During the week, I wanted something comforting and familiar, so I cooked up some baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, and meatloaf. It wasn’t too hard to substitute butter with coconut oil for the sweet potatoes, and I added a sprinkling of cinnamon to round out the sweetness. I stirred coconut oil and dash of salt into the broccoli. As for the meatloaf, I’m no stranger to omitting breadcrumbs. It was a great dinner — it was just what I needed the night before going back to work.
It was so nice to stay home and keep warm, rest, play around a bit, and give my body a chance to adjust to my current dietary plan. Now that I’m back at work, I’m feeling a lot more grounded again and more able to face the day. Sure, that exposure to all the goodies I can’t eat really stings, but I think I’ve got this covered. I can overcome the cravings until Easter.
I’m grateful that I got to spend some extra time with the kids, especially since we had a decent amount of snow to play with and make snow cream. They had many “snow” days and were only at school for 2 out of my 8 days off, so we definitely got to spend plenty of time snuggled up in pajamas.
Sometimes you feel like you have nothing to say. In some cases, you can stop at that, and proceed with your day. In others, you have deadlines looming and a necessity to say something — preferably something worthwhile. My tip for the day is to sit down, write whatever comes to mind or whatever you’re doing, and soon enough you’ll have ideas. Most of the time, I experience writer’s block and simply opt not to show up. However, simply sitting with my journal and writing whatever comes to mind tends to loosen those holds on my thoughts, and I find some great ideas. Give it a shot the next time you find yourself wordless.
A few birthdays back, I asked my husband for Hemingway books. I really can’t remember why it was I opted to read Hemingway’s works, but I knew his reputation as a great author. Of course, life has a way of pulling my attention away, and I got through two and a half books before going about two years between opening one up. Since I’ve been working on overhauling my diet and enjoying so much needed vacation time at home, I thought I’d pick up one of his books and jump back in. I don’t remember where I put A Farewell to Arms, so I decided to start fresh with For Whom the Bell Tolls. So far I’m slowly but surely turning the pages — I’ve never been one of those book worms who sits down to finish a book within hours, thanks to my short attention span. However, I’m motivating myself to read for fun, to explore new places and people. Usually, I fall down rabbit holes here on the internet, reading up on plenty of non-fiction from blog posts to medical articles. Those are usually less mindful than the act of picking up a book and following the author’s lead. This will be an exercise in mindfulness, a means to distract myself from the sugar demons, and a great way to relax.
Here I am once again enjoyed paid time off thanks to the day job. I’m so grateful to have the opportunities to take time away from my bread winner so I can relax and focus on my health and well-being. This particular vacation is being spent at home, embarking on establishing new eating habits to bolster my health and foster more energy. I’m tired of feeling worn out, so I figure this will be an experiment to see if perhaps my indulgences (more than 20% of the time, mind you) detract from my overall well-being. I’m here to live, but I’m here to live with good quality in all aspects of life. The more days I spend loafing around in my pajamas, the more days I feel I’ve wasted. So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself and make a change for the better.
Last week we discussed commas in their basic usage — to join clauses. This week we’ll talk about using them in lists. Now, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love the Oxford (serial) comma, and those who don’t. I’m in the former camp. I find that the Oxford comma brings much more clarity to a sentence, even if we’re expected to assume the last item in the list is indeed part of the list — comma or no comma. For example:
“I like reading, writing, dancing, and drawing.”
Each item in the list is separated by a comma. Each comma can be assumed to mean “and.” However, we don’t write sentences that read like this:
“I like reading and writing and dancing and drawing.”
That’s just not proper. You could also write it this way:
“I like reading, writing, dancing and drawing.”
Sometimes, however, you’ll find that omitting the last comma leads to confusion. For example:
“I have three kinds of pizza including pepperoni, sausage and pepper and mushroom.”
