Holiday Backlash

I did not eat hash browns today, winning!

As some of you know, back in November I made a big huge life change and started taking really good care of myself.  I had just found out that I had thyroiditis, and I wanted to make sure I took care so my thyroid wouldn’t burn out and make things much worse.  I was doing so good for a month or so, but then something terrible happened, the holidays.  They completely threw me off.  Fatty food, travel and wine were pretty much the culprits.  My symptoms quickly crept back, despite my efforts to pretend they were gone.

Luckily, New Years Eve was around the corner, right?  My resolutions would fix this.  No big deal.  It would just be two weeks of weakness, and then I would be back to normal.

Well, turns out New Years resolutions fall at the worst possible time for a person to realistically carry them out. Why do we think we could suddenly go from indulging every craving, to complete restriction?  That’s just a recipe for self-disappointment.

So, one month AFTER New Years Day, I’m finally starting to make a little headway.  It’s amazing how hard it can be to make yourself take vitamins after holding off for 6 weeks, but today, I took them. The thought of swallowing pills made me gag a little, but once I did it I was so glad I did.  I haven’t really made it to the gym in a while, but I am trying to do exercises at home throughout the day, so that’s something.

As far as indulgences like fast food and wine?  My husband put it well, taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a punishment.  So basically, if I really want it, I let myself have it, and take care to notice how I feel afterward.  Eventually I get tired of feeling poopy, and gradually I indulge less and less.

Basically, I’m making a movement to change the due date for New Years resolutions.  Let’s shoot for mid-February, is that realistic?

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Take Care

Showin some self-lovin!

In the same vein as my sister’s recent post on strength, I’d like to share a story about a real rookie mistake that I paid dearly for last year.

As moms we often hear how important it is to give to ourselves, to take time for ourselves, to take care of ourselves.  It sounds like just what we’d want to do, but sometimes it’s not so easy.

Becoming a mother was such a tremendous joy to me.  When my first child was born, I felt my life suddenly had new purpose.  He came to me after a terrible, life-altering tragedy, and he was my son, my sun, my sunshine after the rain, my everything.  I was elated, ecstatic, deliriously happy in my new role as mother.  Every moment, waking or sleeping, was devoted to him.  I was willing to sacrifice any and every little thing that brought me happiness in my previous life, in exchange for the blessing that motherhood gave to my heart.

When he was about 13 months old, I became pregnant once again.  What a thrilling time in my life!  I would soon be twice blessed, twice as happy.

As my pregnancy began to take it’s inevitable physical toll, my son, precocious young man that he is, decided to jump the gun and enter his terrible twos a few months early.  Everything became a battle.  It was extremely difficult for me on an emotional and physical level.  This continued on over the next year, and throughout my next major life milestone.

Shortly after my second son was born, my Mr. informed me that this was the perfect time (interest rate-wise) for us to cash out on our starter-home investment, and upgrade to a single family home in which to raise our children.  Of course I was thrilled at the prospect of picking out a new home and making it our own.  But anyone who’s ever done this knows how taxing the process can be.  First: selling.  Having your home in pristine condition at all times for any random unexpected showing that might land on your doorstep at a moments notice.  Then buying: the searching, the negotiating, the compromising, the paperwork, the general stress of feeling that you might be signing your life away.  In our case, add to all that the uncertainty that comes along with a short sale.  Then: moving.  Anyone would agree that moving is one of the most difficult things we do in a lifetime.  All these things, with a two-year old and a newborn, nursing around the clock, chattering nonstop nonsense in my ear, needing to nap, snacking, throwing tantrums, pooping in their pants, and generally just needing more attention than any one person can realistically give.  Under these circumstances, making room in your life for buying and selling real estate can seem insurmountable.

I was breastfeeding every 90 minutes.  I was changing diapers.  I was preparing meals.  I was picking up toys.  I was kissing boo-boos.  I was scrubbing toilets.  I was going to third birthday parties at Bouncetown.  I was mopping floors.  I was doing laundry.  I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 25 family members.  I was painting the walls, I was making drapes, I was assembling furniture, I was packing and unpacking all the earthly belongings of four people.

I wasn’t sleeping.  I wasn’t eating right.  I wasn’t washing my hair.  I wasn’t putting on mascara or earrings.   I wasn’t spending time with girlfriends.  I wasn’t taking my prenatal vitamins.  I was just running, running, running, and doing it all with a shit-eatin’ smile on my face.  Look at me, everybody, I’m living my dream!

