Thursday, March 9th, 2017
I was on the hunt for some nut or seed butters in the store recently.
I wanted something to have on hand for:
- snacking with celery and raisins
- frozen berry smoothies (the fat in the nuts or seeds helps our bodies assimilate more nutrition from the produce)
- just a spoonful when I want a little something in my belly that’s easy and quick
Something was holding me back from buying anything like that from the store. Something something something…
Oh yeah… price and quality. To be fair there are some good organic nut and seed butters out there, but I decided I wanted a seed butter. At the time the prospects weren’t attractive because they were either stored in plastic or they weren’t organic or they were just too damn pricey.
And, duh, I remembered that I had raw organic sunflower seeds sitting in my cupboard at home. :)
I made my own. Cuz. It’s just too easy.
Here’s what I did…
(I took the extra step to toast them a bit in a pan on the stove for fun and extra flavor.)
Put the seeds in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade. Add a pinch (or two) of sea salt, if desired.
Let it whirl, and whirl, and whirl and whirl and whirl whhhiiiirrrlllllll
…until it’s nut or seed butter.
Beginning stages… go go go!
A few times in the process I scraped down the sides.
Voila! Sunflower seed butter.
Let’s do this!
(I’m very excited!)
My husband, Greg, his business partner, Pam, and I are working on a new project and we’d love your support.
We’ll soon be launching a Kickstarter to publish a children’s book to empower girls for careers in STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). As the mother of a daughter, this is something that’s very important to me.
STEAMTEAM 5: THE BEGINNING
STEAMTEAM 5: The Beginning is a children’s book that tells the story of five amazing girls who use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to do amazing things. This book is the first volume of a fictional universe built around these characters, designed to grow so that they can serve as ongoing role models for young girls.
This story is awesome!
But this is much more than just a book.
It’s the beginning of a movement.
Science education happening here.
This movement is to attract girls to careers in STEM/STEAM.
To do this, we need your help!
Kickstarter campaigns are most successful when lots of people hit all at once. If you are interested in being a backer, please sign up to receive announcements so that we can build up our list and direct a ton of people on the day of the launch.
Please help us KICK ASS with Kickstarter! Sign up here.
Together, we can get more girls going into STEAM!
Friday, February 17th, 2017
A tiny purse (instant pot for scale)
Another step in preparing to be expats, digital nomads, slow travelers, worldschoolers… whatever we want to call it… minimalism plays a part.
I’m going through each room, closet, area of the condo and deciding what I use, love, and want to keep.
Are there things that I like but aren’t used often? Are there things that spark joy but that I would’t buy again if I were deciding today? What am I attached to? Do particular items bring me happiness or do they just satisfy my ego? I think ego plays a big role for some things.
For the next year we will slowly rid ourselves of a lot of… stuff.
I’m partial to my Le Creuset collection (quality pots and pans), but I have to ask myself, “Is it worth paying storage fees to keep these?” What if we’re gone for years? That monthly storage rent adds up, and I could probably buy these things again for the same price that paying to store them for so long would cost. If we’re lucky, fingers crossed, my mom and mother-in-law will give us a bit of space to store things there.
My passion for minimalism actually started last year. I was tired of decision making fatigue so I started making fewer daily decisions. Ergo: minimalism.
- Have fewer clothes (I wear most of the same stuff day in and day out anyway) and less to look at in my closet, fewer decisions, more energy.
- Having fewer lipsticks, believe it or not, is less decision making fatigue.
- Having a regular rotation of meals and foods so that I’m not constantly thinking about what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Having less to dust gives me more time and energy to do other things.
Recently, I downsized my purse, but it wasn’t without stress. After multiple attempts, I finally said, “Fuck it, I’m going lean.” I went from a larger purse packed with a large essential oil spray (cuz I might need it), snacks (cuz if I don’t have snacks I’ll be hungry), pens (cuz my kid needs to draw at the restaurants we don’t go to), various membership cards (rarely used), makeup, bandaids (cuz you never know), earbuds, cell phone, car keys, kleenex, handkerchief (cuz it’s pretty), and more ——> to ——> a tiny 6-inch purse that fits very little.
For the tiny purse, I opted for lip balm, lip/cheek stain (two in one – yeah!) plus my phone, keys, a small bottle of essential oil (I had to), earbuds (I use these a lot), wallet minus membership cards (those I’ll keep in the car). I decided to carry a few snacks in the car for desperate times.
I’m feeling badass as a result.
Risky behavior to be so spartan – or so I thought.
Turns out I love the freedom of the small purse. I might not have a bison bar in it, but forcing myself to be hungry once in a while isn’t going to kill me. It’ll make me stronger?
Minimalism is giving me a lightness, a leanness, and an overall badass experience. To know I require so little in the way of material possessions is empowering.
Let’s see. That’s more energy from less decision making fatigue. More time from less dusting. More freedom from having less.
Minimalism for the win.
