Category: Worthy reads
|February 9, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Worthy reads|
Sigh. My cholesterol’s high.
Not disastrously so, but it surprised my doctor & I @ my last wellness checkup. How could that be? My doc gave me homework, “Check your family history, and change your diet.” While my diet’s not off-the-hook horrible, I can certainly make changes. I won’t be guzzling 6-packs of highly caloric Ensure anymore, as I did a few months ago to survive my 2-week complete appetite loss that followed the news that my husband’s divorcing me. And I won’t be stress eating the quickest sugar-laden, simple carb within reach, as I did once my appetite returned. I will reduce saturated fats & increase fiber. Upon recheck, my cholesterol’s down but still a tad high. Good news! I’m on the right track, but, as it turns out, I have work to do on two fronts: self-care via diet & battling genetics.
I just finished reading “Am I Being Kind?” by Michael Chase.
It’s a lovely book; you should read it. I intend to revisit it @ least twice a year. Each read will impact me differently as I journey through my life’s recent & rapid changes. In the book, Michael recommends asking yourself as you go about your day if you’re being kind to yourself, others & the Earth. Being kind to yourself is a must, if you wish to give kindness to others. In short, wellness matters; it’s self-kindness. So now when I eat, I ask myself, “Am I being kind to my body if I eat this?”
I also recently read Lissa Rankin’s book, “Mind Over Medicine“.
My take-away (one of many) from her science-based, must re-read gem is that our minds contribute to good health or a lack of wellness. Our beliefs are powerful enough to create & compound illness. So, for example, if I walk around thinking that I’m bound to have high cholesterol because it runs in my family, then I’m more likely to have it. If, however, I genuinely believe (& I do) that I can affect my health in a positive way by reducing stress & improving my diet, then that’s quite possibly my future reality. Since my numbers & my family’s history both surprised me, I’ve got a real shot @ positively thinking my way to wellness.
I plan to thrive, not merely survive.
I choose a life of happiness & kindness shared with friends, family, pets & clients. I would give nothing less to Rusty. Now, I promise me that I’ll give nothing less to me. Wellness is now a priority. Having said that, I delight in good food & wine. Baking feeds my soul; I believe in real butter, cream & dark chocolate. What’s a high-LDL gal to do? Moderation, variety & creativity, of course!
Pears? Not so much.
Yes, they’re in season. Yes, they’re adorable. So much so, they’ve inspired countless artists’ still lifes. I want to take them home & fill a bowl with them – or bake with them – or drink them. I cherish a nice pear cosmo. And, a chocolate-pear scone would be divine but not kind to me now. But to eat a plain pear is dicey. While Rusty loves them, I detest their fuzzy grittiness. It’s a texture thing. My challenge: make fiber-rich, fat-free pears visually and tastefully appealing to me. How? You’ll see….
Ruth’s Spicy Chunky Pear Sauce
8-10 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored & cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears have softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Mash with a potato masher. (If you want a smoother sauce, wait for it to cool. Then use an immersion or upright blender or a food processor.)
Once the sauce has cooled, store it in glass containers (healthier than plastic) in the frig for up to a week. To keep it longer, freeze or can it. Pear-fection!
~Tweaked from Two Peas & Their Pod~
Rusty LOVES the pear sauce as much as I do.
I picked the currants out of his portion. (No grapes, raisins or currants for dogs. The spices in the sauce are dog-friendly.) If you have pears but aren’t feeling saucy, just share them with your dog as is. (Don’t let Pup have the core or the seeds. Give one cube a day, as a little fiber for Fido goes a long way.) Or, pop them in the oven as I did to make Rusty’s Roasted Pears: Preheat oven to 375°. Peel & cube pears to desired treat size. Put pear chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until pear pieces feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Roasting makes them sweeter (not gritty) for you & Pup!
Moderation, variety & creativity are truly the spices of life & wellness.
My pear sauce is undoubtedly heavenly on fiber-rich oatmeal. It’s amazing on fat-free & yummy Cardamom-Pistachio Biscotti. But this girl knows a good thing when she tastes it: spicy pear sauce, warmed & spooned over coffee ice cream makes me do a happy dance! Listen, wellness isn’t about deprivation, ‘cuz YOLO. It’s about respecting and nurturing your body & soul. Pear-fection, indeed!
