Chickens!

We added some new members to the household this month!

  
They live in our house right now, but will move outside when they have all of their feathers. I am looking forward to learning a new skill, having fresh eggs to spare, and growing our little homestead. Each day I look forward to hanging out with these little girls and watching them change. 

What do you find therapeutic at the end of a long day?

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Create Your Own Happiness

 “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ― T.S. Eliot

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out Of The Darkness Overnight Walk

 
Over the course of the past year I have changed jobs, gained a nephew, built a new garden, lost a loved one, walked all night to raise awareness and learned more about myself than I could have planned.

With the new year comes a new list of goals. One thing that I have noticed since I started working two jobs is a huge lack of motivation for the things I used to like to do. As a mental health clinician, the importance of self care is always discussed, but easier said than accomplished. So, in the interest of taking care of myself, this year I have put the following plans in motion:

1. Quit my part time job- DONE! My last day is February 12th. This is going to take a lot of time management stress off my plate, but add some financial stress. This was a huge decision, but ultimately, the positives of resigning outweighed the negatives.

 2. Rediscover my passion for cooking- My husband got me this fantastic book for  Christmas called “Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?” By Lisa Caponigri. It has weekly menus for elaborate Italian dinners and I can’t wait to try them out on my friends and family. 

 

3. Don’t fall into the negativity trap- Unfortunately, there are a lot of people where I work who are less than satisfied with their jobs. This has been rubbing off on me and when asked how I am doing, my responses have turned into “It’s going” or “I’m here.” Going forward, I am going to do my best to respond with “It’s good to be alive” as a way of appreciating my circumstances. 

4. More books, less technology- I deleted FaceBook. Enough said.

5. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner- This sounds simple, but with the nature of my job, I often find myself forgetting to stop long enough to eat meals. This week, there was a day that I went to both jobs and didn’t stop to eat until 6:00pm. Not good. Hopefully with the 2nd job ending, days like that will be few and far between.

I look forward to adding to my list as the year goes on. What is on your list?

❤ S

Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Recipes

As promised! Here are the two recipes I used for delicious home made cheeses last week. Sorry, the mozzarella recipe is a bit blurry, but you get the idea.

Please note: we used raw milk which is sweet and delicious. If you are going to go this route, do some research and be sure to know your farmer. Not all raw milk is treated the same. If you would rather go the pasteurized route, any whole milk works. Just be sure that it is pasteurized and not “ultra-pasteurized” as the later won’t work as well.

Additionally, I used a kitchen tea towel instead of cheese cloth for the ricotta. It worked well, but took quite a long time to drain.

Happy cheese making!

Recipe courtesy of Culinary Underground

Recipe courtesy of Culinary Underground

Recipe courtesy of Culinary Underground

Recipe courtesy of Culinary Underground

The ricotta recipe is made from the leftover whey after making mozzarella. You can find the recipe I used here:

Ricotta cheese recipe from sbcanning.com

Adventures in cheese making!

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Ok, it’s been WAY too long since my last post. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind, but I wanted to let you all know about a class I took this week.

The husband and I took a class on how to make fresh mozzarella and it was AMAZING! Oh goodness, if you have never tried mozzarella right from the pot, you have a new assignment! It was not only delicious but super easy as well. Only a half hour after we started, Patrick and I were enjoying the Caprese salad pictured above.

Better yet! After making the mozzarella, we took the leftover whey home and I experimented with making fresh ricotta. Although much more time went into draining the ricotta, it was just as simple to make. I’ll try to post both recipes tomorrow!

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I can’t wait to make more! Not only did both cheeses taste fantastic, but just making them was a huge stress reliever. Making cheese seemed to be a task where I was able to be focused on what I was doing and not on the b**** who hung up on me at work AND I got to eat a delicious snack after we were done!

Three cheers for therapeutic cheese making!

Free Books! Hurry!

Click on the link for free books from Mike the Gardner over at Averagepersongardening.com. I love free!

Organic Vertical Gardening on Amazonhttp://www.averagepersongardening.com/kindlebooks/kindlebooks.php#.Uw1ThHu9KK3

*At the time of this post these books were free. I can’t guarantee they will stay that way. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the app to your computer or tablet for free as well!

What the heck is a GMO?

GMO-graphic

This acronym has been flying around the media lately. GMO stands for the term Genetically Modified Organism. Essentially, they are organisms that have been genetically tampered with by scientists in a lab. Some GMOs are as simple as modifying the genes of an apple so that it doesn’t turn brown when it is sliced. Others are a bit more harsh like crossing corn with a pesticide so that the vegetable itself repels insects.

You, like many others, may be thinking “hmm, I wonder how that corn affects my body?” Excellent question! One of the big controversies about these new “organisms” is that there isn’t enough research on the long-term effects of consuming GMOs. How are they affecting our bodies and at a very basic level? Are they affecting our genes too? There are many people who support GMOs as they claim to increase the world’s food supply by creating super plants that withstand pests and droughts. I suppose the big questions is, at what cost?  How do these new “super organisms” affect your wellness and the wellness of our population as a whole?

If bug repellent laced corn isn’t for you, check out the new Non-GMO Sourcebook. This book is bursting with non-GMO food and agriculture products. You can find it here. If it REALLY is something you want to get involved in, contact your state representatives and let them know you would like them to support GMO labeling bills. These bills would require food companies to label GMO ingredients in their products so consumers can make educated decisions about what they are eating and feeding their loved ones.

You may have noticed many question marks in today’s post. That is how I am feeling about this topic. There are so many unanswered questions in my head when it comes to messing with food at a genetic level. At what point have we gone too far?

Check out www.non-gmoreport.com for more information on the subject.
I learned a ton from this site and started following them on Facebook too!

Does your diet affect your mood?

Have you ever noticed that your mood improves when you eat certain foods? For many people, there is a strong connection between what they eat (or don’t eat!) and how they are feeling. There is science behind this! According to mentalhealth.org.uk,”Recent evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health and that a number of mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors.” By beginning to keep track of which foods make you feel happier, you can work on adjusting your nutrient intake to combat feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, and more!

Here are five steps to a healthier diet and a healthier attitude:

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetable!   This may be one of the most important steps. Studies show that people who consume fruits and/or vegetables daily feel more content. I guess mom was right!
  2. Eat regular meals   Skipping a meal (especially breakfast) makes people feel irritable, overwhelmed, and stressed out during the day. Whether you’re a three meals a day or five snacks a day person, try to keep it regular. Our bodies are made to be on a schedule.
  3. Stay away from sugars and processed foods   If you can’t pronounce it, it probably isn’t good for you. Aim for whole foods like meats, vegetables, and grains that haven’t been through 30 machines to get to your table.
  4. Water, water, water!   You’ve heard it over and over. Many doctors and scientists recommend 8 glasses a day, but everyone is different. Try to observe how you feel after drinking 4, 8, 10 glasses a day. Once you figure it out, try to stick with the amount of water that keeps your body running smoothly.
  5. Variety   Too much of one kind of food can create imbalance and it’s super boring. Try to vary the foods that you are eating. This provides your body with the different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it is designed for. Not sure what to buy? Consider a farm share! Each week you will get all kinds of new goodies to fill your table with!

Keeping track of your food and figuring out how it relates to your mood can be difficult. Consider using a food and mood diary to figure out which foods give you the biggest boost. I made one for you!

Click on the link to download it now! Happy eating!

Food and Mood Diary

food and mood diary logo