Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Pumpkin Season!

I LOVE Fall and I especially LOVE using pumpkin whenever I can. I keep about 4 cans handy at all times. I even feed it to my dogs every day for breakfast. Not only is it a great ingredient but it's also good for you because it's loaded with vitamins A and C, beta carotene, potassium, zinc and fiber. Below I have included a few recipes using pure pumpkin. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes (makes 6-8)

1 1/2 cups of Mrs. Butterworth's buttermilk complete pancake mix
1/2 cup pure pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk (or any kind of milk you prefer) may have to add a little more depending on how thick you like your pancakes 
1 tbls organic vanilla yogurt 

Mix together and cook as directed. 

Pumpkin Butter

1/4 cup pure pumpkin
1 tbls butter or margarine
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
1 tbls honey
sprinkle of sugar 

Microwave for about 30 seconds, stir and enjoy. Refrigerate and use within a week or 2. 

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

2 scoops Edy's double vanilla ice cream
2 tbls cup pure pumpkin (add more or less to taste)
tsp pumpkin pie spice
add whatever kind of milk you prefer depending on thickness and blend together
top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

1/2 cup cold milk
1 pkg (6 servings) Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 1/2 cup Cool Whip
1 ready pie crust

Beat milk, pudding and spice with wire whisk for about 1 minute until thickened
Whisk in pumpkin
Stir in Cool Whip with rubber spatula 
Spread in crust and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving

Apple butter Pumpkin Pie

1 cup apple butter
1 cup pure pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
9 inch unbaked pie shell
1 egg white, beaten
whipped cream for topping

Preheat oven for 425 degrees and place oven rack on lowest position.

Combine apple butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and spices in bowl
Stir in eggs
Gradually add milk and mix well with electric mixer
Brush pie shell with egg white, coating lightly
Pierce holes in bottom of crust
Pour above mix in bottom of shell and bake for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes or until center is slightly puffed and jiggles slightly when pan is tapped
Cool til slightly warm and serve with whipped cream and cinnamon

Easy Pumpkin Dip

1 cup pure pumpkin
1 cup whipped cream
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix together and dip graham crackers in as an easy snack! You could also add cream cheese and more pumpkin to thicken it up. 

Pumpkin Corn Muffins

1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
add about 2 tbls of pure pumpkin to the other ingredients and make as directed on box

Pumpkin Cupcakes

1 box vanilla cake mix
add about 1/2 cup pure pumpkin, tsp cinnamon, tsp pumpkin pie spice and make as directed on box

Dog's Breakfast

1 tbls pure pumpkin
1tbls canned Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul Adult formula

Put in microwave for 15 seconds and then add less than the regular serving of Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul Adult dog food

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inner Calm

I'm positive I've found my inner calm. Life is happening all around me and I've managed to go through the steps of being present in the moments and also knowing how to calm myself if I feel it slipping out of my reach. Here is a list of things that help keep me at peace:

1. Deep breathing. I've tried a few different ways to breathe but the one that helps me the most is breathing inward for a count of 4 and out for 6 and repeating at least 3 times.

2. Along with the breathing sometimes I will repeat anything that I am wanting to achieve in my waking life. Lately it's been the phrase, "I want inner calm."

3. My favorite mantra is saying and repeating, "I am healthy, I am  happy, and I feel amazing," and smiling whilst doing so.

4. Look in the mirror and smile or make a funny face.

5. Listing everything I love during an overwhelming situation always calms me down.

6. Exercise, duh. Some of you probably roll your eyes at that one, but if you've never tried it or felt the amazing high you get after, then you have no idea how much this could be helping you in so many different areas of your life.

7. Hugging my husband, which I don't do enough of. He's a way better hugger than I am.

8. Doing anything with Jaida and getting the sense that she's happy to be spending time with me.

9. When everyone is home and we have just eaten dinner and sit down together to relax in front of the tv, I look around and realize that these are the moments that matter and this is why I wake up every day. I know tv is unhealthy and we could be doing other things, which we do, but to me, everything feels like it's in it's proper place when we are all together and calm like this.

