• Risk & Regrets

    This post is in response to the following writing prompt: It was Erica Jong that said, “If you don’t risk anything, you risk more.”

    There are so many times in life that we have to take a leap of faith and build our wings on the way down (a quote attributed to an unknown source).  Of course, staying exactly where we are and never taking a risk feels safe.  It feels like the easiest thing to do.  All these questions pop in to our heads such as, “Will I have traded the devil for the witch?” or “Will I regret it?” or “Will I be indelibly changed after this experience?” And the big one, “What if I fail?”  Of course, what if you did?  Life unfolds exactly as it is supposed to.  Do you actually regret any of the decisions you have made that allowed you to move in a different direction?

    Regret is a funny word though.  I think we all have a few regrets.  There are certain things I’ve done or said that I dearly wish I could take back.  Yes, they have allowed me to eventually grow as a person.  Yes, they have given me the opportunity for introspection and the ability to see what I need to work on.  But I think so many people out there that say they have no regrets don’t mean it in this sense. I think what they actually mean is that they don’t regret the risks they have taken.  The biggest things I have ever been scared about the possibilities of, when it felt like I was risking everything are as follows:

    • Changing schools
    • Extracting toxic relationships from my life
    • Changing to a better job
    • Trying to have a baby
    • Getting married
    • Publishing blog posts

    Do I regret any of these decisions?  No.  Did they all feel risky? Yes.  But risk is a sign that you are pushing the boundary on life; that you are leering over the event horizon of possibility.  And as we all well know, once this new universe is glimpsed, it’s impossible to pretend we didn’t see it.  It tantalizes. 

    Read more

  • The Itchy Sweater

    Microfiction by Emily Ness

    He knew he should not have come to the Fun Cupid speed-dating event. The steam heater overcompensates for the damp chill that clings to the cold metal of the streetlamps and decaying piles of leaves outside. The building smells like stale cigarette smoke despite the wood-paneled bar being smoke free for more than six years years. The torrid air engulfs his neck where his red sweater meets it. He begins scratching there, grasping his sweater due to the irritation, and looking around anxiously, as though to escape from the trap he has willfully ensnared himself in. 

    He will receive a card from the potential dates at the conclusion if they are interested.  The bell clangs and his first match-up settles across from his station. She has gray, baggy tights and her vacant eyes flit nervously. She loves crafting and says, “No way” for every thing she cannot comprehend.

    He falls in love with the next one. Her brunette hair is trimmed in a clever bob and her slim fingers, topped with a cranberry-colored polish, dance along the hem of her skirt forever seeking, perfecting, smoothing. He imagines them polishing the silverware and urgently unbuttoning his shirt after the work day and efficiently securing the diaper of their baby. 

    Read more

  • Meditation: The Basics

    When kids are behaving badly, we tend to give them a timeout.  This is usually because they become so wrapped up or fixated on one thing that their emotion or upset feeling takes over every interaction they have.  This emotion that takes over is often anger, greed, frustration, or distress.  While they sit in timeout, they remove themselves from the rest of the world and have a chance to reflect, rest, and realize that the emotion they were painting on to every interaction they had might be kind of silly.  And how do they emerge after some minutes?  They are usually calmer, more focused, and ready to start their next activity with a fresh outlook.  This is essentially meditation.

    For the longest time, I didn’t really “get” what meditation was.  After years of doing yoga, the idea of what it meant began to grow organically through my practice.  It’s essentially a self-imposed timeout.  It’s a chance to withdraw from the world and get a sense for what is going on within us by observing ourselves.  It’s an opportunity to see what emotion or thought is arresting our attention.  Most people will avoid observing themselves by any means necessary.  This is often done under a veil of busyness which seems to be a badge of honor in our society.  But by actively not thinking about anything or distracting ourselves with the external, we somehow find solutions to our problems.  It’s almost like a way to push a vehicle off the rutted path that is only getting more treacherously deep with each passing.  In this case, the ruts are our thinking patterns.

    You know how sometimes you feel like you totally know something, a simple fact, but the harder you think about it, the more quickly it wriggles away?  Then, when you stop thinking about it, you randomly yell out the answer?  That is sort of like meditation.  By forgetting what you are trying to solve, answers suddenly crystallize.

    Read more

  • Clarified Butter Recipe

    I am posting this recipe for clarified butter because I will reference clarified butter as an ingredient a number of times in my recipes.  Using saturated fat for cooking at high heats is something I’m passionate about for health reasons based on biochemistry.  I have put something of an introduction to that subject at the end of this post.  Those of you who just want the recipe for clarified butter (also called drawn butter) don’t need to read on if you’re not interested.  I’ll expand that introduction in to a much more thorough post in the near future.

    Butter is made up of three components: butterfat, moisture (water) and milk solids.  It is essentially a highly concentrated form of milk made by churning cream or milk.  The milk can come from any mammal but we most commonly use the milk from cows.  Butter is generally used as a spread but can also be used for cooking to impart a rich flavor and irreplicable mouth-feel.  The only problem with using it for cooking is that butter has a very low smoke point (around 325F).  The smoke point is basically the point at which the fat begins to break down and no longer tastes or smells good and becomes unhealthy due to oxidation.  We don’t want that!  And so, we make clarified butter which removes the moisture and milk solids and leaves behind the pure butterfat.  It has a smoke point of nearly 500F.  Prepare for your kitchens to smell divine, people!

    To make clarified butter, you will need high quality, high butterfat content unsalted butter.  When you make the clarified butter, the total volume of butter is going to decrease by about 25% so keep that in mind.  It’s an animal product, so consider the welfare of the animal from which you are making it.  This is another reason to buy high quality butter from a reputable source.

     

     

     

     

     Cut the butter in to cubes and put it in to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a very low heat until it’s melted.

     

     

     

     

     
    Let the butter simmer gently until foam begins to rise to the top.  The foam is the water content boiling off and the white residue is the milk solids in the butter. Read more

  • Rose Petal Bath

    If you want to feel luxurious or create a romantic feeling, try making a rejuvenating rose bath.  Go ahead and have your own little American Beauty moment 😉 You will need the following ingredients:

    Rose essential oil: 10-20 drops
    1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
    1/4 cup rose water
    1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
    1 large handful of rose petals (the more petals, the more lovely the bath is)

    To make the bath, fill the tub and then drizzle the rose and almond oils in to the water.  Most rose essential oil is sold blended with jojoba oil, so put in about 20 drops to fragrance the water appropriately.  I’ve also discovered palmarosa oil which can be obtained from Mountain Rose Herbs pretty inexpensively and has a similar rose scent.   Then add the rose water and vinegar and gently drop in the rose petals.

    Read more

  • Accutane

    I am listing Accutane under the “Beauty” tab but the path to considering it and doing it is anything but beautiful!  If this is a post you care to read about, let me offer you my greatest sympathies for what I know has been an endless and frustrating struggle with bad skin.  While I am generally all about anything natural, I did a four-month treatment with Accutane for acne and it is an extremely powerful and effective drug.  It was grueling at the time but now, nearly two years since my treatment, I don’t regret my choice.

    Read more

  • Cold Showers for Health

    Cold showers have a number of health and beauty benefits.  It may sound daunting at first, but give it a try and I think you will learn to love them.  The various benefits of a cold shower are listed below:

