Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sifting Through Life: Here and There



Today has been a day of restlessness and anxiety for me (I started writing this back on February 4th it will all tie together towards the end).  I have been quiet on my page because we have been making some big changes in our lives. Honestly I  feel as though I am in a time warp that keeps looping around and around.

Here we go again....heading back to Oregon.

Moving..on the go..off to the races.

This decision has not been an easy one to make because we love the east coast. We love Maryland.  We have felt that this is our home.  We also feel the tug of our families on the west coast as they tackle some big issues with their health.

The hardest thing has been to not be there with my extended family because I am here.  Here in a state I love but not there with people I love more.  My brother-n-law is due to have open heart surgery tomorrow morning.  He is only 53 years old.  ONLY--my GOD that is young.  I am 6 years away from that age myself.  Life has the ability to make you see clearer when tragedy is knocking at your door.

The doctors don't know if he will make it or not (he made it just fine and is recovering well) .  We don't know anything really of our futures do we?  I called my sister today to see how they are holding up and she said it is a surreal experience.  She is going through the motions but not really feeling anything because she can't believe it is happening to her in the first place.  They never saw this coming.  Mike has been strong as an ox his whole life.  Walks every day. Doesn't drink or smoke.  They have had to put their affairs in order and plan for what will be either an altered future or a funeral.

He has two choices: he will live or he will die.  Two choices that we all have as we stare into our own futures.  Well, I have decided that I don't want to be 3000 miles away from my family.  They need us and we need them.  So tomorrow I will wait here in Maryland and plan my trip to help Shannon (I leave on March 2nd) there in Oregon when this is all over.  Mike's recovery will be about 3 months.

I have eaten everything in sight.  I told Shannon that my goal this week has been to not eat so much that I can't leave my house.  We had a good laugh and she said that was her goal too.  I have tried really hard to get back to eating the right way--I promise.

You see, this is just one change we are dealing with.  The other two changes are weighing heavily on my heart.  We are moving and this requires a lot of work.  Work that I don't look forward to doing because we are moving to an unknown area and will figure it out when we get there.  Doesn't that sound fun?  Ha--it could be worse though.  The second thing are our older kids.  We are at a place in our lives when our big kids are ready to leave our home.

I am not ready for this.  I'm not.  I want them to stay.  I don't want them to stay behind BUT then I do.  I am so selfish in my thinking because I just need one more year.  One more year for what?  Being a Mom is so hard.  I have these two little kids at home and in a way I am here and there.  I see that the time goes by so fast. I want them to grow up to be there, like their older siblings, but I want them to stay here--with me.  I need their hugs and simple I love you's!

I recently read an article that the author was quoted as saying that we die a hundred times in our lifetime.  I was intrigued and decided to click and read.  It talked about how the people we are now are not the people we were when we turned 18, 28 or 40.  Those people are gone....dead.  Our bodies are here in the now but our minds, our actions, our desires, and our plans have changed or completed there cycle.  How many times in our life time do we start over?  Start something new and finish it only to start something new again.   We are essentially here and then we are there.  It all happens so fast.

For this reason I have been in deep thought this past month.  I tell you having a large age gap between your kids is a blessing and a curse..seriously I am laughing...but not.   As my older kids age and make their own decisions I really do scratch my head because most of their decisions are nothing like what I saw for them in the future. With the two little kids I kind of get a do-over, right? I don't think so!  If it was only this easy. Everything I thought I knew has been tossed out the window for raising our second two.  Ask Rye, she will already tell you that we parent different today than we did when she was much younger.

 My four kids are four unique individuals that require different elements in their lives.  I am learning and seeing that I am more of a trail guide as they travel through this life instead of their trail blazer--so to speak--cutting through the brush and finding new territory.  That is their job. I can warn them, instruct them and even hand them a band-aide if necessary, but they are the ones walking here and now.

I am starting to understand  that no matter how much time and effort you put into raising your kids they will grow up and make their own decisions.   It doesn't matter that sacrifices were made, hours were devoted to dinners, vacations, and birthdays or that we spent every waking hour reading and learning in the hopes that they would grow up to be responsible, reliable, loving, caring, and nurturing individuals---and they have---only they are making their own life choices.  That is the hard part.  Letting go of my desires that I had for my kids and letting them live theirs.

