Sunday, January 29th, 2017
Italy… just one destination of many.
I’ve mentioned before that we’re planning to eventually spend a lot of time abroad.
Sure, it’s still a long way off, but all this time allows me to research, research, research.
Things like: visas, projected costs (and savings!), housesitting, digital nomadism, finding the cheapest air travel, where to go, packing, and of course… can I bring my Instant Pot???
To assist, I created a “Travel” file in Evernote where I have the following notes:
- To-Do (things like renew passports, take a self-defense class, get “global entry” and more)
- Countries / Research (a long list of all the places we think would be fun)
- Airfare/Train (how to get cheap air including the travel hack of “chasing miles”)
- Packing (backpacks, carry-on, suitcases, first aid kit, clothes, herbs, food, etc)
- Technology (adapters, cell phones, VPN, laptops, and more)
- Accommodations (options, costs, etc)
Embracing minimalism will make this move abroad easier (and cheaper), so I’ve slowly donated and sold things. Admittedly, I get a surge of energy and excitement when I purge things (though not sure my husband or daughter share my thrill – sorry, Greg, about that bottle opener).
Learning from Minimalism experts, I ask myself two things when deciding whether to keep or get rid of something:
Does this item spark joy?
Would I buy this now had I not bought it before?
Considering those two questions is powerful in inspiring me to just let… it… go.
I will share what I learn about living abroad as I go. I hope it helps someone considering the same thing much as all the blogs I’ve read have helped me.
Monday, January 23rd, 2017
Taking time to smell…
Meditation has profoundly changed me in many great ways…
I’m ridiculously more calm, which is good for everyone.
I don’t freak out as much, and, if I do, I quickly stop myself before it gets out of hand. (Mindfulness in action.)
Food tastes better.
I feel like I’m “flowing” more through life. More “in the zone” moments.
I smile a lot more.
I laugh more.
I sleep better.
I embrace aging (most of the time).
I’m nicer to other people.
I’m nicer to my self.
Monday, January 16th, 2017
I’m glad I started meditating a few years ago, BUT, I wish more than anything I’d had Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, when I started.
Frankly, the whole meditation thing would have been a lot simpler.
During my few years of meditation, I had my share of struggles. I sometimes wondered if I was doing it right (or well enough) in spite of the benefits I was experiencing.
I bought things to amp up my meditation “powers” like crystals, frog statues (see, Ralph, above), meditation pillows, and salt lamps. Lots of salt lamps.
Surely a salt lamp sets the mood for better meditation.
I thought by having these things around I’d be better at meditating or my meditation would be deeper and more profound. I even tried meditating a few times balancing a crystal on my head. Yes. I did that.
Then, Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, came across my path.
I opted for the audiobook because he narrates it, and I love audiobooks.
This audiobook is so good!
Man, was that ever a great choice.
Hearing Dan Harris tell his story in his own voice made the journey through his book better, funnier, and just more enjoyable. I can’t speak on the experience of reading the book, and I expect it’s also pretty great, but I tell ya… the audiobook was special.
The reason this book is my favorite on meditation is because he broke it down!
By the end of the book, I knew everything I needed to meditate (which actually wasn’t much, funny enough), and it didn’t require crystals, uncomfortable seated positions, or super deep breathing.
I just had to sit (anywhere and in any position). Close my eyes (if desired). Breathe normally. And, every time my mind wandered, I simply had to bring it gently back to feeling or hearing my breath.
What I didn’t realize when I was learning to meditate in years past… was that the whole issue of “I can’t keep my mind from wandering” is actually part of meditation. Yes, it’s part of it.
Every time the mind wanders, and our minds all do, you notice it and bring your awareness back to breathing or feeling –> that’s meditating.
The back and forth of thinking and non-thinking is indeed meditating.
It can happen many times in a single 5-minute session and that’s many times you’re building your meditation/mindfulness muscle just like doing a bicep curl for the arm when building your biceps.
Huh. That’s simple.
10% Happier taught me this, along with the really entertaining story of his life including experiences with Deepak Chopra and Eckart Tolle that left me in a fit of giggles.
I can’t recommend this book enough whether you’re a seasoned meditator, an excited newbie meditator, or scared of meditating. It’s for everyone.
Monday, January 9th, 2017
Getting ready for our online drawing class.
We are planning to move abroad (Worldschool here we come!), and even though we won’t be doing this for over a year, I’ve been diving deep into research to decide where to go.
