Watermelon Surprise

Watermelon Surprise

Watermelon Surprise

This! I am currently a couple weeks out from delivering and have this thing for watermelon.  After finishing my walk this morning it was all I could think about.  Its packed with goodness and so yummy!

1 Scoop Strawberry Shakeology

1 Cup of Milk of your choice

Frozen Watermelon Chunks

A couple drops of Almond Extract

Water to thickness preference

Blend and Enjoy!

Heart of the Home

Heart of the Home

Why am I doing all of this anyways?

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The house is clean, the windows are open letting a breeze of fresh air in, the little one is down for a nap and it is silent. I breathe in these moments. Little pauses of reprieve. And though sometimes I feel like life may make me crazy, I would not like to live in this state of rest as a constant. Because loud sounds of laughter and endless needs mean I have loved ones to care for. Dishes mean I’ve had good meals to share. Toys around mean I have been blessed with children about. Some would ask why bother cleaning when its going to be messy again? Why bother doing work that will be undone in no time? I suppose you could say the same about most things though. We breathe in that fresh oxygenated air. We breathe out. Our heart beats over and over and over. The body will use up what it needs, let go of what it doesn’t (hopefully that is) and round and round we go. Does the heart feel like its work is undone? As the body just uses up the oxygen and nutrients sending the blood back stripped down, does it feel like its service to the body is just a toiling? Just like the body we mirror this rhythm in what is seen as the mundane in our lives. Sometimes I have felt like domestic efforts perhaps don’t really matter or they can be handed off to others. Sometimes I have felt that my efforts are better spent on “larger pursuits.” But how important is the consistency found in the rhythm of home and the art of domestication? How important is it to have a consistent rhythmic beat of the heart? Yes, I breathe in these moments of rest but I delight in making the messes too. Because the whole circle, round and round it seems we go, is the circulation that sustains life. If I can help that go smoother, I consider that a good use of my time. If domestic endeavors can pump a consistent rhythm of love into the lives I am surrounded by then that is enough to do it all over again.

Tidying Up

Tidying Up

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I just finished going through thousands of emails…. Yes seriously. I had let my inbox get out of control and I had years of old messages that were a mix of junk, needed documents and some precious photos.   I went through and deleted many of them but then set up files for the needed ones and now I am down to a handful in my inbox that I am needing to address asap before I delete or file those too.  How did that happen though? A bit of procrastination mixed with my contempt for what I deem unnecessary mundane “paperwork” type things. I know its not really paperwork as its electronic but its still the same busy work concept. Blech! I can’t stand that stuff and therefore it piled up.

Here’s the problem though.  For one this sort of thing typically bleeds into many areas of our lives.  Meaning that procrastination and clutter in one area lead to a mindset that puts things off and is cluttered. Its pretty hard to function and live in a place of joy when things feel cluttered, chaotic and looming like that.

So what made me change my attitude and get it done? Well it all started the fall before we moved….

I began trying to go through things and stage the house for sale and I began loving the open “white space” feel of it all.  Less was definitely looking like more to me. I left a few impact sort of pieces up for decorating and I found myself enjoying them so much more than I ever had before.  Almost like having more things up masked or stole the joy from those items that I really felt good about. The problem was that many of those extra things went into boxes.  The staging of the house looked great but I stuffed all of the things away “just in case.” So much of the “stuff” came with us in those boxes to the new home. I kept them tucked away and went on with life.

Meanwhile, I had really been focusing on tuning into nature and the rhythms that exist there.  As last summer was winding down I began feeling the need to prioritize and let go.  Of EVERYTHING.  Just like the trees were giving up their leaves that were no longer serving them, I started feeling the need to give up some of the “stuff” I was carrying around like bags of dead leaves.  I had boxes that I didn’t even know what their contents was.  I started throwing items out and came across a few blogs about minimalism, organizing and the power in letting go and owning less.  I dove into Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I went through closets and drawers of clothes, all of the boxes stacked in the garage from the move, went through kitchen cupboards and am now working on paperwork and office organization.  After that it will be photos and all those little memorabilia that can be so hard to decide whether to keep or throw as they hold you in nostalgia.

