Friday, August 31, 2018

End Chair Update All Finished

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I realized today that I am terrible about sharing project end results! Back in April, I posted about our End Chair Update and then I never took pictures and let you know how it all turned out. (I blame the fact that I basically take a deep breath and then dive into the next project, such as, I am now working on updating the guest bedroom and Mr. Awesome's office (photos may or may not be shared, LOL.))

Here it is all updated:



After
The acrylic wash helps define the lines.

The finish crazed in spots, which we weren't expecting, but kind of like. 
So, as you recall, here's the before photo:
Before - KSL Classified found chair

We bought the Valspar Chalk Paint, which we custom tinted in Sweet Slumber (it turned out paler than I expected, but we were trying to stay fairly neutral in the color). It took three coats (I was hoping for two and have noticed some other people have complained about poor coverage), then we did some sanding and I did a light wash with diluted dark brown acrylic paint that I would paint on and then wipe off to give it some patina and define the lines. We then topped it with the Valspar Sealing Wax. Since then, I've noticed some crazing in the finish (see picture), but since I was going for a distressed look, I was ok with that.  

We also painted the house (with the help of an amazing friend). We stayed pale neutral because the house doesn't get a lot of sunshine, especially in the winter. In the pictures it's a subtle difference, but for us it's a lot warmer and much more pleasant. 

And now so you can see how it looks in the room (see if you can notice the wall color difference too):
Yep, the lighting is terrible.

Still terrible lighting, but you get why I needed a warm paint color.


All updated.


What do you think? Was it worth the effort?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Healthier Plum Crumble

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Here in Utah many people enjoy gardening and those of us who don't often reap the bounty of their abundant produce. (Score for us!) When one of these gardening gurus gave us a bag full of plums I wanted to make a plum crumble, but we've been eating healthier, so I wanted to give it a healthy spin. So here's what we did...



Ingredients

1 c. oatmeal
1/4 c. flax seed, ground
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1/4 c. peanut or almond butter
1/4 c. honey
1 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
12 small or 6 large plums, sliced
1 T. cornstarch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease four ramekins
  3. Mix first seven ingredients
  4. Toss sliced plums in the cornstarch and put in the bottom of the ramekins. 
  5. Top with crumble topping
  6. Bake until filling is bubbling and thickened and the topping is crisp. 
  7. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt (not included in calorie count below) and enjoy. 


P.S. It was delicious. 
P.P.S. You can make this with most fruits. 
P.P.S.S. We ate it for breakfast. LOL.

Now calorically, of course you'd be better off eating an egg-white omelette, but compared to a traditional crumble you're doing great. Also, check out the percentage of you daily fiber - 26%(!) that's over a quarter of your daily requirement in a dessert! Plus, 9.2 grams of protein in a dessert is respectable, not to mention 20% of your iron requirement, and there's plenty of heart healthy fats in here. 




Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ogden Hikes

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Mr. Awesome & I love to get into nature and go hiking and one of our favorite things about living in Utah is the plethora of trails and vistas quickly accessible along the Wasatch Front. Salt Lake City gets most of the attention, as the largest community, but those of us who live north of Salt Lake City now have a backpack-sized book to draw hiking inspiration from. 

We love shopping local, so we were really excited when we were at our favorite local bookstore and came across this Ogden Area Outings Guide from the Sierra Club, which includes descriptions, map overviews, trail ratings, and usage for around 100 trails (I'm lazy and didn't count).


There is also some guideline information included about safety, needed equipment, climate, and plant and animal life in the area, as well as information about where to get more detailed maps.

Do you have a favorite trail guide? Let us know and then get out and get hiking! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Cauliflower Rice Paella

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All of us could use more vegetables in our life and cauliflower rice is a good way to do it, but once you've busted out a couple of cauliflower rice stir fries it's time to expand your repertoire and this quick and easy Cauliflower Rice Paella recipe does just that. 



