Thursday, June 24, 2010

Still Working On Finding “Balance”

When I started this blog, one of my goals was to find “balance” in my life. Now, “balance” is a big word and there are often great expectations attached to it. We somehow want to find that “magical place” where things are in harmony and we somehow (hopefully) effortlessly spend the “right” amount of time on the “right” things. I’m not so sure that place truly exists… Life is just too ever-changing, unpredictable, and sometimes just not that easy…

Even though there may not be a place of “true balance,” I can honestly say that I feel more “balanced” today than when I started this blog last year. Here is why:
  • I work out regularly without feeling guilty
  • I am not afraid to say “no” anymore (most of the time)
  • I take time to appreciate the gift of life every day
  • I take some “me time” every day (even if it’s just 5 minutes)
  • I am mindful of where my food comes from, how I prepare it, and I enjoy every bite of it
While things are more balanced, the last few months have been challenging. Life happened, which means there were lots of things I hadn’t expected, planned for, or, quite frankly, wanted… But I made the best of it. Were things perfect and “nicely balanced?” No. But they were okay. And sometimes okay is just fine.

I still managed to work out a fair amount (although less than I would have liked to). I continued to eat (mostly) healthy foods. I made an effort to stay in touch with friends (but I could have been better).
Here is what I’m going to work on in the next few weeks to get “more balanced:”
  • Read a “summer book” for pleasure
  • Add some cardio back into my workouts
  • Play/hike/live more in nature
  • Be truly mindful of all the little pleasures and let them outshine the “negatives”
Questions: What do you think of “balance?” Do you think it’s a “big word” with maybe too many (unrealistic) expectations? Do you feel you have “balance” in your life?
Be well,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Some Farmers’ Market Fun After An Eventful Week

It’s been another busy week. And there was “good busy” and “not-so-good busy.” The not so good part was that we had to take the the toddler to the E.R., and he had to stay in the hospital overnight. Luckily, he is fine, but the incident reminded me, once again, that life is unpredictable and that we really need to enjoy every day and make the most of the amazing gift life is.

Every quarter, I end my last class with a short video of Dr. Randy Pausch. This quarter, I showed it to my 7:30 a.m. class right after staying up all night in the hospital. The end of the video always brings tears to my eyes, but this time I was sobbing… Several students told me after class how much they loved the message of the video.

It was nice to bring “normalcy” back into our lives by going to the Farmers’ Market this morning.

We bought the “usual veggies” (tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, and squash), raw cheese, and black bread. The toddler sampled more than his fair share of fruits, and we got some crepes and a spring roll for lunch. Well, technically, I got the spring roll, and hubby got the crepes. But I reminded him to be nice and share… :-)

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Question: What simple pleasures have reminded you lately that life is good?
Happy Friday!

Be well,

Monday, June 14, 2010

All Grown Up

The teenager graduated from high school last week. How did this happen soooooo fast???? It truly seems like yesterday that he was a little toddler…

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Graduation 01
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Over the weekend, we had a party to celebrate. Unfortunately, I got too busy to take many photos, so there are no photos of the main course or the dessert (dessert was a flourless chocolate cake and a red velvet cake; both very good)…

Question: What was the highlight of your weekend?
Be well,

Monday, June 7, 2010

Warm and Delicious Weekend

We enjoyed beautiful weather over the weekend. On top of that, we got to eat delicious food and hang out with friends.

On Saturday, we celebrated the high school graduation of one of the teenager’s oldest friends; they met when they were three! And his mom is one of my best friends. Mary put together the most fabulous brunch and really opened up her home and took great care to make her guests feel comfortable. Here are a few of the things we got to enjoy; there was lots more that I didn’t capture…


Since it had been months since hubby and I went out by ourselves, we also went out to dinner on Saturday night. Yes, lots of food in one day! I did get a workout in first thing Saturday and Sunday though… :-)
Here is Saturday’s dinner: Bread with basil olive oil. Most of it was consumed by hubby…

Hubby got some beer.

Hubby ordered the three course meal. It started with asparagus risotto. It was good, but the rice was just a bit too firm in my opinion.

I ordered the “healthy fish:” salmon, veggies, and wheat pasta in tomato sauce. It was basic but good.

Hubby’s main course were lamb chops with arugula salad. He actually said that it was too much meat and that he would order something with less meat next time. But somehow he managed to eat most of it anyway…

And we split his dessert. :-) It was really good: orange liqueur soaked sponge cake layered with marinated mixed berries, honey sweet mango and mascarpone zabione.

And the beautiful palm tree above our table. While it was beautiful, it was also VERY messy and was shedding tons of “stuff.” Hubby’s allergies were not too happy… Nevertheless, we had a fabulous time! :-)

And on Sunday, we went to Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend. We didn’t catch any of the celebrity chefs but had a good time sampling some food and checking out a few of the many vendors.

