Back when I started my blog (over 10 years ago?), I felt confident I knew the best way to eat.
I’d read a lot of books, after all (cue sarcasm). I’d tried lots of diets… never mind that I was only n=1. Clearly if it worked for me, it’d work for you.
I took what I learned, lived, experienced, and I wrote about it. I was sure I had the answers for everyone. Cardiovascular troubles? Eat vegan. Poor energy? Eat vegan. Too many headaches? Eat vegan. Bad eyesight? Try vegan. Fertility issues? Go vegan. If only everyone went vegan, everyone would feel better.
Today, I realize I didn’t have all the answers. I now know it’s different strokes for different folks. I feel what works for someone at a certain age may not work for that person at another age.
I was humbled.
And now? After 15 more years of passionate (borderline obsessive) reading, I still don’t know what to tell people. In spite of my knowledge, I’m not a health guru. In spite of my experience, I don’t even know what to tell myself. As a result, I don’t make recommendations anymore, or at least I try not to.
To tell you the truth, I’m not very comfortable when asked my opinion. When I am asked, I mumble something in return about what I’m doing now for my own life, and I include a hundred disclaimers along the way.
I mean, here’s the thing, just when I think I know something … six months later I have to unlearn it or consider it differently. There is conflicting information out there, and don’t get me started on the fact that health studies can be biased based on who’s funding or doing the studies.
Frankly, I’m too busy (read: lazy) to study every study (in the right way) anyway.
My history of dieting has been varied, to say the least. I’ve gone from an omnivore, who didn’t know much about nutrition but loved fancy restaurants, to being an herbivore in search of energy and migraine-less days to being a borderline-carnivore (no doubt from having abstained from animals for a decade) to an omnivore who abstains from gluten / dairy / grains to an omnivore who abstains from only dairy / gluten to an omnivore who abstains from only gluten to an omnivore who includes gluten if it’s in the form of sourdough.
Evolving is a term I like.
It’s enough to drive my mother-in-law crazy as she wonders “Of what does Kristen approve today?”
When in Rome. ‘Tis the season. I’m a Gemini so I like change.
It’s kind of silly. Kind of fun, too.
For the most part, I throw my hands up.
I’m just a mom feeding her family the best she can. I like organic food (I’ve even seen research contradicting that – ugh). I cook almost every meal (regularly using my favorite kitchen robot: Instant Pot). We eat real food, simple food.
I bought the book, The New Global Student, to inspire my family’s future travels around the world. I don’t recall how I came to know of the book, but when I read the description, I knew it was destined to be in my library.
In 2005, Maya Frost and her husband sold everything and left their suburban American lifestyle behind in order to have an adventure abroad. The tricky part: they had to shepherd their four teenage daughters through high school and into college. This hilarious and conspiratorial how-to handbook describes the affordable, accessible, and stunningly advantageous options they stumbled upon that any American student can leverage to get an outrageously relevant global education.
Sounds good, eh?
It is, though I didn’t devour the book in one sitting. Actually, I started and stopped the book a few times over the past year (or two?).
I guess I didn’t feel a need to rush through it, seeing as my daughter was only five years old at the time. I figured I had a while before I would take action on anything I was reading. Not only that, I didn’t see the reality that we’d be moving abroad any time soon, because, like, THAT seemed a daunting idea… so why rush reading through the book? I could take my time.
As I was reading it one day, however, I wanted to share some of it with my husband, Greg. So I did that. We were driving to my mom’s which was about 45 minutes from our home and I started reading some of the really cool things I’d highlighted. As expected, he loved what I was reading to him, and his excitement served to inspire my continuing the book.
Over the following weeks, I read the book at a faster clip. It became more and more exciting, as I imagined the life we could give Kamea… helping her become The New Global Student. Wow, the advantages were numerous and awesome.
