Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Things I want to do

  • Migrate from paper napkins to cloth napkins
    • at this stage in life, I don't need fancy cute matching ones- Ross or thrift store will be fine, but need to buy them in order to migrate :)
  • Minimize use of paper towels- use kitchen rage instead
    • Many options for this- I have a pattern for knitting my own, you can buy pre-made ones, or you can get color coded ones for levels of "contamination"
    • Already moving towards this with my use of my e-cloths
  • Migrate from chemical cleaners to natural home cleaners- vinegar, baking soda, lemon etc - Haven't started yet
    • Need some spray bottles, recipes, to make the mixes, and to USE THEM
    • Need to dilute my simple green and store the other easy to reach cleaners farther back and make an effort to use my natural ones instead!
  • Change over from chemical based laundry detergent - DONE
    • Using soap nuts successfully!
  • Change over from chemical based dishwasher detergent - DONE
    • Tried Biokleen and now Trader Joes brand with white vinegar as a rinse aid
  • Change over from chemical based soaps and shampoo and conditioner - DONE
    • ACV and baking soda and organic soap, tea tree face wash
  • Use a more natural and environmentally friendly dish soap
    • need to pick one and buy it :)
  • Eliminate grains from my diet -  DONE
    • this one I do pretty good at
  • Moderate potato consumption -  DONE
  • Minimize sugar consumption- eliminate refined sugar consumption - In progress
    • Honey and a little maple syrup along with dairy are my highest sweeteners
    • Refined sugar hides in SO many things- even those bought at my healthy food store. But I try to really keep an eye out and keep treats to a rare occasion!
  • Grow some stuff! In progress
    • Started with succulents- thought those would be good- native- right? Tried some cuttings, some purchased, some given. Some are ok, others died, none are amazingly great or growing like crazy.
    • I really want a vegetable garden someday. Generally planting in the earth is "easier" than container gardening, yet most successful vegetable gardens use raised planters- big containers. I have researched and read and the consensus seems to be that experience teaches you best about gardening. 
    • Still want to try self watering planters
    • I think I'd do better with water every day or every couple days than don't water or water once a week or once a month plants- I am not sure if I am over or under watering- some looks crisped
    • Saw succulent cuttings (and other little plants) sprout roots by sitting in a glass of water- want to try this more as I think having roots out is always a better start than sticking a stem in the ground hoping it will grow roots!
  • Use natural toothpaste -  DONE  
    • another way to get rid of chemicals and refined sugars!
  • Use aluminum free deodorant -  DONE
  • Try and get all organic animal products -  DONE
    • Still need to communicate more with my farmers market folks- not sure what the chickens making my eggs eat, and that matters to me
  • Try and eat only grass fed organic dairy  DONE
    • Pretty close! Butter and milk and cheese are pretty much done, no luck with cottage cheese so far
  • Buy organic produce from the dirty-dozen list! - NEED TO WORK ON
    • Found out some of our farmer's market stands actually use pesticides! EEK! Yay locally grown, but gotta pass on those stalls. You don't have to be organically certified to practice organically. 
  • Not have dessert every time I eat out! NEED TO WORK ON
    • This is a trained behavior! trying to teach myself that tea is a delicious and satisfying replacement
  • Eat outside with no movies or TV- chat and enjoy my food - In progress!
  • Get plenty of sleep - DONE
    • this has never been too hard for me :)
  • Swim! - In Progress
    • At about once a week for now
  • Yoga- at least twice a week - In progress
    • Attending my class regularly, and it is a harder class so I am usually so sore a couple days later I have to spend some time doing yoga and stretching out
  • Art Journaling! - In Progress
    • Got some supplies out and started/finished a few pieces! Feels great
  • Scan finished artwork
    • need to do that :)
  • Knit! - Well in progress
    • Completed several projects, having a blast
  • Organize and USE found object art supplies!!!  NEED TO WORK ON
    • When it cools down I still need to redistribute my supplies after I packed them all up for my altered dolls class 6 months ago- I want to put a bunch back up on the pegboard in the garage. The garage is such an ideal studio space and I need to start USING IT
  • Strength Training -  NEED TO WORK ON
    • Trying pull ups, planks and other basic moves now and then, but not consistently
    • Doing sit ups consistently - thanks yoga!
    • Still taking the stairs a good 10 times a week (4 flights!)
  • Wear shoes that mimic bare feet - DONE
    • mostly my converse, vibrams or flip flops these days!
  • PLAY! - Well in progress!
    • Snorkelled, fishing, walking, exploring, board games, running around with Brutus, frolicking in the pool, etc etc! Hoping to go backpacking soon!
  • Minimize use of single use storage items like ziplock bags- try to use more containers, etc - Well in progress
    • Doing ok on this! Need to be doing better about reusing my zipclock bags by rinsing them and drying them
  • Stand at standing desk at work more -  NEED TO WORK ON
    • Used to do at LEAST an hour a day, now I don't even use it once a week :(
Overall I think I have made some really awesome changes. I have taken a few steps back, but the forward progress is undeniable. I feel so blessed and happy in my life. I still cook lots- still trying plenty of new things!  Life is great, but sometimes it is good to take an inventory of what is left to work on (along with all that you have already started/done to help with the motivation and confidence). 

And as a quick aside- I like all of these:

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cooking update!