How do you strike a balance between health & happiness?
Please share your stories & recipes. We’re drooling with anticipation! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|January 19, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Training/Behavior, Worthy reads|
Deep breath. Not a wimpy, shallow stress breath. Deep belly breath. And again…
This is zen stuff. So as I tell my tale, don’t cry-for-me-Argentina. I’m fine. Rusty’s fine. Another breath, in…..out. Now – we’re ready to begin.
My life has been mixed up & thrown up in the air like
a tossed salad Miley Cyrus rode a wrecking ball thru it, naked.
Divorce isn’t pretty. In the midst of lawyers, counselors, therapists, paperwork and all the emotional garbage – I’ve been reinventing myself. Some days that goes very well. Others are a hot mess, like Miley twerking, tongue out. On my Miley days, I remember to breathe……
My anti-resolution was to simply be me.
That’s carrying me through all of this. How? Because, as it turns out, I’m a bit like Dorothy. I always had the power to pull through this, ruby slippers or not. I’m just realizing it now. Still, I can’t hate the slippers. They’re cute, right?
Being me includes being intuitive & empathic.
I recently learned how to hone both of those gifts a bit more – just in the nick of time, as it turns out. More on that later. We are all intuitive. Some of us are just better listeners when our intuition (or soul or heart or inner voice) speaks up. If you haven’t started listening, start. Your intuition could save your life. So tonight, before you go to sleep, try this simple intuition-enhancing exercise: Ask your intuition for guidance on a specific question or concern. Afterwards, pay attention to dreams, words, images or even a calm “knowing”. Don’t dismiss them or shrug them off. It takes practice & trust. Listen.
Empaths listen, too.
I recently discovered that I’m an empath. What’s that? Some hocus pocus? Not at all. Subconsciously, we sponge up the energies & emotions of others (pets & people, for me) in our environment. I believe that animals are empaths because they are naturally & keenly connected to their environment. As with intuition, we all can (& should) enhance our capacity for empathy. I started “The Soulful Pet” to help humans empathize with their pets (without anthropomorphizing) to realize that we share common life experiences & emotions. We can learn from our pets by experiencing the world via their points of view. To quote Buddha: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Your pets are always ready to teach. Are you listening & learning?
So here’s where it gets eerily real for Rusty & I.
I practiced asking my intuition for guidance last night, for the first time. Then I had a whopper of a nightmare for which I’m giddily grateful. In it, I received 3 solid answers to pressing life questions I had just posed. Wow! Still considering the implications of intuition, I went about my morning. I prepped the house for an appraisal, staying calm for the sake of my little empath, Rusty. Then Rusty waited in the car, all snuggled up under blankets, as the appraiser did his thing. It was quick & painless. I sprung Rusty from the cozy car, and let him outside to potty as I made coffee. It would be nice to spend the rest of the morning writing with my poodle buddy curled up by my side….
Within 5 minutes, I realized something was horribly wrong.
Had the appraiser closed the gate? I was sure that he hadn’t. Normally, I would NEVER let Rusty out without checking. But it was a Miley day, for sure. I ran out back, calling Rusty. No poodle & the gate was wide open. My heart leapt to my throat. I ran barefoot into the street, calling. Still no Rusty. Then, the calmness came. I heard my freshly prepped intuition speak: “Don’t waste time. Put your shoes on & get in the car. He went for his walk. He’s sniffing, so he hasn’t gone far.” Literally, I heard that word-for-word in my head. Shoes on, car moving, deep breath…..
Sure enough, Rusty was nose-to-the-ground a block away, walking our usual route.
I got out of the car & happily (I’m an adequate actress.) asked him, “Where are you going, little man?”. He looked up @ me, wagging his tail, clearly saying, “What took you so long? We’re going for a walk, mom!” I scooped him up, tucked him in the car, and, as we drove home, I promised him that we’d do that walk together. Whew.
Here’s what I know.
