Sunday Thoughts: New Year’s Resolutions.

There’s just something about a new year, isn’t there? I love looking back on the past year and thinking about what I would like to improve, and what I would like to maintain over the course of the next year. I used to feel a sense of loss when I thought of the old year being over; lamenting over how I never got a chance to do A,B, or C. But now I look forward to a fresh start: a chance to better myself and my family!

I’ve noticed that, this year in particular, there have been more people mocking new year’s resolutions than participating in them. To a certain degree, I can understand where they’re coming from. It might not be the best idea to purchase a gym membership if you aren’t fully committed to getting into better shape, for example. It’s not smart to radically change your diet or force yourself into restrictive eating habits over the course of 24 hours, when just the day before you were gorging yourself on whatever greasy, nasty food you could find. That’s not realistic, and unless you have a strong sense of self-discipline, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

However, if you are serious about improving yourself and making a positive change, I think it’s worth it to make resolutions and stick to them. In the past, I have been really good about adhering to my resolutions, for example, when I chose to stop eating processed sugar in 2010. I made it for 4 years without eating a single Oreo! Because I paced myself and set realistic goals, I was able to achieve them. That’s what I want to do this year, too! So by writing my goals down and publishing them, I hope to be able to regularly check back on them and update you all on my progress! What are your resolutions?

  1. First and foremost, I will stop eating sugar again. I’ve always felt best when I’ve chosen to stay away from processed and refined sugar, and I feel that it’s an important part of my identity. Another bonus is weight loss, which brings me to my next point.
  2. I am going to lose 50 pounds this year. I’ve spent too much time hating myself and being unhappy, and I need it to stop. For my sake, and my husband’s sake, I need to love myself. I’m going to begin a workout routine, and I plan on sticking to it. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again.
  3. Speaking of skin, I want to begin a better skincare routine. I have been researching Korean skincare for a while now, and I think it’s something I want to try. I don’t take good enough care of my skin, so beginning an intensive routine should give me a nice wake-up call (and dewy, flawless skin, too!)
  4. I want to start cooking more, and with that comes meal planning. There have been too many mediocre pasta dishes in our home this year. IT. MUST. END.
  5. I want to start planning things, writing to-do lists, and create a budget we can thrive on. To achieve this, I am wanting to start a bullet journal! I’m excited to share that process with you. Frankly, I’m excited to share all of these with you!
  6. I want to keep my apartment clean. It would be so much easier to do if we didn’t live here! I want to get better at that so that I’m prepared for random guests whenever it happens. Which isn’t very often, but still. I want to be prepared.
  7. I want to do more projects! I want to focus on my art and improving my home. Creating makes me happy. I need more of that.

Well, there you have it! My New Year’s Resolutions. It’ll be fun to come back a year from now and see where I started, don’t you think? :^)

 

-Haeley

Salted honey ice cream, aka my conversion story.

I’m pretty sure I am the last person to jump on the salt EVERYTHING! bandwagon.

You know what I mean, guys. Let’s see… Salted caramel, salted chocolate, salted Oreos, salted brownies, salted frosting… I’m pretty sure they’re going to eventually come out with salted sea salt or something soon. (um… That alliteration was amazing.)
Anyway. My point is, I never really understood what the big deal was. I mean, salt is EVERYWHERE. Our obesity epidemic is a testament to that. So what made salted sweets so special? (again. I am on FIRE with these alliterations) I just didn’t understand. I mean, I love salt as much as the next red-blooded American, but why the fuss?

Enter Pinterest.

A few days ago I was innocently scrolling the infinite pages of Pinterest when what to my wondering eyes did behold…. But salted. Honey. Ice. Cream. This caught my eye in a big way: first off, ice cream. Secondly, honey. Two of the things I love! And since it didn’t look like difficult, I decided to follow the link.

My life has changed since that fateful day.

I know now that I was wrong. I was wrong to assume that everyone was crazy for loving salted sweets. It’s a beautiful cacophony of flavor, and I have been transformed by this experience. Salted honey ice cream is a wonder of engineering. It will change your life forever. It’s so delicious and creamy, you won’t mind the fact that you are going to make yourself hopelessly fat, because after all, the phrase is “fat AND HAPPY”, amirite? And even though you try, you will get it all over your lips, but that’s okay! Because guess what? You get to lick it off. And what’s more, is it leaves your lips all buttery-ish, and it feels just fine.