As for cooking, things are great. We got new mats for the kitchen that have padding- one for in front of the sink, where most of my time in the kitchen used to be spent, and now also one for in front of the stove, where much of my kitchen time is now spent! :)

I have a friend who has a friend who grows their own vegetables and has far too many and does not sell at a market, and so I have received varieties of zucchinis and cucumber and eggplants and whatnot. I was not sure what to do with the eggplant, so I tried a recipe for something like an eggplant lasagna that came out quite well. Upon my next shipment of eggplant, I got brave and altered the recipe to add ground beef as well, and it came out incredible!

I also received some pampered chef stoneware from my very generous boyfriend's parents, and they cooked this dish perfectly- crispy on the edges,bubbling sauce, cheese browned on top. Couldn't have asked for more! Well actually, I should have made one twice as big, we finished it off in two meals!

With another eggplant I tried a simple pan fried eggplant recipe that I found scrumptious though I almost over-salted it! They even tasted great from the fridge later :)

Also made some more of my weekday breakfast favorites including my cluck-moo sausages and spinach bacon cheese egg muffies

I gave these mini shepphard's pies a try, but it did not end up working as the recipe indicated!!! Firstly, adding the stock to the beef made it much too liquidy to form cakes with (maybe I had way too small of a potato and parsnip mash?) Secondly I added the egg and almond flour right in (accidentally) rather than dipping the unformable cakes into it to bread them for frying. I ended up sticking the mixture in a muffin tin to make mini meaty pies and they are quite good :)

We continue to make dried peaches, pears, nectarines, strawberries, and apples- absolutely delicious. It is cherry season MMMM! I also started my first batch of soaked and then dried almonds that are so much fresh and crunchier! I followed this recommendation and dried them in the dehydrator for best results, but have yet to try making them into flour!

We also continue to dry the zucchinis using our new mandolin (that I don't touch, not until I get one of those chainmail glove things anyway) and tossing them in coconut oil when they are chilled- these are a huge hit with anyone I share them with. We even tried it with the cucumber and they were pretty darn good too.

We tried our first attempt at fresh Swiss chard- I washed and tore into bite sized pieces and pan fried in bacon grease with red pepper flakes and garlic. Though good, it was still a tough veggie, like many bitter greens are, and I used too much bacon grease. John was not a huge fan :) It is crazy how such a huge bunch of greens are reduced to so little once wilted in the skillet.

I intend to make another batch of my split pea soup tomorrow! I still haven't typed up that recipe, but I wrote it down :)

Finally, we went on a tour of a local farm (Tanaka Farms) where we learned so many cool things, tried delicious organic veggies right out of the ground, and picked and ate fresh strawberries to our hearts' delight. What a pleasure it was! I highly recommend it- you ride in a tractor trailer and even get a free 1lb of strawberries at the end. Depending on the season, they do pumpkin tours, watermelon tours, and cook out (pick your veggies and they grill em up!) tours!

Food porn- one of John's typical Primal lunches :)

Been too long

I keep thinking about posting an update, and then I get distracted and do something else :)

Life is wonderful and full of blessings. Yesterday was the first class in a new session of yoga taught by Sandy Jones through Upland Recreation called Challenge You Yoga. I have been taking her Yoga Fit class for over 2 years, once a week- it is Hatha. It has helped me calm my mind, learn how to be still, appreciate meditation, quiet, and being slow. It has had a massive effect on my life, and I am eternally grateful to have found it/her.

If her previous class was a level 0/beginner, this new class felt like a 2/advanced, skipping right over intermediate! We were sweating quickly, and it was so much wonderful that my mind had no time at all to wander. After several of the poses the sensation of bliss and release was astounding! While there is so much value to the slow (and longer) class I had previously taken (and is still available), I am very excited at the prospect of the experience of this newer harder class. We used blocks and straps and warmed up and balanced and moaned and grunted and pushed and held and it was just amazing. I felt positively exhilarated afterwards and also pooped :P

I have been swimming at the pool in my apartment complex- it is so peaceful. Sometimes there are kids in there, and though I prefer it empty, I can still do laps with them there, and they are sweet and curious, attempting to race and copy me :)

Swimming is another incredibly valuable time of mindfulness for me- under the water my brain shifts gears, and as I get more adjusted and stretch out each stroke and get a rhythm of my breathing, I do get into a meditative state.

Gardening is another activity I have been enjoying. How long has it been since you actually had both hands full of soft soil with pleasure at the texture of it? To see our little succulents root and bloom and flourish or shrivel and shrink is such an adventure. It reminds me of when my fish tank was much younger and each life form was such a fascinating victory as I maintain its home. My tank is stable and mature and at this point I spend most of my time culling and rearranging to accommodate growing into each other, stinging, and shading each other as opposed to adding new little frags and trying to see where they are happiest with the light and flow.

I love to walk in Claremont and admire all the gardens and yards- I love the overgrowth Southern California's temperate weather, ample sun, and man-made watering can accomplish. I like ivy climbing, buganvilias with morning glories growing interspersed, xeriscaping, etc. I like to see the hodge-podge of planters and pots people use, the trees with shady old branches and fascinating exposed root structures.