I found a box of baby pictures while packing this past week and I was immediately transported from here to there.  It was only yesterday that I received my hand written Mother's Day cards, a list of my favorites things to do according to my kids (Favorite Country to visit:  The China Buffet....I laughed for years over that one), and I was reminded of so many fond memories.  My heart exploded.

I knew the day would come when I would be here.  Facing the fact that our lives will run its course: family will have health issues, we will age, my kids will leave our home and we will eventually move again--we always do.

Dammit,  sometimes I want to still be there--holding my babies, laughing with my Dad, vacationing with friends.   It has taken some will power this past month to be strong for our family.  To be supportive, smile and offer advice (when asked--important note with teenagers) but inside,  I am silently hugging my inner self and reassuring that this is life.   I have shed a few tears of joy and some of sadness.  I need to stay present and enjoy every minute that I have with this sweet family of mine.   As we celebrated Valentine's Day all I could think of is, "we won't all be together next year--that sucks."  I need to stay here and not already wish my life was there--I really do.  Its been challenging--I won't lie and I guess that is why I have been quiet on the blog.

Now you know.  Would I change a thing?  NO WAY!  I realized that allowing myself to go "there" once in a while is okay.  It reminds me of how far I have come to get HERE.  Will I return?  Yes--I usually do-- but staying present most of the time has been such a rewarding experience for me. I just get overwhelmed sometimes and slip back into old habits.

To keep my mind from exploding I have decided to start drawing again.  This is something that I have enjoyed off and on in my life time.  It centers me to work with the colors.  Holding the pencils are calming. Blending the colors are rewarding.  I enjoy watercolor and oil but I have fallen in love with colored pencils.  I am teaching myself along the way using what I have learned from other methods.   I share my progress on my Instagram account if you want to follow along.   When we finally get settled in Oregon I hope to spend some time photographing more pieces of fruits, flowers, butterflies and vegetables.  I have shared a few pieces here.

Sorry this Sifting Through Life is all over the place. I guess it is where I am currently in my life--all over the place.  I have many recipes to share and I will get them up on the blog soon--but first I need to take care of my family and their needs.  One thing I am learning is that the blog can wait but my family will quickly get from here to there in a blink of an eye and I must hold onto every second.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cooking From Scratch


Cooking from scratch means different things to different people.  I know some families that make a cake with a box mix and then add the eggs, milk and butter. This is cooking from scratch to them.  It is making something in their kitchens.

To me, making it completely from scratch, is a bit more refined than that.  I don't care if you use a box, can or bag to make your meals but I do believe that when we use simple ingredients with single items we have more control over our food and menus.

When I use a box, can or prepackaged food item I read and reread the labels.  At first glance I can tell if I will even give this product the time of day.   If the ingredient list is more than 3 or 4 lines I don't buy it.  I don't even bother to read the ingredients.  I do this because I want food that is "added to" with as little possible ingredients as possible.  I want food to be minimally processed or not processed at all.

Sometimes I can't avoid it though and I am left buying something bagged, canned or packaged.  I don't freak out about this and make a big deal about it.  I do my homework and try to buy the best possible fit for my family.

Single ingredients are what I hope to spend my hard earned cash on.  I want to control how my food is put together.  This is why I cook from scratch.  I want complete control over how much sugar, salt, oil, flavor, and spice go into our meals.  Call me a control freak if you must but this control has led us to living a more balanced life and a healthier and more fit lifestyle.

Diabetes is an illness that runs rampant in my family.  It is a disease that I have watched my grandmother and mother battle.  It is something that I don't want my kids to have to watch or be a part of.  For this reason I have taken measures to eat as little processed food as possible.  I cut out almost all refined sugars from our diets.

I know when my blood sugar is off.   I think to myself,  how can a person live this way?  I feel terrible, sick and out of sorts.  I immediately reflect on what I have eaten and try to improve and refine my diet even more so.  My Mom was with me last year and we ate real food.  We checked her blood sugar levels every day.  She could not believe how low they were.  She was eating  home cooked meals with natural sugars, a little bit of salt.  Meals made with single ingredients and with as little processed food as possible.