Ingredients:

1 bag of riced cauliflower (or a head and you can make it yourself with a food processor)
1 t. paprika
1/2 c. boiling water
Pinch of saffron
1 t. chicken bouillon
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. frozen peas
2 oz Spanish chorizo, finely chopped
6 oz shrimp
Optional: 1 chicken breast, diced (We didn't include this, but a traditional paella would have more than two meats...of course, it would also be made with rice, lol.)
Oil for cooking



Directions:

1. Bring 1/2 c. water to a boil and add the chicken bouillon and a pinch of saffron to steep.
2. Prep the veg. 
3. Heat oil in pan, then sauté bell pepper, garlic, chorizo, paprika, and scallions together until parcooked then remove from heat and place in a bowl on the side. (Cook chicken in this step, if using.)
4. Add shrimp, peas, tomatoes, and cauliflower rice to the sauté pan with chicken bouillon/saffron water mixture and cook until just done. (Word of caution: cauliflower rice cooks really fast, so be careful not overcook or it will be mushy, which is no fun.)
5. Add back in the veg to combine and finish cooking, then serve.

Serves 2-4, depending on portion size.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Getting back into the groove

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At the beginning of the year we promised we would blog twice a week (I may have been the one who promised, Mr. Awesome might have said something like - 'Wait, what?'). And for a minute it happened, but then you know...life. 

We recently returned from an amazing trip to California to Sequoia National Park; Yosemite National Park; and the Rubicon Trail. We were humbled by the rugged natural beauty of these renowned spots as well as the kindness and generosity of the strangers who became friends that we ran the Rubicon trail with. It was a birthday and Independence Day celebration we'll never forget.  

The General Sherman in Sequoia National Park.

Looking down Yosemite Valley.

Heading along the Rubicon Trail. 

Now we're back and trying to remember how to do this whole "real life" thing. We are striving for more balance and creating a life we don't need a vacation from, so stay tuned for local Utah adventures. Plus, we're refocusing on healthy eating, so there should be healthy, veggie-centric recipes coming your way, like cauliflower rice paella that we're going to try tonight. And now that we've finished painting the main level of our house (with the incredible help of an awesome friend) maybe I will finally get some after pictures of the chairs we were refinishing


What are you doing to make the most of your summer? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Nifty Meiter Cut Tutorial

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There's been much radio silence on this blog the last few weeks and it's directly tied to the home improvement compulsion Mr. Awesome and I share. (We may need a self help group.)

I have truly wanted to share some stunning after pictures of the three home improvement projects we started a few weeks ago, but there are those niggly little details yet to be finished holding me up - a mirror anchor that isn't cooperating, hole plugs for the chairs that still need to be painted and glued on, a garage that can't be parked in. 

Until we get those wrapped up, I wanted to share this great resource I came across in for determining meiter cuts without losing your mind. 

We have a bay window with less than 90 degree angles. When I cut the baseboards in our kitchen, the odd angles were kicking my rear, so this time around I thought there had to be an easier way... and I was right. I followed this tutorial and got the cuts right the first time. (We were even able to return the extra length of baseboard we'd bought 'just in case'.) 



My thanks to the brilliant people at Fine Homebuilding for sharing this handy trick. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

And we're underway

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There's nothing like an out of town guest to spur you to action!

I realized today that I maintain 26 'To Do' lists (thanks to the organizational wizardry of Wunderlist) with a combined number of 'to do's" that nears 300 items, which rush for precedence like NASCAR racers in the final laps. 

When a dear friend announced he was coming into town and to our home for dinner, suddenly the unpainted dry wall patches and dated side chairs raced to the fore of projects that must be completed ASAP! 

So, we are now underway. We've narrowed our 50 wall paint sample chips down to three that we'll get test pots for. 
Who will be the winner of the paint race of 2018?

The first side chair is deconstructed and we've officially picked paint and upholstery. 


Our hope is to have the chairs done by the end of Memorial Day weekend. 

Wish us luck! 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Habit for a Happy Monday

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A while back I read a book that brought up the concept of your future self. The book explores willpower (it's an excellent book and I highly recommend it) and how sometimes we make these decisions that set our future selves up for failure, as if the bill that will come due isn't really going to impact us, our current self, and instead some stranger, our future self. This looks like not exercising today and instead eating a dozen donuts while promising that our future self will get out of bed at 5 am all week to go running. Or, not saving money because our future self will miraculously be rich and not impacted by the large credit card bill. 

Since reading this book, I've tried to remember to practice self care for my future self and one quick and easy change I've adopted in cleaning up my work space before clearing out of the office at the end of the week.