I will continue to hone my intuition. It’s life-savingly imperative. I will work on Rusty’s recall. We all need a little brush-up on our skills in the new year, yes? And, through my life’s upheaval, I will remember to breathe. If I forget, Rusty will remind me. We’re going for a walk now, because Rusty knew it would be good for us both. (I think that’s why he started without me but waited for me to catch up.) It’s the best kind of walk, where Rusty sniffs & I meditate. I breathe in as Rusty takes several steps, and out as he takes a few more. (I just learned that lovely trick from Michael Chase’s book, “The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone“.) Rusty receives relaxation from me and I from him. We are simply two intuitive empaths out for a stroll. I know that we will be ok, with every step, sniff and breath we take.
Do you and your pet have a special connection?
An unspoken language of your own, perhaps? Has your intuition saved you and/or your pets? We’d love to know about it. Heck, we know you’re not crazy… xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|August 21, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Seasonal, Training/Behavior, Videos, Worthy reads|
I don’t know a trainer who isn’t restless around puppy season. (For me, that includes kitten season, too.)
That what’s-cuter-than-kittens? time of year is upon us again. Are you expecting the pitter-patter of four tiny furry paws in your home? You’re in for a simultaneously adorable, confounding, & sleep deprived rest-of-the-year. So I would be remiss if I didn’t temporarily don my critter-coach cap out of sheer compassion for you: I just wrote the instruction manuals you’ll need for your new family member. (Trust me: I’d be an uber-wealthy chica if had coin for every time I heard, “She didn’t come with a manual!”)
I got obsessively busy yesterday, posting 5 new how-to articles on The Soulful Pet’s sister site, Critter Consulting.
That’s where I hung out, pre-burnout. I braved the eyelid twitches & quicksand of necessary yet non-creative writing for you. And, much to my surprise, I survived. (Good girl! & Woohoo!) You may recognize these posts as my flyers that vets, shelters & some conscientious breeders put in their new-pet packages for over a decade. Now, they’re minty fresh: reworked & re-imagined, loaded with info & links, and fully printable. Only the best for y’all!
- “When You Bring a New Puppy Home”
- “Suggested Puppy Supplies”
- “House training 101”
- “When You Bring a New Cat or Kitten Home”
- “Prepare Your Home for a New Feline”
- “Adopt an Adult Cat” – Wait, that’s 6 and you said 5, girl! Yes, I added this classic as a reminder that adult pets need homes, too. Shelters are filled with lovely animals who find themselves there for many reasons. Let’s dispel the myth that they are “broken” & “risky”. Heck, we all have a story. We’re all flawed. (Did I mention obsessive?) And we’re all loveable.
What do you mean you’re not expecting a fur-kid?! Grrrr & hackles up!
Don’t you know that shelters & rescues are brimming with sweet little beings right now? Surely you know that the soul you’ll someday shake your head & swear that you can’t imagine life without is patiently waiting there for you – right? Please don’t tell me I just spent all day yesterday putting these how-to posts together for no reason. Get it together & check yourself. Adopt!!
Too much? My bad. If you can’t adopt, donate.
Give your heart, your brains, your mad skills, your goods, or your coin to the angels who care for critters-in-need. Giving will change your life. Really, it will. You’ll see…..
BTW – Did you even ask your current pets if they want to share you with someone new?
If you’re lucky & they agreed, you’ll want to read more from Critter Consulting’s always-updated resource list. There, you’ll find Dr. Lorie Huston’s new, 4-paws-up piece, “Keeping the Peace in a Multi-Cat Household”; Pat Miller’s “How to Teach Your Dog to Get Along in a Multi-Species Household“; and Mardi Richmond’s “Mixed-Aged Dog Packs“. All brilliant ladies with savvy advice….. brilliant!
My Rusty prefers the bachelor lifestyle. He picked two flicks to illustrate how adopting a second pet can go fab – or very, very bad. Enjoy!
Did you rescue or adopt a pet? We’d love to hear how they’ve touched your life!
Please share your story in the comments. Woofs & wags to you & your fur-kids! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|July 30, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Training/Behavior, Videos, Worthy reads|
So the Pope said this today:
It’s not a huge shift in the Catholic church’s position, but it’s a start.
Believe me, I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I’d feature the Pope on this blog…. ever. But when he asked, “Who am I to judge?”, this post was born.
I’m not into organized religion. There, I said it.
