Self Love & 2nd Date Soup

Do you remember how when you were little skinned knees and elbows were badges of honor? There was never any doubt about your points and angles—every part of you was perfect because it meant you could climb trees, ride bikes and all the other little girl shenanigans that creates magic.

And then one day you wake up and your body is something to scorn. As a little girl you go from wearing leggings and Minnie Mouse shirts (the early 90s, am I right?!) to worrying whether or not your first day of school outfit would match everyone else. Your strong legs that got you to your best friends house? Now they’re those damn thunder thighs that one kid called “thick” in 9th grade.

My beautiful curves and valleys became something I started to criticize regularly. I promise this isn’t a pity party post, it’s just a reflection on what it’s like to be a woman. Every single girl looks at her body and finds the flaws. We skip over the strong shoulders and beautiful eyes, and focus on the wide hips and less-than-flat stomach.

If you were to head over to my dating blog, it is clear to the internet world that I am a single girl who dates. And (earmuffs parents), as a 27-year-old woman, that implies I also enjoy sex. It’s true! I do! I really, really do! And EVERY part of me wishes that I could drop the heavy shadow that follows me around, telling me I’m not skinny/toned/whatever enough to fully enjoy it.

I am falling head over heels in love with everything Amy Poehler does, says and writes. Her description of negative body image as this ever-present demon is perfect. And while I could try to summarize, it’s best left untouched (side note: read Yes Please… it’s amazing.)

Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.” 

I am so excited for when I get older, and that demon will quiet down. Because hot damn, I am excited to love my angles, points, curves and valleys again. I am excited to turn 30 in a few years and still love sex just as much, and be able to leave lights on and wander around my house naked with whatever fella I happen to have my eyes on. I’m excited to embrace my body for the tall and strong thing that it is. And that boy who called my legs “thick” in the 9th grade? Well… I guess he was right, but what in the hell is wrong with that?

2nd Date Soup

Let me explain the name. My best friend calls this her “2nd date soup”. Back before she met the love of her life, she (like me) was wading through the dating world. When she’d bring a date home, she’d make them this soup. Let’s just say I made my date this soup, and it went well… Maybe we should call it magic soup? Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious. It’s my go to recipe, and it’s always changing. This time around I added apple, and it was INCREDIBLE, I highly recommend that addition. Enjoy & get lucky!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6-7 carrots, chopped
  • ½ butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, chopped
  • 1 tart green apple, cored and chopped
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 + ½ tbsp coconut oil (for sautéing and for roasting the squash)
  • 2-3 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I never measure…)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix your chopped squash with ½ tbsp. melted coconut oil, some salt and pepper and a dash of cinnamon (if you’d like). Pop in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

While that is baking, heat up your additional tbsp. of coconut oil over medium heat. Once it’s warm, add in the chopped onion and minced garlic (this is when your date starts to drool, which is always a good sign). After a few minutes, add in the carrots, Brussels & green apple. Add in half of the curry powder, some salt. Sautee for 3-5 minutes, and then add in your 2-3 cups water. Add in the rest of the spices, and let simmer until your squash is done. Add in the squash and throw some more cinnamon in for good measure.. Mix in the coconut milk and then let simmer on a low heat for a few more minutes.

Remove from heat and use that fancy immersion blender until everything is creamy and delicious. Serve with some toasted multigrain bread and smile to yourself when your date/lover/friend goes back for seconds and thirds.

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Scones and Beauty

Today I will thank my ankles.

I will spend some time with my shoulders. I’ll get to know the back of my knees.

Today, I will smile coyly at myself in the mirror… “hey pretty lady, you look like a butterfly, wanna cuddle?”

Some days are thick with self-deprecation. Comments wrapped in humor (being cruel to yourself is okay as long as it’s cloaked in silliness, right?) Beauty is such a fickle beast. So much value balances on its very unsteady definition and we walk the tightrope with so much blame and loathing in our heart of hearts.

When I see a woman like Denise Jolly, I get misty. Be Beautiful. Such courage and grace in her photographs, in her words.

Every day I took time to recognize how beautifully fierce, and gracious my body really is. When it was in joy I met it there; when it was in sadness I honored its sadness; when it was sassy I bore witness to its sass.”

Beautiful. Fierce. Joy. Sadness. Sass.

Meet your body where it’s at. Wherever that may be.

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Greetings my darling, thank you for all that you are.

Strawberry and Ricotta Scones

Since moving to Texas, being a “vegan” has changed to eating a plant-based, whole foods diet with the occasional dalliance into the land of dairy. I missed cheese. I missed yogurt. So on occasion, when my body tugs on my shirt and asks, “can we? please?” I give in.

What can I say? Self love sometimes looks like fresh ricotta. This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe calls for raspberries, but strawberries were at the store, looked better and I adore them… Let me tell you, these are scones to write home about. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup fresh strawberries, cored and cut into chunks
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup heavy cream (I accidentally grabbed 1/2 & 1/2, which worked out just fine)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. I couldn’t locate my pastry blender, so I just used my hands. Cut the butter into small pieces and work it into the flour mixture with your hands until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.

Toss in the strawberries and mix in. Add in the ricotta and cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula. Using your hands, gently knead the dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into triangles or squares (whatever tickles your fancy). Transfer the scones to a prepared baking sheet with a spatula. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in a pan for a minute, than transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set.

These are definitely a scone to make in the morning, right before brewing your coffee. They tasted like heaven right out of the oven, like amazing town a few hours later, and pretty good that evening. They are meant for sharing.

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Self Love

My body is cattywompus.

Truth be told, I really just wanted an excuse to use that word.

No, my body really is a hot mess. Having started running on a regular basis, imagine my frustration when not only did the ol’ knee pain flare up, but the shin and ankle on my OTHER leg started to ache something fierce.

It is as if the universe is telling me to not be a runner. Lets be honest, what I call “running” is most likely considered jogging– with a soft “J”. Whatever it is I am doing, it is causing me some serious pain.

So I bit the bullet and scheduled an appointment with a sports medicine doctor. He spent a good hour making me hop around the room, bending my knee and hip into weird positions and hemming and hawing over the weakness of my right hip. It was a combination of humiliating and enlightening.

He insisted that I see a physical therapist. Which led me to another hour of hopping, running on a treadmill and watching in horror as I watched myself run in slow motion. There are things a person should be spared from seeing, your white WHITE legs running and shifting in uncomfortable ways is one of these things.

Needless to say, I have a bum knee caused by an extremely weak thigh muscle that leads to a sad sad hip, and a lack of ab/glute muscles. Who knew that running/walking/yoga-ing and biking doesn’t build enough muscle… WTF.

So my new life plan includes physical therapy once a week, cutting back on running for a while, adding in spin classes and diving into the unfamiliar world of pilates.

When all is said and done, I adore this wacky body of mine. True, I have more ailments than a 25-year-old female should have. Yes, I threw out my back bowling. Yes, sometimes I need to go up the stairs REALLY slowly to avoid pain in my knee, and yes– I creak when I bend down to wipe the mud off my dog’s paws.

But you know what? This body allows me to walk six miles with my pup if the day calls for it. It allows me the flexibility to touch my toes, hold myself up in crow and hover proudly in chaturanga dandasana (heck yes arm muscles, here’s looking at you).

Anything that takes this much wear and tear is bound to rebel a little bit. My vessel just rebels a bit more than the average bear, and I will respond to all of these quirks with compassion and love.

You know what? my body is a freaking temple.

Yes. I went there. Deal with it.

 

Dear Me:

I was reading a magazine today and there was an excerpt from this book called, Dear Me:  A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self. It is a bunch of celebrities writing letters to themselves about things they wish they would have known when they were 16. It reminded me of the AMAZING, WONDERFUL, INSPIRING, CRY ALL THE TIME It Gets Better Project, created by Seattle’s own Dan Savage.

Either way, it is a neat project. And although most of the celebrities writing letters were in their 40s, 50s and 60s, I felt inspired and decided to write a letter to my emo 16 year old self. Perhaps when I am 35 I will write a letter to by 25 year old self. All I know is that my 25 year old self is a lot more strong, confident and peaceful than my 16 year old self. So here it goes.

Dear Me:

Stop cutting your hair that way. You kind of look like a tool. I mean that in the nicest way. I guarantee that when you look back at pictures, you will wish you hadn’t done that with your hair.

Also, your body is perfect. No, you aren’t short like your best friends. No, you aren’t ever going to be petite. But god damn it you are strong. You are well proportioned. You have thick, wavy hair and a beautiful string of freckles across your nose.

Speaking of freckles… WEAR SUNSCREEN. You will have a few too many horrible burns in the future if you think you are going to tan like your best friends. They were graced with olive skin—you were not. Stop pretending.

Those boys? The ones you think are too cute for you? They aren’t. They will fall in love with you. Enjoy that. Have more confidence in the fact that you are attractive, and that your wit and sass will win them over every time.

Don’t be too concerned with if you are popular or not. In just a few years you will find that the ones you most enjoy are those that read and will play Apples to Apples with you. You won’t even know there are parties going on; you will be content hanging out with mormons and being innocent. Roll with it. You will get your party on in college—and for goodness sakes, stay away from Monarch alcohol, it will cause one too many terrible mornings.

Your first love is tumultuous and silly. You will always have a little corner in your heart for him. You will also move on to much bigger and much more real things. It is always hard. It is always painful. It is always beautiful.

And yes, you will turn into the athlete that you always wanted to be. It might take more years then you would like to imagine, but there will come a time when you will stand naked in front of the mirror and truly love every part of yourself.

With love,

Your future self.