Category Archives: Brain Dumping

The Fog Begins to Clear

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We have a little over three months left and then we can put this dumpster fire of a year to bed. 2016 has been a really hard year for a lot of people, and I am no exception. I’ve been struggling all year, but the up side is that now I think that I am finally starting to come out of the funk that I’ve been in. It’s been tough, y’all. My husband lost his job back in January, and it took him until September to start a new one. That is a long time to be out of work, and desperately trying to find a job. Finances have been a constant stress, and if any of you have been in a similar situation, you know how nerve-racking it can be. His new job is great, and he is really happy with it so far, but it’s been a long journey to get there.

I suffered a pretty serious injury to my knee at the end of last year that I’ve been dealing with ever since. For months I wasn’t able to walk unaided, and I was in a constant state of pain. Even after I was able to get rid of the crutches and then the cane, I still had a lot of work to do to rebuild my muscle strength. It has been a long and a frustrating healing process. Even now, ten months later, though the pain is mostly gone, I’m still working on strength and durability so that I can walk for longer distances. It’s been very slow going.

With all of this I’ve been under a cloud of mild depression and anxiety, justifiably so. Nothing so bad that I have needed medication or therapy, but enough to completely stifle my creativity. I haven’t been working on anything at all this year and it’s really bothering me. I usually have some projects going, whether it be arts and crafts or writing, or any number of household organizations or improvements. But since my injury, and especially since Tim lost his job, I’ve just been dead in the water. I have felt so stuck. I haven’t felt excited or inspired about anything. I really want to start writing again. I have so many ideas for a novel I started last year. I really need to get back to it, but my creative muscles have atrophied after going so long uninspired. While I am still fighting off depression and anxiety, I recently felt a spark of inspiration. It may sound silly, but I got really excited about some DIY Halloween decorations. I actually really enjoy craft projects, and although it is starting small, I hope this spark will catch fire and help me stretch my creative muscles. Maybe if I work on some crafts I’ll get inspired to work on my writing.

I’m thrilled to get the house back to myself during the day. I love my husband more than anything. He’s my best friend and we have a blast together, but it was hard spending all day, every day together. He worked from home all through 2015, and it was a huge adjustment for me having him here. My productivity fell dramatically. I just had a really hard time getting any work done with him around as a distraction. Once he lost his job and didn’t have his own work to occupy him, it was even harder for me to accomplish anything. Now that he has the new job and is at the office all day, I have an abundance of time to myself again. I’m hoping that I can capitalize on it and start creating.

So all that to say, I’ve been having a tough time and am still struggling, but I feel that things may be improving.  I feel like I am coming out of the fog and getting back to myself.  I hope that I can pull together some small victories that will hopefully catch some momentum for some real changes.  Wish me luck.

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Let’s Try This Again

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I’m back with a new look and fresh intentions.  It has been a very long time since I’ve posted here.  I think that it is clear that I could not keep up with posting to this blog while also keeping my regular post schedule on my beauty blog.  But, as of today, I have retired my beauty blog.  Now, I am free to focus on some new projects, and this blog is one of them.  If you are coming over here from my beauty blog, welcome.

Personally speaking, I am in a transitory period right now.  That is both a scary and an exciting place to be.  I am moving away from some projects and beginning new ones.  I have several things that I want to accomplish over the next year.  I am really happy to be getting back to this blog.  While I enjoyed my beauty blog and am proud of what I did with it, I am glad to have a place to write about several different topics as inspiration takes me.  It’s a time for new beginnings.

Thanks for coming along with me.

This is How I am Doing

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Life is stressin’ the hell out of me right now.  For those who do not know me personally, I am not a very patient person.  I’m working on it, but that’s the truth.  This year has been a real test of my patience so far.  We are being relocated by Tim’s work from North Carolina back to California.  It’s very exciting, and we are so happy to be going back home.  The only problem is that we have no information about the move.  The “plan” is that the company is going to buy a building in “the LA area” to open up a West Coast office.  This has been the plan since January, and nothing has happened yet.  They have signed contacts promising that the office will be up and running by the end of the year, but that’s all we have.  There have been tentative general plans made, but even those are behind schedule because the CA office keeps getting pushed back by more pressing matters.  And it is so very frustrating!

