Fun Friday Five!

1. Please don’t punish yourself. Stop kicking your own arse. Seriously. Said the pot to the kettle.

2. How to Make a Diffuser Necklace for Essential Oils. I want one.

3. This little album from Dark Town Rounders. Give it a listen here.

4. This quote from this post. I totally get this sentiment. It’s that whole iron sharpens iron concept. I’ve always wanted that in a relationship and lucky for me, I have it.

So, when it came to be, deciding to marry Sean was easy. I never really had to explain myself to him; he just patiently uncovered little layers of me, piecing what was broken until it fit together once again. And as he pieced, what he made was stronger, more confident and tougher than ever before—never forcing change or altering the original, just making sure that it was less likely to break again.

5. Everything Originates in Outer Space – Even Our Skin. Say, what?! Mind, boggled. The universe is such a crazy, awesome thing.

Image from here.

Does anyone else see a skull profile in there? I do! What do you see?

And here’s a little bonus for you: Open Heart, Big Effing Fence.

Enjoy your weekend!

Bone Broth – A Failed Experiment

I’ve been researching bone broth recipes. It seems pretty simple, right? Chicken carcass, carrots, celery, onions, water, apple cider vinegar, a crock pot, 24 hours. Maybe some pepper.

This was the final product from my experiment the other night. It did not gel like it was supposed to and it certainly was not golden brown like everyone else’s beautiful chicken bone broth.

No, it was brown, incredibly strong and didn’t gel. Did I mention that it didn’t gel? Ok, good. I did.

Now, after doing some research, I think my crock pot boiled it too vigorously. I also may have put too much water in there. And, let’s talk about my chicken carcass. It was one I had baked awhile back and I kept the bones in the freezer. The carcass still had the lemon, rosemary and thyme in it from baking. Perhaps I should have removed those items before putting it in the pot.That may have given it a rather bitter flavor. The fact that it was a conventional chicken carcass may have come into play as well because conventional chicken carcasses don’t have a lot of  gelatin. User error + over-achieving crock pot. Woops.

I still kept it, though it’s so very strong, I don’t know what I’ll use it. It really is quite overbearing and bitter.

If you suffer from broth woes too, here are some resources that may help.

I’m going to try it again with a cleaner, free-range chicken carcass, the “keep warm” setting on my crock pot, and a little less water.

We’ll see how it goes! Stay tuned for version 2.0 of my bone broth experiment!

Question of the Day
Do you have any bone broth tips? Share in the comments!

Whole30 Stats & Thoughts

Well, I finished my first Whole30. I am going to call it a success. I didn’t cheat, not once. I simply had no desire to eat sugar, dairy, legumes or gluten. I just didn’t want it. I’m going to go through this in some detail, so please bear with me while I do. I want to have some sort of thorough record so I can compare if I ever do another Whole30.

Image from here.

What Life Used to Be Like Before
Slightly overweight by a little less than 10 pounds, uneven energy levels, poor sleep habits, sugar addiction, simple carbohydrate addiction {I was a bread lover extraordinaire}, caffeine addiction {I would drink coffee all day long}, belly fluff {you know that little tire around the middle that won’t go away no matter what you do? That’s what I call belly fluff.}.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ruthie from Discovery Street, started posting about how she was doing a Whole30. She has been my inspiration through this entire thing, and I’ve found quite a few other wonderful people through Instagram and blogs as well {more on that in another post}. Her food photos got me to entertain the idea and I decided that I didn’t have anything to lose, so I might as well try it. I set my start date for January 2nd, signed up for the daily emails from Whole30, and waited. I was so excited, I was nearly drumming my fingers in anticipation. I researched recipes and went grocery shopping and then decided I might as well start. So, I did. I started on December 28th and didn’t look back.

My Whole30 Experience
Dallas and Melissa say something in It Starts with Food about how Whole30 isn’t hard. It’s not, truthfully. This is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? This wasn’t difficult for me. I think it greatly helped that my sugar dragon was slayed so easily. If I would have craved sugar, I might have had a different story to tell.

I had a low-grade headache for the first 3-4 days. After that, the headache went away and I had a ton more energy and I didn’t crash at 2 pm any more. I didn’t need more than one cup of coffee to get me through the day and I started waking up refreshed and ready to get going with the day. I wasn’t dragging myself out of bed. It was rather a novel experience. I didn’t need to take a nap every weekend, which was so weird to me because I used to love a weekend nap, sometimes for 2-3 hours. Now, I just rest for an hour and then I’m refreshed and ready to go do something else! I have slept better in the last month than I have in the last year.

I noticed that I don’t feel bloated from eating too much food. I can fill a plate with veggies, a protein serving that’s as big as the palm of my hand and a thumb’s worth of coconut oil, and eat the entire thing. I’m satiated and satisfied without feeling overly full or bloated. I am still trying to wrap my head around this one, since I come from a background of eating small meals every 2-3 hours. Mentally, I still feel like I’m being a porklet by eating meals that are rather large, even though I feel great when I eat them! Clearly, my mind needs a little more work here.

The first few days, I didn’t really feel like exercising. My energy was a little low. After that, I felt that I had more energy, so I started exercising again. I did pay attention to my energy levels and if I felt like I needed to take the day off, then I did. I also tried working out at night {read about it here}, but that was a giant failure because I just don’t work out at night. I know this about myself, so I don’t know why I thought it would work. I started working out every morning again during the last week of the Whole30 because I felt like I had the energy to do it. I’d say I worked out maybe half of the days of the Whole30.

Image from here.

Let’s Talk Numbers
I was house sitting when I started and I couldn’t find a measuring tape, but I did have a scale. So, here are the stats from the beginning:

Start Date: December 28, 2014
Weight: 157.7 lbs
Measurements – taken December 31, 2014
Waist: 30″
Hips: 38″
Left thigh: 22″
Right thigh: 23″
Bust: 38″

Finish Date: January 26, 2015
Measurements – taken January 27, 2015
Waist: 29.5″
Hips: 38.5″
Left thigh: 22.5″
Right thigh: 22.5″
Bust: 38″

So, you see, I just took a half inch from my waist and put it on my hips and transferred a half inch from my right thigh to my left thigh :-) I don’t have a scale at home, so I have no idea what I weigh. My pants do feel a little looser though, and that’s always a good thing. I didn’t have a lot to lose, so I have to take that into consideration and be gentle with myself. I’m not too disappointed, but I did want that belly fluff to go away! To keep it all in perspective, I have had the belly fluff for years. It’s going to take more than 30 days for it to go away.

Non-scale Victories!
I’m so glad I don’t have a scale, because then the focus would be  about the number the scale says, and less about how I feel. Here are the non-scale victories I’ve had from my Whole30 experience:

  • This one is the biggest one: I no longer turn to food for comfort. I can count the times I emotionally ate or ate out of boredom during my Whole30 on one finger. One time, as opposed to weekly? Huuuuuge difference!
  • This one comes in at a close second: I no longer am a slave to sugar. Hip hip hooray! I no longer feel the need to overdose on sugar. Sweet potatoes have become sweet to me, whereas before Whole30, they were bland and not sweet at all. My taste buds approve of flavorful, real food!
  • I feel more level-headed and I don’t get hangry. I’m a more pleasant person to be around.
  • I cooked more and enjoyed it. I found that cooking was like a form of therapy for me {read about that here} and I absolutely love all of the new Paleo cookbooks I have to peruse. Those cookbooks have been my reward for doing this and I wouldn’t trade that for all the donuts at Krispy Kreme.
  • My brain feels less foggy. I can concentrate for longer periods of time and I don’t get as distracted. If I am interrupted during a task, it’s a lot easier for me to get back into the task. I can mentally switch gears a lot easier too, which is helpful.

A lesson I learned: I’d rather have these little victories than feel crummy and be starving, but have a flat tummy.

Image from here.

What’s Next?
I’ve thought about reintroducing legumes, gluten, alcohol, sugar and dairy one at a time over the next 10 days or so, but I don’t feel like I need to do that yet. I want to continue for another 15 days. That will put me at a Whole45 and ending on February 9, 2015.

Besides, I don’t have much in the way of  legumes, gluten, alcohol, sugar or dairy in my house! I do have beans, but I’d have to soak them and cook them and I don’t want to make a full batch if I’m going to have an upset stomach if I eat them. I have bread, but that’s for the boy’s breakfast. I have wine, but I’m not going to open an entire bottle, just to drink one glass. I have a lot of Halloween and Christmas candy that isn’t even calling my name, so I’m not at all excited about that. And dairy? I have cheese sticks. Yay. Seriously, none of this stuff excites me anymore.

I love eating this way. I thought for certain I would get bored, but those five cookbooks I mentioned above have really helped keep the boredom at bay. There are so many new things to try!!!

So, I’m headed for another 15 days and then I’ll have another update for you!

Question of the Day
Would you ever consider doing a Whole30? Why or why not?

Let There Be More Dancing!

Last week, I wrote about how I was a little uncomfortable with going to the mother/son dance at my son’s school. Folks, I’m not a dancer. I’m just not. It’s very very awkward for me. But, I went and we had a great time! I even remembered how to do the Macarena and I learned how to do something called the Cupid Shuffle.

More than that, though, we created memories. I’m certain we both will remember this dance for a long time. It really was a fun time and I’ve thought a lot about how I’m not very light-hearted most of the time. I tend to run more on the serious side, especially at home. I dial myself up a notch at work, so I’m bubbly and happy and effusive. And then, when I get home, I don’t have a whole lot left over for the boy or my beau or anyone else. It makes me feel like such a stick in the mud. I think i need to learn to save a bit of the effusiveness for my home life.

I want to do a better job of balancing that out, so I’m adding another word to my CDFs for 2015:

Photo from here. Go check it out – there are a bunch of different CDFs with beautiful photos to go along with them!

I wrote in my Desire Map day planner that I want to do or be or have the following:

Dance more. Play more games. Laugh more. More fun, less stress. Less serious.

Part of this includes cutting back on the boys’ TV time. He loves to watch a movie and he’ll watch part of one in between homework and bed every night if I let himI. I proposed that he could watch a movie on the weekends {Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights} if he’d like, but that will only be after all chores {for both of us} and homework, including reading {for him}, are done. And another little tidbit: We’ll go outside and do something {whether it’s a walk, or a scooter ride, or a trip to the park…just something!} before any movies are watched.

I think that’s reasonable. He apparently agrees because he agreed readily to the above proposal. I’m not sure if he’s just telling me what I want to hear, or if he really, truly agrees. I guess we’ll find out tonight when we get done with homework and chores :-)

I think we’ll have more fun together, which is the goal. Besides, when you live in a place as beautiful as this, it’s never a bad idea to go outside!

Question of the Day
How do you have more fun in your day-to-day life? Share in the comments!

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

I’ve recently begun saying “yes” to more things that previously would have made me rather uncomfortable. And I’ve begun saying “no” to things that don’t trip my trigger or to things that I would have previously done out of obligation or guilt. Need examples? Here you go!

I just turned down homemade banana bread in the name of completing my Whole30. I’ve gotten used to turning down food. It’s actually kind of freeing in a way because I used to feel obligated to eat whatever someone offered because they must have worked so hard to make it or the ingredients were pricey or some other reason. Other parents will relate with feeling obligated to eat the crusts from their child’s PB&J because no food must go to waste…EVER!!!

Pork sliders from Everyday Paleo!

I absolutely love how Whole30 has gotten me out of my comfort zone. I no longer am afraid to try new recipes, though I am a bit wary of a few. I will gladly fork over the money for a quality piece of steak and cook it. It may not be perfect when it’s done, but I will have learned something about cooking steak by the time I’m finished! And that knowledge is so much fun to have!

A delivery of tea from Scotland!

Occasionally, I will selectively offer to exchange goodies with an Instagram friend. I absolutely adore doing this. For one, I get snail mail. For two, I get to send snail mail, which is equally as exciting. It’s such fun to develop friendships with others around the world. Instagram provides such a wonderful community for that and it does get me out of my comfort zone every so often. Love it!

Nap-worthy green grass.

Folks, this grass. I sat and ate my lunch in it. It was the best lunch I’ve had in a long time. I loved sitting there in the sun with my lunch, letting an aphid crawl across my knee as I ate. It was such a relaxing lunch. I wish I could sit in that grass every day for lunch. Alas, I’m not able to do that, but that just makes the times I do get to sit in the grass during lunch that much more sweeter!

Tonight, I am going to a mother/son dance with my son. I’m not at all certain about this as most of the memories I have from junior high, high school and college dances are full of awkward moments and even more awkward dance moves. However, he is excited, so I am going to go with him and we are going to dance, though he may spend more time dancing with his friends than he does with me. I am so not a dancer and I just don’t feel comfortable out on the dance floor, but I’m going to get out there anyway and gosh darn it, we’re going to have fun!

Question of the Day
How are you branching out in 2015? Any successes with either setting boundaries or getting out of your comfort zone? Share in the comments!

Whole30 Update!

As of right now, I have five days left of my first Whole30. I still feel really good, but I’ve noticed that I get hungrier more often now. Instead of being hungry every 5-6 hours, I’m now hungry every 4-5 hours, yet I’m eating about the same amount or a little less. I’m not sure if this means my body is becoming more efficient at using energy and/or burning fat, but it doesn’t seem odd to me.

Here’s the TMI section: Boy, have I ever been irregular and stopped up. Magnesium citrate to the rescue. Thankfully, it’s working. Slowly but surely, it’s working. I don’t think my body quite knows what to do with all of this good food yet. Without the grains (and the magnesium in them), things have become rather difficult. Read more about this here.

Ok, TMI section over. How about some food photos??
2015/01/img_7583.jpgHere is some delicious Fiesta Chicken Soup from Everyday Paleo. I made a big batch, and with this bowl, I added some roasted sweet potato and spinach when I reheated it for lunch. It was amazing!
2015/01/img_7612.jpgAnd this was my lunch today, which was delicious, but I put too much spinach in it and I couldn’t finish it all. This has leftover meatloaf, spinach, cherry tomatoes, sauerkraut, avocado and my favorite Tessemae’s lemon ginger dressing. I also added some roasted sweet potato to the mix.

I am not quite sure what to do after my Whole30 is over. I’m a little afraid of what will happen when I eat a piece of bread, or a slice of cheese, or a bowl of ham and beans or eat some sugary concoction. I’m afraid that my sweet tooth is still alive and very much kicking. I’m afraid I’ll revert right back to old habits.

I don’t think my sweet tooth is as powerful as it used to be. Nor do I think I will revert. About the only thing I miss is having a glass of wine with friends. I really like how I feel without the gluten, sugar and legumes. I haven’t decided whether I will reincorporate those items back in to my diet completely or not. That depends on how I feel when I reincorporate them individually within the two weeks following the last day of my Whole30. We shall see!

The Best Pork Chop Ever!

If there’s one thing I will say about doing a Whole30, it’s this: I have learned how to better cook meat. I’ve made some dry pork chops in my lifetime. In fact, my friends lovingly and teasingly call them “Sahara Chops.”

Pork chops, chicken thighs, whole roast chicken, etc…they all used to intimidate me a little. Let’s not talk about steaks and roasts {especially oven roasts}. *shudder* I think large pieces of meat intimidate me a little because they’re so expensive and what if I burn it or ruin it or don’t do it just right?

Since beginning my Whole30, I’ve learned how to cook a pork chop so it’s juicy, chicken thighs so the skin is crispy on the outside and the meat is perfectly done on the inside and roast a chicken in my crock pot {for that experience, click here}. And, what’s more is that I used to be such a baker and it was a form of therapy for me. I’m not as much of one anymore {which stands to reason since baked goods are a no-no on the Whole30}, but I’ve found that it’s just as therapeutic to be able to cook a pork chop to near-perfection {meaning the outside isn’t uniformly golden} as it is to bake a batch of cookies or a cake. Sounds like a win-win to me!

I mentioned last week that I bought some pork chops at Costco for $1.53 a pound {another win-win!}. I froze four and kept the other four for supper. I just needed something to do with them. So, a-searching I went and I came across this marinade from Planks, Love & Guacamole. I was really glad to note that I had all of the ingredients on hand {most of the time, I don’t so I have to go shopping} so I could marinate them that night!

Here they are, cooking away in bubbly ghee. They smelled so delicious!

And here’s the finished product, complete with some sauteed green beans and some roasted potatoes.

I know the lighting in my kitchen isn’t the best, but folks, this pork chop. It was juicy and flavorful and delicious and I could even eat the fat {and that right there is saying something}.

So, if you want to make the best pork chop you’ve ever had, here’s the recipe for the marinade!

The Best Pork Chop Ever {from Planks, Love & Guacamole}

4 boneless pork chops
4 T olive oil

4 T apple cider vinegar
4 T coconut aminos
2 T Dijon mustard
2 t dried thyme
2 t onion powder
2 t garlic powder
2 t sea salt
2 t black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large ziplock bag.  Add the pork chops and massage them to completely coat in the marinade.  Refrigerate and let it marinate for a minimum of 1 hour {overnight is best, trust me}.  Pan sear in ghee or grill pork chops until cooked thoroughly. 

It’s super easy, it just takes a little bit of forethought. You can easily half the recipe, if you’d like, but if you’re doing a Whole30, it’s helpful to have some extra protein on hand.

Enjoy!

Fun Friday Five!

Well, here we are at Friday again. From the back to the middle and around again, right?

1. This tutorial. It helped me immensely.

2. This post, from one of my favorite blogs, The Merry Gourmet. My blog doesn’t really fit into a box either, so I can relate. However, I’m not nearly the wordsmith that she is. Just go read it. And drink in the sight of those cloverleaf rolls. Yum. Or, just make them and then tell me how they are.

3. This recipe. I’m making it. I’m drooling over here.

4. My new Costco card. I should have done this a very long time ago. Where else can you buy 8 pork chops for $12.24? That’s $1.53 per chop, folks. Winning!

5. And just because I referenced it above, now I have to put the video here.

Happy Friday, everyone! Do enjoy your weekend!

Make This Recipe. Today!!!

I posted about this last Friday, and I made it over the weekend. Seriously, make this recipe. It’s delicious. It makes a 9×13″ pan and I thought about eating it all. I added three fried eggs and a good bunch of sautéed spinach to a healthy spoonful for lunch the other day and it made me really, really happy. My taste buds were singing. I kid you not.

I found this recipe over on Stupid Easy Paleo last week and after reading the ingredients list, I knew I had to make it. I mean, the combination of sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, cinnamon and salt?!?!?!? Um, heck yes!!!!
2015/01/img_7400.jpgHere it is, all ready for the oven.

So, you want this recipe, right? You know you do! Here you go!

Apple Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake {lightly adapted from here}
3 medium/large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed in 1/2″ cubes
2 Fuji apples, chopped into 1/2″ wedges
1 bag fresh cranberries
2 T coconut oil
2 t cinnamon
1 t kosher salt

Heat oven to 375*F. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan with 1 T coconut oil. Place half the apples and potatoes in the pan. Top with half the cranberries. Sprinkle with half the salt and cinnamon. Repeat. Dot the top with remaining coconut oil. Bake, uncovered, for about an hour, or until potatoes are soft. Stir every 20 minutes or so.
2015/01/img_7406.jpgThe finished product alongside some sautéed spinach. It’s just awaiting eggs.2015/01/img_7408.jpgThat cranberry! Oh. My. Gosh. The cranberries burst about 45 minutes into baking and they get a little sweet when they soak up the apple juice. Yum.

The original recipe only called for a half cup of cranberries, but I can only get them in 2-cup bags. I didn’t have anything else to do with the remaining cranberries, so I just added the whole dang bag. Besides, I love cranberries! I figured I couldn’t go wrong.

This is totally going to become a staple {maybe even every week!} for me and my house. I love it that much.

Make it. I want your tastebuds to sing too!

Vintage TRADITION Review

A few months ago, I wrote about my lack of a scar from a second degree burn because I used a beef tallow salve. I also wrote about how excited I was to discover vintage TRADITION and their line of body and deodorant balms. I placed an order for the women’s deodorant balm not long after my post. I have been dissatisfied with the over-the-counter deodorants and antiperspirants that I’ve bought in the recent past. From name brands to store brands, holistic and all natural and paraben-free to including every chemical known to man, I tried quite a few at varying price points. With the holistic ones that didn’t have any aluminum in them, I felt like I needed to reapply at least twice a day after my initial morning application {and that’s without sweating!}. With some of them, I noticed a rather sticky feeling about mid-way through the day as well. I’m not a fan of that. And with the other ones, I was concerned about what kinds of chemicals my body was absorbing. I’d rather not take my chances with breast cancer, thanks.

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So, I bought some of this deodorant balm. I was so excited that I opened it as soon as I pulled it out of my mailbox. I opened the lid and stood there by the recycling bin, sniffing with an excited look on my face. I smelled such a clean scent, with not too much lavender so it’s not too thick or overpowering. I was so antsy to test it out! The women’s deodorant is scented with marjoram, thyme, lavender, myrtle, and bergamot essential oils. After applying, I waited a few hours and I gave my underarm a good sniff and I mostly smell thyme with a little bit of marjoram. I love the way this reacts with my body chemistry and I haven’t felt the need to reapply. I don’t believe I have to worry about having breast cancer if I use beef tallow, olive oil and essential oils as a deodorant.

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All it takes is a tiny bit {think about half the size of a pencil eraser}. So, this two ounce glass container should last me quite a long time. I think it should last at least six months, if not longer. All I do is rub it into my underarms until it’s gone, just like any lotion. I love that there is no white deodorant stain on my clothes, either. There is no residue, no film, no nothing. I can apply this deodorant and then get dressed without having to worry about leaving those tell-tale white strips near the bottom of my blouse when I pull my shirt over my head. I took this with me on our trip to Reno last weekend and in the 90*F heat, I didn’t feel sticky or stinky. Woohoo!

About a week later, after I became a fan of the deodorant balm, I decided I would try their body balm. I ordered the same two ounce size in windswept, which is scented with carrot seed, German chamomile, spearmint, clove, grapefruit. I love that the balm is not oily and it soaks in quickly. I can apply makeup within about five minutes of putting the balm on my face, and that’s saying something. I used to use coconut oil on my face and I would have to wait 20 minutes to be able to apply make up without clogging up my brushes or leaving those oil spots on my powders or eye shadows. {I know this is totally a first world problem} The balm makes my skin feel so soft and smooth and it makes everything feel firm and my skin tone is more balanced. I also have noticed that my skin isn’t nearly as oily throughout the day. I’ve been applying it both morning and night and I use the same amount as I do for the deodorant balm. A little goes a long way!

I’m so excited to continue using these products and I can’t wait to try some other scents once I run out of what I currently have! To the wonderful folks at vintage TRADITION, thank you for making a quality product that actually works and is so good for our bodies!

Question of the Day
Have you ever bought a product from vintage TRADITION? If you did, what would you choose? Share in the comments!

** This is not a sponsored post. My opinions on these products are my own and are unsolicited by vintage TRADITION.