12 Days of Christmas Health – Day 4

12 days health 4Today my goal is to meditate. I’ve gone through periods when I meditated daily and then I let other things take priority and I stop meditating for long periods of time. I don’t know why I do that because I always feel so much better when I meditate. One of my goals for 2015 is to get back into a meditation routine so starting now seems like a good idea. I’m being realistic though. I’m only committing to meditating for two minutes today. It may not sound like much but I’ve learned in the past that even two minutes of meditation can make a big difference in my day. And no matter how busy my day gets, I can surely find two minutes to meditate.

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12 days health 3What I love about these small daily committments is the reminder of how much better I feel when I’m taking care of myself. My energy is so much better when I’m staying hydrated and I crave sugar so much less. Yesterday’s workout didn’t even go that well – my brain wanted to focus on other things – but it reminded me that a mediocre workout is better than no workout at all and motivated me to make it to the gym again today.

My goal for today is to get to bed early tonight. I am a night owl by nature, but being a night owl doesn’t really work well with being a parent. The past couple of weeks I’ve gotten in the cycle of staying up well past the point of feeling sleepy, being exhausted in the morning, relying on coffee to get me through the day, and then repeating the cycle again the next night. As much as I enjoy my nights to myself, I really hate the way lack of sleep leaves me feeling foggy headed and disconnected during my days.  So tonight I am getting to bed when I start feeling tired. I will get a great night of sleep and tomorrow morning I will wake up feeling rested and ready for my week. 

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12 Days of Christmas Health – Day 2

12 day of health 2My goal for day 2 is to get to the gym. I don’t really feel like I have time for this and I could easily think of a million other things I should do instead, but I’m committing to just 20 minutes. Because no matter how busy I am, I can squeeze in just 20 minutes, right? Of course I can. 

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12 Days of Christmas Health – Day 1

 

 

12 days of Christmas healthThe holiday rush is here and the days are getting busier and busier. This time of year it’s easy to start focusing on my long to-do list and forget to focus on my health. As I look for ways to make my to-do list less daunting, self-care tends to be the first thing deleted off the list, and then I feel guilty for not taking care of myself. Instead of focusing on the things I don’t have time for, I’m going to focus on just one small healthy goal every day. The goal could be eating one healthy meal, taking 5 minutes to meditate, getting to bed on time instead of staying up late, taking a walk (even if it’s a short one). The goal is to set aside just a few minutes a day to make my health a priority.

Today my goal is to stay hydrated. I’m terrible about drinking water when it’s cold and rainy. So today I’m going to focus on making myself some herbal tea and staying hydrated. What are you going to do for yourself today?

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Thanksgiving Favorites

I love Thanksgiving and I love Thanksgiving food. I love planning the food, I love preparing the food, and I love eating the food. And I love eating it again. And again. And again. I’m not a fan of experimenting at Thanksgiving. I have my tried and true favorite and I might try one new dish a year, but for the most part, I stick to my favorites. Here are a few of my Thanksgiving favorite dishes:

Honey and Spice Cranberry SauceI am a firm believer that cranberry sauce should never come from a can. From scratch is the only way for me, thank you. I’ve been using this recipe for years. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Nice and tart with just a touch of sweetness to balance the tart.

Parker House Rolls  I confess: I have a fear of yeast. I have a fantasies of being a boulanger but the truth is I don’t understand yeast and I don’t really understand flour all that well either (chemistry was always my least favorite class). So, while I love homemade breads, my success with making them myself has been hit or miss. But this recipe always falls into the category of hit. And if I do say so myself, they come out perfect every time (except for the time I forgot to take them out of the oven – multitasking in the kitchen has never been my strong suit). They’re soft and fluffy – perfect for sopping up puddles of gravy or cranberry sauce.

Turkey – I make a damn good turkey. I’ve tried so many fancy-schmancy recipes for turkey over the years, but I always come back to the same old basic method. I prefer  my turkeys to be minimalist in flavor so the flavors blend well with all of the other flavors on the Thanksgiving table. First, I massage it with olive oil, then with salt and pepper, I cover it with cheesecloth and into the oven it goes. I use Martha Stewart’s method of tossing a stick of butter in a sauce pan with an ample helping of white wine, and then keep it simmering, to use for basting the turkey every half hour.

These are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving things. What are your Thanksgiving favorites?