The only drawback is that you can’t eat too much at one time because a) you WILL feel sick, and b) you don’t want to run out of this too quickly.

But seriously. Make this.

~Haeley

Food adventure #5: Indian Oven

All day today, I have fantasized about having some delightful foreign cuisine. Preferably Thai, but I was also open to Chinese. As long as it was from across the world, I was okay.
The rest of the day continued in like fashion, with me dreaming of Asian foods even as I gently plowed through an entire pint of chocolate ice cream in one sitting (actually, that’s a lie. I ate like, a sixth of it last night at the park. So, no guilt.), until my dear old dad showed up at home and proposed a proposal that charmed me to the core: we would attend his PTO meeting, and after that we would go to Nunthaporn’s.

Lest you think that is some horrible, horrible club, it’s not. It’s a little Thai place on Main street that is so. Good. Despite the unfortunate choice of name, it’s worth it.

After about half an hour, we remembered: It’s spring break! And that means no PTO meeting! Yay! So we could skip the dull meeting and just go straight to dinner- my kind of evening, folks. My kind of evening.

With this new development in mind, we had another thought: what if we scrapped the Thai idea and got something really exotic…. Like Indian food. 
Oh ho ho, zees ees something new! (say that last sentence in a goofy French accent. It makes more sense that way.) Although I was a little skeptical, I decided to go for it. Because a) food, and b) I could TOTALLY count this as a food adventure worthy of the blog.
Isn’t that thoughtful of me?

So off we went to Indian Oven (or is it India Oven? I can’t remember)!
Little did I know, I was in for an adventure.
India(n) Oven is a little buffet, so you get to see everything and eat it all right away- a major plus. I applaud you, Indian Oven. This is what I got:

Beautiful, ain’t it? Clockwise from the top: um, rice stuff, lamb, blended green stuff, something something paneer, chicken something, and chicken tikka masala.
That is some preeeeeetty good crap, right there. Indeed. In addition to the readily available buffet, they also brought out baskets of naan.

it’s in the shape of a smile, because that’s what you do
when you eat it.

The naan was really good as well. It kind of tastes like a bread stick, only lighter and, well, flat. Also, as I was eating the bread, I thought to myself, “if they poisoned this bread, it would be naan-toxic! Hahahahahahahaha lolololololol hehehehehehehehe ho ho ho”

But let’s get back to the main dish.
The chicken was all really good, the scary-looking green stuff was pretty darn tasty, and the paneer? Oh, mama. Paneer is amazing stuff. It’s a kind of Indian cheese, with a kind of bread-y flavor goin’ on. The sauce they put it in was perfection, and it was my favorite dish by far. I even got seconds and seriously entertained the idea of thirds, but alas, I got lost in the naan.
The dish I was most afraid of was the lamb, honestly. I’ve never had lamb! How was I supposed to know what it tasted like? With fear in my heart and a slight grimace on my face, I tried the lamb. It was…. Surprisingly good, actually! Almost sweet. The word that kept coming to mind was floral, but I don’t  know if that even makes sense. Maybe if it was lamb-wine or something (which I really hope is not a thing, because ew).

At any rate, it was divine, and I’m just really happy right now. You know when you eat a good amount of something and your stomach is pretty full, but not to the point of discomfort? It’s just a happy little bulge, reminding you that DANG life is good. That’s how I feel right now. Perfectly content, except I had my laptop resting on my stomach at an odd angle for the majority of this post, and now it’s a little irritated with me. But whatever. #noregrets

And at least I haven’t done this to myself…. In a while.

Until next time, fellow foodies,

~Haeley

Happy Pie Day!!

I’m not one to care about weird days like Pi Day, but this year was different. I desired a pie, and not just any pie, but a chocolate one.
That I could eat. (meaning sugar free. Duh.)
So I headed over to my favorite dessert website, Chocolate Covered Katie in search of a suitable option to satiate my dire need for chocolate, and I stumbled upon this beauty: Mint Chocolate Fudge Pie.
Oh my lanta, you guys. I found it.
So after running a ton of errands, I set about in search of the necessary ingredients, and ended up going to two stores (thanks a lot for not having tofu, WalMart. Thanks.), but in the end, I think it was worth it. I mean, I would get pie out of this endeavor, so that makes it okay.

There’s a tricky bit to this story, however. You see, we recently discovered mold in our kitchen, so to keep our house from being eaten alive by little green things, we’ve had to completely gut our kitchen. I mean completely.

This is our living room, covered in kitchen. Savannah & I really enjoy
fighting our way through boxes in order to eat breakfast.

Gutted.

So as you can see, making a pie was going to be an adventure, indeed. No counter, no stovetop, no nothing. So where did I go about making this culinary masterpiece, you may ask? Why, the only logical place to go under such circumstances!

The garage.

We’ve made the garage into a makeshift kitchen of sorts for the time being, with a small table supporting various appliances such as the waffle iron and the griddle. I moved the blender & the wok down (if you want to frustrate yourself, try melting a package of chocolate chips in a wok. Ughhhh), and set to work making my pie. I made sure to blend it really well, because I reeeeally didn’t want to have to deal with a tofu-y texture, plus I hoped maybe blending really well would get rid of the smell. Cuz honestly, the tofu was throwing smells at me that reminded me of a dissection. DEFINITELY not something I want to envision as I’m tucking into a pie.
mmm, Haeley, this pie is delicious! Did you use essence of formalin? It tastes just like that eyeball we dissected in class last month!
Sorry for that mental image, but I really needed to communicate my distress to you. I was seriously worrying about not being able to eat my own pie due to vivid imaginings of unsavory pie mix-ins, when I remembered I forgot to put honey & mint in the pie! Two essential ingredients!
I hastily blended them in, and to my delight, the peppermint rid the pie of any otherwise questionable odors. (BLESS YOU, DOTERRA. BLESS YOU.)
I popped the pie into the freezer, & began the waiting game. Every 5 minutes one of my siblings would inquire as to whether the pie was ready or not, and every 5 minutes my patience was chipped away just a little bit more. But a watched pot never boils, nor does a watched pie ever chill, so we sat down to an episode of Avatar and ate some chicken pot pie for dinner.

Soon, the time came, and I snuck the pie out of the freezer, and to my intense delight, it was done!

I tried a bite and… Oh, gosh….
People. This pie is wondrous.
W.O.N.D.R.O.U.S.
It’s so chocolatey, and smooth, and minty, and…. And…. Wow.
If ever there was a man-catching pie, this would be it. Just my humble opinion. I mean, I haven’t tried catching any men with it, but I’m sure Charlotte would approve.

“OMG YOUR PIE TOTALLY WORKED YAY ME THANK YOU SO MUCH”

This is something I am, without a doubt, making again. 

Oh! Oh! Bonus!! Since I blended it so much, the texture was sooooooooo smooth and creamy. I definitely recommend blending it thoroughly, if you want a silky texture with no tofu-ishness. And I added about 4 drops of peppermint essential oil, and that was perfecto. I know the recipe calls for peppermint essence or whatever, but oil totally works.
Yeah, I’m a doTERRA geek. Deal with it. 
In short, if you ever need a wonderful pie, look no further! I have found it!
(ps- if you want to see pictures of my pie, check out my Instagram! I finally have one!)
~Haeley

Food adventure #3 & 4: Seaweed snacks and a sugar cookie milkshake!

Wow, you guys! Two birds with one mouth stone!
I am really getting the hang of this whole “adventurous eating”  thing, dontcha think? I tried not one, but TWO new foods, AND I even found a new recipe in a newspaper! I’ll try that one someday, because it sounded WONDERFUL. I’ll also put up the recipe when all is said and done. And tasted.

The first thing I decided to try was:

My mom got these little beauts from Sprouts, and I figured, what the heck? Why not try it out. Here’s the reaction:

It was almost palatable. It had an interesting flavor, kind of like the smell of a fish hatchery mixed with mustard dipping sauce. My tastebuds didn’t actually know what to make of that one.
Also, the taste lasted longer than I would have liked, which was a turn-off. Better luck next time, seaweed.

My next venture was a milkshake.
Originally, I wanted a strawberry milkshake, but upon realizing that I don’t actually like strawberries that much, I perused one of my favorite websites, Chocolate Covered Katie. She has some really great recipes, and they are all healthy and (mostly) sugar free! Yessss.
I made her Sugar Cookie Milkshake, because it sounded intriguing, and who doesn’t like cookies?

