Who Needs Lemons?

You know the cheesy old adage. When life gives you lemons, what do you make? Life can be inordinately challenging. Rewarding too but the road is sometimes bumpy. Take my word for it. I like to think myself an optimist but happiness is state that I think everyone works towards. We are all thrown curveballs. These benders and how we address and manage them are what defines us as individuals. Character building exercises. We all deal with our own schtick on whatever basis is the norm for us. For me, anxiety loves to jump on my shoulders every once in a while. When they do choose to find a comfortable seat and stick around, it is altogether entirely annoying. This week, I met a woman who called BS on the whole lemonade scenario. Instead, she said something that resonated with me. Why not give ourselves the power to surrender feelings and thoughts that don't serve us. As profoundly simple as that. Take a hike you. I am in the moment and you have zero place here. I like this idea very much. I think self-awareness is more than half the battle. I plan to put this mantra in motion and I will report back accordingly. Stay tuned. Thought for the day by Elizabeth Barbara Breyer.

In addition to better learning myself, while on my interim sabbatical I am taking full advantage of my free time. I know that my current reality is not a an enduring scenario so I am savoring each and every moment. I rise early, immensely enjoy my multiple mugs of coffee with dashes of cinnamon to set my blood sugar levels straight and get on my pony to ride. Greet the world with gusto and a smile is my new mantra. I am trying my darndest to get in shape. In addition to my regular practice at Charlotte Yoga as well my new calendar item, FlyWheel, I have a wondrous partner in crime for power walking. Conversation with this individual never lends to dull moments. He has shown me a side of the city I had never previously explored. We comment on homes, the colors of doors, shapes of windows, our differing platforms about ivy, what we would do with landscaping and the architecture of front porches. He and I cover the gauntlet in terms of chatter. Our conversation is interesting, dynamic, at times heated but most invigorating. As such, our time together literally flies by. We should all be so lucky when it come time to exercise.

While on our walk this morning, we saw a woman attempting to maneuver a two seat baby carriage. I must admit, finesse was not in her game. At one point, she hit a curb and the buggy almost toppled over. The both of us nearly clutched hands and held our breaths. As she approached us, the bizarre notion about this picture hit us like a two by four. This gal was on a mission yet the seats were empty. No babies, groceries or dogs, which is an all-too-familiar albeit perplexing commonality in New York City. Anyway, we shared a chuckle and spent the following twenty minutes chortling and conjecturing about this bizarre picture. Maybe she was in training? Testing out a new set of wheels? Perhaps she was unaware that the seats were empty. A family member left my brother in a park once. True story. When we returned to the said park he was playing alone, happy as a lark. No harm, no foul. He is still my favorite person in the world. Alas, who knows. I secretly hope we see her again tomorrow. Perhaps one of us will muster up the fortitude to inquire about the madness. I suppose we can now say, only in Charlotte. And, we have officially seen it all. My stars.

I am elated that Spring has sprung in our lovely city. Everything is in full bloom. Our hammock calls my name and that of a book on a daily basis. The sound of lawnmowers drums in the evenings after men and women return home from work. We recently pruned our roses, did some serious weeding, sprinkled seed on the grass, planted all our herbs and filled the hummingbird feeder. This is indeed the most halcyon time of year. I love hummingbirds. I had never even seen one until I came to Reynolds Ranch. I think they are good luck. The tiniest birds in the world, hummingbirds can see and hear better than humans. They visit hundreds of flowers daily to get their daily nutrients, can actually fly backwards and weigh less than a penny. The female birds build the nests as well as raise the babies and contrary to belief, they in fact do not mate for life. Week before last, I was on the PC late at night, Googling as I do best. I tell you, in recent weeks, the computer has become my most trusted companion. My iPhone too. I started at 2 gigs and am now up to 6. The madness has to stop. Never mind teenagers being obsessed with technology! I have taken some lessons at Apple and am a machine. 
Sort of. It is a powerful vortex that locks me in for hours. Ask me anything and I can tell you. Global affairs, pop culture, travel, weather and any bit of useful and also egregiously useless information that makes for interesting conversation. If you are disbelieving, please see the hummingbird reference above. 