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love that the spirit of Thanksgiving is focused on enjoying good food with friends and family and showing gratitude. That’s it. No material gifts, no drunken partying. Just friends, family, good food, and being grateful. What’s better than that? So in the spirit of Thanksgiving this week I am Thankful for:

1. Joyful parenting — I’ve been working on this post for a while. I struggled with finding the right words to express my gratitude without coming off as pretentious. But in the end, I decided to just speak from the heart. I am deeply grateful that my daughter is healthy and thriving and that because of that I get to spend a lot of time just enjoying being a parent. I know so many parents whose children struggle with health issues, learning disabilities, etc. I watch how hard those parents have to fight to get their kids the attention, services, and care they need. It’s a constant battle and it seems that each school year they face a brand new battle as they advocate for their child’s needs. I see how challenging things like setting up a playdate or sending their kids to school in the morning can be. I see how hard they fight for their kids and sometimes I can see how exhausted they are from the fight. I know they have lots of joyful moments, but I know that could probably use more. I wish society did more to offer help and support to those parents. I wish they had the luxury of spending less time advocating and more time just enjoying being a parent. So when I say that I am thankful I have so much time to enjoy my parenting experience it’s because I know I shouldn’t take it for granted.

2. Reminders that I have enough — A few months ago I started following several photo-journalists on Instagram. Seeing their photos from around the world – photos of refugee camps, Ebola stricken communities, families displaced by war – these photos remind me of how incredibly fortunate I am to have everything I need and them some. Living in this media driven society it’s easy to lose sight of how ridiculously fortunate I am and I am grateful for those remdinders that I have enough.

3. Morning sunlight — I am the farthest thing from being a morning person. I also have a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder. So having the sun up when I get up in the morning makes my life soooo much easier. I love you sunglight!

4. Voting — I will never take my right to vote for granted. Every time I vote, I think of the women around the world who are still fighting for their rights. I have this hope that every time a woman exercises her right to vote, that power goes out into the Universe to empower those women who are still fighting. As I said on voting day, I may not like the choices I see on the ballot, but I am profoundly thankful I have choices.

5. Gilmore Girls on Netflix — I know, I know, it’s a frivolous thing but we don’t have cable t.v. and I’ve really, really, missed Loralie, Rory, Luke, Kirk, and everyone else in Stars Hollow. Now if only I could live there…

6. Parenting Bucket-list — When I was pregnant with my daughter I had all of these parenting fantasies about the things I couldn’t wait to experience with her. My parenting bucket-list if you will. Well, many of those fantasies were smashed to smithereens as I realized that 1) Parenting is not at all what I thought it would be and 2) I had some seriously unrealistic expectations. But one of my parenting fantasies is coming true as I watch my second grader fall in love with reading. I’ve been a bookworm as long as I can remember and my heart melts a little every time we’re hanging out on the sofa reading our books together. I’m thankful for another parenting fantasy checked off of the bucket-list.

7. Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton  — Part cookbook, part anecdotal collection of essays, and part Thanksgiving Etiquette book, I love this quick Thanksgiving read. The recipes are delicious, the anecdotes are entertaining, and the etiquette is spot on. I read it every year.

 

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Fall Favorites (or Fall Survival)

Fall, for me, is all about comfort. I happen to be one of the five people on the planet who doesn’t love Fall. I love bright sunshine, warm weather, stone fruit and ripe berries, and days with more than 12 hours of sunlight…. all things that are noticeably missing from Fall. I dislike pumkin flavored anything, scary Halloween costumes, and darkness that overstays its welcome (in my book darkness should never arrive before 8 p.m. and should always leave by 6:30 a.m.). I also like extremes and swift transitions so it could be that these half-hearted California falls just don’t cut it for me. Fall takes away my natural comforts so I find myself looking for ways to replace those comfort this time of year. My favorite Fall comforts are:

Brussel Sprouts 
I know, weird, right? But I love them! If I had any musical talent at all I would sing a song about them much like the insects in James in the Giant Peach sang about their peach. I could eat them every day. My favorite way to eat them is drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roasted in the oven at 350°. But I also love them sautéed in a little chicken broth with thinly sliced garlic.

Stews
Even here our evenings are starting to get cooler and I love a good stew on a cold, dark night. This Herbed Beef Stew with Sugar Snap Peas has been my favorite for years. It’s easy to make and could be done in a crockpot too. I like to double the recipe and keep half in the freezer for those busy nights when I don’t have time to cook.
 

