Saturday, August 12, 2017

Staying Centered When The World Feels Out of Control



I know I'm not the only one who looks around and thinks our society has collectively gone mad on many levels.

Yesterday, on my way home, I decided to stop into the newest HEB grocery store because I needed to pick up some milk. It was opening day. People were filling the parking lot. I grabbed my milk and decided to look around, but after a couple of minutes decided to head straight for the checkout. It's a beautiful store, shiny and bright, filled with a wide selection of items, but is it really what we need? Wouldn't the world be better with more farmers markets, local bakeries, small mom and pop shops? Do we really need another Wal-mart, Target, corner drug store, gas station, etc.?

Folks, we are rushing headlong into an environmental disaster. And we don't seem to be able to stop ourselves. We are like buffalo running ourselves off a cliff.

While all of this is going on, our country is dangerously divided. People are slinging hateful words at each other, and worse. The threat of a war with two different countries is being flung about. Every day, the news brings something else negative and the divide gets wider.

Then there are our own personal struggles. Right now mine is the struggle to build a thriving business while taking care of all the responsible stuff as a single parent. Some days are about flow. Some days are full of resistance and I just want to give up.

It can be hard to not feel discouraged. But there are some things you can do, that I do, to help keep you in the right mindset.


Acknowledge Your Feelings

It's important that we own how we are feeling. When we feel discouraged, we may try to push down the sadness and disappointment. Or, if you are prone to anxiety or depression, curl up in a ball and hide from the world. But in neither of these instances are we owning how we feel. We need to be able to look in the mirror and say to ourselves, "Yes, I'm feeling really overwhelmed right now.  Things feel out of control."  



Ask Yourself This One Question

What is one step I can take today towards achieving XYZ? Whether XYZ is taking control of where your food comes from, speaking out politically, building a business, working toward minimalism, or something entirely different, just take that one step that is in your power to take. There is always something you can do, no matter how small. 

Minimalize

When you're surrounded only by the things that bring joy to your life or you need to make your life run smoother, your life isn't going to feel as chaotic on a personal level. It's one more thing you can feel you have control over when things aren't going as planned. 


Find Your Tribe

Find people who understand your way of looking at things. Then reach out to them. Isolation can be devastating when you are feeling overwhelmed. I know first hand. Taking a step back is fine, especially if you are an introvert in need of recharging. Hiding out and avoiding people, especially those people who can lift you up, is unhealthy.


Get Out In Nature

Research has shown that exposure to the natural world is healing. If you aren't up for a hike through the wilderness, take your morning coffee outside and listen to the morning bird song. Grab someone from your tribe and go for a walk or run at a local park. You will be avoiding isolation, getting some exercise, and exposing yourself to nature all at once. 

Detach From Social Media

Some of us, like me, depend on social media to promote our businesses. I can't be away from it for large chunks of time. But I can step away for blocks of time. One thing I did so I'm not absent mindedly clicking into Facebook when I'm out is to simply uninstall the app from my phone. I can only access Facebook from my laptop or my tablet. In fact, I don't have any social media apps on my phone, so if you want to get ahold of me when I'm away from my desk you will have to call or text. I'm looking at going further and declaring one solid day where I step back from social media. 

And finally...



Keep A Gratitude Journal

I can't stress this enough. I have kept one for five years now. I switched from keeping a traditional journal to a gratitude journal because I felt like I was focusing too much on the negative stuff. I don't write in it every day, but I do make sure to sit down with it several times a week, especially on those days things don't feel like they are going well. It is on those days that you especially need to sit down and take stock in every positive in your life, no matter how small. Maybe it's just that you got out of bed and combed your hair. Write it down. The plus about a gratitude journal: you won't need to burn them to get rid off all the negative stuff you don't want your children to read when you are gone. 

What do you do to help keep you centered during crazy times? I'd love to hear your stories.



Friday, August 4, 2017

Healthy Black Bean and Corn Salad


I'm not sure why I haven't shared this recipe with you guys yet. It's a summer staple around here. The best part of all is it requires no cooking, thus no heating up your kitchen on an already hot day. Just chop some veggies, toss in some beans, pour on the dressing and you are ready to go! I usually serve with a side of tortilla chips.