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The Tillamook Cheese "mini minivan" was soooo cute!

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And we got to try some of the famous Korean BBQ truck tacos.

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They were delicious.

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And “somehow” the toddler got a hold of some French fries, which he had to show off! :-)

Sunset 03

It’s going to be a busy week. I have lots going on at work and the teenager is graduating from high school this week! I can’t believe my “baby” is all grown up!

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? What’s your favorite food right now? I got some amazing early tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market on Friday. I could eat them all day long…

Be well,

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Raw Milk, Raw Milk Cheese, and Raw Milk Butter

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The other day, I posted a picture of some of my recent Farmers’ Market buys, and it included raw milk, raw milk cheese, and raw milk butter. I got several questions in the comments and in emails about my thoughts on raw milk. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love cheese. Now, loving it doesn’t mean that I go overboard eating it (even though there was a time in my life when I definitely consumed too much of it). I also eat some yogurt, kefir, and other milk products on a regular basis.

However, I am consuming a lot less milk and milk products at this point. In recent months, I have replaced some of the milk I used to drink with almond milk and especially enjoy it in my coffee or shakes. I make sure I get plenty of calcium by eating lots of leafy green vegetables rather than trying to get calcium only from milk and milk products. I give you this background to point out that I don’t consume a huge amount of raw milk and raw milk products.

I started buying raw milk cheese a little over a year ago at a local Farmers’ Market from Organic Pastures. Their website provides lots of information.

I had read about the benefits of raw milk and raw milk products (such as many intact beneficial enzymes, easier digestion, improved immune system, etc.), but I also knew that raw milk was controversial for its potential to be unsafe if it is not handled correctly (like many food products). Here is another website that advocates raw milk products and answers many questions. However, there are also many sources that paint another picture; a simple online search will lead you to lots of information on the topic. Also, raw milk is not legal in all states and there are different laws as to how it can be sold, and different countries have different laws regarding raw milk.

When I saw the raw milk stand at the Farmers’ Market over a year ago, I was curious. But I also was cautious. I think you have to be very careful when you choose raw milk products, just like you have to be careful whenever you choose anything that you will consume. It’s really important to ask where your food comes from, who has handled it, and if you can trust the source. That’s of course not always easy to do.

Before I purchased the first raw cheese, I spent a good amount of time speaking to the vendor, and he answered my questions and gave me lots of information. But I didn’t buy my first raw milk cheese right then and there but rather took the flier he had and checked the farm out online and researched raw milk products in general some more. I bought only raw cheese for many months and just recently started buying raw milk (and I bought raw milk butter for the first time on my last trip).

Some of you asked me how raw milk tastes compared to “regular milk.”  Again, let me say that I don’t drink a lot of milk anymore. The raw milk I drink is whole milk. When I drank “regular milk” it was mainly skim milk. So I’m not sure if my comparison is entirely fair. I would definitely say raw milk tastes fresher and more “real.” It’s very creamy (but it is whole milk after all!), and I really enjoy a small glass several times per week. It has of course more fat, including saturated fat, and calories than skim milk, so I try to fit it into my diet.

The raw cheddar cheese that we buy has a mild flavor. It is very creamy, yet has a little punch (if this makes sense). We really enjoy the cheese. However, I think the favorite product so far is the raw milk butter. Hubby couldn’t stop talking about it. He said it tasted more like cream cheese than butter to him. It is sweet and delicious. And a little goes a long way…

Some of you also asked if I noticed a difference in the way I feel since I started drinking raw milk. As I stated above, I don’t drink a lot of raw milk, so I’m not sure I would really feel a difference because of the relatively small amount I consume. I believe I feel well because I overall eat well, and raw milk and raw milk products are just a small part of my overall diet… :-) But I truly enjoy drinking milk from cows that get to graze an organic pasture land.

Ultimately, I think it’s very important that everyone make an informed decision if considering consuming raw milk and raw milk products. You should definitely do your research about the benefits and potential harm and make sure you know where your milk and milk products come from. That way you can make the best decision for you.

Questions: Have you ever tried raw milk or raw milk products? If so, did you like them? Would you ever like to try raw milk?
Be well,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lots of Sand and Easy Dinner

Yesterday, the toddler and I got to spend some time digging in wet sand. Lots of sand. And the toddler got REALLY into it. And the sand got everywhere…

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When we got home, I made an easy dinner. I had cooked some brown rice and roasted some veggies in the morning. We ate the rice and veggies with marinated tofu (a Farmers’ Market purchase), lots of fresh basil, and an over-easy egg. A simple, super quick and yummy dinner! :-)

Questions: When was the last time you got really dirty? The toddler and I had sand and mud EVERYWHERE… What have you been cooking/eating lately?

I got some questions regarding raw milk on my last post. I will answer your questions and tell you my thoughts on raw milk and raw milk products in my next post.

Be well,