Things that I’m learning:

  1. Keeping things you don’t like steals from the things that you do.  If you have 100 items in your closet but only like 15 of them those 85 things that make you feel blah will cover up the joy that you feel from the 15.  Often when we feel like this we go out and buy even MORE trying to feel joy again. Let go of the things that don’t make you feel happy and often you will find content with the things you have left even though its less.
  2. Don’t go buy storage containers and replacement items.  At least not yet.  When I used to decide to “get organized” I would go out and buy more stuff to store and organize the stuff that was overwhelming me.  Totally makes sense right? Or I’d go buy another trinket to try and create an environment that I liked not even knowing what all I already had.  First off this is a money waster and second it only enables your procrastination.  Its like sweeping dirt under the rug or pushing food around on a plate instead of eating it.  If you are storing things more than likely you will just spend your time moving it around and periodically going through it all to repack it again.  If it isn’t serving in joy or beauty do yourself a favor and let it go.  You will lighten yourself in the process.
  3. Clutter in your physical environment clutters the mind.  I can’t even tell you how overwhelming it is to me having stuff all around.  We live in a culture where there is SO MUCH STUFF and things to do. I don’t think its a coincidence that we have so many anxiety and depression disorders.
  4. Letting go of old ideas and possibly people is just as important as letting go of physical things.  So for me as I let go of physical things I have felt myself growing spiritually and in my lifestyle.  I am not weighed down as much by ways that are of the past. Not that those things didn’t serve me as I evolve and carry wisdom through them but I don’t choose to stay in a hold by them. We will always look at life through the kaleidoscope of our experiences after all.
  5. Its ok to give things up and often is a service to others. At different points in this I felt like maybe I was being wasteful.  Maybe I should keep this or that “just in case.” The fact of the matter is though that I don’t need 3 steamers in my kitchen or 5 black cardigans.  Someone else could be getting use out of them instead of having them sit in storage decomposing.

Green Tea Frapp

Green Tea Frapp

Green Tea Frap 2 I LOVE Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccinos! For whatever reason they are one of the few things that soothes my morning sickness during pregnancies.  And anyone who has gone through hyperemesis knows how much of a nightmare it can be and how wonderful relief in any form can be even if its short lived.

Green Tea Frapp
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Shakeology
  • 1 Cup Milk of Choice (I used almond)
  • a little ice
  • 1-2 tsp Matcha Powder
  • 1 Cup of water
  • a few drops of liquid Stevia in Vanilla Cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. BLEND AND CONSUME :-)

I wanted to recreate this favorite of mine in a healthier form.  So I used my Vanilla Shakeology as a base and went from there.  Its not nearly as sweet as the original but definitely a better option for my physique :-) (Don’t know what Shakeology is?, ask me and I’ll tell you more about this amazing tool) I’ve really been thinking a lot lately about things and had made a quick post on my facebook page that I would like to share in case it could give anyone some encouragement….

 My name is Kara and I am a personal development junkie . I have to tell you though that I dive in deep to this because of my STRUGGLES not my strengths. My trials, my frustrations, my hurts could crush me under things like anger, depression and bitterness or they can act as STRENGTH BUILDING resistance. 
I’ve been thinking about all of this because I had a baby due this month. Those that know me know that losing a pregnancy is unfortunately not new to me. Recurrent miscarriage is like being high on life and falling flat on your face over and over. This most recent loss happened months ago but there has been so much inner work over those months since. When this first started years ago I remember being so ashamed. I didn’t want anyone to know and I wanted to hide. But keeping these painful things in the darkness keeps us in the darkness too. It teaches others to be ashamed. So over the years by opening up I have been able to connect with people and not live in shame. BUT this has taken much VULNERABILITY and A LOT of personal development. Hearing and reading the stories of others and realizing we are not alone in our human struggles… It’s been such an interesting mix of SURRENDER and PUSHING THROUGH. I certainly don’t have it all figured out but I just want to encourage people to open up and shine light on those dark places in your life. There is so much FREEDOM to be had when we do this. Much love to you all today :-). Green Tea Frap

Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

I LOVE this salad! Veggies and salads can be pretty boring for sure so this is a great option.  Its full of flavor! Dressings so often are full of fat and sugars and this is a nice balance with the combo of honey and stevia instead of sugar. Serve this while the chicken is still hot and it will slightly wilt the veggies. Enjoy!

Asian Chicken Salad
 
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Basic Grilled Chicken Breast with salt, pepper, garlic. Chopped or shredded
  • 4 Cups Leaf lettuce, chopped small
  • 2 Cups Cabbage, shredded
  • Carrot, chopped small
  • Cilantro, a few leaves to place on top
  • ¼ cup of Cashew pieces
  • Dressing (about 6 servings):
  • ¼ C Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tbls Tamari Sauce (Soy sauce)
  • ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbls Honey
  • 1 tsp Stevia
  • 1 Tbls Shallot
  • 1 Tbls minced Garlic
Instructions
  1. Slice or tear your chicken into chunks and serve over chopped Leaf lettuce, Cabbage, Carrot and Cilantro (the key is cutting the veggies super small). Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend. I use a magic bullet.

 

 

 

Asian Chicken Salad 2s

Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

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Not much beats warm chili during these cold months!  Here is the recipe that we use once or twice a month.  We pretty much always have a freezer bag of this ready to go when we get into a pinch.  Originally, my husband came across some version of this when he was using the zone diet.  We have changed it a bit but mostly it was a great find that has served us well.  Stay warm and enjoy!

 

Turkey Chili
 
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • ½ Onion, Chopped
  • 3 Green Bell Peppers, Chopped
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 lbs Ground Turkey
  • 2 Cans Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Cans of Beans (I like Black and Kidney), drain and rinse well
  • 1 Can of Chopped Olives
  • Toppings: Cilantro, green onions, Greek Yogurt
Instructions
  1. Chop onion and green peppers. Sautee the onions until translucent. Add the ground Turkey add a pinch of salt and sauté until cooked through. Add the green peppers Add the Garlic, Cumin, Chili Powder and crushed red pepper. Sauté until green peppers are just beginning to get tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer. Serve with preferred toppings. This freezes really well!!

Chili

 

Spiced Apple Bread

Spiced Apple Bread

Grain Free

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Baking grain free does not always turn out well.  I often find it dry and frustrating.  I have been experimenting a bit more though and have come up with a few keepers.

Spiced Apple Bread

I love apples and I love the rich spices of fall and winter, so this was a hit for me.  The gelatin holds the moisture and takes away that dry crumbly issue I mentioned.  I think I ate the majority of this loaf myself (ooops), but my 1 year old loved it too!

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Spiced Apple Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Apple Sauce
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tbls Vanilla
  • ¾ Cup Sunbutter
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • ⅓ Cup Honey
  • 5 Tbls Coconut flour
  • 2 tsp Gelatin
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbls Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ginger, ground
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • For the Struessal Topping
  • 2 Tbls Butter
  • 1 Cup Pecans
  • ¼ of an Apple
  • 2 Tbls Honey
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or butter and place a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom. In a mixer or food processor combine the apple sauce, eggs, vanilla, sunbutter, lemon juice and honey. Blend until smooth. In a separate bowl combine the coconut flour, gelatin, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in the food processor until mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean. For the struessal topping place all of the ingredients into the food processor and blend until consistancy has some small chunks left in it. Once the loaf has been baking for 30 minutes add this to the top of the loaf and resume baking time.

 

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Fried Quinoa

Fried Quinoa

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This was one of those dinners where I had a little of this and that in the fridge and had to come up with something in a hurry because we were all getting hangry.  I had left over quinoa and the frozen peas, some frozen salmon patties, an extra container of mushrooms….

Fried Quinoa

This was the result.  Some fried quinoa.  Similar to fried rice.  Typically you would get a little chicken or pork tossed in but I didn’t have any so we had some salmon patties along side it.  It worked great but if you are more of a chicken person that would be good with this too. Gotta get some protein in afterall.

Fried Quinoa3

I don’t know if hangry is a word everyone has heard of, but it is a real thing.  Angry from being hungry.  We all managed to survive the phenomena once again this evening thanks to this quick and easy dish :-)

Fried Quinoa4

Fried Quinoa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 3 Cups of cooked Quinoa
  • 1 Tbls cooking fat, Butter or oil
  • 1 8-ounce package Mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup frozen Peas, thawed
  • 3 Tbls Tamari Sauce (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbls Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Once your Quinoa is cooked according to package instructions, heat a pan over medium heat and add the oil or butter.
  2. Stir fry the mushrooms until they reach desired texture. I cook quite a bit of the water out of them.
  3. Once the mushrooms are cooked I set them aside by placing them in the dish with the quinoa.
  4. Using the same pan, crack the 3 eggs and lightly scramble in the pan.
  5. Once the eggs are almost cooked through, add all of the ingredients to the pan and stir fry.
  6. You may want a little more tamari sauce depending on how salty you like it.
  7. Serve immediatly.

