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Do Good. For Reals!

Something happened this morning that when I think of it, I’m overwhelmed with admiration for my 13 year old daughter, Delaney. She has the sort of soul and spirit that motivates others to be better, have more faith, to give more.

delaney jan 2014

Let me back up and give you a little background information. About a month ago, Delaney asked if we could go to Starbucks before school. I said we could assuming she got up well and was ready early. That happened, so we went to Starbucks. Months earlier I had loaded $20 into my Starbucks app for a trip and I never used the money. So as I’m paying for Delaney’s drink with my app, I decide to pay for the 2 cars behind me too. Why not? When I drove off I looked at Delaney, smiling, and said, “Well, that was really fun.”

Fast forward to this morning. Once again Delaney wants to swing through Starbucks on the way to school only she says that she’s going to bring her own money and pay for it herself.  Okay, fine.

As I pull out of the driveway I see that she’s brought a twenty-dollar bill. I asked her if that was the smallest bill she had. She said no. I asked why she didn’t just bring a ‘five’ or something. Her reply, “I didn’t know if you wanted anything.”

Cue Ginger’s “Aww, thanks Sweetie. But you don’t have to buy me a drink.”

I order Delaney’s tall hot chocolate ‘but not too hot’ and proceed in the line toward the window. There’s always a LONG line in the Starbucks drive-thru. Always!

We are almost to the window when Delaney says for me to ask the guy how much the bill is for the car behind us. I look at her and she’s got this sort of small, shy smile on her face that conveys happy from a special part of a soul.

Okay, I can do that.

Turns out it was for another hot chocolate. Delaney says she wants to pay for hers and the car behind us too. The guy working the cash register is about 20 and I can tell he’s touched and a bit surprised that my young daughter is spending her own money on someone she doesn’t know.  (And he might have wondered why I, the mom, wasn’t paying for the Starbucks.)

We told him to tell the car behind us to have a wonderful day.

As I pulled forward, I could see in my rearview mirror the brief conversation between the guy and the mom in the white SUV. Then I saw him check his computer screen and the mom dig into her purse.

I’m quite certain she was paying for the car behind her. I hope it kept on going. I’ll never know but I’m going to believe it did because it feels awesome to believe that.

I often feel that our world is filled with too much hate and judgment. There is heartache everywhere, for people and in situations for which we have no control. As much as I wish and pray and truly believe that good will always prevail, that Good will triumph over Evil, it feels overwhelmingly hopeless at times.

What can we do to make it better? Can we even do anything?

While we might not be able to do something that will change the world in one act, we might be able to do something that will change the moment, or maybe the day, in a positive way for someone else, just one person. And what if that one person then is compelled to positively impact someone else?  What if it ‘caught on’ and enough people churned the waters to create a huge surge that became a wave of goodwill.

I think that would change the world. I really do.

And I honestly believe it can start with a cup of hot chocolate.

Your turn ... Pay it Forward!

Your turn … Pay it Forward!

 

 

WritersButt Wednesday: Tweaking Lent

Hey, at least I didn’t call this post Twerking Lent. You’re welcome!

So, today is Ash Wednesday, the official start of the season of Lent.  Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. It is known for being a time of sacrifice and reflection for the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert. I’ve observed the season of Lent for as long as I can remember. It is sometimes known more as a Catholic tradition, or at least that’s what people express to me, but I grew up in the Lutheran church and we always observed the season, so there you go.

Over the years, I’ve given up all sorts of things. The idea is to choose a vice, something you will really miss, so that you are constantly aware of your sacrifice and you are reminded to focus the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

Listen, I’m not a religious historian, nor am I remotely an expert on the subject, so these are my interpretations as I grew up as a Christian. So while I’m sure I’m getting some of the details wrong, I’m focusing on what the season means to me.

This year I’ve chosen not to give something up, which I have always done in the past, from chocolate to sugar altogether. Last year I did “Paleo-Lent” where I was 100% strict with my Paleo diet (how I primarily eat anyway) for the entire season of Lent. There was nothing wrong with these sacrifices but this year I wanted to add something into my life instead of take something away.  I want to infuse my life with something positive instead of a constant reminder of what I wasn’t allowing myself to have.

