My Breakfast, My Blessing

Each morning I wake up. Regardless of whether I slept well or slept poorly, no matter if my covers are scattered over the floor or in the same place as when I drifted off the night before, and whether or not I jump up at the sound of Here Comes the Sun or pretend that it doesn’t exist, I wake up with one goal in mind. Get myself some breakfast.

Without fail I joyfully eat breakfast each and every morning. I would not be alive if not for Cheerios and SKIM milk (anything other than skim just seems yucky), though I’ve been known to branch out in favor of fruit, toast, oatmeal, or eggs of the scrambled variety. Sometimes I prepare it simply in my dorm room, other times I’ll mozy on over to the diner, and occasionally I’ll have the kitchen in my home to work with.

cereal smiling

But it truly doesn’t matter where or what I eat, just as long as I can refuel myself in the morning and give myself the energy and positivity that is often the true prize from that box of Cheerios.

And if I have to wake up an extra 10 minutes earlier to ensure that I get my morning off to a happy and healthy start and I’m not a grump-a-lump for the whole day, why that’s no trouble at all.

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How to Assemble a Grill

Firstly, let me offer you my sincerest congratulations for getting to this point. After days of searching online and creating what is sure to be a permanent indentation in the couch cushions, after hours of checking shipping updates until you could recite your order confirmation number from memory, after countless time spent wiping drool off of your lower lip at the mere thought of this heavenly gift, it has arrived. The Weber 22 ½ -inch One Touch Silver Grill.

weber grill

Standing in the doorway of your home, looking at your bundle of joy sitting neatly wrapped up at the end of the driveway, it’s understandable that your eyes begin to tear up as if the grill could already be creating a smoky atmosphere from within the confines of its box. There is nothing separating you from untold happiness besides some feeble packaging and a bit of assembly.

And yet, there seems to be a purity that the white cardboard box seems to convey. A sense of delicacy that dictates this box be opened with the gentleness and caressing care of a lover. More than willing to oblige, it seems natural to run your hands over the One Touch description, shivering as you read of its porcelain enameled bowl and lid. However, your hands dare not touch the Weber logo; there are still things in this world too sacred to suffer such defilement from mere common folk.

But now, it is time. Gently picking up the sides of the box, you shuffle to the backyard as to allow yourself a more intimate setting when bringing life into this world. Instinctively, it seems quite obvious to grasp the top of the lid and slide your fingers underneath the binding tape (tape which you may want to save for scrapbooking purposes). The lid opens effortlessly. Styrofoam packaging next greets your sight, but its job is no longer needed; you are now the guardian of the grill. There seems to be more tape placed onto the actual grill itself, containing certain parts and pieces for later assembly. The secret to life, the universe, and everything is not as heavily defended as this grill, and rightfully so.

The directions are placed neatly on top. But this process is your birthright. No instructions necessary. The only decision you have to make is whether to trash or recycle this worthless pile of paper. And seeing as the recycling bin is much longer of a walk, and therefore would mean much longer time spent away from your Precious, it is perfectly acceptable to carelessly chuck that once great beauty of a tree into the garbage can.

I’m aware that by now you’re starting to worry about how much effort and energy you’ve sunk into this project. You’ve already missed your 11 o’clock showing of The Price is Right; what if they were playing Plinko today?! But you just need to keep going, because I know you can do this, I know you’ve been working your whole life to arrive at this point, I know that you can give it at the very least, 80%. I understand that your desire may be beginning to wane just a tad, but I can assure you that the Southern Smokehouse Burger, as shown in the complimentary Weber cookbook, is indeed as mouthwatering as it appears.

southern smokehouse burger

Enthusiasm sufficiently renewed? I thought so.

Already removed the nuts and bolts from the box? That’s 80% worth of effort if I’ve ever seen it! Now look how they’re all scattered throughout the grass; look how in tune with nature we are today. Finally seeing the light of sun, the promise of greasy goodness to come, and now we’ve taken a comfortable seat on the ground to search for those screws, our hard work is most definitely paying off and soon we’ll be enjoying the finer things in life.

But as you prod and poke at the metal frame, the aluminum vents and ash catcher, the glass reinforced nylon handles, you may begin to notice the distinct change of sunlight. Despite the copious amounts of free time in your possession, you now reach the cardio section of the program, as with renewed vigor, bolts are beaten in and screws and screwed into place before the light disappears (Note: It may be more effective, in the retelling of this harrowing feat if you were to search the Internet for some real construction phrases). Despite the time taken to puzzle over the involvement of extra bolts and question why any sane human being would design a black grill with black screws, you come to the conclusion that good things are worth waiting and working for. And the memory of that Southern Smokehouse Burger sure is a good thing. With hunger and a gluttonous desire to drive you forward, the grill will begin to resemble something that you could actually use while cooking.

Once the grill comes together in a manner not entirely unlike the diagram in the instructions booklet, with a faint marking on the side that is slightly resembles Jesus Christ, comes the most important part of assembly: the test phase. I know you’ve really worked up an appetite by moving that arm back and forth while screwing in some of those pieces. And the fact that you had to miss lunch is now probably starting to catch up with you. Believe me, I understand the effort required in sitting down in the lukewarm sunlight while debating which cut of beef you’d like to allow to first grace the fruits of your labor (not that a fruit would get within 10 yards of your Precious). You’ve really worked up quite an appetite, and it’s time that that appetite was rewarded with what your doctor has frequently and loving referred to as “heart attack inducing bundles of grease and fats yet unbeknownst to man”.

