Posts Tagged by Books
|March 15, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Videos|
After a rare kumbaya mediation with my nearly-ex last week, I decided to keep the flow going.
I visited a local & heavenly spa for a much-needed (understatement!) massage with a very intuitively talented therapist, Laurie. (Before you dismiss me as decadent, know that I had a bday gift card from my hubs in hand. That’s part of our kumbaya how-we-do now.) Back to Laurie: Usually, when she greets me, she asks what spots need work. And usually, as with most of us, the tension that needs easing is in my neck & shoulders. Not this time.
I told her what was happening in my life. I told her that the horrors of it were throughout my body.
As an empath, negativity soaks into my body. I can’t prevent that, & I don’t know how to rid myself of it – yet. I’m learning. With tears in both of our eyes, I asked her to be my guide. She smiled warmly & wisely as she said, “I’d be honored.” Then, to lift both of our spirits & energies, she said, “Let’s just play & see what happens”. I was completely up for that.
Given the option of beginning face-down or face-up, I chose face-down.
I’m not sure why, or if I should even know why. But, I mention this because it was a decision that led to one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. As Laurie began, her pattern & energy were quite different than when she’d last seen me. I knew that she was working some magic. As my thoughts drifted from divorce to house repairs to health insurance & financial fears to reinvention & writing ideas, I consciously let them pass by. I followed my breath and Laurie’s touch. I focused on the music of the flowing stream & bird chirps just outside the window.
I wondered if I would cry as my tensions released. Thankfully, I just relaxed.
Yes, I know this is a first-world issue: Have you ever tried to deep-breathe face down with a snot-filled, runny nose? Forget cute. On second thought, I take back the “first-world” thing I just said. This massage was every bit a necessity & prescription for part of my soul’s recovery. If I told you that I popped a pill to get better, I wouldn’t dismiss its importance. Yet that Rx would be such an unnatural fix by comparison. This was a crucial spiritual remedy for me. One that I highly recommend for you, too.
Here’s where the magic (& weirdness) begins. If magic wasn’t weird, well then it wouldn’t be magic, would it?
Halfway through & completely relaxed, I turned face-up. The fleeting thoughts that have fed past panic attacks were long gone. Laurie had managed the impossible in that my mind & body felt lighter, less burdened. As my brain became blissfully quiet, something amazing happened: In my mind’s eye, with a flapping woosh!, I suddenly saw myself on the table with large, thick white-feathered wings spreading from my back. My wingspan filled the room, and a few feathers lazily floated to the floor in the flurry. At the same time, a life force filled my body. What on Earth was that?!
Still stunned & winged, my massage came to a too-soon end.
Laurie left the room, inviting me to take my time getting up. As I eventually arose, I didn’t have my usual case of fogged-up massage brain & my-body’s-a-noodle-now lack of strength. Instead, I was energized. My wings were somehow still with me but hidden from sight. Outside the room, Laurie greeted me with a glass of water. I thanked her sincerely. Then she floored me: she said, “I know you’ll be ok.” She felt the energy & life come back into my body soon after I turned face-up. I confessed that I wasn’t going to tell her for fear of sounding certifiably cra cra, but that that was THE moment I sprouted wings. We shared our amazement & hugged goodbye. I walked away with chills & goose bumps.
The day’s synchronicities didn’t stop there.
As is my custom, I meditated by the spa’s zen garden afterward. As I watched the koi fish lazily swim in their waterfall-fed pond, I wondered about those wings. Where had they come from & what did they mean? Strolling the meandering path around the pond, I suddenly realized that I was going to write a book about my new path! What?! This certainly wasn’t my plan; it was as if the thought had just been inserted into my psyche. I smiled as I remembered the many times my mom told me I should write a book about my experiences as a trainer. Each time, I told her I’m not inspired by that. The last thing I want to write about is how to get Fido to sit-stay or Trixie to pee in the box. So what was this new inspiration? How is it connected to wings?
I have a hard & fast rule.
I never leave the spa without visiting the amazing artisan bakery & gardens just across the street. That day, I craved their sticky buns. Step back, there was no stopping me. Jazzed about being next up in the always-long line to the counter, I completely forgot that they don’t accept debit cards. When the owner kindly asked what I wanted, I sheepishly confessed my lack of funds. He didn’t miss a beat. He said, “We take checks, cash & mailed checks. So what do ya want?” I heartily thanked him & drove away as my car rapidly infused with the smell of fresh-from-the-oven warm, gooey, cinnamony buns. Such a sweet, heavenly experience. The check was most assuredly in the mail!