I grew up in a place of squat juniper and pinon trees with aspens in the mountains and cottonwoods near the rivers. Many chamisas and cacti and dry shrubs. The debris created by this is minimal, and so also are the garden workers. Most yards are more rock than life. Here, palm fronds and pine needles and massive amounts of flowers, petals, blooms, cuttings, leaves- they all gather and clog the gutters and every day people are out scooping and blowing them away.

Next I am excited to try my terrariums- I have two containers ready, but no plants planned for either. I have the activated carbon but need to gather some pea gravel and some sand and buy some more cactus soil. I feel absolutely ridiculous purchasing pea gravel- in NM you can get it EVERYWHERE, and yet the gravel I see is either clearly skimpy and just a visual layer (and so I would be destructive in taking it) or spread on parking lots with absolutely no growth of weeds which leads me to believe it has been chemically treated. So perhaps I will just buy some after all. I think I could go to Mt. Baldy and find some finer gravel here and there- it would be an adventure to harvest it rather than buy it. So many places are either developed or have been excavated and thus likely chemically treated to reduce weed growth, and their dirt and gravel is not ideal for gardening.

We are also considering trying to raise a staghorn fern- one of the coolest plants I have ever seen, though admittedly this is once they are older and larger, and I am not sure what kind of success we will have trying to grow one from a smaller plant. The succulent guy at the farmer's market says he can bring us one for a very reasonable price, and I am guessing we would need to mount it ourselves! I love how they grow when given a hanging basket but also mounted on a board- I hope to do one of each :) Many Californians mount them on trees, but I would mount it to a board and secure that to our patio post.

Here is a wonderful idea for hanging it

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pictures of garden

Here are some results! Going to add some gravel to the bottom of the wood box planters to avoid rot. Treated them with a basic waterproofing first (inside and out- should have lined them as this is not really plant friendly stuff, but hey it was my first try, I got excited :P)
John drilled some holes in the bottoms and reinforced them with brackets.

aeoniums looking a little crispy but I know my temptation to water them is likely only going to hurt them... 

burrows tail, cuttings, and agave hanging, succulent boxes, buganvalia and torbay dazzler (not pictured, further on the right) on the railing!

boxes treated and reinforced, drilled for drainage and planted! Need to go back in and add a gravel layer

I can take an updated photo and a night photo, but the succulent furthest on the left is already blooming little purple flowers!! The brackets on the bottom are for if we decide to hang these planters!!

 antique mini mall score :)
for a tea light, but I like it better as a planter :D

Friday, June 1, 2012

Garden Inspirations!

I need to snap a photo, but currently we have blue LED xmas lights, 1 Torbay Dazzler, 1 aloe vera (in an ugly black pot that needs to be transplanted!) 2 hanging baskets that aren't hanging yet because the succulent cuttings in them are still pretty delicate, and a fake ficus tree to decorate my patio. There are also 2 fake red flower plant things, but they are faded and will come down soon. On our trip to Texas I visiting an antique mini-mall (it was like heaven- junk and strange things and knick-knacks everywhere- the closest thing to this I have found in CA is flea markets, and they are much more expensive, as people out here eat that stuff up like I do for art :)) and I got a couple things- a glass terrarium, a green glass sphere hung in fish netting, and a couple other artsy things for my assemblage work. John already hung the green sphere, and I have yet to decide what I shall put in the terrarium!

I am trying to think of fun and unique things to plant succulents in- came across this :)
Maybe planting some in bigger shells :)

Plant them in little jars which can be hung at different heights

Glass bowls/candy dishes/fish bowls (easy to find and goodwill/etc)
I don't like giant visible macrame planters- I like the hanging part to be more subtle- like floating plants.

Here is a great Ikea Hackers where she lined a bath organizer with felt to make a planter!

Here is a gorgeous plant mister for watering your delicate littler terrariums and air plants (for $12!)
I also want a totally awesome and unique bird feeder.

I am sure what my next step is before I go shopping for all these things though- I have a terrarium to plant in, and transplanting to do (though no spade...)
Next I need to go through all of my art stuff and see if I want to construct planters and garden deco with them! I dunno if moisture/sun would ruin them (or if in the time it took to do so I would care) but I have wine and cigar boxes I could line, plant in, and hang!! 
(bring it on)

In fact if I am careful enough, I could staple wire mesh and grow my vertical succulent gardens in these. I wonder f I should try to line them with black plastic or varnish them/treat them with something?

Found this tip: "For outdoor use, you're pretty much good to go with a raw box with holes drilled in the bottom. If the case will be used indoors, it should be sealed with caulk to prevent leaking. A non-toxic sealer can be applied to the inside of the box to prevent the wood from falling apart."

Looks like you line the inside with heavy plastic (must account for drainage or put a rock layer at the bottom like a green roof) and coat the outside with a clear sealant to help it last longer. Some people used liquid rubber or fancy boat varnish- I think these are such low quality boxes in the first place, for my first few tries I can go with the cheap stuff :) I saw a recommendation for adding some little L brackets to the corners for added support- s0unds like a good plan!. This is a good instructable-like-thing I will likely follow. I even have some crappy heavy duty plastic that is falling apart in places and would love to be recycled into planter liners :) http://www.ehow.com/how_2194355_prepare-wooden-planter.html

I have other random things I can plant things in to :) I will hunt around my stuff and take some photos :)

Just Checking In!