A cold bottle of Topo Chico sparkling mineral water tops it all off. Easy to find here in San Antonio, apparently it's gotten the attention from foodies all around the country. It's bottled in Monterrey, Mexico, so it's no surprise that we've known  about it here in south Texas for quite some time. After all, the drive to the border of Mexico is shorter than the drive to Dallas. But, I've strayed off topic. Back to the Black Bean and Corn Salad recipe.



If you want your dressing slightly sweetened, add a little honey to taste, or agave to keep it vegan. You don't have to use fresh corn. I use frozen sweet corn straight out of the bag. I don't even worry about thawing it out.




Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 3 cups sweet corn (cool, if cooking fresh)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 green onions, chopped
dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt, to taste
Place corn, tomatoes, avocado, black beans, and green onions in a large bowl. In a separate container, mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Whisk until well combined and pour over the salad. Stir gently to avoid mashing the avocado. Serve immediately. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Great Purge: Peeling Back the Layers of Over Consumption


It amazed me how much stuff one can own. According to a March 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times, the average U.S. household contains 300,000 items. 47% of all toys and books are owned by children in the U.S., who only make up 3.7% of the children on the planet. It feels like 80% of those toys are in my son's room right now. Ugh. Well, to be fair, it's mostly Legos, but still...

The path to minimalism is a peeling of the onion. Layer one, all the stuff. Step one, the initial purge. This step can be a bit overwhelming. Where do you even begin? My suggestion is to start with the obvious. What stands out as a burden to you? What brings bad memories or sits around collecting dust? Put it in a box and get rid of it. Donate it to a local thrift shop, a homeless shelter, a women's and children's shelter. Hold a garage sale.

My initial purge was brought about by the end of a tumultuous marriage. I got rid of everything that reminded me of his presence. That was a really easy purge, I admit. I had a big garage sale and made enough money to pay the rent.

During the second purge, you will likely dig a little deeper. By this point, there may be some things you have been holding on to that suddenly seem trivial or silly to keep. Why do I have enough wine glasses to throw a party when I am more likely to just have one or two friends over?  What am I keeping this heavy winter coat for when it never gets cold enough to wear it where I live?

Peel that onion back. Peel some more.



The hardest part? Fighting back all the stuff well-meaning people in your life will gift you and (especially) your children during the holidays. If you find the answer to that, get back to me.

I'm in the process of yet another purge. I'm peeling away to get down to the core of what I actually need to own and what I want to keep around because it makes me happy. I've cleaned out a dressing table that mostly served as a place to catch dust, pile unfolded laundry, and just generally gather a messy junk heap that the cat enjoyed pushing into the floor. I have it for sale and I really hope a buyer comes along quickly because it's already becoming covered with stuff once again.

I've purged my kitchen yet again until I'm mostly down to the basics. I am left with one dilemma in the kitchen. I have two sets of dishes. One is a collectible and pretty. The other is basic every day and chipped from misuse. My inclination is to sell the collectible set and keep the set I don't mind getting banged up, but the other set brings me more joy. These are the kinds of dilemmas you will find yourself in as you minimalize your possessions, but don't get stuck on them. For now, I'll keep both and figure it out later.

Minimalizing can take time. Most minimalists don't begin by giving away or selling everything overnight to live out of a bus with their suitcase full of clothes. It's a slow removal of what doesn't work for you. It's a monthly or quarterly or yearly revisiting of the things that surround you, peeling the layers of consumerism that drown our society in too much stuff until you get to the core of who you are and what you need.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Help A Little Blog Grow



Dear readers,

I'm asking for a favor.

If you have read my blog posts, Living an Authentic Life and Redefining Earning A Living, you are well aware of my journey towards living a simple, sustainable lifestyle supported financially through writing, photography, and painting. My goal with this blog, particularly, is to write more often, create some freebies for you, and streamline the appearance. The blog ironically feels too cluttered, though I write about minimalism regularly.

