Something Exciting + Pretty Clouds

I have something really exciting to share with you! I am so very excited to announce A Fettle Fine Thyme’s partnership with Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil! I absolutely love family-owned businesses and I support them whenever I can. Kasandrinos International is one such business. I’m proud to be an affiliate partner of a company that provides such a clean, delicious product. I just bought some of their lip balm and their olive oil soap, and I’m so excited to try it!

kasandrinos organic extra virgin greek olive oil

There are many things that are useful when a person is living a Paleo lifestyle or doing a Whole30. An excellent, high-quality olive oil is one of them. Since olive oil is one of those things that’s best drizzled over a meal, rather than cooked in it {use ghee for that, or coconut oil}, the flavor of the olive oil is important. You don’t want something that tastes bland or cloying. You want something clean, fresh and flavorful. This is that olive oil.

Stay tuned for more from me on this! I’ll have more for you soon!

Now, let me share with you some beautiful clouds. Here’s why: we don’t get awesome, amazing, beautiful fluffy clouds here. We’re too close to the ocean to get big, fluffy cumulus clouds {oh, darn, right?!}. On occasion, we’ll get a few after a good rainstorm and that’s exactly what’s been happening the last few days. I’ve had my phone out, snapping pictures whenever I see them.

There’s just something about these clouds that makes the sky seem to stretch on for miles. I’m so glad I live in such a picturesque place. I’m so blessed and fortunate and lucky. I have so many good things :-)

Really, I have so many good things in my life. I have an excellent olive oil and I have puffy clouds and sunshine and I have lots and lots of love.

It really is the little things.

Question of the Day
Have you ever tried Kasandrinos Olive Oil?
How was your weekend? Did you see poofy clouds?
Share in the comments!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Good morning, everyone! How’s your Monday going? Mine is off to a ripping start! I never understood why Monday gets such a bad rap, anyway. How was your weekend? I’ll fill you in on mine later this week, but for now, I want to tell you about this butter chicken recipe. Make friends with your slow cooker {or crock pot, whatever you want to call it} and make this dish.

Mine didn’t photograph well, but it tasted amazing. It’s super simple and it takes next to no time to throw together. One thing I will say is this: make sure you don’t overcook it. Mine went for 5 hours but was probably done after 4 hours. It was still delicious, even if the chicken was a bit overdone.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken {lightly adapted from Damn Delicious – her photos are way better, so go eat with your eyes there}
1 T ghee
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 yellow onion, diced
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 T tapioca flour
2 t garam masala
1/2 t red curry powder
2 t curry powder
1/2 t chili powder, or more, to taste
1/2 t ginger powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, tomato paste, tapioca flour, garam masala, curry powders, chili powder and ginger powder until well combined and slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken into a slow cooker. Add sauce mixture and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 hours. Give it a stir at the halfway point.

Instead of rice, I throw some steamed or sauteed vegetables under it. like the California blend veggies {broccoli, cauliflower and carrots} or green beans. I’ll also put a side of roasted sweet potatoes along with the veggies and it compliments the butter chicken well.

This is a great meal to make if you’re putzing around the house one a weekend or if your schedule permits you to start it early enough in the day to have it in time for supper. I generally can’t make it home on my lunch break to start a crock pot meal for supper, so this is a weekend dish for us.

The boy gave it his nod of approval, so we’ll be making it again!

Enjoy your day!

Fun Friday Five!

1. Using turmeric as a teeth whitener. Say what?!? And tooth soap. Anything that doesn’t make my teeth sensitive and keeps them so fresh and so clean clean is a splendid discovery!

2. Earlier this week, I had one of those, “Oh, my gosh, why didn’t I realize this sooner!?!?” moments. I realized that I usually have about an hour in between when I have to drop the boy off at school and when I have to be at work. Um, this totally solves my sleep vs exercise dilemma! Here’s how! I can get up at 6 am, exercise {it’s only 30-45 minutes after all}, get him ready for school, drop him off and then come back home to clean up! Mystery/problem/conundrum solved!

3. This post from Liz DiAlto on boundaries. Go, read it. Enjoy.

4. This picture. I don’t know about you, but I think I’d give the bird the ice cream. I don’t think I’d fight him for it.

Image from here.

5. Eagle pose. This is my favorite pose to stretch out my shoulders.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Do enjoy yourselves!

The Excitement of Life

I was planning on writing a post about my weekend, but then I read this post over at Hands Free Mama, and I decided that my weekend recap post will include a bit more than just the standard, “Here are the pictures of what I did” type of post I usually write.

As adults, it’s so easy for us to get bogged down by responsibility, to forget that life is meant to be lived, cherished, enjoyed and celebrated. Not just at weddings and the birthings of babies. All the time.

