This morning, I am enjoying, savoring, and learning from something I rarely have but highly prize: time alone.
As usual, I am not in the house alone (in fact, I am never in the house alone because my mother never leaves the house unless I take her somewhere). But after popping in and out of the living room/kitchen area about 5-6 times, she has finally settled down for a nap, and so has Chicago Man. So it is so quiet it's as good as it gets for me. Even the cat is napping and therefore not continually pestering me to scratch her chin.
Wow! I am delirious with happiness over this time to myself. I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards and also the laundry room, mopped the kitchen floor, gathered some things together to donate to Bethesda Ministry (old crockpot, rice cooker, candles, etc.), plowed through a big pile of junk mail, and even made some chili cheese dip in the crockpot.
After all that activity, I gained some clarity.
I was thinking about this weight loss journey I've been on for four and 1/2 months now, and all of a sudden...by George, I got it...just like Eliza Doolittle!
Because I am changing so much on the inside, I see how it really IS about the journey and not the destination of getting to 128 lbs and getting into a size 8 again.
God...who would have thought that cleaning out kitchen cupboards would be a self-esteem booster, but it is...because 35 lbs ago I could not bend down to clean out the lower cabinets, nor could I stand on the step-stool to reorganize the upper ones.
This is life changing, folks!!! I feel like I can do anything now! I really CAN dance all night if I want to, and all day and every moment because I am figuring out how to live joyfully!
I figured out why "diets don't work." Why they haven't worked for me in the past, and why they don't work for a lot of other people, either. It's because I and maybe you, are making it all about the destination and not about the journey.
It's not about the weight loss, although that is a byproduct. It's about being the person I previously was not letting myself be. The person I came her to be.
Is being 128 lbs again and a size 8 going to make me happy? No, not in and of itself. But it is going to provide me with more options and opportunities to become truly me.
One of my favorite lunches is a spring mix salad with pear or apple, pecans, feta cheese, and maybe some grilled chicken strips or turkey, tossed with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
However, January's colder temperatures and dreary days have had me craving heartier fare based mostly around bread and potatoes.
I was longing for something lighter and healthier, but salad still didn't have any appeal.
So a few morning ago when I opened my email, I was excited to find a citrus/mint/feta salad recipe from Smitten Kitchen (www.smittenkitchen.com).
It was just what I needed to brighten a dreary day, and make me feel healthy again!
Fortunately, I had every ingredient on hand. I had plenty of grapefruit left from the BOGO special at Publix (www.publix.com) a couple weeks ago, as well as a big tub of feta, oranges, and even fresh mint growing in my kitchen windowsill! Smitten Kitchen's recipe called for red onion, but I have developed some sort of food intolerance for onions both cooked and raw (wah!!!!) so I left that out.
I was not sure how Chicago Man would feel about the salad, but he loved it! We had it with burgers made from Laura's Lean Beef (www.laurasleanbeef.com), and that was really all we needed for a healthy and zesty dinner.
For two of us, I used one grapefruit and one orange. Next time, I will double that because we enjoyed the salad so much we could have used second helpings.
Following Smitten Kitchen's advice, I cut the ends off the citrus, then peeled them getting off as much white pith as possible. Then I sliced the fruits into pinwheels, added a few tablespoons of feta and a few chopped mint leaves, and followed Smitten's dressing recipe of
1 TB red wine vinegar or lemon juice (I used the vinegar); 1 tsp smooth Dijon mustard; 1 TB olive oil, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (I used my new pink Himalayan salt from Trader Joe's www.traderjoes.com)!
This delightful, colorful salad really boosted my mood and gave me a different perspective on how to think--and eat--outside the box.
And preparing for this post also gave Chicago Man the opportunity to teach me more about flash techniques! Next time my photos will be much more professional!
Today has been a busy day because I am taking my mother to the doctor tomorrow, which essentially means I will get nothing done around the house. So I doubled up on cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.
One task I was determined to complete, and did, was freezing some red, orange, and yellow bell peppers which I got yesterday on sale at Kroger for $1 each.
If I'd known how easy it is to freeze them, I would have purchased more than five.
This morning I googled "how to freeze bell peppers" and found out that it's simply a matter of removing the stem and seeds, slicing or dicing the peppers, putting them on a tray with waxed paper and placing them in the freezer for an hour, and then transferring them to freezer bags.
I am really excited about finishing this simple task because now it will be so easy to have some tasty peppers in soups, stir fries, and other dishes that are yet to come!
Being organized and disciplined enough to do something like getting a great deal on peppers and then freezing them, makes me feel really good.
I realized as I was standing over the kitchen sink de-seeding the peppers and planning in my head a marinade for the Angus steaks I also got a great deal on, that cooking makes me happy! Much happier than I ever was working in an office.
I have been thinking about parsnips all fall and winter. They're not a vegetable that is commonly eaten in the south, so I have never tried them.
Since I want to expand my culinary horizons, I bought some parsnips at the store a few days ago and decided I would serve them with a roast I was planning to cook in my new crockpot.
I searched the internet for a parsnip recipe and found this tasty-sounding dish from Simple Recipes:
The parsnip dish calls for horseradish and we even had some on hand!
I was salivating all day thinking about the juicy roast slow cooking away with organic whole berry cranberry sauce and beef broth, the spicy tingle of horseradish, wondering with great anticipation what the parsnips would taste like...apparently sweeter than turnips from what I read...and dreaming of the savory roasted red potatoes I also had planned for dinner.
But alas...after cooking all day, my roast was too tough to eat! I think it was the cut of meat--it had virtually no fat. That's only the second time in 30 years I've had a crockpot pot roast failure. (the second occurred on Christmas 2008 with a roast I got from Wal-Mart,and of course, there was nothing to fall back on, it being Christmas Day and all. At least last night I had a few emergency frozen pizzas on hand, that being Chicago Man's favorite back up food).
I will go back to Kroger and get another roast, and hopefully my money back for the first one. But in the meantime, my parsnips are languishing in the fridge, waiting to be cooked. I hope to enjoy them soon!
I spent some time during the holidays thinking about the direction I wanted to go with blogging.
Back in November, I made the decision to pursue food/travel/gardening writing as an avocation (I like that word better than "career" which still reminds me of those awful suits with bow ties that I wore back in the 80s).
I figured I would need a new blog centered around food, and toyed around with some names. One was Trois Grandmeres, in honor of my two grandmother's and Chicago Man's Polish grandmother, who from what I hear, cooked up some fabulous meals.
Another name was Three Cats and a Kitchen, and I even went so far as to create a blog with that name on WordPress. But I never posted an entry.
In the end, I decided to stick with this blog, Like A Flower Unfolding, which originally was created to document my spiritual journey.
Because experiencing and sharing food, gardening, and travel and then writing about it, is how I live out my spiritual journey.
I haven't been so excited about anything in a long, long time!
I guess you could say that I have wished myself "bon appetit", and my good appetite is for life!
I hope yours is, too.
The photo above, by the way, was taken on Christmas Eve 2009 on the Belmont University (www.belmont.edu) campus. That's how warm it was in Nashville this fall. I'm sure the very cold temperatures in early January put an end to the blooms...but only for a few months.