjoy traveling around the block at a near sprint when 150 pounds of pup pull hard enough to nearly dislocate my shoulders.  I must say, the much cooler morning weather has certainly made leaving the house more desirable.  55 degrees at 6:30 am sure beats an early morning 88 degrees and an overheated dog.

Hooray for fall weather and 2+ miles a day of walking!

10.20.2012

Moments of Zen for My 90 Day Cleanse - #7

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#7
Celebrate Big Events Without A Self-Imposed Guilt Trip.

October 10 is Matt's and my wedding anniversary.  This year we celebrated three wonderful years of (mostly) joyful matrimony.  I told myself that for the one evening we chose to celebrate, I would make peace with my conscious decision over unhealthy food and drink and then move right along without waking up the next day burdened by a self-imposed guilt trip.  I tend to be incredibly hard on myself about these things.  I think we all know that by now.

So on the evening of 10/10/12, Matt and I delighted in a bottle of champagne and toasted to another fabulous three years together.  After that, we'll reevaluate and see if we want to keep going.


Cheers!





10.18.2012

Moments of Zen for My 90 Day Cleanse - #6

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#6

Eat more fish.

Look.  I'll be straight up honest with y'all.  I don't like cooked fish.  I don't like eating it.  I don't like the texture of it.  I hate cooking it because it is either overdone and dry or undercooked and creepily nothing like good sushi.  And don't get me started on the micro bones that show up on the second to last bite and ruin the whole meal.

BUT... I know fish is good for me.  I know fish is a stockpiled haven of healthy Omega-3 oils.  I know it is a solid source of lean protein.  So every now and then I bite the bone and cook fish at home.

What helps is having a fabulously easy recipe on hand to assure that my fish experience is not soiled by bad flavor.  Here is how my most recent fish experience panned out...

Lemon Baked Cod (adapted from original recipe HERE)

1 lb wild-caught cod fish fillets
1/4 cup grass-fed Kerrygold butter (or Grassfed Organic Ghee if you are currently on a Whole30)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup almond meal/almond flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika + additional for flavor
fresh ground black pepper

Set the oven to 350 degrees F.  Melt the butter/ghee and mix together with lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.  In another bowl of similar size, blend the almond meal, salt, paprika, and pepper until evenly combined.  Rinse and thoroughly dry each fish fillet.  One at a time, dip the fillets into the lemon butter then place in the almond mixture bowl and coat the fillet completely with the seasoned almond flour mixture.  Really use hands and fingers to sprinkle and place the flour onto the fish.  Place each fillet into an ungreased baking dish and slowly pour remaining lemon butter over the fish, being careful to not disturb the flour coating.  Sprinkle with additional paprika.  Cook uncovered for 25 - 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

I also tried this recipe using an egg to hold the batter and then double dipping into the lemon juice after being coated.  Don't do that.  Just ignore the egg bowl in the picture below.


I happened to have a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme that I placed on top of each fillet during cooking.  Nice addition if you have it, not necessary if you don't.


Serve the cod with a few slices of lemon and a crisp carrot salad.  


Overall, I wasn't too grossed out.  This is about the only fish recipe I will use in our house.  My first attempt at this recipe was with a different flavor back in April.  To keep it interesting, I will continue to change up the seasoning blends and may even get a 4th fishy meal in before the end of the year.  Maybe.





10.16.2012

Moments of Zen For My 90 Day Cleanse - #5

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#5

Have plenty of protein "at the ready".

Matt and I like to defrost a mountain of meat on one day of the week and grill, grill, grill until the refrigerator is stocked full of meats for quick eats.  Matt has plenty of chicken for lunch and I have chicken and grass-fed hamburger patties ready for breakfasts, lunch, or snacks.  No effort in defrosting.  Fun times with sampling different Penzeys seasoning blends.  And less than 30 minutes of grilling time.  A little manual effort and we're set with meat for a week!  No excuses for crummy habits when we're locked and loaded with a hearty arsenal of protein.


Some of our favorite Penzeys blends for the grill?

Fox Point
Herbes de Provence
Turkish Seasoning
BBQ 3000




10.13.2012

Moments of Zen For My 90 Day Cleanse - #4

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#4

Nap.

Dogs and cats have the right idea.  Nap it out.  When I'm tired, it means I need more sleep - NOT more caffeine.  Not 5-Hour Energy.  Just good hearty sleep.  I like to take the advice of Volt, who seems to have perfected the concept, and find a comfortable spot to allow my body and brain some down time to recuperate and re-energize.



Want more deets around the benefits of napping?  Check out this article: Unleash The Power of The Nap.  For an even more in-depth understanding of how and when to make nice with the Zzzzz Monster, have a peeksie at this graphic from The Boston Globe:


(click to enlarge)
Image source: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/naps/






10.11.2012

Moments of Zen For My 90 Day Cleanse - #3

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#3

Have plenty of vegetables "at the ready".

215 in³ of cabbage to be specific.  I cored and shredded two heads of cabbage.  I heated two tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  I wilted and stirred that cabbage around in the hot coconut oil, adding a healthy sprinkling of Penzeys Turkish Seasoning halfway through cooking.  Then I piled all the brightly colored tastiness into a large container to keep in the fridge.  Now I have a prepared nutrient-dense veggie option to grab as a side to any meal or when I am just feeling munchy for crunchy.







10.09.2012

Moments of Zen For My 90 Day Cleanse - #2

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#2

Eat sage chips.

I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a large skillet.  I washed and completely dried a large handful of sage leaves and carefully placed them in the warm oil.  Once they started to crisp and turn a bright green (20 - 30 seconds), I flipped each leaf for a few more seconds and then placed them on a paper towel.
 

Sprinkled with a little sea salt and voilĂ ... crazy tasty and super healthy chips!