As you hurry back into the house to grab that classic hamburger patty (an old favorite deserving this ceremony of honor), be careful not to trip over that Groupon-bought elliptical that’s still lurking in its battered box in the hallway. You’ll really need to open that box on a day when you have enough free time to find that pair of scissors…

battered elliptical

Minty Fresh

The smell of mint does something to me. It tickles my nose in such a way that I can’t help but smile. I just hear the name, spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, mint, mint, mint, and I begin giggling like a school girl. When at restaurants, I load up on those after-dinner mints to a point where it’d be embarrassing to be seen with me. If you looked in my car, you’d be sure to find those dinner mints spilling out of the glove compartment whenever you’d reach inside expecting to grab a napkin. Come the holiday season, I’ll begin applying a peppermint lotion that tempts me to lick it off my fingers, and would certainly succeed if I didn’t have mint whipped cream to add on top of a steamy cup of mint hot chocolate served in a mug decked out with holly leaves (sorry, no mint mug) to distract me.

DSCN1091The other night, in an effort to complete a bucket list item and cook up some tasty and healthy recipes, I made a delicious fettuccine pistachio-mint pesto dish. Can you guess what main ingredient attracted me to this dish?

But while combing the grocery store for ingredients, I still found myself wanting for a small sprig of mint. Finally, I found some mint, but it definitely wasn’t a small sprig; instead, they had a mint plant. A whole plant producing that wonderful smell and delightful taste that has long left me cheerful! Needless to say, I bought it. The whole plant. And now it sits in a pot on our deck, and I find myself making more and more excuses to sit outside, smell my mint, and be happy.

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A Pescetarian Proposition

I don’t have any qualms about smushing a spider if it sneaks up on me in the house, but on the whole I’d say that I was an animal lover. I actually think that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t, what with puggles (an adorable mix between a pug and beagle) gracing the world with their cuteness.

puggle

Just recently, it was pointed out to me in a randomly life-altering article that if you wouldn’t eat your cat, why eat a chicken, or a pig, or a cow. What makes the life of a pig so different from that of a cat? Pigs are just as personable, fairly intelligent, and their oinks sound just as adorable as a soft little meow. I know that this may seems silly to some, as the differences are abundantly clear to a good portion of the population, but for me, this realization was devastating. In one brief comment, I saw that all animals lives (except perhaps spiders) were worth the exact same and were worthy of the exact same protection.

cute animals

I don’t really eat a lot of meat to begin with. I once went 2 years without eating pork, I don’t have a taste for steak, I enjoy veggie burgers, and chicken is simply an addition to many meals that can be substituted out.  For me, becoming a vegetarian would be fairly easy (though more challenging once I return to UMD). Fish/seafood, however, is not something that I could see myself giving up, both due to the particular way my mouth waters when I see it, and its nutrient content.

When it comes down to it, there are tons of reasons WHY becoming a pescetarian would suit my lifestyle:

  • Because it’s healthier
  • Because it increases energy levels
  • Because it saves money
  • Because it’s better for the planet
  • Because it’s an easy transition for me
  • Because all animals deserve to be treated humanely

But mostly, it’s the fact that if we hadn’t domesticated certain animals, they could be on our menu too. And I just couldn’t bear the thought of someone eating my cat instead of brushing her fur.

cat vs. chick

Animals are not food. They are animals. And as animals, they deserve to be loved and petted and adored and have cute and smile-inducing pictures of themselves taken. No exceptions.

snuggly pigs

A Delicious Addition to My Bucket List

recipe folderSomewhere in the shady recesses of my kitchen, sprinkled with cobwebs, browning with age but taut with neglect, all neat and pristine, without a drop of oil or a splash of vinegar, lays my recipe folder.

Just because I have failed, on many occasions, to follow through with the cooking, baking, sautéing, broiling, grilling, steaming, boiling, or mere mixing of ingredients to create such decedent delicacies, does not mean that I have given up on collecting recipes. In fact, it seems that the fewer meals I cook, the more recipes I store.

guac and chicken kabobsSo watch out Cheesy Cauliflower Rice, because I’m coming after you with all of the fury and fire of a woman who has free time on her hands. Sleep with one eye open Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kababs, because I’m locked and loaded to make you up with a knife and then take you down with a fork. Tuna Melt, don’t for a second think I’ve forgotten about you. Oh, and Greek Shrimp Bruschetta and Pizza Pasta, you better sleep with one eye open.

Because I have a new addition to my Pail List.

Official Pail List addition:

Cook all of the recipes I’ve collected.

Goals for this addition:

  • I’m going to aim for preparing one dish each week (while it’s summer time, as a college dorm is not conducive to creating culinary works of art)
  • Most of the dishes are healthy, so I’d like to document my experience with a few of them on Happiness Through Health
  • I’d like to feel more confident and comfortable, and less awkward and frightened in the kitchen
  • Get one person from my circle of support to try each week’s mystery meal
  • Continue collecting inspiring recipes and embrace any food mess battle scars they may receive

cute apron

I’m excited to see how this Pail List addition will turn out, because it will be requiring constant attention to get completed on time. For now, I’m going to get psyched for my sudden enthusiasm with cooking by perusing some cute aprons online.

Shucking Corn and Loving Life

I never expected shucking corn to be one of life’s simple pleasures. But when you’re sitting on your back porch enjoying the light rays of sunshine, watching bunnies and chipmunks dart around in front of you, smiling at the memories of running outside to catch the falling hale so you could water the house plants with the tiny cubes of ice, remembering how you would catch fireflies for your mom and gently carry them back to the same steps you’re sitting on, and smelling the freshly cut grass from your neighbor’s lawn, it’s hard not to fall into happiness.

I never wanted to be out there dealing with errant silk strings and messy corn leaves, but I’m oh so grateful that I did, because I found more life on those steps than I had ever expected.