My Halfway Hippie Toothpaste

The title is a joke. Kinda, not really, somewhere in between.

At some point, the old adage “what you are is what you eat”/ingest/slather/apply became synonymous with “hippie,” which has a commonly accepted negative connotation.

Merriam Webster defines hippie as:

“a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic; broadly : a long-haired unconventionally dressed young person.”

First, I see nothing in this definition regarding food/product/health choices.

Second, there is nothing unwise about questioning our society’s norms. (Note I said society, not personal morality.) In general, what societal mores are left to follow, anyway? Short list: rampant sexualization, present on all ends of the liberal to conservative spectrum.  (I could say The End right here. It’s my soapbox.) Greed is a big one. Self-absorption, consumerist and materialistic mentalities, starry-eyes for status and titles, to name a few.  Thankfully society still holds to some basic mores, but morality and common sense are going down the tubes.

Now, I’m not advocating a Steve Jobs-type communal living, hallucinogenic drugs hippie. But a nonviolent ethic? Why not?

Any way. I loosely make my case that there’s nothing negative about caring about my temple, my body. And if I get called a hippie due to my interest in health and suspicion to culturally accepted norms of ingredient lists a mile long and Big Pharma , so be it. 🙂

I’m getting wayyy off topic. I was supposed to be talking about toothbrushes and toothpaste.

(*Breath* Ok, I’ve rounded my thoughts back from the range.)

Sometimes health-conscious decisions have greater ramifications than others. Ignorantly drinking chlorine or arsenic water isn’t good. (Raise your hands all you Houstonians and probably others reading this blog. Seriously. Go check your local water supply report. You may need to invest in a filter.) But Colgate toothpaste isn’t gonna kill ya.

However, would it HURT to have a small glass container of toothpaste that costs pennies? That is also void of ingredients anyone could point to and question?

No. It would not. 🙂

So do you want to know a crunchy mama toothpaste recipe? Wait for it… Baking soda. (And a couple drops peppermint oil if one so desires.)
Just pour in a small glass container, wet your toothbrush, dip in the powder and brush those Washingtons. 😀

I’m enjoying it, and as you can see, it’s almost all gone. I usually nab Colin’s Colgate tube in the mornings and play crunchy mama at night.

The toothbrush 4-pack I’ve been using is simple, stylish, made from bamboo and if I forget that they were shipped in a box with a layer of plastic, they really make me feel eco-conscious. 😀

 

Side note: Did you know that you’re supposed to change out your toothbrush every 3 months? Which reminds me. If you have a loofah, take heed of the small print and change out that baby every 30 days.

If you want to reuse, find a way to wash it in a strong disinfectant and make a dish scrubber or something. But just know that if you leave a loofah in the shower, you are breeding bacteria. Your dead skin cells are yummy treats to bacteria and the humid environment to them is like the beach to you – a favorite place. The next time you wash, you’re blissfully covering your body in bacteria. This can lead to scary stuff, like staph.

(Also applies to washcloths.)

I don’t even keep mine in the shower anymore. I didn’t know this for a painfully long time, btw. Now I use mine to dry brush.

Ok, that’s it for today. From hippie defense to economical toothpaste to staph warning, have a great day!!

Maybe go luxuriously scrub yourself with that loofah or something.

(I still aim to change my website name. I could say life is busy, but I  procrastinate. But it is still in the works.)

 

Bold Faith

It’s a rainy Saturday in Houston, and I am thrilled. This girl loves sunshine and summertime, but there’s nothing like hours of rain to get my creativity flowing.

Rainy days are like giant cocoons that wrap me in layers of warmth. (See, I told you. I’m even waxing poetic.)
Leggings come out, boots and umbrellas. Hot tea and a good book. That sound of pattering rain, so hypnotic and calming.

Or maybe that’s just the Pacific Northwest’s influence….
I digress.

I’d originally planned on writing a post about my handy dandy baking soda and peppermint oil toothpaste. But that crunchy mama post is one for another day.

As I read my devotion this morning, I knew without a doubt what I’d talk about today.

Bold faith. 

Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman is a devotional book focused on reminders to stay hopeful even in the deserts of life.

Today’s reminder centered on Isaiah 45:11, “Concerning the work of my hands, command ye me.”

Isaiah 45:4: “I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you, though you have not known me.
(5) I am the Lord, and there is none else….
(6) That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west. that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
(7) I form the light, and create darkness……
(8) Drop down, ye heavens….
(9) Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! …
(11) Thus says the Lord… Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”

God, the Creator of the Universe, commands us to command Him concerning the work He’s created.

Cowman so beautifully says,  “What a distinction there is between this attitude and the hesitancy and uncertainty of our prayers of unbelief, to which we have become so accustomed! The constant repetition of our prayers has also caused them to lose their cutting edge.”

I have real-life application.