Through my research I found a witty blogger and author, Christine Gilbert, who wrote a book called Mother Tongue which I am crazy eager to read. If the book is anything like her blog I’ll be entertained the whole way through as she tells her family’s globe-trotting tale.
So while devouring her blog, I learned that her husband offers an online drawing class for only $12 (looks like the price went up to $39 now but still worth it).
LEARN TO DRAW AND KEEP A SKETCHBOOK
Have you ever sat yourself in a cafe in some unfamiliar place just to people watch? Have you been thinking about keeping a visual journal of your trips? Make this the year you take your travel sketchbook out to sketch your travels, and start by learning how to put on paper what you see in the world.
This will be a super fun way to spend time with Kamea and improve our drawing skills. Kamea is a huge fan of doing art. It’s never been my forte but that’s because I suck at it. :)
Case in point: the assignment for the first day it was to look at a picture of yourself and draw it. By the time I was done I looked like I had drawn a monkey.
Don’t laugh. No, please, go ahead and laugh.
That’s going to change though. I’m already seeing progress.
The assignment for the second day had amazing results because of the technique used. We drew a picture that was presented upside down. It was trippy seeing the results when I turned my sketch right-side up.
Mine: left. Kamea’s: right.
Hard at some fun work.
I can see it now … Greg, who is very good at drawing, alongside Kamea and me, with our sketchbooks and pencils in hand … drawing what we see as we travel the world. I’m loving this dream.
Saturday, January 7th, 2017
Black Mountain here we come!
The other day I took my daughter to find Black Mountain for hiking. I’d heard it was steeeeeeeep and a great workout.
We found it. We took some pics. We started our ascent. (Buns of steel here I come.)
This was just the beginning.
But, about 15 minutes in, my head was pounding so we turned around. We declared it a reconnaissance mission and went for oatmeal at the local coffee shop.
Grotto Cafe in Cave Creek AZ
Today, I told my husband that for date night we’d go hiking and this time I’d make my way to the top. The promised 360-view was calling me.
We did it! Hard as heck as our hearts pounded in our chests (I’m a bit out of shape) and our legs burned as we climbed over jagged rocks up and up and up.
But wow what a workout!
We made it!
The view. Carefree, AZ
After we went for burgers.
Saturday, January 7th, 2017
Fresh baked cookies = Sweet Memories
I had einkorn flour in my cupboard from my sourdough bread attempt-making days. I wanted to use it, and I decided chocolate chip cookies would be perfect because I could make them with my daughter, creating memories and giving us an opportunity to homeschool through it.
I found a recipe online and the thing that stuck out from it, apart from all of the yummy real food ingredients it had like grass-fed butter and pasture-raised eggs, it recommended freezing the dough in balls and then cooking them -> only a few at a time.
I can make a batch of cookies, only bake a few, and freeze the rest so I don’t eat them all at once.
See? The secret to not eating too many cookies. :)
And… that’s what we did.
Raw cookie dough balls ready to freeze for 2 hours.
Errr… if you’re wondering my cookie dough looks so yellow, it’s because I added turmeric to them. Of course.
After 2 hours in freezer, put in freezer-safe bag. Bake and eat 1, or 2, at a time. :)
Sunday, January 1st, 2017
Happy New Year!
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.
Creating a life with more moments like this.
We will have a lot more funny crazy moments.
Case in point.
Life is too much fun.
Sunday, November 6th, 2016
Instant Pot – Smart, I fucking love you.
Instant Pot – Smart…
I am so grateful this brilliant electric pressure cooker came into my life!
I must be eating at least 4-times the amount of veggies now, because it is so easy to make delicious and extra nutritious vegetables with it.
Instant Pot – Smart is a set it and forget it appliance so I don’t have to stand over a hot stove watching my veggies cook. And? This is WAY FASTER.
Be still my heart.
Would you believe I am still using my Instant Pot every single day… multiple times a day. I use it for my veggie-heavy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Here are some of my latest creations.
By the way, if you get an Instant Pot – Smart and want my preprogrammed recipes, email me and I can send them to you where you add them to the Instant Pot – Smart app on your smart phone with the click of a button. Not sure if the app works on all phones – I’m using an iPhone but I think it works with Android, too. Double check though!
Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Nourishing Chicken and Veg soup – no noodles needed.
One Pot Meals – Love ‘em.
For the chicken and vegetable soup, I basically put a cup of spring water in the Instant Pot plus the trivet rack. I placed a small pasture-raised organic chicken on top that was seasoned with salt and pepper. Cooked on HIGH for 13 minutes (it’s about 5 minutes per pound of thawed whole chicken). Let it release naturally. Then, I took the chicken out and set aside in a glass baking dish.
While the chicken cooled for a few minutes, I added lots of veggies to the instant pot like carrots, celery, kale, and Dr. Cowan’s awesome veggie powders (tomato salt, leek powder, and three-fold blend). This makes the veggie amount and diversity go even higher. By the way… my readers get a 15%-off coupon to use with Dr. Cowan’s online store:
Coupon Code: KRISTEN
Read here for more about my using Dr. Cowan’s garden vegetable powders.
Back to the chicken and vegetable soup recipe… I added a bit more water ensuring at least a cup’s worth was in the pressure cooker. It always needs liquid in it to work.
I put the lid back on the Instant Pot and cooked for a few minutes (low pressure is usually my choice for veggies except for big root veggies). While those were cooking I effortlessly pulled the meat off the bones and cut the meat into pieces (saving the bones to easily make chicken bone broth with the Instant Pot later).
Once the Instant Pot Smart was done cooking the vegetables, I opened it up immediately with Quick Release and added the chicken. Stirred it up, tasted for seasoning. Done.
Green Beans with Ghee and Sea Salt
Making green beans in the Instant Pot.
BTW – Thanksgiving cooking just got easier with this Instant Pot – Smart. I plan on making the mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries, and gravy with it. Have I mentioned how stress-free this kitchen robot makes my life?
Ok, the green beans…
I simply put 12 ounces of organic green beans in a colander basket along with a cup of spring water to my Instant Pot – Smart. I set it for LOW to cook for 3-minutes (they were yummy-soft but next time I’ll try 2 minutes to cook a bit less). While they were cooking I set out a bowl with grass-fed organic ghee (<– that’s the only brand of ghee I’ll buy as it tastes the best) and sea salt.
In case you’re wondering why I use spring water sometimes, it’s because I drink the vegetable tea (I call it) after the cooking is done as it has nutrients and is tasty. I don’t do that with everything I cook in there, like eggs, so those types of recipes I just use tap or filtered tap.
Broccoli n Carrots
After I took these out of my Instant Pot, I cut the broccoli more.
Normally when I cook broccoli by itself, I put the big ol’ head of broccoli straight up in the Instant Pot not bothering to cut. After it cooks I take it out with tongs, transferring it to my cutting board where I then cut it.
For the broccoli and carrot combo, I put them in a bowl and added grass-fed butter, Dr. Cowan’s tomato salt, leek powder, and kale powder plus hemp seeds and Jovial’s borlotti beans. A perfect lunch!
“This sh*t is TOO EASY!”
These are tasty straight from the jar.
Kale with beans and Dr. Cowan’s Veggie Powders
Are you getting my message as to how easy it is to add more vegetables to your life with an Instant Pot – Smart? Do you and your family a favor and buy one. Then, buy one for your BFF for the holidays and your mom probably needs one, too. Mine did!
Tender kale and beans. So good. #InstantPotSMART
Here I cooked the kale on the trivet over a cup of spring water under LOW pressure for 3-minutes. The only prep I had to do was wash the kale and I simply chopped it in half once. While it was cooking I grabbed a bowl to which I added my Dr. Cowan’s veggie powders plus grass-fed butter and sea salt.
When the kale was done cooking I took it out with tongs (it’s hot!) and transferred it to my cutting board for a few more cuts. Then stir it into the bowl with butter and added some beans. Awesome breakfast! (Another day I did the same thing but added two Instant Pot cooked eggs when I added the beans. See how I do the eggs below.)
Instant Pot Eggs (soft/medium/hard cooked)
Instant Pot Eggs
Eggs are reason alone to buy an Instant Pot – Smart. They cook easily without watching a pot, come out perfectly every time and best of all? They peel so easily!!!
I add a cup of tap water to the instant pot plus the trivet. Add 12 eggs in shell that are straight from the fridge. Cook on LOW for 3-5 minutes depending on desired doneness (for me that’s 4 minutes). While they’re cooking, get an ice bath ready (large bowl with half water and half ice). Once the Instant Pot Smart is done cooking, Quick Release. Transfer the eggs to the ice bath with tongs. After letting them cool a few minutes, get to easily peeling off the shells which is actually fun when it’s as easy as this. Store in the fridge.
Or… make my delicious deviled eggs featured in my Turmeric Hacks ebook.
Turmeric Recipes Ebook!
Friday, October 28th, 2016
Here we go! Homeschool fun out and about.
