summer

Introduction To Juicing

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Okay, I’m sure by this point, you know all about juicing, right? I mean it’s everywhere, and just about everyone has done it. But in case you haven’t known if you should jump in, I have a few notes and introductory how-to’s to get you started. Read the rest of this entry »

If You Are What You Eat…

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Wine and Bread

guac

….then I want to be a giant bowl of guac.

I am a huge complainer when it comes to buying store-made guacamole. WHY?! Why would you do that to yourself. Guacamole has to be one of the easiest and most delicious favors you can do for yourself.

Cilantro is a controversy in our home – unfortunately. I can’t get enough of it, I could eat it on anything, but Phil doesn’t share my feelings. I can’t really grasp how it’s possible for a person to not enjoy it as much as me, but I have had to come to terms with the fact that he doesn’t. (Don’t worry all you cilantro lovers, I still have hope)

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Just Dill With It, Okay?

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Man, I just love dill. When I worked at a wedding venue I had the pleasure of assisting in some of the catering preparation and we made these delightful cucumber canapes, which featured an absolutely insane dill spread. It was there that my love for dill was birthed and I have never looked back. It’s such an underrated herb; with such a light taste that can accent or star as the main seasoning. It leaves your mouth tasting fresh and your stomach feeling like whatever you just ate must have been healthy for you. What a hidden gem. One of my staples in cooking, no matter the occasion, or time of the day, it is always appropriate to dash (or splash) some dill on, making every main entree a starlet, in the limelight of glory, just waiting to be devoured.

Well I’ve been wondering lately, is it really the dill that I love so much, or is it perhaps that I have found something I like and am using it in excess in hopes of everything will be just as good as those canapes. I have known myself to do this at times. To find something that I love so much, and then ruthlessly push myself into perfectionism trying to make all of my 7 or so years of cooking (or learning to cook) add up to my teacher’s more than twenty. It’s so challenging sometimes to see the end result, to know what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like, and yet not have the experience to make that ideal thing belong to me.

It’s like how you can go have a lunch (or go to a marriage conference) with an older couple who have years and years of experiences, memories, doing it right and wrong, and ultimately who have put time and patience into their relationship, and now are seeing the fruit of that. They have a great relationship. And you go home, and have to deal with still having crap in your own relationship and life. Hearing women talk about how they’ve dealt with some really difficult challenges, and how they came out the other side victorious, and really wanting to do the same thing, but just not bring at that place yet… well that can just really suck.

Phil and I had the same sort of thing happen to us. We heard all of this information of how to work through your problems, how wonderful it was to be in a marriage with a man who loves you and a woman who loves you, and basically seeing the “light” (so to speak) at the end of the tunnel of what an amazing marriage could look like – and then we came back to reality, and honest to God tried to apply everything that we had learned and really wanted to work through in a mature, loving, patient and kind manner.

Well THAT sure didn’t work.

We still had the exact same problems, if not a few more stirred up. And we went through an entire week of bickering at each other, pushing out every kind of negativity you probably could imagine, and ultimately being just so confused that it was happening, because we really thought we were going to do so good. And I suppose it wasn’t that we were doing bad, but gathering all of that stuff together and trying to make six months into twenty years in a day just does not happen. And that is so frustrating. Why can I just not be perfect, already?! Why is that I know that I’m just word vomiting all over him, and I know it’s wrong and I know what I’m supposed to be doing but I can just not seem to get a handle on myself.

After a long week of feeling distant from each other, seriously irritated with each other, and more short tempered than we had ever been, we decided to go for a drive. He just picked a direction and drove, and it was on a long road going to nowhere we came to peace with each other and the fact that we just are, where we are. And trying to get anywhere that fast wasn’t going to work for either of us. Really it’s trying to cheat the system. It’s wanting to get to the end without doing half of the work.

So we looked at each other, forgave one another (and ourselves) and released each other to just take our time in getting to twenty years. And since then, our home has been at peace. Dealing with it doesn’t always necessarily mean taking all of your issues and shoving them down each others throats (okay, it never means that), but sometimes it means accepting life for what it is, imperfect and sometimes a little rocky. Sometimes I mix weird things with dill that don’t taste good, and the only thing I can do afterwards is suck up my pride, let go of the expectation that I set on myself to be perfect at everything, and live life a little better. Turns out, it’s much better.

Anna’s Crispy Baked Dill Drumsticks

However Many Drumsticks You Want
Whatever Herbs You Want
Some Oil
Some Salt (I Used Garlic Salt)

So you preheat the oven to 425 degrees (Fahrenheit) and try to separate the chicken skin from the meat
and stuff your herbs in there. I used fresh basil, thyme, and of course dill. Bake it for like 22 minutes and turn them over,
and bake for another 25 minutes or so.