Do I believe cooking from scratch has healthy benefits?  You bet I do.  I know that this way of cooking won't prevent diabetes or any other illness in some people but I do believe it can help many many lives.

Cooking from scratch is personal to me because it has given me hope that I won't fall into the family health plan of getting some of the more dominant issues in our family tree.  It is worth it to me to try and stay as healthy as possible for the sake of my kids.

Oh I know it takes time.  Preach that to the choir.  Time is relevant when your health is at stake or you are overweight.  Make the time.  Find the time.  Create the time.  I am just as busy as anyone else.  I still manage to make almost all of our meals from scratch.


HOW?

1.  Make easy meals.  DUH?  I used to think that every meal had to be this gourmet production.  It doesn't.  My kids would prefer to eat the same thing twice a week instead of seeing me wig out because this or that dish did not turn out.  Keep it simple.

2.  Make a menu.  Yes, take a few minutes to write down your ideas of what you want to make.  This will help you make time to make real food.

3.  Involve your family.  Kids love to cook.  Believe it or not, husbands, can shop too.  My husband will often go to the grocery store for us.  Does he buy exactly what I need...not always.  I don't care though.  The fact that he went is HUGE in my book.

4.  Start reading food labels.  Educate yourself on what you are consuming. If this doesn't scare the shit out of you then I don't know what will.  Discover what kinds of dyes, preservatives, artificial flavorings, etc...the list is a mile long of reasons why you should care what you are eating when you buy something processed.

5.  Decide to do it and just do it.  Nike had it right.  Just do it.  Take baby steps. Figure out how to make breakfast from scratch: eggs, oatmeal, homemade pancakes or waffles, hash browns.  Focus on one area first and then when you become comfortable try lunches.  Lunches are the easiest because you can use leftovers from dinner.  Dinners take more planning but they can also be made with time saving kitchen gadgets like: Crock Pots, Vitamix's and pressure canners.


These five suggestions can help you get started.  Teaching you how to incorporate cooking from scratch and using simple single ingredient foods when planning your meals at home.  If I wasn't a beneficiary of this method of cooking and seeing first hand how it has helped our family I might be more passive about discussing this way of life.

People talk about passions and this is one of mine:  Eat real food made from single ingredients as often as possible.  Know your food.  Shop local.  Visit the farms in your area.  Know those that cut your meat and sort your produce. Engage in your meals. Involve your family.

Get in the kitchen and start cooking from scratch.

Simple?  Maybe.  Manageable?  YES!

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sifting Through Life: Do You Hear Yourself?

On Monday Isabella and I went bowling.  We had a day off from school-- but you know as homeschoolers we really don't "take" days off--life is our school room and everyday is a chance to learn something new.

The difference for us is that everyone else in our area had the day off too.  This created a chaotic environment in the bowling center.  Isabella has planned her 8th Birthday to be held at this particular facility and we needed to pay the deposit.  I sent Cory and Isabella on their way to pay the fee.  Well, she came home determined that she needed to go bowling TODAY...or on Monday rather.
Cory mentioned that he was going out to change the oil in our car and he could drop us off.  This was a great idea and it worked out marvelously.  I was surprised that we were able to get a lane. The parking lot was packed and as soon as we walked through the doors the volume must have increased by 100 decibels. It was loud.  Very very loud as you can only imagine with 24 lanes filled to capacity with bowlers; of which, most were under the age of 10.

I haven't bowled in a few years because my shoulder gives me issues after the fact.  I chose a light weight ball and we did our best.  We only had two instances of the ball being released in the wrong direction.  Isabella struggled to find a way for her to release the ball with her arm going in a forward motion.  Her arms wanted to go sideways and almost every ball she threw for the first game got caught between the bumper and the lane.  Yes, you read that right....between the bumper rail and the next lane.  I was actually quite impressed.  By the second game she figured out the best way for her to throw the ball.  She did try the granny throw but felt too childish.  I believe she was determined to master the spin and the throw.  I think she left a happy kid.

Cory was still out having the oil changed when we found ourselves waiting to be picked up. We headed to the food center for a snack.  Isabella wanted a large pretzel.  This is where things get interesting for us. We sat next to a family of four.  A mom, dad and two little girls.  I would guess their ages to be 4 and 8. Old enough to know a few things but still young enough to be learning and making a few mistakes.  After all, they are kids.  RIGHT?

