Archive | July, 2011

Pins & Needles

31 Jul

Acupuncture as healing?

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting Kim, a family member’s girlfriend from Korea. She is currently living in China, studying Chinese medicine.

What is Chinese medicine exactly? I knew it included some holistic or “alternative” approaches to medicine, but didn’t know exactly what it entailed.

According to Wikipedia (the source of all reliable information, right?), “Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and look back on a tradition of more than 2000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy, and dietary therapy. These practices are a common part of medical care throughout East Asia, but are considered alternative medicine in the western world.”

Kim, as a medical student in China, receives both training in traditional Chinese Medicine as well as training and education in Modern Western Medicine. She shared with me that when she first began to learn about Chinese Medicine, she was intensely skeptical. But as she delved into this mystical world, she saw miracles occurring all around her and her colleagues. She is now a firm believer in Acupressure, Acupuncture (she cured her boyfriend’s injured back using this!) and certain forms of massage. She said, “I have a love for Western Medicine too. I believe in surgery. But I have even more love for Chinese Medicine”.

We do know that our nation specifically is over-medicated and over-diagnosed. We know there is a health epidemic in this country with obesity and other disease on the rise (a result of genetics or inherited lifestyle – I’m not sure). We also have more medication and technology than ever. So why do we have for the first time EVER a rising generation that has been predicted to out-die their parenting generation? I have my opinions (which I’ll save for another day) as I am sure many others have theirs.

I pose this question – is there some value to going back to the basics? To begin treating causes of disease and not symptoms? I realize there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding this topic but I wonder, who of you have tried alternative therapy? Did it work?

I blessedly have no prevailing ailments. I have had no life-threatening disease or injury. I periodically suffer from minor symptoms such as headaches and nausea (always a result of poor eating, I am convinced) which I will use essential oils to relieve. It has worked for me!

Please note that I am not condemning the modern medical world – I am grateful to live in a day when so many options are available for us.

What are your thoughts?

The Break-Up

30 Jul

<passage taken from my former blog>

Dear Blog,

We’ve had some really good times together – good laughs, great pictures and touching memories. I’ve shared with you my successes and my sorrows. You’ve always been there for me – patiently waiting for me to upload my latest pictures.

But something has been missing.

I log on to you and I just stare. My mind goes blank. My creativity vanishes. I’m not blaming you. I just don’t feel like we bring out the best in each other. I have hardly acknowledged you in the last year! You deserve more than that.

You should know that I have found a fresh, new (and what I believe to be a more savvy) blog-hosting website that has more space (3 gigabytes), protects me from comment spam, provides a comprehensive statistics report daily, automatic updates and more. And frankly, I just like it more.

This new blog allows me to be more true to myself. It doesn’t carry the same expectations that you did. I feel free again.

So with a heavy heart, I say it’s time to go our separate ways.

I know it’s cliché, but I will always hold a special place for you in my heart. After all, you were my first.

With the fondest of feelings,

Carly

Family Food Throwdown 2011

29 Jul

Image courtesy of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

I like food. I like food a lot. Get use to lots and lots of posts about, surrounding, and including food on this blog.

My family has the same love affair with food.

Every year, my mother and stepfather sponsor a Family Food Throwdown (think Food Network-style food competition).  Ma and Pa choose a food item, and each individual or individual family does their own rendition of the selected item.

Combine a love of food with competition- you are welcome into my family at any time.

Previous Food Throwdown Competition Results:

FFT 2008 – Burgers
Winner: Andrea with the “Cowboy Burger”

FFT 2009 – Soup
Winner: Andrea with “Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup”

FFT 2010 – Cupcakes
Winner: Carly H. with “Death by Chocolate”

You’ll notice my name Carly W. does not grace any of those competition results…

I do enter every year and I am convinced that I will win every year. Let’s just say, people like food that they are familiar and comfortable with.

Note: Do not experiment with food when entering it into a food competition.

Andrea (the two-time champ) advised me last year to “always go with the tried-and-true”, meaning choose ingredients or ingredient combos that are always a crowd pleaser. Also, if you want a shot at winning, don’t even breathe the word “Vegan”.

Now, let me just say, I am a damn (yeah, I’m cursing now) good cook. I made a delicious Bleu Cheese Burger in ’08, dreamy French Onion Soup in ’09 and a to-die-for Cherry-Coconut Cupcake in ’10. So what gives?

This year, I was determined to win. The food? Pasta Salad. A BBQ and Summer classic. I pulled out all the stops and even spent $5 on 1/4 c. of pine nuts.

“I got this. I got this.”

Did I win? No.

Did I make it in the Top 3? Nope.

Is my recipe amazing and delicious enough to share here? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad (adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (lightly toasted)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound whole wheat or gluten-free spiral pasta
  • 1/2 pound of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the asparagus spears. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Without emptying the water from the pot, lift out the asparagus spears and place them in a colander. Rinse with cool water.

Bring the water back to a boil. Add salt, if needed, and add pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta with cool water. Put into a serving bowl.

Place the asparagus on a cutting board. Trim off the top 3 inches of the asparagus spears, and put the tips into the bowl with the pasta. Cut the bottoms into several pieces, and set aside to use in the pesto sauce.

Use a food processor to make the pesto: With the processor running, drop in the garlic cloves and allow them to chop. Add 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, and pulse to chop. Add the lemon juice, basil, salt, nutritional yeast, and the asparagus pieces (not the tips!) and olive oil. Puree until smooth.

Toss the pasta, asparagus tips, and tomatoes (if using) with the pesto, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve. As the pasta salad sits, the flavors will develop.

Servings: 8

Carly’s Note: Add fresh bocconcini (mozzarella balls) or seasoned, grilled chicken or shrimp for a heartier version. 

Toasted.

28 Jul

Gladly. Yum.

Today I delighted in three (yes, you read that right) heavenly pieces of toast. Holy smokes people! I never realized how much I am fond of this most basic food- a food staple, if you will.

My favorite? Aspen Mills Squaw Bread with vegan Earth-Balance spread.

Oh. my. goodness.

Side note: Aspen Mills is a local Utah bakery with no website, no list of grocery retailers and no apparent way to order. Although it is apparently found in 7 other surrounding states, Aspen Mills bread is an elusive creature and if you find yourself lucky enough to come across it, snatch it up quickly- toast, butter and enjoy.  You may never be so fortunate again. For any of you local Utahans, I get mine at Whole Foods in Salt Lake City. 

So where did this indulgence with toast begin? I blame it on my father. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence watching my dad’s persistent daily routine. A creature of habit my father is (I just wrote this line with Yoda’s voice in mind).

4:00pm:
Dad walks in the house through the garage door, puts his lunchbox full of empty tupperware containers (my dad always took cereal to work) in the sink, places the mail on the kitchen counter and begins his toasting ritual. One-to-two pieces of toast daily with all the fixings like butter, homemade jam and even from time-to-time, a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

4:03pm:
The distinct, smoldering, toasty smell begins to drift into the air of our home.

4:06pm:
Dad enjoys his warm, golden toast while opening mail. Depending on what bills mail he receives that day, either a cheerful whistling or an aggressive bashing on his drum set would ensue.

Believe it or not, I can’t recall a time as a child or teen actually enjoying toast goodness. It came later, as I aged in life and as I became much more “mature” and wise. Or maybe, this onset of toast fixation came as a result of reaching for my ever-evasive former carefree and juvenile life.

(How can I possibly still be going on about toast?!)

Either way, it is most definitely my comfort food. Is three pieces of toast excessive? Perhaps. At least it’s not three slabs of country fried steak I say.

Don’t you love that toaster? I found the image here and it’s actually available to purchase! Go on and get one!

May or May Not Be

24 Jul

20110723-010924.jpg

These may or may not be shoes found in the kids section.

These may or may not be shoes for boys.

These may or may not be for me.

Date Night

23 Jul

It’s common knowledge that when one experiences an earth-shattering, life-altering event, his or her loved ones- family, friends, church leaders, coworkers, neighbors, random lady at the local market- will recommend a book that “seriously carried me through the hard times” or “enlightened my troubled heart”.

I experienced such an event.

I had just found myself a newly single mother and a single woman. On the nightstand next to my bed, I had accumulated a large stack of books from said loved ones to help me heal and adjust to this new life.

I read them all. Some proved to be helpful- others I could barely get through. I don’t remember any of the titles (if I did, I would lovingly provide a self-help library here for your reading pleasure, because seriously, I had dozens of books!).

Except one. Oh, there was one.

I’ll never forget this literary “work”, given to me by a co-worker who was given to her by her son after her divorce.

Finding the Boyfriend Within, written by a colorful, homosexual and at times, irreverent man.

I’ll admit, I was not entirely excited to read this one. I thought to myself, “What could a gay man, in his mid 30’s, living in New York City, writing a gay/lesbian self-help book possibly teach me- a barely 20-something, single mother from Salt Lake City, Utah???” (Another time, remind me to tell you all how my snoopy, elderly and extremely conservative landlord discovered this piece of work!)

Reluctantly, I opened the cover and began to read the introduction. And then the first chapter, second chapter…

I have to confess, I didn’t actually finish the entire book. The writing wasn’t exceptional in my opinion- however, to my surprise and delight, the overall message was. Well kind of.

As the title “Finding the Boyfriend Within” may suggest, the overall theme of the book is about reflection, self-love and self-nurturing. The author suggests you acknowledge your own inner and outer beauty, write yourself love letters, give yourself gifts, send yourself flowers and even… take yourself out on dates! In public! Ack!

Although I have yet to write myself a love letter or send myself flowers (this does seem a bit self-absorbed), I have since tried to take his advice and apply it in the real world and I have dated myself (boy, that sounds a bit narcissistic- but really, this can be done in a modest way).

It’s a little uncomfortable at first, but believe you me, it ends up to be a grand time. Maybe even the best date you could ever have? Onlookers think it’s confident, mysterious and cool. At least that’s what I tell myself.

So, I find myself on the heels of yet, another heartache (alright, it’s been over six months, but it’s been a rough one, ok?!) and what’s a girl to do you ask? Take herself out for shopping, massage and a romantic sushi dinner on a tea-light lit patio on a perfect, summer night of course!

So to all you love birds and to all you lovely singles- Happy Date Night!

Happy, indeed.

This is your life.

14 Jul

Found this image on a website that I LOVE. Seriously people, you wanna see beautiful things- go to this website.