 

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Easy Butter Chicken

Easy Butter Chicken

Easy Butter Chicken

So I have kind of had this romance going on with curry and indian spices lately.  The rich aroma just does something for me…. turmeric, garam masala…. So. Good.

Easy Butter Chicken2

I have actually seen the garam masala container in my cupboard and opened it just so that I could smell it.  Yes I inhaled.

Easy Butter Chicken3

So, I was all ready the other night to fix up this butter chicken and realized I had no tomato paste.  Party. Foul. Or in this case of chicken, fowl.  I’m weird, I know.

Anyways, so I had to improvise and realized that this is much easier.  I just didn’t use cream and tomato paste and used some leftover tomato soup that I had in my fridge.  Perfect.  I love reinventing my leftovers.  I can’t stand wasting.

Enjoy!

Easy Butter Chicken4

Easy Butter Chicken
 
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbls Butter
  • 1 Tbls Garlic, minced
  • ½ Onion, Diced
  • 1 lb Chicken, Cubed
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Ginger Paste (or fresh ginger)
  • 1 Cup of Peas
  • ¾ Cup Tomato Soup
  • ⅓ Cup Butter
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • For Serving:
  • Rice or Sweet Potato Mash
Instructions
  1. Heat a pan over medium and add 1 Tbls butter.
  2. Once melted, add the garlic and saute.
  3. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
  4. Meanwhile, Take your cubed chicken and place into a ziplock bag. Add to this the chili powder, turmeric, salt and ginger paste. Mix it all together good.
  5. Once the onions are cooked, add the chicken to the pan and cook through.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the peas.
  7. Add the remaining butter and let this melt, then add the tomato soup and stir.
  8. At the last sprinkle the garam masala in.
  9. Serve over Sweet potato mash or rice.

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Lemongrass and Chili Soup

Lemongrass and Chili Soup

Lemongrass and Chili Soup2

Occasionally, I am known to indulge in one of those Thai Kitchen Lemongrass and Chili packages of soup.  They look kind of like Top Ramen only with rice noodles.  Probably not the best thing for me.  I craved this when I was pregnant.  Broth and salt and little effort.  Not my smartest moment to combine swelling ankles with more salt.

Lemongrass and Chili Soup

But the basic flavors could be made into something a bit healthier. So I experimented and it turned out to be one of my favorite creations yet.

Lemongrass and Chili Soup6

The freshness of lemongrass paired with the heat of spicy chili powder, meaty mushrooms, protein rich shrimp all soaking in broth and coconut milk.   This is not heavy but it has such great flavor and satisfaction. I have always loved seafood, and coconut and citrus get me everytime so this meal is so my style.  The only thing I would change is maybe adding a bit more shrimp to make it have a heavier protein load.  Other than that it is a bit of food heaven for my tastebuds.

Lemongrass and Chili Soup5

Lemongrass and Chili Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbls Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbls Garlic, minced
  • 1 8-ounce package Mushrooms, sliced
  • ⅓ Cup Lemongrass Paste
  • 2 Tbls Gingeroot Paste
  • 1 Tbls Chili Powder
  • 32-ounces Broth
  • 8 ounce Thin Rice Noodles (I used Thai Kitchen Brand)
  • 1 Lb Shrimp meat (I used small baby shrimp)
  • 1 13-ounce can Coconut Milk
  • Sea salt to preference
  • For toppings:
  • Green Onions, sliced
  • Cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large pan heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic and saute.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute further.
  4. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and chili and saute.
  5. Add the broth and bring to a light boil, then reduce the heat.
  6. Add the rice noodles (they do not need much heat to cook). Stir these frequently and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the coconut milk and shrimp. You may need to turn the heat back up to medium low. Once this is all heated through it is ready to serve.
  8. Top with the onion and cilantro.

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Crafting a VIBRANT LIFE.