I started The Hippy Home five years ago, not to make money, but simply to share some of my passions with you. I began at a rough time in my life. I previously ran another blog that started out documenting my family life, but it turned into something darker when my ex turned abusive. The Hippy Home was a new beginning, a focus on the something positive. A look toward a better future.

This is where you come in. What is my blog worth to you? If you find value in what you read here, I ask that you click on the image link below to contribute toward growing The Hippy Home. It's quite OK if you don't. You may be in a place where it is difficult to contribute. You may be a skeptic. Maybe you think everyone should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps with no help from strangers. That's OK. But if you have found real value in anything I've posted, please consider a contribution that will help me transition to supporting myself and my son through blogging. If you leave me a little note with your address, I'll even send you a hand drawn postcard from Texas with a big thank you from me and the boy.

Sincerely,
Gina
The Hippy Home

Click Image Below:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cilantro Lime Dressing Recipe


I've been on an obsession with grain bowls (watch for an upcoming blog post). If you aren't familiar with them, they usually start with a grain, most often rice, and are topped off with a wide array of vegetables. They are quite versatile and can be created in endless flavor combinations. I decided to create a Southwest grain bowl using barley. I topped it with roasted sweet potatoes, corn, avocado slices, and black beans. To make it even more flavorful, I whipped up a batch of Cilantro Lime Dressing to drizzle over the vegetables. My picky eater devoured it.

No doubt this dressing would be great on refreshing summer salads, too. Mix it up in a wide mouth jar so you can easily refrigerate left overs.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 3-6 TBSP milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a wide mouth jar. Mix until smooth. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time if mixture is too thick. Cover and refrigerate before using. 



Saturday, July 15, 2017

Natural Relief for Sore Muscles


It hurt to move this morning. Yesterday, I really pushed myself hard with overhead presses during my crossfit class. My shoulders were in intense pain. I've been doing crossfit for about a year and a half, so it's not the first time my muscles have complained after a workout. It's almost a constant, actually.

It obviously doesn't take a grinding workout to leave you with aching muscles, though. I've woken up with tight, aching neck muscles just from sleeping wrong.


Instead of popping an over the counter pain medication, try one of these natural remedies for soothing those aches and pains:

Foam Roller


I love my foam roller. I use it regularly. It's great for working out tight leg and thigh muscles, as well as your upper back and shoulders. You can find them just about everywhere these days. I bought mine off of Amazon, but I've also seen them at Target and some discount stores. I've included the following video to with some good tips on how to use a foam roller.


Hot Pepper Stick

                                           
The Hot Pepper Sha-Bang muscle stick was a life saver for me after I injured my back last December. I was looking for natural pain relief when my friend Crystal posted about the muscle stick on her Facebook timeline, so I gave it a try. Capsaicin is the soothing ingredient, radiating a nice, warm feeling across sore muscles. I'd put it on the injured area before a workout. When my body heated up, so did the hot pepper stick. It was like a portable heating pad. You can also apply direct heat with a hot towel or heating pad. I recommend keeping some in your medicine cabinet. You can find it here: Perfectly Posh.


Magnesium 

You can use either oral magnesium tablets or take a nice, warm bath with magnesium salt, more commonly known as Epsom Salt. Add about a cup of Epsom Salt and soak for about 15 minutes. For the extra benefit of relaxing the muscles and easing inflammation, add about 3 drops of lavender oil to the water.

If your body is deficient in magnesium, it can cause muscle soreness and cramps. Keep foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds on hand for a healthy snack high in magnesium. A good magnesium supplement can help, too. I can tell when my body isn't getting enough magnesium when I start craving chocolate. 

Tart Cherry Juice


According to an article by Oregon Health and Science University, runners participating in a study showed less inflammation and significantly less pain after consuming tart cherry juice a week before they ran a long distance race compared to runners in a placebo group. They also had faster muscle recovery. You can read the entire article here: Tart Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Pain and Inflammation.

Massage


A massage after an intense workout can not only make you feel better, but it also helps with muscle recovery by decreasing inflammation. So go ahead and book that massage after your next workout. Just a short, 10 minute massage is all that is needed to feel the benefits, however, book me for the whole hour! Make sure to request essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus, and thyme for added relief.

Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen may bring relief, however they have been shown to cause heart, stomach, and kidney issues. So toss out the pills and use one of these proven natural choices for pain relief. Oh, and be sure to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause muscle cramping and soreness as well.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Redefining Earning a Living


I've always felt a calling toward creating. Painting, photography, writing. I was always told those weren't legitimate choices. People like to throw out the much overused "starving artist". Then they pick some poor artist or writer who remained unknown until his or her death to use as an example. You'll end up like that, they'd say. So I've always held on to the belief that as long as I pursued these callings I wouldn't make any money from it. And, guess what? I've never really earned any money from any of these endeavors. I mean, yeah, I've earned a little here or there, but not really what I was worth. Because I wasn't expecting to.

Our American society, and perhaps all societies built on similar economic systems, holds that the only worthy way of earning a living is by sacrificing your time and your dreams. It's the American dream you are supposed to be going after. Big house, nice car, pretty things. You get a J-O-B working for someone else at least 40 hours a week. If you are lucky, it's something that both pays well and brings some level of satisfaction. If you are lucky. If not, you slog away your days for someone else just so you can keep a roof over your family and food on the table. In our society it's never been about what brings you joy. It's how much money you make and all of the things that you can buy with that money.



Earn a living. The word "living" should never be associated with monetary worth. That's where we have gone horribly wrong. You earn an income for the deemed value of your work. That value often seems arbitrary to the whims of society, e.g. starving artist.

There is another way.

Minimalism and the tiny house movement are a part of this revolution to rethink and redefine what it means to earn a living. If you have less stuff, you need less money to maintain or replace that stuff. You can work less or chose work not by how much it pays, but by how much joy it brings you. That is liberating, especially for someone who doesn't fit in with this consumerist mold.

Someone like me.

And now here I am J-O-B less. Falling into the same traps. Hearing those old voices. You can't make a living blogging. No one wants to buy your art. The photography market is over saturated. You can't earn a living that way. You need to get a real job. Rent is coming due and you are broke. Get real.

I've given up on those dreams too many times. I quit art school. I stopped painting for a while. I stopped writing, stopped trying to get published. I gave up my photography business because the ex told me I needed to get that "real" job. Start. Stop. Start. Stop.

I'm tired of stopping. I'm angry at those voices. It's time to prove them wrong.

I've read about people young and old who sold everything to live a mobile life. Some earn a living through their computers. Some live off of the funds from selling everything that held them down. I've read about people who live off a small plot of land, modern day homesteaders who need very little from the outside world. There are the urban minimalists who live in small apartments and use their time and money on experiences instead of filling up an oversized house with stuff. These people are truly redefining what it means to earn a living. If they can do it, so can I. If they can do it, so can you.

Embrace your joy and earn a livable income. The two aren't mutually exclusive, contrary to what we've been taught.




Sunday, July 2, 2017

21 Day Kindness Challenge



I fully admit I've been struggling. June was a rough month for me. Sometimes when you decide to do something big, fear can grip your heart with some big old ugly claws. I've been stuck inside my head too much, worrying about not being able to cover the bills, taking myself too seriously, and generally falling into a self absorbed funk, which accomplishes nothing towards being able to actually pay the bills and left me feeling highly anxious.

I know I'm not the only one struggling these days, and our current political environment doesn't help. The news looms large with violence and negativity. Our world is a mess.



A couple days ago I watched the video, My Turning Point, by Kristina Kusmic (aka Truth Bomb Mom). I found myself sobbing loudly and uncontrollably. I haven't allowed myself a good, healthy cry like that in a long time. It really hit home. I'll post the video at the end because I want to get to the challenge, but it was something I deeply related to and got me thinking, What is one little thing I can do right now? What am I good at?

I like to think I'm good at blogging. I can use that platform to help others.

So, the 21 Days of Kindness Challenge was born, just a few hours ago actually. Starting tomorrow, July 3, 2017,  I want all my readers to perform one mindful act of kindness every day for 21 days (I will be participating, too) and come back here or to the Hippy Home One Simple Change Challenge Group and share your act of kindness. Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger. Put change in someone's parking meter that's about to expire. Contact that friend you haven't talked to in a while and let them know you are thinking about them. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Volunteer your time. Reach out to an elderly neighbor. There are so many ways to express kindness that don't involve money. Think outside of the box. And if you are having a particularly rough time, save one of those 21 days to treat yourself with kindness.

Share this post everywhere. Spread the love. Let's see how many people we can get on board. The world needs more kindness and change starts with one small act at a time. With many small acts from many people, amazing things can happen. The world may be a mess, but there is still beauty out there. Kindness and goodness still exist. Let's do this!

Here's the video I promised you. Have some tissues ready.



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Flapjacked Carrot Spice Protein Pancake Mix Review


I usually make my pancakes from scratch.  My boys favorite are my Pumpkin Pancakes with Hot Cider Sauce. We eat a lot of pancakes in this house, so I was thrilled to be picked as a winner of a protein pancake mix in a Facebook contest held by Flapjacked. I've tried their protein smoothie mix and found them to be delicious. I was excited to try another product.

I'm picky about the food I buy. I won't buy it if I find the ingredients list is full of artificial junk. There is nothing but good stuff on the ingredient list for Flapjacked Carrot Spice Protein Pancakes; whole oat flour, whey protein, pea protein, carrots, coconut flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and monk fruit.


You can mix the pancakes a couple different ways, according to your taste and dietary requirements. Just adding water, the protein content is 20%. Substitute the water with milk and gain another 5% protein. Or, like I did, use milk and add an egg to the mix for a whopping 34% protein.

The consistency of this mix is perfect. I've tried another protein pancake brand and their mix is always a bit runny by the package directions. These pancakes fry up nice and fluffy. We topped them with cinnamon honey pecan cream cheese and a little real maple syrup. The flavors complimented each other nicely. Everyone in our household gobbled them up. It was almost like eating carrot cake for breakfast.

While I have yet to see Flapjacked pancake mix sold locally, you can get them on Amazon or directly from their website Flapjacked. In addition to their protein pancakes sold in different flavors and their smoothie mixes, they also sell cookie mix and mighty muffins.

With the ease of use, protein content, and quality of ingredients, I will be purchasing their products again. But on slow Sunday mornings I'll still be making up a batch of my homemade pancakes.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Keeping Backyard Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat


It's hot in Texas. Really hot. Our high today was 99 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index set on broil. People are talking about baking cookies on the pavement. We are still in June, people. We still have to get through July and August. This just might be a long hot summer.


The heat can be especially dangerous for your backyard flock, but there are several ways you can help your chickens stay cool.

  1. Add ice to their water. I freeze a large block of ice and plop it into their water when the temperature starts to rise. Who doesn't like a nice, cool drink of ice water on a hot day? I know I do.
  2. My chickens love cold watermelon. Watermelon is great for keeping them hydrated in addition to  cooling them off. You can also feed them frozen corn, peas, or blueberries. But provide these as treats, not as replacements for their feed.
  3. Make sure their coop is well ventilated. If air is unable to freely circulate, the coop is going to be miserably hot. Add a fan for extra air flow, if needed. Just make sure the fan is properly secured so your chickens don't get hurt and make sure any electric cords are safely plugged in and away from any water or fire hazards. 
  4. Spray down a dirt patch where they can take a mud bath and cool off. I'm thinking I'm going to try this with my girls this week. 
  5. Make sure they have plenty of shade. My coop is under a tree and stays mostly shaded all day. I also free range my hens. On hot days they usually hide in the overgrown shrubs under the trees on the side of my house. 
  6. Provide electrolytes. Mix 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda. Provide 1 cup electrolytes to one gallon of water. If your hens appear stressed from the heat, give it to them full strength.
  7. Freeze bottles of water and place near nesting boxes. 
  8. Mist down the chicken coop or run. 
  9. Partially fill a small kiddie pool with cool water. You don't want to lose any chickens from drowning so only fill it about an inch or two. 
  10. Have several sources of water for drinking available. I have dog bowls and a large plastic dish tub I fill up and leave in several places so they have easy access to water.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Healthy Eating on a Road Trip