Soup for Breakfast
This time of year I look forward to the comfort of a hot bowl of homemade soup for breakfast. This Breakfast Vegetable-Miso Soup with Chickpeas is one I make every week in the Fall and Winter. It’s part of my Monday morning ritual. It’s my way of starting off the week focused on taking care of me.

These are my Fall comforts. What are yours?

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Things That Made Me Happy Today

Mom's heart jewelry

1. Looking through my mom’s jewelry box. I’ve had her jewelry box for 3 years now and I’ve sorted through it many times, but today was the first time I noticed how many hearts she had in her jewelry box. My whole life I longed to be in her heart but but she just wasn’t able to let me in. I realized she was too damaged to give it to me. Seeing this collection of hearts today made me wonder if she too was longing to be in someone’s heart.

puppymug2My puppy mug that I got for Mother’s Day. Look at it. How could I not love this? When I’m drinking my morning coffee I like to imagine my 90 year-old self still using the mug Emma painted for me when she was 7.

3. Wicked is coming to our area this summer. And Wicked always makes me happy!

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Something New for June

I like taking on something new every month. It could be trying a new way of doing things, or trying on a new perspective, or starting a new project. I like setting this goal because I have a habit of ending up in the Pinterest land of “Ooh, I want to to do that!’ but never actually following through with the doing part. Trying one new thing a month isn’t overwhelming and one month seems like the right amount of time to plan, prepare, and actually do it.

So this month I’m gong to try making mozzarella cheese.  I’ve been wanting to try this for a few years and with the end of the school year just days away, June seems like the prefect month to try it. One of my favorite blogs, the kitchn, swears it’s really easy to do. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes. What new thing have you been wanting to try?

 

 

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Friday Favorites

It’s Friday and I have some new favorite recipes to share with you. I’ve been craving new recipes this month. Maybe it’s the new year that leaves me wanting new flavors, new experiences. Maybe it’s because after the busy holiday rush, I’m ready to spend the time preparing good food for my family. These were my favorites this week. I hope you enjoy them too.

Slow Cooker Red Wine and Beef Stew with Rosemary Bread

Slow Cooker Red Wine and Beef Stew with Rosemary Bread

Slow Cooker Red Wine and Beef Stew with Rosemary Bread from Colleen’s Kitchen. Oh, this was good. If you live in a part of the country where it’s really cold right now, you should make this. It’s the perfect meal for a cold winter night.

 What I love about it:

  • Easy and quick – The stew is great for those nights when you really don’t have a lot of time to cook.
  • Make ahead – You could have this for dinner a night or two and put the rest in the freezer.
  • Prep ahead - If you’re prepping your meals ahead of time, you could cut up the veggies, add the seasonings to the tomatoes, and then they day of you just have to throw it all in the crockpot. How easy is that?
  • Versatile - I love that I could really pack this with veggies. Next time I’ll probably add some cabbage too.

 

rice beans ginger salsa

Brown Rice and Beans with Ginger Chile Salsa from Epicurious

Brown Rice and Beans with Ginger Chile Salsa from Epicurious. Yum, yum, yum! This is my new lunchtime favorite. I’ll probably be eating this a lot! What I love about it:

  • Make ahead – If you’re having this for lunches, you could make everything on the weekend and have it all ready to grab and go during the week. It’s also very easy to double. Love that!
  • Versatile – This is great for lunch or dinner.
  • Vegetarian/Carnivore Adaptable - I’m not a big meat eater, but Mr. Blooming T is a diehard carnivore. So I am always on the lookout for recipes that can work for both of us. He could add some grilled chicken to this one to meet (no pun intended) his carnivore desires.
  • What I changed - 1) I didn’t want to commit the time to cooking the rice on the stove so I quickly sauteed the onions on the stove and then added them in with the rice in my rice cooker.  2) I couldn’t locate the fresh ginger I had purchased (but on a positive note, I think Mr. Blooming T cleaned out our refrigerator) so I used ground ginger instead. Still tasted amazing! 3) I used dried adzuki beans (power soaked, of course) instead of canned black beans. Adzuki beans are a little lower in carbs than other dried beans but still high in nutrients. 4) I’ll probably add fresh tomatoes next time because I love tomatoes and add them to pretty much everything.

 

spinach artichoke hummus Edited

Spinach Artichoke Hummus from Shugary Sweets I love hummus and homemade hummus always tastes fresher than the store bought stuff. I eat hummus every day so it was nice to have some variety this week. And believe or not, I didn’t change a thing! 

I’ve already got a list of new recipes to try next week. See you next Friday!

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