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Rounding the corner on 30 (I’ll be 29 this week) I figured it was time to cut out nail biting. Not only is it socially unacceptable for a woman my age to be biting her nails, but it is just plain nasty. I have always known this. I mean, think about all the things you touch in a day…eww! So I decided that this Lent, I would give it up. And what do you know?! It worked! 

However, it was not easy. I used Thum (a pepper-y tasting substance used to stop thumb sucking which I found in the baby aisle…case in point). I painted my nails with nail hardener (which I constantly peeled off…but that wasn’t part of the specific no-biting goal, so I’ll call it a win). I used strengthener. I painted my nails different colors (even though I have always hated painting my nails for the futility of it all…I think the longest anything lasted was 1.7 days). All of those things served as a great tools to get me where I am now (with weak nails that break all the time but nails that I do not bite…mostly). However, I needed to get a new, healthier habit in place that would substitute for the nerve calming effects of nail biting (a new habit that would not also increase anxiety with its results). 

 

Enter the fidget toy. This week I have been playing around with these new fidget toys (thanks Amazon!) to help get out some of my nervous/extra energy. Mom has always told me they would help me, but stubborn as I am, it took me until now to try them out. Here are the three I have been trying out. Each has its merits. It’s really up to the individual to choose the kind that works for her, but I’ve liked them all equally for different reasons. 

 

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Tactile Tiger Hand Fidget

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The Ultimate Fidget by Sensory University

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Tangle Therapy

If you find yourself with extra energy, try them out and let me know what you think!

 

 

Admittedly, I will never be as good a cook as my Aunt Pat, who can always whip up an Italian feast for 40 at the drop of a hat with litte more than a tomato and a box of pasta, but I have, over the past few years, been upping my game in the kitchen. Most of that has to do with the help of amazing cookbooks I’ve received as gifts. Some of my favorites are Urban Vegan, the Greens Cookbook, and All about Vegetarian Cooking. Two years ago or so I received Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster’s Market by Sara Foster. It’s not a vegetarian cookbook, but I’ve found some of my favorite recipes in that book thanks to my cousin Beth. Here is one of my favorites that people are always asking me about (all thanks to Sara, of course. I just do as she says in this recipe and it comes out perfect every time).

Enjoy!

Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Thyme
(Serves 8-10, makes about 2 1/2 quarts)
2 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms such as chanterelle, oyster, portobello, cremini, shiitake, or dried porcini
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced, trimmings reserved
4 shallots, minced, trimmings reserved
2 celery stalks, diced, trimmings reserved
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith or Pippin), peeled, cored and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I always use WAY more)
1 cup dry sherry
Leaves from 3 fresh thyme sprigs (about 1 Tbsp)
6 cups mushroom broth or chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Wipe the mushrooms clean with damp cloth or paper towel. Cut the stems off the mushrooms and coarsely chop. (Reserve the stems to make mushroom broth later). If you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes, rinse, and roughly chop.
2. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of olive oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and shallots, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the celery  and apple and cook about 5 minutes longer. Add the remaning 2 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp olive oil and mushrooms to the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and have reduced in size, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir for 1 minute longer, being careful not to brown the garlic.
3. Stir in the sherry and cook to reduce for about a minute. Add the thyme, broth, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes so the flavors can meld. Cool slightly.
4. Ladle out 2 cups of the soup and place in the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blender fitted with a metal blade. puree until smooth and add the pureed soup back to the pot with the chunky soup or use an immersion blender to puree the soup directly in the pot, making sure to leave it slightly chunky. Stir in the parsley and serve warm.
Mushroom Broth:
The discarded stems of the mushrooms make a broth you can use later! Place the cleaned stems in a large saucepan with the vegetable trimmings from the soup, 3 bay leaves, 1 halved large onion, 1 roughly chopped carrot, roughly chopped celery stalk, 1 Tbsp salt, and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cover with 2 to 3 quarts of water and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. strain the broth through a strainer or colander. In an airtight container, this broth will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
For those of you who have no idea what the title is about, please enjoy this weird, random web gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C8TdLx3-xs

A moment for beauty

Like most law students (rather…like most adults, but especially law students), I have a hard time taking a moment to notice small (or big) beautiful things. Its especially hard at exam time, which is why I think nature conspired to make me notice these flowers starting to bloom when I was out watching the dog today. I’m not a big believer in fate, but sometimes I’ll allow a little room for divine intervention to make me notice the beauty around me.

What beautiful thing did you see today?


Happy Spring!

Beans and Greens

Since I am going vegan for Lent (ok I’ll admit I have no intention of being vegan while in Vegas for a bachelorette party, but will make every effort otherwise!), I’ll be trying out a lot of new recipes. One I tried recently and just had to share was the easiest/heartiest/most deliciously-garlic-y thing I have tasted in a long time. See below for “Beans and Greens,” something that is sure to become a staple in my kitchen.