It catches up with you.  By this time last year I was certain that I had rheumatoid arthritis.  It runs in my family, and I was achey, sore, and stiff all over.  I couldn’t move my fingers.  I couldn’t walk without limping.  I couldn’t even lie in my bed without tremendous pain.  It interfered with my sleep, which cycled back around, kicked me in the butt, and caused more pain.  I couldn’t do much of anything.  The clockwork of running a household for my children and husband came to a grinding halt.  There were several days where I couldn’t even get my son to school.  The prospect of dressing him, packing his lunch, and driving him to and from was just too much for me to physically bear.  It became evident that the life about which I had been so elated, so willing to sacrifice for, was just passing me by, and leaving me behind.

When the bloodwork came back, and my doctor told me she thought my problem could be attributed to a vitamin D deficiency, I was very skeptical.  How could something so small and seemingly unimportant derail me like that?  But it became clear after my second prescription megadose- that’s all it was, thank heaven.  Well, nearly.  I also have a torn meniscus in my right knee.  Point being, it was a huge wake up call for me.

So, fellow moms, when you hear that pearl of wisdom, once again, that you need to take care of yourself, please, take it to heart.  I thought I was good, because I was so happy to make those sacrifices.  But whether you feel like you want it, or not, you need it.  You need to sleep.  You need to eat right.  You need to spend time with your girlfriends.  You need to take three minutes to put on mascara and earrings, and you need to take your vitamins.  Because if you aren’t strong, you’re family can’t be.  They need you.  You are the motor that keeps their world buzzing along.  And if you aren’t able to be a participant in it, then what the heck is the point?

Do it for yourself, and for the ones you love.

I’ll let you know as soon as I really take my own advice and get that knee surgery scheduled.

Bulgogi Pizza

This girl is seriously committed.

Confession:  I have been working on the Korean Food Category of my 2012 Food Trends Series for the last few weeks, and nothing I’ve made has measured up.

Not that the food hasn’t been good, the flavors are bangin’.  It just hasn’t really had anything special about it that would make it blog-worthy.  And it hasn’t really looked all that enticing, either, and everybody knows we eat with our eyes first, right?

My first attempt was a Korean short rib recipe, which tasted delish but just looked kinda brown and watery.  Next I made chicken bulgogi, which tasted even better than the short ribs, but, with their steamed rice and kimchee accompaniment, just looked like something I had ordered takeout.

After that I decided that I should start thinking outside the box.  After all, I’m not Korean, I haven’t been born and raised eating this food, there’s no way that I could ever do it better than someone’s um ma, so I’ll just try to do it different.

Today I’m making a pork roast, bulgogi-style, and shredding it up like pulled-pork.  And I’ll be topping a pizza with it!

This is a great recipe for a working mom because you can set it- and forget it! in the crockpot.

First I make the marinade for the pork.  Try doing this first thing in the morning or even the night before.

Bulgogi Marinade

1/4 cup gochuchang red pepper paste
2 cloves grated or finely minced garlic
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
2 teaspoons rice wine (mirin)

Just throw everything in a bowl…

…and mix it all up.

If you are doing this the night before, go ahead and coat your roast with it so it can soak up all the flavah.  If it’s morning, just throw the roast in the crockpot and pour the marinade on top.

Crank it to high heat and just let it be for 6 hours or until falling-apart tender.

Now for the pizza dough.  It maybe sounds crazy to make your own dough but it’s really not that bigga deal.  It needs time to rest/rise, but you’re already planning ahead for the crockpot business, so you may as well just throw your dough together while you’re at it.  But honestly, we all have those days where there just aren’t enough minutes, even, so if you aren’t up for the task, you can buy dough at a lot of grocery stores now.  And if yours doesn’t happen to stock it, just buy a ball or two from your local pizzeria.  They’re usually happy to sell it to you for a few bucks and homemade pizza is just so much tastier than one of those pre-baked disks.