I’ve recently dubbed my daughter and myself, The Go Girls, as we have been just getting up and going for all kinds of activities lately.
Most of you know that we homeschool though I’d kind of lump us into the unschool category, which I prefer to call FUNschool. Our lives are about learning through fun activities. And you know what? It works.
She is learning to read, spell, and write by texting on her iPod and playing Words with Friends. We read books as well but there’s no pulling teeth with all of these fun alternatives. We learn math with cooking, board games, and simply talking about numbers out loud so she can see how to manipulate them to get the answers to questions.
When we have longer car rides to activities, it’s a ripe time for conversing about everything from zombies to politics (maybe that was the same conversation).
Kamea is full of questions every single day. Being able to answer them all in the moment, or help her find the information when I don’t know the answer, is a blessing.
Time to go global.
I want to take learning to a global level in the near future.
I was recently inspired by the book Global Student, which has my brain’s gears thinking about living abroad for extended periods of time to immerse ourselves in other cultures, learn language and show Kamea the world. (This book is not just for homeschoolers.)
From Amazon.com about the book
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.
Ready to ditch the drama of the traditional hypercompetitive SAT/AP/GPA path? Meet the bold American students who are catapulting into the global economy at twenty with a red-hot college diploma, sizzling 21st-century skills, a blazing sense of direction–and no debt.
• the one thing preventing your student from blasting forward
• why Advanced Placement isn’t so advanced
• why international programs fail to provide a truly global education
• the most critical time for your student to study abroad
• the best exchange program in the world ($3,000 or less per year)
• the strategic way to fast-forward through high school
• how to maximize a family sabbatical
• how to live the life of your dreams abroad–and save thousands for college
I always knew we’d travel, in some way, someday, to other parts of the world.
Upon completion of Global Student, it easily clicked as to how we would actually do it.
In 2018, we’ll sell some stuff, put the rest in storage, pack some suitcases and take off. I’m only in the very beginning of researching this but we’re considering south of France (and other parts of Europe), the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and/or Costa Rica. Probably all of them eventually.
For now… here’s our world in Arizona. These are some things we’ve been doing to have fun and learn at the same time.
The various parks offer homeschool classes and family activities that are loaded with hands-on learning.
Kamea is feeding a sweet and hungry tortoise some prickly pear.
Watch your fingers – feeding a tortoise.
I’ve always thought snakes were cool and witnessing this king snake eat a dead rat was fascinating.
Rat was dead prior to feeding.
We also saw a rattlesnake have her lunch, too, which was epic.
We like jumping at an indoor trampoline park. Great exercise and ridiculously fun.
Time to jump!
Kamea is enjoying a Lego Engineering class where she built a battery-operated car.
Kamea in Lego Engineering class.
We celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Phoenix which was quite the event. Now that I’ve had a taste of this locally, I can’t wait to visit Oaxaca to witness it there someday.
Dancing along with the others. #Diadelosmuertos
I’m grateful Kamea can experience some culture like this in Arizona. She sat at a table filled with Spanish-speaking kids, learning and having fun.
Art with other kids at Dia de los Muertos.
We visited a pumpkin patch which was filled with activities and fun including a train ride, hay ride, games, animals, and horse rides.
Hmmmm which one?
Even though I’ve been in Arizona over a decade, I’m still not used to some holidays here. Seeing the cactus in the backdrop is
Horse riding time
Kamea wanted to ride the horse so badly! When I got to the part where I could choose the non-mandatory helmet, I was struck with protecting my child’s brain in the event of a fall or saving her from potentially getting lice with this community-helmet (ewww). Obviously we went with the helmet but next time I’m bringing her own.
Monday, September 19th, 2016
Kristen Suzanne in ghee
, product review
My collection of Dr. Cowan’s Garden powders. SO GOOD!
Today is your lucky day!
Recently, I blogged about my passion for both my new kitchen robot, the Instant Pot Smart as well as my collection of Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders.
In case you didn’t read that post, I’m loving my Instant Pot Smart because cooking just became so easy I think I could do it while I sleep.
And, I have new best friends in my life: Dr. Cowan’s Amazing Awesome Nutritious EASY-TO-
SNEAK-ADD VEGGIE POWDERS! For more details read here.
Dr. Cowan’s team saw my post and wanted to offer my readers a 15% discount coupon for their veggie powders. OMG! Lucky dogs you are!
