Saturday, January 25, 2020

View from the Stump house

Mid-winter hasn't been what we've expected.  We have had one snowstorm that lasted over a week.  We have had lots of rain.  Today we've reached 50 degrees, heard the birds chirping and have witnessed new grass growing.  It's a mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest.   It's halfway thru winter, Chinese New Year, and a little less than 2 months before my first 5K. 

Mid-winter is my time to plot and plan my gardens.  To look over my freezer and pantry stores and make plans on what to use up before the next season.   Projects are being planned, wood is being set aside, greenhouse dreams are coming together, and amid all of this, I found time to sit in our stump house and write a few thoughts.   

Today as I look around my yard, I am so grateful for what we have.   I have gardens for food, herbs, flowers, and rocks.  We grow trees from the seedlings that sprout in our yard, and have houses for birds, bats, and lady bugs.  I am sitting in a stump house that shields me from most rain and wind and in a moment will head down to the fire pit to warm my cold fingers.  I choose to focus on what I do have than those things that I can only dream about for now.   

I am content with where I am in life.  But I know that I also will achieve those dreams through hard work.  The view from the stump house will just have to do for now.

Keep moving forward.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Forward progress

Every dream or goal can be attained, so long as you just keep moving forward. Every step is a step in the right direction.

This weekend I knew I had to make a choice of those steps.  Instead of one, I made two!  Two 5K races, both which benefit local charities, and both which are on road/trails in my area.

Why a 5K?  My doctor even asked me that question.  I feel it's due to the accountability of paying an entry fee.   I don't like to waste money.  I can also work up to it over time and I know that some folks that enter are the same boat as myself.  I may never be first, and even if I came in last I know I will finish.  That is the goal - completion.  With my short legs I have to push to complete a 5K in under an hour.  It sucks to get passed by someone in their 70's with long legs! 

But my dreams / goals cannot be obtained with just exercise.  In order to help reach my goal, exercise is only one part. I've been diagnosed with Familial hypertriglyceridemia.  Basically it's high triglycerides (fat in the blood) without having high total cholesterol and passed down thru genetics.  Supposedly it affects about 1% of the population (yay me).  While most of the time people can control it with diet and exercise, there comes a time that extra help is needed.  For the last 10 years I've tried statins, omega 3's, niacin, and a combination along with diet and exercise.  I've tried limiting food groups, removing food groups.  My numbers are still high, so we're trying a new drug and 3 month diet limiting foods with saturated fats and cholesterol and increasing exercise.  We've already made some minor changes, swapping out things like plant butter instead of dairy butter or oatmeal in place of breadcrumbs for meatballs!

I am 1 month in of my 3 month goal.  During the winter months I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  It is very common for those of us in the Northern parts of the USA.  It's gotten worse for me the last few years but this year I have a plan.   Treadmill walking 3 times a week, day of yoga, day of weight training, a rest day, and a reading day.  Couple this with dietary changes, and playing with the dog more, and the satisfaction of completing not just one, but two 5K's and keeping a gratitude journal.

Next up, the dietary swaps I've made - and what recipes are getting thrown out. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Into 2020 and beyond

As I started to write out my 2020 "to-do" list, it occurred to me that this year will mark 10 years of blogging on Books N Brew - WA.  I've got Lasagna sauce simmering on the stovetop, bone broth going in my instant pot, and I am about to take down the Christmas decorations.  In this moment though I  wanted to reflect a bit back thru the decade, review where I am now, and look forward into what comes next.

There have been so many changes over the past decade.  I've gone from a single gal with a cat in my one bedroom apartment, to a married woman with a great husband and a dog in a country setting.  Missy Kitty has passed on, but she left a big impression on our hearts that Sauk the Destroyer fills most everyday.

We've lost family and loved ones, friends, and have said goodbye to what seems simpler times (just by seeing the technology evolve).  But we have gained so much more than just trinkets and material things.  We've gained family,  friends, new jobs, new skills, gained knowledge and perspective.  But above all else, we have each other.