Been a while since I updated this! Things are going pretty good! Still cooking away, experimenting! Still loving the no shampoo, and I even flew with my ziplock bag of baking soda and small glass bottle of apple cider vinegar, which their names and uses written on them, as they look a bit like cocaine and a clean urine sample :P

Had too much refined sugar on vacation and craved it for days afterward. Having trouble not getting desserts at restaurants/parties, and even at home having issues with having second helpings of dessert- just really struggle to say no to myself- to do anything in moderation. I am definitely better at abstinence rather than moderation, but abstinence from sugar and sweets is a massive challenge for me.

Still cooking up egg muffins- recently with no meat and kale instead of spinach, accompanied by breakfast sausages- recently a sweet Italian sausage that was on manager's special sale from Sprouts :) Made another batch of pumpkin leather- definitely need to use coconut oil to lubricate the trays and not olive oil just because it is in a convenient spray can. I even have pecan oil in a spray can I could have used instead, but the EVOO left a bitter taste on some of the leather :(

Still devouring pears and apples and strawberries from the dehydrator- these are sweet snack items for me, rarely eaten because I am hungry, and much more often eaten because they are so easy, accessible, and chewy delicious. Also we are officially spoiled rotten by farmer's market fruits- grocery store and even organic grocery store pears and berries taste flavorless and bland and grimy to us now :/

I have made some crockpot Barbacoa - it came out too tomato-y and a little flat though- will try a different recipe next time. Made some pulled chicken that was very easy and would have been fabulous but the recipe makes them massively oversalted- surely they must have meant Tsp instead of Tbsp for the salt *shrug

I made some pan seared porkchops that were so fabulous, cheap, and easy as can be! Definitely going to be making those again!!! Also made some pan seared salmon filets that I was careful not to overcook and they came out so delicate and moist and tender- I think I have definitely overdone salmon in the past!

Still using harsh chemicals for mopping and using simple green and real dishsoap, so cleaning supplies have yet to be converted to Earth-friendly, but still working on changing out gum to natural choices, eating all organic animal products and many locally grown/farmer's market produce items.

Still making beef jerky which was excellent for our trip to Texas. Getting grass-fed milk (organic valley), butter (kerrygold) and cheese (dubliner or TJ's new zealand sharp cheddar), and treating ourselves to full-fat Greek yogurt and coconut ice cream sweetened without refined sugars as well. :)

Despite the carbs, we do delight on dried goji berries and some potatoes as well, but each of us has continued relatively steady with our energy levels, appetite, happiness, gut-health, and weight. John continues to slowly drop weight, and I gained back to about 150 which my body and I are quite pleased with- less bony!

Both John and I have fought a couple sicknesses, that I imagine without our increased health and nutrition would have been much worse- mostly they manifest through fatigue and aches as opposed to lots of congestion.

I have been working to make yoga a better habit having missed several weeks here and there regularly. I am walking longer and taking the stairs often. I have also been doing some tracking on eatdifferent.com which I am very much enjoying- much more free form and personal goal oriented as opposed to regimented carb counting.

Work and home life are pretty steady, stable, and extremely blessed and satisfying. Spiritually I continue on my journey, struggling and growing, constantly seeking balance- sometimes trying harder than other times :)
Physically I haven't been doing much strength training, but I do feel continued improvement in my flexibility and enjoyment of yoga, as well as my ability to meditate and be still and present. A good friend of mine started cross-fit and is a huge inspiration to me. Her dedication and endurance are mindblowing, and she is getting the results to support her efforts! I plan to buy the $100 membership for summer access to the pool so that I can back to swimming at least once a week :)

I have finished South, Earnst Shackleton's Last Expedition and am now on to Robinson Crusoe for my audio books. Next I have Swiss Family Robinson and the Dhammapada translated by a recommended author.  (wow spelled that right on first try!)

Still VERY excited about GARDENING!!! Our succulent cuttings are trying to live- as it is getting hotter, we may move them back into partial shade until they are more rooted. I purchased a mixed pot with medium yellow flowers, tiny yellow flowers and some ivy as well as a cute little pot of aeonium to go by the front door. Yesterday I picked up a little buganvilia as well- always loved those! We have yet to transplant our Torbay Dazzler or aloe very, but pots are purchased and so is extra soil. I even picked up a strawberry pot I hope to put farmer's market succulent cuttings in!
(Torbaz Dazzler- not mine)
I like to think about all the ways I can grow things and hang them and love them and make are of them. I am not really ready to grow things to eat, or even grow much more than basics that are very hardy, so for now I can gather inspirational ideas and photos. To take advantage of the vertical space of my patio, I eagerly research plant hanging ideas. (see next post!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recent Cooking Adventures

Things I have made lately:

Primal Krabby-patties (crab cakes)
This recipe is how I have been doing most of my recipes lately - search and find recipes, take what is consistent/looks best about each and combine Cooks Illustrated style.Used pastured crab from sprouts and home made mayo and "breadcrumbs"

These came out pretty dense and filling and were tasty, though I should have whipped up some kind of dipping sauce. They were not so amazing as to make up for the cost of the crab, and even so it was still just claw meat, and I wonder if better more tender crab meat would have made for a tastier outcome.