Monday is not generally a favorite day of the week and walking through the office door to a clean desk helps set the tone for a less stressful week. 


I keep eco-friendly wipes in my desk and I spend a few minutes each Friday stowing the clutter, recycling used notes, and wiping down my desk, computer, mouse, and phone, so when I return to work I come in to a clean environment - a little gift to my future self.

What five minute change have you made to take care of your future self? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Grilled Vegetable Salad

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It's officially Spring in Utah! Warm, beautiful sunshine, flowers blooming, green spreading up the Wasatch mountains like a slow rolling carpet, and time for grilling! This week's Saladganza recipe is a Grilled Vegetable Salad. It's quick, easy and healthy. 



Ingredients

Veggies for grilling: mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, bell pepper, onion (and though we forgot to add it, potato)
Italian dressing
Mixed greens
Strong, sharp cheddar
Black olives

Directions

1. Wash and prep the veg
2. Put the grilling veg in a plastic bag with the Italian dressing and let marinate for a while (at least 30 minutes)
3. Slice the olives and cheese
4. Grill the veg over a hot grill to desired doneness
5. Put it all together and devour. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

End Chair Update

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One of my favorite things is getting good quality items used and updating them. I love thrifting and online classifieds. About a year ago we got this matching pair of chairs from KSL

One of a pair of thrifted chairs with
good bones that need updating. www.alovedlivedlife.com

We were converting our dining room to a sitting room and needed some extra chairs. The plan was to update these once we had new dining chairs, which we just got. 

Ta Da...

One of the new dining chairs we'd like the thrifted chairs to coordinate with

The thrifted chairs will mostly live in the sitting room with the pictured grey ottoman, but they will also be at the dining table when we need extra seating. 

Decisions, decisions. 

It's a struggle to decide how neutral to go. Last year we parted with our mid-century modern matching chairs because we'd upholstered the sides with red fabric and had since moved away from that color scheme and, honestly, even that style. I don't want to spend the time updating these chairs only to say goodbye in a few years (I don't love redoing furniture enough for that). 

Despite that, we opted for the boldest of the fabric choices. After all, this chair will be easier to reupholster than repaint. Now to choose a paint color, what's your favorite? 

We chose a fabric, now to choose a paint color...

If you want to read about our last furniture update, you can check it out here

Stay tuned for pictures of how these chairs turn out. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Strawberry Radish Chicken Salad

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When you're out of lettuce why not try a lettuce-less salad. Here's a quick and easy salad pulled together featuring a few quick ingredients and starring leftover rotisserie chicken. Plus, it's only 210 calories according to MyFitnessPal


Ingredients: 


2 oz chicken breast
6 large strawberries
6 radishes
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 t. avocado oil
1 t. honey
salt and pepper

Directions: 


1. Quarter radishes and strawberries. Chop chicken. 
2. Mix vinegar, avocado oil, honey, salt and pepper. 
3. Toss together and enjoy. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Rotisserie Chicken Avocado Salad

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One of the things I love to do is make a salad with leftovers. Sometimes I even plan my meals to create salad friendly leftovers. Here's a quick and easy salad recipe to use up some leftover rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes. 



Ingredients: 


Organic baby herb salad mix
Roasted potatoes, cold
Rotisserie chicken breast, chopped 
Avocado, sliced
Salt & Pepper

Directions:


Throw some greens in a bowl or container. Chop up the chicken and veg and put it on top. Grind some salt and pepper over the top. You're ready to go. 

We didn't use any dressing, but a balsamic vinegar would be a tasty addition. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Saladaganza

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Lately, we've been salad obsessed. So, with summer coming and all of us hoping to be a little healthier, I thought we'd start a new series called - Saladaganza i.e. an extravaganza of salad. 

I'll share salad ideas regularly - check out the tag, saladaganza, to get them all. I didn't take a picture of my first salad (which is hard to believe, because normally I can't resist snapping a shot of good looking food), but here is our first saladaganza offering. 





Skewer Salad - perfect for summer!