As I look forward to this next decade (and man by that time I'll be 51!), I try and think to myself - self, where do you want to be?  How do you want to feel in 10 years?  What if you could tell your 31 year old self ONE thing that you know now, that you had wished you had known then?  Let me give you a minute to think on it.   I'm going to do that myself...

I had to take longer than a minute.  It's a hard question.  If you changed the past, you wouldn't be sitting where you are today.  And neither would I.  But, there is something I could have done, had I realized that time was limited.  If I could write a letter or a cookie fortune that would have hit me in a time that I needed it - it would say that.    Time is limited - Spend it wisely with those you love.

My one regret of the past decade is not spending more time with Grammy.  Grammy passed on at the end of 2010, and in that year I did not get enough visits in.  You could say I was super depressed having just lost my dad.  I fought it and hard, but weekends were spent sleeping.   It was when I started this blog I started to come out of my fog.   I spent more time with friends, I threw the epic St. Pats feast, I threw an awesome Cajun feast, spent time fishing with friends, and I met my husband.   After that meeting, I went and saw my Grams.   I told her I thought I found my one.  She smiled.  It's that smile and even her smirk I miss most on this day.

Thinking of now, what would I wish my 51 year one old self would tell me today?  I know time is limited.   I try and call and visit with my mom and sister and her kids as much as possible (living 4 hours away with a mountain pass between us).  I feel connected via social media platforms to other family members afar.   We have great local friends who we see and embrace those friendships like a warm blanket.   We host a large gathering every year and in that moment  - when everyone sits down to eat, to consume what we've put heart and soul into; and wander about our grounds to see what new things we've done to our place - is when I feel content.

I think my older self would tell me two major things.  One is that the health changes that I am focusing on this year - move more, eat nourishing foods, shifting my mindset and refocusing on positive thoughts, and to let go of stress and drama - are my top priority and will lead to a fruitful decade of life.  Due to some health issues, if I don't turn it around, or at least start the U turn, the next decade after this could be daunting.

The second is that forgiveness - even of those who don't deserve it - is about your own peace of mind.  Forgive those who trespass on you or have done so in the past. Let old wounds heal, scab and scar over.   You don't have to put yourself through pain to heal, but write them down, toss them into the fire and let them go.   Take one step toward a better you by forgiving others, as well as yourself.

So if you are reading this - take a moment to think of one person that you may hold away from yourself.  Maybe they were were unintentionally mean or cruel - with words, actions or indifference.  Change your perspective and try to think of things from their point of view.   Don't cast blame - don't think of the hurt that they caused.  Don't let their words continue to cut you down.  Forgive them for they may not have known how deep they hurt you.   Forgive them for they may also have been facing their own demons.  Forgive them because it's good for you to do so. 

Take three deep breaths (hard for me to do right now without coughing) and let it go.  Only you have the power to not let them continue to harm you.  Holding onto hurt and anger only hurts yourself.  In the grand scheme of all things - it's just better for you to let it all go and focus on the positive and let those hurts be life lessons.

In the last 10 years there have been many folks I've forgiven from afar, some more recent than others.  One in particular comes to mind.   This person was a part of my life in so many aspects.   I was hurt by words, by actions, by indifference and after a long while of saying nothing - I let it be known I was hurt.   Afterward,  instead of throwing a tantrum I left the situation so I did not feel like I was a pawn in the middle of a chess game.   I forgave the person in my mind almost immediately, but I needed distance.  I  don't choose to initiate interaction, and to this day - they've not done the same with me.   I hold no hate or any grudge for this person - even though they seem to still make it difficult for those in mutual circles.  I only hold love of our fond shared memories - and wish them nothing but good fortune.

There are others with minor trespasses that I've forgiven - but not forgotten. Those I'm still working on letting go 100% - but I won't allow any hurt or pain to hold space in my mind or heart.

My little slice of heaven does not have room for grudges and hate.  Our gardens blossom due to time, attention, love, a little luck, patience, and a lot of perseverance. 

My way doesn't work for everyone.  There is no right path to happiness - and some folks will always just be miserable.  You gotta find your own happy!  I have and am looking forward to spreading it in the next decade!

Finally you may wonder what is in store for Books N Brew going into the second decade!  More books, more reading, more cooking - and using food as fuel to help my health journey (more on that later), and more overall happiness and wellness from our little slice of heaven!

