Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherries!

By Katie, 5:16 am

The theme of my long weekend was CHERRIES.

Picking them…

…and cooking with them.

We picked both sweet and sour cherries, but saved the sweet ones for enjoying on their own. The sour ones got baked into one of my family’s favorite recipes: Sour Cherry Pudding. It’s a cinch to make, but the pitting process is a bit messy. I tried using a toothpick, as I’ve seen some people suggest, but in the end it was easier just to use my hands.

Don’t be confused by the “pudding” part of Sour Cherry Pudding; the texture is actually like a cake or biscuit. And no, I didn’t alter my family’s original recipe to make it “healthier” or “lighter.” Some things are sacred and should not be messed with, and Sour Cherry Pudding is one of those things!

Best served warm, in a bowl, with a splash of milk.

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Sour Cherry Pudding
Makes two 9″ round pans

Ingredients
2 c. flour
1.5 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milk
1 quart sour cherries, pitted

1. Pre-heat oven to 350º.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients except the cherries.

3. Carefully fold the cherries into the batter.

4. Spread the mixture into two greased 9″ round pans.

5. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm with a splash of milk.

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Meanwhile, Dave was whipping up his own sour cherry concoction: Sour Cherry Lemonade.

It was delicious! He just mashed together sour cherries, lemons/lemon juice, sugar, and water, then strained it. Very refreshing!

I think I’ll be enjoying cherries all week long!

What’s your favorite way to eat cherries? Do you prefer sweet or sour cherries?

Moment of Zen: Pinterest Edition

By Katie, 5:23 am

Yep, I’m officially on the Pinterest bandwagon, and have been for a few weeks. I kind of love the idea of a virtual pinboard, especially for home decor and fashion inspiration. Here are some of my recent “pins.”

The perfect reading nook:

A cute, comfy outfit:

Beautiful bathroom color scheme:

And some general inspiration:

So far my experience with Pinterest has been pretty innocent, but I do recognize some of its potential downsides. Still, I’m finding the process of pinning pretty fun and relaxing!  

Do you use Pinterest? If so, I’d like to follow you!

“Hey, What Are You Reading?” Some Thoughts on Talking to Children

By Katie, 5:48 am

“What a pretty girl you are!”

“That’s a beautiful dress you have on!”

“What gorgeous eyes you have!”

 (Source)

By now you may have read Lisa Bloom’s Huffington Post article about how to talk to little girls. In it, she discusses the importance of engaging little girls in conversations that go beyond their physical appearance. Her theory is that constantly praising children solely on the basis of looks sets them up for a negative body image down the road. In Bloom’s words:

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

Bloom goes on to share a wonderful little story of how she deeply connected with a friend’s five-year-old daughter after asking her the question, “Hey, what are you reading?”

Here are my initial reactions:

1. Bloom’s take on this is refreshing. Usually the message is to make sure we’re telling little girls they’re beautiful no matter what. We try to build them up in the hopes that in the future they’ll be saved from the oh-so-common struggle of feeling bad about the way we look.

Here, however, the idea isn’t to emphasize that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but rather to focus on the fact that our looks are only a small part of our identities. If we teach little girls from the beginning that their value lies far beyond their hair or their weight or their clothing, those things might be a lot less stressful down the road. When the little girls become women, they might not miss out on all the joys life has to offer because they’re stuck in a sea of body self-consciousness.

2. My second thought is that I wish Bloom had gone further in her article. I think she makes some great points, but limits their potential. For example, what about little boys? While we know that society’s pressures on girls and boys are different, that doesn’t mean that boys are immune. It also doesn’t mean that the realm of appearances is the only one through which we treat people as one-dimensional.

The message, really, is that when we talk to children – no matter what their gender – we should make a conscious effort not to focus solely on a single trait. That sends the message that one part of their identity means more than the others; it teaches the child to chop up the pieces of themselves rather than appreciate the whole. And isn’t that what so many of us struggle with now? Recognizing and appreciating our entire selves, instead of scrutizing and obsessing over one tiny facet?

Besides, children are fascinating creatures. A conversation about their favorite book or what games they enjoy sounds way more interesting than one about how adorable their outfit is.

Do you think the ways we tend to speak to little children are problematic? Or do you think both Bloom and I are overreacting?

Chicken Cassoulet

By Katie, 8:01 am

Hey, folks! Thank you so much for your kind words about my biopsy. The frustrating news is that because of a little insurance blip (today is the end of the fiscal year for many employers, and we’re changing to a new plan starting tomorrow), my derm appointment had to be moved to next Thursday. So more waiting! Sigh.

On another note, today I’m blogging over at Cara’s Cravings about this delicious chicken cassoulet with white beans and turkey kielbasa. YUM!

If you have yet to subscribe to Cara’s blog, I highly recommend doing so today. That gal is clever in the kitchen!

It’s My Turn: I’m Having a Biopsy

By Katie, 5:54 am

My mom has had countless skin cancer spots removed. My brother has had major surgery done on his neck because of possible melanoma, and he has to have a full body scan every three months. Now it’s my turn. Tomorrow I am getting a biopsy on a spot on my leg.

My derm said that it’s either serious melanoma or a relatively harmless spot of clogged up blood. Pleasant and reassuring, huh?

 

So you can consider this post yet another addition to the countless PSAs and public awareness campaigns about skin cancer. The generation before mine didn’t know about the dangers of the sun. My generation knew but often didn’t care. Here’s hoping the next generation will both know and care, and hence will be in a stronger, safer position than I am.

Don’t forget to lather up with sunscreen this summer, folks!

Any readers out there ever have skin cancer? Or even a skin cancer scare? Any reassuring thoughts for me?

Taking Action Tuesday: Worst Case Scenario

By Katie, 5:14 am

A few years ago, I was feeling incredibly anxious about an upcoming dentist appointment. I had brought the turmoil on myself; it had been five years since I’d been to the dentist. I do not recommend this.

In the week leading up to the appointment, I felt a sense of panic every time I thought about it. That panicky feeling then led to a desire to overeat, as if overloading on cookies and cake could somehow save my molars from impending doom.

What’s the very worst that can happen? I asked myself. What am I really afraid of? Lots of cavities to get filled, maybe even a root canal. A feeling of embarrassment and shame in front of the dentist. An inconvenient and very uncomfortable follow-up appointment. And an exorbitant bill that my graduate student salary definitely wouldn’t be able to cover.

So I went there. In my mind, I imagined that all of those fears came true to the greatest extent possible. My mouth was overflowing with cavities, and at least one tooth needed a root canal. The dentist told me I was the most irresponsible patient he’d ever seen, and because of that he was refusing to give me Novocaine (oh, the horror!). Oh, and I was holding a bill in my hand for thousands of dollars I didn’t have.

In the few moments I allowed myself to picture this scenario, I felt awful. Downright awful. I saw my life crumbling before me, all because of a little lapse in my dental hygiene. But then I got down to business. How would I handle this if it really happened?

Well, I’d just have to make time in my schedule for the fillings and root canal, and brace myself for the necessary pain and discomfort. I’d have to re-crunch the numbers on my budget and spend hours on the phone with the insurance company in order to create a manageable payment plan. Oh, and I’d need to find a new dentist. It certainly wouldn’t be easy, but it was doable. 

While uncomfortable in the moment, imagining the worst case scenario helped the urge to overeat subside because I realized that, no matter what, I would be ok. I didn’t need food to help me because I would be fine. I would figure it out. And, honestly, what were the chances the worst case scenario would come true?

It didn’t come true. I made it to my appointment without bingeing beforehand, and left with a follow-up appointment to fill my two cavities…Novocaine included.

Taking Action Tuesday is a series featuring excerpts from my e-book Taking Action: 30 Specific Strategies for Overcoming Emotional Eating.

Are you currently worrying about something? What’s the worst case scenario that could happen? Do you think this is a useful tool for managing those anxieties?

My Bra and I: The Connection Between Self-Acceptance and Underwear

By Katie, 5:09 am

No, that title is not meant to be clever; this post really is about underwear. So if you end up thinking it’s TMI, you can’t say I didn’t warn you!

There are a couple of signals in my life that help me see whether or not I’m on track in terms of my relationship with my body. They’re my self-acceptance measuring sticks, if you will. I’m talking about things like my eating habits (hello, Brownie Alert!), my desire for moderate exercise, and – yep, you guessed it! – my underwear.

(Source)

When I first got married, my husband Dave was more than a little appalled at my collection of bras and underwear (sorry, I’m not using the word panties because it gives me the heebie jeebies). His reaction probably stemmed from the fact that the darn things were all old and tattered. I’m talking faded colors, hanging threads, and even holes.

Yes, I wore holy underwear…and I’m not even Mormon. Ha!

Before Dave pointed out this unfortunate state of affairs, I had never thought twice about it. But now I see that the issue wasn’t that I was too cheap to buy decent bras. It wasn’t that I enjoyed wearing frayed underwear. Rather, the problem was that I was lacking quite a bit in the self-respect department. There has always been a direct correlation between the state of my mind and the state of my underthings.

You see, there were years of my life where I simply couldn’t imagine spending money on decent bras and underwear. Those resources needed to go toward shirts and pants and jewelry and makeup – you know, the things that people could see. And by “people,” I mean “other people.” The other people whose judgments and assessments of me meant everything.

Spending money on something that no one but me would see seemed like a total waste.

These days, however, my own opinion means just as much as everyone else’s…maybe even more. How I feel actually matters, even if no one else is looking. So it only seems right to make sure that the garments that are closest to my skin are high quality, regardless of who, if anyone, will see them. It’s my little way of being nice to myself.

I’ve reached a point where I don’t define myself solely by the opinions of others. My self-esteem comes just as much from myself as it does from other people, and I believe that I deserve to take care of myself, to be kind to myself. The proof? It’s in my underwear drawer.

Can anyone relate? Do you see undergarments as a symbol of self-care?

Moment of Zen: Friends Edition

By Katie, 5:03 am

I somehow manage to come across the strangest stuff on the Internet. Take, for example, this totally random post wondering what it’d be like if the cast of Friends were all cats. I busted out laughing when I saw it!

You can see the whole cast here!

Seriously, how do I find this stuff???

Were you a fan of the show Friends? Who was your favorite Friend? I always had a soft spot for Chandler!

My New Kitchen!

By Katie, 5:57 am

I cannot find the words to describe how excited I was to move away from my old kitchen and into my new one.

Goodbye cramped space, hello openness! Goodbye total lack of storage, hello cabinets and drawers and pantry!

Dave and I can actually be in the kitchen at the same time without knocking elbows! I don’t have to store my kitchen appliances in the coat closet! Woo hoo!

Of course, my red Kitchenaid Stand Mixer gets a special place on the counter. As it should.

I love, love, love that my new kitchen is open to this little sunroom area.

The furniture in this space is from Cost Plus World Market, which is my new favorite home furnishings store. Great inventory, great prices, and you can usually find a free shipping code. The only problem with the room is that I think I went a little too heavy on all the brown. Perhaps a small but colorful rug under the coffee table would help brighten things up?

Breakfast bar!!!

Now that I’m settled into my new kitchen, you’re officially all invited over for dinner!

What’s your favorite part of your kitchen?

and/or

Do you have a favorite place for buying home furnishings? Like I said, right now I’m totally loving World Market. Other favorites include Home Goods, Ikea, and Ross.

Eating versus Eating Well

By Katie, 5:37 am

Today’s post on the key differences between “eating” and “eating well” is brought to you by author Jocelyn Anne. Would you like to be featured on Health for the Whole Self too? Check out my guidelines for guest posting!

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Eating. You’d think it would be, should be, such a simple thing. But oh, how difficult it can be. The analyzing, over-analyzing, the under-analyzing followed up by guilt. One simple meal can turn into a stressful affair in no time. I’ve had my share of moments (or rather days and weeks on end) when eating was too complicated and too stressful. Until finally, I’d had enough. I wanted to eat “normally,” I wanted food to be a simple and enjoyable part of life that I could take part in without any more anxiety.

 (Source)

And that is the beginning of my transition from just “eating” to “eating well.” When I say eating well I mean eating to sustain and promote health in both body and mind. I want to emphasize that I’m not saying that food is not to be enjoyed. Obviously, food can certainly be enjoyable and should be enjoyable, but the conclusion that I’ve come to is that the problems begin to arise when the enjoyable aspect of eating becomes the central point. My new goal and motivation in eating is to eat well, meaning to eat with the purpose to fuel my body with the energy it needs to survive. And, when I combine that purpose with the goal of improving my mindset and attitude towards food as a whole, the outcome is life-changing.

Food has the capacity to make us feel amazing. It also has the capacity to mess with us physically and emotionally. Whether we feel tired, sluggish and lethargic, or depressed, guilty and frustrated, there’s almost no impact food can’t have. On the other hand, eating well can lift your mood, brighten your spirit, give you energy in abundance to power you through tasks and motivate you try new things and be more adventurous than you typically are. Reasons enough to eat well? I thought so! If you’re tired of being consumed by food, here are a few words of “wisdom” that I keep in mind in my attempts to eat well every day.

Food’s Purpose is First to Fuel (Food First Fuel: FFF)

If you look at food with your number one goal simply being to fuel your body with the nutrition it needs, then everything else becomes much simpler. Rather than trying to determine what has the lowest calorie count or the lowest fat and carb count and instead vowing to choose which food will provide you with lasting energy, the best choices for your body suddenly become much more obvious. Why do you always hear that eating whole grains is important? Because they burn slowly over time and provide you with extended energy in lieu of the short burst of energy and subsequent crash of something like a donut. You’ll have to experiment with what foods do give you the energy you’re seeking. For me it may be whole grains, for you it may be vegetables and protein. We’re all different. Your job is only to take care of your body.

Relish Feeling Good

When you start really taking care of your body and seeking to nourish it and provide it with all the vitamins, minerals, calories, fats, nutrients, etc. that it needs on a daily basis, you will start to feel wonderful. Relish that feeling. Cherish it. Don’t let it pass you by. Finish a meal and take a moment to recognize the satisfaction and joy that comes with eating well. The more you tell your mind this, the more you’ll reinforce good habits and good patterns that will stick with you for a lifetime. A dish of chocolate ice cream may delight for a moment, but a well planned out and thoughtful meal will delight for the entire day.

Encourage Yourself

Eating well is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it can and it will happen if you persevere. You have to listen to your body. Know when it feels good and when it doesn’t. Take notes, journal, do whatever you need to in order to enable yourself to compile patterns that will allow you to re-plan and adjust accordingly. And, most of all, encourage yourself. Push on and seek the day when you will sit down to a delicious, colorful, balanced dinner that will be anxiety free, enjoyable, and ultimately, good for you. Because, after all, that’s what eating well is all about.

How do you differentiate between eating and eating well?

Author Jocelyn Anne is a freelance writer who is dedicated to healthy eating and living. She is currently writing alongside Air-n-Water researching environmentally conscious ways to use a portable air conditioner in the summer months.

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