What have I done here? I’ve left you wondering what the second and third pizzas are. Do we have sausage and pepper? Or do we have just plain old sausage? Do we have pepper and mushroom? Or just mushrooms? This is why I opt to always use the last comma. If you get into a habit of omitting that final comma, you may find yourself confusing your reader — not good if you’re submitting a paper for a grade or a business proposal. We’re not taking out an ad in the paper, nor are we confined by the editor’s need to save space for all the articles. In the digital age, we have more than enough room on the screen for that last comma. On a paper, your teacher or professor is counting words, not characters. If you’ve never been really sure about commas in lists, start practicing writing lists today. Take the Oxford comma out for a try. You may just find out what a lovely little partner it can be in all your sentences.
This week I’m incredibly motivated to commit to my Lenten vow to follow a more cleaning eating sort of lifestyle. Think the Whole 30 and paleo movements, only will a little less… trendiness. It’s really more along the lines of eating the way people did a hundred or years ago when we didn’t have Snickers, Lay’s potato chips, and microwaveable meals at our beck and call. It’s also more along the lines of eating foods that aren’t going to cause some serious health problems. Also? Think of it as the human body doesn’t need chocolate cake and latte to survive on a daily basis, and I’ve got the willpower to abstain from such things for over 40 days and nights. And since I’m hardcore, I’m doing this 45 days and nights — I only subtract my daughter’s birthday from this equation here!
Here’s what the menu’s going to look like: chicken , turkey, fish (blech!), eggs, green veggies, fresh veggies, frozen veggies, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, water, broth (veggie, chicken, turkey), herbal teas, hot lemon water, sweet potatoes, white potatoes (which come from the ground, so there!), maybe some beef or pork here and there, possibly some rice. Ultimately, I’ve got a lot to work with. Here’s the tricky part — what it’s NOT going to look like: no chocolate, no coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no refined/ added sugar, no flours of any sort (not even gluten free), no processed foods, no dairy, and basically no fun. I’m unsure of my precious almond milk at this point — it may or may not get “technicality” status. I may or may not play around with different foods that have a reputation for causing inflammation or intolerances.
Over the course of Lent, I’m going to access how I feel. My goal is to replenish my body and increase my energy. The focus is mainly on what’s going in my mouth, but I do plan to incorporate more movement in my daily routines. I may find that I’m more motivated and energetic while eating healthier foods. And of course, we can’t leave out that this is a Catholic ritual, so therefore I’m also setting a goal to do penance here. Watch out, Wednesday! I’m ready for you!
I thought it would be lots of fun to make chocolate-dipped heart-shaped shortbread cookies for my family to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I searched the web for a recipe I liked, adapted it a bit to my tastes, and got to work.
From Taste of Home:
- 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- dash of sea salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted sweet cream butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add in cubed butter. It works better if you use your (clean, washed) hands to knead the butter into the dry ingredients, but feel free to use a fork. Once the ingredients are mostly combine, add the water and extract. Mix until a dough forms. Place a piece of parchment paper on your counter and flour liberally. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using heart-shaped cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment, about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 325. Bake for about 13-16 minutes, switching baking sheets halfway through for even baking. Cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before coating in chocolate. Use your favorite chocolate chips to melt for dipping and coating your cookies — we used milk chocolate chips. Add sprinkles if desired. Place on parchment to set. Enjoy with your favorite cookie beverage!
Saturday is the day we celebrate love — and I don’t care who wants to call it a Hallmark holiday or turn it into something that “should be everyday.” (Because big boxes of chocolate should NOT be an everyday thing for ANYONE, especially if we’re running out of chocolate!) I’m thankful to be celebrating with my family, even though we sort of did our own thing this past Saturday. I work this coming Saturday, so it made more sense to eat chocolate dipped heart-shaped shortbread cookies and chocolate covered strawberries on a day we were all off together. The two younger children prepared there valentine’s for their classmates. My oldest has graduated to the land of school dances and awkward transitions from child to adolescent.
I’m also grateful for the freedom and room to embark on a very important journey for my Lenten vow this coming Wednesday. I will be removing many potential offenders from my diet and giving my body only foods that feel nourishing. I don’t feel healthy or energized these days, and it’s time for me to honor my body. I’m finding that age makes it harder to bounce back, and I’ll need all the nurturing I can get. Feeding myself with love and care seems like an excellent way to replenish my tired body. I’m so grateful to have this body to carry me around, and I want to continue being grateful to have my body.