If you have been following my WritersButt’s program for any length of time, you know it’s about connecting the mind and body to be more creative and productive. To do this, I suggest everyone be well hydrated, eat a healthy, wholesome diet, get enough sleep, incorporate exercise into your daily life and to practice gratitude.

It’s safe to say I do pretty well on most of the elements of WritersButt in my own life, but I think I can do better. Even while I go through all the motions of all the key components, I have been feeling a bit displaced in my daily life. I’m distracted and avoiding things that are very important to me … namely my writing.

Why?

I’m not sure but I hope to find out. I do know one of the key things that never fails to derail me, is to allow my mind to get too busy, too insistent on doing it ‘all’ and do it all ‘perfectly’.

Self-Sabotage!

I’m looking for some balance!

In addition to my consistent CrossFit weight training, I’ve added daily yoga to my routine. (Way more about this adventure in a later post!) But, I have been saying for over a year that I want to add in daily meditation, to quiet my mind and let my soul just breathe and my body and mind just be. Maybe if I can quiet the constant, hammering noise of my thoughts, I can actually HEAR what a deeper part of me has to say?

So, that’s what I’m doing for Lent this year. A daily meditation time.

meditation quote a hoopes

A year and a half ago, my husband and I took a fabulous trip to Mexico where we stayed at an amazing place called Present Moment Retreat. I still cherish every moment of that trip. While there, we learned how to meditate from the yoga instructor. (Hi Belen – HUGS from Texas!!))

It is not easy, and she suggests you start with just a few minutes. Here’s a great article with tips for a beginner starting a meditation practice.

I just did my meditation before writing this blog. It was less than 5 minutes.  It felt like an hour at least. It’s so hard to sit, breathe, empty your mind and just exist with an open heart. My word – I need the practice.

Good thing I have 39 more days until Easter to get better at mediation so that it will become a lifelong habit. I hope it will help connect me back to doing what brings me such joy – Chasing My Dreams!

Do any of you meditate? Do you participate in Lent? If you do, what are you giving up OR adding in this Lent?

 

 

My Man-Child and how I cured him with my touch

This is a momentous day in the Calem household. Our first child turns 18 and that means I am a mother to a MAN.

Scan 2

Happy Birthday little Grey-Boy!

Naturally, this has me reminiscing back to the early days of being a new mother. Since today I’m alternating between being happy and proud with being weepy and melancholy, I thought I’d share a story with you from when I was a brand new mom, making brand new mommy mistakes.

And also because I like to laugh at myself. I hear it keeps you young … and clearly I need all the help I can get.

So, back when our son was still a chubby mass of cuteness, before we had a computer, the internet and the wonderful world of Google, it was just me and the baby at home alone to figure things out on our own.

One time I was changing his diaper and to my horror, there was a raised, flesh-toned ring on his groin area. My heart dropped. My son had some rare form of ringworm, or maybe something even worse. With him still naked on the change table, hoping he wouldn’t pee on me, I called the pediatricians’ office in a complete panic.

How did he catch this disease? How serious was this? What kind of mother lets her perfect baby get something, anything?

As I was being connected to the nurse, I decided to examine this ring a little closer. I thought perhaps I should even touch it so I could tell the nurse what it felt like.

I reached out and gently pressed this ring and … it moved!

I told the nurse I’d made a mistake. No, really, I figured it out myself. Thanks very much.

You see folks, when I touched my precious child’s incurable ailment, I realized it was a CHEERIO.

That’s right. A soggy (gross!) cheerio that had made its way into his diaper.

I pretty much healed him right then with my touch. ~sheepish grin~

Okay, so your turn. If you are a parent, please tell me you’ve done something like this too. Make it up even, so I don’t feel quite so ridiculous!

grey young senior pic

Miraculously, that cute little boy above, with the soulful bedroom eyes, grew up into a fine man, ready to make his way in the world, to find the right path for him to follow. It will be so hard to release my grasp on him and let him make his own way. I pray I will always light a path for him to find his way home.

grey senior pic

I was tortured with string

So I got ‘Threaded’ today. I don’t know if you know what that means but I’m going to explain ALL. I had heard the term before and I knew it was a form of hair removal, like getting your brows waxed, only they use string somehow. I have friends who get threaded and they rave about it. For some reason I didn’t Google it. If I had I might have seen this video to know what I was getting myself into.