My dad’s Catholic and my mom’s Methodist. I did double time in both churches as a kid. Eventually, I identified more with Methodists. The Latin spoken rituals-without-explanation and the belief that animals don’t have souls drove me-as-a-child away from the Catholic church. Eventually, I became jaded to structured religion because it fear mongers and judges. Do as I say or you’re going to you-know-where. Fire & brimstone, yada yada yada. They are so sure that they know. That certainty starts wars and alienates good people (women, the LGBTQ community, independent thinkers, scientists, etc.). That’s my take on my experience. I completely respect your love for your religion.
The truth is, no one knows the truth.
I think we’re all on a journey of discovery and self-awareness. That journey is best guided by Socrates’ golden rule: “Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.” I simplify it to: “Be kind.” My dear hubby is fond of quoting his dad (& Buddha): “Is what you’re saying kind, necessary and true?” Vets abide by the Hippocratic concept, “First, do no harm.” Anyway you slice it, through time, most religions espouse a version of the golden rule. For that reason, I see it as an undeniable truth.
To follow this rule, you can’t judge others, can you? Thankfully, that makes life easier.
I love Molly Friedenfeld’s thoughts on this. In “The Book of Simple Human Truths“, she explains: “Golden Rule Living is the great simplifier. It places us in another soul’s shoes, taking what can appear to be a complex decision that involves another and streamlining it to a one-step process of deciding, “If I wouldn’t like this done to me, then I shall not do it to another.””
The sword of judging others is double-edged: You also believe you are being judged.
That belief can lead to sometimes paralyzing social fears. It also causes you to self-censor & to live your life for others. Back to my dear mom. She lived the judged life as a preacher’s kid, playing inside the lines of others’ approval. I think she’s still trying to shake that censorship. Her story partially informed my feelings about religion. (For that I’m grateful, Mom.) Steve Maraboli says it well in “Life, the Truth, and Being Free“: ““How would your life be different if… you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day… you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” Life’s too short, people. Just let it go. Accept others for who they are. In doing so, accept yourself.
In my 20 years as a pet behaviorist, I’ve worked with thousands of people from all walks of life.
As with their pets, I can’t help humans if I judge them. You’re not “wrong” if you let your pet sleep in your bed. You’re not “bad” if you let Kitty lick the bottom of your ice cream bowl. (Though you may have a lactose intolerance mess to clean up later.) You’re not confessing pet guardian “sins” if you tell me you enjoy your dog’s enthusiastic, pogo-stick greetings or slobbery canine kisses. A green trainer judges & scolds her clients. But you can’t teach or touch another’s soul if you judge. The best teachers expose a bit of their humanity to their students. We laugh & confess that we’ve shared similar human moments with our pets. Personally, I enjoy a good howl with Rusty. YOLO and Ah-roo!
The stuff we judge others on is ridiculous. Here goes: I’ll expose a bit of my humanity here.
I’m short with curly hair. (I won’t straighten my hair or wear stilettos for anyone. But I do love a cute shoe.) I’m liberal (Shocking, I know). I’m straight. (But fully LGBTQ supportive.) I’m agnostic. (Not atheist, but spiritual; hence “The Soulful Pet”.) I can’t stomach animal or child abuse. (I will judge your ass if I see you hurting another soul.) I’m ex-vegetarian. (Fell off the wagon when I started cooking for my dogs.) I have a twisted sense of humor, and I love a smart scary movie. (I’ve seen Joss Whedon’s “Cabin in the Woods” 3 times. Say the word & I’m in for the 4th.) I don’t like doggy kisses or licks. (I know what you ate in the yard, Pup.) And I use washcloths. (What? Humor my tangent here. There seems to be an anti-washcloth movement a-foot. As a guest I’ve been harshly denied them. My sanity has been questioned by hosts, post washcloth request: “Why do you want one?” Or my all-time favorite: “Why? Are you afraid to touch yourself?”. Really?! It’s a washcloth, not cause for an inquisition.) But I digress…..
Did you catch yourself judging me? I’ll bet you did. The beauty of it is that I don’t care.
I’m fully aware that there were a few hypocrisies in that last paragraph. There should be conflicts, if I’m being honest & healthy. It’s part of my evolving human condition. I need to be true to myself first. Lie to myself to deflect others’ scrutiny? Confess my human traits to another inherently flawed human as though they’re sins? Ain’t got no time for that.
Some of my best teachers in my journey have been animals.