Beans and Greens

from The Urban Vegan cookbook by Dynise Balcavage

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe, chopped into 2 inch pieces (my local grocery store is not “fancy” enough to carry broccoli rabe so I substituted collard greens which made this dish even more delicious, I imagine)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced (yes, you read right)–parenthetical from Ms. Balcavage herself. She is not messing around with the garlic here, folks.
  • 1 healthy pinch red pepper flakes (optional, but I would not skip this part)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (also optional, but again, why mess with a good thing?)
  • 1 16 ounce can beans, drained–I chose pinto. Anything white/cream-ish looks good with the greens
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (I did not yet have a mortar and pestle when I made this, so I put the seeds in without grinding them, and I lived to tell about it, so do with that what you will)
  • Vegan Parmesan or nutritional yeast for sprinkling (I did not add this in at all, and it tasted awesome) (Also, if you are not vegan, consider using regular parm because, well, vegan cheese is not the best thing vegan cuisine has to offer)
  • Crusty italian bread for dipping or eating on the side
Recipe:
  1. Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and bring it to a boal. Parboil the broccoli rabe (or greens), covered, for about 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the garlic and hot pepper flakes over medium-low heat in olive oil until translucent. Be careful not to brown the garlic. (Seriously–be careful! I burn some garlic every time I try to cook it like this! Gotta watch it like a hawk!)
  3. Drain the broccoli rabe (or greens). Toss it in with the olive oil and warm through over medium heat. Add wine, if desired, and let the alcohol cook off over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add beans. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with flaxseeds. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast, if desired.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Enjoy the garlic-y goodness of this recipe!

Hot damn, hot yoga

Once you get past the “Oh my god if it gets one degree hotter in here I am seriously going to pass out and crush that skinny girl next to me with the weight and force of this toppling Warrior 2” feeling, hot yoga is not that bad. Actually, its kind of good, to be perfectly honest.

I’ve never been a yoga person. I’d always found it a combination of impossible, boring, and not at all athletic enough to work off the free bagels/donuts/etc provided to me by well meaning but misguided secretaries and student services staff. I do feel like that is changing for me, though. And this change has a name: CorePower Yoga.

CorePower just feels different. I know that yoga is supposed to have this calming, centering, chilling out so much that I forget about my day kind of vibe, and CorePower definitely has that, but it also has the element of accomplishment and fitness that a lot of yoga classes are missing (at least for me). I know yoga purists will say that is not what it is SUPPOSED to be about. But frankly, I think yoga, for me, is supposed to be about whatever the heck I want it to be about.

The teacher this Monday, Roxy, seemed to agree. She suggested that we come to yoga with whatever we need out of it and work to get that very thing out of it, not what our neighbor is there for, not what we are SUPPOSED to be there for.

For me, that thing right now is just not falling over and emerging a little less harried than when I came in. And like all “good” yoga students, I am trying to apply that to the rest of my life. Know what I want to get out of something and work to achieve that, not what someone else expects me to get out of it. I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, Namaste.😉

Yoga Handstand from the CorePower site. This is not something I can do (yet), for anyone who had any doubts. But it is inspirational.

A little gem

No real time to post since I have a 20 page paper due tomorrow. 3 pages down. Awesome. (Yes, I realize the irony of admitting to procrastination on my “wellness” blog). So in the meantime, here is something to help you procrastinate and join in on my fun.

http://www.dailypuppy.com/

Or if you prefer felines: http://boyswithbeardswithcats.tumblr.com/

Enjoy!

Tidy in Twenty

The biggest source of stress in my life is not, for some reason, my schoolwork, my relationship, my dog, my friends, my family or anything that would normally be high up on the list. Sure, those things cause me stress (sorry I have not called you back in 3 years, Friend A) (sorry I forget to trim your nails all the time, pup), but the real killer is my apartment. I look around and I just think “ick.” Its not like I don’t clean (I’m looking at you, every college boy to ever live); it’s just that I cannot for the life of me keep up with the ever mounting piles of laundry, mail, dishes, dog hair, and microwave gunk. Real life adults seem to be able to figure this out, which I think is the real source of my stress. I mean, was I born without a cleaning gene? If so, it skipped a generation because my mom has the cleanest house on the planet. You could lick the floor there and probably get healthier by doing it.

*

So what is the magic secret to keeping a clean house (and for me, my sanity?)? Well, sorry, I’m not sure, but here is something I am trying. Tidy in Twenty. I am sure I am not the first person to use it, but that is a new mantra. Tidy in 20. For 20 minutes a day, I will clean. Three days ago it was laundry. Two days ago it was dishes. Yesterday it was rearranging the fridge and the kitchen food cabinet. And it feels awesome. Who knew that throwing out a can of pinto beans from 2007 would feel just as good as 60 minutes of hot yoga (a new obsession, more on that later)?

But it does. For those of you looking for inspiration as to how to fit this into your day AND have a clean house, check out this website that (semi) inspired this new habit. http://organizingmadefun.blogspot.com/2010/11/15-minutes-of-cleaning-how-to-have-fake.html

Whistle while you work!

*(more or less what i look like when i think about cleaning)

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