I never used to pray with boldness. I always prayed along the lines of “This is my desire, but maybe it’s not Your will and I don’t want to ask for something that isn’t Your will so here’s my prayer, amen” and that was it. Obviously we want to be in God’s will, and sometimes the answer looks different than we expect. However, I fear we (as a general collective) pray more on tradition/ritual/habit than on living, bold faith.

To make a potentially long story short and sweet, last fall I was hit with acute physical pain. The first night I felt this pain I was inspired with the image of Jacob wrestling the angel until he obtained a blessing. Genesis 32: 26: “And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he (Jacob) said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

I believe the Holy Spirit was nudging me to claim healing and not just ask for help. I had previously realized the lack of faith in my life, but I’d never self-observed, with such clarity, how much I’d boxed God and His power into my human parameters until that night.

Why couldn’t I ask God of the Universe to heal me?

So I did. I told God I would NOT stop praying until I too received a blessing. I’d never done that before.
I was determined to exercise more faith than a grain of mustard seed. If my faith was that small, it was going to increase that night.

And you know, all I had to do was tell myself that’s what I was doing? Novel, right? All I had to do was push the mental thoughts away. You know the ones. The “what are you doing, that is crazy and unrealistic,” “God doesn’t even have to answer your prayer,” “who do you think you are,” “this doesn’t make logical sense” thoughts.

But we make it so hard. It’s like a child and their belief in the Christmas spirit. They believe, but then they grow up and turn into us – deaf to the bells, so confident in the tangible that we limit anything beyond our human advances and ability. The intangible? Perish the thought, we say.

And we miss out on the very real, intangible (for now) spiritual realms.

If you’ve never experienced a Divine touch, you may scoff or wonder at this, because it supersedes that tangible safety net. But I FELT a touch. I felt warmth on the location of my pain, and in my mind it was as though liquid gold seeped into my skin.

The pain slowly subsided, and I went to bed that night with a slight ache, nothing more. I slept like a baby.

Ok, so back to bold faith. Truth be told, at first I felt a bit disrespectful talking to God “like that.” But isn’t that kind of praying, that faith, what He commands us to exercise?

“Concerning the work of my hands, command ye me.” Isaiah 45:11

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come BOLDLY unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

I’ll never forget my tangible meeting with God’s intangible holy power that night. It is a vivid testament to my faith. Our problems may or may not totally disappear, but I for one am not as afraid of the possibilities. I’ve felt the touch of my Master’s hand, and no matter what happens to my physical shell, I know the God of the Universe holds me in His hands.

I’d never be able to share these thoughts if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith.

Perhaps it is displeasing to God when we want something, we ask, then make all excuses and justifications and doubts that God will answer our prayer and inform Him we are willing to settle for less.

Look around. God made the UNIVERSE, and we doubt He could/would Create again, for us, in the form of answered prayer, an open door, etc. ? It’s like a slap in the face. “Woe unto him that strives with his Maker!” Isaiah 45:9

God delights in His children, and He wants our trust, faith and love. Maybe it’s time we start asking, delighting, trusting, and loving Him back.

And that’s my one cup of Carver (with a healthy dose of self-reminder to practice what I preach. 🙂 )

XO,
Karissa

 

 

A Sophron State of Mind

Do you have a sound mind?

“Of course,” you immediately respond. At least that’s how I responded. Until I was quiet enough to listen to the Lord’s leading on a scripture passage I have been studying for a while.

I’m going through a series called “God’s Beautiful Design for Women” from a ministry called Revive Our Hearts. The speaker makes her way through Titus 2:1-5, and as I’ve listened I’ve been brought to my knees, brought to tears and brought closer to God through my willingness to be quiet, to be still, and to listen.

I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned from the lesson.

Titus 2:1-5. Paul instructs Titus to instruct the older men and women to teach and train the younger generations. Part of this instruction for both men and women is to have a sober mind, and it comes from the Greek word sophron.

The King James Version translates sophron as sober in verses 2,4, and 6. The word is translated as discreet in v5.

Using a Greek lexicon tool, I found that the definition of sophron is: “of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses” and “curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.”
 http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/sophron.html

This word is obviously multi-dimensional. Sober, discreet, temperate, sane, self-controlled. Of a sound mind, to have self-control over your mind.

  • Do you find your mind rambling during prayer?
  • Allow yourself to feed feelings of envy, anger, longing, even sadness? Allow gossip, speculation, harsh words, to flow from your mouth?
  • Unable to muster the emotional strength to tackle that to-do list, even when you want to?
  • Is it hard to discipline yourself to stop eating, to get out and exercise, to form habits or break them, to develop a daily routine, to indulge in less amusement?
  • Do you crumble under pressure?
  • Do you have addictions and vices? Are you impulsive?
  • Is your mind easily swayed by what other’s say?
  • Are you so concerned with what other’s think of you that you are unable to speak?
  • Is it hard to have patience with your children? Hard to love your spouse and easy to flirt with that other man or woman?
  • Easy to focus on negativity and other people’s flaws?

