Off-Topic Tuesday :: Minimalism / Vegetarianism May Update

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from it.”
–Joshua Becker

So we are halfway through the month of May and my twin journeys of minimalism and vegetarianism are going rather well!

To help me through Minimalism May, I found a 30-day minimalism task calendar on Pinterest that I started following.  Well I only got a few days into it before I abandoned it and started doing my own thing.  Oops.  The issue with it was that there was a day where the task was one thing, but I didn’t have enough time that night to do it.  And there was another day where it was like a ‘digital cleanse’ where you turn off all your electronic devices for the day, but I couldn’t do that, because all the recipes I was making that day were on Pinterest, so I NEEDED to use my electronic devices.  So by the time the weekend rolled around, and I was cleaning out my third bedroom (playroom/home office) so I could begin unpacking my barn, I decided I would attempt to do as many of the tasks on the calendar as possible, just maybe not on the day specified.  For example, maybe I can do my digital cleanse on a day that I’m home and will be busy doing other things and not need to access my phone for recipes or whatnot.

So with that said, I’d like to pat myself on the back for the progress I made so far with unpacking my barn!!  There are four ‘bays’ in my barn.  The first weekend of May, I was focused on the boxes in ‘bay 2’, which had mostly kitchen boxes and office boxes (boxes of books, photo albums, photography equipment, etc).  I unpacked my mason jars!!!  And even though I’d been wanting to do that, I was wondering where I was going to store them all.  I have a pantry at the top of my basement steps, but it’s pretty gross, and I try not to store stuff there.  I really only store canned goods and jarred goods in there, you know, things that farmhouse crawlspace basement creepy crawlies can’t find their way into.  BUT.  I had a ton of bags of specialty ‘things’ hanging out in there.  Bags of almond flour, arrowroot powder, dried chilies, etc.  I decided all those things would be so much safer in mason jars!  Killed two birds with one stone, woop!  Bonus: I discovered that some of those bags of ‘things’ were expired, so I tossed them.  Yay!  Maybe I killed three birds with one stone there.

As for the office/playroom stuff, my daughter and I spent an entire afternoon cleaning up that room together.  I helped her make decisions on what she should toss and what she should keep.  There were plenty of things (ahem ARTWORK!) she wanted to keep that I thought would be better off tossed, but we decided to give it a week or so until we get to the playroom boxes in the barn.  That’s when we’ll bring in that artwork storage box I told you about a couple weeks ago, the one that is already overflowing?  The one I told her I would never buy another one and she would have to fit everything she’d ever want to keep in this one box?  So yeah.  She’s gonna have some hard decisions to make once she has to start going through that.  But we DID manage to throw out a huge trash bag full of crap and clean the room up and organize it nicely.  (Side note:  I can’t wait till she’s old enough that I can get rid of some of these toys.  She never even plays with her kitchen set anymore but WE MUST KEEP IT.  Eventually though, she will be old enough that she will no longer even need a playroom, and then it will just be my office, and I will be sad, because she won’t be my little girl anymore.  Wah.  🙁)

I didn’t get to unpack the barn over this past weekend though because we were too busy with Mother’s Day and stuff.  I hope to get back to it this weekend, because I don’t want to give up now!!

I also signed us up for a donations porch pickup later this month.  So that’s my deadline to get all kinds of stuff out of my house – clothes, shoes, books, kitchenwares, etc.  I’ll be chipping away at that list over the next several days, and set it all outside my door and someone will come get it!  I don’t even have to lug it to a Goodwill!  #score

So, we are making progress with minimalism!!

As for vegetarianism, WOW.  I only have to say that I am SHOCKED that I have not yet missed meat – NOT ONCE.  In fact, just the other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw someone cooking a cheeseburger, and he sort of shoved his spatula into the middle of it to push it apart to show it being cooked to a perfect medium, and I kind of got sick to my stomach.  🙁  I quickly kept scrolling.  But Aaron and I were talking about how neither of us have really missed meat; the recipes we’ve tried have all been very good, I have at least 3-4 new keepers so far; and wouldn’t it be nice if we could adopt a mostly-plant-based diet?  What if we could follow an 80/20 vegetarian rule?  I’ve all but given up on eating pork chops, and I may occasionally eat a single piece of bacon, on something.  We pretty much never eat chicken anymore.  If anything, we are big red meat eaters.  Steaks, cheeseburgers, tacos, etc.  But even then, it’s only a few times a week, tops.  I don’t see me ever giving up 100% on meat.  Sometimes you just want a basket of chicken fingers, ya know?  And it does help to add variety to our diets.  I made a sincere effort to make sure we were not eating pasta every single night during this month, and it hasn’t been as hard as I’ve thought.  I do feel as though the food I eat is more satisfying, somehow, too.  Bonus: I’ve been eating A LOT of Mexican food 🙂 there are so many vegetarian options in Mexican cuisine!

I am a little worried about what will happen to my digestive system the first time I eat meat again after not having eaten it for a whole month.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  I’m normally the kind of person where, if I’m depriving myself of something I love, I start to envision what it will be like when I can have it again.  But I haven’t done that yet this month.  So I don’t know, what will I eat to break my vegetarianism?  A steak?  A cheeseburger?  A cheesesteak?  I don’t really know.  I don’t really miss meat enough yet to be salivating after something specific.  Maybe that will change though.  We shall see!

Off-Topic Tuesday :: Minimalism in May

“Clutter has a way of sucking the energy right out of you and replacing it with feelings of chaos.  Clutter is an often-unrecognized source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction, and even guilt, so give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, knick knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment, but also in your mind.”
— Idk who said this, I saw it on Pinterest

This.  This right here, folks.  This is my personal challenge for May.

