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The dreaded question has returned.
You know the one. The anxiety-inducing question that was posed to me myriad times as a fretful high school senior: “What are you doing now, and what are your plans for the future?” As a senior it perplexed me to no end simply because I did not have the foggiest idea what I was doing next! Depending on the person who asked I would concoct an answer. Sometimes I would talk about becoming a theatre teacher, even though I felt a profound lack of fire in my belly when I spoke the words, and other times I would simply reply that I had no earthly idea.
I would listen to other seniors with their well-polished answers with envy.
Once I was firmly ensconced in college I had a great answer to the question. I was majoring in Theatre. I was crazy busy. I was in three productions currently. I wore my exhaustion and fatigue like a medal of honor. I was working towards a very definable goal, and I loved it.
But, like a boomerang, this question has returned now that I graduated three months ago.
What am I up to now? The truth is that these past three months have been fairly quiet. I have caught up on sleep. I have spent many hours hanging out with my new hubby. I have spent more time with my family and friends than I have been able to in the past few tumultuous years of college. I have been figuring out this new homemaking thing, working as a Chiropractor’s Assistant, and actually keeping the apartment clean for a month. I have been thinking, processing, and doing. I have not accomplished huge things, but many small things.
What are my plans for the future? The truth is that I am neither applying to grad schools nor pursuing professional theatre. I don’t want to right now. What I do want to do, and what I am passionate about at this point in my life is learning how to live well. I am researching, implementing, and growing in my homemaking skills. And loving it.
One major pursuit I have invested in since I graduated college has been building a home centered around real food, and natural products. When I sat down to write this blog post I realized that I have accomplished a lot more in the past few months then I had realized! Here is my natural living journey so far, and what I am hoping to accomplish in the future…
13 Changes Towards Real Food
1. Eat 90% Grain Free: I never in a million years would have thought that hubs and I would ever give up rice, corn, wheat, and pasta. But in the beginning of the year we decided to try to do just that, and quite honestly it has not been as hard as I thought it would be. By focusing on meals centered around protein, veggies, and fruits hubs dropped fifteen pounds in a month and our grocery bill shrunk.
2. Make homemade bone broth: I grew up watching my mom make bone broth, but I have never done it on my own. After reading about what a power punch of nutrition is contained in bone broth I began making our own every other week. I use my Mom’s recipe.
3. Make our own kimchi: I love introducing fermented food into our diets, and I credit all the good bacteria we have been introducing into our guts for our healthy winter thus far! We go through a jar of kimchi every two weeks or so and I have tried several different recipes.
4. Learned how to roast green coffee beans and make coffee at home: somehow in the past year I have fallen in love with coffee. I blame this on my brothers. I love, love,love iced coffee from the local coffee shop one block away from us, but I do not love what that pricey cup of joe does to our budget. So I have been roasting green coffee beans, and making my own cup every day. I went through a somewhat painful period when I was not roasting the beans long enough and the coffee was miserable, but now I have the roasting down to a t (listen for the second crack of the bean!!).
5. Use slow cooker four nights a week: I work until six most week days, and in the past month have rediscovered my crockpot. Every day I throw in some cheap cut of meat or poultry in the morning with various spices and/or veggies and come home to an apartment that smells heavenly. This one change has cut down on the days we eat out, and just made life so much better.
6. Established Taco Tuesday and Leftover Thursday: I have been meal planning since we got married, but finally establishing these two days that are always the same has made mapping out meals so much easier. Plus I stumbled across a dynamite chicken taco recipe that works in the crock pot, and we devour those tacos every week! Yum!
7. Started regularly using apple cider vinegar with “the mother”: I always bought generic apple cider vinegar until I wanted to make ginger switchel and then I researched what “the mother” was. I learned that you can get a lot bigger nutritional bang for your buck if you buy naturally fermented, raw, organic vinegar (this is what I buy–I found mine in Wal-Mart!) rather than the store brand.
8. Use real maple syrup: I am still working on cutting down processed sugars in our kitchen, but my first move was to procure some real maple syrup and toss out the fake maple syrup I had in the fridge (it had corn syrup as its second ingredient. ‘Nuff said).
9. Only use butter, coconut oil, and olive oil in kitchen: I would really love to find some grass fed butter around these parts, but until then I buy Kerrigold butter from Wal-Mart for our butter dish, and use the generic stuff for cooking. My mom gave us a huge bucket of coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and then we use olive oil for salads.
10. Cook a whole chicken every other week: I make a big stock pot full of bone broth every other week, and I always use a whole chicken to make it. After I drain out the broth into mason jars I have a full chicken left over (to be honest hubs usually has eaten a quarter of it by this point) which I shred and use in the crockpot for Taco Tuesday.
11. When we drink juice we drink a veggie/fruit mix: we usually have a bottle of V-8’s veggie blend in the fridge. I like to mix mine with sparkling water. Hubs likes this one and I like this one. We have phased this out as we have been drinking more kombucha, but I still like that when we do drink juice it has a lot of veggies in it as well.
12. Put a time limit on our water: Hubs and I have never really been soda drinkers, but we do struggle to drink enough water. At one point I realized the only water I was drinking was in my coffee. We have a water cooler, and we fill up five gallon bottles of purified water at the nearby grocery store. One of the best changes we have made is setting a goal for our water consumption. We decide how many days we want to drink that whole five gallons, and then I put a sticky note on it with our deadline. We drink so much water now to compete against that goal.
13. Kombucha: For over a year I have wanted to get my own SCOBY and brew booch. A sweet aunt came over, and got me started, and I have been having SO MUCH FUN making kombucha every week.
Goals for the Future:
- Find a source for grass fed dairy.
- Split a quarter of a grass fed cow with someone so we don’t have to buy questionable grocery store meat.
- Eat liver or other organ meats once a week.
- Get a juicer so we can make our own veggie/fruit juice.
- Make gummies to get more gelatin in our diets.
- Grow veggies in buckets on our balcony this summer.