i’m back

This past year, I was sliding down a slippery slope. I was a shell of my true self. A different person. You see, depression runs in my family and I’ve had it once before (a long time ago).

Unlike last time, I got help sooner than later.

I met up with a psychologist who’s bio spoke to me. She was trained in yoga, helping many clients recover through both yoga and meditation. These are two things I LOVE so I was hopeful.

During our first meeting she mentioned her 8-week class that was about to start: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

Here’s the blurb about the class, “This 8-week group provides proven, innovative skills to help you break the cycle of depression and anxiety once and for all. You will learn strategies that help you see clearly that thoughts and emotions come and go, Many find that these skills help them side step the mental habits that lead to despair, excessive worry, and self-blame. Hands-on skill building exercises are taught that incorporate mindfulness (attentional control training) and cognitive therapy.”

I finished the class in December and am now stronger, wiser, more mindful. I’m close to my normal self again and have great new tools to combat any negative thoughts or depression lurking around the corner.

It’s such a relief.

I believe in fate and this sure was an example of that. I stumbled upon my psychologist on google, she’s a yogi, her class was perfect, and she’s even located 1 mile from my house! That’s unheard of out here in suburbia. Usually you have to drive at least a couple miles to get to where you’re going!

On our last day of class we got to pick out a little token to remind us of how far we’ve come.

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I’m not sure where I’m going to put my little stone yet but I’d like it to be in a place that I see it daily, frequently. The mantel?

Now that I feel capable of tackling projects and this blog again, I can’t wait to update you! You know I may have done things like survive a marathon (?!) and convert to a vegan diet (?!). We’ve also completed a couple of snazzy house projects and have a lot more in the works. Oh and I might have another animal. Hehe.

I’m really looking forward to connecting with you again! It’s gonna be a good time.

slowing down to pick myself up

I’m turning inward today! I hope that’s okay.

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When I’m stuck in a rut I easily become overwhelmed – with my to-do list, my relationships, my life. I’m currently at this point.

I truly believe I should be able to fix this problem and have attempted all my life to do so. I’ve written posts about this subject here, here, and here. I’m always able to stay on top of things for a couple weeks but then I get to busy, stressed and everything goes out the window.

I’m so very tired of this vicious cycle.

I watched a documentary on Friday night called Happy. It’s about people and what makes them truly happy.

That night I was up at 3:30 thinking about it. I panicked during this bout of insomnia, feeling overwhelmed about failing to be happy.

After a few hours, my mind started to settle and clear. I began to try and figure out what I could do to fix my problem.

I’ve had a couple nights like this in the past few weeks. They remind me of one night of insomnia last year when I realized I wanted to quit my old job (and career) that I went to school for so long for. Now I’m at a completely new job and loving it so I’m thinking I’m at the cusp of another step in the right direction.

Thank goodness.

When I’m overwhelmed I usually find something to escape my feelings. My go-to options are TV, the Internet, food, and my dogs. I think spending time with my dogs does help me feel better and more present but the other stuff really doesn’t. I feel lazy and stressed once I finally decide to get my butt off of the couch. I’m also usually doing a combination of TV, Internet, and food so I’m even more removed from ‘real’ life! Not good.

I know that it’s definitely healthy to escape the hustle and bustle of real life sometimes but lately for me it’s getting in the way of living that life.

My epiphany on Saturday night/morning was something that I already know but have a hard time doing.

To really try to become happier, I’ve got to take it slow. I’m going to focus on fixing one poor habit at a time. Anything else I do that might not be considered healthy doesn’t matter for now. I just have one thing to do. That’s it. That should keep me from getting worked up.

I’m thinking I’ll start with no TV. Without TV I’d have soooo much more time to do things that I really love like gardening, reading, art, even chores! If I’m successful… wait… when I’m successful, I’ll be able to replace one bad habit with tons of other good options. Perfect.

I’m sure there are other people out there like me but man does it feel like I’m the only person sometimes with these silly struggles.

I hope to update you on my progress next week. This should hold me accountable!

Who’s overwhelmed? Who’s with me? Who has some words of wisdom for all of us? 

pecan and wild rice-stuffed squash

This dish might have the longest cooking time out of all the recipes I’ve posted on this blog. I only post my absolute favorites so that just shows you how marvelous it is! Relative to a lot of recipes out there, it’s still super quick. There’s just a good amount of time in the oven so you have to find other things to do  like laundry, clean… or watch TV and read blogs like I did. 🙂

The recipe comes from the same cookbook that I used for the Turmeric Brown Rice Con Pollo.

Since I don’t think the recipe is online, I went ahead and typed it up for you.

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Pecan and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

2 small acorn squash (I used one giant one instead)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons fresh sage
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil 2 baking sheets. Cut each squashes in half from the stem to the tip. Scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on the baking sheets. Bake from 20 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool. Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, cook the wild rice in the water, simmering until it is tender and starting to split. If there is any excess water, drain the rice in a strainer. Finely chop the sage and parsley. In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the celery, onion, and sage over medium heat until just softened. Stir in the parsley, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg, and salt, and take the pan off the heat.

When the squash halves are cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing. In a large bowl, mash the flesh coarsely and reserve. Select 16 intact pecan halves for garnish, then use a food processor to grind the remaining pecans to powder (I just finely chop them). Add the ground pecans, the sauteed mixture, and the wild rice to the squash in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Stuff the mixture into the squash shells and top with the reserved pecan halves. Place in a casserole or baking dish large enough to hold all of the squash halves. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.

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Fresh sage! I don’t have any herbs in my garden but I do have a couple in pots on the patio. I most often sub dried for fresh when a recipe calls for it (use half of the fresh amount) but this time I had something on hand!

While prepping my ingredients I got a little sidetracked -> I saw this idea on YoungHouseLove a while back. If you have a party where crudités are involved, you could use these celery flowers to decorate the plate!

Along with the blog reading and TV watching, when the squash is initially roasted I was able to get my rice cooked and saute mixture ready.

Every time my dad uses the toaster oven he removes whatever he has cooked with his bare hands. It doesn’t matter if he yells or makes pain noises every time, he does this without fail. I do the same thing and have also added not waiting until hot squash cools before hollowing it out. This acorn squash didn’t disappoint. It had me yelling up a storm.

My dad went to Cornell so that must make me a genius too. Please don’t try to be smarties like us and have patience!

I love the presentation of this dish! You could totally wow some friends with your celery flowers and squash bowls. 🙂

There’s so much flavor in this recipe. The spicy and nutty flavors are a great contrast to the sweet meat of the acorn squash. There’s lots of crunch and chewiness in there too. Mmm mmm good.

As soon as the temps in your State start to drop, you have to make this! It’s got great fall ingredients, a comfort food feel, and it’s healthy to boot!

Are you about to go pumpkin/squash recipe crazy? I sure am.