The mother never shut up.  Never stopped bullying these poor kids.  She was relentless with her disapproval of every action they did.  The dad sat there and didn't say a single word.  He let this mother talk terribly to his children.  Here is my issue with this.  All of our kids act up and need to be reigned in.  I get that. Heck even some adults need a few warnings to keep them in line once in a while.

We watched and listened.  I felt this woman needed a warning.  She was out of control with her mouth.  In a public place she was acting worse than her children.  She was talking way too loud in some feeble attempt to gain the sympathy of other parents sitting around her.  In reality she was making a fool of herself.

I looked over at Isabella and watched with curiosity as she watched this family with alarm.  I should have said, Don't stare, but that is exactly what this woman wanted; the attention of all the innocent bystanders in the snack bar to watch her over-reacting and attempting to be a good parent.

I wanted to jump up and say to her, "Do you hear yourself?  Do you have one nice thing to say to your kids?  Can you just shut the F@#K up already?"

I didn't though but I sure wanted too. My empathy buttons were being pushed to the max as I saw the fallen faces of her small children and witnessed their deflated body language from such a public display. This whole thing made me stop and think about my own parenting style.  It is far from perfect and has evolved over the years to be a bit care free.  I think the more kids we have the less structured and rigid I have become.

With this said though, I still have my moments of when I am tired and stressed.  I get edgy.  I react.  I need a warning shot issued in my direction to reign in my behavior. I need to stop and recalibrate my inner self. I need to recenter my actions and behavior.

By witnessing her behavior it allowed me  to be more conscious of my own actions, words and parenting moments.

Cory called and we were soon back in the quiet of our own car. I asked Isabella what she thought of the mother talking to her kids.  She said one word:  LOUD.

I sat in the car on our way home and thought to myself.  Maybe that woman was having a moment.  Maybe she was in a stressful relationship.  Maybe she was having a bad day.  One bad day out of many good days and I saw her at one of her worst days.  Maybe, just maybe, she needed to stop, take a deep breath and check herself.

If she had taken a few minutes to listen to herself and listen to the hurtful words that she was saying to her oldest daughter--mind you who was around 7-8 years old--she may have been able to control her behavior and find a few nice things to say or say nothing at all.

Then, I think, maybe that was her behaving better and that makes me think in a  whole different line of thinking.  If she acts like this in public then how much worse and louder she must be at home?

I felt sorry for these little kids all over again.  I hugged Isabella when I got home and said what a lovely time we had together.

By my listening to another woman's reaction and discussion it allowed me to be more mindful of my own words and actions to others, especially those that I profess to love the most: my family.

Take a few minutes each day and be mindful of the way you talk to people.  Do you need to change your attitude?  Possibly change your view?  Redirect her anxiety to something else?

Remember that someone is usually listening and watching.  Even in the confines of our own homes we have little eyes and ears watching our every movement and listening to each word we say.

I believe that we have control over what we say and do. Our minds cannot do anything unless we tell it to do it and say it.   We might need to rethink our thoughts, our actions and affections.  We might need to listen to our own voice and hear the words we are saying.  Are they kind, loving and inspiring?  If they are not then only WE have the power to change this.

I now find myself listening to myself talk to other people more and more.  It is a good thing.  I am aware of what I am saying and how I say it.

Are you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Steak Pinwheels


Have you heard there is a football game right around the corner?  I hear it's kind of a big deal to football fans.  Okay, it's the game of all games if you are a football fan, especially if your team is on the game roster to play.

Our team is not this year.  The Ravens surprised us though by making it to the playoffs and then they really surprised us when they won the first game over the Wild Card weekend.

Win or lose we are still fans.  We knew that they would need a few years to rebuild after losing so many key players after winning the Super Bowl.  Our family channels all of our team spirit into the teams that are left.

Hey, we are Raven fans but at the end of the day we are football fans too.  We just love a good game.  We love cheering for a team.  Our hopes were dashed when Denver was chased out of town a few weekends ago but now we have moved onto Seattle.

We lived in Seattle for a few years and our families are deeply rooted in the Northwest area.  If it didn't rain so much we might still live there.

Here is a simple appetizer that can be made the day before any event.  It doesn't have to be a football game.  I recommend they sit in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours before being served.  They hold together much better this way.  The pinwheels can be filled with any type of meat, any type of cheese, and you can use any type of wrapper.  These are flour. Honestly they wrap the easiest with flour tortilla but if you have food restrictions then use what falls into your dietary needs.

Horseradish Cream is easy to make too.  I love this cream served on these pinwheels but I also like it on red meat, baked potatoes and sweet potato fries. Horseradish is one of my all time favorite condiments.

Steak Pinwheels

4 large tortilla wraps (flour, rice flour, Paleo, etc...will work)
8 slices of roast beef or turkey
8 slices of thin swiss cheese
4-6 spears of asparagus, steamed until tender
1 bunch of chives, cut into inch pieces (garnish)
horseradish cream
mayonnaise

1.  The night before, lay out tortillas and layer the cheese and meat.  Place an asparagus spear on one end and start to roll the tortilla until a tube is formed. Wrap the tortilla tube in plastic wrap and let sit for 4-6 hours. Overnight is best.

2.  When ready to serve, remove from fridge and cut into 1 inch thick slices. Spread out on a plate.

3.  In a small bowl combine the horseradish cream and mayonnaise.  This is a taste as you go condiment.  Add more or less of what you want.  In a plastic baggie or piping bag add the sauce.  Snip the corner of the baggie and zigzag the cream across the tops of the pinwheels.  Lay a chive piece across the top. See picture above.

NOTE:  If you wish to add the cream sauce to the inside of the tortilla wrapper you may but the cream sauce will need to be made before the pinwheels.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Curry Chicken Salad



Here we are already, the middle of January.  Our year is already off to a start with time running a race that is still 11 months away until we see the finish line. We have had a chilling month so far.  I have felt a little house bound as the temperatures in Maryland are in the teens at night and the mid to low 30's in the afternoons.  We even had a few days with the  high temperatures struggling to reach 21 degrees.  OUCH--that is way too cold for me to be outside with the little kids.

We have spent our time indoors catching up on some reading.  I decided to read a few books that my daughter read for one of her college literature classes.  So far I am on book three of five.  I have read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.   I just started reading And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. The books haven't been what I would call light reading.  I find joy in reading books that are not necessarily in my wheel house of what I would normally choose.  These books are challenging me to think from different perspectives and giving me a glimpse into the lives of those that are less fortunate, struggling to find their place in this world, and trying to be the best person that their circumstances have allowed them in their lifetime.  I believe this is a great way to spend my time indoors.  I have also found time to knit and work on a few quilts.


I am proud of Isabella.  Over Christmas break the whole "I want to read a book" ignited within her little soul.  She has struggled to consider herself a reader because she finds certain sound combinations hard to pronounce and has been wary of reading on her own.  The first time she picked up a book and decided to read it herself almost brought a tear to my eye. I was sitting in the living room reading my book and she walked to our school bookshelf and pulled out a Toad and Frog book.  She spent the entire day reading the whole thing!  It was over 100 pages.  From that day forward she has proclaimed to all of us that she LOVES TO READ.  As a parent this is music to my ears and as her teacher my heart melted.  I knew of her struggle to want to read and how hard we worked on her vocabulary, blends and sounds and her struggle to read each day.  To see her find joy in reading has been so inspiring to me.


There is not a day that goes by that she does not say how much she loves to learn and that she loves school.  

I hear her reading everything now.  I hear the pride in her voice as she finally understands that to read and write, though challenging to learn at first, will open doors for her future and allow her to see a broader picture of the world she lives in.  We had a talk the other day about how fortunate and lucky she is to live during a time when she can learn to read and how empowering knowledge is as she moves forward with her life.  

Well, that is how we have been spending our time during this cold January in our home.  I have managed to make a few things that I think are worthy to post on the blog.  One of which is this Curry Chicken Salad.  I love chicken salad and my family loves curry. Combining the two isn't anything new in the culinary field but for our family it has been a great addition to our lunch menu.   

Thanks for reading and following along.

Have a great day!


Curry Chicken Salad
3-4 cups of cooked chicken pieces (about 3 chicken breast)
2 ribs of celery, sliced thin
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1-2 Tablespoons of yellow curry
1/2 cup whole cashews
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise
squeeze of half a lemon

NOTE:  You really need to adjust the seasonings to what you and your family enjoy.  We like this salad to be made with lots of curry and creamy with extra mayonnaise.  Adjust the measurements accordingly.

1.  Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

2.  Serve with crackers, on a sandwich, or with lettuce boats.  My kids also like this served with rice.  I personally like the salad warmed up a bit.


 Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sifting Through Life: Being Something


To become something you must first become nothing. In nothingness will you find the will and drive to do something and eventually, becoming something if not the nothing, keeps us moving forward.

It is a vicious cycle of chasing our tails. We want to be and then we don't.  We want to do and then we stop.  Our goals change and shift until we become stagnant and lithless.  We struggle to find peace and balance only to discover that we flourish in chaos and adventure.   

Our attempt to walk the tight rope that connects our sanity to the insanity becomes thin and wayward.  We move in the wind to find our balance and then shift our feet to continue in one direction or the next.  Which direction we are walking in is only beholden to those who are watching.  We don't see within ourselves the way of our world.  Our senses are in turmoil as we try to navigate this thin line under the weight of our consciousness.

Crazy is a state of mind that requires work and effort.  It is lazy then to want to be anything but mad and driven by the chase of reality.  Listening to the voice that constantly tells us to be something but realizing that it is easier to be nothing.

I am reminded that I need to constantly hold a vigil within my inner self to keep my mind open and moving.  I cannot stop or try to understand the restlessness that drives my thoughts.  I must be open to the flow of energy that keeps me grounded.  

To reflect on the past only causes the demon within to rise to the challenge of finding the thrill in a world of nothingness driving me deeper within myself until there is nothing left.  

Fighting the whole time to stay above the thunder of my own souls screams as it agonizes and tries to define who the real person is that drives this body, mind and soul.  

Seeking for serenity has become a challenge that is met with resistance and failure.  Looking for something to help me out of this feeling of nothingness is a greater challenge than anyone can imagine.  

Finding a balance and being perched in the middle is the safest place to be but this idleness leads to its own sense of insanity.  Repetition and doing the same things over and over are mind numbing.   Change is what keeps the fire flame alive.  When the wind blows it ignites the coals.  When it stops they die.  


Changing something will allow us to channel our way out of nothing.  In my nothingness I am reminded that, to others, it is something.

Looking into my eyes is not the same as seeing my view from behind the two brown eyes that guide my vision in this life.  I am not on the inside who I appear to be on the outside.  

Therefore two people must reside inside this earthly body.  One to be seen by others and one to be seen by only me.  Together we fight this battle and struggle to stay balanced and centered.

It is a dance of passions, wills and desires combined with responsibility and need.  Twirling in rhythm with a song that plays the same tune over and over. Will the song change the dancer over time or will the dancer make the song new again?  

Do I believe I am crazy?  Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I want to be crazy so that I can be nothing.  The reality is that I am not and, for this reason, I must do something.  The fact that I recognize that I am not crazy or insane allows me to become what ever I want to become without fear of being nothing.

Rattling on and on about something, when in reality, this is nothing but the idle thoughts of a Mom who spends too much time washing dishes and changing diapers.  

This drive to do something keeps me from the fountain of nothing.  I can't help the fact that I am driven to do.  To be.  To want.  To desire.  With this desire comes errors and confusion.   Choices and decisions.  Failures and triumphs.

So be something already. 

Anything. 

Or... be content to do nothing.

In what ever the decision love, acceptance and happiness must be present.   I look at my so called day of nothing and realize that I did something.  I fed my family.  I cleaned our home.  I exercised.  I did some writing.  I taught Isabella.  I read to Finnley.

I did a bunch of little things that add up to something.

When the lens is turned, my nothing, is in reality....something. My perspective changed.  Oh what a difference it makes when we see the little things in life and realize that our nothingness is something after all.












Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sifting Through Life: Eat Real Food



I am having a bit of a go at it lately with the blog. I can't seem to find the time to maintain everything that is required to keep Simply Gourmet relevant in the realm of social media and this huge ocean that is known as the cyber universe.

Yep--I am having to revaluate myself once again. I guess it is because I am frustrated with myself. My blog has been a huge part of my life for the past 3 years.  I have sank hours upon hours of my time into creating recipes and sharing my thoughts and insight. This last year I have struggled to find a place where I fit in and I believe this has been some of my problem.  I lost my purpose for the blog.  I have decided that I don't want to fit in. I want to be different and this past year I have worked really hard on accepting me for who I am and all of my differences.  This new year I will be putting more focus on just being me and nobody else.

I tried the gluten free route because I had to, the Paleo route because I felt so much better, the grain free route because it was easier to say grain free instead of Paleo...blah blah blah.... to the point that I don't want to do any of this anymore.  Not because I don't love writing for the blog but because I do. My love for this venue has made me take a break this past month and think about where I see it going in the future.  I love what I create for the blog and I won't limit myself into one label anymore.  If the truth be told, I am lots of labels: quilter, photographer, thinker, knitter, hiker, camper, wife, Mom, student, teacher, lover, home cook, etc...

The bottom line is that I don't care how anyone eats. This might sound harsh. Not because I am rude or mean but because it shouldn't matter to me what you eat.  I don't care if you eat only Spam for every meal for the rest of your life.  I don't have any deep desire to change the world and teach any one person or groups of people how they should eat.  I simply could care less if our egos want us to attach labels to ourselves to define how we eat.  Why do we care what YOU eat? Why should we be concerned or offended because you don't eat meat, or you only eat meat, or you don't eat grains, or....aaaahhhhh...EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT TO EAT!


I choose to eat what makes me feel good and healthy. Eating certain foods makes me ill and their are probably certain foods that make you ill too.  I do believe there is a time and place to let others know of your food limitations but I don't want it to be the one area of my life that people use to judge me.  I see it in peoples face when I say, "Paleo or Gluten Free".  They think they know me because of how I eat.  It's crazy!  We should eat what we want and not feel like we have to justify why we are eating a certain way. This last year I found myself explaining to complete strangers why I don't eat bananas.  I walked away feeling bad that I don't eat bananas; yet I also know that if I do eat a banana I get sick--what is wrong with this picture?   I cook what I believe to be the best for my family.  I eat what I like and sometimes I even eat what I don't like because my options are small.  You should do the same.

From hear on out I will be focusing on the importance of eating and using real food.  I eat real food.  Do I eat Paleo? Yes, most of the time.  Do I eat grain free or gluten free?  Yes.  Do I make food that includes wheat for my family?  YES.  I eat real food. I make real food.  I want to cook with single ingredients to make wonderful meals for my family. I don't use a lot of packaged products.  This is what we are trying to avoid as a family.

What is real food?  That is up to you to decide for you and your family. For my family I see this as cooking from scratch as often as possible, doing my best to use local and fresh ingredients, and staying away from as much processed food as possible. You will have your own definition of what real food is and I am completely okay with that. Our differences are what keep us grounded and the world rotating.

I use fresh ingredients to make food that taste great for my family.  I share those ideas and what my inspiration for the recipes are on my blog.   In past blog updates I have talked about where that inspiration comes from: other blogs, cookbooks, TV shows, my brain, family recipes, but mostly, my own brain.

I go into the kitchen and see what I have and then decide what to make. On a good week I will make a menu. I buy according to the menu items listed but I can honestly say that only half of those things get made.  Routines in the kitchen are very mundane to me.  I like to create new foods.  Is there anything new left out there is the question?  Maybe and maybe not.  

Here's the deal for my blog.  I offer inspiration to people who are looking for ways to cook real food.  I believe my audience wants to return to a way of cooking that uses good ingredients to make simple and, at times, gourmet dishes.  Gourmet does not mean lengthy and time consuming recipes.  In my opinion, it means great flavor.  Great presentation.  A sense of love, effort and some amount of time (for certain recipes) have been poured into a recipe for you to share with family and friends.

Along with cooking and sharing recipes, I also enjoy sharing my thoughts on how I spend my time thinking and rejuvenating myself and family.  I think that eating real food is only part of the key to success with our health.  Our minds and bodies deserve that same attention our bellies do. With this thought I have continued the Sifting Through Life segments on the blog.   I get some of the best feedback from my readers and this makes me happy to know that we are resonating on the same level.