Anna’s Homemade Chips

I Used 4 Medium Red Potatoes and 1 Sweet Potato
Some Oil
Some Coarse Sea Salt
Some Dried Dill
Some Garlic Salt
Just A Little Cayenne Pepper

These can be baked at the same time and temperature as the drumsticks.I sliced them thinly,
and put them on oiled foil, in a single layer with no overlaps. I turned them over when the first timer
for the chicken went off. But they came out a little before the second timer, it just really depends
on how you like your chips. I put them in a bowl lined in paper towels and added the salt, cayenne, and dill just gradually,
and gave them a nice shake to evenly coat them. But you can add whatever you like.

Time For A Tea-Off

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There is something so romantic about summer. The heat, the food and drinks, the sundresses,  the stars seem brighter, lakes are warm, garden vegetables rule the kitchen counter, beer is colder, hot dogs become a staple and America itself takes on another form. Now of course everyone will complain about how excruciating the sun is in the later months, but we all know we love it. Everyone looks better tan and fit, let’s be honest. I think it kind of becomes the standard for other seasons, because not that we’re actually better looking… but because we FEEL like we are.

Oh it’s a strange phenomenon, and I have tried to explain it many a’time only to get bewildered and suspicious looks from my sweet fellow.
“No Phil, I KNOW my legs are thin but today I FEEL like they are… I know I’m pretty but right now I just FEEL pretty.”

Anybody out there know what I’m talking about?

And for me the biggest season of self-appreciation is the warmest season, the time and place to wear clothes that flatter my figure and promise to not make me look bulky.

This could explain why ladies tan year round, because our teeth are three shades whiter, our legs look less flabby (we’ve ALL got a little flab here and there), our hair gets those cute streaks in it and well… the world is brought back to a good place.

And I’d say one of the biggest stars of summer is iced tea for sure. This guy is really popular no matter the weather outside, especially in the south is this particular beverage high on the drink-all-the-time list. I don’t really care for the iced tea you get from most restaurants, I find it to be way too sweet and one of the reasons we Americans have lost our sense of  proper sugar intake, leading of course to obesity/diabetes and many other horrible and dangerous diseases – but that’s not the point of this blog-

We have had a jug of iced tea sitting on our fridge for a good couple of months now, in fact we had two before I insisted in throwing out ONE of the expired gallons. How is it possible that we could let something sit and sit and get pretty smelly, and not dispose of  it in the plastic container not even three feet away?!

It’s crazy to think that there could be such a big issue so close to us, and how long we let it fester and build up bacteria until we do something about it.

I mean, how many times have I done the exact same thing with psychological or spiritual issues. Like a blog post ago, when I was talking about bitterness… and that just has to be one of the most rotten things around, how it literally does rot your body… cancer, osteoporosis, tooth decay… they all come from extended forms of bitterness. Ew, rght? Assuming that your body is like your figurative house, then that would make your heart your fridge, and that bitterness is that jug of rotting sweet tea. Maybe seeming harmless at first, I mean everybody lets food sit for too long sometimes, everyone does a little judging sometimes, everybody gets upset sometimes, and it seems that it’s usually because we feel mistreated. Like someone or something is imposing on our rights.
We are HUGE about having all these rights; we have the right to do what we want, when we want, how we want, with who we want, and we can say what we want to whomever, whenever, in whatever manner we care to. I know it probably sounds like I’m exaggerating a little but I find that the majority of arguments in my relationships are over an expectation that has been broken, a standard that I set up in my head that the other person didn’t know anything about, and as a result I’m upset that I’m getting something other than what I bargained for. Something less, at that. Someone is cheating me out of what is rightfully mine, and I am just appalled they have the nerve to even TRY to pull a fast one on me. Now I am generalizing a little because obviously people aren’t that petty.

(……..)

Can we throw the tea out, already? Make a different kind, maybe? Can we possibly take that rot… look at it for what it is, and dispose of it. Because whether it’s iced tea or bitterness, it’s stinking up your house and heart. Everybody who walks near can smell it, and maybe they want to be polite and leave you to your own trash… but they know it’s there. Have you encountered someone with bitterness? It just reeks off of them doesn’t it? Everything they say and do is covered with negativity and a bad attitude. What’s worse is that, iced tea doesn’t care if he’s gross and making your beautiful home smell like a dumpster, it’s not HIS house so why should it matter to him? And bitterness, why should bitterness care if you’re miserable, huh? It’s not his bones that are rotting, it’s not his body that is in pain and infectious.

And I’m not one to say that this is a simple or an easy thing, no matter what anyone might think. That tea is still in my fridge for one reason or another. Whether it’s just lack of motivation to keep my kitchen sanitary, maybe it’s me avoiding the issues in my house… but at some point, I’m going to have to dump that tea out. And it will smell wretched, and it might clog my sink, but thankfully I know that tea will not have the best of me. I will not go down as the one who let the tea sit out too long. And you shouldn’t be either.

There’s an expression, or quote, or I heard it somewhere one time… that if you’re not helping the world become a better place then you’re helping it become a worse one? Those words have always made me feel like crap, like I had to go save a puppy from one of those shelter commercials or I wasn’t doing my part as a decent human being. Well I don’t know if it’s all as intense as that, and I have to keep reminding myself that maybe me making the world better is merely forgiving my sister for that one thing she did that one time a billion years ago when we were kids, or not getting offended and thinking my friend hates me when she gives me some well-needed fashion advice. And I guess I would just say the same thing to you, that the next time you make your iced tea, you think better thoughts… you speak more love to the people around you, you forgive faster and you clean house a little more often. I promise it will be worth it.