Only that girl in the video who says, “It’s painless …”

Guess what? She LIES!

So I go into my local nail spa that prominently displays THREADING in huge letters on the building. I inquire a bit about it and am told that it’s wonderful, better than waxing, only takes 10 minutes and all other sorts of accolades. I ask about the expense and am asked, “For brows?” At my nod, the woman, who at first glance doesn’t appear to enjoy inflicting pain, says, “Twelve dollars.”

Fine, I’m in.

I’m led to a room in the back with a reclined table/chair. Before I so much as settle in she’s at me armed with white string. Zip. Zip.

What sort of hell am I in?

With every zip of her thread, I’m pushing my head further back into the table. I scrunch my eyebrows up, anticipating the next attack.

“Relax your forehead”, says the woman wielding the dental floss of doom. I do my best.

I’m pretty sure I’ve lost an entire eyebrow.

Cue sneezing attack. This happens when I tweeze too. She hands me a tissue and is back to zipping in .004 seconds.

Cue stomach erupting in angry rumbling growls.

“You hungry?”

“Nope, just ate.” See, my stomach has this tendency to go into a massive fight or flight response to pain or extreme relaxation. At a recent massage, my massage therapist commented that he was flattered. Today, this was no flattery.

She asks me to use my fingers to lift up my brow with one hand and push down on my lashes with the other because ‘the tighter the skin, the less it hurts’.

Cue Ginger attempting to rip her eyelid apart.

It is explained that threading is better than waxing or tweezing because you get all the hairs, even the little, soft, downy hair that no one sees and are just minding their own damn business.

So the hairs are being yanked out by their follicles, only unlike tweezing, where you pull them out one by one, you can yank out a whole row of hairs. Lots of hairs people, all in one zippity-do-da of a thread pull.

The woman explains how waxing is bad and it damages your skin permanently. (I already know this, thank you very much.) I mention that I hardly ever wax. In fact, I add that I’ve only waxed maybe 5 times in my life.

“Hhmm,” she mumbles.

Did she just call me a liar?

As I’m enduring this treatment, I think back to her question when I inquired about the price. You know, ‘For brows’, she asked. It got me to thinking about what else might get threaded. My tender armpits? My lip? ~~shudder~~ Or what about … on no, let’s just not ever think it again. I will purge that thought from my brain forever.

She gets to the area between my brows. “Lots of hairs in the middle.”

Yes, thank you for adding insult to pain.

Ziiiippp!

Holy mother of all that is merciful in the universe … be done already.

She mentions something about being painful the first time. So many hairs. Better next time.

She trashes her string. I’m pretty sure I’ve survived and she pulls out some tweezers.

Oh, kill me now. What happened to ‘all the hairs’ with the string? After she gives her last finishing touches, she hands me a mirror.

I still have eyebrows! And they look GOOOOD.

Freshly threaded eyebrows

Freshly threaded eyebrows

Thank you merciful heavens!

I pay her the twelve dollars plus I tip her 2 more. Why? Well, you’re supposed to, but also because before she started, she asked me my name, and told me hers. When I paid, she thanked me by name. I like that. (And she really wasn’t trying to be mean. Just doing her job.)

Furthermore, I have to admit that I will likely go again? What does that say about me? Maybe don’t answer that.

Tell me, have you been threaded?

WritersButt Wednesday: Getting on “The List”

Ginger's Gratitude List for Nov 7th, 2013

Ginger’s Gratitude List for Nov 7th, 2013

We are into November, the month of Thanksgiving.  Once again FB has exploded with posts of gratitude, one for each day. They are called 30 days of Thanksgiving or something similar. Because ‘Gratitude’ is a vital component in the WritersButt program, I’m all over this. It’s not like I’m not thankful all the other months of the year. I most certainly am. But in November, I make a very concerted effort to recognize something specifically unique for which I’m grateful that day and share it.