So during a midnight clicking session, I came across a great offer for a massage not too far from our home. Zen Massage Charlotte. I have been on a mission to shake some pounds and hit the five pound mark. I felt like some sort of reward was in the cards. Gwyneth says that massage is a great way to eliminate toxins and who I am to argue. Well not entirely. I did read that she was a proponent of vaginal steaming.  I don't think so. Thank you again Google. I digress. The place I went is housed in what looks like a vacant, Victorian home on East Boulevard. I asked friends about it and no one could offer testimonials. Never a good sign. Well, I am here to report that my 55 minute massage was the best I have ever had and I shall return. So you can gently pack that into your pipe and smoke it. In other news, we are on the hunt for the best coffee shop in Charlotte. We have four under our belt this far. The challenge will ensue this Saturday. I found the perfect earring for my double pierce that I got my freshman year of college and after the set time, promptly removed. I feel very hipster and I have the lovely Carrington to thank for that. We also went to a spectacular wedding of dear friends held at the Mint Museum weekend before last. The livery made for a memorable uptown weekend indeed. All hail to the Queen City. Lastly, I cannot get enough of the half price oysters at ROCKSALT Charlotte. They have a super back deck, the white wine of my choice and oysters at 50% off from 11 to 4 on weekends, including Fridays. Takes me back to my business trips in Seattle that always included a trip to  Elliott's on the water. I would go there for happy hour and shamelessly clear two dozen for myself. Ain't no valley low enough.

This all being said, in my effort to get into shape, I have eliminated what does not agree with me. I know what I should not eat but it seems that I am at times a glutton for punishment. Self fail, no bid. Any form of dairy hates me but alas, I far from hate it. Ben and Jerry's, I am talking to you! Ditto carbohydrates in the form of pasta, bread, etc. So I have cut it all out save for one day a week when I let it all go as they like to say. I am finally learning that "cheating" with foods that do not agree with me is not all that it is cut out to be. I am on the wagon Sunday through Thursday. A dear friend in NYC taught me a trick. In lieu of ordering a cocktail, simply get a club soda or fizzy water with lime and if you want, a splash of cranberry juice. It is a faux cocktail but is somehow rewarding. The best part? I can drive home after an evening of pounding these elixirs and I wake up feeling like I am on top of the world. So I am eating lots of protein, eggs, beans, lentils of all shapes and colors and getting creative with substitutions. Additionally, we are eating with the seasons. More on this later. For the first time in my life, I do not feel deprived. My new favorite lunch is blended soups. Cheap to prepare, quick and easy. Leeks love celeriac. Squash dances nicely with thyme or star anise and a bit of broth as well as the blender. Broccoli and arugula, spinach or kale, all fiery combinations. The sky is the limit. Recipes coming soon. We also love lettuce wraps. A glorious head of crisp romaine and sautéed meat for stuffing. Thanks to these simple tricks I am seeing results and feeling really fantastic. According to my scale, another massage is due. Happy eating friends.

Fried Rice Cauliflower Style

Please Procure

1 head of cauliflower - chop the stalk and reserve for later, cut into florets and pulse in your food processor until it resembles rice
2 TBS coconut oil - olive oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil will all work too
2 inch knob of ginger - skinned and chopped
3 cloves of garlic - chopped
1 zucchini - you can also use butternut squash, acorn squash, green beans, really whatever vegetable you have 
2 cups of greens - kale, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens and collards (I used collard greens as I buy it chopped in big bags for 3.99)
3 scallions - chopped
1 cup of garbanzo beans - or any other type bean you fancy
1 pinch of turmeric - I read that this is the wunder spice and I put it in everything!

Quick and Dirty

1. Heat your oil in a pan on medium heat. Throw in the ginger and garlic. Stir around until they begin to brown.

2. Now add your chopped zucchini. Let this cook for approximately two minutes. Stir regularly to coat. If you add any type of squash, you will need more time, approximately twenty minutes or so. You will know it is done when you can put a fork in it.

3. Add your cauliflower rice. Give everything a generous stir to coat. Set the timer for two minutes. 

4. Now add the scallions, your greens and garbanzo beans. Let it all cook for approximately two minutes.

Should you wish, you can add anything on top that wets your whistle. Diced parsley, sesame seeds or even toasted walnuts. I need to make a trip to Costco for Walnuts (best price out there) so none for us. We did add a dash of Tamari. Soy sauce works too. Ditto guacamole! Want some meat? Cauliflower rice loves bacon, sausage, ground beef, sautéed shrimp, the works.  Last week we made Chipotle inspired bowls with ground bison, roasted corn, chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes and all the other first goodies. The sky is the limit. All hail to no carbs!

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