Paleo Mayo
Just egg, pecan oil (avocado or macadamia nut oil is suggested, but I had pecan), dry mustard and salt and pepper and lemon juice. Came out a little liquid-y, but did the job just fine. Going to use it to coat chicken tenders before breading them in paleo breadcrumbs :)

Paleo Breadcrumbs
Golden flax seed meal, coconut flour, almond flour, and salt and pepper- came out great. This will be my alternative to crushed plantain chips for breading of meat and seafood.

Breakfast sausages using TJ's 21 seasoning salute instead of other seasonings- came out meh. Totally ok, but just not as good as my original cluck-moo recipe.

Breakfast muffins with kale instead of spinach and no meat- came out tasty, but I miss the meat in them. In fact, since the sausages aren't amazing alone, I simply take a bite of each when I have breakfast :P

Baked spaghetti squash with my Italian sausage meatballs - turned out fabulous! no sauce, just butter and garlic :)

Three Cheese Eggplant melt
This was my first time cooking with eggplant- weird stuff. Dipped slices in an egg wash and seasoned coconut/almond flour and Parmesan cheese, then baked until cheese browned a bit. Then I layered in a pan with ricotta, mozzarella and more Parmesan and some marinara sauce. Tasted a lot like vegetarian lasagna.

To use the leftover ricotta cheese from above, I tried coconut flour blueberry ricotta cheese pancakes. Normally the go-to pancake for paleo is mashed banana and almond butter, but I know you can do it with almond flour or coconut flour. Mine came out pretty eggy, but the blueberry and cheese flavors complimented it nicely.

Made some beef ribs in the crock pot, so now I have baked them and braised them, but still doesn't compare at all to smoking them :)

Next up are my orange power balls- sweet potato almond flour protein powder covered in shredded coconut balls, chicken tenders, crushed plantain chip covered fish sticks, green casserole with kale, and "split pea" soup (uses green beans and cauliflower instead of peas) with lots of ham. Also going to try dehydrating some beets and some salt and vinegar chips. :)

Eating is good, life is good. Ups and downs and bumps and bruises, but learning and growing. Still LOVING tea (adiago teas black dragon pearls are my favorite currently) and working on my lindt 90% dark chocolate with almond butter snacking addiction- trying different less-scrumptious almond butter. Not necessarily working :P

Love and happiness and meat and veggies and no grains to all my readers :P

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Word vomit

There is so much I am thinking. I am so caught up in the process and formulation and organization that I struggle to express it, but I need to try. I can feel something is happening, though I know it is not any one thing, rather a combination of many little and not unexpected things. But there is something else going on- I feel it in the base of my body, the back of my head and the fidgety tips of my fingers. I want to try to tell someone, to write it down and say it so that I don't have to work so hard to figure it out and hold onto it in my head. So many little pieces that I want to identify, but I stop just before putting them in their neat little box and ask why it is that and why I want to know in the first place. I am questioning everything- motives, definitions, perspectives, beliefs, ideas.

If you could have one thing that you wanted most right now, what would it be? To be content with what I have/who I am. Satisfaction. Fulfillment But would that mean I have no ambition? No desire to grow and learn? Perhaps what I want most is balance- the ability to be satisfied with the present and to grow and change as well.

I can tell that I want to take action. To learn and to practice- to try, experiment and grow. The process paralyzes me. How do I know which thing to pursue? And what is the best way to pursue it, and how do I prepare for that? Why does it have to be the best way. I am walking around the pool debating the entrances, stretching, changing suits, laying out my towel, picking it up and moving it to a more strategic location. Reading about how to swim, how to dry off, asking everyone who knows most about it, what they do and why. Really when it comes down to it, I just want to get in the pool. Why do I not trust that everything will work itself out?

This sounds like a struggle with powerlessness to me. I am trying to control how my experiences will be. I want to learn so that I do not appear stupid - insecurity. I want to know so I stand out as knowledgeable - pride. I want to do so that I can learn and experience. I want to be prepared so that I do not fail - fear. I want to expand, be more, consume (healthy - knowledge, hobbies and crafts, meditation and unhealthy - sugar, quick finger foods, mind-numbing activities like games). I am hungry and eager and anxious. I want to do - I don't know what - but it is urgent! But I don't want to do unless it is that one thing I want to do most, and how do I find that!? Why is it so important to do right? What is this fear and insecurity- where is my faith?

I want to learn at a safe distance- I want to listen to a recording so that there is no dialogue for me to engage in, no criticism at my ignorance. I want to listen passively and protected. The more I investigate things to listen to and learn about and read about, the more they seem to remind me that the best way to learn them is through practice- action. When I move toward action I overwhelm myself into paralysis. I am spinning in circles in my head, exhausted, exhilarated, confused, eager. I am angry with myself for not enjoying the present. I struggle to be still, be quiet, be here and now. I make lists or think about lists I need to make. I gather information digitally and from afar- I keep it in a semi-organized fashion with the intention of going back and actually spending some time taking from it what I want - inspiration.

I horde and gather and collect. I find new things that I want to horde and gather and collect. I chastise myself for collecting too much without using it. I yearn for simplicity, surrender, freedom, peace of mind. I want to lay in the grass and just let my thoughts flow. I don't want to have to move all the time and think all the time and do all the time. I don't want to go anywhere because I cling so tightly to my precious free time. Then in my free time I scramble for what I think I am supposed to be doing- rushed and pressured. Quick- there are movies that HAVE to be watched!! I must play this game so that I can finish more quests!! I must make food before the last food I made is eaten! I must make the bed and do the things that get undone daily! It feels like a hamster wheel, but I know it is of my own making, and that is even MORE frustrating!