I can’t even explain how not knowing the where and when of the move is driving me crazy.  I can’t make plans for birthdays or small getaways because I don’t know what state I will be in.  I can’t start looking for places to live, because I don’t know where the office will be located.  “The LA area” is gigantic, stretching from Ventura County down to the border of Orange County, and from the Inland Empire to the Ocean.  That’s well over 30,000 square miles. I don’t want to look for a place to live in the San Gabriel valley if the office in in El Segundo or Silverlake.  (I realize that this doesn’t make much sense to those who are not familiar with SoCal geography.  Sorry.)  Not knowing the where and when is really taking its toll on me.  I’ve tried to be patient, but it’s been six months and I feel like I am in the exact same place as I was back in January.

The other thing that has been an emotional blow is that we had a possible adoption fall through.  Tim and I randomly had the possibility of adopting a baby boy.  It was a long-shot, a young couple in a bad spot that know my sister, not through an agency.  We tried not to get our hopes up because we knew the situation was precarious, but it was still a disappointment when it didn’t happen.  The good that came out of it was that it got us talking a lot about IVF and adoption, and I think we have decided to go the adoption route instead of risking IVF.  I’ll be looking into California agencies.  We keep trying to tell ourselves that this just wasn’t the right baby for us, but it’s hard.  The whole process has brought emotions to the surface that had been pushed down for a long time.

So, that’s how I am doing.  A lot of stress and a lot of emotions.  Tim and I are in a holding pattern right now, and it’s a tough place to be.  My guess is that we will move sometime in the Fall.  We will be renewing our lease for a shorter term, so I’m hoping that we can move in late October.  Nothing for sure, though.  I’m just trying to get though the day to day without getting crushed by the giant ball of stress hanging over my head.  Some days are better than others.  The good news is that I get another summer to play with my sister and my niece.  I plan to pack it full of days at the pool, backyard BBQ’s, and hanging out at Panera.  Other than that. I’ll just be here waiting… and waiting.

It’s been awhile…

I have been absent from this blog for a couple weeks.  On one hand, I was busy with the Easter holiday.  But the main reason has been that I’ve been struggling with trying to identify what’s going on in my head.  I’ve been distracted and emotional, but I haven’t been able to nail down my thoughts to write about them.  I am feeling better now, though.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying time with my sister.  I’ve been shopping.  I’ve had good times at restaurants with my husband.  I’ve been out living, despite my muddled mind.  That’s the important part for me.  As long as I stay involved, then I’m okay.  The real worry is when I start to withdraw.  That’s when you know shit is getting real.

I have a favor to ask of you.  Paula’s Choice, the skin care line, is offering a photo contest on facebook promoting a stance against animal testing.  The brand is offering a $100 gift card to the photo that gets the most votes for the week.  There will be three weeks of winners, and then the three winners will compete in a grand prize finale.  If you could take a moment to follow this link and vote for my photo, I’d really appreciate it.  Be sure to hit “Vote” and not “like” (though they may have removed the “like” button by now to avoid confusion).  This week, I opted to enter one of the black and white photos of my cat Bella.Bella3

Only one vote will be counted per person, so I only need you to take a few seconds to vote once.  Thank you so much.

Marking the Day

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I mentioned last week that the 23rd marks one year since my grandmother passed away.  I’m spending tomorrow with family.  Since I usually don’t get on the internet over the weekend, I wanted to put up this post today.  I spoke at my grandmother’s memorial service.  I was determined to give her the honor and respect that she deserved, and desperate to make her proud.  This is what I said.

My grandmother was the best person that I have ever known.  It’s not possible to sum up 94 years worth of living in just a few minutes, and I’m not going to try.  What I do want to talk about is how special grandma was, and how influential she was in my life.  She truly was one of a kind.

Grandma had the purest heart of anyone I have ever met, and she touched everyone who came in contact with her.  Everyone who met grandma fell in love with her.  Her sweetness and light were infectious and she approached people with an openness that never failed to make others feel included and wanted.  When I was a child, I was always at her feet.  No matter what she was doing, I was never too far away.  She loved children, and always included all of us kids; teaching us how to cook and how to make tortillas, telling us stories of her childhood, and playing with us.  She made the same newspaper boats and hats for Aubrey that she did for Deborah and I.  Playing in the corner of the kitchen while she was cooking, reading on her bed while she watched TV… it didn’t matter; I just always wanted to be near her and she was always happy to have me.  Because of that, I learned a lot about life watching her and talking with her.  I want to share with you the person that I knew, and the invaluable lessons that she gave me.

