I'd Die For You

"I'd die for you, that's easy to say
We have a list of people that we would take
A bullet for them
A bullet for you
A bullet for everybody in this room
But I don't seem to see many bullets coming through
See many bullets coming through
Metaphorically, I'm the man
But literally, I don't know what I'd do
I'd live for you, and that's hard to do
Even harder to say
When you know it's not true.."

(excerpt taken from Twenty-One Pilots song, "Ride.")

Big, ginormous, life-changing, world-altering events - taking bullets for each other - are things we can handle. They may be terrifying, but they require immediate action. They demand that we pull together and help each other through them. They require sacrifices that seem so monumental, it makes them incredibly worthy of applause. We've all seen it happen when war rips into a country or a hurricane hits our shores.

But the little stuff? No one wants to mess with that.

Daily tasks like washing dishes or vacuuming the floor fall under "menial chores." Changing diapers and answering emails and buying groceries and opening the door for strangers or inviting your neighbor to a dinner that consists of leftovers or babysitting someone else's kid for 15 minutes - these are so often overlooked because they are small. Inconsequential. No one is watching you do them, and no one cares if you get them right. They're just the gross underbelly of our existence.

Sometimes, I'd rather take a bullet for someone than clean up poop again, or wash smoothie out of my baby's hair, or cook dinner for the umpteenth time.

Not because any of these things are truly awful. But because the routine-ness of them starts to grate on my nerves. Their ever-present nag starts to feel like absolute drudgery.

So what are we supposed to do with Jesus's much-quoted words: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you." (John 15:12-15)

October Recipe Roundup: Healthy Comfort Food

I've decided to do a monthly Recipe Roundup for y'all, since I tend to try so many new recipes each month, and I get excited about entirely too many of them. Today I'm sharing 6 favorites from this month that you are going to loooooveee.

We all know the frustration of trying new recipes on Pinterest, only to discover that they look terrible, take 18 hours to prepare, or taste like something you could have bought ready-made for $4. All those intense people with their gorgeous photos of their food on white counter-tops tend to forget that the people following their recipes are distracted, pressed for time, and cooking with tiny people underfoot.

You won't find any of that nonsense here. I'm not going to list everything that I've pinned in the past thirty days. I'm only including the recipes that have survived my kitchen and lived to be praised by my family and neighbors. Only the tried-and-true creations that are worth adding to your meal-planning list.

Here I'll put all of my favorites for each month, all in one place, combined with any necessary changes or tips that worked well for me when I made the recipe.

Thanks for joining me! If you are a fellow blogger and you want to be a part of next month's Recipe Roundup, shoot me an email and let me know!
This HOMEMADE PIZZA RECIPE that is easier than any bread recipe I've ever tried! You mix a few ingredients in a glass jar or other container, place it in the fridge for 3-14 days, then pull it out and bake it up. Literally so easy. The best part is, it is good for you because it's a sourdough (meaning the gluten breaks down and is easier for your body to digest), and it is actually on plan for Trim Healthy Mama (you can read a bit more about that here).

  • I've noticed that the dough compacts and slowly loses its rise when it's sitting in the fridge. Don't be alarmed by this. It still comes out perfectly good later.
  • The dough puffs up more than you think it will when it's baking, so press it down fairly thin.
  • The parchment paper isn't necessary if you're not using a pizza stone, but it does make cleanup way easier. 
  • The finished pizza reheats fairly well the second day, then declines in flavor as time goes on; if you want to make a lot, I recommend just freezing the pizza crust itself instead of the entire pizza (she talks more about how to do this in the comments of the recipe)

MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS that had superb flavor. I remember being grossed out by stuff peppers as a kid (I'm not the biggest pepper fan), but I figured I'd give these a try because, hello, I'm an adult now. Well, these were delicious! But it turns out I'm still not a big fan of bell peppers in any form, so I probably won't be making these again.
  • If you don't like bell peppers either, try making up a skillet just with the rice + bean + meat mixture instead! Healthy, filling, and oh-so-tasty.
  • I did find that the peppers didn't get very soft, even with prolonged bake time, so I'd recommend choosing a small baking dish and making sure the sauce/water comes up higher around the peppers. My sauce mixture was a bit less than half the height of the peppers.

I have probably shared these with you before, but they are too good not to bring them up again: BABY TURKEY MEATBALLS. These fantastic meatballs are perfect for babies, but they taste good enough for the whole family to feast on them.
  • I add a teaspoon of garlic and a teaspoon of Italian seasoning on top of the other ingredients. Amazeballs.
  • As the recipe states, you can do any combination of veggies/cheeses. There really are no limits.
  • To keep these healthier and gluten-free, I sub oat or almond flour in place of the breadcrumbs.
Bomb CARROT CAKE MUFFINS that don't even taste "healthy." I recommend filling the muffin batter close to the top if you want to get that puffy, muffin look; otherwise they tend to hunker down with flat tops. Either way, they taste great. The worst part of this recipe is that it makes 9 muffins. What the crap kind of number is that? I doubled the recipe because I couldn't handle it, ha.

  • If you're not up for peeling and coring an apple, you can substitute 1/4 - 1/2 cup applesauce.
  • I left out the ginger because I'm not a huge fan.
  • I don't have a blender big enough to fit all of the ingredients; all I have is a magic bullet. So I grind the oats first and dump them into a bowl, then blend the wet ingredients together. But you can also do this recipe without any type of mixer/blender.
  • Feel free to sub in things like grated zucchini, too!

And I saved the best for last: MILLIONAIRES SHORTBREAD BARS. These babies are like homemade Twix bars that can sit around in your fridge all week, but not do too much to upset your healthy eating. You still shouldn't binge-eat these things (they're loaded with healthy fats, so they tend to give you a tummy-ache if you eat too much at all, haha).
  • I chose to bake the shortbread layer for 10 min. at 350 degrees. I don't think it made too much of a difference.
  • I'd advise lining your baking dish with parchment or wax paper. It will make getting them out of the pan much simpler.
  • These can end up being really pricey since you use so much real maple syrup. If this doesn't work for you, I'm sure you could sub in some honey, and someone in the comments said that using stevia also worked. Try new combinations!

Thanks for joining me! What recipes have you tried this month that turned out to be incredible? I've found that new recipes are great opportunities for starting up little traditions. Special muffins or cookies that you share with your neighbor. A new dinner dish that you invite friends over to share. Or the homemade pizza that, for us, turned Sunday dinner into and indoor picnic. Bon appetit!

Fears in the Great Outdoors

I’m terrified of bugs. I don’t like admitting it because it makes me sound like a wuss, but there it is. I’ve climbed mountains and kayaked and snowboarded and hiked and swam in dirty-icky ponds and camped in tents and rappelled off of 70-foot cliffs and taken my baby on multiple adventures.

I’ve been out there.

Do I like the bugs any less? Hell no.

The thing I’ve discovered about this insectophobia, is that I am actually more scared of the bugs when I’m indoors. Call me crazy, but a spider or a bee in my house is a major threat to my territory and my happiness. Throw all the shoes, spray all the window cleaner (only thing in easy reach), holler at them - do whatever necessary to eradicate their existence in my home.

But out in the yard or on the trail, the earth is vast and the bug is small and there are a lot of spaces where it could go and I could avoid it. So I find it easier to feel, if not exactly safer, than at least better about coexisting with the creepy crawlies. I can ignore them. Most of the time. (I still wig out to the extreme if I feel myself run into a spider's web. Obviously I've watched the Lord of the Rings too many times.)

Bugs are just the tip of the iceberg for so many people, though. When it comes to getting outside, it just seems to be a lot more trouble than it's worth. It's risky and scary and hard and just plain unnecessary.

I'm going to have to politely (but firmly) disagree.

I'd like you to strap on your daring footwear of choice and get ready to address those powerful fears that are keeping your trapped inside your own home or office or car.

Fear of heights, getting lost, or feeling incapable of dealing with unknown situations. Fear of being out of control of the circumstances. Fear of being cold, getting attacked, or not being able to eat or sleep properly. Maybe you think you'll be bored or too tired or think that the outdoors "just aren't for you."

Whatever it is, take a little time to try to conquer these feelings. Because like it or not, the outdoors is our world, and the benefits of spending time in it will trump any concern you may have.


BREATHE EASY

At the top of my first 14er
Maybe I talk about this one too much since I've started yoga, but man, learning to control your breathing has so many benefits! The more oxygen you are able to get into your system, the more relaxed, refreshed, and re-energized you will feel. This is why our parents never said, "Take a chill pill"; they were always just like, "Go get some fresh air!"

When you're nervous or scared, you tense up, automatically slowing or even stopping your breathing altogether. This is very bad. It makes your insides all taught, and you can't think properly, and then you start actually freaking out.

So when something outside is triggering your fear response, take a minute to breathe easy. Deep, slow, controlled breaths. Count if you want. Then move forward again. If you still feel tense, stop and focus on breathing again. This is a trick I'm learning to use right now in rock climbing.


BE SMART

You know those scary movies where the heroine is all alone and she does something really dumb, like going into the creepy basement alone after dark or chasing something into a cornfield? Yeah, don't be her. Don't pick adventures that obviously place you in the path of danger. Good risks - pushing yourself a little harder on a run, trying a new yoga pose, inviting an acquaintance to come along - are invaluable to your adventurous lifestyle. They help you grow. But there is such a thing as a bad risk - getting too close to the edge of a cliff, doing a handstand without getting your body ready (it can strain your muscles and really hurt your back), going alone at night to unfamiliar places.

Be bold and adventurous, but know your limits. There is no point in doing things that will almost certainly put you in vulnerable positions with no way out.



PRACTICE

Hiking only a mile or so from my house.
I cannot promise that your fears are ever going to completely go away. But you can learn how to deal with them if you practice. That can only happen by putting yourself in those scary situations. If your fear is stopping you from doing something that you want to do, you need to do that thing a lot.

Maybe you want to run in the evenings, while the sun sets. So do that, but run with someone else, pick a safe neighborhood, or choose a trail that others frequent. Maybe you want to explore that forest behind your house. Perhaps you wish you could hike, snowboard, do yoga, kayak, whatever. Or maybe you just want to see more cool things in nature.

Whatever it is, make a plan, and go for it. Be patient, knowing that you'll have to practice doing any of these things before they will come easy to you. Don't become discouraged if your first attempt gets rained out, or you head home all jittery from seeing a few too many creepy crawlies. This is only the beginning.


PREPARE...THEN RIDE IT OUT

Definitely prepare yourself for whatever adventure you're embarking on. Taking adequate amounts of water is a good place to start. Wearing proper clothing for the weather is a good follow-up. Know where you're going and how much time you plan to spend there. (More time equals more provisions, aka food and water. If you're taking little ones on the trip, double these portions, haha!)

Then just go. Don't worry about what you forgot. Enjoy your time in the wide open spaces of earth. Inhale new smells, take in new sights. If something goes wrong (it starts to rain, you get tired, you run out of water), just take the next step. We humans are actually very good at a), going without, b) adjusting to new things, and c) dealing with circumstances that may seem impossible. Rest assured you will figure it out or be able to phone a friend.



VISUALIZE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES


My first surfing experience.
Before you go off on your adventure (maybe the night before if you're that concerned), take a few minutes and visualize what you want to happen. It sounds cheesy, I know, but it's important. Imagine yourself being happy, relaxed, and excited for these new experiences.

Now, let your thoughts take a darker turn. What's the worst thing that could happen? A flat tire, a broken ankle, a spider inside your shirt, being cold and wet, getting no sleep (if you decide to go camping)? Let your mind play it out. Why would any of these things happen? Could you do anything to stop them?

By doing this, you will realize two things: one, the Big Bad that you are so afraid of is probably not that big, and even if it is, the likelihood of it happening to you is almost nonexistent; and two, you can handle it. Whatever it is, you have already thought about it, and you are mentally prepared. You got this.



HAVE KIDS


Wading in a dirty river with a mostly naked baby.
Just kidding. Sort of. Having a kid with you automatically makes you consider their needs first - above your own needs or fears. And kids, while cautious in new environments, are generally fearless. They'll go right up to the edge of a cliff, pick up rocks and sticks and toads, examine bugs with their faces pressed mere millimeters away from them. Take your own kids out for a mini foray into the wild (be sure to bring lots of snacks, water, and an extra outfit for each of you). Or, if you don't have your own, offer to borrow your friend's kid for an hour of outdoor time - she'll totally appreciate it! Go to a park or something and do your best to see the world from a child's point of view. Do things seem bigger or smaller? Scarier or more doable? More interesting, or less important? What can you learn from them? What are they already learning from you?

> > >

I get it. There’s a lot more outdoors that seems to be out of your control than things that happen at home or in the mall. Honestly, there are plenty of times when I don't want to deal with it either. Doing these new things will take up some of your time and energy, and I can't promise that this will be an easy path.

"Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never truly change at all, because you'll be forever in the control of the things you can't give up."
(Andy Law, emphasis added) 

And guess what? That shaky, I’m-not-sure-I-can-do-this feeling? That’s good for you. It breaks you out of your mold and challenges you. It also frees up your mind from its routine thought-patterns that cause you stress indoors.

If you’re still worried, grab a buddy. Learn to face the unknowns together, one step at a time. You'll have different fears and concerns to help each other out with. Don't wait for someday, better weather, or next year. Enjoy this beautiful fall weather while you can!