Giving away a painting is like giving away a puppy

I get separation anxiety from my artwork. 

Most often, artwork I create is for friends or loved ones. Honestly, I think I’ve only painted one piece with the intention of keeping it. I’m not really quite sure why that is, but I can say for certain that releasing your artwork to someone is quite the emotional process. Let me ‘splain.

Painting for someone else is like giving a friend one of the offspring of your dog’s litter. Let’s face it, most people love their dogs like their own children. So, imagine your dog has puppies. Now, are you going to give that puppy to some sketchy ass stranger with a giant beer gut, holding a 2 liter Coke in his left hand, while adorning a t-shirt that says, “Jesus eats liberals for breakfast”? Heeeeeeeeeeell no! You’re only going to entrust that sweet fluffy ball of squishy adorable-ness to someone that is going to love that puppy more than you do. You love that puppy’s mother. In fact, you love the shit out of her. You know she stinks, she likes to dig holes in the backyard, and lay on your bed when you’re not home…but you LOVE her anyway. So, when she gets pregnant, naturally you love the shit out of those puppies too. You make sure she’s always comfortable, she gets exactly what she needs, and when those puppies come – you couldn’t be more proud of her. In turn, you want to make her proud of you, and find the best possible life for each of those puppies in her litter.

That feeling right there? That’s what it’s like to give away a painting.

I love my artwork. But I love my friends and family more. Maybe that’s why I give them away. Perhaps I’m eager to entrust someone with something that becomes so precious to me, and I hope that they love it just as much as I do.

"Fred" by Kristi Moosekian

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Coloring outside the lines

A friend of mine who is also doing the Whole 30 this month shared this mouth-watering recipe – Pizza. Spaghetti. Pie. When she rattled off this recipe to me, I thought “you had me at pizza”. My love for pizza is up there with the love of my future unborn child. Hell, I love pizza so much that I felt inspired to write a haiku:

Pizza on my face

Saucy goodness I embrace

Screw all other food

Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little. When I started reading the recipe, it specifically called out having the freedom to add whatever toppings you want. Following a recipe explicitly is my go to. Usually, I am not one of those babes that can just, ya know, “whip something up” and it tastes awesome. There have been one-to-many instances where I’ve painstakingly re-read a recipe, making sure I didn’t miss a beat…and still I somehow managed to turn something with only 5 ingredients (eh hem olive oil mayo) into slop.

Today I decided to apply some of the learnings I’ve had creating other meals and get a little more adventurous. Thinking of the boys in my house, I figured pepperoni (uncured, without sugar) would be a good way to coax them to try this new found pizza concoction. I then opted to also make some cashew cheese to really round out the pizza flavor. Who am I?!?!? I’m happy to report, it turned out killer awesome. The boys went back for seconds, and I think I’ll need to make another batch tomorrow to last through the week.

Pizza spaghetti pie is Jonathan’s new favorite (it knocked lasagna out of first place). Even my dairy, bread loving step-son Elijah digs it. One of the greatest joys of the Whole 30 is finding creative new ways to make foods your loved ones will also enjoy…perhaps by doing a little coloring outside the lines.

MeandE

 

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Prep yo’ food

I’ve got a confession to make. For the last 20 minutes I’ve been contemplating a) what to write, which leads me to b) should I post every day for the 30 day challenge? Obviously I’ve answered ‘b’, but am still working out ‘a’. Perhaps I could talk about my work-day, what I did right after I left, what I ate for lunch (eh hem tuna salad), or what I did when I got home, but I’m just not.

All I can say, is that the power of prepping your food over the weekend is perfect for days like today. It’s mid-week, work is busy, I went to bed late last night (my own fault), and am just plain not going to go into the kitchen and whip something up. These are the times that weakness start to creep in and you think, “it wouldn’t be that bad if I ordered pizza”. Thankfully my refrigerated lasagna came to the rescue. All success points back to the Saturday cook-up extravaganza that occurred.

I use Google calendar to set meal prep days and include the link to the recipe within the appointment. I don’t like to plan each meal for a specific day since I never know what I’m craving until I get to that juncture. For recipes that require over-night prep, I set SMS text messages on the invites to remind me to do (x) a day in advance. Let’s be honest, none of this would get done if I didn’t write it down. However nerdy and cliche this might sound, the mantra to live by here is “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Prep yo’ food.

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Mayo for non-magicians

I discovered perhaps the most life-changing piece of equipment for my kitchen (aside from the crockpot, sharp knifes, and glass tupperware)…an immersion blender. If you’ve ever attempted to make your own homemade mayo, you understand my joy at the notion of a labor-less and quick mayo-making process. If you make it the old school way, this is how you have to do it:

  • Your ingredients must all be at room temperature; the egg, oil, and lemon juice want to mingle in a cozy embrace. In other words, if you don’t allow these ingredients to “mingle” they just stay separate, runny, and will most definitely not turn into mayo.
  • Now that you’ve already waited for hours, you need to wait some more after you place the egg and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Oh, and they have to come to room temperature together, about 30-60 minutes. Add the dry mustard, salt, and  1/4 cup of the oil. Whirl until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.
  • The remaining, and painstaking last bit of the process is to incorporate the remaining 1 cup of oil into the mixture. To do this, you must pour very slowly… the skinniest drizzle you can manage and still have movement in the oil. This takes about three minutes or so – or in other words, an eternity when you’re trying desperately not to pour too much at one time and also control your finger from slipping off the “pulse” button. I think I got a hand cramp when I did this the first time.
  • Then you’re supposed to hear this magic pitch change as the liquid starts to form the emulsion. It must be magic, because clearly I am no magician. Poof – mayonnaise.

I ended up with olive oil that had a slightly different color. Well shit.

After spending an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest, I came across this. I saw the heavens open up, a beam of light cascade down upon my iPad and the angels cry, “YES! YOU WILL HAVE DELICIOUS MAYO THAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO CREATE!” Ok, maybe it wasn’t that magnificent of a revelation, but needless to say – it worked. I used my mayo to make some yummy tuna salad for tomorrow. Expect more recipes with varying mayo ingredients now that I’ve discovered the secret ingredient, the immersion blender. BOOM…or should I say POOF?

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All Hail Queen Beyonce

Today was a blur. It was one of those back to back meeting days where all you do is collect an ever growing mountain of deliverables. Oh, and by the way, good luck finding the time to get anything done. Se la vie.

Thankfully, because I cooked ALL OF THE FOOD this weekend, I didn’t have to worry about preparing dinner other than cutting out a section of my Paleo Lasagna and slopping it on the plate to nuke. Ok, that didn’t really make it sound very good, but let me tell you it’s legit. Not to mention, as the lasagna sits in the fridge – it actually gets better. I’ve already put my plug in for this recipe, but I’m telling you it’s my absolute favorite. Jonathan loves this recipe. The man that craves nothing more than spaghetti with meatballs and a banana cream pie milkshake..he loves it. It’s really that good. 

Another big plus about cooking on the weekend is that you can come home each night from work and not have to stress about cooking dinner while hungry and/or exhausted. Time is spent watching a movie, being lazy, reading, or in my case – dancing. <places hand over heart>

I solemnly swear that I believe Beyonce can do no wrong. 

Even though all of the songs played on the Beyonce Pandora station are not by her, I’m convinced she is somehow behind the scenes hand-selecting each song that gets played on her station, because she. is. the Queen. For instance – here’s a small snippet of the awesomeness that just played:

  • Who Runs the World Girls – Beyonce
  • Super Bass – Nicki Minaj 
  • We Fell In Love in a Hopeless Place – Rihanna
  • The Wobble – V.I.C
  • Royals – Lorde
  • Hey Ya – Outkast

I mean really?!?! How can I possibly sit, or get anything done for that matter, with a playlist like that!

They say you experience heightened energy levels during your Whole 30. I think I’ve already hit that. Enjoy drooling over this lasagna and then make it. I have to get back to dancing. JT wants me to bring sexy back. 

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Slow it down

Today was the ideal Sunday. It was the perfect mixture of productive/lazy – which in my opinion, are some of the best kinds. I woke up and immediately started making my chocolate chili. Oh yeah…chocolate chili…swooooooooon. It’s relatively easy and makes quite a bit, which is great to have handy when you don’t have lots of time to cook throughout the week. Oddly, today I found myself really enjoying being in the kitchen. The soothing Iron & Wine Pandora mix playing in the background while I chopped onions and garlic made me feel like my meal-making had more purpose. Maybe it was just the chocolate chili aroma filling the room that made it all the more worthwhile, or maybe it was the pleasure in knowing that all of this weekend preparation would relieve me of hard cooking duty throughout the week, or…maybe I was learning something.

Slow. Down.

This is one of the virtues that I think I’m starting to understand this time around on the Whole 30 – especially since I don’t have my own personal chef making my meals. I’m forced to slow down, plan, spend time in the kitchen preparing my food, and savoring each bite at our family dining room table. Not in front of a T.V., not driving in a car, but seated across from my husband as I watch him enjoy each bite. Over and over I’ve read that a large part of America’s eating disorder is centered around not having a true food culture…other than perhaps the McDonald’s burger. Lovely.

Although there are times that I’m in the kitchen thinking, “Am I freaking done making this yet? UGH SOMEONE JUST ORDER A PIZZA ALREADY”, I’m really challenging myself to honor the communal aspect of making and sharing a meal with loved ones. Perhaps it’s not just changing my perception of how I view food, but also pressing me to enhance my relationships by taking a moment to stop. Slow down. And smell the chocolate chili…better yet with a friend.

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Things that make you panic

I was at the grocery story way longer than I wanted to be. Here I am, standing in the international food isle, reading the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Second ingredient – sugar. DAMN IT.

I had my heart set on making this delicious chipotle chili, but without the chipotle peppers and adobe sauce…well…it’d be just plain lame. Frantically I tried to come up with an alternative plan. “What in the world are chipotle peppers?” Turns out, they’re just roasted and dried jalapeño peppers. “I can do that, right?” I walked back over to the produce and grabbed about 10 jalapeños and then started to read further down in the recipe. There were about a half dozen items I had either never heard of, or was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find unless I was in a Whole Foods or Mexico, so I decided to bail.

I JUST WANTED CHIPOTLE CHILI.

This was making me panic. I started to imagine the chipotle chili, and how comforting and happy I would feel eating it. Then I started thinking…well…it’s just ONE can with just a LITTLE bit of sugar. Just a smidge. Nobody would know, right? Although it would have been the easy thing to just pick up the can and say, “the hell with it”, I opted to find another chili recipe that was compliant with the 30 day challenge. Of course this significantly derailed my plans of being at the store for 20 minutes max, and I am pretty sure I looked like a weirdo walking back and forth to the produce about a half dozen times while I was sorting out (muttering out loud maybe?) whether or not I was willing to belabor myself with making adobo sauce, but I sucked it up and made it out of there with a cart load of wonderful goodness and a not-guilty conscious.

After cooking my paleo lasagna (BEST. RECIPE. EVER), and doing some yoga with Charity, Jonathan and I met up with some friends at the Williamson County Fair. FRIED EVERYTHING. Fried oreos, bananas, hot dogs, snicker bars, chicken, hell probably even straight up butter. By the way, that actually exists. My jaw went lax and started to drool as I channeled my inner Homer Simpson at the thought of fried oreos. MMmmmmmm…oreos…..guuuurrrrggglllleeeee…

Thankfully, I was full from my lasagna and brought an emergency apple in case things got rough. No need to panic. Phew. All I can say, is that preparation is key. And a smart phone. Not sure how I would have maneuvered my chipotle chili disaster had I not been able to research another recipe on the fly.

I hope I don’t lose my phone. Now that would make me panic.

BTW – a pic of my Southwestern Frittata which turned out BOMB.

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