Monday, June 20, 2011

"Relax Mikey, it's just a Giant Banana!"

If you know who I am quoting, consider yourself on the team of Awesomeness.

Last weekend at the Dededo Flea Market (more like a Farmers Market really), I asked one of the produce stand workers (a voluptuous, sun-kissed islander) what the large cluster of tiny bananas were called.  She gave a warm smile, with no hint of snarkiness at my non-native naivete (which I feel thankful to her for), and replied that they are cooking bananas.  At my still quizzical expression, she continued by describing a few ways in which they are used; banana donuts, mashed ''potatoes," fried banana chips, and in place of anything in a baked good which calls for oil or butter.  This sounded fantastic because for one, there are plenty more of these than the bananas we are used to in the States, for sale here and two, because THEY'RE GROWN HERE.

  The native-grown produce is remarkable for many reasons but I'll stick to a few simple reasons for now.  If it grows here, I'm more than happy to try it because, what if it tastes better than anything my imagination can muster?   What if I can use it in many different ways and that saves me from throwing my money away on something else I didn't really need.  And obviously, if it grows here, it didn't have to travel here for me to buy and seriously, if anything perishable has to travel here, it's going to cost so much more than the average American mind can fathom.  Did you know that most of what you eat has to travel an average of 1500 miles, just to make to your grocery store?  Buying locally grown produce whenever you can is always a better option, and it also gives back to your community growers, etc.  So in that way, I try not to rely on fossil fuels to get my food.  I'm saving money and I'm giving back to the person to grew it.  I'm expanding my knowledge base for versatile cooking, and I'm nourishing my body.   Feel like I'm Winning at Everything Edible!

  In addition to the big cluster of little bananas, I bought a large bushel of Scallions, a pound of Plum Tomatoes,  5 heads of Garlic, 5 huge Avocados (which translated to 4 lbs of Guacamole), 3 sweet Yellow Onions, a pound of Serrano/Boonie peppers, and 5 lbs of Korean Fuji Apples...all grown on this island...and I paid only $15 for all of it....the same amounts of everything shown here would have cost me (and Yes, I did the math) over $30 at our base Commissary.  And the Commissaries are Cheap!!  Just remember how far those Mainland produce items would've had to travel to get to the Commissary here and how much fuel that would have taken, just for these items....Essentially, I would have been paying the store for getting them here, but instead, the Market Stands I bought these from will be using the money I paid them for their delicious products to feed their family, pay for their own gas, or to help cultivate more items to grow and sell.  I would rather be helping the family than paying for the travel costs of my produce.

  Bringing my goods home gave me a sense of triumph, and at the same time lured a shadow of would I be able to make use of Everything I bought?  What the Eff can I do with all of this??  It felt a bit daunting to take on such a culinary adventure in my own kitchen, where my comfort zone lies with taco meat, cookies, and grilled cheese?  Not to downplay my comfort zone, but I really couldn't see how I could incorporate the black sheep of my farm stand purchases...the large cluster of tiny bananas.  I felt like I was walking into a room full of strangers who wanted nothing to do with me.

  The only option was to eat the damn things and make them appetizing outside of their natural form.  Thank Jeebus for the Internetz!  Finding a few recipes and fine tuning them to my texture-sensitive palate was a bit tricky at times, but it was worth it!  I iz nawt a Chef, but experimenting like this brought on some pretty sweet accomplished acceptance with what was in front of me.  In many ways, I feel like I conquered the Enigma of the Banana without allowing any little bit to go to waste, even when I couldn't use all of it in one recipe.  This is where some prior knowledge came in handy...