So what was the wing thing? One of many signs that I’m finally being true to myself, perhaps?
I believe that when you are on your correct life path, you see synchronicities. The stepping stones on your path are illuminated, and you walk your path with ease. There’s a flow to life – a knowing without trying. (Ever notice that walks with your dog or laptime with your cat go better when you’re more peaceful?) That week’s discoveries & kindness gems (delightful synchronicities) extended into this week, with generous gestures from beloved girlfriends. Tearfully grateful tangent here:
Girls, you know who you are. My goddess friend who cries when I cry & does my hair for free occasionally, asking for nothing more than a kiss on the cheek or puppy advice in return. My gorgeous, strong, wise, sista-from-anotha-motha personal trainer who just hugged & kissed me & sweetly gifted me her time so I can reach my 2014 goal of “being buff”. My inspirational GFFs who drag my ass up a mountain @ least monthly & just surprised me with a birthday brunch. The FB army of wise & supportive women who always know just what to say. My friend who sweetly cupped my face as she asked if I was ok on a day when she was recovering from surgery but I was the one who could barely stand – & then invited me in for a huge cup of tea served with laughs & wisdom. My east coast girls, who define BFF, picking up where we leave off, no matter how long it’s been. (One’s a first-time author – congrats, girl! And, hell, one just drunk messaged me as I was writing this & dared me to fit that into this post. Did it, GF!) And my human soulmate muse, my mom. She was so thrilled to hear about the book-to-be that I lost count of the I-told-you-so’s!
My wings? They symbolize my new-found strength, independence, creativity & ability to do-for-me.
They represent freedom; they can take me anywhere to do anything. All the kindness from friends, family, mentors, acquaintances & animals are the wind beneath my wings, helping me find my way. (Corny? Yeah, I thought so as soon as I wrote it. But it’s true!) So call me Dorothy. Rusty’s my Toto. Now where are those adorable ruby slippers?
Whew! You know, it took a little hutzpa to tell that story. I’m happy to trust you with my truth.
In honor of flapping my way to a buffer, healthier me, I created a green drink. It’s also a sincere thank you for reading this tale. If you’ve had winged synchronistic moments -or- you’ve got a green drink recipe of your own -or- you’d like to share stories of great friends (human & animal) in your life, please chat away in the comments. Cheers to being true-to-you & a healthy, happy 2014, friends! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/4 ripe avocado
1 cup lightly packed baby spinach
3 basil leaves
1/8 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground flax seeds
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup almond milk, equal parts sweetened & unsweetened
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Drink immediately. (To share with pup, simply make the drink without the avocado. It will be thinner, but just as yummy. Or, treat pup with the non-avo ingredients as you make your green drink.) Cheers!
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|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
|December 18, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Blog hops, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture|
This is a scary-new kind of post for me. Why?
It’s my first blog hop! I’m amateurishly rubbing elbows with fellow pet bloggers who I admire. Why else? While I’ve given you a few personal glimpses of me in The Soulful Pet’s first year, it’s been much easier to hide behind my sweet pup, Rusty. It seems that I’m not alone in the pet bloggers’ world in that way. Which is why this blog hop is called “Meet the Bloggers”, aka “The Grand Unmasking“. We’re all exposing ourselves a bit more than we naturally would without a push.
Why on Earth should I do this?
Why answer all these pre-determined, personal questions so god-knows-who can read into my soul? I squirmed as I asked myself this when I read about this event. My knee-jerk was “hell no!” Then I realized that it’s the writing version of my cliff jumping, ziplining adventure. So Geronimo!
First, to participate I have to literally expose myself in a candid pic.
I was going to cop out & use the uber-lucky selfie that I’ve slowly grown comfy with you seeing on The Soulful Pet. But, as with ziplining gear, vulnerability shouldn’t be pretty. So here’s a painfully raw, un-Instagrammed outtake (complete with trashcan in the background) from the selfie session Rusty & I originally endured for this site’s sake. We are blissfully selfie-challenged.
Deep breath. Now to answer those pesky, disrobing, probing questions:
What’s your favorite non-animal related book?
I just finished Chelsea Handler’s, “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.” She makes me laugh – hard. She puts the “coslopus” into being a strong, funny bitch. Love her. (She does talk about her dog, Chunk, in the book, but just in one chapter.) Was I supposed to be more cerebrally high brow with this answer?
What’s your favorite non-animal related movie?