Just keep this in mind for 2020 and beyond.    Your future is not yet written.  Do something today that will honor your past, be present, and prepare you for the future.  Take one moment each day - look around you and see how blessed you truly are.

Blessings of light, joy, love, and luck,


Monday, December 16, 2019

The Holidays are here & looking forward

The Holidays are here!  Are you stressed yet?   Ready for a vacation? Done and over with the rush and hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping? 

I'm not.   Want to know why?  Because last year we had a house fire on Christmas Eve.  That event put a lot of things into perspective.  It reminded us about what matters most in our life and in what energies we expend.

2019 is coming to a close, and with 2020 looming, we want to build on more of that foundation.   We grow our own, we shop local, we gift handmade items, we make our own stuff when we can, we try to buy things with less packaging, we use fresh or whole foods, we use less toxins, have converted to a lot more natural cleaners. We also put a lot of stock in adventures and creating memories, not just buying materialistic things.  At the end - are we happier?  Yes.  If shit hit the fan and the world markets crashed - we could survive!

I've been so busy that I've not written out a bunch of recipes.   But I have some favorite things I've made in the last few months I'll make note of. 
Gumbo Night was another success!   Ribs, gumbo, fried green tomatoes, homemade sour french bread - oh so good!   My Gumbo is a prawn and andouille sausage version.  It's got a few "secret ingredients" and lots of love! It freezes well so I can't wait to have some for Mardi Gras!

It's not fall until we make a big pot of Harvest Tomato Soup!   It's what it is - tomatoes fresh harvested, roasted, and made into wonderful soup!  It's a fantastic soup that pairs well with some crusty bread!

Trying to lower your carb intake?  How about our Sheet pan Spicy Apricot Chicken with Mushrooms and Green Beans!   Combining our own Apricot Jam with some Thai Sweet Chili sauce, cooked chicken and green beans and sliced mushrooms - YUMMY!!!

Growing up my mom always order "Pollo ala crema" at Ixtapa Mexican restaurants, and since she will not eat mushrooms - I always got them!    This recipe was sans the mushrooms, but for my first try, we really enjoyed it! 

You may be able to tell, but we like to have a Mexican inspired dish at least weekly.  "Taco Tuesday" is our nod to the hispanic and latino cultures that are part of Americana today.    B likes hardshell tacos, I prefer soft.   So we can properly enjoy the hardshell tacos, I bought "Taco" plates.  They were on clearance for $2.00!   Taco Plate nights are some of our favorites!

Sourdough/French Rolls.    Sounds amazing right?   I can't tell you how many of these I've thrown out.  If you don't use just enough sugar for the yeast to sourdough ratio, or enough salt, they taste blah.  But when you get it right, they are DIVINE!    I would eat these daily if I could, but alas too much wheat and I go into autoimmune overload!   Thus I keep a bag in the freezer, ready to warm up as needed!

Speaking of wheat - my other favorite... Pasta.  Fresh Pasta.   Fresh Egg Pasta made with backyard chicken eggs. These were the three pastas that my nephew, niece and I made over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was their chicken's eggs, and their first time making pasta.   I gotta say i wasn't sure how eggy spaghetti would turn out - but it was great!  To keep things simple we used jarred sauces.  The Kids choose spaghetti (marinara( and large macaroni (alfredo), with me choosing bucatini (pesto).  Spaghetti with Marinara was the winner!

With tiny bits of snow trying to make it to ground, today I picked a bunch of rosemary from our 8 year old rosemary bush.  I'll dry several pieces and might just infuse some Olive Oil with it for those rolls I have in the freezer!

Now you're caught up on my cookery items!     How about the Books?!

I've been so busy that I've also not read as much this summer. I know, I have the coolest little reading nook and I've just not used it.   Maybe it's cause the Tablet with netflix is so easy to use while being in the kitchen, or when cleaning.   But reading really helps focus me on only the page in front of me and it really helps quiet all the jumbled thoughts that go in and out of my head on a daily basis.  Am I crazy? Nope.  Unfortunately I've been really noticing that the words I speak are not what I think.  There appears to be correlation for when there are times I don't read or speak much.  For my job I don't talk during the day.  I talk to myself, in my head - but not really to others.   So with all of that, it's no wonder my hubby looks at me when I say thermometer instead of speedometer.  Yikes!