Ingredients: 

Steak (cubed)
Mushrooms
Onion (one inch pieces or so)
Bell Pepper (also one inch pieces or so)
Baby lettuce
Blue cheese, crumbled
Carrots, sliced
Avocado
Beets, cooked, sliced (we like to buy the kind already prepped in the veg section)
Croutons (if you like)


Directions:

Put the steak, mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper on skewers and grill until done. 
Prep the rest of the veg.
Put it all together and drizzle with your favorite dressing. 
Devour and feel virtuous. 


Monday, March 26, 2018

Time

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Time has been a struggle at the Awesome household recently, as you might have noticed from the lack of blog posts. It makes me think about what a commodity time is. How much we value it or don't value it, always wanting to save time, but still wasting too much of it with needless worries or facebook status updates. 

There’s the time you wish would float on by, maybe even press the fast forward button on - let's just skip past the work week and get to the weekend! Or speed past the pain of the messy break up and get to the blush of new love. 

Then there’s the time you waste mindlessly, unable to recall where those lost hours went. How is it already 10:30?, seems a nightly refrain.

And there’s the time you wish you could freeze and savor, revisiting over and over again, maybe living eternally in those moments or skipping between them. Sitting on the beach, holding hands with your love. The triumph of graduation, or your first promotion. But maybe if you only existed in the sweetest moments they would lose their sweetness. 



We don’t get a choice about it either way. We must exist through all the moments, the lovely, the mundane, the tragic. All of it is impermanent. 

Time to Embrace all our moments. Less social media and more memories. Less lamenting the fact that it's been over a month since I blogged and more accepting my own humanity and limitations. Less worry about the ugly bits and more knowledge that some of our greatest lessons exist in them. 

Less and more. Are you with me?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Keeping it hygge

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Winter has decided to make an appearance in Utah after all; there's snow on the ground again and more to come. 

I had a last minute travel cancellation, in part, because of the weather. I found myself here with family when I expected to be gone, so last night we decided to make the most of it. 

We lit a candle on the kitchen table, pulled some steaks out of the freezer and opened a bottle of wine. This is an unexpected pleasure on a Wednesday night, but sometimes you need to celebrate the everyday. 

After dinner we retired to the living room in front of the fire where we read each other questions from Table Topics and had conversations ranging from 'which is better the beach or the mountains?' to 'self determination versus predestination'.

Sometimes when you're hanging out with family it can feel like there's nothing to talk about. Maybe it would just be easier to watch tv and zone out. But, if you're at a loss for topics of conversation (and don't get me wrong, silently reading or crafting is fine too) and want to connect with your loved one's there are options. 

To get the conversation started, consider: 
This website
This app
or 
This game

It was a lovely evening. 

How do you keep it hygge? 

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's ok to feel bad

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Earlier this week, we got some very unfortunate news and it's impacting all of us in the Awesome household. We are struggling with a new reality we never would have chosen - a new reality that sucks and carries with it the knowledge that things will get worse.  But then, no one ever would choose the bad would they? 

Rejection. Failure. Death or Sickness. These produce sadness, fear, anger, disappointment, frustration, and many other things. And that is ok. That is part of the human experience.

What makes hard things even harder is this misconception, reinforced in our society, that we need to be happy all the time. This mythology makes emotional honesty even harder. These are some of the responses I've received to this recent struggle. 

"Don't feel sad." 

"Well, it could be worse."

"It is what it is."

Silence. 

These responses make me feel invalidated, isolated, wrong in my struggle. We need to embrace our sad times and our sad selves. It is ok to have natural human emotions. Learning to be comfortable with unpleasant feelings isn't just good for you, it's good for those around you. If you can't exist with feelings of sadness, despair, desperation, how could you help a loved one when tragedy strikes? Because it will. Life is a constant flow of positive and negative experiences and we all die. The fact that we all die means that everyone's life will be touched by that loss. Will you be able to be there with a friend who's lost their parent or child? Will you be able to provide support as a loved one faces a debilitating illness, cancer, diabetes without minimizing their altered reality as they mourn the things they can no longer do and come to grips with the new rules of life? If you won't learn emotional resilience for yourself, and you definitely should, learn it for your loved one's so they don't feel abandoned just as they are feeling so many other hard things.

But how do you do this?

These are some of my favorite lessons from Harvard Medical School psychologist Susan David's powerful TED talk: 

"We own our emotions, they don't own us."

"Instead of I am angry, I am noticing I am feeling angry." 

"What is my emotion telling me? Which action will bring me towards my values? Which will take me away from my values? Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take values-connected steps."





Here are some ideas for identifying your emotions:

  1. Journal. Spend some time with yourself writing out what's happening and how you feel about it. Getting those emotions on paper (or virtual paper if you'd rather type) can build your emotional resilience and get the swirling maelstrom defined and out of your head and heart. 
  2. Mindfulness Meditation. Sit in a comfortable position and monitor your breath. As thoughts and emotions come up acknowledge them and release them. Some suggestions of how to do this - picture a river with the thoughts as leaves floating by on the current or picture a blue sky with the thoughts as clouds passing by. 
  3. Set Aside Time. Sometimes it feels if we open up to the sadness or other less pleasant emotions we will only feel this forever. But it's essential not to try to ignore our emotions, because they will find other ways to come out. Denying how you're feeling can end up looking like unhealthy self-soothing - binging on donuts, alcohol, pornography, etc. Designate time that is purely for feeling, sobbing into your pillow or the shoulder of a loved one, railing at the injustice, lamenting your loss. 

I hope you will take some time to build your emotional courage, for yourself, for your loved one's, for the world. I'd love to hear from you about time's when you have or times when you've struggled. Hard times and easy times, they are all part of a loved, lived life, after all. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pressure Cooker Kale Black Eyed Pea Soup

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Look at all those gorgeous vegetables, beans and kielbasa!
Pull out your pressure cooker for this quick, easy, and healthy Pressure Cooker Kale Black Eyed Pea Soup. It'll be on the table in 30 minutes or so, including prep time making it a great weeknight dinner! Since the kale is cooked in the broth, all of the micro-nutrients are maintained, making this a very healthy and hearty soup indeed. When I made this soup for the family, used a quart of turkey stock from the freezer made after Thanksgiving with the carcass and trimmings of the turkey we smoked. It had an incredibly delicious smokiness that complimented the kielbasa wonderfully. If you have the chance to smoke a turkey, I highly recommend it! I also challenge you the next time you roast or buy a roasted chicken from the store, try your hand at making your own stock from scratch! 

Recently I was asked the difference between "stock" and "broth." As we wander the aisles of the grocery store, both are on the shelf and what's the difference? I had to think way back to my culinary school days, turning it over in my mind and finally I remembered. Stock is an ingredient, used to make a finished product. A broth is a finished product that is ready to be served. So, when you are making chicken noodle soup, you use chicken stock to make it. The stock becomes the broth of the soup when it is incorporated with the vegetables, noodles, chicken herbs and spices. By in large, it's a matter of semantics, and the products in the store are interchangeable, but if you're using the language of chefs and food service professionals, stock is stock and broth is broth. Now you know! Without further ado, here's the recipe for this easy and delicious soup for you to try tonight!

Quick and Easy Kale Black Eyed Pea Soup 
Serves 4-6 
Ingredients:
4 c. chicken or turkey stock or broth
1 c. dry black eyed peas
3/4 c. carrot, chopped
3/4 c. onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, rough chopped
1 package kielbasa, cut in one inch slices
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Place first four ingredients in pressure cooker, pressure cook high 20 minutes. Release pressure, add kale and kielbasa. Pressure cook high 5 minutes. Check beans and kale, cook longer if necessary- (ours were a little overdone at 30 minutes, oops). Adjust salt and pepper. Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pantry Granola Bars Part 2

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This is a continuation of my Pantry Granola Bar post. I finally used up the cacao nibs and chia seeds. I want to buy some more cacao nibs, though, those things are delicious in granola bars!

I think the great thing about this approach is it gives you an idea of the different kinds of things you can add into granola bars. Some say this is the wave of the future for cooking - instead of recipes, there are just ingredient ideas and you make up your own thing. This is my third effort making granola bars without measuring anything and each one has turned out great. 

Doing some quick research on the ingredients I used for these bars, these are huge with fiber and loaded with magnesium, manganese, and other minerals. Quinoa and cacao nibs have tons of iron. The cinnamon, tart cherries, and oatmeal are antioxidants to help keep you cancer free, plus cinnamon, chia seeds, and many of the other ingredients help with blood sugar regulation. 