So, on Facebook this morning, a friend posted an article basically bashing this idea of sharing things publically that you are thankful for. The point of the article was that it was fine and dandy to be grateful but to share it publically could be considered bragging and might even inflict pain and suffering on others. Basically it said to keep your thanks to yourself.

What the … what??

Examples from the article suggest that if you are thankful for your children, someone reading it might be battling infertility and thus be saddened. Or if someone expresses thanks for a happy home, someone might not have a happy home life or maybe even be homeless so that little ‘gratitude’ on Facebook might plunge them into depression.

Oh, come on! That’s crazy-talk. We are not responsibly for other people’s reactions to our gratitudes in life. I derive more good feelings for things my friends and family (heck, even strangers) are blessed with. It makes me feel good to see and feel their joy. It makes me hopeful.

I’m not going to link to the article because I suspect the author might not be very happy, and maybe is finding it hard to find things for which to be thankful. So I don’t wish to inflict any negativity in that direction.

But I will offer up a challenge that I truly believe could change your life. As I’ve said many, many times in this WritersButt journey, you should be grateful every day for the things, people, and experiences in your life, big and small. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to experience the joy of being grateful.

Now I’d like to kick it up a notch with a new challenge.  Every day, make it your goal to get on someone’s gratitude list. That is to say, go about your day in such a way that you are looking for opportunities to positively effect the lives of others. These don’t have to be grand gestures. Something as small as a compliment on someone’s shoes could make someone’s day.

Don’t be stingy with your smiles. You can’t imagine how many people need to have one shine on them. The smile you share could be something they remember and give thanks for at the end of the day.

What kind of amazing effect would the world have if we all acted like this? If everyone was trying to positively impact others, consciously and specifically … the ripple effect would be astounding.

Make it your daily goal to GET ON THE LIST!

And SHARE far and wide your Gratitude. Be a part of the wave of THANKS and ride it with joy.

 

WritersButt Wednesday – Do you actually TRY to be happy?

Today for WritersButt Wednesday, I’m going to send you off to read something. But you have to come back and talk to me! I saw a link to an article from one of my Facebook friends titled:

“10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science”

Pretty hard to resist clicking that! No brainer, right? So off I went and I was thrilled to find that most of the items are components in my WritersButt program. I mean, did they see inside my brain? You know what else was totally cool? I literally do ALL of those things, in some way or another. Boom!

Let’s see how you do.  Go on … READ THIS and find out. I’ll wait right here.

 

Georgetown, TX fall sunset -- a pretty picture to look at while I wait … :)

Georgetown, TX fall sunset — a pretty picture to look at while I wait … :)

Hey, welcome back. Pretty cool, right? Did you notice all the WritersButt approved items there?

Exercise (fast and effective!) – Sleep – Time outdoors – Meditation – GRATITUDE!!

These are truly simple things to incorporate into your life that will help you to be happier. It’s mentioned numerous times throughout the article that doing these things also make you more productive. A happier person is also more creative. I’ve already given you tons of back-up information and studies on how exercise and sleep and even certain foods boost your creativity. All of this goes hand in hand and it’s NOT hard! It’s not time-consuming. You have nothing to lose … and your happiness, health, creativity and productivity to gain!

My challenge to you is to make sure you are actively doing at LEAST 6 items on that list, commit to a majority of them. Make it a test for one week. See if you can incorporate a minimum of 6 of the following items into you daily (that means EVERY DAY) life and see if you notice a difference.

  1. Exercise more: Who is still doing their potty squats? How about some fast lunges or push ups. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and just move. Come on – you can do ANYTHING for 5 little minutes!
  2. Sleep more: You will not get more accomplished by sleeping less. I promise. You might for a day or two, maybe even a week, but your work will suffer and so will you. Squeeze in more sleep!
  3. Short commute: I suspect this one will be the hardest for some to do based on life’s circumstances. My husband commutes to work and it’s at least a 2 hour drain in his day.  For years he’s worked an shifted schedule to lesson the time, going into work early and trying to get out of there before the onslaught of rush-hour. Maybe your employer will work with you on this? It’s worth a shot.
  4. Family and Friends: Surround yourself with people who bless your life and then don’t waste any chances to be with them. You are likely blessing their life too. Life is so uncertain, don’t miss any opportunity to be with those you love.
  5. Go Outside: I have given you all homework to take walks before. Get outdoors. Soak up some natural vitamin D – a mood booster!! Breathe in the fresh air. Feel the breeze blow through your hair. Turn your face to the sun and absorb the warmth.
  6. Help Others: Make an effort to actively help others. I call this, ‘getting into their gratitude journal’. If everyone kept a gratitude journal, how often would YOU or something you did be something someone else recorded as a gratitude in their life? Make their list!
  7. Practice Smiling: Smile your way to happy! It’s the easiest gift to give and it’s usually reciprocated. Back up your smile with a positive thought and really let your eyes lit up with joy! Challenge – see how much people you can get to smile back at you in any given day.
  8. Plan a trip: I love this one and do this all the time. I get daily Living Social and Groupon emails with deals. I’m on the ‘getaway’ list and love to check out vacation getaway deals. Just putting myself on a virtual vacation calms me and makes me smile. Dream!
  9. Meditate: For me, this is the very hardest one because I get going so fast that I don’t force myself to slow down, physically and mentally. My mind is racing. I am going to challenge myself to find 2-5 minutes a day to settle my mind and be calm with my body. When I have done this in the past, I’ve loved it. I know it’s a learned practice so I’m going to work on this.
  10. Practice Gratitude: My favorite!!  Keep that gratitude journal. Send a message to someone, maybe even a tweet or FB status, to tell them you are grateful to them or that you are grateful for something they did.  Help make Gratitude go Viral!!

So tell me, does any of this resonate? What are you going to work on? For me, I pledge to meditate daily and to take up my gratitude journal again in addition to physically reaching out and expressing my gratitude to someone for something specific every single day.

Have a great week!

Honeycrisp Extortion!

The Honeycrisp Apple

The Honeycrisp Apple

Why are honeycrisp apples so expensive? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know. Do you think it’s because they are seriously the best tasting apple on the planet? My mother tells me they are ‘from’ MN and therefore come from good stock, so maybe that’s why they have a bigger price tag.

I mean, they grow on trees same as galas, red delicious and your tart granny smiths, right? Does it cost more to grow a honeycrisp? Are the honeycrisp trees watered in honey-whiskey? What gives?

Maybe if we all boycotted the honeycrisp, altering the supply and demand cycle, we’d, as a nation, have brought the price per lb down to an acceptable level.

But that’s not going to happen, is it? It’s not because who can resist?!!

I can tell you my son couldn’t. See my Facebook status from Friday when I discovered a heinous crime had been committed.

honeycrisp FB funny post

It should be noted that there was a perfect acceptable granny smith, right on top, first thing to grab. He had to DIG for my honeycrisp. I hide my treasures well.

So tell me, do you have a particular item or treat for which you pay more, even though it kills you to do so? You know, something that makes you just a little bit selfish?

And I hope someone will explain WHY the honeycrisp is so darn pricey? I want to justify the expense outside of the amazing flavor. At this point, a gala pales in comparison.

If you are someone who has never tried a honeycrisp apple, let me give you some advice.

Don’t.

Save yourself the heartache. Plus you’ll only drive up the demand and soon I’ll be paying over $5 a pound or something.

WritersButt Wednesday – It’s All in the Bones

Is it really Wednesday again? Wow! I’ve been a crazy little energizer bunny, only my batteries do indeed seem to be losing some juice. I keep meaning to add in more days to my blog, outside of my WritersButt Wednesday posts, only time slips away from me.

As a matter of fact, one of the new fun things to which I’ve given some of my time is a group blog with some of my favorite people on earth, some members of my 10+ years-strong critique group. We talk writing all the time and the publishing industry and whatnot. Because we are all voracious readers in addition to being writers, we also talk reading – and books – from a writer’s perspective and we thought we’d start sharing some of our conversations with, you know, anyone who’d like to chat with us.

Our new blog is … drumroll …

Reading, Writing, Raising Hell (or Heck!)

Now doesn’t that sound fun? I can tell you we are pretty cool and we’d LOVE for you to hang out with us by following our blog, which you can do by clicking the FOLLOW button from our site. Come’on, you know you want to. We are just getting started, so help us grow and talk books and reading with us!

All that said, why in the heck have I titled today’s blog ‘It’s All in the Bones’? Well, I’m going to tell you about a serious power food, like a super-packed-nutrient-bomb that is incredibly easy to make and cheap to boot.

It’s homemade bone broth. You can make bone broth from any bones; beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, etc. What you are going for is the minerals and nutrients from within the bones that you can extract through long (LONG) simmering.

Here’s an excerpt from Wellness Mama’s Blog about the benefits of bone broth:

Besides its amazing taste and culinary uses, broth is an excellent source of minerals and is known to boost the immune system (chicken soup when you are sick anyone?) and improve digestion. Its high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content make it great for bone and tooth health. Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin, and nails due to its high collagen content. In fact, some even suggest that it helps eliminate cellulite as it supports smooth connective tissue.

But wait – did you read that last sentence carefully? Ladies, lean in here real quick, especially if you are someone who battles ~whispers~ Cellulite. Incorporating bone broth into your regular diet may actually help get rid of that cellulite, naturally and deliciously.

The following is from Balanced Bites regarding bone broth and the support of our cells:

But fighting a cold, combating disease and healing a leaky gut aren’t all broth can help to do: Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, explains in her interview with Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness that the collagen found in home-made bone broth is a “super-food” when it comes to cellular integrity and in reducing the appearance of cellulite. Yes! There is a way to naturally, and legitimately, reduce cellulite – and it’s as simple as incorporating bone broth into your regular diet. Dr. Shanahan says that “cellulite is fat that lacks collagen support” and that “people who have more collagen in their diet… are less likely to have cellulite in their fat.” It’s not about just losing the fat – it’s about getting back to a diet that will support the structure of your cells.

How about I show you my first homemade bone broth experience. I used soup bones from the ¼ of a cow that I recently purchased from a local cattle farm called Raising 5 Cattle. It’s a family owned cattle farm right in my hometown. The herd grazes freely on their land and is grass fed and family-raised.

Soup Bones from Raising 5 Cattle

Soup Bones from Raising 5 Cattle

 

I diced up some veggies I planned to use.

Veggies for homemade broth

Veggies for homemade broth

I put the onion in the bottom on my crockpot, threw in a ton of garlic cloves and a healthy handful of whole peppercorns.

Ready for the slow, long, simmer

Ready for the slow, long, simmer

Then I filled up the crockpot with filtered water and set it on high. This was around 4 pm. I let it come to a good simmer for a while. When I went to bed, I switched the crockpot to low. We woke up to our home smelling so amazing. At that point, the water had evaporated enough that I added in the rest of my veggies.

Doubles as a centerpiece

Doubles as a centerpiece

I covered it back up and let it simmer all day. Finally, at nearly 4 pm, so about 24 hours later, I turned it off and strained it. I poured it into a stock pot through a steamer basket. Then I strained it again through a wire mesh strainer into my 8 cup Pampered Chef glass mixing bowl, filling it all the way to the top with this nutrient dense broth.

8 full cups of homemade super-food

8 full cups of homemade super-food

It will stay fresh in your fridge for up to a week or so, or you can freeze it for month. Once it cools in the fridge, any sediment will sink, all the fat will rise to the top (called tallow) and the broth will ‘gel’. You can use the tallow to cook. I did the other night and the family went crazy for the flavor of our chicken sausages, which I’d sautéed in the tallow.

You can use the broth in many ways. You can obviously use it simply as broth, for soup. Add in veggies, meat, etc. It would make a mean French Onion Soup. You can use the beef broth in any recipe that calls for broth as a liquid.

We have just been drinking it, from a mug. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d even type that. But it’s truly delicious and basically a mug of savory, healthy broth/soup. I scoop out the gelled broth into my mug and heat it in the microwave, then sip my super-soup!

My 15 year old son is currently in 2 theatre productions and his throat felt scratchy. He sipped him some broth on the way to school today. Such a smart boy!

So, who’s going to try it?