Before anyone calls me a special snowflake for feeling like this 👉🏽 Clutter is an often-unrecognized source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction, and even guilt 👈🏽 consider that not everyone is the same as you.  I am the type of person that sucks up the energy from the people and environments around me.  I have always been this way, and I never knew why, until I discovered some things about my personality and its traits that lead to me being this way.  I am an //INFJ//, I am an //empath//, and I am a //highly sensitive person// (AND I am a Pisces, so I am the way I am to the power of four), and for as long as I can remember, my environment has had a major effect on how I feel on a day to day basis.  It is why, when my house is a mess, I feel angry and anxious and overwhelmed and unable to relax.  It is why I can’t stay at my mom’s house with my entire family there for more than a few hours before becoming “peopled out”.  It is why, in our first apartment in the city, I had a burning sense that I was not where I belonged, that where I was living was not my home.  I was burdened with the sights and sounds of daily city life, feeling like I never had any peace and quiet or a reprieve from the hustle and bustle.  It only worsened when we were living in Northeast Philly for the last 10 years.  Living and working in the city drained me physically, mentally, and emotionally.  There are any number of articles out there that prove I’m not the only one (try //this one// for starters), and SO much evidence that getting ‘back to nature’ is good for the soul.  About five years ago I started jonesing for a simpler life – a house, a barn, a few acres, out of the rat race city life, into the slow living of a rural life.  We worked our asses off and now here we are – and now it’s time to capitalize on it.  It’s time to make it mean something!

The idea of paring down my “stuff” and living a “clutter-free” existence began over a year ago when I started packing up my old house in preparation for selling it and moving into a new house.  I pretty much did this all by myself, which I will say until the day I die (sorry Pookie 😇) because I do believe it had a profound effect on me.  Maybe I needed to do it all by myself.  Maybe I needed to see how much I was hanging onto, and ask myself, WTF Cristin, why??  I took this process as an opportunity to lighten our lives a bit.  We were living in a cramped, 1300sqft rowhome at the time, with closets and shelves and rooms brimming with… stuff.  No joke – I packed up my office, and I found a tote bag with knick knacks from my desk at work at my old job – that I had left almost three years prior.  I had literally packed up those knick knacks on my last day and brought them home in a tote bag and never unpacked the tote bag.  I was cleaning out my daughter’s closet and found a board game that someone had given to us, who knows how many years prior, that had never been opened; still sealed with plastic wrap.  Seeing and experiencing all of this made me take a hard look at everything that I was packing into a box to take to the new house.  But even then, I would think about this – I was packing up items to go into storage for an unknown amount of time, and only leaving out our ‘essentials’ that we would need up until the day we settled on the sale of the house and moved out.  It dawned on me then – if I know I won’t need these things for an undetermined amount of time, if they are going to stay in my mom’s garage or a storage unit until we move into a new house, why do I even need to pack these things at all?

But quite frankly, there was so much going on at that time that I was managing by myself, and I couldn’t do it all.  So I donated and tossed what I knew for sure had no place in my new life at my new house, and packed everything else that was significantly questionable, or anything that gave me pause before tossing it into a ‘donate’ box.  I wasn’t sure yet, and I wasn’t in the right head space to make a decision on it.

As a result – fast forward 10-12 months – I am left with quite a few boxes in my barn at my new house.  Not as many as you might guess, maybe 20-30 boxes tops.  My guess is these are mostly items that I found questionable when packing up the old house.  Because everything I NEED has been unpacked and found its place in my new house shortly after moving in last August.  I went on an unpacking binge for a couple months, chipping away at it right up until our housewarming party in October.  I wanted to have some kind of décor in the house for that so I rummaged through boxes to find the things that meant the most to me.  But what’s left?  The only thing I know FOR SURE that I NEED out of my barn, are my mason jars.  Every time I need to make something homemade, I say to myself I need to unpack those friggin’ mason jars already.  I should probably start there.  Or maybe I should start with the massive box of DVDs, which I so eloquently labeled, “DVDs – Living Room – WHY DO WE STILL HAVE THESE?!”.

Other than that, I am not really sure what’s in those boxes out there in my barn.  I have considered the idea of throwing them all away.  But I’m not comfortable with that idea.  What I am comfortable with is taking a hard look at what’s there and asking myself, does this thing bring me joy?  Do I really need this thing if I haven’t needed it in the last year?  Could someone else use this thing?  I know I can spend more time doing that this time around, now that I’m not dealing with realtors and keeping my house clean for showings and coordinating contractors.  So this is what I am aiming to do every weekend in May.  If I finish the barn boxes before the end of May, I will move inside my house and do some minimizing in there as well.  There is actually much less to do there, because as I said, I really only unpacked essentials and most-needed stuff.  So we are in pretty good shape, but I need to get rid of the Piles of Paper that pop up all over my house.  First grade artwork, school worksheets (teachers, PLEASE STOP SENDING THIS STUFF HOME!), flyers from school, bills and invoices and receipts, oh my.

For a lot of this stuff, I need to get my daughter on board.  I can already see she is starting to become the pack rat that I once was.  Unable to part with drawings scribbled on the back of restaurant paper placemats, clinging to the math worksheet she got a 100% on, wanting to keep every. Single. Piece. Of artwork. She has ever. Created.  At the last house, I actually bought her a storage bin and told her she could keep all the artwork she wants, as long as it fits in this one bin.  I am not buying her another bin.  For the rest of her life.  While packing up the last house I realized it was already overflowing, and she needed to part with some stuff.  She did so begrudgingly, but she has a short attention span.

(You may ask, Cristin, why don’t you just go through it and toss what’s not important?  Well, when you attempt to do that and your daughter catches you and asks, horrified, why you are throwing away her artwork, and you say oh oops sorry it was an accident, and you take it out of the trash and wait for her to turn her back and you attempt to throw it away again, and she catches you AGAIN, and races to the trash to pull it out with tears in her eyes that her mother would do such a thing and looks at you like you are a monster… well… you might put the decision on your kid’s shoulders too.)

Anyway, this will be a long process.  And I will need to get the husband and daughter on board.  And I will probably need the husband’s help with getting the daughter on board because she is already starting to take an adversarial stance with me whenever possible, and only her father can sweet-talk her into doing what’s right (which is usually my way, duh).  My goal is to only have to store in my barn the most practical and specialest of things – my daughter’s special dresses and baby clothes, that she wants to keep for her daughter someday; winter gear during the summer; summer gear during the winter; seasonal gear and decorations; etc.  Our barn is bigger than our house.  I am fully mindful of the fact that our barn is not, nor should it become, a gigantic storage shed.  And if we ever move again, the very LAST thing I want to do, AGAIN, is pack up and sort through another house – AND A BARN.

So.  With ALL OF THAT said, this is just the first step in my desire to move towards a more minimalist lifestyle.  In the future this will include letting go of many things – everything from breaking up with my phone to breaking up with my career.  It will not all happen this year, but everything I’m doing is a step towards my ultimate goal – to wake up in the morning and not feel burdened by All The Things.  You know, every morning I wake up at the ass crack of dawn and drag my daughter out of bed, practically kicking and screaming

  1. just so I can drop her off at before-care at 7am
  2. just so I can get to work earlier
  3. just so I can sit at a desk and have about 8 different people tell me how to do my job 8 different ways while hoping my creativity doesn’t die on the vine
  4. just so I can leave earlier
  5. just so I can get to the gym and have some kind of hope of being healthy in my middle age
  6. just so I can rush and get my daughter as soon as possible from after-care
  7. just so I can rush home and make dinner as fast as possible
  8. just so we can eat so we can spend time together before she goes to bed at 7:30-8pm
  9. just so I can collapse into bed exhausted
  10. only to wake up and do it all again the next day

I’m over that life.  And granted, I don’t do every single one of those things every single day, my husband DOES help, and he is a fabulous help, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  But still.

Ideally?  My life would look like this.

Every morning I wake up and

  1. wake up my daughter
  2. watch her get on the bus
  3. go to work
  4. do something creative and meaningful for maybe 6 hours a day instead of 8
  5. go home
  6. watch my daughter get off the bus
  7. make dinner
  8. have family time
  9. bedtime for kiddo
  10. have spouse time

Don’t those 10 things sound so much better and less stressful than the first 10 things?

I’m working towards it.  Someday, I will get there.

Yay for 2017

I don’t know about you all, but I am welcoming 2017 with open arms.

2016 was one hell of a year.  On so many levels.  I mean for Pete’s sake, the amount of drama I had in my life in 2016 was just astronomical.  I’m over it.  This year I am ready to welcome lots of simplicity and minimalism and focus into my life.

Due to such aforementioned drama, I have honestly not had much time or energy to put into figuring out what my resolutions should be.  I usually get all gung-ho with resolutions.  One year I did 12 mini-resolutions instead of one big one and that went pretty well.  Last year I don’t think I did anything much.  I knew I would be moving and knew I just had to make it through the year alive.  Which I did.  But right now I’m so burned out.

So I’m thinking, instead of making some kind of official declaration, official THIS IS WHAT I WILL DO ALL YEAR kind of resolution, I think I want to just keep some things in the back of my head that I want to be working towards.  Things like:

Simplicity/minimalism :: Less stuff, less debt, less plans, less expectations.  More space in my house, more time with my family, more money in my pocket, more free time to myself, more freedom from pressure.  I need to work towards a “it’s just, whatever” kind of attitude.  Relax a little.  Ok a lot.

Health :: just stay in a gym routine.  Things were going really well with that last year until Moving Shit came along.  I just need to stay in the gym and stay active.  And I really should get a physical this year.

Society :: I’m just going to bury my head under a rock for 4 years.  If you’re my Facebook friend and you post about Trump or politics I will probably hide you.  Because I just can’t let that stuff into my bubble.  Don’t talk to me about it.  I don’t want to know about it.  I’m over it.  It’s draining.  I’m an INFJ/HSP/Empath.  I am not the type that lets that kind of shit go.  If you know me, you know that I am not the kind of person that can let things roll off her back.  I get all worked up and stressed about it and it is honestly just better for me and my marriage and my family if I stay out of current events.  I prefer to live in oblivion.  I am 36 years old.  There is literally NOTHING I can do to change national or world events.  My name won’t make a difference on any petition.  My vote doesn’t count for shit (thx Electoral College).  That idealism that plagues so many late teens and 20-somethings has vacated me, and I couldn’t give a crap, honestly.  I truly, honestly, 100% believe that the very best thing I can do for society right now is raise a kind and loving human being, so that is what I am going to do.  Lord knows we need a few more of them out there.  Here’s hoping I’m still here in 4 years to crawl out from under my rock though.  Cheers folks.

FOOD :: I mean I can’t be a foodie or a food blogger without some kind of commitment to food, right?  So this year I want to make a new recipe every week.  I have a whole binder full of recipes I have torn out of magazines over the years.  And every week I want to make a new recipe.  Maybe I will even come up with a hashtag for it and post it on Instagram.  Oh, and maybe I can post it here too if I really love it!  Stay tuned.

What do you have on deck for new year’s resolutions?  I just want to keep improving myself!

Stay tuned!  Later this week I have before and after pictures of my house coming up.  And very soon I have some new recipes to share with you!

 

….To the place I belong….

Hello, hello, hello everyone!

I know it has been like FORRREEEVVVVERRRRRR and I am so, so sorry.  Bad food blogger!

It’s just that I’ve been soo busy with life, man.  Just, LIFE.  I am exhausted.  Can I just take a second and remind you…

In January of this year, I began clearing out my old house.  Every weekend, and some nights during the week, I worked on a closet, a room, an area of the house.  I packed it all up, I trashed what was trash, I donated what could be donated.  I did that basically from January to March.

In March of this year, we listed our old house for sale.  Also in March, I got a new job!  Anyway at that point, not only was I continuing to pack/trash/donate, but I was also having to keep the house in tip top shape for any potential buyers.  I did that from March to sometime in May, when we finally got an offer.

Once May hit, well guess what, my packing/trashing/donating did not subside there.  I was still doing that.  We have (ahem, had) a lot of shit.  Who am I kidding, we still do.  But still.  Now, on top of packing every box, filling every trash bag, and donating everything possible, I was also on the phone nonstop with contractors, scheduling things to be upgraded, fixed, whatever this buyer (FHA buyer) needed done.  I was on the phone with movers, getting quotes, getting a storage unit; I was handling and organizing and coordinating E V E R Y T H I N G that needed to be done to get us out of the house.

We moved out in late June.  If you thought that meant I’d have time to breathe well HAHAHAHUJDGHUIOEWHTGIOWAhngowenhagoweogty

No.

So we moved out in late June, and moved into my mom’s house for a bit.  In early July, we found our new house!  So I guess you could say I had a 1-2 week break.  Because once we found our new house, well here we go, I was on the phone, all. the. time.  Handling, organizing, coordinating, asking questions, getting us the best mortgage rate (thx Brexit), analyzing reports and inspections and learning about septic systems, getting us better movers the second time around, registering my kid for school, getting medical records switched over, school physicals, dentist appointments, you know, LIFE.  Life.  It was all me.

Everything, up to this point, was all.  me.  I.  Did.  Everything.

Go look in my barn.  Every single box still yet to be unpacked has my handwriting on it.

I.  Did.  Ev.  Er.  Y.  THING.

We settled on our new house in mid-August.  And work began on it right away.  I have tonssss of amazing before and after pictures I will show you in a later post, but this house needed so much love.  So much TLC.  I’m sure you’re thinking this must be where I handed it all off to everyone else and all the experts so I could take a break but HAHAHAHAHAHAHDGHWIOEAHIOWEAHEOWAHGOEWAHGTOho

No.

Once again, people, HERE WE GO!  We worked tirelessly on this house for two straight weeks.  Early mornings, late nights, going up after work.  Thankfully I have the most amazing, most talented brother who took a couple weeks off of his normal contracting gig to help us with everything that needed to be done.  He worked there during the day while we were at work and we joined him afterwards.  We also had lots of help from family and friends, and we pushed like hell, and we got it *mostly* done by moving day in late August.

Moving day in late August might actually have been the easiest, least stressful day of this entire year.  If you guys want a recommendation for movers, check out Lee’s Moving and Storage.  They’ll do ya right.

Literally a few days later, my daughter started first grade at her new school.  She had tons of roller coaster feelings and emotions leaving her old house and school and moving.  I wiped many tears, held her many times, her quaking little body, trying to soothe away what must have been the biggest crisis she has ever faced in her tiny little 6-year life.  But she handled it like a champ.  She got pizza and Dairy Queen for dinner that night.

Meanwhile, the work on our house continued – nights, weekends, etc.  I unpacked like a fiend.  I set a date for the housewarming party, if for no other reason than to push us all to get this house “done” by a specific date.  One can only live amongst boxes and power tools for so long.  We needed to turn it into a home.  And fast.

We had our housewarming in early October.  We utilized our barn – we strung up some lights and set out lots of food.  We got tons of yard games and built a fire.  It rained that day.  Not much, it more or less spittled all day long.  It was dreary, but the party was a total success.  So many people came out to see our new house.  I felt so blessed.  I truly did.  The house started to feel like a home on that very day.  I now understand why it’s called a ‘house-warming’ party.

And then after the housewarming party, work on the house just kind of fizzled out.  And that’s ok, I think we all needed a break.  If I had to paint one more goddamn door, I would have screamed.  The house is in about an 80% done state, I would say.  Our master bathroom is still not usable, but we are hoping it will be finished before the end of the year.  And I still have lots to unpack.  I have some time off around Christmas later this month and I am hoping to chip away at it.  Hoping to chip away at it – and make lots of recipes for you guys.  But, we are home, and we love our house, and we love our land.