You will get 15% off your purchase when you use the coupon code at checkout: KRISTEN
It bears repeating that I love these quality garden vegetable powders. They have thought of everything from using miron glass containers to protect the product to briefly cooking the kale, for example, before dehydrating it.They also use an amazing variety of vegetables to strive for balance and nutrient variety.
I can’t speak highly enough about Dr. Cowan’s Garden Veg Powders. I am a customer for life!
Dr. Cowan’s delicious kale powder.
For example, from their website about the kale powder…
Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable known for its many phytochemicals, which are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer. It is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, which helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process, as well as beta-carotene, which has been shown to help prevent cancer. It is also a great source for Vitamin C and manganese, which is important for skin health.
However, kale also contains goitrogens, which inhibit thyroid function but which are mostly removed with cooking. We steam our kale before dehydration to remove these goitrogens. More than four pounds of kale are contained in this 150-gram jar. The varieties in our powder include Red Russian, Scarlet, Lacinato, Dwarf Siberian and Toscano.
The flavor is bright and grassy. When folded into most other foods, it takes on the flavor of those foods, which makes it ideal for picky vegetable eaters. To use, sprinkle on salads, eggs, rice, quinoa, buttered popcorn, steamed or roasted vegetables, fish or chicken. Add to smoothies, soups, stews, pasta, spaghetti sauce – really, anything you enjoy eating! Our favorite way to use Kale Powder is sprinkled on scrambled or over-easy eggs in the morning.
I’m able to add extra nutrients to just about anything I eat. I use these powders on so much and I can’t wait for them to make their pumpkin powder to amp up all foods and recipes Fall Season related. Um… pumpkin latte anyone?!?
Today, as I write this post, I’m drinking homemade grass-fed kefir to which I simply added a 1/2 teaspoon of Perennial Greens. This powder blend includes: Tree collards, gynura, perennial chard, chayote, moringa, perennial kale. That’s a powerful blend.
Super Kefir with Dr. Cowan’s Garden Veg Powder #grassfeddairy
Not all powders are available all the time. But, here’s a secret… if you join their newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when they have new options available. Jump on it(!) and buy, because they sell out fast!
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, because I find use in all of them.
I like the winter squash to increase my beta-carotene. I LOVE THE LEEK (which as of this writing isn’t available but I’m told it’s soon) because of its FLAVOR (OMG!) and leeks might be extra important for gut health it seems. I love the beets because I’m just not one to make beets often (well, except now that I have my Instant Pot I admit it’s way easier).
Still, the ease of adding Dr. Cowan’s beets to anything is mega attractive. Plus, an important note is recognizing that Dr. Cowan’s team uses three varieties of beets (Detroit Red, Chiogga, and Golden) – remember that variety is the spice of life. It’s important for health.
I also love the threefold blend because it’s so balanced. I use that one often with my 6-yo daughter. One of her favorite combos right now is my open-faced grilled cheese with raisins.
Very special open-faced grilled cheese for my daughter.
Here’s what I do…
I toast a slice of organic, TRULY sourdough bread. Then, I spread grass-fed ghee on top.
After that, I sprinkle Dr. Cowan’s Garden Threefold Blend on top and add some raisins (I stuff them into the sourdough holes when possible – hehe).
Add a sprinkle of sea salt, sometimes fresh herbs if I have on hand.
Then, I top with thick slices of raw grass-fed cheese. Toast it briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese.
Voila! She has this almost every day right now.
Super Slaw with Veggie Powders! (no mayo)
And, then there’s my SUPER SLAW recipe.
Try this super coleslaw which is amped with veggies and doesn’t have mayo. Creamy and cooling with a bit of cabbage-crunch.
Yield 6 to 8 servings (or fewer if you like big-ass bowls of coleslaw per person)
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and shredded
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon (or more!) Dr. Cowan’s Garden Threefold Blend Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup grass-fed sour cream
1/2 cup grass-fed, whole-fat Greek yogurt (I like Straus)
Place the shredded vegetables into a large bowl. I use this food processor, fitted with the shredding blade, for shredding with ease.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients for the dressing. Add the dressing to the bowl of vegetables. Toss to mix well. Season with additional salt, if desired. Add more Dr. Cowen’s Garden powders if desired, too!
Refrigerate for up to an hour before serving, if possible.
REMEMBER! You will get 15% off your purchase of Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders when you use the coupon code at checkout: KRISTEN
I also want to add that these garden veg powders are super for travel. I’ll be heading to the 2016 Bulletproof Conference later this week, and I’m taking my veggie powders with me. #HaveVeggiePowdersWillTravel