 

Anna’s Mango, Basil, Mint Iced Tea

Very Ripe Mango
Handful of Basil
Handful of Mint
Couple Spoons of Brown Sugar
Little Splash of Bourbon or Whiskey

I pureed my mango, then added the herbs and blended them all,
but it would be MUCH better to crush the herbs and grind them down first.
Brew whatever kind of tea you’d like,
I use black tea. Add the puree and sugar to tea and give it a nice stir.
Add bourbon to your own taste and put in a TON of ice.

-I’m sure you all know how to make decent tea.

Life In The Flax Lane

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Eating Healthy. Well it just sucks half the time doesn’t it? With bikini season coming up, I have started to become all-too aware of the little edges of my body that need fine tuning. Who even started the bikini fad anyhow? I know several women who aren’t too keen on getting body parts waxed every three weeks JUST to not have stubble in places that shouldn’t be looked at that close anyhow! And yet on every social media account I have there is a wave of treadmills, workout ponytails, and headphone selfies to drive any woman mad with panic. Beach season is a HUGE season for jealousy and competition with women. Who has the cuter clothes, who looks better in shorter dresses, who has the most perfect pictures with their tanned and 6-packed boyfriends, who has the skimpier (but she can get away with it) 2-piece…. it makes me feel like I’m watching the “pizza and beer” scene from Miss Congeniality all over again. And ironically, those happen to be two of my most beloved food groups.

So I hope I don’t seem rude or come across as inconsiderate, but I think the whole thing is a bunch of bologna (there’s a pun to be found in there somewhere). I think that there is a craze, and the need to be thin, tan, beautiful, and charming with a mint mojito in my hand is a bit ridiculous. Maybe this isn’t a real thing anymore and maybe girls don’t think this every time they step on a scale, but I know the last time I stared at myself in the mirror, this is what I felt… so if there’s just one other girl in the world who feels like I do – sister, I’ve got your back. And I think this is a really dumb problem, because I would really love to enjoy my summer and not worry about if the little dimples in my legs. And yes, although I thought my mom was lying to make me feel better, we do all get those dimples at some point.

Okay, so here’s where I’m going. I think that we are missing the point. Girls, it’s not hard to find a blog or a t-shirt, or a Twitter site or a Facebook post nowadays that doesn’t affirm us as beautiful, individual, independent and unique human beings, but out of all of those words… how many do we believe. Well, I guess I’ll speak for myself, how many do I believe. Do I really think that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, for that matter do I even know what that means?! I know that if I sit in church and listen to my Pastor talk about the heart of a woman, how special we are, how needed we are, then I walk away with a little bounce in my step and feeling like the world is my oyster.

But… when I look at myself and wish my boobs were bigger, or that my hair would be either be straight OR curly but cut it out on being both, when I reject what I see and wish I had something else… I’m calling God a liar. And I’m saying that what He made isn’t good enough, and I want to change it, I want it bigger, or smaller, or thinner, or plumper… I want to be a different me. If you created a person, if you put time and effort and sweat and blood* into this person, put your dreams and hopes and desires and made them so special, and then watched them turn around and look at you and say,
“I’m sorry, I know you made this but it just isn’t good enough.”
Well, how would you feel.

Not to get super serious, or make this a downer, but honestly can we all agree that if you believe you were made in the image of God, that MAYBE you should just chill out a little? Now this doesn’t go to say that if you are unhealthy or drinking ten shots of tequila every night that you should be surprised to see a little extra baggage, and in such case some exercise would be advised. But my point is, we’re looking at it all wrong! We should be loving ourselves first! And then looking at the areas of our lives that need work. Because even if it couldn’t hurt for me to lose a couple pounds, if I hate myself… it’s gonna take a whole lot longer. And feeling happy releases chemicals in your body which speed up your metabolism. It’s science. Boom.

I think the focus should stop being on the external and start (or keep on) being on the internal. And when I stand before myself in the mirror, accepting myself for everything that I am, and am not. Be flirty with yourself every once in awhile. It may feel really silly to wink at yourself or admire that little thing you got going on there, but do it!

Life IS actually really short, and I want to say and do things that matter. And also one more thought, that girl who was sitting next to you who kiiinnnnddd of gave you a dirty look so you gave her one back and now you two are on the fast track for mutual evaluation and annihilation, why not practice something different. I have found that the first look you give to someone is very important, and if you smile at someone, chances are, they’re gonna smile back. I mean seriously girls, it’s really easy for us all to be friends, and who really cares about the guy who designed your purse anyway.

*I don’t actually know if God has sweat or blood. But if He does, I’m sure it smells of mahogany and pine trees… His sweat that is, I don’t think His blood would smell like anything. That would be weird. Unless it does…. Eh… I’ll just leave that up to you to decide.