Last month we also added a new addition to our family – we adopted a 5yo German Shepherd, who was rescued from a kill shelter in South Carolina.  His name is Kane (see pic above), and he is hands-down the most sweet, affectionate, velcro dog I have ever met in my entire life.  He is apparently bonding to me pretty hard.  I am “his person”, as they say.  I don’t mind it one bit.  I have wanted a highly protective dog my entire life.  I have very vivid memories of living in the city in my early 20s, constantly fighting off catcalls from gross old men, and thinking that if I just had a big German Shepherd by my side, they wouldn’t fuck with me.  Or, I could even give him a command and he’d lunge at them and bark.  I would daydream about that.  We lost our last dog, Moko, almost three years ago.  I wanted to get another one right away, but we knew we’d be moving and thought it better to wait.  As things began to settle down with the house I realized that IT WAS TIME FOR A DOG!!  And once I had my mind set on it, there was no turning back.  I started to feel that hole in my heart again that Moko left.  I had been so busy all year that I hadn’t really noticed it.  But when I started to look at rescues and see dogs that needed homes, they were pulling on that part of my heart.  We knew we wanted a big dog, and I’ve always wanted a GSD, so I looked and looked, and finally found not one, but two!  We ended up getting approved for Kane, and he has filled that hole in my heart to overflowing.  He’s an amazing dog.  I sometimes post pictures and videos of him on Instagram, go check him out.

Anyway I wanted to let you all know that I’M BACK and I am hoping to be more active here beginning in January.  I have tons of recipes I want to test (anyone want to help me eat them?  holla at ya girl) and post for you.  In the meantime, you can always catch what I’m eating and doing on Instagram @sluttyfoodblog !

Happy holidays and much love to you all!  xoxoxo

Country roads, take me home….

It is almost time!!

We settle on our farmhouse in just a few days.  And oh my gosh I don’t think I could be more excited.  There have literally been times in the past several weeks where I’ve had to stop and think wait, did I really just buy a farmhouse with 3 acres and a gigantic barn?  Did I just do that?  Wait, I’m really gonna have THREE WHOLE ACRES?!  Three acres.  For me!  Sometimes I really can’t believe it.

But alas, ‘tis true.  I have an old farmhouse.  We originally thought it was built in 1880 but it turns out the original house itself dates back to the 1700s.  The sellers we are buying it from are only the second family to have owned this land – they bought it from the original land owners.  SO original that the cross-street is named for their last name.

DUDE.  Think about that for a second!  We will be only the third family to own this land since the 1700s.  Let the weight of that really sink in!

Now, ORIGINALLY-originally, the property was much, much bigger than 3 acres.  I believe it even extended across both streets some ways.  I’m not sure of the original size, but I know that when the sellers bought it back in 1983, they partitioned off some of the property to sell as lots.  So there are a few houses around us, but we still have plenty of space between us and them.

The picture above is a painting in the house that the sellers had made of the property after they bought it.  We asked if they would be willing to leave it, and they agreed as long as we agreed to leave it to whomever we sold the house to when the time came, to sort of pass it on down through its legacy.  How amazing is that?

Aaron and I are so excited to bring this house into its next phase of greatness.  I’ve mentioned before, the whole house is dated, but it’s all completely cosmetic.  The bones of this house are completely solid.  The seller was a builder with a “strong German work ethic!” according to his niece (who is handling his estate, as he has moved into a home for the elderly – he’s 90-something, and his wife worked until she was 92!).  Anyway, he built an addition onto the house in 1983 (when he was in his sixties!!), and built 6-inch thick walls for the addition (and I believe reinforced the existing house as well with 6-inch walls), which are supposedly amazing for keeping the house temperate in the most extreme weather.  I can attest to that, having been there a few times after stretches of 90+ degree days.  You walk into the house thinking it will be humid and oppressive, but quite the contrary – it’s not exactly cool and refreshing, but you can at least walk around and breathe and sit comfortably, without AC.  Also, I must thank him for not going completely batshit crazy with the baseboard heating units.  Have you ever seen older houses with baseboard heating that lines the entire lengths of walls throughout each of the rooms?  I have seen many houses like this on my search, and they are so unnecessary.  Baseboard heating gets really hot, really fast, and you don’t need that many units!  This guy was a smart cookie – I think he put a couple in each room, and they don’t even run the full length of the wall they are on.  THANK YOU SIR!!

Another thing I have to thank him for – getting a huge 120-gallon propane tank to power his fireplace.  While we will probably convert the fireplace back to wood-burning, we will be using the propane tank to power a dual-fuel range – with a gas cooktop and an electric oven.  Best of both worlds, and solves my crisis of ever having to cook on an electric cooktop.

I have so, so much to be excited about, and so much to be thankful for.  I chastise myself for ever thinking about walking away from this house simply because of cosmetic things.  We are going to turn this house into the most amazing forever home ever.  It’s going to be so beautiful when I am done with it.  Down the line, I have so many plans for the kitchen, upgrading the siding and shutters, adding an epic porch and some French doors, beautiful landscaping….  So much to dream about and plan for.

On a more personal note, though, I am also treating this move as a reset button for myself.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but lately it seems that our country is descending into a disgusting level of insanity, and there is no shortage of reports of it on all social media outlets.  Facebook is obviously the worst.  And being a full-fledged INFJ (and HSP, and empath – I am not crazy, stick with me), I have a really hard time with that stuff – just with reading it, and absorbing it, and absorbing what it means, and absorbing what it means to the targeted groups of people, and putting myself in others’ shoes and how scared they must be….  It’s completely draining.  I’m not the kind of person that can read about a person being shot by a police officer and move on with my day.  I read an article about that and start to think about the life lost, and how that person’s mother must feel, and did that person have children?, and how must the officer feel?, and so on and so forth.  And I have the same type of reaction when I read an article about an officer being shot and killed by an angry protester.  Or crowds of people mowed down with semi-automatic weapons while they enjoyed themselves on a night out.  Or Trump’s latest eruption of anger and hate and vitriol and racism.  And worst of all may be the comments on all the stories – comments full of hatred, people hating other people, and so much misinformation and lack of education, and lack of EMPATHY and COMPASSION and HUMAN FUCKING KINDNESS.  Social media has turned us into a disgusting bunch, and I don’t know what it will take for us all to realize it.  And I can’t let that stuff go.  I stew on it, and I get all upset, and it takes some effort to pull me out of it.  SO.  I will press that re-set button when I settle on this house, and quit Facebook.  And Twitter.  I’ll stick with Instagram because it’s relatively drama- and politics- and hatred-free, at least the stuff I see.  And I will stick with this blog because nobody ever comments on it anyway which is just fine with me!

I am doing this in an effort of shedding the excess, and shedding what no longer serves me, because this house will be my refuge; this is my fresh start, I will go home every day and I will pour myself into my land and my home and my family, I will reduce my reliance on social media for everything – information, validation, love, etc.  I will stop listening to the news radio station because that is just as depressing.  I am unsubscribing from all the junk e-mail I receive so I don’t have so much to clean out of my inboxes.  I am making peace with people where I can.  I am ridding myself of every burden possible, to lighten my soul and, hopefully, my outlook!  I am moving towards a simpler life, where we take care of ourselves, where we live off our land in the ways that we can, where we strive to be as self-sufficient and self-sustaining as possible.  Where I have the energy and focus to become the best mother I can be, the best wife I can be, the best cook, reader, writer, gardener, decorator, whatever I want to be.  This house will be my refuge!

And I can’t fucking wait ya’ll.

Updates From In Between

Well howdy there, partner.

You know I get to talk like that all the time now, you know why, right?

CUZ I FINALLY BOUGHT ME A FARMHOUSE!!

I may or may not also be watching Toy Story 2 right now and Jessie is rubbing off on me.

But seriously, YEAH, we made it.  We bought the farmhouse!  It’s not exactly the farmhouse of our dreams but the amazing thing about it is that we can MAKE it the farmhouse of our dreams.  We wanted a house that we would be able to throw ourselves into from a design and personal touch perspective and we sure got what we wished for.  Everything from a good school district (it’s actually excellent!), a good plot of land (3 acres!  zoned for horses!!), an outbuilding (a GIGANTIC red barn!), and a house with some age and character (original house built in 1880, addition added in 1983, but so much character throughout with exposed beam ceilings!!)…  We are soooooo excited.

Getting what we wished for also means we have to roll up our sleeves and put some sweat equity into it.  Thankfully, my younger brother has graciously offered to help us out with a lot of the renovations – including removing wallpaper from almost. every. single. wall. inthehouse.  😳  But the good news is, it looks like good wallpaper, which means it might come off easily – but it’s been hanging for over 30 years, so we will just have to wait and see.

So there’s wallpaper removal that has to be done, painting that has to be done, carpeting that has to be removed, new appliances that need to be purchased… We are probably dropping a decent amount of money in the first two weeks, before we even physically move in!  But I’m so excited.  I have already started drawing up floor plans for a kitchen remodel down the line, and a porch to replace a sunroom off the back of the house.  The wannabe architect and designer in me are just loving the possibilities that this blank slate is offering.

So anyway, that’s what’s been going on with me for the past few months.  First we sold our old house in the city.  That went rather well.  We are currently living with my parents while we wait to settle on the new house next month.  And hopefully by September we will be settled in enough that I can start cooking for you again… Lord knows I’ve had all kinds of ideas and I just have not had the time to execute them.  I am also excited to share some of my projects around the house with you – some DIY stuff, some design stuff, some remodel stuff, a little bit of everything!  We also have a lot of barn parties on the horizon…

I will have lots to share with you very soon, stay tuned!  In the meantime you can always see what I’m eating on Instagram @sluttyfoodblog !!

Off-Topic Tuesday :: New Year, Better Me

Not a “new” me, a better me.

Who’s got new year’s resolutions?  I don’t normally do them.  For those of you that do know me, you may remember that I used to have another blog where, a few years ago, I documented my journey through a year of 12 mini resolutions.  I picked one resolution each month and stuck to it for the whole month.  I really liked that.  That was fun – I introduced myself to all kinds of new things: new exercises, new foods, new lifestyle choices.  It was great, but the problem I had with it was by the end of the year I was really struggling to come up with something I wanted to do for a whole month straight.  But I got through the year with 12 resolutions under my belt – some more successful than others.

Last year I didn’t really do resolutions.  I started this blog instead.  😊  And believe me, it was a harder project than I thought!

This year, I really feel the need to set one for myself.  Last year wasn’t the best year for me, for a lot of reasons.  I wrote a little about it here, and really what it comes down to is I didn’t have healthiest year last year.  I didn’t feel good about myself, I didn’t make enough good choices, I stopped going to the gym for a while, and this weighed on me.  For the first time ever in my life, last year, I was called “fat” three times.

  1. While waiting to board a plane, my daughter said she knew why I didn’t want to go to the bathroom on board – because I was too fat to fit into the airplane bathroom.
  2. I encountered an extremely aggressive, road-rage-filled man in my daughter’s school parking lot who called me a “fat bitch”.
  3. My doctor told me at my yearly checkup that I was “a bit on the heavy side, don’t you think?”

The good news is that all of those experiences played a major part in getting my ass back into the gym.  But the bad news is that all of those weighed pretty heavily on me.  For one thing, I never look at myself in the mirror and think that I’m FAT.  Sure, I look in the mirror and wish I could lose a few pounds around my mid-section, but overall when I see myself in the mirror I am not 100% displeased with how I look.  I like that I’m curvy.  But I will look at myself in the mirror, think I look good, then see a picture of me taken the same day and wonder, what happened to the cute chick I saw in the mirror earlier?  I have some kind of reverse body dysmorphia thing going on or something.  I don’t know.

