Author Archives: Michelle

Coconut Latte Ice Cream

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It’s been a scorcher.

With several days of triple digit temps, and no sign of relief in the forecast for some time (September, maybe?), we’ve been forced to cope in our own ways.

In our case, we’ve had ice cream more times in the past few weeks than we care to admit. In fact, my dinner last night consisted of a Reese’s Sonic Blast. That’s it.

But there is a better way!

Rather than wasting our money day after day on some sort of iced confection, I’ve found that it’s better to produce a more wholesome variation at home. But surely not less tasty.

I chose a coffee flavor because coffee is my favorite flavor in dessert. It even beats out chocolate.

Heresy!

I know.

And to add insult to injury, I made this entirely dairy free and sweetened only with honey.

I have no philosophical problem with the moderate consumption of dairy or even processed sugar. But my tummy sometimes does. This is a kinder, gentler version.

This is not your grandma’s homemade ice cream. But it’s creamy enough, sweet enough, decadent enough, that grandma will love it too.

 

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Coconut Latte Ice Cream
Makes 1 pint

1/2 cup coconut cream (the cream top off chilled, full-fat canned coconut milk. I recommend Thai Kitchen brand. It’s 3/4 solid when chilled!)
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (use as much of the cream top as possible)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup extra-strong coffee
1 tbsp vanilla extract

 

Whisk together the coconut cream, milk, and honey in small saucepan over medium heat until fully combined, smooth, and honey is dissolved.

Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk in the coffee and vanilla extract.

Allow cool COMPLETELY in the fridge. Warm liquid in cold ice cream maker makes for big, nasty ice crystals. Patience, young padawan!

Once chilled, pour liquid into ice cream maker and process per manufacturers instructions.

Once finished, transfer the ice cream into a separate bowl or container and place back into the freezer for a few hours or until desired firmness.

Enjoy!

 

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What’s your favorite thing to eat/drink to beat the heat?

Lavender & Honey Lemonade

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It’s the first day of Summer! And do you know what that means?!

I am wearing shorts.

Zucchini will soon overtake my garden and kitchen.

My hair is never sitting on my neck.

I will eat more gazpacho in two months than in all the other months of the year combined.

And I need an iced cold one. At all times.

But I’m not talking about beer! No… I’m taking about lemonade!

Read More →

Flour Tortillas, Gluten Free

When I first had to go gluten free, I learned quickly that the easiest way to survive this change in diet was to choose corn tortillas over flour. I live in Texas. My town is predominately hispanic. If we go out to eat, about 75% of the time it is for Tex-Mex food. I have learned to love corn tortillas over the past nine months, but my first love is really for flour tortillas. Those chewy flatbreads seasoned with their time cooked on well-used cast iron. I knew my favorite restaurant flour tortillas, and I could always tell when a restaurant served store-bought. There is no comparison.

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Since I’m a self-proclaimed snob about flour tortillas, I took it upon myself to start making them from scratch in my own kitchen. My college years left me with lots of trial and error. My webmaster, John, was living with my husband (then boyfriend) in their first apartment when I first (to my recollection) took a shot at them. It was late at night, as the majority of our culinary experimentation and frivolity was, and I was tossing flour all over the place and over-kneading dough while John was earnestly applying all his body weight on the rolling pin trying to press out the tortillas thinly. The pieces would always seize back up into a rubbery ball, and the resulting cooked bread was thick and impliable!

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Thankfully, I learned the key to perfect flour tortillas when I first used HOT liquid in my recipe. Suddenly, my dough transformed into a play-dough texture and easily rolled out into thin sheets of dough. These were tortillas that you could fold fajitas into and they wouldn’t break! They were thin, flexible, and chewy, rather than the hardtack from my college experiments!

But going gluten free last year officially threw a wrench into things. Simply substituting my whole wheat pastry flour with some other whole grain gluten free flour did not work. At all. And adding xanthan gum did not help either. But after reading about the baking properties of sweet rice flour, I decided to do some experimentation with my original recipe made for wheat flour and finally found success!