So. Yesterday, I wrote that we’d always known we would travel the world. Honestly, though, I never knew when that would be. I really didn’t know how to make it happen. It seemed like a dream. It was a dream I felt would come true, but I didn’t know when “someday” would be.
I mean… how does one just up and travel the world or move to another country?
The New Global Student was enticing me with fun stories of families traveling all over the world (many of whom didn’t even homeschool, by the way). Still… while I was reading it, I didn’t really make a connection of how I could relate to the stories I was reading. For example, I read about families selling their houses, cars, and/or businesses. They sold belongings, got rid of tons of stuff, and then had money to move somewhere else in the world. One family even bought a sail boat and took to the oceans for their epic adventure (turns out that’s a thing).
Well, I didn’t have a business to sell. I didn’t have a house to sell either. I didn’t want to buy a boat (Greg gets seasick.)
Hmmm… I just kept reading the book, figuring that someday we’d figure it out.
At the end of the book the lightbulb came on for me. At this point, the author’s husband chimed in and itemized the savings and expenses the family incurred while living in Mexico. I was blown away by the savings and cost of living that was possible. The book also illuminated the notion that any age is a good age to start (with respect to kids), emphasizing that younger is good and totally doable!
I salivated at how much money we could save living in Mexico (or other parts of the world). Savings plus the obvious awesomeness of immersing ourselves in other cultures, learning languages, and helping Kamea be a Global Student was just too good of an opportunity for which to wait.
Turns out I wouldn’t have to… I realized that since we rent our condo, there would come a time when the lease ends and we won’t be obligated to pay that rent anymore. (Um, duh, Kristen. Why hadn’t I thought of this before now??) At that point, we could sell belongings (not a whole lot since I embrace minimalism these days), including cars. We could donate stuff. We could put anything leftover into storage (um, hello mom!).
Bam. We could take this dream of living abroad and make it happen when our lease is up.
I know this sounds silly, but it just never dawned on me that we could simply not renew the lease. The veil had been lifted. The light was turned on. I could see our worldschooling path before my eyes.
At this point, I closed the book, having finished it, and called Greg into the bedroom.
The topic of living abroad was not new to us, as I’d just been reading him The New Global Student a few weeks prior. But, when I told him that we could actually do it when our condo’s lease ended, I think I took him by surprise. I filled him in on the details, and told him about some areas in Mexico where we could begin our adventure… and the wheels began turning in his head.
Now, mind you, he wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement (yet) like I was; but, truthfully, I’d had a whole hour to chew on it before I told him. :)
He raised a few questions about whether he could transfer his work successfully to a laptop only. He already works from home, and I told him we absolutely could (exciting details on that for another blog post). However, to make it easier on him, the lease wasn’t going to end for a good long while. We had time to figure it out and make it work.
The fire was lit under my ass… my deep dive into living abroad research began. Expat life is within reach.
It’s been about three months since that conversation in our bedroom, after I finished reading The New Global Student. I’ve gone from knowing nothing (other than it was possible somehow to do this because clearly other people are doing it) to knowing quite a bit about the how, when, where, and why for our adventure.
I’ll share in the next post what I’m learning with my deep dive of research.
When I met my husband, Greg, on E-harmony over a decade ago, I had the tiniest reluctance about any potential success for us, because his featured profile picture was him standing by the door carrying a suitcase and he mentioned a love of world travel in his profile.
Maybe it was silly, but I couldn’t help think to myself, “This guy likes to travel. Traveling dudes don’t like to be tied down. I can see it now. I’ll fall for him harder than he will fall for me. He will take off around the world, my heart in his hand. Better not respond to the eHarmony connection. It can only be doom.”
Not one to listen to myself, I pursued the eHarmony connection. (Luckily, he pursued back in spite of my not having a picture posted for my profile.)
I was destined to be with him, because although, yes, he loved to travel, and, yes, that was a picture of him coming (or going?) from a long adventure in Peru, he longed for a traveling partner in crime.