Ingredient ideas:

Dry:
Rolled oats
Chia seeds
Cacao nibs
Walnuts
Tart cherries
Quinoa

Wet:
Honey sunflower butter
Maple syrup
Cinnamon

Directions:

I followed the same approach as last time - add wet to dry and mix, put into a jelly roll pan lined with parchment, bake at 350F for 20 minutes. This time we cut them while they were still warm and that helped get a uniform shape and was a lot easier. 


More variations: 


  1. If you want soft and chewy granola bars, then try the following: Toast the oats and nuts before adding the liquid in, chill in the fridge until set, cut and wrap individually. They will be gooey and delicious. You can cut them and eat as is. They might be a bit sticky.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Pressure Cooker Italian beef

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Join the cult of the electric pressure cooker! Some trends are worth following, we assure you. Electric Pressure Cookers, most people have InstaPot, but we bucked that trend and went with a Fagor, make quick easy work of tough cuts of meat. How can you go wrong? Here's a quick Pressure Cooker Italian Beef recipe we whipped up. It's easy to remember too, as each ingredient is measured in one's. 




Ingredients 

1 onion rough chopped
1 lb stew meat
Olive oil
1 c red wine
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 c carrots, chopped
1 T flour
1 t fennel
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t beef bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste


Directions

Sear and sauté onion and beef in your pressure cooker in some olive oil. Once it has some color, sprinkle in flour and brown a bit.  Add 1 t. fennel and brown. Deglaze bottom with red wine. Add remaining ingredients. Set to high pressure and cook for 13 minutes.

Serve over polenta, pasta, or potatoes. We're big fans of Lidia's Polenta recipe - it always turns out great. 



You can take the leftover polenta and the pressure cooker beef and make this Pan-Fried Polenta with Kale and Chickpeas, too (though we sauteed everything instead of baking the kale in the oven). 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bacon and Beer Braised Brussel Sprout Recipe

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Brussel sprouts... as a kid those words struck terror into my heart. Little cabbage-like veggies, steamed or boiled until they were a flavorless, mushy facsimile of their former selves. Most people, when offered brussel sprouts feel a similar cold chill course through them. In my opinion, there are no bad vegetables, only bad preparation. So let me tell you, there is hope! These brussel sprouts are deliciously sauteed and caramelized and with the hint of smokiness from the bacon and the flavor of malt and hop coming from the beer- pan braising them leaves them perfectly cooked without becoming mushy. As you explore cooking, I encourage you to think in flavors- if you want to bring up more of the smokiness, used smoked salt, or a dash or two of liquid smoke. Love garlic? Add more. It's your dish, go make it!

Bacon and Beer Braised Brussel Sprouts (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb fresh Brussel Sprouts, rinsed and any bruised outer leaves removed
1 12 oz. lager or ale- no porters or stouts... I usually use a lager
salt & pepper to taste

Preparation: 

Trim stem end of brussel sprouts and cut in half lengthwise from stem to top. In a large skillet or saute pan, fry the bacon until crisp, remove from pan and add the onion and garlic. Saute for a minute and then add the brussel sprouts. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to sear and caramelize the sprouts. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper and the beer. Simmer uncovered over medium heat to reduce the beer until it has nearly fully evaporated and has become a glaze, about 15 minutes. Check seasoning and adjust. Crumble bacon, stir into pan just before serving. Bon Apetit!


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Pantry granola bars

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January is ticking right along. How are you doing on your resolutions and intentions for the New Year? One of my goals for the month, based on my budget and the idea of simplifying, is using up ingredients in my pantry and freezer. Food waste is something I can't stand, so when a friend of mine shared the 2018 Pantry Challenge from a vlogger she likes we jumped on board. 




Our Pantry Granola Bar "recipe" made 22 crunchy, lightly sweet granola bars. If you think about the cost of many granola bars at the store, this saves quite a bit of money, and you are cleaning out your pantry and preventing food waste. Things to consider including, flax, chia, any nuts you have, dried berries or fruit, quinoa, oats or other grains you can eat dry; for the liquid a variety of syrups, nut butters, coconut oil, etc, will work. I still have chia seeds and cacao nibs left, so I will share our next creation in another post. 


Pantry ingredients:

Pumpkin seeds (two mostly used bags)
Poppy seeds
Pecans
Chia seeds
Cacao nibs
Sesame seeds
Oats
Honey sunflower butter
Honey
Cinnamon
Maple syrup

Basic ratios:
6 cups of dry ingredients; 1 cup liquid/fat


Directions:


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another 
  3. Add wet to dry.
  4. Grease a jelly roll pan or put parchment paper down
  5. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes
  6. Slice into granola bar size and put into containers, so you can grab and go. 


You can google granola bar recipes, many of them are no bake (who knew), if you need more definitive ratios and instructions, but I say, get creative and trust your gut. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Living Hygge- Make it part of your life and thank me later.

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     Hygge (pronounced Hu-guh) is suddenly all the rage and unlike most things that lose their relevancy in a short time (I'm looking at you, barn doors, gray walls and ship lap), this Danish import I hope is here to stay.  Hygge, is about comfort and coziness. Sitting on the couch, the fire in the fireplace, candles lit on the mantle and relaxing music playing in the background. No television, no computer, just Mrs. Awesome, our dorkie dog Ngila (she's Dachshund and Yorkshire Terrier), me, books, a puzzle or coloring books. Making the time to just unplug and mindfully practice hygge has been remarkable in just how relaxing and calming it is after a busy day. 
     
     The beauty of hygge is its simplicity. You likely have everything you need already. Check out more about it here. We've been incorporating Hygge into our every day lives since before Christmastime, cooking together, enjoying a cup of tea on our kitchen bench, doing yoga or just watching the sunset or the snow fall. We also devote a few nights each week to hygge, making dinner together and eating with a candle burning on the table, then spending time in the living room together as we relax and embrace the mindset of comfort and coziness.

     In the few months since we began practicing hygge, I've come to realize a few things. 

     Firstly, I love the time I get to spend with Mrs. Awesome, just relaxing and hanging out. Sharing a cup of tea or mulled wine, or reading and talking is so much more enjoyable then any show or movie. Ever. We share the experience and that's special. 


     Secondly, without the television demanding my attention, I can truly relax and enjoy being present and mindful of my surroundings and live consciously. Mrs. Awesome here beside me, the fireplace crackling, soft music in the background, my hand knit wool socks, the book in my hand, petting our dog as she snuggles in the gap between us.

     I've also learned that the more we practice hygge, embracing comfort and coziness, the more I look for opportunities to practice it. Last Monday we hiked a section of the mountains near our home. It was snowy on the trail and it took a couple of hours to get in about 4 miles, but it was incredibly beautiful. Ngila hiked with us for the first time and we saw a cow moose and her yearling calf. As we headed home from the cold hike I looked forward to the sausages and sauerkraut we'd put in the slow cooker earlier in the day, homemade bread and we'd invited a friend to join us for dinner. We talked and laughed and enjoyed the meal and afterwards sat around the table and put together a couple puzzles. What a great day, and I know there are many more to come.


     Here's something else I've come to understand. Life is busy- but being busy isn't what this one wild and precious life was meant for. The time we take to take care of ourselves, deepen our relationships with loved ones and friends, and sharing quality time together making memories- that, in my opinion is perhaps the best way to spend our limited free time and make a loved lived life. I encourage you to try to incorporate some hygge into your life and see if it doesn't make a difference!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tangerine Mindfulness

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Mr. Awesome and I recently started listening to The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. As if to illustrate how far away I am from a robust mindfulness practice, I initially downloaded the book so I could listen to it while I was working on some rather tedious work. One of the first chapters of the book is about washing the dishes. Do you wash the dishes to have clean dishes, thinking of more pleasurable activities that await once you finish the task, or do you wash the dishes to wash the dishes? Whoops.

Later, he relays an experience eating tangerines under a tree with someone he knows. His companion is eating his tangerine, talking of plans and the future. He puts a piece of tangerine in his mouth and immediately tears off another piece of tangerine to have at the ready. Thich Nhat Hanh tells him that he ought to eat the piece of tangerine that he has already taken. Basically, enjoy what you have, be present with it, savor it, don't fast forward through it in preparation of the next thing. 

So here is a reminder to me and all of us: