Thursday, July 31, 2014

I had a successful wedding and failed marriage

I just read a very insightful blog post, a letter from a mother to her daughters about how very un-pinnable her 1994 wedding was. She expressed the same sentiment that many do in different words; what matters is the marriage and not the wedding.

Let's not jump to conclusions, however. Just because a bride-to-be slaves away on handmade centerpieces doesn't mean she is expecting to just have a gorgeous wedding day and doesn't care about the rest of her life. I should know because I was one of them.

I folded one thousand post-it notes from my office into individual petals, five of which would form one flower. My then-fiance and I sanded and spray painted 20-some photo frames so we could have creative table numbers even though our reception venue would have printed simple numbers to save us the time and energy. During the first few seconds of my maid of honor's speech, I was futzing with my bouquet to get it to stand up straight in the jar I had on our Sweethearts table...because, you know, there could have been a picture (sorry Susan). I had 3 trial runs for my hair.

I labored with my hands and with my mind months before the wedding and even months before I was engaged. During that time, I didn't think my marriage would be over in a matter of 8 months...but it was.

Do I believe my failed marriage was a direct result of having a Pinterest-worthy wedding with tea light holders that I sourced from 4 different Dollar Trees? No I don't. However, instead of rolling 200 strips of paper into 200 rose blossoms, I could have spent that time reflecting on myself, what I truly wanted out of my life, and why I wanted to marry my fiancĂ©.  If I had, I could have spared a massive amount of heartache for myself, my fiancĂ©, and both of our families.

If I were reading this 2 years ago, I wouldn't have thought this warning applied to me. This would say to me "the marriage is more important than the wedding." And I would think, "Oh sure, I agree. But I'm gonna have a crazy cute wedding anyway."

My soul ached when I looked at my ringless left hand, not for my boyfriend when he wasn't near me.
When I thought of my future, I imagined a neatly decorated home, not being held by my spouse and feeling complete.

My husband and I didn't make it to our first anniversary...but I have remarkable photos of my beautiful wedding day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10 Tips for Making the best of your CSA share

If you'd like to support a local business, save money, eat an organic, plant-heavy diet, and save the planet all at once, then perhaps becoming a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is right for you.

For $20 a week, I get half a bushel of locally grown organic produce that would typically cost me 3x as much at the grocery store. It didn't travel very far so I'm reducing my carbon footprint. It's also healthier for me because it's more veg than I can typically afford to buy organic. It's tastier because it hasn't lost its flavor during the truck ride from the opposite coast.

Sounds perfect right?

Not so fast. There are a few downsides. Most of us learned to feed ourselves and our families by planning a menu, writing a grocery list, going to the store to pick up ingredients and then executing the menu as planned. When you receive a box of veggies all at once every 7 days and you don't get to pick what precisely will be in it, answering the question "what's for dinner?" is an entirely different game.

From my experiences between last year (when I unfortunately threw away a lot) and what I've done to avoid that this year, here are 10 ways to actually EAT what's in your CSA box.

  1. Make salad your first course
    Leaf lettuce has been in my box every single week. Making salad the prelude to dinner every night, I've able to keep up with all the bunny food. Buy (or make) some tasty toppings and dressings to keep it fun. Chop up cabbage, roots, scallions or whatever else you have in your box to flesh out the salad. If your family gets burnt out on salad with every dinner, be "that girl" who brings the big bowl of greens to every barbecue this summer. 
  2. Pretend your vegetable is something else. An obvious one is using the early season's onslaught of scallions in place of onions. Also, I've found a lot of recipes that employ CSA veggies instead of their traditional main ingredient: kohlrabi fries, mashed parsnips, summer squash hummus, kale chips, turnip gratin, lettuce or collard wraps. The possibilities are endless if you think outside the grocery cart.
  3. Be generous with fresh herbs and scallions
    You can add a lot of flavor if you aren't shy about your fresh seasonings. A lot of recipes will tell you to add something like 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Wimps. Pour it on! You'll use the plant before it goes bad and you'll get a lot of flavor which will decrease the need to add extra oil, salt, or (gasp) sugar.
  4. Set aside some time to preserve some food
    Spend a few hours in the kitchen now and then to pickle, dehydrate, can, or freeze a little bit of what you got so that you can enjoy your local veg outside of the season. You might not be a big fan of soup during the summer but if you turn those yummy summer crops into soup now, can or freeze them to enjoy during the winter months.
  5. Think ahead to make the timing work
    Depending on where you are, you'll get basil one week, parsley the next week, onions and tomatoes the following week and the garlic doesn't arrive for another month. Then you'll throw your hands up and scream, "WHY don't they all come at ONCE so that I can make pizza sauce?!?!" Work around this by thinking WAY ahead: can this season's tomatoes so that when you get those fresh herbs next spring, you're ready to whip up a batch of completely local marinara.
  6. Juice!
    If you have a vegetable juicer, you're in luck. Play with different combinations. Use beets and carrots to sweeten your juice. Run beet or turnip greens through so you can get those out of the way.
  7. Blend!
    Green smoothies are all the rage right now. Good thing because you're getting TONS of kale. Unfortunately you'll have to spend extra money on stuff like almond milk and fruit but if you have a high power blender, you can pulverize an obscene amount greens into your morning drink.
  8. Find a veggie you love to snack on
    Last season I discovered that I LOVE hakurei turnips. I sliced them up raw and ate them like chips. Same with cucumbers. Noshing on raw veg is great for digestion and hydration, thins your crop reserve and keeps you away from bags of deep fried starch.
  9. Stock up on staples before you get your box
    Last year I got my  box on Tuesdays and it sat there for the rest of the week while I tried to come up with a workable menu and ordered takeout. By the time I googled recipes, wrote my grocery list and got to the store, half the veg would be on its way out. This year I decided to hit the stores first to get things like rice, pasta, beans, meats, cheeses and other typical ingredients before I picked up my share. That way I planned the menu around using what I already had in my pantry along with my surprise veggies. It cut out a few steps and I've been able to get to most of my veggies before they take a turn for the worse. Bonus tip: Watch "Chopped" to be inspired to make a dish out of surprise ingredients.
  10. Make vegetable broth and compost
    The great thing about having more organic produce than you know what to do with is that you don't have to be terribly shy about scraps and trimmings. I throw most peels, cores and stems into a bag in my freezer that gets boiled into a lovely vegetable stock. If I'm impatient, things like dirty outer layers of scallions get peeled back and thrown right into the compost bin for my future garden. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Juli through YOU University

In November of 2013, I embarked on a journey of emotion-based coaching through YOU University with a mentor named Maia Berens.

There are many things that have happened along my path and my life has changed in many ways if you could forgive me for being vague.

I truly do believe that there are ways for us to be able to handle our feelings. I truly believe in the power that the tools in YOU U provide.

The purpose of this blog will be to record my experience as I move through the different buildings and apply the tools in my life.

The biggest thing that has happened through my experience is that I left my husband and I now live with a new boyfriend. I have gotten an incredible amount of support from my coach, the other member of my group, and the other YOU University graduates and coaches. The problem is that I've stalled a bit on Buildings 6. I have recently suffered a back injury. Whether it was a direct response or not, in the past few days I have uncovered some new motivation for myself to continue in my work.

That's all I have for today.