Monday, January 25, 2010

I Should Have Been a Bear

"Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It is not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life."
~Lionel Poilane

Food has always had a tight grip on my heart, and unfortunately, continues to toy with me. Constantly taunting me and roping me in, carbs--specifically sweet, warm goodness-- exist as something I simply can't avoid.

So, leave it to me to scour some of my favorite recipe sites and stumble upon a heavenly morsel of yummy delight. I really need to find a better way to spend my time. Obviously, innocently glancing at a few recipes only added fuel to my already sad, sad food obsession.

Low-fat Oatmeal Banana Bread.

The plus-- it's low-fat.
Thank you, God. Really, thank you.

The last thing I needed was an excuse to whip out my bread baking tools and concoct another carbohydrate packed treat. However, I fell-- hook, line and sinker-- and before I knew it, my pen took on a life of its own, quickly scrawling a grocery list of necessary ingredients.

I dreamed of this bread all day. Seriously. As I flitted about my classroom, graded papers and worked out at the gym, it hung in the eves of my mind, begging me to rush home begin the baking process.

Well, I caved. I gave in.

I did make an honest attempt to make "low-fat" even more low-fat. Thanks to a few simple modifications, my version is practically fat-free. Isn't that better? It almost makes it alright to eat until my heart's content.

Now, all I want to do is hoard every last piece and take a long, long nap. Bears really live the life. Hibernation must be amazing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sweet Sunday

"Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week."
~Joseph Addison

I live for days like today. Outside it's gloomy and drizzling and gray, providing the extra little nudge I need to slack and relax. And, sigh, I'm quite exhausted.

I've already accomplished the important things like working out and eating a delicious bowl of Alicia's veggie soup, so I'm thinking a movie, some tea and then some book time will occupy the remainder of today's events. Maybe I'll even bake some homemade bread later... yes, that sounds wonderful.

Happy Sunday. Happy Resting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Found: Perry Bear

"The past is our definition."

During the middle of an exceptionally busy morning, the most strange memory crept into my mind. Funny, isn't it? When I'm completely engrossed in something of great importance, my mind flashes to a teddy bear from my past.

Many years ago, I had a little teddy bear and his name was Perry. Oddly, this tiny stuffed toy went everywhere with me. He lived in my backpack, hung out in my purse, sat on my nightstand or traveled in my coat pocket.

Perry was my friend.

Somehow, in between the hustle and bustle of being a college student and moving away from home, I lost track of Perry Bear.
Sad, huh? I wonder if his feelings were hurt?

I busied myself being grown-up and important and cool. (or so I thought...) But not Perry. He quietly sat, waited patiently and called a storage box home-- waiting, waiting, waiting for me to remember him.

And I did- just the other day. I pictured my old little friend and had a burning desire to find him and have him back in my life. After an e-mail to my mom and a desperate search of my childhood treasures, she found him- safely tucked away.

I'm quite certain that his new blue tea cup provides a lovely new home for him. Finally, we're together again.

Happily ever after.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Ball of Energy

"If we're not willing to settle for junk living,
we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food."
~Sally Edwards

Thanks to my pal, Alicia, these babies are quickly becoming a staple in the Wheeler casa. We're talking serious nutrition, tons of protein and all natural ingredients. It's a winner, for sure.

1 c Honey
1 c Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 c Protein Powder
4 cups total- any variety of the following: flax seed, Honey Bunches of Oats, rolled oats
Mix the honey and peanut butter together and then fold in the dry ingredients. Allow mixture to chill in the fridge for an hour. Then, roll into balls and enjoy.

I enjoy these treats right before I go to the gym for an energy kick. However, if you're feeling a bit lazy, they are perfect with a cold glass of almond milk or a hot cup of tea. These, my dearies, are pretty much perfection at its finest.

Hi Tofu

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
~Albert Einstein

Thinking back, I'm not really sure how the transformation happened. I suppose it was a gentle one, as I didn't give up meat "cold turkey." Ha. The last time I remember eating any type of meat would have been Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and before that I was meat free from the beginning of November.

For the better part of my teenage and adult life I've practiced extreme food awareness. I've never drank a caloric drink that wasn't a specialty coffee and I don't think I've ever eaten a french fry, unless of course I stole a few off of Chad-o's plate. I've ran hundreds of thousands of miles, entered countless races and made my cardiovascular health a top priority.

I won't lie. Much of my food awareness stems from vanity. On the other hand, making positive food choices results in my having an overall better attitude and higher self-confidence. While a delicious scoop of french onion dip and a bowl of salty chips may initially taste delicious, I'll feel like a toad for the next four days.

"Why? Why? Why? Why did I put that trash in my body?" I'll beg of myself.

I've been wanting to convert to a vegetarian lifestyle for a long while. I switched over to soy milk last year, and recently I made the change from soy to almond milk. It's wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

For a few years I've eaten veggie burgers and soy patties for lunch, but I never thought making a complete transformation would work with a carnivore husband. I've gotta hand it to him, he's been beyond supportive. When I have a fridge full of tofu and hummus and make tofu tacos for me and meat tacos for him, he just grins. He even ate my vegetarian shepard's pie the other night. I know he didn't love it, but he was nice and said it wasn't too bad.