 

 

 

WritersButt Wednesday: Suffering Salads Batman!

Are your salads suffering unnecessarily at your hands? Are you condemning them to a life of humdrum mediocrity?

Just stop. Put your hands up. And back away from the iceberg.

Now listen to me. Salads do not have to be a boring torturous part of whatever ‘diet’ to which you are currently subjecting yourself. In fact salads are a fabulous opportunity to get creative and add in so many components of healthy eating on one plate.

I eat salads all the time. I’m a bit of an expert at this point and it’s the single most often requested thing I’m asked to bring to potluck parties. And I can tell you my salads aren’t made with iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a waxy cucumber, smothered in some crap dressing from a jar.

Do me a favor. If you are using dressing from a jar and it’s non-fat or low-fat, DO NOT TELL ME.  You will kill a part of my soul.

As I was saying, creating a healthy, fresh salad is like staring at a blank canvas with a rainbow of paints to play with – and you don’t even have to be an artist! Last week, I posted a picture of my dinner salad on Facebook and was inundated with requests for the recipe. I’m a little embarrassed because it’s not really a recipe. Because I promised, I’m going to tell you what this particular salad consisted of, but then I’m going to give you all the ingredients, like those rainbow paints, and you can mix and match to make your own masterpiece.

Ginger's Figgy Salad

Ginger’s Figgy Salad

Fresh Romaine lettuce – Fresh Figs – Honeycrisp Apple – toasted walnuts (toasted them myself) – small sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles. Dressing: Olive Oil, white wine vinegar, cracked fresh pepper. That truly is all it was. It tasted DIVINE!

Lettuce tips: I always have some form of fresh greens on hand. I will buy romaine hearts in 3 or 6 packs. TIP: When you go to make your first salad with your romaine, wash ALL the lettuce. Use what you want that night and then roll the remaining lettuce in a clean kitchen towel (or in paper towels), spreading out the leaves so excess moisture will seep into the towel. Store in a plastic bag in your fridge. It will stay fresh all week, at least! I will also use those pre-washed containers of greens like spring mix, field greens, spinach, etc. I do find I have to use them faster before they start to spoil. TIP: If you use those and they are particularly wet inside the container, roll a few paper towels around the greens to soak up extra moisture.

The Fixin’s: This is where you really get to have some fun and please don’t limit yourself to tomatoes and cucumbers. Not that there is anything wrong with them but there is so much more out there. Mix it up – Pun Alert!  Remember, not all of the ingredients have to be cold and raw. I often add in sautéed or grilled asparagus or thin green beans, or even roasted beets! They add a warm layer of something awesome, trust me.

Savory Stuff: If you’re making more of a savory salad, you can add in your tomatoes and cucumbers, but also peppers – yellow, red and orange are fab for the color, snap peas, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower … anything!

Sweet Stuff: Very often I make salads that have a sweeter side which comes from adding fruit, like berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), mango, pineapple, or apples. In the salad I showed up above, I used fresh black mission figs.

Black Mission FIg

Black Mission FIg

The fruit itself is beautiful in addition to tasting delicious.

Food is beautiful

Food is beautiful

Yummy FATS: Y’all know how important it is to incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Don’t deprive yourself of them. I always dress my salads in olive oil. I love the flavor. I add in fresh avocadoes most of the time too as well as nuts. While I don’t eat cheese very often, sometimes I will indulge and when I do, it’s usually in the form of goat, feta, blue or Gorgonzola and it’s very, very little. Just enough crumbles to add that little zing!

Protein: Usually a salad is eaten as a side with some sort of protein, like a steak or grilled chicken. I’m known for making a one-bowl-meal, especially if I’m pulling together a quick lunch for myself, so I incorporate the protein into my salad. I’ve used deli meats, eggs – hard boiled, scrambled or fried, dinner leftovers like chicken, sausage, steak, turkey. This way I’m getting my protein, fats and all those fabulous carbs in the form of greens, veggies and fruits. Complete meal!

Now it’s up to you. Mix and Match, experiment, taste, toss and ENJOY!!

