The Industrious Bee

We are industrious little bees, in constant motion, moving about as if the world will end without our continuous flutter. Sometimes, it seems as if we flit and float about for no apparent reason. Sometimes it feels as if we are busy just for the sake of being busy.

Busy is a crown upon our heads, a medal of honor, a golden plaque given to us by society, a term for those deemed worthy.

But as Socrates says, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Because it is often when we are the busiest that we feel the emptiest.

I think we use ‘busy’ to keep us from life, from friends and family, and from ourselves. I think we use ‘busy’ to hide behind things we don’t want to face. I think that’s what I used to do. But I no longer want to.

Busy was in the stuff I owned, the extra clothes I needed to rearrange in order to fit my other clothes in my drawers, the knick-knacks I had to dust, the craft stuff I needed to sort through. Busy was in my life. But now, much of my stuff is gone, and I can no longer hide behind it, I can no longer be ‘busy,’ for the sake of being busy, for the ease of escaping life. And I no longer want to.

We all have a catalyst that drives us to busy, something that removes us from what really matters. Too often, we are busy being busy. But as Henry David Thoreau says, “What are we busy about?”

I ask you – What are you busy about?

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It’s a Hard Habit to Break

I am an addict. It may not seem serious, in fact, if asked, many people in our society might fess up to this addiction, to the tune of eleven pounds per person (or 2.8 billion pounds in just the USA alone).

Yup, we have a serious addiction to chocolate. We eat it for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, and any other celebration we can think of. And if we can’t think of one, we eat it anyway, just for the sheer joy of it.

Chocolate has many health benefits. Here are a few:
– It is an antioxidant, which basically means it can prevent, or at least slow down, damage to the cells.
– It can improve blood pressure.
– It improves our mood (just looking at it makes me happy).
– Helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

I am seriously addicted to this treat, and knowing these benefits just encourages me to eat it every day. Lucky for me, I have a sugar allergy.

And there is the problem with most chocolate – sugar. When eaten in a candy bar form, cocoa is highly processed, mixed with sugar, often dry milk, and sometimes other little (unhealthy) ingredients thrown in for good measure.

So how do we satisfy our addiction to chocolate and still get the health benefits? I knew you’d ask. A while ago I was scanning “Nourishing Traditions,” a book written by Sally Fallon. It’s a cool book because it not only has a ton of recipes in it, it’s also filled with fun facts and information. It’s just as much fun to read as it is to make the recipes. As I searched through the pages I discovered her fudge recipe. It was so easy, I wanted to cry. Instead, I went out and bought the ingredients and made a big batch of fudge.

RECIPE:
In a large bowl, mix:

-1 cup melted real butter or coconut oil.
I know, I know, fat, right? But (healthy) fat is necessary for our brains to think, and our bodies to work. Butter has vitamins D, E, K, and A, and also protects against tooth decay. Coconut oil (which is what I use), prevents high blood pressure and heart disease, reduces inflammation, and improves energy.

-1 cup raw, organic cocoa.

-1 cup raw, organic honey.
(Since I don’t eat cane sugar, I am sensitive to anything sweet, so I do closer to ¾ cup – but that’s your call).

Mix well before pouring into a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper. Place in freezer. (Note – This bar needs to be kept frozen, or all you’ll have is a pile of chocolate goo. Still tasty, but a lot messier.)

*You can also add things like shredded coconut, chopped walnuts or macadamias, or even cocoa nibs. A sprinkle of sea salt on the top is a yummy touch.

There you have it, fudgy goodness that is actually good for you.

Side notes: There are 48 teaspoons of sugar in one cup of honey. I cut the chocolate into 48 bars, so I know each piece has one teaspoon.

Depending on which site you listen to, we shouldn’t eat more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day (the lower being for women or those who consume less calories). That doesn’t mean you should eat 6-9 of these, it means take it into consideration when adding this treat to your daily diet.

Enjoy!

*I am an Amazon Affiliate, meaning I receive commission on any purchases made through my site.

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In a Stew

I am a meat-eating hippie. But sometimes, it kind of grosses me out. And sometimes, I really hate the taste of meat. So I have to hide it. What better way to do that than in a simple stew?

Recently, I made lamb stew, one of my standby creations. Lamb can be a little gamey, but tossed together with tomatoes and veggies, this stew practically melts in your mouth. Besides, did you know lamb is loaded with vitamin B12, protein, and zinc? What better reason to eat this fantastic stew?

Before I give you a recipe, I am giving my disclaimer. I don’t measure. I dump. Which works out great for cooking a main dish, but not so great when baking. Apparently there’s science involved in that. Ask me how I know.

My recipe is based upon about twenty other recipes, completely altered to make it my own, mostly because I had to use the ingredients I already had. That’s part of simplicity – learning to let go, breathe, and know that everything works out (unless it’s science).

Sorry I don’t have a picture. I forgot in the process of inhaling the tomatoey goodness. Just imagine a big pot of red juicy tomatoes, lamb, and veggies. It was pretty.

 

Here you go:

Lamb and Tomato Stew

In a large stock pot, place approximately 2 T. olive oil.

Add:

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped *Celery lowers blood pressure. And it is low in calories. Nice.

4 carrots, peeled and sliced *Carrots slow down aging. Hmmm, I wonder how many I need to eat to stay at the age I am.

One super large sweet potato, peeled and chopped – Yum, Yum, Yum

Sautee. Temporarily move veggies into a separate bowl.

 

Add about 1 tsp of each: (though I add a tad more, because I like lots and lots of spice)

Garlic powder, thyme, sage, marjoram

Set two lamb shanks in pot, adding more oil if necessary. Brown for about 4-7 minutes per side. (Just a light browning).

 

Add 1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes (or any other canned tomato you wish to substitute. Just remember Pomi tomatoes are 26 ounce, a regular can is 14.5 ounces. But fresh would be best, it always is.)

Add 1 cup of water (or broth). You may need extra water if you’ve used fresh tomatoes. Dump sautéed vegetables back in. Cook on low for 2 – 2 ½ hours, checking every 30 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t get dry. I keep my pot mostly covered, with just enough room for a hint of steam to escape.

Sprinkle in a little Himalayan Sea Salt, to desired taste. *Did you know Himalayan Sea salt increases hydration in the body? Cool, huh?

Black Pepper, to taste. Black pepper has its own benefits, like manganese and iron. Sprinkle on that pepper, baby!

Remove the shanks, shred them, and stir lamb pieces back into stew.

Voila! You have super simple, easy Lamb and Tomato Stew. This would be fantastic served with a crusty bread, or even over quinoa.* Also serve with a big green salad.

 

*I’m not a huge fan of grains (I don’t eat any) – they’ve been shown to produce a whole host of problems in some people (I’m one of them), things like intestinal issues and joint problems. That being said, I do believe we were all created to be unique, and what causes insane discomfort in one person may be the very thing that makes another thrive.

Listen to your body.

Enjoy your stew!

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Insignificant Moments

It was Sunday night. I was tired, cranky (just ask my husband), and bummed. The weekend hadn’t gone as planned. In the midst of running errands, doing chores, attending activities and church, the one thing my husband and I hadn’t done was spend quality time together.

But sometimes, I think life happens a certain way for a reason. I think I needed a reminder of what life is really about. Because life doesn’t always happen in large chunks of time (though that is nice, too).

Life is created in tiny slices, moments that often slip through our fingers. Click To Tweet

Moments like this:
-A husband holding your hand as you drive to the store.
-A child’s face when they win a derby race.
-A grandchild’s smile.
-A spouse’s hug, when you are disheveled, worn, exhausted.
-Cuddling together on a Saturday night, watching a favorite television show.
-Creating a smile on a stranger’s face.

It is in the insignificant moments where life is created, ones we often forget. Click To Tweet
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Full House, Empty Home

Children sit in the living room, texting friends while chowing down burgers from a fast-food restaurant, geometry and science books laying open at their feet. Game systems and electronics fill shelves beneath a blaring tv set. Knick-knacks gather dust. Chairs and sofas line walls filled with many pictures, relatives that no one knows.

In the kitchen, cabinets are piled with unopened mail. Gadgets, most never used, fill every drawer. The mom searches frantically for an ice cream maker she was sure they once owned. “Where is it? That was supposed to be our dessert tonight,” she yells out. But no one hears.

The father is in the garage, digging through boxes of items long forgotten. He has a reunion to go to and wants the jersey he once wore in high school. He doesn’t know if it will fit, or even if he still owns it. But he’s determined to find out.

A lone child plays upstairs, pushing little metal cars across the carpeted hallway. “Zoom. Zoom.” He rushes past one room and then another, stopping briefly in front of the guest room, where shiny ribbons strewn across an unmade bed catch his eye. Gift wrap and boxes, remnants of the holiday season, are thrown on the floor. Sheets and blankets lay haphazard on an old armchair. The little boy squints his eyes, imagining a room filled with children, a house where everyone plays. He looks longingly down the empty hall, then back at the bedroom, wondering why they have a guest room, but never a guest.

This picture is the norm, the scene of a full house. The site of an empty home. Families, even when together, are still apart. Communication is but words across a screen. Noise resonates through silent air. Parents search for things that don’t matter.

When did life pull families apart? When did we forget what’s really important?
I think it began when we crammed drawers with unneeded trinkets, and closets with too many clothes. I think it’s when we piled boxes in once-empty garages, and homes with needless gadgets. I think it’s when we embraced stuff, and let go of life.

We need to get rid of distractions. Whether a cell phone, a kitchen cabinet overflowing with unopened mail, or old boxes in the middle of a garage, we need to let it go.

Distractions are everywhere. Don’t let them be in your home. Turn off your cell phone, if only for a day. Clear a drawer. Toss a box. Stop searching in drawers and closets, looking for things that don’t matter. Everything you need is right in front of you.

What is your distraction? What will you let go of today?

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