Now, I was determined to see the world. Having a family wouldn’t stop our dream either. We decided, even before trying to get me pregnant, that when we had a family, we would homeschool, because that would allow us to travel. The vision became of us working side by side, laptop-style, with a kid next to us reading a book (or writing his/her own blog).
The dream is finally coming true. Here we are homeschooling our daughter, and creating definite plans for living abroad in the future.
It wasn’t until a couple of months ago, however, that this became a reality.
I’ll tell you what lit the fire under my ass to take action in the next post.
I’m starting off the year by still wearing the same clothes I wore for the past couple of days, which means I’m wearing the same clothes as last year – hehe. It’s just been one, or two, or three of those days.
All good though, because my lack of changing into clean clothes meant more time for me to plan our move abroad, in the sort-of (not sort-of) near future. So much more detail on that throughout the year as we plan our epic adventure, and OMG I’m beyond excited to Worldschool Kamea.
In other news, I am not loving my dark hair and feel the need for some highlights… And… I’m becoming a Hands Free Mama to spend more quality time with my daughter and husband.
Enjoying this book very much.
Being a Hands Free Mama means more active listening and less thinking about snacks while people talk to me. Or, maybe that’s just plain being polite.
I stumbled upon this author’s website last week and it hit home.
I immediately started implementing the ideas.
I took my Hands Free Mama-ness seriously when I forced shined a smile while Kamea threw those pom-things everywhere and rolled in them, scattering them even more. My old normal reaction of, “Ok ok, cute, um ok can we clean those up now?” was put on hold for a good ten minutes while I played with her. Rolling in poms.
Sadly (because I didn’t do this with her until now) yet excitedly (cuz I see how I can be in the future), Kamea had one of the best times of her life giggling into fits as we played with the poms on the floor.
In my quest to improve my cooking skills, I’ve come across a few books that have helped immensely. Call me a little geeky, but I read cookbooks like they’re treasured novels. They totally romance me. :)
The following books will definitely help make you a master in the kitchen. And, they make great gifts for the person who loves to cook, or for that person, who, ehem, might need some help.
The Flavor Bible – This award winning book is a best seller on Amazon.com and for good reason. Learning to mix flavors, in an easy-to-look-up format is extremely useful. You can look up complementary flavors and combinations for a particular ingredient. For example, over 100 are listed for oranges.
Melissa’s Great Book of Produce – My family eats a lot of produce and this book helped me learn how to recognize the produce, pick the best ones, cook them, and how to store them.
Herbs and Spices – Knowing how to use herbs and spices is a smart skill for improving cooking. Herbs and spices take any simple dish and elevate it to a party in your mouth. Not only that, but by mastering herbs and spices you can create an immense variety for everything from burgers to plain pasta dishes.
The Science of Good Cooking – A popular classic that breaks down the science of cooking. This is useful because learning how and why certain cuts and varieties of meats/vegetables/etc cook the way they do, gives you confidence in approaching anything you want to cook.
How to Cook Everything (The Basics) – This is the latest book I’m reading and I love it. It’s filled with easy recipes using ingredients most of us have on hand, and is filled with 1000 useful photos. Each recipe uses two pages where the final product is shown plus small photos of the various steps. Mark Bittman smartly includes tips for variations of ingredients and also tips of what not to do in some cases. I even found use for the recipes I didn’t care to make because they included tips or variations that were useful.
I REALLY enjoy this book and damn near tabbed every page. Once you make your way through the delicious recipes you will be a much improved (and confident) cook.
Having all of the pictures for each recipe is very helpful.
I know I’m probably a bit weird, though I know I can’t be totally alone, when I say that I get super excited at the farmers’ market. Seeing all of that fresh organic produce, quite frankly, makes me want to pee my pants. (I’m the same in a bookstore.)
You’re probably not surprised though, after I shared with you how I can’t get enough of scratch cooking. It’s my passion.
This past week, I was particularly smitten by those gorgeous carrots you see above.
And, then there was this purple sweet potato that I had to cut into wedges and roast with ghee, garlic, rosemary, spices, and sea salt.
A simple and fresh salad with homemade dressing. #scratchcook
I’m watching Cooked, the documentary series on Netflix featuring Michael Pollan, and I was inspired to share my life with respect to some of the ideas presented in the show.
Namely, home cooked meals.
My family eats most of our meals at home, and almost all of them are made from scratch.
Scratch cooking means the meals are made from fresh ingredients. Therefore, we don’t eat a lot of meals made from ingredients that are pre-cooked or processed, except a few (canned sardines/tuna, organic salsa, BBQ sauce, etc).
Sadly, it’s not what’s going on in most American homes anymore. Michael Pollan points out in Cooked that as the amount of time cooking went down, obesity went up. I’m not surprised.
Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I get such a rush from cooking this way. I think making meals from scratch is beautiful, especially when I’m connected to my food by knowing my farmer, fisherman, and rancher. When I cut into an orange that was grown in my mom’s yard, and the light hits it just right so I see the misty spray coming from the peel, and I smell the intense aroma… I get chills from the thrill.
In fact, my Amazon wish list is filled with pots, quality utensils, and other kitchen gadgets I want in my collection. When a birthday or holiday comes around, I ask for these things. Do I ask for clothes, purses, or shoes? No. I ask for a Le Creuset pot or a fancy ice cream machine or a beautiful salt collection.
I’ll admit not every meal I make is a success, in spite of the time I put into it. I also recognize that making all of these meals isn’t always easy. I experience a large part of my life in the kitchen preparing food, shopping for food, cleaning up after cooking (there are so many dishes to wash!). But… At least I know what’s in my food. I approve of the ingredients. I don’t have to wonder.
As a result, my comfort level in the kitchen has grown tremendously. For the most part, I can fix my messes, and if I can’t, I still know the meal was made with wholesome organic ingredients, which compensates for any culinary mishaps, at least in my opinion.
My meals are pure, organic, and prepared just the way I want. And, aside from the obvious nutrition reasons, it comes back to Chop Wood Carry Water for me. I enjoy the process. The kitchen draws me in… if I’m not making something I’ll find something to make.
We drink it because matcha green tea powder gives us a luscious energy and makes us feel so good. It makes us mentally alert, while feeling calm and chill at the same time. So good. It also has a powerful punch of nutritional benefits from being anti-viral to anti-cancer to being an overall kickin’ superfood. It gives that extra edge.
In my quest to inject more matcha into my life, I have taken matcha beyond its traditional role as merely a tea by creating these 55 recipes for adding matcha as an ingredient to all kinds of foods, including smoothies, soups, sides, salads, desserts, breakfast, snacks, condiments, beverages (tea and non-tea), and even beauty mask recipes!
I never would’ve seen this beauty if I hadn’t started walking.
I’ve been walking lately. A lot. And, it’s so fun.
My draw to walking came as the result of some life changes I’m making:
To chill out.
Hear and follow my intuition. (Like, wow, it’s amazing what happens when I listen to my intuition after quieting down my friggin’ cray-cray mind.)
Overall, do fewer things in my day. (Fewer things on the schedule, go with the flow.)
One of my favorite quotes in Taoism is…
To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
My intuition told me to walk, which would help me do less of other things, because walking a great distance takes time. My intuition told me I needed it. I’ll be honest… It helps me clear my mind, and a clear mind is a powerful mind.
So, I started walking. And, I walked a lot.
I found that being out in nature, especially during the season of spring was extra special, and I couldn’t help but stop to notice and feel all of the colors and life surrounding me outside in nature.
I found myself looking at plants as they were about to blossom, excited to come back the next day and see the full bloom. Tracking the progress with pictures became an adventure.
(day 1) Hello, pretty.
(day 2) “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful then the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin