On Friday I talked about what I believe self-care truly means and how ugly real self-care can be. This might mean taking a good, long look at yourself and finding solutions — whether easy or difficult — to fix the issues prohibiting you to be your best you. Figuring out those solutions can be a chore in itself, but making habits to better yourself is hard too. Want some ideas on small steps you might be able to take? Angelo Caerlang over at Thought Catalog came up with an awesome list of thing worth doing for your self-care. Take a look!
I am not eating many grains so I am limiting my consumption of breads, pastas, and rices, as well as staying away from white potatoes. That means I am attempting to be as crafty as possible when it comes to carb-infused and starchy foods. Cue the riced cauliflower, zucchini noodles, and sweet potatoes!
This particular recipe caused some hesitation with me. I love buffalo chicken and I love sweet potatoes, but I am not a fan of mixed foods. (I’m that person who cannot have her food touch. I even have a special separating tray at my aunt’s house to use at holiday gatherings. Ha!) So contemplating eating this slow cooker buffalo chicken inside a sweet potato had me debating my life choices.
Then I tried a bite and my world changed.
This recipe is unbelievably tasty. The spiciness from the hot sauce and the sweetness of the potato make for a dynamite flavor! G and I already looking forward to the next time this little dish is made for dinner.
Today I want to talk about self-care. True self-care. Not the romanticized and trendy version the world is constantly pushing down our throats. Not the bath bombs and face masks and #treatyourself high-dollar purchases and ritual meditations the world seems so eager to focus on for peak lifestyles.
No, I’m talking about real self-care. The self-care that is often a very unbeautiful thing.
A friend of mine posted on Twitter and Facebook a few weeks ago inquiring if any of her friends might be interested in a weight loss challenge this summer. She said it has been a goal of hers for months to lose some weight and get back into shape but that she needed some sort of challenge to push herself. She needed the push for positivity, accountability, and fun during her journey to a more healthy lifestyle.
Her post rang a bell inside me. Truth be told, I’ve gained more weight over the past six months than I care to admit. Where most brides attempt to lose weight for their weddings, the stress of planning my Big Day actually caused me to gain enough weight to bring the scale to the heaviest I’ve been in years. Not only is the scale glaring at me, but my own reflection is too. I can see the weight gain. I can feel it in my clothes. And I can feel how my confidence levels have shifted and the changes in the way I carry myself — I’m slowly resorting back to Old Ashley. Someone I do not wish to meet again.
Unlike the old days though, I know what caused my physical change. Even though I was keeping to weekly meal plans, my weekend habits hung me over a cliff and my scarce workout sessions threw me off completely. While some may fast during stress, I tend to overcompensate by snacking. I also allowed myself to have one (or a few) beers each night to “calm myself.” All in all, my healthy habits have been on a standstill for 2018.
Fortunately, choosing one’s health can never come too late. And today begins a six week journey with 26 other people towards the starting steps of losing weight, gaining fitness, and getting back on track. Today begins our own Biggest Loser’s Challenge.
And I aim to win.
The day before our wedding I went to the local grocery store and purchased a bag full of lemons, limes, and fresh rosemary sprigs. My plan was to make my own mosquito repellent candles in canning jars to sit on the guests’ tables during the reception. Not only would this have added some more color to table decor, but also been useful in fighting the hungry little varmints throughout the evening.
Of course, I forgot all these ingredients as soon as I placed them in the fridge drawer.
So this meant I had quite a few fresh produce items to make recipes with once G and I returned from our honeymoon. Thus came this recipe for lemon rosemary chicken which I pulled out of thin air. I warned G prior to eating this meal that we may be ordered take out. I am personally not a big fan of lemon, so I was hesitant to sample this dish. It was a pleasant surprise though! The rosemary was not overwhelming, and the lemon flavors only intensify the other flavors happening in the mix (and the lemon is especially good with the sweet potatoes.) I will definitely be making this again in the future, especially since we still have a healthy amount of citrus and rosemary.
Throwing myself back into cooking as soon as we finally had all our luggage unpacked, laundry washed, and wedding gift organization completed meant a fun recipe had to be tested. Thankfully, one of our favorite couples is celebrating each of their birthdays this weekend (a “dirty thirty” yesterday and her husband today.) Plus, G is an Independence Baby with his own “dirty thirty” on the 4th. So the four of us went on a double date to a local restaurant and competed in a few board games last night while enjoying this tasty dessert.
I found the original recipe on Domestically Blissful and opted for a few switches to the recipe to attempt in making it a bit “healthier.” For those of you health-conscious, though, still stay clear — it is definitely not the healthiest option out there! But for those who aren’t afraid to splurge every now and again, this recipe was a HUGE hit among everyone and will be taking a permanent place in my own cook book for future use.
I am seriously becoming little Susie Homemaker over here. G and I are loving our time spent cooking and grilling at our little abode this summer, and are so excited to begin married life. As we slowly move him into the apartment, we use our time together making dinner and chatting at the dining table. I think we are going to enjoy this whole spouse thing…
Enough with the mushy talk though and onto this week’s recipe! Chicken is our weekly meat-of-choice and do I have a winner for you today: Russian Chicken. YUM! You always need a couple of staple meals to rely on when you have company over for dinner, or just want a easy, hassle-free dish after a long day at work. This Russian Chicken is that recipe for me. It is the dish my mother always makes as a “ministry meal” due to being a huge crowd-pleaser. It even made the team recipe book back when I played volleyball in high school — all the girls on my team loved this on team bonding nights!
Perhaps you’ve already made this before, or maybe you’ve never heard of it – but let me tell you, it is SO easy and really good. Four ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish, bake for 45 minutes to an hour and serve over instant rice. Easiest. Dinner. Ever. My high school volleyball girls still talk about this chicken when I run into them, and G has become a huge fan. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot. You won’t be sorry!
G and I are gone camping this weekend with our bridal party in a joint Bachelor/Bachelorette Camping Weekend. We’re enjoying a number of awesome meals and snacks prepared by our best friends, Luke and Leia, and are positively in heaven. There is nothing I love more than campfires and good company.
As I head off to do some hiking in the dunes, I wanted to leave my recommendation for the weekend’s snacks: banana boats. This is a snack I remember making every year at summer camp as a kid and brings back great memories of carefree days. Expect a savory and sweet treat where forks and napkins are necessities!
I have gotten into the habit of reading some awesome blogs over the past few weeks. As someone who is trying to grow her blog into something more, learning what sparks interest for both readers and myself seems the best route. During my wind-down time each night, I scroll through WordPress, PuckerMob, and other mass-writing arenas to find new and exciting pieces that catch my eye.
Unfortunately, all credit for this little thinker goes to my mama. (Shout out!) She sent me a link to this article written by Gabby Elizabeth on PuckerMob knowing the topic is near and dear to my heart, especially as I busily plan my wedding. The author is writing a letter to that old best friend who simply disappeared from her life. Actually, she is writing an open letter to any best friend who has left someone’s life. We’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled with feelings of betrayal and guilt and confusion and anger and sorrow after someone we cared for has left us, sometimes with no explanation.
Any relationship is work. And the loss of a friendship will bring about differing views on both sides. As some of the commentary on this article reference, some phrases in Gabby’s open letter make her into a victim. Yes, sometimes that victim-mentally is a result of the end of a friendship. Both sides will have opinions on the “break up.” There’s always two sides to every story. Yet I think there is a lot to say that Gabby is beginning to be at peace with this new lack of a friendship. We each go through grief differently, and if she needs to go through denial before coming to contentment, then all the more power to her. I’ve been there; I’ve done that.
For me, I’m thankful for this open letter and found it calming. Perhaps you also need to know there are a lot of others out there who have triumphed through this same scenario. Here you go, friends — read this and find some solace. Personally, I want to thank Gabby for putting many of our thoughts into words.