But as an adult, it becomes more difficult to encounter anything novel or unfamiliar. Daily redundancy and expected outcomes bring a lifelessness that can feel all-consuming and hopeless. ~ Rachel, Hands Free Mama

Who hasn’t felt this way? A child, that’s who. They look at everything in life as something new and exciting and wonderful and perhaps even slightly scary. They have light in their eyes and such joy in their spirits. Everything for them is new and exciting and wonderful and perhaps even slightly scary. And they take to it like a duck to water. They’re fearless and tenacious and resilient and unafraid. Cautious, maybe, but not fearful. They don’t know any better.

Adults know better and it sucks the life out of us. {I realize that I’m making a general statement here, but I think quite a few adults would agree with me.}

But just because you are an adult does not mean you must live a life void of excitement, passion, and joy. Just because you are no longer a beginner does not mean you can’t have Beginner’s Eyes like a child. You can. Simply go off the beaten path… ~ Rachel, Hands Free Mama

So, that’s kind of what I did yesterday. I didn’t do the laundry and I didn’t do my chores. I lazed around with my guys in the morning and dreamed about the future with my beau while the boy played games. Then, I went and got my nails done and then the boy and I went down to Garrapata with a dear friend {I’ve written about Garrapata before}.

There is nothing like Big Sur to put some life back in your day. She’s moody and peaceful, she’s sunny and cloudy, she’s tempestuous and calming. She’s everything, all rolled into one giant beauty. She’ll tear down your walls and then she’ll help you build a foundation that’s new and stronger than what you had before. She’ll help you heal from the inside out. I don’t know what it is about Big Sur. It’s just magical. There’s always new experiences and explorations. All I have to do is say, “Yes.”

The boys ran the length of the beach and discovered waterfalls and moss that was the same color as The Grinch. They played in the sand and chased the waves and hollered and jumped over rocks and were rambunctious, as boys ought to be. And girls, too.

We found a valley of calla lilies. The boy even picked one for me to take home and it’s now sitting on the kitchen table and every time I see it, I smile. He’s such a sweet soul, and I hope he never loses that. I hope he is always exuberant and vigorous. I hope he continues to go through life with a vibrant, sweet spirit that isn’t crushed by his circumstances, by his raising and by his experiences in life.

I had to look these up. I knew it was some kind of barnacle, but I wasn’t sure which kind since the only ones I’d ever seen were of the acorn variety. These are called goose barnacles, but I think they’d be more appropriately called dragon barnacles. Their ends looks like dragon scales and I think they’e beautiful.

After we got done with the beach, we drove another mile or so down the road for snacks at Rocky Point. I’m so glad we did, because seeing this beauty of a sunset was worth it. The boy devoured a bowl full of clams in white wine and butter sauce and told the waiter that he thought the white wine and butter sauce was “pretty good.” I had to chuckle. Occasionally, the boy will say something in a certain tone of voice and it sounds so like my brother. It makes me smile so hard and slightly tear up a little. This was one of those times.

This one was taken just a few minutes later. I’m so glad I said, “Yes!” to my friend’s invitation, even though the laundry is piling up and my kitchen floor desperately needs mopped. To think that I would have missed the time in the sunshine and the discoveries and the things we saw and the wonderful conversation and delicious beet salad with goat cheese and spicy green beans with Szechuan sauce? To think that the boy would have missed out on running around the beach like a hooligan and getting sand in his toes?

No. That is not an option. Going off the beaten path, however, is an option. Saying, “Yes!” when I really should say, “No,” is quite alright with me. I’ll still do the laundry and mop the floor, don’t worry :-)

I want to get excited about the little things…little things like:

  • perfect glass water bottles {I know…I know. I have too many!}
  • the times when the boy asks for a hug and I think I don’t have time to give him one or my personal bubble wants way more space than it should {get over yourself, woman!}
  • a well-made latte
  • the wind in my hair and the sun on my face
  • the dimples in my cheeks and the wrinkles in my face when I smile, because I’m really, truly smiling!

And I want to get excited about the big things, like these:

  • the hefty amount of change that is coming this year {I’m mostly excited, but also healthily afraid.}
  • there is something to be discovered every day
  • the work I can do on myself from my thoughts to my heart to my soul…just everything

There’s so much in life to be excited about and to see with fresh, new eyes. It’s all about perspective and about letting myself look at things as a child would.

I think I’m going to start writing something I’m excited about daily in my Desire Map journal. I think that would be a great way to shift my focus from, “Oh, great, I have to take out the trash again,” to something more along the lines of, “Look how amazing that leaf is! I wouldn’t have seen how green it is if I hadn’t been looking for it and had instead been focusing on how boring taking out the trash is.”

Perspective…it’s such a powerful thing.

Question of the Day
How do you stay excited about life?