Tell me what’s the most unique ingredient you can think of to have in a salad.  If I haven’t used it before, and I can get my hands on it, I’ll make a salad with your ingredient and post the finished result and recipe here on my blog.

WritersButt Wednesday: NEW Class debut – and SALSA to DIE for!

Happy WritersButt Wednesday!

Whew, it’s been a while, right? Well, I have a really fun and exciting announcement today as well as the most deliciously, awesome salsa recipe I have EVER made!

Let me start with my little announcement. Remember one year ago when I presented WritersButt at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference? Then the following January, I traveled to Sacramento to meet up with fellow writer and friend, Jansen Schmidt, to present my WritersButt workshop to her RWA chapter. Well, I had a blast both those times and I’d LOVE to do more traveling and presenting. (I really would – have your people talk to my people. And by my people, I mean me.)

That said, I can’t go gallivanting off all the time. I have my house natives who want to be fed, like every day, multiple times. (What is with that?) And I have a gym to run, classes to coach.  But, I also wanted a way to offer my WritersButt workshop in order to keep helping writers (or anyone!) to make that fabulous mind/body connection. To focus on their health as well as boost their creativity and productivity.

Well, WriterU has given me that chance and I’m so unbelievably excited! Check this out!

 

See Ginger Smiling!

See Ginger Smiling!

 

This coming January I’ll be teaching this two-week Masters Class.

~~SQUEE!!~~

My favorite part of this class description:

Prerequisite: Must be considering a change in habits to become more creative and productive.

If you are not being as creative and productive as you’d like to be, then there is something(s) in your daily routine that you are not doing in order to accomplish that. To yield different results … a CHANGE in habits HAS to happen!

It may feel a little early to be thinking about a class in January but they have put a cap on enrollment for this class. It may fill up before you or someone you know grabs a seat! I love that this class is taking place at the start of January, at the dawn of a brand new year. What better time to establish some new habits and set up for a successful and abundantly creative year!

And now – Salsa Time!

This recipe comes from Michele Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo iPad App.  I’ve recommended her APP before but it bears repeating. Even if you don’t eat a strict Paleo diet, this app is amazing! I’m not kidding. It’s gorgeous, easy to navigate and jam packed with delicious recipes.  Let me add that my pictures turned out blurry and just ‘eh’ … Michele’s photos make you want to lick your iPad and I bet it even tasted good. If you don’t have an iPad or don’t like to have cookbook apps, you can always follow her blog – it’s also amazing!

Nom Nom Paleo’s SALSA ROJA ASADA

1 lb tomatoes

2 medium Serrano chilis (I used 3 and 4 and it was SPICY!)

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled (or more!)

½ tsp Kosher salt

Juice from ½ a lime (I used a couple keylimes from my tree)

1 lg shallot, finely minced

¼ cup chopped cilantro (or pretty much the whole bunch)

Directions:

*Broil your tomatoes (washed and whole) on high for about 10 minutes, turning half way through. You want the skins blistered and blackened, and peeling off.

Broiled Tomatoes

Broiled Tomatoes

*Meanwhile, roast the chili peppers and unpeeled garlic in an ungreased skillet. Turn periodically for about 15 minutes until peppers are blackened/blistered a bit and garlic is soft. (You will find that peppers will finish first, take them out and let garlic finish.)

Bring on the flavor!

Bring on the flavor!

*Once the peppers and garlic are cool enough to handle, peel garlic and cut tops off peppers. I left in all seeds and ribs because I wanted the heat. You may remove them if you don’t like things spicy.

*I threw the peppers, garlic, and kosher salt into my Ninja blender (you can use a food processor)

*Add in your blistered, roasted tomatoes.

*Pulse until desired consistency.

Fresh cilantro

Fresh cilantro

*Transfer salsa into a bowl and stir in your shallots and cilantro.

Fresh jicama stick + Nom Nom Paleo's Salsa = Nom Nom GOOOOD!!

Fresh jicama stick + Nom Nom Paleo’s Salsa = Nom Nom GOOOOD!!

 

It gets better as it sits. OH MY GOSH – our new family favorite. Thanks Nom Nom!!

Thanks for letting me share my news with you.

Have a GREAT week everyone!

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