10. My nightly dose of Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea with a teaspoon of sugar.

11. Making music mixes to enjoy on my way to work or sharing with friends.

12. Baking, which I haven't been doing lately, except for the gajillion cookies we ordered from fundraisers, this year.

13. Texting certain friends. I'm not big on phone conversations and often feel uncomfortable trying to find things to talk about. Again, unhealthy, but for me it's easier.

14. Laughing. Wednesday nights are my favorite because we have family tv night where we watch some pretty hilarious shows together. No matter how I'm feeling that first laugh eases any stress away instantly.

15. Reading a good book.

16. Writing in my journal and lately blogging has been a great outlet for me.

17. Donating to the needy. There is nothing quite like the feeling of giving.

18. Playing and cuddling with my dogs and cat.

19. Painting or crafting, both of which I have been lacking.

20. Cleaning. I think that runs in the family. :)

21. Being grateful for everything in my life and knowing that I am lucky to be able to experience so much.

As you can see there are a lot of things that have helped in all facets of my life to bring me peace. There isn't any reason why I should be feeling any other way when I have so much to be thankful for in this world.  Perhaps this list will come to be helpful to many of you. May you find your inner calm as I have found mine.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things Are Looking Up

Since my last post I've made a few major steps toward living past my everyday thinking habits. Towards the end of our vacation I ventured out to the pet store with my family, so Jaida could replace one of her beloved hermit crabs. I allowed myself to be there fully instead of rushing her in what to pick out and we even let her choose a few more items for their habitat. Then, Dan and I stopped by Walmart to drop off and decide on a new Red Box movie. I figured while we were there we might as well purchase some things we needed. Again, there was no rushing or feeling that I needed to hurry and get out of there. It genuinely felt good. No, the trip wasn't a long one and we were home within the hour, but to me, it felt like an accomplishment. I was happy to agree to go without any stipulations and it turned out to be a great experience.

Next up came talking myself into having to go back to work. I felt a little anxious the night before, but eventually it died down and I was able to relax. The work week flew by, as it often does. I made a few trips to the grocery store with no inner problems to talk down and yesterday I told myself I would live the day to it's fullest and I truly feel that I did just that. We visited with my mom, whose birthday is coming up and then we played four rounds of basketball down at the park. Sure, it seems small to most of you, but to me, it's a big deal and to me, it was a wonderful feeling being able to do little things like that with my family and feel good being in those moments.

Today, I am enjoying my quiet morning while Jaida is off at school and Dan is working. At 1pm I have an eye doctor appointment, which I'm sure you've already guessed has put ideas in my mind about the trip. I know it won't last all day and I know what to expect so I should be fine. That's how a normal person would think. No, actually, a normal person wouldn't even think about it, they would go, no questions asked. Me, I have to envision driving there, getting out of my car, waiting to be called back, and then the whole ordeal of the doctor checking my eyes. That's how my brain works. I wanted it to be different today. I wanted to wake up and go about my morning, get everything I wanted to get done at home, get ready and just go. Instead I'm blogging about a stupid optical exam. Seriously? These are the steps I have to take on a daily basis. I have to focus on small things to keep my mind in control and stop it from wandering into dark territory. The reality? I go to my appointment, my eyes are fine, I order my contacts and I'm on my way back home in a matter of a half hour, being able to relax for the rest of my day off. Nothing lasts forever. This trip won't last forever and neither will this over thinking/over analyzing situation. I have to take it one day at a time, living in the moment and focusing on the good. If I dissected my life right now, with these baby steps I've been taking, I'd say things are looking up. Life is good and every day I am grateful for everything I have and I will be fine.

Update: I wanted to let you all know that I went to my exam, sweaty palms and all, and everything turned out great! Then, instead of high tailing it home I decided since I was out I might as well make the most of it, so I deposited a few checks at the bank, stopped at Walmart to get a few things, and then went to Culligan to fill up one of our 5 gallon jugs. Never once did I rush and aside from being nervous at my appointment everything else happened with ease. It's the little things like this that add up. Now I will enjoy the rest of my day off and relax. :)