Sooo many! I love to laugh, and I love a roller-coaster scare. So I’ll say “Bridesmaids” & “The Cabin in the Woods”.
What’s your favorite non-animal related food?
Does that mean it has to be vegetarian or vegan? A glass of juicy red vino & eggplant Parmesan is heavenly. I was pesco-lacto-vegetarian until I started cooking for my boxer. Now, I can’t wait to visit family in PA and have a REAL Philly cheese steak. Extra sauce, light on the cheese, no peppers or onions, soft roll – drool!
Who’s your favorite actor?
Now that she’s played a sex addict in “Thanks for Sharing”, I can properly answer this otherwise dull (sorry) question: P!nk!
What’s one thing you have to do every day?
Car dance & sing, usually to P!nk, Jessie J, or Karmin – turned up LOUD. Of course, if Rusty’s in the car I tone it way down. Not the dancing, just the volume. He loves it when I make a fool of myself. Today, though, even I was embarrassed to be with me as I jammed to Daft Punk on the way to the gym.
What makes you feel fabulous?
That’s easy: being loved & cute shoes.
What do you wish you were more skilled at?
Spanish & techie stuff.
What’s your favorite holiday?
A self-ish, elfless Christmas with loved ones.
I make a mean chicken & dumplings. Yum!
What do you like to do in your free time?
In no certain order: Hike with girlfriends; visit consignment shops & local galleries; bake; read; try new restaurants; drive thru the countryside & along the coast; and hang with my little man, Rusty.
What one word would people who know you use to describe you?
Why is this so hard to answer? Ugh! No, that’s not the word. Still thinking & feeling awkward. Can I phone a friend on this one?…. OK, I just asked 5 of my girls, & I got 5 words. I’m not picking one. They said: loyal, loving, selfless, compassionate & kind. I think I’m a golden retriever.
If your pets could talk, what one word would THEY use to describe you?
Trustworthy. I really try to be predictably stable, kind & fair for my pets – no matter what’s happening in my life. As it turns out, that’s good for me, too.
What is one thing you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
I could write a book on this, and I might someday. Plain & simple, I survived the last year of my life: burnout after 20 years as a pet behaviorist, anxiety & learning that my husband doesn’t love me. Currently, I’m rising like a Phoenix from its ashes, reinventing myself as a writer. (I’m fascinated & inspired by our bonds with pets.) Loving family & friends – and Rusty – give my wings strength.
How is your pet most like you?
Rusty & I are both very sensitive to our environment & the beings in it, pets & humans, alike. We don’t like chaos. We’re extroverted introverts.
What can your body do for you that makes you most proud?
My intuition is pretty keen. I’ve learned to listen to her over the years. She’s saved my life & my sanity many times. And, she’s made me a better behaviorist, writer & friend.
If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?
On the heels of this horrendous past year, I’ve already made that change. I consciously chose happiness. As a result, I know that all of the other pieces will fall into place. I’m good.
Other than blogging, what are three things you do that bring you joy?
I can’t be alone in this: Couch surfing with my dog, cozy under blankets. When I’m stressed and/or I have a nasty case of writer’s block, I need to be in nature. And, I’m a super happy girl while sipping a delightful vodka cocktail, dining al fresco on a warm summer night with good friends. Cheers! Wait, there’s a fabulous fourth joy: MUSIC!
What’s one thing you could do to be more kind to yourself?
I’m learning to ignore negatives, whether they’re internal (self-talk) or external (haters). Life’s too short.
What drives you nuts about your pets? What melts your heart?
My pets don’t drive me nuts. I do hate thinking about how short their precious lives are. So I stay in the present, enjoying each moment with them, accepting & honoring who they are. They are my teachers. I’m blessed, not driven nuts. That and a warm snuggle or a howl fest, melts my heart.
If you didn’t have your current pets, what pets would you choose to have?
I was without a pet for 3 years after my soul-mate cat, Alex, & my boxer boy, Gumbo, died in 2006. Never again. I’d love 2 dog-friendly cats & one cat-friendly dog. That’s my perfect pet family. It just feels right. But Rusty is anti-kitty, so he’s solo unless his doggie buddies visit.
So now that I’ve peeked out from behind my pal Rusty to risk dying of exposure, please join me.
I need some company here. I’d love to hear from you. Why not answer a few questions yourself? It’s not so bad, after all. Maybe I should try skinny dipping next? Hmm…. I do have a friend who’s been trying to convince me to join her at a Buddhist retreat – naked in their hot springs. Happily peeling the layers off….. xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
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|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!