This listing is just a sample of characteristics that flow from a mind lacking sophron.

The speaker in the lessons I’ve been gleaning from mentions credit card and mortgage debt, emotional disorders, our addictive culture, etc.

We are instructed to have a sound mind. To have a disciplined mind. To control our thoughts which lead to action.  

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

This word, sophron, is an adjective, but I see it as active. A verb. It’s action. We are called to actively control our thoughts, and know when to say no. And when to say yes.

The speaker I listened to shared these definitions during her study:

  • The Complete Word Study Dictionary: A person who has proper thinking is sophron, and that person has developed the ability to govern and discipline him(her)self—his mind, his passions, his affections, and his behavior. He voluntarily places limitations on his freedom. 
  • Vine’s Dictionary: that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires.”

Without inner self-government, we will end up doing things we never thought we’d do. Things we, perhaps initially, never wanted to do.

Sexually, emotionally, physically, spiritually. They all apply.

I’d like to share something I’ve battled with due to a lack of sophron. 

I tend to be melancholic. I’m also one of the greatest romantics. They usually go together. It’s very easy for my mind to drift to a state of pensive sadness.

I could provide many examples. I’ll briefly name a few. Sad music appeals to me. When I was young, I almost didn’t know what to do if I wasn’t pining after some boy.
If I let my mind wander, it often conjures up daydreams of what I would do and how I would respond if someone I deeply care about leaves me. (Dies.) It’s often brought me to tears and wrenching emotional pain.

My Grandpa Kelly died my freshman year of college. It was hard. It’s still hard. I still miss him. I don’t think I ever won’t miss him. It was the first death I had to personally deal with.

After his funeral, I was haunted. I’d cry every time I left my parent’s house on Wednesday and Sunday nights to go back to college. I was terrified that something would happen to them, that they would die and I wouldn’t be there.

When my family travels and I’m not with them, I can let myself become extremely worried.

When small things don’t go how I think they should, I get all bent out of shape.

I recognized these characteristics of fear, anxiety and control a long time ago. But this lesson made it so painfully clear that I’ve yet to have a sound mind in these areas. And it affects my daily life. 

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

It’s only been a few days since I heard the lesson on a sound mind, but I’ve already experienced a wonderful mental change. By the help of Christ and a new determination to “gird up my loins” and strengthen my mind, I’ve been able to shake myself out of the harmful, unauthorized imaginings when they visit. They enter my mind often. I rebuke the thoughts and mindfully give them over to my Lord. I am refusing rent space, and practicing voluntary discipline. 

It’s a choice.

I know there is much ground to conquer, but I’m at peace in a way I’ve never been before.

There is power in naming. When we don’t have the vocabulary or a word to define what we’re dealing with, it can be hard to pinpoint the problem. But now I do have a word. A multidimensional word – Sophron. I want that word. I want to embody that word and finally conquer my unstable thinking.

Why? Because I want to grow. I want peace. I also want to be able to teach and encourage young women and girls. Like Paul, I must bring my thoughts under subjection so when I do teach/share, I am not a hypocrite.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly (sophron: self-controlled), righteously, and godly, in this present world;” – Titus 2:11-12 

Without a sophron state of mind, we will allow our thoughts to dictate our actions. We will continue in our addictions, our vices, our inappropriate behavior – because we lack the mental power to stop the thoughts before they become actions.

We will continue in sexual sin. Whether that’s illicit relations, pornography, or sexually perverse thinking. Continue in our addictions – alcohol, food, grumpiness (yep, moods can be addicting), substance abuse, shopping……

We will be impatient and harsh. Lacking tenderness, forgiveness and mercy. We will be vain and silly and foolish. 

If we are prone to emotional distress, we will stay depressed, moody, anxious and discontent.

We won’t be able to take care of our bodies because we lack the emotional strength to start. We won’t be able to take care of our families, our homes, our churches because we lack the emotional strength to press forward.

The Church, the body, suffers.

But praise God, we can have a sophron state of mind. We can recognize our need, recognize our unstable ways. And we can change.

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19

Adopt a sophron state of mind. A self-controlled, stable mind. Discipline your mind.

Young women, this passage states that older women have a clear role in the church. To teach you. If they aren’t seeking you out, seek them out. Ask them for help. For advice. Be their friend. Develop a relationship.

The same applies for young and old men.

I hope these thoughts encourage you as much as they encourage and challenge me. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to message me and/or comment below.

~

If you’re interested in listening to the lessons, here’s the first link regarding sophron. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth breaks the word into several proceeding lessons.

https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/gods-beautiful-design-women-day-27/

*Side note: I have gleaned many truths listening to lessons from this ministry. However, I will say I am turned away from their marketing decisions. Revive Our Hearts pushes monetary contributions at the end of almost every lesson. I do not appreciate this, as it cheapens the message. I usually stop the podcast so I don’t have to listen to it. But I do believe these lessons offer Biblical truth that have aided my personal journey.