Friday, February 10th, 2017
Sourdough w lemon, butter, and honey
As I sit here in my kitchen eating my fourth piece of sourdough toast, dripping with melted butter plus lemon zest, sea salt, and raw honey, I’m looking around the kitchen and realizing there are four kitchen machines that I use every day and don’t ever want to be without. I would even say that I use each of them multiple times a day. That’s a good return on investment.
They’ve all made my life much easier and tastier.
Instant Pot = BFF
It will come as no surprise that my Instant Pot is one of my favorite kitchen machines. I use it, at a minimum, once a day. It EFFORTLESSLY does everything from making rice to oatmeal to hard-boiled eggs to soup or stew to chicken to cheesecake to pretty much anything you want.
When we move abroad I will do everything I can to take that sucker with me.
Coffee Pot ☕️
A stunning coffee pot.
A good cuppa coffee really makes my day special. It’s the little things. When I go to bed at night, I think with excitement about waking up and having my coffee.
My love with coffee started back when I was seven years old, and my Nana gave me my first taste. We are Italian after all. Start ‘em young. She also taught me to shave my legs at that age. We are Italian after all.
I’ve been using my coffee machine, a Technivorm, for about five years. It’s a beautiful machine, and its hefty price tag is worth it. As my Papa used to say, “It doesn’t cost more to go first class.” When you spend more for something, it’s usually for quality and it will last you.
Electric Tea Kettle
A well loved tea pot and my good ol’ blender
I’ve had this electric tea kettle for many years. I love how fast it heats water. I can also program it for a specific temperature to ensure the best tasting tea. I probably use it 4-5 times a day between using it for heating water to make oats, tea, or heating a thermos with the hot water.
A kitchen would not be complete without a good blender. I’ve had my high-powered blender, a Vita-mix, for about 10 years (and it looks like it – but, hey, it still works like a charm). My blender gets used every day, multiple times a day. I make everything from smoothies to dressings to ice cream to soups to chia pudding to Bulletproof Coffee.
Friday, February 10th, 2017
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.
Whoops. I was wrong at least for my family. Being vegan wasn’t right for my tribe.
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’m hungry now. Off to make a real food snack.
Avocado n homemade pickled onions. Love.
Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Math tools for homeschooling
We homeschool our young daughter and subscribe to a general belief that unschooling is important.
What is unschooling?
As unschoolers, we don’t follow a specific curriculum, or really any curriculum at all. Our focus is learning as much as we can from living life. I find that especially
important helpful fun during Kamea’s early years (for various reasons).
What does unschooling look like for us? Here are some good examples…
- Playing dolls with my daughter and using the opportunity to teach various life lessons and even business lessons as we play.
- My daughter would like to start her own business. This provides the perfect opportunity to teach business, math, communication, reading, writing, courage, etc.
- We love to cook. This allows knife skills, a little math, a bit of chemistry, some biology and more. We can talk about the nutrients in the food, from where the food hails, and all kinds of things. We can also teach history, art, and language through cooking.
- When we move abroad there are plenty of unschooling opportunities. We will learn, through just living, the epic lessons of what it’s like to be in another culture. We will learn social studies, maps, geography, history, art, food, language and so many things.
- Using a passion of hers, like art, and finding ways to teach any (or all) other subjects through art or while she’s creating art.
All sounds awesome, right?
So that is what I’ve used as a guiding principle to how we approach education with our daughter.
But, unschooling does not come without its own challenges for me.
The hardest thing for me to effectively teach through unschooling is math. I can teach a little bit of math here and there, sneaking it in. We can play blackjack and she can familiarize herself with adding, or we can play the game Play Nines, which actually introduces negative numbers (that’s cool). In cooking, I can show her that 3 teaspoons makes up a tablespoon and give her a basic introduction to fractions. We play math games on her iPad, like the clever game DragonBox. She can learn a bit of geometry while drawing shapes.
In spite of numbers and math seeming to be everywhere, my main challenge is we don’t get enough math regularly to reinforce what she’s learning. So much of math in the beginning is memorization and repetition via worksheets. While I don’t want her to sit down at a table with a worksheet and drill numbers, numbers, numbers, I want to expose her enough times to numbers and math so that she can remember it!
And therein lies my challenge.
I can’t seem to find enough ways to incorporate math in our daily lives which will satisfy my idea of what I hope she’s learning and have her giddy to do it. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I’m not creative enough. Maybe I’m just lazy or maybe I’m getting the whole “unschooling” thing wrong, but my instinct tells me to switch gears when it comes to facilitating Kamea’s learning of math.
I think some unschooling proponents would say to not concern myself so much (and perhaps to not try so hard). She will learn what she needs to learn when she wants to learn it. I’m just not totally comfortable with that. Because, honestly, if I take a backseat with respect to math and let her learn it on her own, which in reality seems to be only little drips of math here and there … she is just not going to know a whole lot of math. And while I love the idea of her enjoying every topic she learns, perhaps that is not realistic, or if it is, it requires too much creativity on my part.
Perhaps she could learn all of it later, as I’ve heard some unschoolers do. That doesn’t feel right either, because I think it would help her in other areas of learning to have a stronger math background. (Thinking out loud here … then again, if she’s doing these other things which require math she might get the math she needs.)