 

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But here’s the warning you’re all waiting for: these are STARCHY. Sweet rice flour really functions more as a starch than a regular flour in gluten free baking. But flour tortillas aren’t about being good for the body, anyway. They’re good for the spirit.

 

Gluten Free Flour Tortillas
Makes about 8 tortillas

1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour (I’ve successfully omitted the millet and doubled the sorghum before, but I think the millet adds a little more depth of flavor)
1 1/3 cup sweet rice flour (do not use regular white or brown rice flour!)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 – 3/4 cup HOT water

 

In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt together. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk quickly. Pour 1/2 cup of VERY HOT water into the bowl. My tap water gets very hot, so I used that, but the temperature you are shooting for is “too hot to touch, but lower than bowling.” Stir with a spoon to mix will. If the mix is too crumbly and is not easily coming together in a ball, add a little bit of water one tablespoon at a time until it does.

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The texture will be like play dough. Or a thick cookie dough. You should be able to roll pieces into a ball without leaving a bunch of residue on your hands. But it shouldn’t crumble apart either. This is probably the trickiest part about making tortillas. Failure happens easily when the dough is either too dry or too wet. But if you have to lean one way or another… go a little wet.

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I invested in a tortilla press last year after I realized that using a rolling pin was a time consuming pain with the great frequency that I make tortillas, but a rolling pin does work well. This cast iron model I picked up from the local hispanic grocery store was only about $10.

Line a tortilla press with plastic wrap and place a ball of dough in the middle of the plate and press down. Or omit the tortilla press and using a rolling pin. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round!

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Now gently lift one side of the plastic wrap off the dough. Then flip the exposed side down on your hand and with the other hand lift the other side of plastic wrap gently off the tortilla.

Quickly turn the tortilla onto a dry, seasoned cast iron pan that has been heated to the point of sizzling if you spritz water onto it (medium to medium-high). I use a nifty comal I picked up from a local antique store for $12!

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Now here’s another important trick. Tortillas dry out VERY quickly and lose their elasticity, gluten or not. The very MOMENT that you can nudge the tortilla around the pan, FLIP IT.

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Leave the tortilla on for only about 20-30 seconds on the second side. Then move the tortilla onto a plate covered with a damp towel. What I do is dampen one towel with warm water, lay it out and place a dry towel on top. I then fold the layers in half and rest the tortillas inside.

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Soft, pillowy, chewy tortillas perfect for breakfast tacos, fajitas, or slathering with honey and snacking on!

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Summer Fruit Tart

About two weeks ago, I ate nectarines and plums for the very first time. This may seem a shocker for some, but here in Texas, peaches are the “big deal” fruit of the season. However, most peaches around these parts aren’t really ready until July. But the nectarines, plums, and apricots, however, are ready for the picking.

When Edgar first ate a nectarine (same time I did), he confessed that he may like nectarines more than peaches! (To that I responded that it wasn’t peach season yet, so he couldn’t really make that assessment. Winking smile )

When I first ate on, I realized that I needed to turn nectarines into dessert! Stat!

When the sun comes out every year as the mercury rises, I think we all tend to stash away our chocolate desserts and reach for the fresh fruits of the seasons. Since many people I know disliked cooked fruit, I came up with this fruit tart that is only about 2/3 cooked. And given my recent efforts toward simplicity in cooking and baking, I decided to make the crust with almond meal and sweeten the entire dessert with only honey and fruit. Thus, this dessert is grain-free and wholesome. And given the simple construction of this confection, you can easily swap out portions to cater to your own tastes! Red current jam or whipped cream instead of lemon curd? Berries instead of stone fruits? Go ahead and experiment!

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Summer Fruit Tart

8 oz (about 2 cups) almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 oz (1/4 c) solid coconut oil
1 egg
1 T honey

1 full recipe Lemon curd (I followed this recipe exactly. In the interest of respect for other food bloggers, I’m not listing the recipe here. Follow the link and you’ll find the original recipe!)

About 3 each nectarines and plums, pitted and cut into wedges
About 1 tbsp honey. If too thick to spread with a basting brush, thin only SLIGHTLY with warm water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, salt, and cinnamon until integrated. Then add the coconut oil, in pieces, and cut it into the almond meal mixture with a fork until the mix resembles a very coarse meal. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the egg and honey. Then add the egg mix to the almond meal mix and combine until the dough is one well-integrated ball. Set aside.

Line an 8.5×11 baking pan with parchment paper (or omit this step entirely and use a tart pan! In hindsight I think the recipe would be even better this way). You may have to cut the paper narrow to fit inside the pan. This will be used like a sling to help lift the tart out of the pan later. Take the dough and press it into the bottom of the pan on top of the parchment paper. It will be a thin crust and you may have to use a spoon to spread it.

Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes until firm and just barely turning brown on the edges. Allow the crust to cool on a cooling rack for an hour.

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Once cooled, apply the full lemon curd recipe on top of the crust. It will be a little runny. It’s okay. Call it rustic and lick the curd off your fingers when nobody is looking.

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Arrange the nectarine and plum wedges in a pretty pattern on top of the curd. Then brush honey on top of the fruit to glisten!

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Enjoy!

Cultivating Simplicity

I think we can all relate. Life gets too loud.

So much information coming in that we find it hard to give anything back.

At least that’s been me.

I’ve been working on simplifying my life a bit more over here. I’ve come to learn that “garbage in, garbage out” has close cousins: “excess in, nothing out,” or its fraternal twin, “excess in, negativity out.” I’m not sure which is worse.

So I’ve been working to cut down on the overstimulation. Sometimes. No, often times . . . we just need some quietness. Then we can perhaps make some sense, no?

One of the ways I’ve been trying to cultivate simplicity is cutting down on the excess internet information. That’s a hard concept. I’ve been glued to the computer since I was a toddler, evidently.

I’m an observer. I love to learn and absorb information in brief bursts. I can get carried away easily on the tides. But sometimes the surf just knocks me down. So I’ve whittled down my exposure.

My google reader has been cut in half. There are so many valuable blogs out there, but I can’t manage to read them all every day. Least of all several times a day. I’ve limited my reader to what I can manage every few days. To blogs I can relate to or learn from. People I feel an urge to actually interact with. I’ve made my reader more personal.

I’ve done the same with Facebook, in essence. Over the past three weeks I’ve made it routine to go through my news feed and “unsubscribe” (but not un-friend) from the feeds of all but a select few—mostly close family and friends, and a few peers whose updates always prove humbling, yet uplifting.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Indeed.

My pursuit of simplicity hasn’t just been limited to my media exposure. I’ve also been implementing this in the kitchen. First of all, I’m working on simplifying my gluten free cooking and baking by limiting my ingredients. At best, I like to use a few high-quality ingredients in my cooking. This process goes against a large majority of specialized GF baking which incorporates a laundry list of ingredients, half of which are highly processed and starchy. “Wholesomeness” and these recipes do not co-exist. So I’m cutting back. I’ve found my favorites of the grain world (raw buckwheat, quinoa, masa harina), and I plan to experiment with a select few alternatives (almond flour, cashews, maybe chestnut?). I’ve decided to hold back on (though not entirely eliminate) the others that do not fully meet my taste in some way or another (coconut flour, amaranth, starches, etc.). I am a real foodist. I like my food to be recognizable as what it is. Simple and true. Nature, not a lab. Art, not a science. I don’t get that feeling when I use xanthan gum and tapioca starch. But that’s just my style.

Lastly (for now at least), I’m implementing some routine in my meal planning. It’s not a new concept. Many families have “fish night” or something (I knew a family who had weekly “Chicken Express nights”). We have started pasta nights on Thursdays after our evening workouts (Zumba+modified Crossfit for me; Running+Crossfit for him). I like pasta. Pasta is creative. Pasta is quick. I wear pajamas and a sweatshirt when I make it. I don’t need a recipe for pasta. I don’t think you do either. So I’m just here, sharing my dinner with you. It’s just a little of this, a little of that. And a heavy dose of simplicity and sincerity. Because sometimes we just need a quiet meal.

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Completion

 

In the last month or two, Edgar and I have made significant shifts in our lives. The biggest of which, perhaps, was the Edgar’s senior recital. I was waiting to post about it because I was waiting on better photos, which I have yet to get, so instead of waiting any longer, I will share the limited photos I took with my own camera (or others took for me on my camera).

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Edgar said that he messed up a few times, but that was to be expected. We were/are all so proud of him, and the very experience of being present for his senior recital was such a heartwarming experience in our lives!

After the recital family and friends ventured back to our house to fellowship and prepare for the (unpictured, sorry.) cookout we shared that evening.

My mom gave Ed a graduation gift that was really for the both of us.

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It was all of our wedding photos arranged into two giant albums! My mom arranged and printed them all herself! We are so thankful! Even though my major was in art and photography is a hobby of mine, I’m terrible about not getting my photos printed. I have all my wedding photos on disc but the only time I printed any of them was for Christmas gifts a month after we got married. We only have one wedding photo on display in our house. I’m glad to finally have something to share!

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After this point I was busy preparing tons of food (burgers donated from a rancher friend of Ed’s parents, whole wheat buns—which I never tasted because I had my own frozen GF buns, various sides, and Dr Pepper Chocolate Cupcakes!) and loving on family and friends, so I didn’t take many pictures at all, but here the select few I snapped while the sun was setting.

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I believe that every so often, one experiences or event fills your heart so much that in leaves a permanent imprint on it. These are events that you can look back on and immediately feel the same overwhelming love you experienced at that moment. This evening was one of those times. Was it “perfect” as far as events go? No. Absolutely not. But then again, I don’t believe perfection has any place in the act of entertaining! What matters is that our loved ones came together in our home, shared stories, shared love, and celebrated a milestone in someone’s life.

 

Edgar, I’m so proud of you! I’m thrilled to be traveling this life with you!

Making Friends out of Former Enemies

 

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Have you ever hated a certain food only to find you like it later? That’s been my case with things like mushrooms, raw tomatoes, and red wine.

I really feel that in order to say you don’t like something, you must try it in a variety of different preparations and flavor combinations before making a judgment. This has led me to conclusions that I just don’t like raw broccoli, but I loved it steamed, roasted or grilled! I love fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter, but not served out of a can. I like cucumber in gazpacho, but not chopped up in a salad or in tabbouleh. Or celery diced fine and stewed slowly in soup or dressing, but never, ever served raw!

Which leads me to this recipe I found in my most recent issue of Z-Life (a magazine I receive as a member of the Zumba Instructor Network).

Beet and Apple Salad.

First, I will share with you my first former enemy.

Beets.

Omg.

I have tried so many times to love beets. But every time it just tastes like I’m eating dirt. Red beets, golden beets, roasted, pickled (ew), doesn’t matter. Dirt.

But every time I prepare them I find I sort of like them even more. I can’t say that I love them, but they have found a place in my life. I will continue to prepare them in different ways and find, every time, that I like them a little more. This recipe is one of those that makes me like beets even more. Perhaps one day I’ll be a beet-a-holic?! That will be the day I make borscht.

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Beet and Apple Salad with Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette
Adapted from Z-Life
Serves 2-4

3 small beets (I used golden)
Oregano
1 apple (I used fuji. Ignore the fact that there are two apples in the pic. Unless you want more apple—then go for it!)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

 

First, peel the beets. I used a paring knife, and because I used golden beet instead of red, I didn’t look like a murder victim from CSI. But if red suits you, go for it.

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Then, slice the beets into half-moon slices. Wrap up in parchment paper (I used this method) with a sprinkle of oregano and roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender (I just shove a toothpick through the parchment and gauge the texture from there).

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Very quickly dump the beets into a bowl of water and ice and leave there for about 30 seconds. Some people call this “shocking” and it’s typically used to halt cooking and preventing green things from turning brown. I did it because I wanted my beets chilled when I mixed them with the apples. If you want warm beets with cool apples, omit this “shocking” step (hurr hurr).

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Slice apple into thin half-moon-ish slices. I use this manner of slicing.

Mix beets with apples. Then gently mix in the pistachios and the dressing. Serve and enjoy!

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This brings us to the second previously-hated item.

Mustard.

I have for many years proclaimed my disdain for mustard. My friends and I even have a year-long joke currently running where they will hide small packets of mustard in our house after we made the proclamation last year that we “are not a mustard family.” My disfavor came from the awful stench of mustard and the radioactive yellow shade of the French’s style I was exposed to growing up. However, to be frank, I’d never actually eaten it. But lately as I was reading over the ingredients on the bottle of my favorite store-bought dressing (Brianna’s Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette), I realized that what made this dressing “creamy” and gave it a certain depth of flavor that couldn’t be found in regular oil + vinegar concoctions was the mustard. After doing much soul-searching, I bought a small bottle of Grey Poupon and vowed to start with baby steps. And that first baby step, this dressing, is a major success!

Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I used World Market brand, which amazingly tastes exactly like a real root of ginger! Not many powdered varieties capture that sweet-spicy-citrusy taste)
salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar or bowl and whisk well.

 

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Are there any foods you hated growing up that you now love?

Interim

 

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This past month has been an adventure.

Since I last posted Edgar left his job working out of town (he worked for/lived with his dad three hours away during the week and came home on weekend), and spent the time since job hunting and practicing for his senior recital preliminary hearing (the last thing he needs to graduate).

This time of interim has definitely strengthened our faith. Edgar is the overwhelmingly primary breadwinner in this household, and we have really had to depend on God to provide in His time. This time has also brought Edgar and I closer together, since we had not been able to spend much time together since last June (hence the lack of blogging). I was telling Ed that I finally “feel married” again. It’s hard to be one person trying to run a two-person household. I’ll say it requires a lot of strength, patience, and faith.

And that faith has been rewarded.

Last Monday Edgar passed his recital prelim. This is what determines whether he graduates or not. This is the grade. His is finally graduating after three years of attempting his recital! It’s actually happening! After next week, our time at Wayland will be over!

On that same day he had an interview for a full-time job here in town. It is a job at a local hardware/home improvement-type store (like a mini-Home Depot). Several days later he was offered the job. He starts sometime this week.

And during this time, God has been faithful to provide all we need. And more.

But this special time of interim is coming to an end. We will return to a regular schedule. I will spend my afternoons doing more laundry and blogging and less cuddling and roaming around town with Edgar. Our days will be more compartmentalized. I am ever thankful for this time, and I look forward to the next.

To kick things off, I’ll share with you a recipe (if you can call it that) I put together one evening when the weather started getting beautiful enough to eat out on the patio.

Vegetable Enchiladas with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce

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Ingredients:

  • Onion, chopped fine
  • Green chiles (fresh or canned), diced finely.
  • Prepared corn salsa, about half the recipe
  • Zucchini, cut into quartered slices
  • Cilantro, about 2 TBSP chopped
  • Avocado, mashed
  • Vegetable broth, about 1 cup
  • Plain yogurt (I used goat milk), about 1 cup
  • Lime juice, around 2 TBSP
  • Shredded pepperjack cheese (or other Mexican blend)
  • Green onions (for garnish), chopped fine
  • Spices: I use salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, ancho chile powder, and a little cayenne. I don’t measure, but I will advice not to go crazy with the cumin or cayenne. A little goes a very long way!
  • Prepared corn tortillas (I made my own, so you can certainly do that, but I’ll do a separate blog post on tortilla making later!)

 

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Combine onion, green chiles, corn salsa, zucchini, cilantro, and half your spice mixture in a hot pan with a little oil. Saute until onions are translucent and zucchini is crisp-tender.

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In a separate pot, mix together yogurt, vegetable broth, lime juice, the rest of the spice mixture, and the mashed avocado, and whisk over medium heat. I just tasted and added more spices until it tasted right.

 

In a casserole dish I ladled a little sauce into the bottom of the dish, then I took warm corn tortillas a filled them (not too much! a little goes a long way!) with the veggie mixture, and placed them seam-side-down in the dish. I then covered the enchiladas with all of the remaining sauce, topped with cheese and chopped green onions. I put them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese was melted and sauce was slightly bubbly.

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I also always like to set aside a few enchiladas in these small Corningware dishes to stash in the freezer for an easy lunch or dinner. I don’t bake these before freezing. When I want to eat it, I’ll pull it out of the freezer, take off the lid, place it in the oven, THEN turn the oven on to 350 and let the dish warm up while the oven preheats and continue to cook until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Microwave works too in a pinch.

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Until next time!

Seven

 

Here are seven things I’m liking right now!

 

1. Not having TV

About a week and a half ago Edgar and I decided to cancel our cable television service. There was never anything good on anyway, and we figured the extra $20 a month could be better spent elsewhere. I already knew that most the time I had the TV on, it was for white noise, so I reasoned with myself, knowing that if I wanted white noise, I could turn on Pandora or a TV show on Netflix. It’s been a week and a half since we have watched traditional television, and we don’t miss it at all! It’s so nice not having to see or hear television commercials all the time! And as a bonus, we’re spending our time better now since we don’t have the TV as a time suck.

And just for an FYI, I am currently listening to some bluesy, classic rock and roll, and I love it!

2. Baby Johnson

After months of being told that they were having a GIRL, Justin and Aubrey were surprised with an 8 lb, 11 oz, 20” long baby BOY! Little Joshua William Johnson made his public debut a week ago today! I’m so happy for my dear friends!

I got him this onesie!!

 

3. Bread baking

I’ve been going crazy over here with bread baking. In the past week I have baked two different loaves of gluten free bread, and I have a gluten free sourdough starter in the process of growing, feasting, and fermenting on my counter right now.

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I’ve already decided it going into two different loaves—a gluten free sourdough from Get Off Gluten, and a soaked spelt sourdough recipe I’m adapting from this page. I have not been tested for Celiac disease yet, but to do so I need to be eating gluten to some extent. I don’t plan on getting testing until at earliest this summer so in the meantime I think I’m going to utilize soaked spelt and kamut recipes for my yeasted breads and remain gluten-free for everything else. I already know that I tolerate spelt and kamut better than regular wheat. Perhaps soaking (to reduce gut-irritating phytic acid) will help even further? We’ll see.

In addition to this, I’ve been stalking The Fresh Loaf a great deal. I love that place. It’s a big forum for amateur (or not???) bakers. They toss around terms like “autolyse” and “dough hydration” and I have to refer to a glossary when I read just about any post, but the learning experience excites me!

 

4. Birth Without Fear

 

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I was introduced to this blog through a fellow homeschool graduate over facebook. With half the people around me having babies and my unabashed interest in obstetrics and gynecology (a seed planted during my uterine didelphys diagnosis at age 12, no doubt), the concept of birth has been on the brain. It is fascinating to see how starkly different modern American obstetrical protocol is from traditional practices of childbirth worldwide. The average American hospital these days only knows two births—a medicated and “controlled” vaginal birth or a cesarean section, which is quickly becoming more the norm than not. Whatever happened to uncomplicated births? How did people handle breech births before c-sections became protocol? How did people manage labor before the epidural? I’m not against hospitals or medical intervention when necessary, but these questions intrigue me.

5. Honey

But not to eat!

For the past almost-year I have been washing my face with it! Honey is a natural antiseptic, and ayurvedic medicine suggests it is good for oily skin, so I decided to give it a whirl. And it works! My skin started clearing up when I quit washing my face with products containing salicylic acid, and when I made the switch to honey instead of commercial face wash, my skin got even better! If only I knew this as a preteen, then maybe I wouldn’t have spent so much money on junky creams and washes!

6. Pinterest

I have been on Pinterest since last summer, and since then my boards have become a mess of random pins. I have done quite a bit of re-organization in the past few weeks, though, and now I have some boards dedicated exclusively to baking, gluten free foods, and vegetarian recipes! Check them out! (Feel free to check out the rest of my boards as well! Winking smile )

 

7. Fertility Friend

T.M.I. ALERT!

While many use this program to help them get pregnant (or avoid pregnancy, using Fertility Awareness Method), I use it to track the progress of my PCOS management. Since I’m not taking pharmaceuticals to manage my hormone levels, I have to pay attention to my body’s signals and how they respond to lifestyle choices. I take my temps every morning at 7AM. I have a special alarm on my phone, a thermometer by my bed, and an app on my phone I use to log my temps before rolling over and going back to sleep. I later plug in my temps and any other symptoms I’m feeling (headache, cramps, irritability, climate of the netherworld, etc.) as well as things like what medication I took and if I exercised. Then, when it believes it has enough information, it calculates which day I probably ovulated (if I ovulated all!) and seeing the chart patterns over time helps indicate a specific hormonal imbalance that may need tending to.

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An abormally…normal…ish chart. This was last month—the shortest cycle I have EVER had, and the earliest day of ovulation I have ever observed (it’s normally observed around day 19 for me). Exercise (the 02 spot at the bottom) obviously managed my hormones levels to the point where my cortisol rose, my DHEA lowered, and my cycle didn’t last so frickin long. Of course, my scary low follicular phase temps might be a cause for thyroid concern despite my “normal” TSH blood test results. Another typical part of PCOS treatment I need to consider.

And in case you are wondering, no, we are not planning for children in the near future. We have some career and possible relocation decisions to make before then. Winking smile

Fitness on the mind

This past weekend I began officially instructing Zumba at the local YMCA and since then I have lead two classes. This little change in my routine has created a snowball effect of activity—I have worked out all but one day in the past week! This is definitely more than my norm, but I think my body is happy for it.

And since I have fitness on the brain, I thought I’d fill this out. I saw it on Cardio Pizza a while back and now actually feel like I have something to say in response to these questions! Seems like fun to me!

Five Fitness Things I can’t Live Without:

    • iPod/iPhone
    • ponytail holders (I am not one of those people who can tolerate working out with hair on my neck!)
    • water bottle nearby (I am not on of those people who can tolerate going more than 5 minutes without a drink of water, and even that is a really long time for me!)
    • dancing!
    • group aerobics. I’m so unmotivated on my own sometimes.

Most Embarrassing Song I Listen to While Working Out:

  • That totally depends on who I’m telling it to. I teach/do Zumba, so it’s understood that there’s a lot of dance/club/latin/world music going on. But it’s not generally music I listen to for the sake of listening to music. I suppose any top 40 songs, like “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO or “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5. Though “Drop it Low” by Ester Dean and Chris Brown is a contender!

Favorite Pre-Workout Snack or Meal:

  • Dates and almond butter! Eating exclusively carbs leave my stomach feeling empty not long after, but I don’t like to eat a lot right before working out. The date and almond butter combo gives me energy and staying-power without risking stomach cramps or lethargy!

On My Fitness Bucket List:

  • Get more Zumba certifications (Basic 2 and Toning)
  • Get group fitness certification
  • participate in a bike race
  • be able to touch my toes with my knees straight (my hamstring flexibility was shot with puberty)

Must-Have Tech Tools:

  • iPod/iPhone. That’s about it. hehe.

Best Workout Song:

Top Exercise Gear:

  • I generally avoid buying clothing from Walmart, but the other day I managed to find a sports bra with cups that was NOT racerback! I’ve tried, but I simply cannot tolerate a racerback sports bra. I know Lululemon is famous for their Ta-Ta Tamer which isn’t racerback, but $80 I have not. I did have $15, and the Walmart bra has been a godsend ever since I bought it.
  • Comfy tanks/tees/capris/shorts. I do really love my running shorts, but it was 33 degrees today…

Motivational Mantra:

  • “I’m getting paid to do this…” HAHAH!

Next Big Exercise Goal:

  • Getting involved in more strength training. Since I have access to the YMCA now, I’m hoping to actually take advantage of the weight rooms. I also figure since I’m doing so much cardio between my own classes and the one or two other Zumba classes I still want to attend every week, I need to balance my fitness with some strength exercises.

Favorite Cardio Exercise:

  • ZUMBA!
  • Dance! I miss swing dancing dearly…

Favorite Strength Move:

  • Mot a “move,” but pilates and yoga are my favorite strength-building activities.
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