I recently drove from south Texas to Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, and back home to San Antonio in a trip that lasted over two weeks. We had to skip out of the school year a little early after ok'ing it with the kid's school so we could get to his older brother's graduation, so our major summer road trip is already over. But it took some major planning because we were not only attending a graduation, but visiting my parents, planning a backpacking trip and a trip to Virginia Beach, alongside visiting my daughter in Virginia. I was packing for several different scenarios. Plus, I was determined that we not eat out or grab junk to snack on at the gas station while driving from destination to destination. It turns out that the weather sidelined our backpacking and beach plans much to our disappointment. I also didn't plan for enough food on the return trip, especially with my oldest son joining us in Kentucky. But we made it from Texas to Ohio and on to Virginia without eating unhealthy. On our home trip we stopped twice for fast food, but only because my planning fell short when prepping food for one extra person.

Proud Momma moment. 

Summer is here, and many people will be heading out on the road to visit family or head to vacation destinations. It's so easy to rely on the drive through for a quick bite on the run, especially if you are in a hurry to get to your destination, but with a little planning it is possible to eat healthy on the road.

I ordered a set of meal prep containers from Groupon and used them to prepackage meals for lunch and dinner. Our breakfast menu consisted of boiled eggs, peeled ahead of time, bagels with cream cheese, and fresh fruit. Dinner number one was lemon chicken over brown rice and spinach salad. Dinner number two was a Mediterranean salad with chicken, feta cheese, black olives, garbanzo beans, and fresh red pepper slices with whole grain pita bread. I also prepared fruit on the bottom yogurt cups in jelly jars for an easy snack. Lunch our first day was peanut butter banana tortilla wraps using low carb tortillas. I made sure to have a healthy assortment of snacks handy like dried fruit, protein bars, hard cheeses, fresh berries, and nut mixes. I have two coolers, a large one I put our main meals in and a smaller one I kept within reach so we could have easy access to the coconut water, mineral water, and protein drinks I packed. We also had water bottles well within reach.

Breakfast
Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt
Breakfasts were eaten in the hotel, while dinners were either eaten at a roadside rest area or at the hotel. (By the way, Texas has some awesome rest areas with mini history museums, modern playgrounds, and clean restrooms.)

One of the best things I purchased for this trip was a Bodum travel coffee press. I packed premeasured coffee grounds so all I had to do was add hot water and press. I don't use sugar or creamer in my coffee, but I do like to dilute it with a little milk, so I brought a little container of milk, too. If you are a coffee aficionado I highly recommend you pick one up instead of relying on hotel or truck stop coffee.

Are you heading out on the road alone or with friends or family this summer? I challenge you to healthy eating on the road. No fast food and no Starbucks. It only takes a little planning. If you are already meal prepping for your work week, it will be easy peasy.

Ready, set....go!








Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Living an Authentic Life


This topic has been rolling around in my head for some time now, no doubt inspired by a big milestone in my life. I just stepped over that threshold of time known as half a century. Yep, I just turned the big 5-0. Some people approach fifty with great dread, but I'm finding that, for the most part, I like where I'm at. I'm no longer in a place where I worry about what other people think of my life choices, and it's very freeing.

I'm in the middle of some life changes that are very exciting, a little frightening, and greatly liberating. I'm transitioning to living the creative life I've always been drawn towards, devoting more time to blogging, photography, and painting. In essence, I will finally be living my authentic life.

Steps to Living Your Authentic Life


Listen to your soul. In this loud, crazy world we sometimes get caught up listening to someone else's voice, or we mistake the voice in our head as wiser than the voice in our heart. But that heart voice is the voice of your soul. It's where passion, cosmic connection, and the things that make us unique reside. Yet, we are told that voice doesn't hold as much value as the voice of reasoning, status, and wealth. However, you can never live an authentic life if you do not listen to your soul.

Rethink wealth. Living an authentic life is not a vow to live in poverty, nor is it being surrounded by gold. In fact, the greatest wealth is not associated with money at all. When you begin to think of wealth as quality relationships and experiences your perspective changes and you find you are able to live a more enjoyable life on less money.

Embrace minimalism. Surround yourself with things that only bring you joy or that you find to be useful. You are not being authentic to yourself keeping gifts out of guilty obligation, books you really didn't enjoy reading, the carved sculpture that reminds you of your ex, or the bulky microwave you never use. Get rid of it and create space in your life, physically and metaphorically. Then, refrain from filling that space.



Practice non attachment. Even a highly authentic life is going to go through some horrible lows. People we care about leave us or disappoint us. Unexpected illness invades our bodies. Natural disasters beyond our control destroy homes and lives. Living an authentic life means walking through the fire regardless of our fear. Even if we lose our path, even when we find ourselves in agony, acknowledge this authentic, human moment in your life and trust that it is just a moment. Accept that everything in life is impermanent and trust that voice in your soul to get you back on your path once again.

Do what you love. Or love what you do. Many of us do neither. Put love into your work, regardless if it's your calling or not. Put love into caring for your home, your family, your self. You do this by being kind and expressing gratitude. Be grateful for every dish you wash. Extend kindness to the custodian. Stop and really listen to your child chatting at you about his day.

And finally, slow down. You can't live an authentic life if you get caught in an avalanche of busyness. Give your mind time for quiet contemplation. Allow conversations to flow into the night. Walk slower, drive slower. Be aware of your surroundings. Quit running from one thing to the next and you might just catch up with yourself.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clean Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes



First of all, wow, it is so nice NOT to be blogging from an Ipad mini. It's not good on the eyes, or at least my eyes. I've never had great eye sight. I've worn glasses since second grade. I'm not such a young chick anymore though. I finally gave in and got progressive bifocals last year. So, yeah, the eyes aren't what they used to be.

I'm going to state something obvious here. The great thing about hanging out with like minded people is, well, they are like minded. Usually, I go to a party or some gathering and I'm overwhelmed with food that leaves me feeling heavy and lethargic. Especially since I have cut refined sugars out of my diet and mainly eat a clean diet. Celebrations full of greasy pizza, coolers loaded with sugary sodas, heavily processed meats, meager vegetable trays, and the overly sweet cake loaded with frosting. I can't eat these things anymore. So I may have been overly excited last month when I attended my Crossfit box's potluck to celebrate the end of the 2017 Opens. These are my people. The food was delicious, and whoever brought the paleo chocolate cupcakes is an angel. They were heaven, and I didn't feel like I was going to crash and burn after eating one.


I just wish I had gotten the recipe. Because I became fixated on chocolate cupcakes. But after some searching I came across a chocolate cupcake recipe worth trying.


I couldn't head to the gym last night because the kid was running a fever, so I baked up a batch of these cupcakes instead. They use coconut flour, which can be tricky to work with since it soaks up liquids, but this recipe creates a moist cake worthy of any celebration. I used Wholesome organic chocolate frosting on mine simply because I had some on hand, but the next time I bake up a batch of cupcakes I'm going to experiment with a couple cleaner, healthier frosting recipes. Adding a raspberry to the top gives them a festive look and adds a whole other yummy taste experience. Strawberry slices would also be delicious.


Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder (or 1/4 tsp of baking soda)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine all dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Let batter sit for a couple minutes then pour into cupcake liners, filling about half way. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost with desired frosting. Store in tightly sealed container. 

Makes 8-10 cupcakes


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is Minimalism Poverty Appropriation?


I have a firsthand knowledge of poverty. There was a period of time growing up where my family lived in a home that was dark, drafty in the winter, and way too small. The roof leaked. I feared that the bathtub would fall through the floor every time I took a bath because the floor was so rotten. My parents drove $500 cars with the muffler tied up and the seats worn. I was embarrassed to have friends over and hated the cheap clothes I wore to school. Sometimes Mom would have to get creative to feed us. Dad became bitter and angry. He worked so hard, but it wasn't enough. We were among the rural poor of America.

I found myself struggling as an adult, five years ago, after my marriage to a very emotionally abusive man fell apart. I lost my job because I lacked childcare for my then three year old son. I had to rely on assistance to feed us. I had to beg, borrow, and take on odd jobs to keep the rent paid. I've dealt with the humiliation of having the lights cut off. I've dealt with the struggle of having to decide between getting the car repaired so I could drive to work or paying the bills. I eventually was offered a job as a teaching assistant in a little private school and now work as an art teacher at a different school. I still don't earn a lot, but we get by enough that I am no longer on government assistance.

So, yeah, I know a little bit about poverty.



Today I came across an article entitled The Troubling Trendiness of Poverty Appropriation by July Westhale. Westhale makes the connection between minimalism, the tiny house movement, and poverty appropriation. She admits "This idea of "returning" to a "simple" life is one I struggle with." She tries to make the case that by wealthy people choosing to simplify their lives is poverty appropriation simply because poor people are limited by choice. 

I want to point out three things. One, poverty does not equal living a simple life. There is nothing simple about poverty. Two, poor people still have choices and are still capable of making bad choices that further hinder their situation and good choices that may lead to a more satisfying life. Three, minimalism isn't some feel good trend for the wealthy. In fact, in my experience, minimalism improved my standard of living even though I was poor. 

This is the second article I have come across trying to equate minimalism trends with poverty appropriation. I just don't see it. Yes, there needs to be more conversation on poverty in America, as well as an understanding of the unique challenges of the urban and rural poor. I see a huge rift between the really wealthy of our country and the poorest. In our current political climate that rift seems to be growing at an alarming rate. But I actually see minimalism as part of the solution to the issues surrounding poverty. 

Minimalism uses up less resources. It encourages thrift and moves us away from capitalism. It demands a respect for environment, lifting quality of living. Embracing minimalism actually allows  me to live on a lower class salary and truly embrace simplicity. I still struggle. I still make bad choices from time to time. Hey, I'm human. But minimalism has improved my standard of living.

I feel like Westhale doesn't fully understand minimalism and harbors some resentment for her years living in poverty. I get it. I feel that resentment at times, too. But I realize it's a struggle inside of me and doesn't help. I think she also uses a couple really fringe groups to make her point that poverty appropriation is even a thing. 

I agree with her that poverty sucks. It's nothing to mock and it is far more complicated than the stereotypes our culture assigns to it. However, she misuses the word appropriation. I see no glorification of the poor through minimalism. It is possible to be poor and choose minimalism as a way to better one's life. It is also possible to be wealthy and choose to embrace minimalism as a means to escape the rat race overconsumption of our society. Neither is better than the other. Neither is an insult to the other. Both are living their lives the best they know how. 




Monday, January 30, 2017

Figberry Box Review: Cocoa Cherry Bites



I discovered Figberry about a month and a half ago while browsing through Instagram. They offer a monthly subscription service for vegan snack kits. The kits contain healthy, plant based ingredients to make a dozen all natural energy bites. The boxes are geared toward all ages and simple enough for young chefs to make. The pre measured ingredients come carefully packed in a small box with a recipe card that also includes interesting nutritional facts.

My son is a moody chef, and even though I sent for the box thinking we could make these together, I ended up making them alone while he went on a back yard adventure with our chickens. It was just too beautiful of an evening to spend in the kitchen. He headed out play with the chickens.

The recipe was easy to follow. There is no cooking or baking involved, but you do need a food processor. I don't have a stand alone food processor, but an attachment for my blender. The mixture was a bit thick for my setup, so when I went to add the cherries in the last step, they weren't getting mixed in, but just sat there on the top. I added a bit of the water from soaking the dates and that seemed to do the trick.

My mistake was rolling all of them in the dried coconut. Mr. Picky isn't a big fan of dried coconut and refused to eat them. But I enjoyed them. They were quite flavorful and made a great pre workout snack. I'm not giving up on the kid yet, though. I plan on ordering another box so we can try a different flavor. This time, no rolling in coconut.


The only downside to the Figberry box, or any subscription box for that matter, is the packaging. I washed the little container the tahini came in to reuse, but I felt guilty about the little cellophane bags I threw away that contained the dry ingredients.

If you would like to try a Figberry box subscription click here. They currently have a code on the subscription page you can use for $10 off your first box. Figberry also now offers the option of ordering a single box from previous flavors.