New Thoughts on Exercise

For the last 3 1/2 years, I have done some form of physical exercise almost daily. Most often, it’s been some form of a workout DVD and hikes on the weekends. I have a few different DVDs that I keep on rotation with my favorite workouts and up until recently, that has worked great.

But.

I realized the other day that I am exercising out of obligation and fear. Somehow, I feel obligated to use the workout DVDs I bought from a friend because she might be disappointed if I don’t use them. Not true. I’m also afraid that I’ll get fat if I quit working out using the DVDs. I don’t want to regain the 35 pounds I fought so hard to lose.

I also realized that I wasn’t having any fun by getting fewer hours of sleep and somehow propelling myself out of bed at 5 am to exercise. Sleep > exercise. {here, here, and here, for starters}.  There have been so many studies done about how sleep affects our entire lives that I’m perfectly happy to get an extra hour of sleep {I even blogged about switching my workouts from mornings to evenings to accommodate more sleep, and then I switched them back again in a apanic because I just don’t make the time to work out at night}.

I want to have fun when I exercise. I want to go outside. I want to try new things. I want to do more yoga. So, I changed things up a lot by making the following list:

  1. Wipe current exercise schedule from calendar.
  2. Walk before work 3 days a week.
  3. Do yoga a couple evenings a week.
  4. Sleep 8 hours a night.
  5. Have WAY MORE FUN whilst living.

And that’s pretty much it!

Fun Friday Five!

Just because I wanted to put this picture here. I loved this book!

1. He really is wearing clothes, honest. This is beautiful and angsty and dark and full of light. It’s all sorts of contradictory and it’s totally worth the watch.

2. The 12 Commandments of Marriage – totally worth the read, and the resulting chuckles.

.3. You gotta, gotta move in the way your soul likes to move. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how my soul wants to move.

4. Moonologie. New favorite blog. I’m crushing on this blog so hard. I have stars in my eyes and everything.

5. 5 Ways to Detox Your Home. I love cleaning products and I’d love to try these!

What did you find this week? Share any interesting tidbits in the comments!

What I’m Wearing + Self-Love

Last Saturday, I wore leggings. In public. And I felt no shame.

It has taken me YEARS to have the self-confidence to wear form-fitting anything in public. I would never have worn these a few years ago. I wouldn’t wear a shirt tucked in and I certainly wouldn’t wear shorts.*

Now, thankfully, I’ve wrapped my head around the “I’m actually rather pretty and beautiful and I’m going to wear leggings anyway, dang it!” concept and I’ve rolled with it. Now, I wear the leggings. The leggings do not wear me. I wear dresses more often, too!

A lot of this has to do with becoming both mentally and physically more healthy. Journaling has done wonders for me in the mental health arena and exercise has helped with the physical health. It has taken me a long time to be at peace with my body, to be grateful for everything it can do and to see all of the beauty in its imperfections. I’m nearly there and I’m working on it a little every day.

My eyes still sort of bug out in panic at the mere thought of wearing a bikini. Clearly, there is still work to be done.

Here’s to progress, no matter how big or how small!

*I should note that I’m still working on the shorts thing. I’ve always been rather self-conscious about my cellulitic thighs. Work in progress.

 

Things of Interest I Found Last Weekend

Our weather has been glorious. As in, in the mid-70s in February. So, I went outside a lot last weekend and took quite a few pictures. It was such a great way to spend the weekend. Sometimes, all it takes to make me happy is a little sunshine and something pretty to see.

My fiance and I don’t go to bars very often, but we have one favorite place where we sometimes stop in for a drink. I love this picture because there’s just so much going on and you really have to look because some of the people that are involved aren’t in the frame. And the light. Love it.

This picture has completely different feel due to the lighting, but the story is similar. There’s so much going on in the back, though the focus is on the hands. Oh, those hands are my favorite. I love them and the person they belong to.

We stopped at one of the local candy shops and I found bins of sea shells that had been dyed different colors. They made a pretty picture.

Which of these is not like the other? Seeing the one straggler just reminded me of Sesame Street, for some reason. :-)

And this guy. He was quite happy with his perch at low tide.

I love meandering outside on the weekends. Or, going for a hike. I did that too. Here is poor Ginger {my friend’s dog} in her cone of shame, waiting patiently in the van for someone to let her out so she can go belting through the trees.

This picture is just so pitiful its hilarious.

Question of the Day
How do you spend your weekends? Inside or outside?

Whole30 Resources You Can Use

As promised, I’ve compiled my favorite resources that I used during my Whole30. Everyone’s Whole30 is a little different, so if you’re thinking about doing one, you might want to do a little research before you start. And if you’re the type who likes winging it, then Google will be your best friend. Try winging it when you’re hangry…it’s not pretty. Of course, I’m speaking fro personal experience.

This list includes everything from blogs to books to cookbooks to food. I hope you find it useful!