And no, I did not spike the shake. I’m just a creep.

I think I added too much banana, because it was a liiiiittle too fruity for a cookie-flavored shake. However, I haven’t actually had a sugar cookie in years, so that may just be me.
I definitely enjoyed the shake more than the seaweed.
Until next time, fellow foodies!

~Haeley

Food adventure #2: Fried pickles.

I’m not sure when or how, but somehow I became aware of the existence of fried pickles. At first the idea repulsed me, but soon, I was entranced. I mean, pickles are already delicious, but could there be MORE? Was I missing out on a crucial life event, not eating these things?
Yesterday, I finally decided that it was time. I took to Pinterest in order to find the best recipe. Since I am afraid of actually frying things, I found an oven-baked recipe, and set to work on that. Here was my process:

  •  obtain ingredients
  • realize all we have for bread crumbs is tortilla chip crumbs
  • weep a little inside
  • get over it
  • assemble the pickles
  • drink all the pickle juice while they are in the oven 
  • realize I am gross for liking pickle juice
  • get over it
  • whip up some dip
  • take pickles out of oven
  • taste them
It’s…. An interesting experience, fried pickles. I can’t decide if I like them or not, because the tortilla flavor from the crumbs is a bit overwhelming, but the dip tastes really nice with them, so I consider this a success.
dip

plus pickle

equals this

taste test

consensus: I would make these again.

In case you’re interested, here’s the recipe.

Until next time, fellow foodies!
~Haeley

Food adventure #1: pumpkin smoothie.

In keeping with my New Years resolution, I have decided to journal about my latest venture with food: the pumpkin smoothie. Sounds dreamy, right?
I was Pinteresting when the urge for pumpkin hit me. I needed it right. Then. But I didn’t have the means or patience to make a pie, and I didn’t know any other recipes! That’s when I decided to surf the wonderful interwebs and find a solution. And that solution came in the form of a pumpkin smoothie!
I assembled the ingredients, blended it, and… Presto! Smoothie time!

The conclusion?
Not too bad… But definitely not my favorite. I was hoping for something a little more pumpkin pie-ish, and this tasted more like bananas and Greek yogurt (two of the ingredients). Which was weird, because I added less than suggested and put MORE pumpkin than was suggested as well! What gives, smoothie?

It smelled delightful, and I only wish it was as wonderful as the smell made it out to be. While it wasn’t terrible, I probably won’t be making this again anytime soon.

Oh well. What’s done is done and cannot be undone. Onwards and upwards!

Stay hungry, friends.

~Haeley

My New Year’s Resolution

Okay. I’m kinda tired of constantly making and breaking fitness goals for New Years, and they usually don’t work out for other people either (if you have a New Year’s success story, I stand corrected.), so I’ve decided to scrap that idea- horrible, I know. But I have a new one, a resolution I’m almost positive I will ENJOY.
Over the past little while, I have come to the conclusion that I am helplessly in love with food.

 I think about it all the time, I eat it at least three times a day, and the last time I went to the mall, I browsed a couple stores, but I was really excited about the food court. What sights! What smells! What excitement!

Admittedly, I only got one thing, and that was only because my little sister wanted some pretzel bits.
Which, for the record, were DELIGHTFUL. They were plain, unsalted, and sauce-free, so we were free to enjoy the simple pleasure of fat, moist, warm pretzel. Ohhh my.

Off topic, sorry. My point is, I freaking love food!

And my New Year’s resolution is as follows:
BOLDLY GO WHERE NO TASTEBUD HAS EVER GONE BEFORE!
Just kidding. I’m not about to go eat fried grass soaked in elephant tears or something. I’m simply going to get out there and try food I’ve never had before, be it a new flavor of Jamba Juice, or that weird-looking hamburger/hot dog thing at Quik Trip, I will eat it! And I will photograph my various adventures in eating, and write about it, so I have a journal of food. That’s one way to keep a food diary, right?

The way I see it right now (and this is subject to change), I should enjoy eating. It shouldn’t have to be a tasteless torture time whenever I eat lunch. Of course, I will still try my best to be as healthy as can be, but I think it’s possible to be healthy and still enjoy eating things that may or may not be completely “good for you”. Moderation in all things, and hopefully 2014 won’t end with me being a fatty.

~Haeley

Baking- attempt #2

Okay, guys. I have obviously not learned my lesson in regards to never baking ever, because I’m making a pumpkin pie right now. Hopefully it turns out mildly palatable. At least the batter tastes good!

Please disregard the yucky appearance. It looks lovely, and it tastes good, too!
Yeah, I tasted batter with raw egg in it. Deal with it.
THIS PIE LOOKS AMAZING YOU GUYS MERRY LATE CHRISTMAS TO ALL

~Haeley

A Christmas story- or, proof that I cannot bake.

I try to do nice things. I really do, I promise! They just hardly ever turn out the way I hope.

Take today, for example.
Today, I decided to make cookies for my YW leaders and my friends, because that’s what a wholesome young woman does, right? She makes wonderful cookies out of the goodness of her heart, and naturally, they end up like beautiful Tollhouse treasures, because that’s just how everything turns out for girls- because we’re naturally gifted in the kitchen. Right?
This is what I was expecting:

Accurate image of my expectations
Perfect image of how my cookies would look in the oven
Flawless representation of how my dough would look
Enjoyment of my perfect cookie as reenacted by an Asian child
Spot-on close up of how delicious my cookies would be.

I had dreams, people. I dreamt of a better cookie- a perfect cookie, filled to the brim with delicious chocolate chips and the innocent Christmas dreams of a happy child. Oh, how wrong I was!

It began simply enough, my quest for cookies. I set about getting the ingredients together, and thought to myself how awesome this was going to be- Just kidding. I kinda knew this was going to be painful. I just didn’t know how bad it would be.
I popped the first batch in the oven, and when they came out…. This happened.

I DID NOT PUT BUGS IN THESE, OKAY
They looked TERRIBLE. I wept, wailed, and gnashed my teeth. Even Geneal couldn’t maintain composure around my disaster cookies. Of course, she was also slap happy, but that is no excuse. She laughed and laughed at my expense, and as I seasoned the cookies with my tears, I put another batch in the oven.

My second batch was not much better, but whatever. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Okay. Lame excuse. But I really was trying to be nice and loving and wonderful with these things…. It just didn’t turn out right. Savannah walked in at one point and remarked, “oh my gosh these are the ugliest cookies I’ve ever SEEN!!! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!!!” You gotta give her props for being honest, though. 😛

My true feelings

I cursed the cookbook that led me astray in my culinary aspirations.

“YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!” 

I shrieked in my agony. How was I supposed to become a cute homemaker if I couldn’t even get cookies right?
I’ll probably accidentally kill my future spouse and children one of these days.

This is where my life is headed, I know it. 

But I digress. Cookies were still to be made!! I sallied forth and brought more ugly cookies into the world.

NOT the finished product. They just looked sad on the
cookie sheet, all melting and such.

Still ugly, but you know. Whatever.

I also danced around in the kitchen quite a bit, embracing my sweet moves. Because after all, that is how you bake cookies. 

Geneal pointed out that maybe if I put more flour in the cookies, they might not suck as much. I grudgingly obeyed, and suddenly-

 OH MY GOSH COULD THESE COOKIES ACTUALLY BE PALATABLE?!?!?!?!?!?!!??!!?!?!!!!!1??!?

Let’s hope so. I sent the prettiest ones off without sampling them (except for the one I dropped on the floor. I ate that one. It was pretty okay, I guess.), and with that, I was done!
I should probably mention at this point that I made them without white, refined sugar. Cuz I don’t do that crap. I used coconut sugar, and that might be part of the reason why they were so frickin’ ugly. Health comes at a price, folks. That it does.

I also decided it would be appropriate to shoot Julia a text documenting my baking failures.

Me: I am literally the worst baker in the history of the whole entire world. Why why whyyyyy

Julia: 

Well, these are my cookies!

Time out. These cookies look like they were kissed by angels and Martha Stewart herself. This is not a fair world. I reluctantly showed her my cookies.

Me:
Shut up.
Well, guys. That is my Christmas Eve story for you. 
Oh! For the 11th day of Christmas, I got a little Christmas CD. Fun stuff!
~Haeley