They don’t judge, and they don’t fear judgement. Take Bruno, the Havanese, for example. Despite his quirks, Rusty calls him BFF. Bruno unabashedly barks at animals on TV. And, he happily eats his poop. Heck, he’ll eat Rusty’s poop, asap. And I do mean ASAP. I don’t judge his little, easily remedied coprophagous ways. But that is why I refuse his doggy kisses when he visits. Bruno, do you kiss your mama with that mouth? Geez!
I’ll leave you with this thought:
“No one has it all figured out, especially not the people who are acting like they do and judging you because of it. Pretending to be something you aren’t because you’re trying to please a bunch of judgmental hypocrites and shitheads is not the way to be happy. Living the life you want to live is. It really is that simple.” ~Tucker Max~ “Assholes Finish First“
What’s your truth? (Any pet confessions?) What philosophy guides you? How do you deal with the temptation to judge and the judgements of others?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. No judgement here, I promise. Just keep it civil. Haters will be judged swiftly via the delete key. xxoo ~Ruth~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|July 20, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Training/Behavior, Videos, Worthy reads|
What happens when life becomes one dimensional? You burnout. I did.
I lost the balance in life between caring for others & caring for myself. My existence became about my work. As much as I loved it, a girl can not live on work alone. My schedule was filled with work; my days “off”, evenings & time with my hubby were all clouded by work. And my reading list was all about….. you guessed it: work. As a child & teen, I was a voracious reader of classics, novels & non-fiction, of all genres. The more variety, the better. This adulthood myopic must-read approach was killing me. Enough!
Last year, I put down the clickers & leashes to get 3D-whole again.
I started filling in the other dimensions of my life that were starved. My sustenance is rediscovered, pre-burnout things that feed my soul. If you’ve followed me so far, you know them: Hiking; trail running; quality time with my patient husband & good friends; music; baking; gardening; nature & animals (of course); writing; & …. reading. I had to unplug from the grind and reconnect with myself through these things.
For the longest time, I didn’t have a summer reading list.
I couldn’t have told you what I wanted to read that wasn’t related to training how-to’s. (My office bookshelves are filled with those must-reads. They’re important, but they weren’t good for me anymore.) This year is different. This year, I have a summer reading list. It’s my prescription to me, for me. I give myself permission to read what I want, when I want. Sounds pretty basic, right? For me, it’s a reawakening. It’s a reading renaissance!
I’m happy to share my restorative want-to-read-list with you. Here it is, divided into my soul’s areas of interest that needed rekindling:
Baking – I reviewed these gems in my post, “On burnout, bangs, baking, blogs & books….“.
Gardening & cocktails – Yes, they DO go together! There’s nothing better than a weekend cocktail made with herbs from your garden or your fave farmer’s market. Add my hubby’s grilled flank steak and my garden-fresh caprese salad, and I’m a happy girl. (Rusty’s thrilled too; he never misses a chance to taste test steak.)
- “Shake, Stir, Pour” by Katie Loeb
- “Edible Cocktails” by Natalie Bovis
- “Market-fresh Mixology by Bridget Albert
- “Artisanal Cocktails” by Scott Beattie
Celebrating our bonds with pets – Not the how-to’s, but the whole reason why.
- “The Secret Life of Dog Catchers” by Shirley Zindler
Shirley’s a sweet, courageous local gal. She describes her book as “a love story about animals & people”. She donates a portion of its sales to animal causes. (I’ve gifted her book 3 times already.) Jessica Dolce, creator of DINOS, wrote a wonderful review/interview. She wanted to take Shirley out for a margarita after reading her book, to hear more of her stories. Me, too. See? Full circle stuff. Watch Shirley describe her book for her successful Kickstarter campaign:
More on our bonds with pets:
- “The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone” by Michael J. Chase
Rusty gave you a heads-up peek @ this one via video in his May post.
- “The Possibility Dogs” by Susannah Charleson
- “The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us about Being Human” by Vint Virga, DVM
- “My Animal, My Self: A Breakthrough Way to Understand How You and Your Animal Reflect Each Other” by Marta Williams
My interest in Marta’s book & animal communication stems from the many undeniable “knowing” moments I’ve had with clients’ pets. She’s also a fellow biologist, which intrigues me. Her workshop is on my to-do list. Open minds, remember? Luckily, Marta’s also a local gal. Heck, I’d like to have a cocktail with her, too. The “tails” she could tell….
Watch Marta discuss “mirroring”, a powerful concept that I coached clients on daily as a behaviorist:
Humor – Because laughter is good for the soul. And my soul’s idea of funny is quirky, irreverent & uncensored.
- “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang” and “My Horizontal Life” by Chelsea Handler
I’m not as behind as you might think in reading Chelsea’s books. I finished her 2 newest ones first. Before you turn your nose up to her “low-brow” humor and question the entirety of my reading list, know that my mom, preacher’s kid that she is, devoured Chelsea’s latest deliciously uncensored read, “Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me“. And that’s saying something.
- “Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-confidence” by Ross Mathews
I will probably read this one first. I need some belly laughs, and Ross never fails with the funny.
Self-help – Don’t we all need a little life renovation? After all, happier, healthier humans have happier, healthier pets.
I consider Lissa my gremlin-busting guru. Watch her talk about how the mind can heal the body.
(Yes, it’s an hour long. Trust me: You deserve to take the time. Too stressed to watch? Then you NEED to watch.)
Whew! It’s an ambitious list that actually will keep me busy thru 2013 – because life happens. And that’s OK.
Is your reading list filled with have-to’s or want-to’s? Is it a 3D expression of your soul?
Or do you censor your choices for fear of what others might think? ‘Fess up: I’d love to know what you’re reading. No judgement here. Please share in the comments. Together, perhaps we can inspire others!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|May 8, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Worthy reads|
You’re right. Dog’s can’t read. But my mom can.
She asked me to give you a heads-up on 2 pawesome new books, inspired by cool canines. Dawgs, these would be perfect for your human moms. Watch! ~Rusty~
“The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A four-legged approach to enlightenment”
by Michael J. Chase:
“Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project About Dogs and Physics”
by Theron Humphrey:
More from Maddie & Theron:
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|May 3, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Recipes, Soul food, Videos, Worthy reads|
So that’s what a midlife crisis looks like. Who knew?
I watched in fascination as Michelle Obama explained her bangs.
She was adorable, as always. But the bangs were bangin’ cute. Suddenly, I realized that a midlife crisis could be a good thing. I choose to redefine my own experience as a beginning, not a bitter end. I’m celebrating my midlife crisis & its accompanying burnout as an opportunity to more fully explore life. Lesson learned: When your work defines you, it also limits you. No more.
I had considered bangs, pre-FLOTUS. Really.
Sometimes a girl just needs a change, and that time had definitely come for me. Thanks to a friend who’s an uber-talented hair stylist, I took the leap, and I love them!
What else changed? I’m returning to the things that I love.
I forgot how they feed my soul. Nature, hiking, trail running, friends & family, baking, gardening, and reading – all had been on the back burner. Even my patient husband had been waiting for me to put the leashes & clickers down. He knew before I did that I was ready for a change. (He’s still not sure about the bangs, though.)
I’m thankful that the baking bug bit me again @ the same time that I returned to hiking/running.
Otherwise, my summer reading list would be a dangerous one. I’ve dedicated my reads to women who inspire me because they followed their bliss & their passions. It’s a lovely eclectic list that includes: Chelsea Handler, Lissa Rankin, Joy Wilson & Deb Perelman. For this post, I’ll highlight the bakers in the bunch….
Joy Wilson & Deb Perelman feel like kindred spirits.
They are self-taught cooks & bloggers. They weave stories around their recipes. Normally, I’m a get-to-the-point type of person when it comes to cookbooks. But not with these ladies. They are funny-smart and a bit self-deprecating. The unexpected success of their passionate blogs turned into book deals. (I’m often asked if this blog will become a book. Who knows?)
Deb Perelman’s “The Smitten Kitchen” is an instant classic that begs for a sequel, asap.