What I do know is, there are some things I need to STOP doing.

  1. No more negative self-talk!  No more nitpicking on myself and the things I want to change.  Instead: LOVE THYSELF.  I need to love myself exactly as I am.
  2. No more comparing.  No more stalking Instagram feeds that are meant to be inspirational fit feeds, but instead make me look at six-pack abs and wonder if I work hard enough, if I will ever have them.  Instead:  LOVE THYSELF.  I need to love and accept myself exactly as I am.  I am 35.  I will never have six-pack abs.  To be honest, I don’t even want six-pack abs, and not because I’m not motivated enough to do the work to get there – but because I have other, more important things I would rather spend my time on.  So I need to stop filling my day with those kinds of images.  It is only damaging my psyche.

And some things I need to START doing:

  1. Positive self-talk.  Fill my head with positive affirmations.  Love myself.  Accept myself.  Praise myself.
  2. Keeping a regular workout routine.  So far I have been maintaining a MWF gym routine, with TThS yoga routine.  This has been good so far but I want to make sure I work on incorporating something active on days when I DON’T go to the gym or do yoga.  Those days I find that for whatever reason, I can’t do the workout that I planned – instead of not working out at all, do something else active instead.
  3. Keep a gratitude diary.

In addition, I have some additional things I want to do – I have us on two different savings plans, and I want to make new recipes.  I would love to make one new recipe a week!  I also have lots of plans for this blog.  I have new recipes to cook and photograph and share with you.

Speaking of my blog – it’s almost been a year since I launched it!  I can’t believe it.  Let me tell you that keeping a food blog is harder than it looks.  It could legitimately be my full time job if I let it.  You know, I launched this blog with the intent of turning it into a money-making machine.  I wanted to put ads on it and generate income from that.  But over the past year, I have done lots of research (read: stalking other food blogs), and do you know what the #1 Most Annoying Thing is?  Blogs that take too long to load – because of too much ad content.  And too much pop-up, bells-and-whistle shit.  It makes me abandon their blog and go back to the drawing board and look for a similar recipe elsewhere.  Guess what – it doesn’t matter how good your food photography is, or how good your writing is – if I can’t get your friggin’ site to load up, I am leaving.  I don’t have the patience.

I don’t want my blog to become that.

So I am rethinking that whole avenue for Slutty Food Blog.  My goal for this blog is to share food with you and make you want to eat.  It’s a virtual way to do what I love to do in real life – cook for people.  So I don’t know.  Maybe someday I will put ads on this site, maybe I won’t.  Who cares.  It’s all about the food.

Also – this year – 2016 – it is THE YEAR that I move!  I am moving out of my house in the city, and into the country.  Or somewhere closer to the country.  I don’t really know yet.  But it will all happen quite fast.  I can’t wait to have a new house, with windows for food photography, with a bigger kitchen, a double oven, a big bedroom, big bath tub.  Dogs… maybe chickens!  Land.  Land, land, land.  A garden.  A greenhouse?  Maybe a greenhouse.  A barn.  A fire pit.  A hammock.  Green trees.  Grass.  A driveway.  OMG, a garage!  So so much to look forward to.

It’s only January 5th and I already feel very positive about this year and what it has in store for me.  I wish all the same optimism to you as well.

Happy new year!  Here’s to better versions of ourselves in the coming year!

Off-Topic Tuesday: Violence Begets Violence

Calling all parents :: how many of you out there are constantly terrified in the back of your mind that everything you do and say is laying a brick to the foundation of fucking up your kid?

I know.  It’s a terrible thought to have.  But we’ve all thought it at least once, right?

I keep seeing all these videos on that loathsome social media site they call Facebook (that I have broken up with several times over the years, and I think we are heading towards that path once again) of kids, shit-kids – shit-kids through no fault of their own, we all know the parents are truly to blame here – with complete disregard for authority and no respect for anyone, let alone themselves.  The video of the 4- or 5-yo girl flipping out and striking an adult repeatedly.  The video of the kid in the classroom picking up his teacher and body-slamming him to the ground because he took his phone away for having it out in class.  All these kids are really making me scared for the future.  I mean you gotta worry about that, right?  What will our country become once this nation of shit-kids turns into a nation of shit-adult voters?  I shudder to think.  (I also worry about all those kids that stand around recording incidents with their phones instead of doing something – but that’s another topic for another day.)

Anyway.  There seems to be a common theme in the comments section of these viral posts – “You know what’s wrong with kids today?  Nobody’s getting their asses whooped anymore!”  “These kids need a good ass-whoopin’!”  “If I’d have acted like that as a kid I would’ve had my ass handed to me!”  Everyone seems to think that the answer to solving this problem of violence and disregard for authority in our youth is …. more violence.

This deeply, deeply disturbs me.

Like this is the kind of deeply disturbing shit that makes me want to move to the middle of nowhere and homeschool my kid and keep her away from all the crazy that is out there.

I very firmly believe in not hitting children.  I believe that if children are brought up in a calm, respectful, loving home, then they will grow to be calm, respectful, loving people.  I am sure that you have to try harder with some kids than with others.  But I honestly believe that.  It’s simple psychology.  Has anyone thought that maybe – just maybe – the reason these kids are violent and disrespectful, is because their parents are violent and disrespectful with them?  Something to ponder.  If mom and dad are sending the message that you get what you want by hitting and body-slamming, then what else are kids gonna do, to get what they want?