I throw my dough together right after flipping the switch on the crock pot and then I don’t bother with it again until just before dinner.  Oh, and this recipe makes enough for two huge, family-size pizzas, or 4 dinner-plate sized.  Whatever you don’t use tonight can go into the fridge or freezer for another day.  Which is great because you can put all kinds of stuff on a pizza and ain’t nobody gonna turn their nose up…

Pizza Dough

2 teaspoons honey
3 cups warm water
2 packets instant dry yeast
2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve the honey and water in the bowl of your mixer.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and after a few minutes it will go foamy.  Add in the rest of the ingredients…

and turn the mixer on medium with the dough hook attachment.

When it looks doughy, take it out and put it into an oiled bowl.  Rub some additional olive oil over the dough ball and cover it with cling film or a kitchen towel.  Put it in a warm place and just give it its space.

After six hours or more the pork roast probably looks (and smells!) pretty awesome, so take it out…

…and shred it up with two forks.

Put it back into the crock pot and toss it around in all that yummy cooking liquid.

Now preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Take a look at your dough.  It’s all big and puffy!  When you take it out of the bowl, it just totally deflates.  Now I like to do my pizzas on a big ol’ baking sheet, but I know a lot of people that swear by their pizza stones.  One of these days I’ll get around to getting one…

For now I find that half of that dough ball fills a baking sheet perfectly, and that is just enough pizza for me, my Mr., and my two preschoolers.  So I just divide the dough, freeze half, and plunk the other half in the middle of my lined pan.  Then I just press it and work it until it covers the whole bottom of the sheet.

Top the dough with the pulled pork.

Throw on a just a little bit of cheese (I’m using mozzarella), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

In the hot oven for 15 minutes or so, and then top it with thinly sliced green onions.

Click here for a 4×6 printable recipe card: Pizza Dough Recipe Card
Click here for yet another 4×6 printable recipe card: Crockpot Bulgogi Recipe Card

Yarn. Yeah Baby.

It’s on.

About 4 years ago I became obsessed with yarn.  I learned to crochet (thanks to the Happy Hooker), and made a whole bunch of wool longies.  If you’re unfamiliar with that concept, basically it’s a wool diaper cover.  For those who don’t cloth diaper, be prepared for a combination of horror and mystification:   http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_wool.asp

Later I learned to knit, (thanks to Stitch and Bitch).  I liked the look of knit better than crochet, especially when using hand painted yarn.  I also learned to hand paint my own yarn to save myself about $10 on a skein.  This is really fun activity and I really hope to have some time in the near future to pick it up again.

When I was pregnant with Leif, I did some dying (My supportive husband mixed the dyes, I wore heavy duty gloves and a mask, you shouldn’t handle the powder when you’re pregnant.  Thank you Jared for not being annoyed that I asked you to do that.).  I fell in love with a colorway by Three Irish Girls, and was short on cash, so I decided to try my hand at copying it.  Yes, I am not ashamed to admit I can be a huge copycat sometimes.  It’s a survival skill.

Mine turned out a little garish, but I’m garish, it’s ok. This yarn sat in a closet for 2 years.  Then about a year ago, I started my first knit project, a simple scarf:
Then a whole year later, yes, a simple scarf took me a whole year, it was finished and ready to wear!  Check us out!

On another note, check out the horrible haircut I gave my son!

I love that we can share clothes already!

Now that it’s done, I’m itching to pick up the needles again.  I saw this project on Pinterest:

I love this, but if I were to make it colorblocked, it would cost me about $85.  So, it’s going to be one color, well, not really, I bought multicolored yarn, but since I only needed to buy one skein, it cost $22.  I bought this beautiful yarn from Three Irish Girls.

Maeve by Three Irish Girls (Springvale Sock)

No, I will not be dying this time, it’s a time issue.  I’ll keep you posted when this is finished, two or four years from now!

Truffle Fries

Feeling ritzy on a Thursday, baby!

Are you kidding me?  When I see truffle fries on a restaurant menu I am all over that shiznit.  They are insane!

Why not just eat truffle fries whenever you feel like it?!  You will be livin’ the high life, baby, eating truffle fries whenever the mood strikes!  Today is just a regular old Thursday and I had truffle fries for lunch.  Don’t you wish you were me?  Aren’t you so jealous of my truffle fry Thursday?

Yes, you too can eat truffle fries on a Thursday afternoon while chasing your runny-nosed preschoolers around your sloppy-ass living room.  It’s easy.  All you need is a $15 bottle of truffle oil stashed in your cupboard.  Oh, and these other pantry staples.

Handful of Fresh Parsley
Tablespoon or so of Mayonnaise
Sprinkling of Garlic Powder

…and a potato of course.

Click here for my easy-peasy oven fry recipe.  That’s right, oven fries.  On top of having a fabulous truffle lifestyle you can also look like a supermodel.  These truffle fries are no more fattening than a baked potato.  Which, by the way carb-counters, happen to be pretty healthy.

Ok so for this prep we will not be using crab seasoning.  Just a little sprinkling of salt.  While your oven fries are crisping in the oven, lets make a little garlic aioli for dipping.  Hey why not?  After all those fat calories we saved by not frying we can afford a little indulgence…

All you need is some mayo and some garlic powder.  I prefer garlic powder over fresh garlic in this scenario.  It is a little mellower and it just dissolves right into the mayo so you’re not getting a big peppery bite of garlic between your teeth that’s going to leave you with dragon breath for the next 36 hours…

Just stir a little garlic powder into your mayo and give it a taste.  You can use as much or as little as you like.

When your fries are crispy and brown just throw them back into that same bowl that you started with.  A little drizzle of truffle oil and a handful of chopped fresh parsley and you are livin’ large, girlfriend!

In case you are a new kid on the Yin Mom, Yang Mom block (welcome!), this is part five in the french fry subcategory of a series on 2012 Food Trends for the Home Cook.  Improve the quality of your life through food!  Just because you are a stay-at-home-mom and housewife doesn’t mean you have to subsist on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mac and cheese!  You can eat restaurant-y food at home!  You can be a trendy eater!  Check out all the posts in this series and your tastebuds will thank you.

More French Fry Fun:
Crabby Fries
French Onion Disco Fries
Greek-Style Chili Cheese Fries
Buffalo Fries

Click here for a printable 4×6 recipe card: Truffle Fries Recipe Card

A Zen Moment – Strength

Om

So many of us are constantly faced with the feeling that we’re not thin enough. Don’t eat too many sweets, don’t eat a lot of fat, don’t eat carbs, work out, etc. This is old news. What’s surprising to me is that we don’t talk a whole lot about becoming strong. Inner strength is so important on such a core level. We can’t do anything without strength. We can’t carry our kids, we can’t handle stressful situations properly, we can’t really make any kind of positive changes in our lives without it. But yet, we still focus so intently on the issue of weight, and we’re seemingly always saying we struggle with our weight.

Wouldn’t it make sense that if we can make a few small changes that take just a few minutes out of our day? We could make ourselves physically and mentally stonger, and then things like self discipline and healthy food choices would just sort of naturally become part of our daily lives, and ultimately either make us skinnier, OR make us happy with the beautiful body we’ve been given.

I’m really not a big fan of drastic changes (anymore). I’ve done the drastic thing, and it’s exciting and all, but ultimately if anything starts dominating your thoughts and actions, things get thrown out of balance and eventually fall apart. So, I don’t really suggest that you completely change your life, but here a few things I like to do every morning to help myself feel comfortable with changing myself for the better, and give me inner and outer strength to face the challenges of the day in a positive way.

– Sit on a pillow on the floor. Either put your hands together, prayer-style over your heart, or put them palms up on your knees, or flat on the ground, depending on what’s most comfortable. Close your eyes, try to focus on your third eye chakra (the middle of your forehead), and take deep breaths. Pose the question in your mind, what do I need to hear today? Just wait, do that for a while, maybe 5 minutes. Any time a thought pops into your head, just sort of listen to it, and let it pass.

– Pick up a couple of hand weights, and do a few exercises. Doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but it wakes up your muscles and helps them get a little stronger. If you do it every day, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can feel your muscles getting a little buffer. This is a really great website that helps you figure out which exercises work best for specific areas you’d like to work on: http://www.divine.ca/en/fitness-and-nutrition/exercise-finder/c_266/.

– Hold a hot drink, look out the window, or go outside for a few minutes, take deep breaths, relax and feel grateful for the day ahead. Think about how you’d like today to be a little different, better than yesterday.

– Hold your hands over your throat, and say to yourself, I am strong, and I am willing to change. Ask for some inner strength and for some inspiration and motivation to do something cool today.

Some of these things might sound a little hokey, but most of us either have a few minutes alone in the morning where no one’s going to see or judge us for being weird, or, we’ve got some kids with us, and they’re totally weirder than you are, so there’s no need to be bashful.