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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!

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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.

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