It should be said that none of these blanket-statements apply to all children.  You can have two kids and beat the piss out of them every time they do wrong, and one could grow up to be a wife-beater and the other could grow up not to be a wife-beater.  This is where the “nature” part of “nature vs. nurture” comes in.

I have been blessed with a pretty damn good kid.  The moment they put her in my arms, and I realized what a true miracle she was, what a true miracle life is, I could not ever imagine striking her or hurting her.  I just could not.  I can think of two times in the past 6 years that I’ve struck her, and both filled me with such guilt and hurt for resorting to that, that I cried, and vowed to never do it again (one was out of frustration after telling her multiple times to stop taking a knife out of the dishwasher as I was loading dishes; I struck her hand and she looked at me with such shock and grief that I quit what I was doing and knelt down and cried and hugged her… the other time she was pitching a royal fit in the backseat and had been at it for the better part of 45 minutes – throwing things at me, reaching forward to hit me and pull my hair, and finally flung a blanket at me that covered my face as I was doing 65mph on the highway – I snapped and she got a smack on the leg for that).  We made it through the terrible two’s (and the terrible three’s – nobody tells you about those!) without beating our child.  And she is sweet, and kind, and loving, and polite, and respectful of authority.  My daughter lives in a home with parents that do not fight, parents that do not yell at each other or call each other names, parents that respect the opinions and thoughts of their child, parents that respect the opinions and thoughts of each other.  I’m not bragging, believe me, and she has her moments – her moments where I see my sassy self coming out in her, my argumentative nature finding its way into her tone.  And she has tested her boundaries and truly tried our patience, and we have raised our voices to get our point across.  We are not a perfect family, but we have never felt as though GOSH WE BETTER START BEATING OUR KID SO SHE KNOWS SHE CAN’T HIT OTHER PEOPLE AND DISRESPECT OTHER PEOPLE.

Hitting is, in its very nature, disrespectful.  It is violent.  And I do not understand those that think that the answer to solving the problem of violence in our youth is to add more violence to the mix.  “It is not right to hit people, so I am going to hit you.  It is not right to disrespect people, so I am going to hit you.”  This does not compute.

Despite that, though, the theme is so prevalent, that I actually caught myself thinking the other day – Am I raising my kid wrong?  Will she grow up to be one of these shit-kids because I’m not beating her?  Because I’m not laying my hands on her to show her who’s boss?  And those thoughts inevitably led to all the other thoughts I’ve occasionally had about whether or not everything I’m doing is fucking her up….  If I don’t feign excitement or interest every time she says “guess what!” will she think I don’t care what she has to say?  If I am irritated with her, will she grow up to think I never loved her?  If I snap at her, will she grow up to say I was mean?  If I am not patient with her every possible second of every single day, will she think I wasn’t a good mother?

It just makes you wonder, you know?  Who’s doing it right, and who’s doing it wrong?  Maybe there is no right and there is no wrong, and there is only “doing the best that we can”.  I’m not going to start beating my kid because some illiterate idiot who doesn’t know what a period is went on a rant in a Facebook comments section about how kids are fucked up today because they aren’t getting “they asses” beat.  But I am worried about all those people who think violence is the answer…. someday my kid will be sitting next to their kids in school.  And I wonder if she even has a chance.

Maybe I should just let her keep working on that sass.  It might be all she’ll have.

Goodbye Summer… Welcome Fall

It’s autumn!  My most favorite time of year ever.

I have been way out of touch and it’s not even my fault.  While I was on vacation in August I was up early one morning and decided to draft up a bunch of blog entries and queue them up for publishing.  Well I did just that – I had about 10 entries written, with pictures, and scheduled for publishing.  And the first one published.  And a few days later I came to log in and had all kinds of issues – it wasn’t recognizing me, it wouldn’t let me log in, when I got in through my service provider it said there was some issue with my database… so I called the good folks at Go Daddy and they restored my database back to the day after I queued all those posts up.  But for whatever reason, it didn’t restore any of those 10 posts – not even the one that published – the one that the Go Daddy guy said “Whoa, that looks good” when he went to my website.  So damn.  I guess that’s what I get for being an overachiever.

And then…. well… and then I discovered this highly addictive show called Pretty Little Liars on Netflix…. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.  I have been OB-SESSED.  Like all my evenings and free time have been hogged up with watching this show.  It’s a little pathetic but – whatever.  Give it a couple of episodes and you’ll be hooked too.

And then… my daughter started Kindergarten.  It was easier on us both than I thought it would be.  She went right in like a big girl and had no issues adjusting.  I went right home and worked for the day and had no issues adjusting.  Except for homework.  Yah.  Really.  Kindergartners get homework.  Granted, most nights it’s no more than 10 minutes, but still.  Homework.

Add that to my ever-exhausting job and you’ve got one food-loving chica who can’t wait to crawl into bed at 8pm and zone out and not answer to anyone else’s demands.  Even my cat’s.

So anyway.  Before I knew it, it was like 3 weeks, 4 weeks, a month and a half…. and now, almost 2 months after my last post.  And the further away I got from the last post, the more overwhelming it felt to start over again.  But I am once again motivated to keep posting, and anyway I have a bunch of new recipes to share with you too – PLUS a bunch of recipes perfect for fall and winter!  (Just wait till Thanksgiving leftovers…)

For those of you that actually read this, I’m sorry for my absence!  Please stick with me as I work out the kinks of my busy life and set aside time for this little side project of mine.  ☺️