Of course, the Whole30 site and the forum and It Starts with Food. Folks, you could easily spend all day perusing the vat of information here. There’s everything from the rules to success stories to free downloadable resources to “Help, I can’t poop!” Have a look around. It’s a great place to start because you can really get an idea of what you’re in for.

The Whole30 Daily. These daily emails were fun to read and they made going without bread so much more bearable. Also, they are full of informational tips and a lot of Dallas and Melissa’s own experiences with Whole30. It’s worth the $15.

Blogs. There are so many Paleo blogs out there and I found quite a few that I used as resources for recipes during my Whole30. Here are a couple of my go-to blogs, since I’m pretty sure you do not want me to share all 34 of them with you:

  • PaleOMG – Juli can tell a wicked good story and she says the things that most people keep inside their head. I love this woman because she has no filter. Thus, she is my kind of people. And she makes some great recipes!
  • Planks, Love & Guacamole – Alanna is responsible for my new favorite pork chop recipe. I’m a fan of anything she creates simply because I no longer make Sahara Chops.

Pork chop recipe courtesy of Planks, Love & Guacamole. Yum!

Cookbooks. What first got me started with Paleo cookbooks was that I won a giveaway from Naz over at Cinnamon Eats for a copy of Kelly Bejelly’s {A Girl Worth SavingPaleo EatsI made a couple recipes from that book {the meatloaf and the ginger chicken and the ketchup} and then I decided right then and there that I needed more. So, I bought more. Here’s my current library:

The chicken thighs recipe from Well Fed. I love that she gives you room to write notes!

I have a few more books in my arsenal, such as The Paleo Kitchen: Finding Primal Joy in Modern Cooking  and Mediterranean Paleo CookingI haven’t tried anything from these two books yet, but I’m so excited to try something! I have so many pages in all of these books dog-eared!

Food. When I first started researching Whole30, I thought I was going to break the bank on grass-fed beef and pastured everything and organic produce. Frankly, I can’t afford to break the bank, so I did the best I could with what I have. However, there are a few things I will pay for and I want to tell you about them.

  • Tin Star Foods ghee. Sure, maybe it costs $9 to ship these bad boys across the United States, but I don’t care. I admire this woman’s spirit and her drive and her guts to make a go of her dream. Plus, she has an amazing product and her customer service skills are unparalleled. I’ll support that, even if I could make my own ghee. Here’s where to shop.
  • Eggs. I buy organic ones from Costco. I’m not spending $7 {or more!} for a dozen of pastured eggs when I can get two dozen of organic eggs for about $3.25/dozen.
  • Sweet potatoes. I buy these from Costco, too. A bag will usually last me about a week, since I eat them at pretty much every meal.
  • Produce. I buy organic if it has a thin skin and conventional if it doesn’t. That’s kind of my general rule. And I buy a lot of it.
  • Meat. As much as I would love to buy grass-fed, pastured beef or bison and pastured poultry and pork, I just can’t swing the cost. Not even if I did a CSA. Believe me, I’ve looked into all the options. So, I just do the best I can with what I’ve got. I buy conventional meat and trim the fat {that’s where all the toxins are stored}.
  • Coconut oil. I also get this from Costco. Or if Tropical Traditions is having a sale, I’ll get it there.

And that’s about it! If you have any questions, please ask. I’ll tell you what I can {I’m not a doctor and I’m no expert!}. Enjoy!

Coffee-Rubbed NY Strip Steak

So, I was spoiled for Valentine’s Day, which was a welcome surprise. Both my fiancé and I are rather ambivalent towards the holiday and don’t celebrate as a general rule.

Imagine my surprise when he showed up at my office on Friday afternoon with roses in hand! And then on Saturday, he brought me an orchid! He’s the best!!! And not just because he brings me flowers. That’s just the icing on the cake.

The filters I used turned it more pink, but these roses are a deep, deep red. They’re such stunners!

I decided to make him a nice dinner on Saturday evening so I pulled out a recipe from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. Rather than berry sauce and parsnip mash, I went with asparagus and cauliflower. It was delicious!!!

I mentioned a while back that before I did the Whole30, I was afraid of cooking large pieces meat other than chicken breast. I have not cooked a steak in years, but after trying this recipe and being successful at cooking it, I will cook it again!

Steaks, rubbed and resting.

Here’s the recipe!

Coffee-Rubbed NY Strip Steak {lightly adapted from here}
1 lb NY strip steak
1 T ghee
1 T coconut sugar
1/2 T coffee grounds
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t each salt & pepper

Heat oven to 400°F. Combined spices and press into steaks, brought out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before handling. Allow to sit after applying rub on both sides for about 20 minutes. Heat ghee in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place steaks in ghee and cook 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping once. Finish in the oven for 5-6 minutes for medium-rare. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

The left overs, which I ate the following day.

And one more flower picture, because they’re so stinking gorgeous!