I am not too lost in the negativity of all this- there is too much happy excitement about my open mindedness, new interests, and opportunities and possibilities. But the frustration and anxiety are evident in my body - tight and weakened, mind - loud and congested, and spirit - clouded and flickering. I am somewhere between a crisis and an awakening, panic and peace. Isn't that where I am supposed to be? And how do I know where I am supposed to be? And why does it even matter!? Who can answer all of my questions! Have I resolved my pending issues? Do I owe amends? What is waiting for me to do? How soon can I finish it! What is most important to do first and WHY?

PMS and gratefulness flutter in and out. Security and stability and fear about not having enough savings. Desire to improve and desire to be still. Yoga and meetings, spiritual readings interspersed with nail biting and eating when I am not hungry. I fight a grand and epic battle with myself in my own head- I have all the answers, or not, but only I can make the choices, and my choices have consequences. I want to get away from all the feelings without a care for the future implications. I want to stop and consider all future implications and get through desire for instant gratification. I am a walking paradox, muddled, ecstatic, snarky, couch potato. I do not feel contained- I am spilling out over the edges! I feel unmanageable, unmanaged! Is that ok? Do I trust that this too shall pass? Am I forgetting something!? Is it ok to just go with the flow, move forward? That is what I am doing ultimately, though I plague myself with this mindfuck (can't find a better term). Though I am riding these emotions and questions and dis-ease and growing pains, I still am moving forward. I am living life on life's terms, taking what comes my direction. Am I reliable? Am I doing what is right? Am I being a good friend? Who am I ignoring, what am I putting off? How can I fix it all, pull it all back in to a neat manageable package? Should it be in a package? Is the package just a deception of control? Isn't it always overflowing? Is it foolish to allow myself to be comforted by it? Do I simply focus on trust and here and now. One day at a time- what do I need to do right now. In this minute. In this 5 minutes. Breathe. Focus on the in ... and the out ... Be here, be now, be ok.

Let go. Let the questions go. Let the answers go. Stop worrying. If I want, consider the motive, run it by people - is it spiritual? Yes? Go for it. Don't worry about prep. Don't worry about what book is the best to teach me the basics so that I can get the starter kit. Just jump in. Probably will be failure, but what better way to learn- don't I tend to learn that way anyway!? Trust that I will be watched and carried. Follow through with nurturing the relationships that support me. Take an inventory daily to check in- what did I do today that I feel good about? What did I do that I do not feel good about? Do the things that thus far I know keep me going in generally the right direction (or at least help me not go the very wrong direction I have spent so much time walking).

So here I am. My hands are a little cold. This tea has cream instead of milk. It is good and warm, but  prefer milk. I have so many many blessings, and I am thankful. I am stimulated and challenged here at work. I take advantage of the time they give me to work at home and multitask. I cruise internet sites and research and read and do things other than work. I want to not do my employer wrong this way. I want to be human and reasonable and take breaks but stay focused. I want to be productive. I need to speak up if I have time I don't know how to fill, or take the time to figure out what best to fill it with.

I am so grateful for the spring and the sunshine. I am so happy for my morning snuggles with my boys. I am so grateful to work surrounded by plants and earth and kindness. I am so blessed to have yoga to help me clam my mind and body and spirit, align them, go slow, be still, be thankful. I am so glad for love in my life. I am so happy for health and ambition. I pray for surrender, powerlessness. Let me continue to be me, to go forward, to be still, to make mistakes, to learn, to practice, to act and to do nothing. I send out love and health to all. I open my mind to those I judge. I acknowledge my defects of character and become aware of them. I seek to live by spiritual principles in my daily life.

I wear my barefoot shoes which remind me what the ground feels like and how hard I stomp when I walk. I roll my neck and remember how important it is to move and stretch. I go to bed at a good time and enjoy waking easily feeling rested. I do what I need that is inconvenient even if I don't want it at the moment, and I benefit from it. I take suggestion and encouragement from those around me that love and guide me.

I head off to a work meeting feeling lighter with a hint of a smile.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thoughts of stuff and some things as well

This weekend we went to South Coast Plaza and found a dress for me for the wedding in May- hooray! I wore my new Merrell Serene Gloves all day and did not have a problem. I find that when I do not wear the ribbons around my ankles, the back of the right shoe rubs the back of my foot wrong, but with the ribbon it is fine. I still find myself stomping a bit and am learning how to walk softly.

I am so eager to get my shipment of 30lbs of nuts (another 25lbs almonds and 5lbs pecans). I want to get cracking! I have been using cotton gloves sold at pharmacy stores to help prevent blistering and tearing up my fingertips, but I go through the gloves pretty quickly, so I decided to check out a sporting goods store to see if I could find a more durable solution. Many weight lifting gloves were finger-less, and golfing gloves were too thin, so we went with women's batting gloves- dexterous but durable. Very excited to give them a try. I am sure that if I use the fingertips to peel open the sharp cracked pecans I would tear them, so I need to be sure to use a pick and remove a glove for that part. Mostly the protect my hand from the crackers not the nuts.

I was sick last week- I very strange kind of sick- just very very tired and achy and heavy. Slept a lot and didn't eat a ton, but never threw up or had any congestion. I am glad it finally passed- it stuck around a long time! (Sunday to Friday!)

I made some tasty food for a gathering last weekend- all Primal- I made chicken enchilada stew that was too hot for me due to NM green chiles and I forgot to serve with cheese. I made my almond blondies with extra dark chocolate, and my first time trying a toasted walnut (but I burnt all the walnuts so we used pecans) pomegranate and apple salad with home made dressing that I made too olive-oily, but was ok :P. I served butternut squash fries- just dipped in EVOO with salt and broiled/baked that were a big hit!! My bacon crusted sweet potato mash got cold too fast and wasn't a big hit. I gave party favors of my home made sweet and salty trail mix :)

It was an excellent gathering, and I had SUCH a great time- good eats, good times and great company!

Oh we also stopped at our favorite restaurant- Habana in Costa Mesa- truly a delicious and unique experience. The food is ALWAYS great, brunch lunch or dinner- it is the kind of place where they might say- no crab cakes today, the chef said the crab wasn't good enough today- very high standards. They have the best key lime pie I have ever had. We both had the specials- John had pork belly served over wilted spinach and a bacon, bean, sweet potato mash thing. I had the pan seared halibut with cream of mushroom sauce served over garlic mash. Both were absolutely delicious. The fish was cooked to perfection- crispy on the outside as if breaded and tender and flaky on the inside. We also had the crab-cake appetizers which we love. John has iced tea (unsweetened, not fruity) everywhere we go, and Habana has some of the best tea ever - no idea what they use :)

I find myself interested still in learning how to make a fire and build a shelter. I want to read and gather knowledge about wilderness survival, but it seems experience is far more valuable than stocked goods and equipment or books read. I also want to learn more about urban homesteading, urban survival, being sustainable. In reality, I live in a more suburban area than urban (thank goodness) but I still don't really have a plot of land to work with, rather a cemented patio I can put planters on (or hang from). I have a real tickle to do some gardening. I want to try succulents and herbs as those seem hardy and common and cheap and a good way to start. Again, I am tempted to read and learn and print and highlight, but in reality experience and trial and error will be the real learning.

I finished up The Road and now I am going to listen to some H.P. Lovecraft. I want to listen to Brian's Saga by Paulsen, but I can't find a good audio copy of the Hatchet and it is short, so I may try to borrow it from a library. I watched Never Cry Wolf and LOVED it. I think it is largely because the main character is quirky like me, and I think like him. I don't care if the info about wolves is wrong, I really loved this film. I also watched Alone in the Wilderness- the true story of a guy who builds a cabin in Alaska and stays for year- everything from scratch- it is absolutely incredible to see his carpentry skills. I think most people get this sense of longing for being so independent and self-reliable, but the reality is without growing up on a farm or having someone to show me all of this and the opportunity to practice practice practice it isn't very realistic.

I was listening to The Survival Podcast and it talked about the comfort you might feel by having tested yourself and found and addressed your vulnerabilities and strike a balance of preparedness - rather than spend tons of effort, energy and money stockpiling things you never user or know how to use, there are every-day ways to prepare for the more common and likely events- regional disasters- blackout, hurricane, earthquake, fire, etc. Can you go without power and running water for 24 hours in your house? Survival preparedness is more than having a pack of fancy shmancy freeze dried goods and thinking about the zombie apocalypse, it is getting the legitimate needs addressed. Knowing where you would meet if something happened and you couldn't go home. Your nearby family that might need you. How to have light and water at your house for a few days when you need it. I want to read and do more about this- I want to try the 24 hour test. I have to work on convincing John to do it with me :P

I want to garden - yes I someday want a gopher proof irrigated garden that grows veggies I eat, but I also know that if I don't start now, that desire gets further and further away. I have hanging baskets and succulents to take cuttings of. The farmers market has herbs and succulents for sale as well. All I need is soil and determination :)

I want to learn my vulnerabilities, practice for disaster in a not-crazy-person way. Pretend there is a blackout, store some more water in the garage, go in the woods and make fires and shelters. I want to open the zombie/survival kits, inventory them, see what is needed and know how to use what is there. It is crazy to keep adding snares and smoke grenades and a hand chain saw when you can do so much of what you need with a good knife. I want to learn how to use what I have rather than go nuts making an insanely heavy pack heavier with real things that are more of fun gestures (like say a grappling hook... but hey, I want to PLAY in the woods, climb trees, exercise in FUN and new ways. Where is a safe place to play- erm I mean  learn how to use a grappling hook? I know, your answer is, Veronica, there is no safe way for you to use a grappling hook. :P) I want to be strong enough to pull myself out of the water or up from a ledge. I want to be smart and level headed enough to not panic if I am lost. I want to know how to get through a tough time. I want to stockpile and use skills that for me are educational, fun, and functional.

Also, I am still totally on a tea kick. I love Adiago teas black dragon pearls, Irish breakfast and lady grey as well as a hazelnut chocolaty tea like Harney and Sons Florence. I am not turning out to be a big fan of rooibos. Too powerful of a taste- it masks all the other flavors. I like a good spiced chai that isn't too cardamom-y. I like licorice root tea and cinnamon teas. I want to try more oolong and green and black and green and white mixes. Greens alone are not my thing for now. :)

I want to take the stairs every day and try a pull up every day and do my strength training twice a week. I want to keep doing yoga at home. I am doing good at meditating and prayer lately. I want to go and hike every weekend, or at least a nice long walk or some nut cracking in the sun on the grass regularly.