Wellness is a whole package.  I will be updating a few things over the next few weeks to better reflect the whole food or eat real food concept for the blog.

How does this affect you, my readers, in how we interact with each other?  I hope not a whole lot.  My only desire this year is that I would get more feed back and interaction with you. I really like suggestions and feedback.  It helps me to improve on the recipes and to see if I am going in the right direction.  I will continue to label my recipes with certain words to help you find those recipes on my blog: paleo, grain free or gluten free. I won't limit myself though to only preparing meals in one category.  I am trying to bring back the joy and excitement that encouraged me to start this blog in the first place.


You need to know how YOU should eat.  I look at hundreds of recipes a month for the shear enjoyment that I love recipes.  I enjoy the science behind why some things work and why some ingredients don't work well together.  This does not deny me of any of the foods that I love and need to stay healthy.  Learning to see a recipe and convert it to your way of eating is up to YOU, not me.  Not anyone actually.  It is very easy to look at just Paleo if that is all you eat, but I don't.  I don't think my readers do either.  I think we are a huge group of like minded people who eat in a variety of degrees when it comes to lifestyles and diets.

Honestly, I don't like the word diet.  The other day Cory and I went out with a group of friends and the first thing everyone did (without thinking) was acknowledge the way that we eat:  gluten free, grain free, paleo or pescetarian.

I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want the style of how  I eat to define who I am other than to say: I eat real food.  I eat what is good for ME.  I eat to provide my body with the energy it needs to stay active.

Learning your body and how foods affect your system can only be done by you.  I will mention that you won't find any recipes that include bananas or bell peppers on my blog.  WHY?  Because these are two of the things that make me the most ill; along with pork, most beef, yeast, refined sugar, tomatoes, eggplant, lunch meat, most grains, dairy, etc....the list is long...BUT, if you like these ingredients then add them or swap them out--make the recipe your own.  Don't be afraid to take chances in the kitchen.

To add more stress to the scenario, Finnley is very intolerant to all dairy.  ALL DAIRY!  ARGH.  My poor baby has suffered for a year with the dairy choices we gave to her because we believed that she should have dairy in her diet. It made her cry constantly.  She was the fussiest baby on the planet.  She didn't sleep through the night for more than a few days until a month ago when we totally took out all dairy--all: cheese, yogurt, milk, whey and most processed food.  To say she is a completely different child is an understatement.  She is happy, sleeps through the night and hasn't had a rash, along with bouts of diarrhea, for a month.  I didn't know what to do and realized what we were dealing with after some inner prompting and follow through.

With this in mind though, I still look at recipes with dairy or pork or beef or bell peppers.  I still read those recipes,  but I make the necessary adjustments that are needed for our family.  Almost anything in a recipe can be replaced with a substitute.  I did say almost.

This is how I would like for you to approach my blog.  You will see a recipe and some of the things in the recipe you may like or dislike, be able to eat or not eat OR you might like it just the way it is.  If you make changes or need help converting it to somethings else please leave a comment and I will try to guide you in your eating lifestyle with suggesting some substitutions.

I am looking forward to sharing with you a variety of recipes over the next year. I have a stack of recipes that I have been working on and the pictures in this post are just a few.  I have tried to stick to a schedule and post regularly but I am not sure that I will be able to maintain that this year.  Life is crazy and with four kids (two of which are graduating this spring and going to University in the fall), homeschooling Isabella and dealing with a very active one year old, when it is all said and done,  I am only one person with great attempts at juggling everything in my life.  I don't want to drop the ball but sometimes I do.  So about that schedule thing--I bet it will be sporadic at best.

I love this little place that I have created on Simply Gourmet and don't want to give it up.   I appreciate your patience, feedback and friendship as we take this journey of eating real food together.

Thanks for listening and understanding, possibly relating to a few words that I mentioned above, but mostly, just thanks!

Sherron

ps:  It looks like I have labeled myself once again with the term "real food".  I believe this relates more to my family's way of eating; the cycle starts again.

LOL  #can'tescapelabels #eatrealfood



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