  


10.06.2012

Moments of Zen For My 90 Day Cleanse - #1

What better way to spend Q4 than focusing completely on the health of mind and body?  It has been a rough ride this year and Matt and I have agreed to spend the months of October, November, and December focusing on eating right, clearing our brains of toxic blahs, and exercising together.  Every few days throughout the 90, I will post individual bits of bodhi that I am using to help clear my head, my heart, and my body.
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#1

Clear the clutter.  It is much easier to concentrate when I am not surrounded by clutter.  Clearing clutter opens the mind.

What I like to think of as "easy access to all my beauty needs"...


became something Matt didn't mind encountering during his early morning visit to use the facilities.


What I like to consider an efficient approach to putting on my shoes in said facilities (what the heck?  I'm already sitting, right?!)...


became more laundry.  But at least my shoes made it to the closet.


What I like to believe is my multi-tasking arena for writing, working, reading, and eating...


pleasantly returned to dinner table status.


Even the dogs got on board and gathered all their toys into one place.






10.04.2012

Dining Out Paleo: Fresco II

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
 
Every Thursday I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to my Paleo lifestyle, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.  

This particular day started with the dogs, Matt, and I joining the Antelope Valley masses as space shuttle Endeavour departed from Edwards Air Force Base on the back of a 747 and made its final tour around the skies of California.  
 

 

Apparently standing on one's roof offered a much closer view and the possible hope of high-fiving a pilot?



After the cheers and the waving of good-byes, Matt went off to work and the pups and I tended to things around the house... like getting ready for a lunch date with my mother-in-law at Fresco II in Palmdale.

Fresco II is a Mediterranean restaurant with a vast selection of vegetable and meat dishes from which to choose.  There are also plenty of pasta, pizza, and sandwich options for friends who may not necessarily subscribe to the same eating habits.  My mother-in-law and I were immediately seated at a comfortable table, brightly illuminated by the natural sunlight coming in from all the windows.  We made our way into the low table and easy chairs and casually scanned the menu for what we wanted to eat.



I sipped on my cucumber-infused water and ordered the Grilled Chicken and Avocado salad.   A nice mix of vegetables, protein, and fats:  baby greens, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, avocado, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and grilled chicken.



The salad was HUGE!  I love ordering salads and suggesting salads to Paleo friends because they are so easy to customize and tweak.  Lately I've been leaving the cheese on, but when I'm being more strict opt to 86 the cheese.  Unless it is a special goat cheese or feta, I have yet to come across a cheese that I absolutely can't live without. 

My mother-in-law ordered the Mediterranean Chopped salad: a mountain of lettuce, tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, onions, olives, pine nuts, mozzarella and feta cheeses, and chicken.  


Dressing is available on the side and even though my salad was tossed with it directly, it was light and just barely distinguishable.  I appreciate getting to the bottom of my plate and not seeing a small pooled collection of dressing and salad refuse.  My mother-in-law easily packed half of her salad to take home for lunch on Friday, though it could have probably been split AGAIN for Friday's lunch and a dinner side salad.  Prices are a little on the high side, but the meals are sizable enough to split or to take home for later eatin's.

The dinner menu is enticing and one I want to come back for... oven roasted chicken, lamb chops, or salmon and vegetables to name a few.  Plenty to choose from and all selections I would be thrilled to try.  So glad Fresco II is in the Antelope Valley, especially when I have to have the big salad.



10.03.2012

Garden School Part II

Last Saturday was my second day in Garden School.  We covered a range of topics from bug management to espalier trees to bees and even an in-depth conversation about composting composition.


In my desperate quest to rid my garden of those gnarly tobacco hornworms, I was informed that a tuna can with beer placed at the base of the plant is a solution worth trying.  Duly noted because seeing these guys makes me want to throw up a little bit.


After much learning and discussion, it was playtime in the garden!  I learned how to prune a tomato bush, clearing away the suckers and leaving the fruiting stems.


We sampled a fresh bite of arugula.  It's a vegetable.  A bold peppery vegetable at that!


And each student was given a handful of sage and lemon thyme to take home.


Trouble with your squash plants not producing?  Try a little plant artificial insemination.


When it was time to go back inside for more discussion around watering and garden water needs, we were all treated to homemade tomato focaccia with tomatoes from right out of the garden.  This girl is certainly getting her money's worth.


Looking forward to next week for the last class of the series!




9.29.2012

Grilled Garden Vegetables

After Garden School last weekend, I returned home with a giant loot sack full of fresh veggies from my Master Gardener friend's garden.  Not wanting to overpower the fresh flavor of each individual harvested goodie when I consumed them, I pulled out an old standby recipe.  It is packed full of flavor and highlights the delicate delicious taste that each vegetable has to offer.

Grilled Vegetables 
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

I ignored the whole list of veggies from the recipe and used what was in my bag of garden trick-or-treats instead.


I grabbed...carefully...my Swissmar Borner V-Slicer and set it to make thick slices.


I placed all the sliced veggies in a gallon bag and tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper until everything was lightly and evenly coated.  Then I heated my favorite grill pan over medium-high heat and started grilling the veggies, one batch at a time.


Like it mentions in the original recipe, pretty grill marks are a result of not moving the vegetables around once they're on the grill.  Let them cook slowly and get all pretty in the pan.  I only flipped them once.


Parsley, basil, and rosemary came out of my own backyard and I made my dressing similar to the original recipe, increasing the amount of the garlic, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary.


2 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. balsamic vinegar (tweak for taste, I added an extra splash)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

I whisked all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  When all the veggies were grilled and plated, I drizzled the dressing over them.  Fancy and fabulous, right?  I love using the leftovers for future meals, as well.  The flavor is so rich and grilled veggies just taste so darn good, even the next day!