So what's up on the reading list?  How about Nora Roberts "The One" series.  It's her delve into apocalyptic fiction, and so far so good!  I've also caught up on the "Kendra Michaels" series by Iris and Roy Johansen and a few other Amazon finds.  It's hard to use my tablet as an e-reader, so my Liliana Hart series is just going to have to wait.

Once the snow hits, I can't wait to cuddle up by the tree, with a hot cup of Barry's Irish Tea and a book.   So happy and merry holiday season - cheers to a wonderful time with friends, family, and lots of memories made!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

August Update... Sourdough, Core 4, Beautycounter

This has been a summer for the books.  We have focused on relaxation, spending quality time, and being present in the moment.  B and I are thinking very hard on starting up a business for our crafty stuff, and hope to debut a few pieces / projects at our Annual Gumbo Night next week!

We have been busy in prep the last few weeks!  Cleaning, weeding, baking, woodworking, and so much more!   We can't wait for our guests to see what we've got in store this year!

Adventures  in Sourdough

One of my co-workers mentioned they were craving good artisan rosemary garlic bread.   I may not be the best bread maker, but I love a challenge.
Sure I could have taken a course, gone by the book -but that is not me.  Trial and Error seems to be the way I learn best.   Suffice to say I've learned a lot about sourdough the last few weeks.  I have a wonderful starter in my fridge that is waiting to be fed, and have made some epic biscuits and crackers, some dense door stop breads, horrible pancakes, and some wonderful muffins.  but we're not done!   This is a life long dream to be able to make good bread from scratch - without all the additives needed for commercial baking.  Sure it doesn't last as long - but it's just as good!

Who knows what will come out of our oven next!

Core 4

Maybe you have heard of her.  Steph Gaudreau has written a great book - The Core 4.  I've been following her on social platforms for years, and I love her message.  It's not about diets, it's not about meeting society's definition of normal.  It's about embracing your own strengths and not beating  yourself up cause you don't fit the mold that society thinks you should.  The focus on lifestyle changes, the holistic view of shifting the way you see yourself, the way you train with a more integrative approach - it's what I needed.

Of course eating good foods comes into play and she's got some great recipes from the Stupid Easy Paleo days.  Then this happened.  Baked egg cups with ham and green onions.  So yummy, a perfect breakfast bite!!

She is an inspiration and I love watching her lift with huge weights!    I don't plan on doing big lifts - it's just not for me, but I took a first step by purchasing my first kettleball.  Check her out, you won't be sorry!

Todays daily affirmation is: I will be my own amazing person and be enough for those around me. 

Beautycounter Update

I wanted to give an update on my Beautycounter tinted foundation experience.  The first day I used it, I took it off.   When you look at the ingredinet list - and if you know me - you know why.  There was a potential reaction to some of the ingredients.   I put it on, smelled it and thought - OH NO!  But I gave it a try anyway and so far I've not had blotchy red skin from the orange oil.   It could just be my skin issues, but when I just use this foundation, it dries quickly and looks like it's clogging my pores.   So I came up with a solution.

I use a base of coconut oil first, then I apply two fingers of foundation.  This way my skin is softened and after application, it looks smooth and with that little bit of tint that it needs!  I have freckles and sun spots, I have red marks from where I have to pluck hairs every day (thanks to PCOS), I have hairy cheeks and no I can't shave it unless i want to grow a beard (again, thanks PCOS).  I just need light coverage.  I am learning to live with my skin issues and I think I've found my solution with beauty counter.  I don't want to look like I've applied makeup with a paint brush. I'm a woman in her 40's and I'm not afraid to own up to that.

The end result?  I am very happy with my purchase!   It's not easy for me to drop $40+ on an unsure thing - but I'll be back for more!!  Next up may be the mascara. :)

Morning ramble over, now back to my prepwork for next weekend.  Enjoy!