Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Mantra: Santa vs. Werewolves

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Believe in what makes your heart happy

I'm not quite sure why, but I never believed in Santa when I was little. I never believed in any of the traditional kid favorites, such as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. I know my family tried to get me in the spirit of believing by sliding money under my pillow when I lost a tooth or making me sit on Santa's lap in the mall and writing him a Christmas Wish List, but none of that worked. In my mind, Real Santa was my family who bought all the presents and Fake Santa was some creepy guy in a rented out costume.

That being said I did, however, believe in some things. Such as werewolves.

I know I've mentioned my fear of wolves (were and otherwise) before, but I've never really explained. As a child I was a little, uh, adventurous. One of my many adventurous type of activities was sneaking out of bed and watching horror movies in the middle of the night. My first flick was Tremors with Kevin Bacon and those giant worm things that took over a small, dusty town. I loved it. I loved every single thing about its awesome 80's thriller antics. After that, I was hooked on horror.

I liked all the scary movies - vampires, zombies, monsters - but my favorites ones were of werewolves. The reason behind that is because those were the only movies that scared me. The rest were thrilling and fun, but not terrifying. I wanted to be terrified. I liked the electricity of fear zipping through me. This was all good and fine until The Werewolf Fear kicked in. Up until that point I had no problems sleeping, I wasn't afraid of the dark, and coyote howls in the night didn't bother me. One night I snuck out of bed to watch a werewolf movie at my grandparents house and I was never the same.

First and foremost it's important to note that I grew up in a small town with forest surrounding everything. I would often see wild animals crossing through my yard at night or hear them rummaging in plants below my window. My grandparents house, in particular, was very secluded and backed up to forest that housed javelinas, coyotes, deer, elk, and the occasional bear. The night I got The Werewolf Fear I was staying at their house. I had crawled out of bed to watch The Howling and positioned myself in a chair that faced a window with a wide open view of the forest. It was pitch black outside, as well as inside, except for the TV and a hall light.

I can clearly recall the scene that scared the daylights out of me and ruined me for the rest of time. In it, a pair of red eyes float down a pitch black staircase of an abandoned building. That was it- red eyes, floating, somewhere you knew a body of a wolf was attached to them. That all by itself terrified me. But at that same moment I looked away from the TV and over to the window and my little heart began to pound furiously. Outside of the window was a pair of orange-red eyes, staring right back at me. I sat there, terrified, for hours. The eyes never moved. Eventually my grandmother came out, saw me, and took me to bed, but those eyes stayed with me in my little mind forever. Years later I was sitting in the same chair, staring out the same window one night when I once again saw them. At first I was startled, but my more mature mind finally took time to process what I was seeing and figured out it was a reflection of part of a grandfather clock that hung on the wall. All those years I was afraid of what lived in that forest and it was only my favorite clock, reflected oddly back at me in the window by the hall light.

It's okay, though. I'm mostly recovered from my own self-inflicted trauma. After everyone making fun of me for my whole entire life, I eventually got over the werewolf thing. I don't go for walks at night in a forest or anything, but I can handle listening to wolves howl in stupid attorney commercials on TV without hiding in the next room. Not that I ever did that or anything. That would be silly. Ha, yeah. Not me...

My point, after this very long story, is that you're going to believe in what you want to believe. Maybe it's Santa, maybe it's werewolves, but no one can make you believe in something you don't want to believe in. So this year believe in something that fuels your fire (and is hopefully happy and not horror like).

Believe in your dreams, your life goals, yourself. Believe that you can achieve whatever you want to in life with just the right amount of energy and time.

All you have to do is believe.

And now, food.

Since I've left you hanging for a while now without any recipes, I thought I should make up for that and share an old family favorite. This creamy cherry pie has been in the family for over three decades. It's rich in flavor and melts in your mouth. It's my moms specialty and while it's not Paleo or dairy free, it is gluten free (as of recently) and still as delicious as it was when it was full of the Big Bad Gluten. Also, it's easy to make. EASY.  So if you're in a bind for something delicious and quick to make this year, this will solve your problem. You're welcome.

Mom's Old Fashioned Cherry Pie
  • 1 can Eagle Brand milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cool whip
  • 1/4 TSP almond extract
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 1 can cherries for pie filling
  • Gluten free graham crackers (individual or pre-made pie crust)

If you're using GF graham crackers and don't have a pie crust handy, crush the graham crackers and make sure you add in some butter (olive oil doesn't work as well in this case) to help form the crust. First start adding the butter to the crackers in a bowl until it beings to stick together, then transfer to a pie plate to form the crust. I needed about 1/2 a stick of butter, but start smaller with 1/4 a stick and work your way up as needed from there.

Mix milk, juice, cool whip, almond, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Pour this mixture into your graham cracker pie crust. Pour the can of cherries on top of that. Finish with cool whip around the edges. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, but the longer the better. I like to make it the night before as the flavors really mix together and it seems to set better over night.

This will be my last post for 2013. I'll "see" you all in the new year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate!

Image via themetapicture

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Mantra: What Really Matters

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Remember what really matters

Lately, old memories have been resurfacing. Most of them are of my grandmother who, today, would have been 100 years old. Two years have come and gone, two birthdays, two Christmases, two of everything.

It's amazing how much someone can still hurt after two entire years.

Last week I was looking over old recipes she had written to me, just for me, and I lost it. Recipes, of all things. But they weren't just recipes. They were pieces of paper she once touched. They were her words with her funny little messages at the end of each of them. They're something that can never be  replaced. I hold them carefully, delicately, as if they're pieces of antique glass that could shatter at any moment.

I've lost a lot of people in my life but when I lost her, I officially became grandparent-less. That was really hard for me to handle because I love every single thing about grandparents. For me, anyway, when I had them I had everything I ever needed. I think of how my own children will one day be limited because I don't have a father for them to call grandpa and on some strange scale of Uncontrollable-Things-That-Make-You-Feel-Guilty, well, that one makes be feel terrible.

Last year I wrote a post called One Year Later, in honor of her memory and all the little things I would forever miss. I didn't actually write this to make all of you cry, believe it or not. I write this to tell you to remember what's important in life. It's not how many gifts you're buying or how clean your house is or how many hours you put in at the office. It's the people in your life that count. It's the moments you spent with them, it's the things you shared, said, did. Remember what really matters in life and make more of those moments happen now.

I Love You, Loved You, Always Will

Today I weep, I weep for you
I weep for things that won't come true, 
I weep for what was had, now lost
I weep because this is the cost.

I loved you then, I love you now
I'll love you until there's no sound,
I'll love you 'til the earth is still
I love you, loved you, always will.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Mantra: Life's Hard

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: You're doing the best you can. Remember that and let go of the rest.

It's hard to be a person.

We grow up, go to school, and work work work work work. We make tiny human beings, run errands, and try to live up to everyones expectations.

We want to be good at everything we have an interest in -  crafts, music, cooking, cleaning, yoga/running/whatever-your-thing-is.

We long to be smart, kind, appreciated, loved.

In turn, we want to be loving, grateful, inspiring, and awesome.

We want to look a certain way, feel a certain way, think a certain way.

We expect a lot out of ourselves and when we don't achieve our super high, usually unattainable goals, we freak out.

A lot.

Why? Because being human is one of the hardest things in the world to do. 

I think of my dog as I write this. His main priorities in life are eating, sleeping, and being cuddled. He doesn't have to pay taxes or buy his own food or brush his own hair or even schedule his own vet appointments because he has his very own personal assistant who does all of those things for him- me. Dogs have it easy. People, not so much.

A new year is right around the corner, which means it's resolution time for most people. I'm not big on those personally, but if you're someone who loves them I suggest one and only one resolution: Every day remind yourself that you're doing the best you can.

That's it. A reminder a day.

You're doing the best you can.

There's no need to impress anyone. No one is counting your dust bunnies or monitoring your every bite of ice cream. Your real friends and family will be there for you on even your worst hair days. Everyone else doesn't matter and most everyone is too busy worrying about their own personal life goals anyway. If they're that enthralled in your life you might have a stalker in which case you might want to call the cops. I'm just sayin'.

Let go of everyone else's perception of you and just live your life. Do the things you love. Don't hold yourself to an unattainable list of things someone else thinks you should be or do. We live in a society that often smothers us with ideals of how we should be. Push back. Just live. Live your life. Let go of the rest and remind yourself you're doing the best you can.

Image via Pinterest

Monday, December 2, 2013

In the World of Wellness: Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Give the gift of health

'Tis the season to shop until you drop for holiday gifts. Because I don't actually want to see any of you drop, I've put together a helpful little list of healthy yet awesome gift ideas.

Why not take your loved one on an adventure? Big or small, it's the memories that last a lifetime.
  • Nature lover with gluten allergies? The Rose Canyon Campground in Tucson, AZ hosts not only a nice site for hiking, sitting by a roaring fire, and relaxing, but also for amazing gluten free pies. That's right, pie. At the top of the mountain is a restaurant that has house-made gluten free pies, and they are delicious!
  • Yogi in the house? How about taking them to a local yoga event. A quick Google search in your area will list all kinds of fun things happening. If you have a yogi who loves traveling, even better! There are yoga events worldwide, sure to please.
  • For anyone who loves to travel at all: A long dreamed of vacation
  • I think one of the coolest gifts you can give is a picnic in your living room. Lay down a blanket, call up your closest friends, and have a holiday picnic get together.
  • Cooking lessons for the one who loves to cook. If you're an AZ local I must recommend Chef Rachel, The Healthy Cooking Coach. She's the healthiest, nicest check around who gives tasty lessons!

And for the food lover in your group...
  • Find a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I like Nature's Garden Delivered for AZ, because they deliver right to your door. 
  • The best coconut water on the planet: C20. Get them a whole crate, they'll be thrilled!
  • Mantry: The coolest way to get food for your guy. Each month is a surprise, so you won't even know what you're getting him, but the foods never fail. 
  • Teavana, a tea lovers dream. Harney & Sons Fine Teas also make some amazing black cinnamon tea. 
  • Know someone who loves cooking with olive oil? If you live in AZ, try the Queen Creek Olive Mill for a huge variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Not from the hot, sunny desert? No problem. Hit up your local health food store for excellent options on all kinds of oils: Avocado, macadamia nut, almond, coconut, walnut, pumpkin seed...the options are endless! 
  • Make a basket of all their favorite foods and tie it with a bow. You can have it be a variety of yummies or make it themed, like Italian Night or Gluten Free Goodies.

For those of you who need something a little easier and more cost effective, these will fit the bill of any health nut you know.
  • A gift card from Whole Foods, Sprouts, (insert your local healthy holiday store name here) 
  • Subscription to favorite magazine (Delight Gluten Free, Natural Health, etc.)
  • A gift card for a massage, facial, reflexology session...whatever floats their boat
  • On that note, True Rest Float Spa is a pretty cool gift/experience all in one
  • Yoga passes to their favorite local studio
  • A homemade book of your favorite healthy recipes that you think they'd love
  • Mini herb garden
  • WearEver Pure Living Nonstick Cookwear (I LOVE my pots and pans)
  • Have a friend who loves detoxing? RawJuvenate is the one for you.
  • Know someone that loves their supplements? Here's some that take the cake in quality, health benefits, and awesomeness: Amazon Herbs. I'm a big fan of each and every one of them in this line.
  • The most amazing lotion I've ever tried: Yes to Carrots Body Butter
  • Burt's Bees anything. You can't go wrong

Regardless of the gift, it's important to remember that anything that comes from the heart is something to be treasured. So don't stress yourselves out this holiday season. Relax, kick back, and enjoy!

Image via VeganSoapBox