“For I know the thoughts (plans)  that I think toward you,” says the Lord. “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end. ”

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

And I will be found of you, says the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, says the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14

XO,
K. Carver

Arthur Gordon’s “Wonder,” a Summer Must-Read

The month of June brings such excitement. School finally relents, and the joys of summer descend. Enter those rite-of-passage flip-flop tan lines!

This summer is bittersweet, as it marks a year since I graduated from university. Bitter because I could be a career learner (but I can be that without a college classroom so I just brightened up,) and sweet because life is Good right now.

A year ago, at my graduation party, my aunt gifted me with a copy of Arthur Gordon’s “Wonder.” This gem of a book is composed of short essays, filed under one of eight categories. (The Gift of Caring, The Gift of Awareness, The Gift of Adaptability, etc.)

I collect books, visit libraries and can’t imagine a world without books. However, there are few books that touch me deeply, that change my perspective. “Wonder” makes the list. I’ve marked this book up and, as the subtitle suggests, immersed into Gordon’s “moments that keep you falling in love with life.”

The book is built around the concept that it’s the everyday, and the oft overlooked events of every day, that are beautiful and meaningful.

The stories share that wonderful taste of hope, a reminder that even in this present troubled day, wonder still abounds.

I realized how prone we are to rush past the moments, the little miracles, staring us in the face. Wonder comes quietly, perhaps. But it’s there nonetheless. Waiting to be noticed.

And when we notice, we remember why Life is precious.

Maybe you’re interested, maybe you’re not. But if you’re looking for a summer read that’s easy and (bonus) meaningful, I’d recommend “Wonder.”

Follow here to be redirected to Amazon and a listing for the book. You won’t be disappointed!

For you hardcover enthusiasts, the book boasts a lovely modern design.

If you’ve read the book, have a book recommendation, or just saying hello, comment below!

As always, I enjoy hearing from my own readers. 🙂

XO,

K. Carver

*Arthur Gordon was a journalist and author who contributed to various publications.

I’m Still Here

Well, as Gene Autry said, I’m back in the saddle again.

I took a break from my blog for these reasons:

  1. Wedding Planning
  2. Wedding
  3. Adjusting from a small town to Houston

Reason 1 and 2 are complete, and I’m working on Reason 3. But I’ve missed writing dearly, and here’s to hoping so (X2) that I stick with it.

So, what’s up with me? Marriage is great, the dishes never end and there’s really nothing like the endless Texas sky.

But really. There’s nothing more fulfilling than sharing my days with Colin, sharing big belly laughs and sharing (stealing) the covers at night.

There also isn’t really a point to this post, except just to say hello and assure anyone possibly reading this that there’s more to come.

If you, dear reader, have an interest you’d like me to cover, any book/product recommendations, or just comments in general, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Your back in the saddle again friend,

Karissa CARVER 🙂

1,838 Miles

Hello, it’s me….

(I was going to try and channel Adele, but it wasn’t working. I stopped while I was still ahead.)

Lately, my Type-A side, my do-everything-perfect-or-you-fail side, wants to freak out over not having a consistent posting rhythm.

BUT. I’m learning. Life isn’t a to-do list. I can’t control everything.

In fact, Life is really busy right now. I’ve got about four on-going projects, ranging from editing to wedding planning. I’m *trying* to take this blog off the ground, and I’ve got a lot of ideas I’d like to implement (re-branding, marketing, increased content). But that won’t happen till after the wedding, because everything takes time.

I used to get frustrated at Time. I’m still working on it, but I’m realizing there IS enough time, I just have to decide what my priorities are and what they SHOULD be.

I’m learning, slowly, to prioritize what really matters most. I’ll devote more attention to blogging after the wedding. For now, I’m devoting Time to a life-changing day. Marriage is way more important, anyway. 🙂

However, I’ve set aside some time to share a little bit about my amazing trip to Oregon/Washington.

IMG_1061Background: Living in Louisiana gives me perspective I wouldn’t have if I lived in the same geographic area all my life. I’ve been here nine years. I’ve developed relationships. I found a love for oysters. Learned to take life a little slower.

But Oregon is my first home, and I’ve felt this intense pull back to my roots lately. My sister wanted to go, so we purchased tickets for a not-long-enough trip, but a visit nonetheless.
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It was amazing.

If Dr. Mapp hadn’t taught me about brevity, I would gush. and gush. And. OK, maybe I haven’t (completely) learned that lesson.

But do you, dear readers, have any idea how wonderful it is to breathe CLEAN, filtered mountain air? Ocean air? Columbia Gorge windy air?

My lungs couldn’t get enough. I wanted to capture some air in a bottle and take it back home.

Physics and resources weren’t on my side with that one, though.

Andrea and I drove to Houston, TX Wednesday night and had dinner with my love that evening.

We flew Southwest Airlines out of Houston Hobby around 6:30 the next morning, and arrived in Portland (PDX is the best airport out there, FYI!) before noon.

 

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Crater Lake, aerial. Formed by collapsed volcano, Mt. Mazama. The cinder cone is Wizard Island. Deepest lake in the United States, 1,932 feet.
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PDX, “my” airport! annnnd the amazing World Cello player Adam Hurst.
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PDX
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Breathing the fresh air for the first time in 7 months!
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PDX is this wonderfully bustling place with a great aesthetic.
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Cape Horn Lookout Columbia River Hwy 14. Washington on left, Oregon on right. Columbia Gorge in all it’s beauty.
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Frozen water against the hills. 🙂
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A frozen Multnomah Falls (from a distance)
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Bridge of the Gods, Columbia Gorge. Stevenson, WA
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Bridge of the Gods. Breathtaking.
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Bridge of the Gods.
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Bridge of the Gods. Dusk.
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Bridge of the Gods.
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The scent awakens an ancient stir, a deep longing.
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Cones & needles. Mountain trees.
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Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood and wind.

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We spent a couple days with my Womb-to-Tomber, Lindsey, at her home in Washington. We’re basically the same age. And a little crazy about each other. 🙂

Time sped by, full of baby snuggles, girl talk, road trips and two-year-old woes. Friendship is just the greatest. My heart is still full from the time I spent with Linz.

The winds picked up Friday night, and by Saturday morning a snow storm blew in. We were traveling south for Oregon and my aunt’s house. It was a little scary to see SUVs flipped on I-5, but thankfully we arrived safely.

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A, you make life so special.

My family gave me a wedding shower that day, and it was one of the best days of my life. Snow fell outside, and inside we played games, opened gifts and enjoyed each other’s company.

 

Monday, Grandma took my sister, Lindsey and Nicole (3/3rds forever!!) and me to the coast. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

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Lincoln City, OR

A storm blew in while we were at the coast, and it’s amazing to capture the many moods of the sea, the different colors and hues, the pockets of sunshine and the cloud covers….

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Oysters & Clam Chowder at Inn at Spanish Head
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Oregon wouldn’t be complete without a van like this. 🙂
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Depoe Bay

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The trees smell so good. Evergreens. The air is crisp, cool. Always cleaned by the mountains. The ocean is wild, always. I feel myself elevate and expand here. I’m inspired. Awed. I guess you could say this place is my muse. …

Andrea and I flew out of PDX Tuesday afternoon, landed in Houston that evening and drove the remaining 6 hours home that night. It was a trip for the books.

I am so thankful I had the means to make the trip, because I can’t think of a more perfect place to start my wedding celebrations than my home in the Pacific Northwest, with friends and family I hold incredibly close to my heart.

To my aunt, cousins, grandma and friends: ‘Thank you’ doesn’t do justice to the happiness I still feel because of you.

To the PNW: You are God’s stormy, lush, breathtaking masterpiece. The End.
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Almost a month has passed since the trip. In that time, Mom and I have ironed out a lot more wedding details. My dear friends down South also gave me a shower, and I’ve been equally overwhelmed and grateful for their love, hospitality and attention to those small, special details.

I am truly a blessed woman. I thank God for my heritage, the friends surrounding me and beautiful, natural creations.

XO,
K

 

Less Is More

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Maybe it’s the time of year. Maybe it’s some version of nesting syndrome. 

Whatever the cause, I’m in purge mode. It isn’t a familiar mode. If you’re a sentimental like me, you know “removal” isn’t always easy.

 

An old sock with two holes but you wore it when you were seven and it was your favorite sock? Keep it. A binder of biology notes from senior year in high school? You never know when you might need them.

A closet full of clothes you never wear because:
1. They are too tight or too large
2. They are impulse buys

BUT:

3. They hold sentimental value, even though 1 & 2 apply.
4. You’re too scared of what your closet will look like without all the clothes you NEVER wear.

 

Makes a lot of sense, right?
And yet we (I know I’m not the only one) moan that we have nothing to wear!

 

Lately, the need to reduce is on a spiritual level.
“Oh, wow, that’s too far,” you may say.
But my closet is a roadblock right now. I deal with frustration almost every time I open the doors. It’s not something I enjoy feeling. And it’s not something I should feel.

 

Enter the capsule wardrobe. I discovered this concept somewhere deep in an inter-web travel. 😀
Essentially, it’s a closet with way less clothes than the average first-world closet.
And you love everything in your closet. Your clothes fit and flatter. It’s a joy to get dressed, not a drudgery.

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A capsule wardrobe can be designed different ways according to taste and needs, but consider a capsule foundation of key pieces. They should be worn year-round and paired with capsule seasonal pieces. (Think tanks, a denim jacket, jeans, a versatile tee shirt, denim skirt, etc.)

 

I stumbled on The Every Girl blog and an article on capsule wardrobes. Caroline Rector, blogger at the gorgeous UnFancy, documents her journey into capsule living and provides helpful tips to follow.

 

Caroline organizes her closet by the number. She says, “I use a “3 of each” rule because I like having one casual pair, one statement pair, and one in-between pair.” Take shoes, for example. Think 3 flats, 3 heels, 3 sandals, etc.

 

She has about 15 tops (3 sweaters, 3 button-up shirts, etc.) and changes her jackets and dresses out depending on the season. In summer she may have 5 dresses and in winter only 2.
And guess what? She’s lived with 37 pieces for a year and loves it.

 

The key is flexibility, yet still maintaining a mindful closet. There’s no hard and fast rules. Find what works for you. Maybe you need more of one thing and nothing of another.

 

I’m just now starting my capsule closet makeover. It’s scary and hard. Over the past few months I’ve forced myself to get rid of pieces I never wear. Surprisingly, I’ve been able to part with way more than I thought possible.

 

And yet, I STILL have too many clothes in my closet! That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s where I’m at.

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I recently color-coded all my clothes in my closet. Who knew I had so much white! I rarely wear white!
My next step: follow Rector’s advice and take everything out of the closet.
Divide all clothes into a love pile, a maybe pile, a no way pile (I’ve already identified most of my stuff that would go into this pile.), and a seasonal pile.

 

“How do I know if it’s in my love or maybe pile?”
You’ll know when you love something. You get excited to put it on and you feel confident. It is tasteful and fits you properly.

 

And that may be the defining moment between maybe and discard. The fit.
Trust me, I know the struggle. It is so real.
For example. I love pencil skirts. They are classy. They’re pretty. They’re sold in great quantities. They also make me look like a bulgy sweet potato.

 

I have curves and hills and turns and an amusingly disproportionate frame. So while a pencil skirt looks lovely on a more even-keeled body, they are almost always 6 sizes too big in the waist and 3 sizes too small in the hips, thighs and you know what.

 

(This is the part where I post an illustrating picture. Sorry, folks. Not happening.)

 

It’s taken more trial and error than I’d like to finally grip this sad truth. They only way a pencil skirt fits me is if it has a whisper of stretch so it accommodates my waist AND my thighs.
However, too much stretch and I’m back to straining fabric and sweet potatoes. Much love to all you fellow sweet taters! 😀

 

But guess what. When I finally paid attention to what skirt/dress fit me best, I quickly realized A-line is most flattering for me.

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I have a pile of pencil skirts waiting for the consignment store and someone who can love them and actually wear them.
I did hang on to a couple pencils. Halfway because it’s hard for me to let them go. Halfway because I’d like to alter the waistband and *crossing fingers* turn them into love pieces.
What to do with seasonal and/or rotational clothing? Store somewhere out of the way and not with your current capsule wardrobe to reduce clutter.

 

I’ll update as I transition into a capsule closet lifestyle. It’s scary. I’ve been a pack rat, but I’m so READY for less clutter.

 

Less really is more. Less vanishes the frustration of nothing to wear. It allows confidence and dignity. And a lack of closet gluttony.

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One of my “love” pieces. A chambray dress, wearable in all seasons.

I’m excited to see where it’ll take me! Have you heard or tried a capsule wardrobe? Any tips or concerns? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

 

XO, K

 

PS: Goodwill is a wonderful place to donate clothes and if you have time, consider consigning. I’ve earned a little bit here and there from selling my clothes at a local consignment shop.

Bone Broth, Round 1

snapseedIn my last  post, I shared my excitement about making bone broth. Well, I made a turkey version! Mom saved a turkey carcass for me from Thanksgiving and I happily used my new book, Broth & Stock, for the recipe.

 

I decided to try it in a slow cooker. Slow-cookers are good when you need to cook the bones overnight vs. a stockpot and leaving a burner on all night. (Not a good idea.)

 

The  turkey recipe in Broth & Stock calls for several ingredients, compared to straight water, bones and something acidic like vinegar for the chicken and beef bone broths, but it’s still incredibly simple. Really. Just throw the turkey bones into the pot and add:

  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 6 chopped celery stalks
  • 1 large onion cut in quarters. No need to peel!
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4-6 quarts cold water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar. (According to author Jennifer McGruther, the acid builds flavor but more importantly, helps minerals release from the bones as they cook.)

I actually didn’t have celery, save for a few already-cooked halves I added in only for the psychological well-being that I “sorta” followed the entire recipe :D, and just used carrots.

The bones are supposed to simmer until soft and crumbly. I simmered that crock pot for 24 hours. Turkey bones must take more time to release their nutrients, because the recipe says to cook for 14-24 hours compared to the 12-18 for beef bone broth & 8-18 hours for chicken.

 

Halfway through,  I tasted the broth. I was worried because it was pretty sweet from the carrots. But by the time it cooked for 24 hours, the sweet flavor was gone and replaced by a fairly bland liquid with savory notes and a tiny bit of bite from the pepper.

 

And the texture! Oh my, so silky. (The gelatin gives the silky texture which forms from collagen in the connective tissues and cartilage. This is an excellent source of protein! )

I guess my brain, gut or both instinctively know I need whatever nutrients come from bone broth. I craved this stuff the first time I read about it. (I do have gut/digestive problems. And the gelatin helps gut linings heal. Isn’t it so wonderful how our body knows what we need?)

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I used the broth to make turkey pho. Talk about a flavor bomb! A dash of fish sauce to each bowl added salt and the fresh noodles, strips of turkey and cilantro, basil, jalapeños, onions and a dash of Sriracha & Hoisin Sauce created a taste bud explosion.

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About a cup of broth was left over that I didn’t use for the pho. I used it to heat in a mug and sip. So comforting.

Have you ever tried bone broth? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Hope you all had a wonderful Sunday and a blessed week ahead. Listen to Christmas music and hold your family and friends close.

XO, K

stock & soul

Happy December 1, everyone!

 

(Disclaimer: I broke all the rules about quickly introducing my (main) topic. Bear with me.)

 

This morning, I woke up grinning because visions of Christmas danced in my head. The Christmas season is joyful, cozy, sacred and magical!

 

Speaking of magic. After I read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg in elementary school, I vowed to always hear the bells. But time plodded on and I “matured.”  We aren’t supposed to be excited about anything when we’re teenagers, right?

 

Ex: “Let’s drive around and look at the Christmas lights in the neighborhood!” says Mom.

“What?!” your 15-year-old self scoffs. “I liked doing that when I was six.” (You actually want to, but you’re a cool calm and collected teen who lives in hoodies and models Henry David Thoreau’s seclusion. But in your room, not Walden Pond.)

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with liking it now, either. We like to look at Christmas lights. And we aren’t six!” Mom and Dad say. They laugh at their own Mom/Dad joke.

You throw a withering glance their way. The plant by the fireplace shudders and drops a leaf.

And then your younger siblings and parents go out and have a wonderful night, their hearts warmed with Christmas cheer. And you sit alone, wishing you weren’t so old and mature.

 

Back to Christmas present: Every season of life is meaningful, but thank goodness teenage angst is in the rear-view mirror. At the ripe age of 22, I’m as gung-ho about Christmas as the squirrels are about hiding nuts. Or corn, if you’re a La Crosse, WI squirrel. True story.

 

Thankfully, my Christmas magic is back and I can definitely hear the bells. I hope you’re just as excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus as I am! Many special traditions go along with this season. Some of my favorite include cooking wassail and gingerbread cookies, blasting Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet and yes, driving around looking at lights. 😀

 

So what’s the point of this blog post? I intended to review two early Christmas gifts I received today. They’ve waited patiently for the limelight, and I’m (almost) as excited about them as I am  about singing Christmas songs. Almost.

 

Broth & Stock and Japanese Soul Cooking are recipe books I received today. Broth & Stock, by Jennifer McGruther, focuses on the lost art of homemade stocks like bone broth. Japanese Soul Cooking, by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, celebrates Japan’s comfort food. Think ramen, curry and tonkatsu.  Yes, I said curry and Japan that close to each other.

 

I haven’t had time to make anything, but the books are gorgeous and the recipes aren’t scary long.

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McGruther shares the age-old practice of making broths. Soups, stews or a simple cup of broth are comforting for a reason. Glutamate is a gut-friendly amino acid. This is the inspiration for MSG, which attempts to mimic the taste of glutamic acid. It’s not so gut-friendly. But that’s another post for another time.

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Photo in Broths & Stocks

Bone broths are full of collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked. You see gelatin when juice from meat congeals, and it gives hot broths/soups a silky texture. It’s also full of protein.

 

I could go on and on. Needless to say, I can’t wait to find an assortment of bones at the grocery store and make my first beef or chicken bone broth!

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Switching gears. Ever since I learned about Haiku (Japanese poetry) in fourth grade, I’ve been curious about Japanese culture. So my procurement of Japanese Soul Cooking is super exciting.

 

The opening sentence on the inside cover says “Move over, sushi.” I couldn’t agree more. I enjoy California Rolls and I’ve dipped my toe in the sushi-craze, but I’m far more interested in the steaming bowls of ramen, the curious vegetables and comforting gyoza (dumplings).

 

Notice a pattern? Yeah, broths are kind of my thing. As are vegetables and meat. And the occasional baked macaroni indulgence. Maybe I should just acquiesce and admit that most foods spark my interest….

 

Anyway. I’m already hungry and reading sentences from the book like “tatsutage (fried chicken marinated in garlic, ginger, and other Japanese seasonings), and savory omelets with crabmeat and shiitake mushrooms” makes me salivate!