Well, here is the beauty of homeschooling.
Homeschooling education can be customized to whatever we want, whenever we want. We can start down one path spending whatever time we want on whichever subjects we want, and changing that later to spend more time on other subjects (or less) as we see fit. If something isn’t working, we can change course.
It is really awesome and helpful to have such flexibility.
So, although I champion unschooling methods most of the time for us, I feel it’s time to divert from it for math.
Here’s what we’re doing now.
- I found a great book that teaches math in a most quirky and entertaining way: The Life of Fred series. We’ve gone through one book in the series, and she likes it enough that we’ll continue. I have to reiterate that it is so quirky and weird it’s almost addictive, strangely, at least for me. I’m eager to see what results we’ll get because it is so… weird.
- We are using Khan Academy on her iPad.
- We are playing another math-centered game online, Prodigy, and she loves that game.
- Plus all the other unschooling math tricks I mentioned above such as finding ways to incorporate math-speak frequently. “Ok, Kamea, we’re 38 miles from Nana’s house. When we’ve traveled 30 of those miles, how many are left?” OR “You have $6 and want to buy a $20 toy. How much more do you need?” OR “5349 to the third power equals what?” <– just kidding.
Perhaps after she gets some fundamentals we will shift gears and go back to an unschooled approach with math. I really don’t know what the future has in store for us for any subjects.
I love it all though. I love homeschooling, I love the freedom and flexibility we have, and I love the opportunity I have to be with my daughter all day.
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
This book inspired me to move abroad… sooner than later.
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.
Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
Has bag, will travel.
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.
Fast forward some years and we married.
In Bora Bora.
Whisking me away to the most beautiful paradise on earth was a great way to get me interested in travel. (Smart fellow he was.)
Getting married in Bora Bora
Traditional wedding ceremony – Bora Bora
It wasn’t long before we were talking about how we couldn’t wait to travel the world, laptop-style.
Working side by side, somewhere on a coast in Italy became a vision I couldn’t shake. I caught his travel bug.
I’ll be here someday. Amalfi Coast – Italy
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.
Monday, February 6th, 2017
Kristen Suzanne in Bread
, gluten free
, instant pot
, pastured eggs
Let’s dive in. Golden Egg Salad.
I love egg salad. It’s creamy, a bit tangy, nourishing and full of flavor and satisfaction.
Here’s how I made Golden Egg Salad the other night.
I started by pressure cooking organic broccoli in my beloved Instant Pot, which effortlessly takes only a handful of minutes.
Instant Pot broccoli. Easy!
While the broccoli is cooking, I get a bowl together with the dressing mixture.
Egg Salad dressing goodies
For starters, I don’t like conventional mayo because they all have some kind of vegetable oil in it (canola or sunflower or soybean oil) of which I currently eschew. I’m not crazy about the primal mayos out there either.
Instead, I love and always use Straus whole-fat Greek yogurt which is a kiss from heaven. It’s thick, rich, and tastes like cream cheese(?) to me. I use it in place of all things mayo and my gut thanks me as a result (boost of gut-health probiotic love). I can’t speak for other Greek yogurts though, as far as heavenly taste.
To the bowl, I add:
I stir it all and look for more stuff to add texture and pizzazz to my egg salad.
Oh. Whoops. I should mention that I already had my hard-cooked eggs made in my Instant Pot earlier today. Reason alone to buy an Instant Pot to make the perfect-every-time hard-boiled eggs.
Ok so I found some red bell pepper and chopped it.
I added sauerkraut and chopped bread-n-butter pickles (my favorite in egg salad).
Bell pepper for texture, brightness, and nutrition
Then I chopped the freshly cooked broccoli, added more Greek yogurt cuz you should make it really creamy.
I need a bigger bowl.
Added the chopped eggs.
Stirred it up and tasted.
Diced up an apple and added it.
Now, it’s perfect.
Oh yeah. Bring it.
Sunday, February 5th, 2017
Nutrient and Flavor Boost w Veg Powders
I look for ways to add vegetables to my life.
Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders make it super easy. With most meals I simply add a 1/2 teaspoon each of a couple different veggie powders. It’s that easy.
No washing of extra veggies. No cooking required. Just add a sprinkle of the powders for extra flavor and a serious boost of nutrition.
By the way… my readers get a 15%-off coupon to use with Dr. Cowan’s online store:
Coupon Code: KRISTEN
Note… they often sell out of their veggies powders so add your name to their email list and always know right away when the online store is restocked.
I even bring my veggie powders to restaurants.
Today, I brought a couple jars to Chipotle so I could mod my bowl.
Leek is my FAVORITE!!!
It. Was. Awesome.
I could’ve stopped with just the veggie powders, but I also brought Straus whole-fat Greek yogurt (tastes like sour cream and cream cheese – fucking delicious), plus organic orange bell pepper, and purple sauerkraut.
Ta-Da! Chipotle bowl mod.
I was licking my bowl.