Recently I read a book that made me perform some serious soul searching. Skinny Bitch, a rather biased view on how to live a healthy lifestyle, had me entirely re-evaluating my eating habbits and making serious changes. It's a tad fanatical, and like I mentioned- biased, but highly informative and ridiculously disturbing. Read it.

Tonight I whipped up a super easy, insanely healthy tofu stir-fry. Delicious.

Also, vegetarianism falls into my "live simply" theme. Simple foods--wholesome, healthy, humane.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beautiful Day

"Life: It is about the gift not the package it comes in."
~Dennis P. Costea, Jr.

It's still freezing, but at least the sun has her sweet face out today. In some way it's a bit refreshing, like an unexpected laugh or fantastic present for no reason at all.

I feel settled today, which is exactly how I didn't expect to feel when I woke up.

Annoyed, peeved, a bit aggravated? Yea. Settled, content, a bit relaxed? Nope. I just wasn't feeling it.

Something about an "off day" elliptical workout turned things around. Well, most likely it wasn't the workout, but the little chat with my dearest pal.

Thank you. You made my day.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Narnia, Somerset Style

"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it."
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Chilly, yes. You could say so.

...blustery snow...

... icicles merging with shrubs...

...a concealed lamppost...

...pointy daggers outside the bedroom window...

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Teacher's Snow Day

"Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow
Filling the sky and earth below
Over the housetops, over the street
Over the heads of the people you meet
Dancing, flirting, skimming along"
~J. Watson

Today brought more snow, ice and freezing-ness, along with another school cancellation.

No complaints from me.

I've been having a grand ol' time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Staying Warm

"Ahh, but it's cold outside."
~lyrics by Frank Loesser

To say that I've outdone myself the past few days would be an extreme stretch. Between the cold, wind and snow squalls, not to mention the canceled school, I've found myself with some extra time for what I love best- my knitting.

Last year I rediscovered this pre-Christian art form. Since then, I've managed to knit lots of creations, but other than 2 practice washcloths, I've given the rest away.

This year for Christmas I received a "Comfort and Joy" box from my mama. Inside I found all types of delightful goodies and cozy treats. One of my most favorite doo-dads emerged as this hand-dyed wool/silk yarn from Chile. If you could only feels its luscious texture, you'd be a fan, too. Go figure, I get excited over a skein of yarn.

I knew I wanted to make something special. I also knew I wanted to try and learn something new. After much though, I finally decided to knit a hat, something that we Pennsylvanians refer to as a "snookie".

After all, this freezing weather appears to have settled in and I am in desperate need of a stylish, soft and warm piece of winter apparel.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tiny Toasties

"Joy is the holy fire which keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow."
~Helen Keller

Saying that it's cold outside doesn't even begin to explain it. I'm freezing my tootsies off, just like I have been all day. Even a 4.5 mile run, a hot shower and endless cups of tea can't seem to solve the problem. And when I say cold, I don't mean the little chills you get from letting the puppy in and out to potty. Nope. I mean cold- freezing to the core- bone chilling cold.


But, being a freezing ice princess does have it's perks. I've found it to provide me with the perfect excuse to curl up with my yarn and work on these tiny toe warmers. If only I had some in my size. Then, just then, I might find myself a bit more snug.

These little critters, which I'm dubbing "Tiny Toasties" are for a friend of mine. She delivered a beautiful baby girl on Christmas Eve. I can't fathom a more wonderful present.

Currently I'm debating about the buttons. Back and forth I go, never really able to reach a solid decision. Upon telling my mama about my newest endeavor, she kindly shared Mamoo's old button box with me.

I might be going out on a limb, but I'm quite certain Mamoo would have been pretty impressed with my use of a pair of buttons she bought in 1984 at a store called Murphy's. She paid 47 cents.

I don't know, perhaps it's the thought that I'm making good use out of something my grandmother had lofty aspirations for, but I'm beginning to warm up. ...wink...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dear 2010

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."
~Benjamin Franklin

Dear 2010,

I'm most happy you've arrived, because, you see, I love new beginnings. I think there's nothing quite as wonderful as a fresh start, a chance to get it right, an opportunity to put the best foot forward.

As usual, I have a suitcase full of the most wonderful intentions. And, thankfully, I also have the gumption to make them happen. I won't bore you, New Year, with the little goals I've set for myself, but trust me, I have a list and they will be accomplished.

Last year, in '09, I vowed to create. Well that creating theme went so well that I'm going to stick with it, continuing to make and imagine and test my artistic limits. I've never been happier or found myself so amazed with my creative juices. It's been a fun journey, invigorating and even a bit spiritual.

So, dear 2010, allow me to add another word to my New Year Theme: Simplify. I'm pretty sure the word speaks for itself.

Live Simply and Create.

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