 

Ono & Salat introduce their book with a fun anecdote about Japan. In 1872, Emperor Meiji took a bite of meat in public. Not a big deal. Unless it hadn’t been done for a thousand years because of a religious edict! Thus began a new era for Japan. Comfort food. And an introduction to Westerners and trade after years of isolation.

 

The Japanese embraced the foods of other cultures, but maintained their cultural heritage by using their own tried and true ingredients along with the new.

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Photo in Japanese Soul Cooking

My first recipe will be, obviously, ramen.

 

Have a wonderful evening, friends. May your hearts be filled with hope and joy.

 

XO, K

 

 

 

 

Rawz Review + Thanksgiving Pho

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First, I am embarrassed at how long I’ve been away from this blog. Apologies!!

Second, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and food, I bring to you a restaurant review!

 

Monroe, LA has a few gems tucked in the city. Rawz is one of them. It first opened near ULM in what I can only describe as a shack. Very modest and unassuming on the outside, this metal building actually holds treasure. In the form of food.

 
Wildly popular, Rawz opened a second location in West Monroe near Hobby Lobby.
Many people go for the sushi, but the menu is expansive. I go for the pho, because it’s the only place that sells pho in Monroe. Please add ramen to your menu, Rawz! (The curry is also yummy!)

 
The pho is hot, tasty and a noodle/soup dish. Think a huge bowl of steaming hot savory broth, lots of rice noodles, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and basil, onion slices, jalapenos and a lime wedge. I’m happy. It’s a trigger food. I’m happy: my soul is warm, my taste buds rejoice. Add a dash of Sriracha sauce and/or Hoisin sauce and the bowl positively zings.

 
My last chicken pho bowl was a comfort purchase. I went to the dentist for a filling. NOT FUN. Strange personal fact: I apparently have little holes in some of my teeth due to my teeth not fusing properly?! So I’ve had to get several fillings to protect the holes from turning into cavities. Anyway, this filling was between two molars and popped out or something. It went unnoticed for too long and did turn into a cavity.

 
I was numb for about six hours, but ate my pho like a trooper at about hour four.
AND I got so much topping that I saved half of it and used it the following day for a quick lunch. I didn’t have time to make pho, so I simmered a beef stock broth base in a verrrry quick mix of spices and charred onion and ginger. It was still delicious!

 

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I’ve purchased beef pho the last couple times. Both beef and chicken are delicious. Rawz also offers a meatball or combination meat option. Next time, I want to try and review one of the delicious sushi rolls!
If you’re a local, what do you like to eat at Rawz? Comment below!

 

~

 

So this blog post is a 2-in-1. I suspect I will be completely tied up for the rest of the week enjoying Thanksgiving festivities. However, before I escape into the land of food and family I present: Turkey Pho.

 

It goes along with the above review AND it’s a fantastic way to spice up your coming Thanksgiving feast leftovers. SAVE your turkey carcass!!!

 

If you’ve been curious about my obvious obsession with noodles/spices/broth but not enough to try it for yourself yet, let this be the time! 😀

 

You really are in for a treat.

And though this is NOT authentic pho, it’s still delicious.

 

RECIPE:

  •  8 cups water, or as needed. Adjust recipe as needed
  • 1 turkey carcass

Spices:

  • 1 whole cardamom pod
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 2-4 whole cloves
  • 1 piece of ginger, chopped (depends how much ginger you like. 2-3 inch is fine.)
  • 1 bunch scallions or green onions. Use green tops for garnish, white for broth
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1/2 onion

Garnish:

  • Sliced jalepeno pepper (amount up to you)
  • 1 large handful pho rice noodles per bowl (16 oz package)
  • several THIN or shredded slices of leftover turkey
  • 1 large handful bean sprouts per bowl
  • sliced scallion tops
  • fresh basil
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • salt, sriracha, hoisin sauce to taste, optional

Instructions:

  1. Toast spices over medium-low heat until fragrant. Sear both sides of ginger and onion until lightly charred.
  2. For noodles, either cook per package instructions or fill pot with lightly salted water, bring to boil and stir in rice noodles. Return to boil. Cook uncovered, stir occasionally. Estimate, 4-5 minutes. Drain in colander.
  3. Place turkey carcass, water, spices, ginger, onion in large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer 2 hours.  If on time schedule, 20-30 minutes will do just fine.
  4. Optional: Strain broth through fine-mesh sieve into another pot. Keep at a simmer while preparing bowls.

Bowl Assembly:

  1. Lay desired jalepeno slices in each bowl. Top with plenty of noodles. Lay turkey over noodles and pour boiling broth over top. Stir to heat turkey, then add bean sprouts, green onions, basil, cilantro. Squeeze lime into bowl if desired.
  2. Serve with optional sauces. Try chopsticks and soup spoon if courageous. Have forks on hand if you aren’t a chopstick pro like me. 😀
  3. Slurp to your heart’s content!

Now my stomach is growling. Enjoy!

 

XO, K