January 29, 2019

We Regret to Inform You

Dear Madam,

We regret to inform you that a committee has met and determined once and for all you simply aren't good enough. We took a vote and unanimously agreed upon the following:

  • You will never achieve the things you are secretly dreaming in your heart. 
  • Plus, your dreams are so silly....just let those go, mmkay? 
  • Everyone is watching and waiting for you to fail. Failure is not permitted. 
  • Stepping out and drawing any sort of attention to yourself is foolish. 
  • Quirky fashion and eclectic style is something reserved for a cool, other sort of person so please wear only plain clothing and never high heels (in case you didn't know already, you are just so tall). 
  • Asking for help is a sign of weakness and people are annoyed by people who ask for help. 
  • The broken pieces that you haul around will never be put back together again, no matter how hard the king's horses and men may try. 
  • Your Instagram following is paltry at best, pathetic at worst and this determines a great deal of your life's worth and value. 
  • All that time you spend reading or listening to audio books could be better spent creating viral content like snazzy graphics and shareable memes. 
  • There is no audience who will relate to the weird stuff you think about, so it's best to keep all that to yourself. 
  • Daydreaming is a thing of childhood. You must get serious and spend your time thinking about things like tax shelters, HMOs, and continuously variable transmissions. 
  • The world is just terrible so there's no point trying to do any good to the contrary. 
  • You cannot speak unless what you say sounds perfect. You may not act unless every detail has been planned out to the nth degree. 

If you agree to these terms, please sign and return in a nondescript envelope without glittery stickers or any "i"s dotted with hearts. 


January 23, 2019

Cozy Winter Drinks to Brighten Your Day!

Winter is a necessary evil, but can really get me down, if I'm being completely honest. Shorter days, colder temperatures, and drab landscapes don't make me feel much like celebrating.

But alas, winter will pass and soon spring will have sprung. In the meantime, I'm trying to beat the winter blues with these delicious and easy drink recipes. Check them out and I hope you feel inspired!

Chocolate Chia Smoothie

Want to start your day off right? Try a rich chocolate smoothie that tastes great and is good for you! It is simple to make and calls for only basic ingredients you may already have on hand, with the exception of the chia seeds and they are easy to come by. 

You'll need: 
  • 1 peeled banana
  • A cup of fresh spinach
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  • A cup of milk 
  • 3 T chia seeds
  • 2 T cocoa powder (the unsweetened kind used for baking)
Blend everything together and enjoy! 

Golden Turmeric Latte 

Want something warm and soothing that isn't coffee? Try a turmeric latte (also called a turmeric tea).

Turmeric touts many scientifically-proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. It's a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.

Incorporate this rock star ingredient into your next warm drink!

Turmeric Latte Recipe: 

  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • black pepper (just a pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon of nut butter (almond, cashew nut or hazelnut)
  • 1 ½ cups water (or milk, for a creamier drink)
  • ½ - ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • pinch of salt 

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. This drink can be enjoyed warmed up or cold. Add cinnamon to your liking and enjoy! 

Wintry Coconut Mocktail

For this drink, I was inspired by Batida de coco, which is a Brazilian coconut cocktail. What better to help us get through winter in Tennessee than thoughts of Brazil? 

Batida (which means 'shaken' in Portugese) is a Brazilian cocktail recipe typically made with fruit juice and sweetened condensed milk. The version that inspired me substituted coconut milk for the fruit juice. It also calls for vodka (and you can find the original here) but mine is a mocktail for all ages! 

To make your coconut mocktail, you'll need: 

  • 1 can of Coconut Milk (you won't need the entire thing, maybe just a cup)
  • 1 tsp sweetened condensed milk (or honey)
  • 1 can of LaCroix coconut flavored fizzy water 
Mix the first two ingredients well. I prefer to shake them in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Pour into a glass and top with some chilled coconut fizzy water. Delicious and refreshing. Can't you taste summer now? 

January 21, 2019

Spoiler Alert - We Have No Way of Knowing

I do not like surprises. I guess I'm just too much of a control freak to 'let go and let God' enough to enjoy them. I don't mind small surprises, like an unexpected visit or call from a friend. It's the big surprises that are more of an issue. Things that make you feel like the rug has been completely pulled from under you on a random Tuesday and you're left scratching your head and trying to make sense of the fragments scattered about the floor.

Of course this makes life rather challenging for me, since it tends to dish up a fair share of the unexpected.

Maybe this is why I prefer more predictable forms of entertainment....i.e. genre books and films that stick to a certain formula. I especially love re-reading or re-watching favorites that I've seen umpteen times, since I know exactly what will happen in each subsequent viewing/reading. 

George Bailey will find redemption. Boo will save Jem and Scout will understand more about her father. Alice will wake up and realize all was but a dream. 

There's something about the predictable that's oh so comforting. 

I am guilty of trying to figure out what the ending of a book or movie will be before I opt to experience it. This is why I usually read spoilers before watching a film that I know will be a tear-jerker. It allows me to mentally prepare myself for what's to come. 

Books are a bit trickier because even thorough reviews don't always give away the major (heart wrenching) plot points. So I often end up choosing books that seem like a sweet story but end up turning me into a big old weeping mess.

Feelings aren't always so cut and dried. You can flip to the last page of a book to relieve anxiety about what's coming, but this doesn't work for feelings. As much as you might try, you can't actually predict them. I never know how a certain situation is going to make me feel until I'm in it.

And of course all these things are very personal. What speaks to or tugs at the heartstrings of one person is going to be completely opposite from what affects another. What bothers me may not give you a second thought. Things I miss completely may keep you up at night.

I can't always explain why certain things make me cry or laugh or feel angry or frustrated. But those things are part of who I am. As much as the fact that I'm tall or have curly hair or bad vision. Maybe those things are even more a part of ourselves than the outside stuff. And I don't think we should have to stifle or suppress it just because it makes others uncomfortable, even if the uncomfortable others are ourselves.

One of the biggest takeaways I've gotten from my past year or so seeing a counselor is that feelings are neither good nor bad. They just are. I can't tell you how many times I have said "I hate the way I feel about this or that" or "I wish I didn't feel this way." 

But we have feelings for a reason. They serve a very important purpose in our lives. Like a glass window pane created to let light pass through, our feelings and emotions are functional. And yet somehow some of us have decided that our feelings are wrong. So we get the expensive plantation shutters (or in my case the cheap mini blinds) and the blackout curtains to ensure no light peeks in. 

We do things to hold our feelings and emotions at a distance. I've definitely been guilty of this. We take away their ability to serve us as they were intended. And then we find ourselves in a dark room without any idea how we got there or what is a possible solution to fix it. 

There's a saying in the psychology lexicon, "to sit with your feelings." Mostly it has to do with feelings we consider to be negative.

It's easy to sit at the popular table. Feeling cool, excited, or accepted doesn't present the same challenges. It's the other, more difficult feelings I don't want to sit with. The ones that make me feel misunderstood, unwanted or unloved. Like the weird smelly kid at the cafeteria lunch table. 

I don't have a resolution yet. The story isn't over. Right now I'm just trying to give myself a bit of grace so when the uncomfortable feelings present themselves, I can let them be. I will sit with them even when it's uncomfortable and awkward. I will sit with them when I can't make eye contact and there's no easy conversation to be made. I will sit with them when everybody else is shifting sideways glances and judging me as a loser. I will sit with them when nobody else understands what I'm doing or why. I will sit with them until I get to know them and understand them even if nobody else ever does.

I will sit with my feelings until they stop being my enemy and become my friend. 

January 9, 2019

Fun & Simple Uses for Oatmeal

January is National Oatmeal Month (who comes up with these things?) so in honor of the occasion, I'm sharing some fun and simple uses for oatmeal that might be a little unexpected, but easy to make use of.

Who knew your favorite hearty winter breakfast food was good for all sorts of other things?

Soothe Your Pup's Dry Skin

Winter weather and being indoors with the heat running constantly can lead to dry itchy skin. And I'm not just talking about people....pets can struggle to adjust to the elements, especially if they have sensitive skin. 

My senior rescue gals (a Yorkie & a Chihuahua) both have various skin ailments and an oatmeal shampoo is a great way to pamper my beloved pooches. 

All you need is a cup of dry oatmeal (old fashioned oats NOT quick cooking). Grind the oats in a food processor or blender until they are a fine consistency, like flour. Stir in a third of a cup of baking soda. At this point you can add some coconut oil for a bit more moisture. Now add 2-4 cups of water (depending on the consistency you want). Use immediately or within a day or so but refrigerate if you aren't using right away. 

When you bathe your dog, just wet his or her coat and apply this oatmeal mixture as you would normal shampoo. It won't lather up like a harsh detergent shampoo, but get it into their skin and problem areas. If your dog will cooperate, leave on for 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, rinse and you're good to go! 

Oatmeal Face Mask for Glowing Skin

Besides keeping you full as a hearty breakfast option, oatmeal has other benefits that are great for skin. Did you know it both soothes and softens? This is why it is such a good option for a DIY home face mask. 

Depending on your skin type, you may want to mix oatmeal with milk which has lactic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells. Here's a great mask recipe you can make to treat your skin this winter: 

Add a spoonful of whole old fashioned oats into a mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons of milk (whole or 2%). Stir until mixture is full mixed. You can also add yogurt or cream as a substitute for milk. 

First clean your face as you normally do to remove makeup. Then apply the oatmeal mix to your skin (face, neck, etc) and let it set for 15-20 minutes. After that, wash with lukewarm water to clean the mask from your face.  

Non-Toxic Activity Dough for Kids

Looking for something fun and simple for your kids to do on a snow day? Oatmeal can be mixed into a fun and easy "play" dough that's non-toxic and inexpensive to create. 

To make it, combine a cup of instant rolled oats with 2/3 all purpose flour and 1/2 a cup of water. Mix everything together and even let the kiddos get involved in the process. You can add food coloring to give your dough some different hues. 

Happy National Oatmeal Month y'all!