    • Increases immunity– It contracts the muscles to help eliminate toxins, much the way a massage would do.
    • Stimulates the nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic)-  The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes the body’s resources under stress, whereas the parasympathetic nervous system aids in the control of most of the body’s organs. Due to the sympathetic stimulation, there is some evidence that cold showers can help control panic, anxiety and depression.  And it stimulates the parasympathetic system by flushing the organs and bringing a fresh supply of blood.
    • Increases circulation– The cold response brings blood to the capillaries and stimulates the lymphatic fluid which is vital to the immune system.  The response is similar to dry body brushing.  I have found it also makes the body less sensitive to changes in temperature.  Paradoxically, this is especially helpful during the wintertime to help one deal better with cold temperatures.
    • Burns fat – According to Timothy Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body, cold stimulates the body to to produce BAT, or the type of fat that is referred to as “fat-burning fat.”   He says there are at least two types of fat: white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT).  Essentially, what little brown fat we have (BAT) takes calories from normal (WAT) fat and burns it.  Cold showers help to increase the amount of BAT available.  In doing so, this “fat-burning fat” burns regular fat and glucose as heat.
    • Increases overall well-being and energy– After a cold shower, you will feel energized and invigorated.  Remember that lovely feeling you get after diving in to a cool body of water?  Ya, it’s just like that!
    • Makes legs ultra smooth– If you shave while you’re cold, the goosebumps cause the hair to stand on end and stick out farther than they normally would.  That way, when your goosebumps retreat, you hair is removed from below your skin surface and they feel ultra-smooth for 2 days.  I discovered this when I used to shave at the end of my dock during Minnesota summers!
    • Makes hair shiny and closes pores– Cold water closes the cuticle of the hair and makes the hair stronger while preventing dirt from accumulating on the shaft of the hair.

    I have found that the best way to get the benefit of a cold shower is to simply turn the water cold at the end of the shower for the last 3 minutes or so.  I usually like to keep the water warm until after I rinse out my shampoo.  Then I turn it cold and step under to douse myself.  I leave it cold while I shave and condition my hair.  I rinse my conditioner out with cold water.

    Read more

  • Holiday Hangover

    a haiku

    Garish winter sun,
    Tattered holiday decor;
    Resolute nothings

  • Fried Egg & Avocado Breakfast Sandwich

    This is true comfort food!  This recipe for a fried egg sandwich is so incredibly simple that I’m sure most people don’t need a recipe, per se, but it is more of a reminder that this perfect breakfast exists!  You will need the following for one sandwich:

    • 1 egg (Try to find eggs from a local, pastured source.)
    • 1 English muffin (Whole-grain is best.  Central Market in Houston makes some really good ones.)
    • ¼ avocado, thinly sliced
    • 1 slice white cheddar
    • Dash of hot sauce (I love Tejas Tears, but Cholula or whatever you like works)
    • 1 tablespoon caramelized onions (optional)

    Turn the oven to broil and begin toasting the English muffin.  Fry the egg slightly over-hard in a little bit of clarified butter.  Salt and pepper them.  Once the English muffin has popped up, place the fried egg on the base of the English muffin.  Add the caramelized onion.  Top with one slice of cheddar and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble.  Remove from the oven and top with sliced avocado and hot sauce.  A little bit of very thinly sliced fresh jalapeno is also wonderful if  you have it. Read more

  • Define Your Character Through Your Habits

    “Habits are cobwebs at first, cables at last.” ~Chinese proverb

    I know, I know…resolutions and habits are a bit cliché for me to blog about on the second of January.  But I’m not proposing you instantly apply this to your New Year’s resolution.  I feel like the time after the holidays is a really difficult time to implement a resolution, which is essentially a habit we’re trying to get in to or out of.  We’re exhausted and hungover from the madness and it’s almost a cop-out to convince yourself that now is the time in your life for a change.  Of course you can’t go like you did last month all year long!

    I like to use these first few weeks of the New Year to just kind of  mentally rest and catch up on sleep and decide what is important in my life.  Which is why I took a couple more days off from work and am writing this post from a coffee shop 😀  I like to decide which direction I’m steering my ship and more importantly, WHY am I steering it there?  Do you feel fat and decide your resolution is to go to the gym? Maybe re-frame and ask what you are seeking…is it health, confidence, pride, energy?

    Read more