One thing that Grandma taught me is to regularly exercise my mind.  She didn’t have the luxury of a proper education, but she didn’t let that stop her from learning what she could and using the mind that she had.  Even at 94, she was pretty quick witted, and that was largely due to her love for puzzles.  When I was a child she would let me “help” her do the crosswords out of the paper or search her word finds with her. She taught me to love words and puzzles and to keep my mind active and in shape.

She taught me to be resourceful and to think outside the box.  She could entertain me for hours with a balloon made from a grocery bag.  My mom often said that you could look into the kitchen and see nothing to eat, but grandma could turn around and feed four or five people off of what she could MacGyver out of a potato and some spices.  She knew poverty and she survived.  She made due with what she had and taught me that a little goes a long way when you approach it with creativity and determination.

I learned about love and marriage from talking to her about grandpa.  She loved my grandfather; he was her whole life.  He was truly her soul mate and she talked about him all the time.  She longed for the day when she would see him again in heaven and be reunited with him once more.  I learned from her that when it came time to choose a partner, not to settle for anything less than someone with whom my soul would be entwined for eternity, because epic love is totally possible if you believe in it enough to be patient and wait for it to arrive.

A lesson that took me a very long time to learn is one of perseverance.  Grandma suffered from phlebitis for decades, and lived in a constant state of pain that got progressively worse over the years.  As she lost mobility, the limitations of her body continued to rob her of the things she loved to do.  Grandma taught me that life is hard and doesn’t make sense.  The longer you live, the more you will experience pain and loss.  Life isn’t fair, but you can’t run away from it.  You have to face the pain head on and accept it.  You play the hand that you’re dealt and you do the best you can with it, not making excuses, but thriving in spite of how hard the circumstances may be.  Grandma’s body was weak and fragile, but she had amazing strength of spirit.  She taught me that the strongest people aren’t necessarily the ones who shout the loudest or who control and overpower.  In fact, grandma was much more likely to listen and witness than to speak out.  The quiet strength of simply surviving, of standing tall and going on while the fire threatens to consume you, that’s what real strength is.  She lived a life full of pain and loss, but she never let it rob her of her joy.  She cried, she grieved, and she kept right on going.  She never let it turn her bitter.  She never allowed it to cause her to be closed off or shut down.  She stayed optimistic, despite all of her suffering and was quick to laugh or sing.  She taught me that it’s okay if you have to cry, and it’s okay if you have to crawl, as long as you keep going.

Grandma showed me what faith looks like.  She had a strong sense of right and wrong and was honest and uncompromising.  She prayed to God several times a day for herself, and especially for those she loved.  Despite how hard grandma’s life was, her faith never wavered.  There were a lot of things about her life that she didn’t understand.  She didn’t know why she was made to suffer and she wondered about God’s plan, but she never doubted that He had one.  Sometimes I wonder if faith like that only comes with age.  There are those few people who you come across whose faith is so strong that they stand like giants among us, and many of them are older.  Grandma was a Goliath in her faith, and it left an impression.  Perhaps it takes a lifetime of testing to believe so solidly, as tangible as rock beneath your feet.  I don’t know the answer to that, and this is a lesson that I am still learning.  Because of her faith, though, I know that she is in heaven.

Grandma told me several times that when she died she didn’t want me to cry and she didn’t want me to be sad.  It’s not that easy, though.  I want to be happy for her, and in a way I am.  I am so thankful that her pain is over and she is finally at peace.  I’m glad that she was able to shed her earthly body that was always at war with her, and can now run and dance and be free.  I’m glad that she is reunited with all of the family that she lost, especially her husband.  But I miss her.

The last couple weeks my mind has been flooded with a lifetime of memories.  I miss her cooking.  No one was a better cook than grandma.  I miss her humor.  She really was a funny lady and I miss the sound of her laugh.  Mostly, though, I will miss experiencing how much she loved me.  She was always so happy to see me, no matter what was going on.  All I had to do was walk in the room and she lit up.  Her love was unconditional, the purest love I’ve ever known.  She taught me that family isn’t limited to blood lines.  Family can include neighbors and friends and many of you can attest to being “adopted” by grandma.  Whether we were born in, married in, or adopted in, she loved us with the same fierce devotion.  It was a selfless love, doing whatever she could, giving everything away, wanting the best for everyone else before herself.  I don’t think I will ever find a pure love here on earth like what I received from grandma.  She was one of a kind, and a blessing to everyone who met her.  And though I am happy that grandma has gone on to a better place, I am so sad for the hole that she has left behind.  To me, grandma was safety and love and acceptance.  She was truly special, and we are all so lucky to have known her.  I feel honored to be her granddaughter, and so blessed to have had her in my life.  I loved my grandmother with all my heart, and she lives on through what she passed on to me.  She didn’t have much, and she didn’t leave a wealth of possessions behind.  What she did leave was the memory of her love.  We are better people for having known her.  We are her legacy, and she will live on in the hearts of everyone she touched.

This Time Last Year

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I have really been struggling lately.  I’ve been weepy and emotional, dealing with grief and thinking about my grandmother a lot.  This time last year we had moved her from the hospital to the hospice and were trying to accept the fact that she was not going to get better.  I was already feeling the loss and starting to grieve, but it was confusing and weird since she was still there, right in front of me.  But by that time, she was on such high doses of medication that she was rarely awake and even when she did wake up she wasn’t really there anymore.  She wasn’t herself, not really anyway.

I was also, at the time, worried about my emotionally unstable mother who had, just a month earlier, gone off the deep end in a particularly dramatic and traumatic (for the rest of us) way.  Grandma had always lived with us, and my mother had not been without her for over 30 years.  I didn’t know what she was going to do when the time actually came, but I couldn’t rule out anything.  I was also worried about my sister who was dealing with a state of financial crisis at the time, and who took care of grandma all day, every day.  Daily life, as she knew it, had changed forever.  I got it in my head that I needed to be the calm, rational one.  I tried to stay strong, just in case someone snapped.  That has been my role these last few years after moving to NC.  I try to be the voice of reason in an extremely chaotic family.  It is not an easy job, and sometimes I feel like I am going to shatter under the weight of it, but someone has to keep their head and I am the only one left.

Grandma was checked into hospice on the 11th and the died on the 23rd.  That’s twelve days of waiting, watching her slowly die.  Twelve days of of anger, fear, and despair.  Twelve days of rage, cursing God for allowing her to continue to suffer as the days dragged on.  Twelve days being on pins and needles, afraid every time the phone rang, and terrified of needing to figure out how to live without her.  My grandmother was the most important person in my life, except for my husband.  In many ways she was a mother to me much more than my own mother.  It’s been a year, and the pain is still sharp as knives.  I still have times where the grief twists at my heart and doubles me over because I can’t breathe.

After everything was over- the memorial service done, and the friends and family had left- I withdrew from the world.  I locked myself away and numbed myself out.  I was like that for months.  Finally, feeling started to return.  The pain and grief crashed down around me, but also signs of life.  It took until September, about six months, to return to “normal” life, or at least a life where I had more good days than bad.  It was hard around the holidays, but we managed.  I’d been doing pretty well until I went to the ER a month and a half ago.  Before that, my last ER trip had been when we admitted grandma to the hospital.  It brought everything back- the hospital, the hospice… everything.  I’ve been trying to hold it together, but the last week or two have been really emotional.  I’ve been crying a lot, which I hate.  It’s been really hard.  The 23rd is the anniversary of her death.  Since it’s the week before Easter, I have dress rehearsal and a choir cantata that weekend.  My mother is coming down for a few days from her new home (she moved away a few months after grandma died), and I’ll be with my family on the day.  It will be good to spend time with my sister and my niece and plot out our plans for Easter.

I’m trying to focus on the good times.  I have so many lovely memories of my grandmother.  I loved her so much, and she adored me.  I miss her like crazy.  I wish that I could hear her laugh one more time.  She was such a funny woman, quirky, but with a huge heart.  Time is supposed to heal everything.  I don’t know if that is really true.  I think it’s more accurate to say that time just allows you to get used to living with the loss.  It doesn’t necessarily fill in the gaping hole that is left behind.  You just get used to living with that chunk missing.  I’m no longer raw and bleeding, but the edges are still tender.

All that to say, I’m having a really hard time of it right now, so my posts are sporadic and somewhat superficial.  I’m not really sure how long grief lasts like this.  I lost my father when I was 16, but I don’t really remember how I felt or for how long.  I know that all of this is totally normal and all part of the process.  That doesn’t make it suck any less, but everyone who experiences a loss goes through it.  I guess it’s just my turn.  I’ll go on, because there isn’t really any choice, and wait for the day when I can remember without the grief.  I know that eventually that day will come.

Reflections and Resolutions

It’s taken me a while to figure out what I am looking for from 2013.  2012 was not a very good year for me.  In fact, It has been one of the toughest I’ve lived through in quite some time.  I’m very glad to see the back of it, frankly, and I am hoping that 2013 will be much better.  More than that actually, I am determined to have a good year.  Granted, it hasn’t started out all that great, since was sick as a dog for the first half of January.  But I am finally feeling better now, and am in the proper mind frame to figure out how I want this year to go.  I’m not really one for making resolutions but, as it turns out, I do have several goals for this year.

The biggest goal I have for 2013 is to seriously reduce my debt.  Tim and I have more debt than we would like, and we have some big plans for 2014.  In order to accomplish those plans, we need to pay off debt and save up money this year.  We made a lot of headway financially in 2012, so I’m hoping to keep that trend going and improve on it.  One of the big things that needs to improve is to get our spending in check.  For the most part, we don’t make too many large purchases, but we tend to shop a lot for small things throughout the month and it eats our money up.  We also eat out a lot.  All these little things add up faster than one would think.

The other big goal for the year is to improve my health and lose weight.  This is the same goal that I had last year, but I didn’t make much headway with it.  I started out the year doing really well, but once my grandma got sick, and then especially after she passed, I really couldn’t have cared less about eating right and exercising.  Grief really screws with the diet.  But, I am in a better headspace now, so I am recommitted to my goal.  I don’t just want to lose weight, but I want to gain strength.  I was never thin, but when I played sports in high school, my body was capable of performing.  I miss that feeling of strength and ability.  I want to get that back, no matter what weight I am.  I want to feel physically strong.  Part of that goal is to enter a 5K or two this year.  I’ve never been much of a runner, but over the last year or so, my interest has been piqued.  I’ve never entered a race, but I really want that experience.

The other part of getting healthy, besides the physical, is changing our diet.  I want to cut out processed foods and eat more whole foods.  I’ve been doing a lot of research into the food industry in America, and I am dissatisfied with what I am seeing.  I want to try to move toward more locally grown organic food.  I have a lot more research to do in this area, but we have already started making changes.  We have organic produce delivered to us once a week.  We have started shopping farmers markets.  We are also going to take 14 weeks or real food challenges that were set up by the 100 Days of Real Food website.  (More on that later.)  I hope that by changing my diet I will find myself healthier and stronger in 2013.

I want to grow with my photography.  I love my camera so much, it was the best present ever.  I have so much to learn, and I am so excited by all of the information that I am gathering.  I realize that I am such a newbie that I don’t even really have a concept of how much I don’t know, but I am excited to jump in.  Although I think the pictures on my beauty blog are pretty good, in general, there is always room for improvement.  I’d like to explore lighting options and get a better lighting set up.  I want to be a better photographer, and I am hoping that I will make big strides this year in that department.

The final goal that I have for myself is to cut out and let go of those things in my life that are toxic.  I feel like I have made big strides in this area over the last several years by letting go of past issues and distancing myself from certain people.  There are just a few areas of my life that are still trouble spots.  Relationships with toxic people are really hard for me to break off.  I’ve managed to reach a place of health in my life where I don’t make destructive or reckless decisions, but I still have a hard time walking away from those people who are bad for me.  I’ve decided that I need to cleanse my life of those remaining things that still bring me down.  This goal is a bit nebulous, and I still need to do a lot more thinking on how that will actually work, but I have recognized that there are still issues and I want to clean house.

December Recap

McAdenville, NC

McAdenville, NC

Wow, December flew by for me.  I was so busy that I totally neglected this blog, but I wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been doing.  I didn’t actually manage to get through a photo-a-day during december after all, but I do plan on resuming that project during January.  I’ve got some other plans to tell you about, but first, here is what I’ve been up to since my last post.

Tim and I decided to join our old church choir for their Christmas cantata.  It was a lot of fun, and we are going to join them for Easter as well.  I really miss singing regularly.  There have been times in my life where I don’t have a musical outlet, but that usually only lasts for about a year before I can’t take it anymore and find some way to incorporate music back into my life.  It’s just in my blood, I guess.  I’d like to find something a little closer to home, though, because the whole reason we left that church in the first place is that we moved about 30 miles away.  Still, I miss the people in choir and it was really good to see everyone again.

Mini art quilt

Mini art quilt

I spent a good portion of December working on a mini art quilt for my sister.  I forgot to get a good picture of it, so here is a cropped shot from one of my pics on Christmas morning.  It’s a bad picture, but you can get the general idea.  After my grandmother died, I requested all of her clothes because I wanted to do something crafty with them for my mother, my sister, and myself.  This art quilt for my sister was the first one.  It took me a few months to figure out if I was emotionally stable enough to do it.  Grandma died right before this last Easter, so it’s been nine months.  Her death hit me really hard, and I’ve been pretty emotional this month.  But I really wanted to get the art quilt done for my sister for this first Christmas without grandma.  Deborah was grandma’s main caretaker fort the last two or three years, and I knew that it would mean so much to her.  I chose to do one of my sister’s favorite things, a mermaid sitting on coral for the main image, and everything was hand-sewn and hand-beaded made from scraps of about eight of my grandmas old dresses.  It came out pretty well and my sister loved it.  I was so happy that I could do something that meant so much to her.  So that took up the majority of my time, especially the second half of December.

Christmastown USA

Christmastown USA

Tim and I went to Christmas Town USA in McAdenville, NC to see the Christmas lights.  I got some good shots, and got to try out my new tripod.  One of the great things about getting my new camera, is that Tim and I are finding ourselves going out and doing things that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise.  We went to the botanical gardens back in October, and now to McAdenville.  The camera has given us a great excuse to get out and have adventures.  I’m so glad that I got it for my birthday.  The lights at McAdenville were beautiful, and we had a great time.  We chose to walk instead of drive, so we got some good exercise as we trekked a few miles around town.  This is a good thing since we abandoned our diets for the holiday, and needed to walk off some of the chocolate and gingerbread we had consumed.  😉

Christmastown

Christmastown

Christmas itself went pretty well.  We had a pleasant day, with out any drama or nonsense.  My six year old niece made out like a bandit with all of the loot that she had piled up.  She’s the only young child in the immediate family right now, so she gets spoiled every year.  I love giving gifts, so I was excited that the gifts that I gave out seemed to be well received.  I also made out pretty well this year, including a photography book to teach me how to use my camera, a popcorn popper that I’ve been wanting for a few month now, and an absolutely gorgeous peridot ring.

Peridot ring

Peridot ring

I’ve been wanting a peridot ring for my right hand for about two years.  I thought that I might get one for my birthday or our anniversary this year, but I got my fabulous camera instead.  I was really wanting a ring for Christmas and my husband surprised me with this beauty.  My wedding ring has an oval stone, so he chose an oval cut for the peridot.  I love it so much!!!

Peridot ring

Peridot ring

That pretty much sums up my December.  Except that I got so very sick two days after Christmas.  I am trying to take it easy and get lots of rest, but I’m pretty bad off at this point.  Tim and I had planned to start some new food challenges that I found over at 100 Days of Real Food, but that’s going to have to wait until I’m all better.  I’m leading the charge on this “eat more real food” bandwagon, and Tim doesn’t want to mess with getting creative in the kitchen while I am down for the count.  But I am determined to do more blogging in January.  I don’t want this blog to fall by the wayside.  I’m going to take this week to get myself better, then between this blog and my beauty bog, I will be a blogging fiend.  I will definitely post more about the 100 Days of Real Food mini challenges when I kick this flu.  Until then, have a safe and happy holiday, as you ring in 2013.

Happy 2013

Happy 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Meatless Monday

Meatless_Monday

We’ve been trying out Meatless Monday for about two months now, and it has been going pretty well for us.  It is just one of the many ways that we have been changing our diets to eating more natural whole foods.  A little history, my husband grew up raising his own animals, mostly pigs, and has always believed that meat is an essential part of a meal.  In fact, when we first got married, he rarely ate any fruits or vegetables at all.  He really had an aversion to most veggies and it was easier to just go with it, than to fight for a food group that wasn’t one of my favorites either.  We have both struggled with our weights, and after moving across the country from all of our friends, we let ourselves get really big.  After realizing that we needed to make a change and lose weight, I decided to do some research into the food industry and learn about nutrition.  One thing became very clear to me in my research, we needed to cut down (a lot) on how much commercial meat we consume.

Though neither my husband nor I have any intention of becoming vegetarians, we have started to view meat in an entirely different way.  Instead of making it the main focal point of every meal, we are trying to limit our meat consumption to being only a quarter of our plate.  It’s been difficult to re-order our thinking (especially for him) to recognizing what a healthy and appropriate serving of meat actually is.  A 12 oz steak is 2-3 times as much meat as we should be eating in one sitting, despite what restaurant menus will tell us.  Until I started my research, I had no idea how taxing American meat consumption is on the environment.  I figured that raising animals for food has been done for thousands of years, so how bad could it be?  The truth of the matter is not pretty.  So for a lot of reasons, we decided to give Meatless Mondays a try.

Every Monday, I have committed to avoiding meat entirely, and Tim has committed to avoiding it for breakfast and dinner.  (He gets  lunch provided for him at work, so he makes the best choices that he can there.)  One really positive benefit from trying to come up with a variety of choices for meatless meals is that I have had to get creative in the kitchen.  I have no experience with purposely making vegetarian dishes, so at first all I could think of to eat were veggie burgers.  I’m pleased to say that I now have a handful of simple “staple” vegetarian dishes that I can make without much thought or effort, and a whole host of vegetarian recipes for when I want to experiment.  I’m also becoming much more interested in different vegetables, and comparing not just taste, but texture, color, and what pairs best with others.  It’s been a lot of fun to have this weekly challenge of providing tasty, satisfying meals without meat that both my husband and I will love.

There is a ton of information out there about the health and environmental benefits of cutting meat out even just once a week, so I encourage you to look into it for yourself.   Who knows, maybe you will want to give Meatless Monday (or Tuesday, or Friday) a try for yourself.  If nothing else, I have found trying to go meatless for an entire day has made me stop taking my food choices for granted and really think about what I am eating at least one day a week, and that is something we can all benefit from.

Has Anyone Else Discovered These?

Cadbury Screme Eggs

I really need to work on posting more in this blog.  Keeping two blogs going at once is tough, but I hope to improve.  Anyway, I’m here today to talk about candy.  Specifically, Cadbury Creme Eggs.  Cadbury Creme Eggs are my absolute favorite Easter candy, and I look forward to them every year.  They are an “extra special” treat that are only available for a limited time.  Or, at least they were.

Enter Cadbury Screme Eggs.  I’ve never seen these before, so I assume that they are new this year for Halloween.  They taste exactly like my beloved Easter version.  The only difference that I can see is that the creamy egg center now has a green yolk instead of yellow, implying that the Cadbury chicken is now an alien, or a zombie, or at the very least has been exposed to large quantities of radiation.

Now, like I said, I love me some creme eggs, but I’m not sure that I’m as thrilled by this new discovery as I would have thought I’d be.  When I first saw the Screme Eggs, I squeed with delight.  But once I started to eat them, I felt strange.  Easter is a long way off.  It doesn’t make sense to eat Easter candy in October.  My brain and my taste buds experienced and unexpected dissonance.  My “extra special” treat is suddenly less special and that ooey gooey center tasted cheap and wrong.  I don’t want Cadbury Creme Eggs to go the way of Peeps.  Peeps used to be an Easter-only tradition as well, but now there is a Peep for every season.  There are so many Peeps about that I never feel the need to buy them anymore, knowing that if I pass on them another round of sugar-coated marshmallowy goodness will pop up just around the corner.  Peeps are the cheap slut of the seasonal candy industry, and I can’t stand to see that happen to a classy candy like Cadbury Creme Eggs.  Where does it end, I ask you.  Where does it end?

But seriously, has anyone else seen these Cadbury Screme Eggs?  Do you think there will be more for Christmas?  Maybe they can make them dark chocolate eggs with a red-yolked peppermint creme center.  That’s festive, right?  Right?