  Something I learned from my mother and grandmother was to always freeze the overripe or under ripe bananas you won't immediately be using.  It doesn't matter if you toss 'em in with their peels still on their backs, or if you puree them, they Must go in the freezer once the peel starts to show liver spots and that ugly clown yellow.  They always saved those 'Nanas for Banana Bread, but since I acquired so many cooking bananas last week (too many to comfortably squeeze in my freezer at once, and they're not the ones I'd use for Banana Bread) I decided to use them at different points in their ripening.  The greener they are means they'll taste better in a savory dish like the Banana Grits, but the more mature they grow, the sweeter their final dish destination must be.  Of course, for the Dog Biscuits, if your pups are anything like ours, they don't care, they just want some 'NANAS!

Put on your Big Girl/Boy Panties and branch out of your niche with me...I don't think you'll regret it  :)

Banana "Grits"
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 large or 6 small bananas, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium vadalia or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup masa harina flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black ground pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Heat the coconut milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbly.
- Add bananas, garlic, and onion, and mash together in saucepan until it resembles chunky mashed potatoes.
- Fold in the masa until just combined, and stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. 
- Serve breakfast, lunch or dinner. Goes very well as a side to fajitas, steak, beans, etc.  I serve mine with grilled skirt steak and refried beans, or with corned beef hash and eggs. Yum!!

Bonelos Aga (Banana Donuts)
10-12 ripe small bananas or 4 regular sized ripe bananas
1 cup flour
4-5 tbsp sugar

- Peel and thoroughly mash bananas. 
- Add flour and sugar and blend until smooth. 
- Drop tablespoon fulls into hot canola oil or bacon fat. 
- Drain on paper towels and roll in a bowl of sugar.

 Peanut Butter Banana Dog Biscuits
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour + extra all-purpose for rolling
1 tbsp baking powder

- Cream together banana, peanut butter in large plastic bowl.
- Stir in egg, baking powder, and rolled oats, blending well.
- Alternate adding flour and milk to mix until dough comes together and barely sticks to the bowl.
- Turn out onto floured counter and roll out to 1/4" thickness.
- Dip a small cookie cutter in flour before cutting out each treat, and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 375 for 9 -11 mins.  Bottoms should be crispy, immediately transfer to a cooling rack.  

  You should end up with about 100 biscuits if you use a small cookie cutter like I did, but if you use something a bit larger, you should still end up with at least 60!


   Since this recipe calls for plenty of whole wheat flour and oats, you'll be providing your pup with some much needed fiber content.  The peanut butter provides good protein and the banana offers a healthy does of potassium.  I don't recommend feeding these in place of a full meal, but using them as a training tool will prove helpful.  They can be stored in a jar or a Ziploc baggie for portability.

  And now for the Ultimate in Banana Goodness...

Barbara's Banana Nut Bread  (not to be taken or eaten lightly...)

3 mashed, very ripe bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsps molasses
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil 
1/2 cup water
1 cup walnuts, chopped

- Beat all ingredients for three minutes on med-high by mixer.
- Pour into well greased loaf pan.
- Bake at 350 for 45 -60 mins until the toothpick comes out clean.
- Cut yourself a slice while it's hot, and spread with butter or cream cheese. YUM!

  Mmmmm, I wish I could say I've covered every Banana Base, but I'm actually pretty glad that I haven't because that leaves so much more to be explored.  I'm keepin' my big girl panties on, 'cause I love where they're takin' me!

Make Your Own Laundry Soap That Does Not Suck

  Recently, I found a few websites that offered DIY projects and advice articles that were based around being eco-friendly, good for you, and decidedly inexpensive.  The resourceful domestic within me jumped for joy at this, since I was looking for effective ways to save our income and pinch them pennies wherever I could.  And obviously, I wanted to do this while reducing our carbon foot print by consuming less, yet nourishing us with substance.

  One of the User-Friendly How-To's described how easy it was to make your own laundry soap...environment-friendly, inexpensive, paraben/sulfate-free laundry soap.  I really hope there are others out there who feel as giddy about this as I have!  The ingredients were listed as easy enough to find since there are only four, including the water.  And the secondary beauty of this DIY is that it is a flexible recipe -- you can customize the scent and the use the soap you like, not necessarily the soap I decided to use or that is recommended, within reason.  This is only because you shouldn't just run out and buy a bar of Irish Spring, Dial, or Dove.

  Of course, living out here on an isolated-by-ocean little island the size of my hometown, Yuba City, I had to order two of my ingredients on Amazon and pay for shipping...this sounds like it defeats the purpose of this project saving me money, but hold on, I'll get to that...  I ordered the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and the Castile Soap I wanted, and waited (rather impatiently) for my goods.  Some of my friends (whom I shared my intentions with) realized that places like their local Wal-Mart carried the Washing Soda (this one is a tad elusive).  And to that my Anti-Establishment side snarled in deep hatred (I have purposely avoided shopping anywhere related to Wal-Mart for a very long time), BUT, if I had a local Wal-Mart, I know I would have been spending my $3 on it in their store, pretty much right away.  I was That dedicated.  Plus, I looked everywhere I could on this little island (even called around) and no one carried it.  Hence, the shipping prices.

  The soap that was recommended in most recipes was Fels-Naptha, but because the article author encouraged readers to research other possible soaps (and because that too, contains a few things I feel would defeat the purpose of avoiding certain chemicals), I steered towards the gentle, all-natural Castile bars.  With their non-overwhelming, non-perfumed clean scent, I was pleasantly surprised with the milky-white hunks of soap.  They look like bars of white chocolate and boy is it tempting to bite into them.  Now, you may choose something similar like the classic pink Zote, or a bar of Dr. Bronner's.  I've even read that Ivory soap may turn out some softener-like detergent, which could eliminate the need to buy those big bottles of Snuggle.  You can even add a few drops of a favorite scent of essential oil to the batch!

  Before I get into the (very simple) process of making the detergent, I should give you some cold hard facts....something I've realized a little too late for my own liking, is the amount of and the specifics of  the dangerous chemicals found in our commercial laundry aisle.  I know I've earned myself a big fat DUH! there, but it really is quite frightening that we spend so much on such toxicity.  This applies to our lotions, perfumes, body washes, etc. too, but considering that our clothes are on our bodies almost all the time just allows for these harmful chemicals to be in contact with our super-absorbent skin so much longer.  Most of these chemicals remain in our system for a very long time and have traceable long-term effects that can cause diabolical cancers, infertility, etc.  Those heavily-perfumed dryer sheets we've come to rely on to remove static-cling actually contain carcinogens that literally keep us coming back for more, and those carcinogens, just like the ones in the cigarettes we long to hate, stay in our systems the same way too.  And since our use of these products is ongoing, our bodies can't ever really rid themselves of these harmful agents.  Call me paranoid, but the amount of cancer diagnoses in recent decades is staggering and a lot of people (educated in these chemicals or not) can't help seeing the flashing neon arrows pointing right in this direction.  I can't even stomach what these chemicals do to our environment once they've processed through our washing machines and gone down our drains.  Even if you can't buy this side of the argument, who wants to spend So much money on almost every grocery trip on a bottle or box or something that takes pennies to produce.  Like so many other things, you're really just shelling out the $$$ for the packaging...and you know what you end up doing with that.  So...last but not least, those very same chemicals (detergent and softener) actually wear down your clothing faster than they're intended to naturally from just Wearing them on your body.  No wonder my favorite t-shirts end up so limp and thin within a year!

  I decided to make my own laundry for every reason that will benefit the long run, and frankly, I knew I would feel proud of my own product and hard work.  This process doesn't even qualify as work, I guarantee you.  For the whopping price of $16 for the ingredients, and having saved a few large plastic bottles, I'd say i made a very good investment.  Pay attention to how much of each ingredient you use for just one batch of laundry soap, because then you'll realize just ow far that $16 will go...

You will need:
Washing Soda
Borax powder (or not if you're allergic)
Bar soap (Castile is gentlest) Dr. Bronner's, Zote, Kirk's, Ivory
Cheese Grater
Large pot and whisk
5-Gallon bucket
(3) 2-liter plastic bottles  or (5) 1.5 liter bottles
Large funnel
A few drops of your favorite Essential Oil (Tea Tree, Orange, etc.) for a personalized scent if desired.

 1. Using a cheese grater, grate 1/3 bar of soap.

 2.  Heat 6 cups of water in a large pot, over med-high heat.  Dissolve grated soap into heated water, stirring frequently.

 3.  Remove from heat, add 1/2 cup of Washing Soda, and 1/2 cup Borax.  Stir until combined.

4.  Fill bucket with 26 cups of hot water.  Add mixture to bucket slowly, add a few (not more than 4-5) drops of the essential oils if you want, stir and set aside.  Let it gel in the bucket for a day or so (a couple days for those who live in humid areas).

5.  Once it has a thicker consistency, position your clean bottles in the sink with the funnel inserted and pour slowly.  Cap 'em up and you're good to go.  The soap will continue to gel itself in the bottles.

  My soap turned out just the way I'd hoped!  No perfumes, no dyes, body/eco-friendly, inexpensive and plenty of it!

Oh and by the way, you only add 1/2 cup of your very own detergent to each load of laundry...see! I told ya it would last!!  And since we're not a very stain-y house, there's really no need to pre-treat, but if you have to, scrub the stains with this same stuff, that's what the Borax is for :)

  The total amount from just one batch, makes 6.75 liters!  Remember how much of each ingredient I used?  Off the top of my head, I'm thinking that I'll get 8 more batches out of the soap I have left, and I'll still have plenty of washing soda and borax left.  So 8 x 6.75 = 54 liters of Laundry Soap!!!  For about $16...damn!

  I certainly hope everyone has as much fun as I have doing this, and comes away with excellent soap to show for their effort as well as a much-deserved sense of accomplishment.  Doing this for yourself is doing something vicariously for the ones you love and the precious world we live in, and we deserve to take a little pride in our work and enjoy the moments in which we live...our great great great grandparents would be so proud, and our children's children's children will be very grateful!

Here are my sources for the recipe, and a couple places that will explain those harmful chemicals I spoke of.

Offbeat Home
Carcinogenic chemicals
laundry ingredients that will make you go, "OMG!"

I am happy with the Non-scent of my laundry :)  Yes, they smell clean, but clean doesn't necessarily have to smell like a perfume, it merely has to Not smell like armpits and assholes.  Also, I've noticed that in this very humid climate I live in (Guam), the soap did not truly Gel.  But this is okay because it seems that the soap simply rises to the top of the water to float, and all it takes to re-incorporate it is a good shake before I measure my half-cup per load of laundry.  So, in case you've realized this result as well and are worried, don't be, the cleansing agents are still very capable, just not as aesthetic.  Happy Laundering!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ginger Binger!

When a rich dessert like good ol' Cheesecake calls for a crumb crust, what ingredient comes to mind? Or what about the traditional yet decadent S'more?

Really??!! Graham Crackers??.....Sigh.....Yes, you were right....but how did this Cardboard even come to be considered an edible pantry staple? And why on Mother Earth, was its weak ass paired with the lusciousness of the aforementioned desserts?

Not totally sure, but I assume it's because of how cheap it is to produce, which then allows the brand *ahem* (Nabisco) to spend most of its budget on advertising and market availability. Appealing to the busy American family seems the ticket! Parents in a hurry and the kiddos need a snack? Break 'em off some honey (flavored) crackers and they'll suffice 'til dinner (McDonald's).

Here's something to consider...the average box of name brand Graham Crackers costs $3.99 depending on if you have a coupon for it or if it's something a specific store has on special (almost always). And this is why you would be purchasing $3-4 worth of Cardboard - Nabisco Brand Honey Maid Graham Crackers <- here you'll find the ingredients and the nutrition facts. Or plentitude and lack thereof, respectively. So are you willing to shell out that much money for something that may just sit and grow more, uhm, board-like, or may even be consumed so quickly it can't really be enjoyed (and honestly, you can't ever Enjoy a Graham Cracker!). What if I told you there was something similar in nature because of its versatility, yet is so extraordinarily tasty and cheap that it deserves a spot in your pantry right now... For half the price of those crackers, you could buy yourself an eco-friendly bag of offbrand Ginger Snap Cookies! Not only do they offer some zest in any way you eat them, but their ingredients are going to be far fewer in number (which is Always something to keep in mind when you're shopping intelligently), but the sugar content is less likely to be refined because the good Ginger Snap recipes call for Molasses, which lends a darkly sweet that your tummy and taste buds will appreciate. Something even better to consider is making them yourself! These are among the simplest cookies to make from scratch because you most likely have every ingredient on hand, the instructions are very clear and Short, which of course means they are not time-consuming! Making them yourself means spending a fraction of the cost of that bag on several dozen more you can store in the freezer for later and it serves a variety of meals.

These weren't really my cup 'o tea as a child, because my grandmother made them pretty damn spicy. She was raised to make her own bread, can her own fruits and veggies, and use "her own Damn hands" to fix, make or build something without the convenience of machines or the constant presence of a man. So it's easy to guess what her pantry may have looked like; stocked to the brim with only the necessities, no frivolities. Thankfully, frivolities only included things like sugary cereals and manufactured meat and didn't include her Ginger Snaps or Cinnamon Braid Bread. When she moved in with my mom, dad and I, I was still in diapers and she became a force to be reckoned with, especially in the kitchen. She insisted that if I wanted cookies, she'd be damned if they were purchased (much to the chagrin of my father, who thoroughly enjoyed his Keeblers) and if I didn't learn my way around the kitchen by her side. Eventually, I got up the nerve to tell her why I didn't eat too many of the Snaps and so she backed-off on the spice overload and presented me with a new love of them in a milder form. Over time, I paid attention to the many (at the time, strange) ways she used those cookies; crumbs for breading pork chops, crumbs for cheesecake crust, ice cream topping, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, etc.

I didn't realize how good I had it then, but I sure do now! And boy am I grateful for the discipline and experience in that kitchen. It may have contributed to my content identity as a plucky curmudgeon and opinionated feminist, but I know it made me appreciate the things I am capable of producing with my own two hands and a bit of patience.

Now, remember how I mentioned that you'd probably have the ingredients on hand? Well, It's true. Because if you've Ever tried to make an Autumn themed dessert like Pumpkin Pie, you have the Ginger, Cloves, Nutmeg, and (of course) Cinnamon right in your cupboard. And do you know just how good these spices are for you? They're more than a little good. Ginger has pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory capabilities, and it also aids in smooth digestion. No wonder we've been told to drink Ginger Ale for a grumbly tumbly! Cinnamon not only possesses the power of reducing your LDL cholesterol, but it also improves cognitive function and memory among so many other benefits. And I'll mention now that you can always add fiber to your recipe by substituting some good ol' whole wheat flour, and apple sauce in place of butter if you like.

My point in all of this is to get you thinking outside the box when you try to balance your household needs and the money I know you're trying to hold onto if at all possible. Why not invest in the sacks of flour, the sticks of butter, the jars of preserves, and the spices to make your own treats? The overall time it will save (because you'll be storing most it to make it last) and the cost of the ingredients end up saving you mucho moola because you'll end up needing those very same things to make Other things and so on. Plus, if you have children to consider in this, won't they be more than jazzed to help Make COOKIES?! Teaching them the basics of measuring and composition means you're actually teaching them *gasp* CHEMISTRY. But for JEEBUS-sakes, don't tell Them that....just let them enjoy quality time with you and the end result of a may just develop their character and help them appreciate how special our relationship with our food really is. And don't lie, you birthed these people to be your lifelong Minions, so put them to work, dammit!

Barbara's Ginger Snaps
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking soda
2 tsps ground cinnamon
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
raw sugar for rolling

- Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment.
- Mix all dry ingredients (not the sugars) in a medium bowl
- Mix all wet ingredients and brown sugar in a separate large bowl.
- Blend dry mix into wet mix until just combined, cover and chill in fridge for 20 mins.
- Spoon out heaping teaspoon fulls and roll in sugar, place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
- Bake for 9-10 mins because you'll want 'em crispy!
- Take 'em out and Leave 'em on the pan for several minutes to firm up then transfer to a wire rack to cool COMPLETELY! No Cheating!
- Freeze what you are not going to immediately eat/use in a ziploc. Crumble 'em up for crusts, breading, stuffing, etc. They go well with sharp flavored cheeses and fruit as a snack too!

A Case of the Cheap & Tasties

In the time between cooking, cleaning, working-out, and playing with our dogs, I've spent a few (too many) hours on Facebook, watched my favorite shows (i.e. True Blood, The Walking Dead, Paranormal State, etc.) a few (too many) times, and devoted (okay, a Lot) hours to my Kindle. Another hobby of mine is finding and managing the kinds of coupons that will apply to what we normally purchase. i'm a big fan of saving money and yet I'm not as savvy as the folks featured on TLC's 'Extreme Couponing,' though my motivation is the same. My drive to save the money we don't have to spend on mandatory bills is very strong, especially since living overseas is a pretty stark cost-of-living comparison to that which we were used to on the Mainland.

My husband works full-time as an active-duty SSgt in the USAF, and has taken on a ton more responsibility in his field since we arrived on island. His time is pretty darn precious to say the least, and since I am working towards joining, I've chosen to stay at home and do whatever I can for my goals and assist him in his. This is what has handed me so much time, so please don't mistake me for neener-neenering about my free time. It's just how it is.

As someone with a bit too much time on her hands and a drive to save as much of our income as possible, I've become something akin to a detective; a resource detective. Much as I love to get out of the house every weekend, I feel better about the time I spend at home during the week now that I've found a way to contribute, not just in terms of keeping the house tidy, the dogs and myself exercised, and the food ready. My household contribution has evolved beyond the surface-level and has helped strip me of the roiling indignation of not being able to Bring Money In (yet), and replaced it with the bubbling contentment of rediscovering my creativity, building on my knowledge base and honing my universally derived, domestic skills. The later seems to override the former doesn't it? I finally (since arriving on Guam) feel as though the independent and self-sufficient femme I am, has welcomed my current obligatory domesticity.

In my research, I feel like whatever I find should be shared at the very least, so that you can make up your own mind about what to do with it. Implement it for yourself if you like but it doesn't hurt for the knowledge to be made available for those that might not have the same kind of time to research it themselves. These are the Tales of the Cheap & Tasties...

Pantry Staples
Make Your Own Necessities
Sharp Corners of Your Money
Simple Remedies and Common Sense

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sight Seeing

Re-purposing oneself in the midst of a focused effort didn't fit so well at first. Only because it made more sense to beat myself up for what wasn't happening (though I was striving desperately to achieve) rather than shrug my shoulders and embrace the opportunities in front of me While I continue my efforts, did I allow this to happen. I am speaking of my work to join the USAF.
March of last year, I decided to join for the career opportunities, educational possibilities, and the kind of self-fulfillment one should get from serving. I had just accumulated a few challenging injuries from a car accident, so the obstacle of losing the weight I needed to, in order to join was a bit daunting to say the least.
But I did it. Well, I've lost Most of what I needed to. I started my journey near 240 lbs and I am now 184. I also completed my physical therapy after the accident, began a rigorous job at Costco and helped prepare my little family for a PCS overseas to Guam. 2010 was quite the year.
Arriving on the island was difficult for all of the issues with pets and housing and military financing, so the stress got to me. I'm not excusing my food choices during this time (I ate enough Subway to NEVER find it appealing AGAIN) since we really had no choice but to eat out for a couple weeks until we could get settled, but the stress hormones raging through me were enough to make my body go all wonky. We've basically settled into our life here on the island and I'm still working on my Last 15 lbs...Since we got here until this last week, I've been on a rollercoaster of emotion regarding my body's progress based on my workouts.
I've been yo-yoing between 187 and 183 no matter what I did. Honestly, going on 3 months of this has left me weary because my goal is 170, because that is the max weight for my height in the af.
It's always easy to tell someone else that they just need to be patient and loving with their body While they are burning calories over their intake, but for me, what was it going to take?! I just couldn't justify telling myself that!! I felt like I didn't deserve to be "taking it easy" while i worked toward this goal when the number weren't reflecting the effort. I can't say I know how many emotional jags I've been on when the scale won't reflect what measures I've taken. I know I'm not the only woman to experience this, I certainly won't be the last, but I realized something, very recently, so cliche yet so True that I decided to listen to it: It is not about the Destination, it is about the Journey. "Not all who wander are lost."
I've been so caught up in making sure I did my 'Ripped in 30' DVD or took my Green Tea Burner so many times a day or how many calories I burned versus consumed that I obviously wasn't having any fun or feeling accomplished in anything I did, and I was blind with what Isn't happening instead of what Is. I've had it all back-ass-wards and beaten myself up over it for no good reason. Noticing that my jeans fit better wasn't enough because the fucking Scale wouldn't validate me. Who said the Scale was the one to validate that anyway?? Well, the bottom line is, the military wants me at that exact weight or I don't qualify, so without me saying so, the Scale really is my validator according to the USAF.
So, how do I drop the LBS and keep my spirit alive? Well, something I needed reminding of was this: Your body responds to how you nurture your spirit.
Our bodies also respond to our thoughts and how we choose to feel which decides which chemicals start moving around through our system. And if there are too many damned stress hormones, then really, no matter how much we do, these chemical occurrences won't allow the changes to take place.
I knew it was time to let go of the number and welcome the amount of time I had, outside of exercising and working towards my goal, and use it to do the things that define my happiness such as DIY projects, old timey how-tos and marry my nutritional efforts with my love of cooking. I started researching things that piqued my interest and would put my well-rounded self to work. The whistle while you work kind!
I've stumbled upon a few websites that have harnessed my inner domestic goddess and fueled my drive to create! I've always LOVED crocheting and knitting because doing it made me feel Useful, and because we only have my husband's income at the moment, what better way to contribute to our thrifty efforts than by researching ways to cut the dollar outside of just couponing (which I already do;).
For example, on, I learned how to make my own laundry detergent! All I had to do was find the THREE ingredients and follow the instructions! And guess how much it will save? Over $100 in laundry care items over the next year or more! That's a Big Deal when you're trying to pinch pennies. Also, we've taken to growing our own food, which still takes time, but we are patient with the impact it will have on us. I'm growing and drying my own herbs, investing in locally grown, established plants. I am working out in between episodes of True Blood and The Walking Dead, while I wait for my own homemade bread to rise and cooking my own tortillas. I work on a project for my loved ones, I carefully recycle our used goods and find ways to use things like toilet paper rolls as seedling molds.
A few weeks ago, I was too absorbed in my lack of transformation and dwelling on that to notice what I had. Now, I feel accepting of the process and how truly important it is that I do the things that help me do something for myself all at once, because these actions, and the love and care I put into these things are what nourish me. I feel more in touch with my goal knowing I'm already involved and present in my life, contributing in the ways I want to and that are needed.
Doing these types of things may not be everyone's cup o' tea, but you never know what may create that little inner smile you didn't realize you needed. And when it comes to feeling like you could give up on your goals at any moment, you don't need to change may just need to let the sights on the path get your attention for a bit because they may just lead you down a more fulfilling road toward that ultimate goal. Besides, you know you are SO much more than a damn Number, so Act like it dammit!