I want to learn not to advertise so much bacon consumption- if you aren't eating organic no extra nitrates added, no or low sugar, great quality bacon like Neiman ranch or Applegate, then bacon IS pretty bad for you. As with pretty much anything, too much bacon is also bad for you. Standard meat carries much of the toxins in the fat- if you can't get grass fed or organic, get lean, the saying goes. I want to not say I am Paleo as that is such a changing and confusing word these days, or even a high fat low carb, as that isn't always the case, but rather I focus on no grains, no gluten and no refined sugar. Real food- organic, farmer's market, etc. If it comes in a package, I hesitate. If it has more than 5 ingredients or ones I cannot pronounce, I hesitate. I eat full fat dairy and nuts and seeds and fruits in moderation. I sleep lots, play, love myself, and challenge myself. I eat what makes me feel good and these days heavy starchy carb-heavy foods or sugary foods or processed foods don't feel good at all. My tongue likes them, and not even that all of the time. I don't smoke or drink, I park farther away and walk a little further and try to think of three distinct things I am grateful for each day. I try to listen to my body rather than medicate, squash, and force it. I try and hear both sides of the story and stay open minded. I choose not to participate in much of the media and news and politics and focus my energies on bettering my little local community where I don't feel so small, overwhelmed and insignificant. I smile at strangers, return the cart, pick up the litter, and try to be like a duck and let troubles roll off my feathers like water.

Happy Monday world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New shoooes

Happy Tuesday, Happy Spring, Happiness and peace to you :)

Went on another Mt Baldy hike- went barefoot from the altar where I drop my kisses to Brutus' Lookout. Made it all the way up to Bear Flats! We saw a giant lizard- had to be a good 10 inches long. Brutus drank some snow melt water that I figured would be fine and was sick the whole next day :( Won't do that again.

There is a little clearing in a wooded area before you break out into the meadow of Bear Flats where a big tree is surrounded by cleared ground. The tree seems to umbrella the whole place making it feel like a natural sanctuary. Definitely somewhere that would be great for more visiting and perhaps some photos! Here are some photos from other folks of this hike

view from Brutus' Lookout

This is the tree and clearing I was talking about

Made it to Bear Flats! :)

Anyway, on to my new shoooes! I got the Merrell Barefoot Serene Glove- when I first ordered a pair, they seemed too big- my feet slid around a bit, and for such a minimalist shoe, it didn't seem right to be extra roomy. I was nervous about blisters from the friction of my foot moving so much within the shoe. I got 1/2 size down, and my toes bump the front of the shoe when I walk. When I stand they gently touch it, if I kick my heels to the back of the shoe they don't. When I do my standard walk, it feels like I am stomping horribly and mashing my toes on the front uncomfortably, but I have read that when you try barefoot shoes you pay more attention and even adjust the way you walk. The stomping hurts my whole foot! So I am trying to walk more gingerly and carefully and as long as I do, I think they will be fine. I know I need to work up to them, not wear them all day every day right away or I will be quite sore and uncomfortable. Walking in minimalist shoes or barefoot works different and less-used muscles in your feet. I have been rolling a baseball under my feet at work to help stretch those muscles and felt sore afterwards, so I know I've warmed up a little. 

I wanted some flats- feminine shoes for girly jeans and cute tops that don't have some bow on them (harder than it sounds to find, especially in my large size). I wanted barefoot shoes, and I found a perfect blend of the two. There is even an optional ankle ribbon that makes them look extra girly that I wear under my jeans for now just to keep them held up and secure. They are very flexible and there is tread on the bottom. I will continue to report back on them :)

Not my feet, but pretty similar :)

No shampoo continues to go great. I am definitely down to using baking soda and vinegar about 3 times a week and just hot water and a good scrub with my fingers the rest of the time. I don't use any product, but I do blowdry my hair sometimes, as I got a new haircut :) I continue to use organic soap as well, and a tea tree oil Trader Joes face wash.

So I had great success with my roast beef coming out pink all the way through on the first try and it tastes great hot, cold, and even after freezing. I am having a party Sunday and have a big menu planned! Tonight is my first try at beef ribs in the oven!

 Life is good and I am very grateful for my many blessings, this Earth, my loving support system, my health, my happiness, and so much more. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

House/Room Inspiration

Every now and again I think of things I want to eventually have in/around my home. I like to document them somehow, so that I can come back to them and keep them in the back of my mind.

I like vertical succulent gardens/green roofs - using the roof of a shed for a garden for inside and out!

I like bringing trees/branches into the house - especially in the bedroom

This one above is probably my favorite, and possibly an easier one to come by!

I like funky windows and doors- go outside of the general definition of shapes and boundaries

I like bird houses- bunched together- here is an example in my parent's backyard

I like oddly shaped doors - I love wood that isn't necessarily square- turned wood, etc


I also like the view from the kitchen sink to either look outside or at my fish tank :P
I like lots of sunlight in the kitchen- big fan of sunlights in a home. I would like to actually use solar tubes for a nice sized reef tank someday (probably about 6-8' long)

Anyway, just wanted to jot some of this down. More to come :)