In her forward she discusses her insistence on cooking in an NYC kitchen that was so small its functionality was in question. Why would she cook in a city where any craving could be satisfied with a phone call? A friend advised her that NYC stoves were for sweater storage. Thankfully for us, Deb’s can-do, slightly obsessive persistence prevailed. I appreciate her casual delivery of detailed instructions (the hows & whys). My hubby & I approach cooking very differently. I learned to cook by baking, so I’m a recipe girl. He cooks intuitively, by feel, like I work with animals. Nothing wrong with that. Yet, I felt validated when Deb advised don’t let people “tell you you’re less of a cook if you need to look @ a recipe”. Her book is packed with are-you-kidding-me recipes. What ultimately won me over? I’m a pie girl. That began when my mom & I baked together. She’d offer to make a pie if I made the crust – always a fair deal. Deb makes her “Deepest Dish Apple Pie” in a springform pan, and she celebrates National Pie for Breakfast Day. Enough said. I want to hang with this chick. We could be besties.
Joy Wilson’s “Joy the Baker Cookbook” is an absolute treasure. Her bangs are pretty cute, too.
Her blog hooked me when she called her adorable cat, Jules, a “monster” who “terrorizes her in the dark” and a “jerk” who “lights up her life”. Then she celebrated his birthday by baking him a cat cake. C’mon. That’s inspired! Her book is just as wonderfully quirky. She spiked her grandma’s treasured banana bread recipe with bourbon, explaining, “I’m young & restless”. I support that. In the forward she affectionately recalls her dad sharing his baking enthusiasm with her. This rings true for me. My dad inspired my love for nature, via fishing. And he planted the baking seed. I fondly remember visiting his aunt & uncle’s Danish bakery in Pottsville, PA, with him. We were always greeted by my uncle’s handsome smile & hearty hug. Together, we sampled whatever goodies were still warm from the oven. To this day, I love the smell of freshly baked macaroons. So far, none have matched my uncle’s. And I like it that way.
Keeping it healthy is important. So is a sense of humor.
FLOTUS is spreading the word on fitness & a healthy diet. And so is my new fave, not-a-book-yet blog, Thug Kitchen. I’m a self-confessed foodie, and an enthusiastically amateur baker & photographer. Obvious, yes? I will sit outside with Rusty & a glass of iced wine (yes, that’s right, wine snobs: ICE), and cover-to-cover read a cookbook. But only if its author can write & make me laugh, too, as the ladies above do. So it was with great joy that I discovered Thug Kitchen. The incognito Thugs dispense sound nutritional advice via some hella colorful language. (Here’s my take on swearing: If it’s funny, go for it. If you’re swearing just to swear, stop it. If you’re easily offended, don’t read it. Don’t complain about it; just move on. Censoring sucks.) If you find yourself saying, “Who needs another cookbook?”, visit their FB page. It’s hysterical, the recipes won’t disappoint & it’s not dumb. The Thugs aim to “drop some knowledge on your ass”. The vibe is contagious to their fans, whose comments are also seriously, refreshingly, off-the-hook funny. I’m SO hooked. I can’t wait to read their cookbook!
Don’t worry, Rusty will benefit.
I just whipped up a batch of Thug Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Jerky Treats for both of us. (Super yum, no dehydrator required, & no Chinese toxins in sight!) Next up: Joy’s Crunchy Cat Treats. (Perfect for the poodle, too.) I also have some new biscuit trays that are begging to be filled with fresh garden & farmer’s market goodies. Rusty’s my little garden helper & taste tester. A fido foodie, if you will. As I bake & we sample, we’ll report back. Yes, I said “we”, and I mean it. If you can’t/won’t eat your dog’s food, there’s a problem, isn’t there? I hate the term “human-grade” for ingredients. It implies that our food should be superior. I question that. So does Rusty. To quote the Thugs: “Show your dog you f*cking love them.”
So what’s next?
Maybe I’ll go ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarian again. (Don’t worry, I won’t drag my dog or my husband along with me on that.) Maybe I’ll get some chickens. (Did you know that you can clicker train chickens?) Maybe I’ll take a yoga class. Maybe I’ll master the perfect cat eye. Maybe I’ll rent a house on the bluffs of Mendocino & invite my girlfriends to join me there. Maybe I’ll shock the hell out of my hubby & greet him, Mad-Men style, @ the door – in a dress, with a cucumbered Hendricks & tonic. (Never mind the anti-feminist throwback scenario I just painted. The dress would be the stretch for me. We’ll see.) I’m enjoying the exploration. What’s next? Who knows……
Have you tried something new lately? Assuming it’s legal, please share. 🙂 I’m always looking for inspirations!