{the new year} Taking Care of Myself & a Long List of DIY Projects

Hello 2012! I am so happy to see you. 2011 wasn’t exactly the best year of my life (to put it nicely), and I’m looking forward to a fresh start. I’ve got enough energy and enthusiasm to put my wish list in action. Good thing too, because it’s long!

Number One on my list is learning how to take better care of myself, partly by using a healthy combination of food and beverages, and partly by using physical and mental exercises to both tone and relax my body and mind. I watched myself struggle this past year with immense external stress and I wasn’t happy with my reaction. I stopped exercising, chose to not eat as healthy as I could, and swapped out nourishing herbal teas for glasses of wine. The funny thing about food and drink choices is that none of it is really a secret from other people. Even if you didn’t know I had made those changes, you can tell by looking at me. My clothes don’t fit as well as they once did, my posture is slumpier, my skin isn’t exuding that rosy, healthy glow that I know and love, and my hair has lost some of its luster. My goal for this year is to learn how to take care of myself during times of stress. Because let’s face it: I’m almost 40 and my carefree years are behind me. If I don’t learn how to make good choices now, I’m in trouble in the future.

:: Ideas to put this goal into action: mini food challenges; mini workout challenges; a commitment to practice yoga everyday ::

Number Two is an ongoing goal of mine: figure out a few kid-friendly meals that will work for the whole family, or at least for both of my children at one time. I have two children with completely different taste palates. Throw in a few food allergies and you have an impossible dinner situation. My goal is to find at least 5 complete meals that are 1) easy to prepare; 2) healthy; 3) egg-, meat-, and dairy-free; and most of all, that both girls will like!

:: Ideas to put this goal into action: do some brainstorming with the kids and find out what they want to eat; comb through cookbooks and food sites to find recipes; have the girls help me with meal planning and prep ::

Number Three is to learn how to make foods that are staples in my kitchen but are always purchased at the store. I’ve tried my hand at almost all of these things and have failed miserably. It’s time to learn a bit about technique. This list includes:

homemade Tortillas

homemade Marshmallows

homemade Crackers

homemade Graham Crackers

homemade Gnocchi

homemade Pasta

homemade Indian Curry

:: Ideas for putting this goal into action: start by asking everyone I know (this includes you!) for trusted recipes for these items; practice, practice, practice making them; document and learn from my mistakes ::

Number Four is to learn some new “Around the House” recipes, including homemade deodorant (I’ll start by checking out Erika’s recipe), more homemade lotion and balm recipes, homemade bars of soap for the shower, and homemade bath bombs so the girls can have some fun in their new claw foot tub when we move in a few weeks. All of these new ‘Around the House’ goodies will complement the ones we already have and love.

:: Ideas for putting this goal into action: experiment with small-batch recipes; find packaging and containers that complement each product; have fun making and using them! ::

Number Five, my final kitchen goal, is the same one that Christine shared the other day: jazz up my lunches! Lunch is made up of leftovers or a really quick something. It’s usually not green and fresh, and I would like to start seeing more raw vegetables on my daily lunch plate. I have a feeling that Numbers One and Five might be related, don’t you?

:: Ideas for putting this goal into action: do some brainstorming about what I like to eat for lunches; find recipes that allow me to prepare ingredients ahead of time; carve out time everyday to put it all together ::

What a nice long list of Kitchen Goals for 2012! Next time I see you I’ll share my Outdoors Homesteading Goals for 2012. Stay tuned!


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Ona says:

    These are fantastic and big goals for the year! Good luck with all of them – your committment to them is inspiring.

    I make small batch soap at home and it’s not difficult – if you need any tips or pointers, let me know, I’d be happy to share recipes and/or techniques with you.

  2. Jillian says:

    Thanks Ona! I’m glad to hear you make it and it’s not too hard. I know nothing about the process but I’ve heard that people make their own soap so I thought, “hey, I can too!” I’ll keep you posted.

    1. Jillian says:

      Thanks Mary for the links. Coconut in a marshmallow – that’s something I never would have thought of! I’ll try them!

  3. Amber says:

    Thank you for sharing Jillian. It is great to see Number One as taking better care of yourself, certainly of great importance and something many people struggle with. I’m not a soap maker but if you need any help with making small easily adaptable changes to your diet/daily routine I’d love to contribute. I’m also working on a best of…for healthy, easy recipes if interested. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do great.

    1. Jillian says:

      Thanks Amber! I would love any advice on making easy adaptations – I find that making small changes is always the way I am able to get back on track successfully. I’ve forgotten how to do that this past year.

  4. LeeAnn says:

    I’m looking to get back to yoga practice. There are tons of options in Saratoga and I’m just figuring out where to get started. Are you taking classes? Maybe we could team up to check some out. Also, belly dancing in Ballston Spa — I’m totally there!

    1. Jillian says:

      LeeAnn, my classes are on the TV for now! I’m moving in 2 weeks and will investigate real classes after I settle in and get the lay of the land. I will come and watch you belly dance anytime!

  5. Erin Olson says:

    I like these recipes of Peter Reinhart’s for crackers: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/may/28/food/fo-cracker28

    I made these over Christmas and they were yummy! http://www.52kitchenadventures.com/2011/09/22/homemade-goldfish-crackers/

    This one from smitten kitchen is next on my list to try: http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/03/whole-wheat-goldfish-crackers/

    These chai tea graham crackers are to die for! I made them with my mom last fall when we were visiting and we also made homemade cardamom marshmallows. The resulting s’mores were heavenly! http://www.designsponge.com/2011/09/in-the-kitchen-with-alexis-and-courtneys-chai-tea-smores.html

    1. Jillian says:

      Thank you Erin! Peter Reinhart’s breads are fabulous so I have no doubt he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to crackers.
      The goldfish recipe had a link to her graham cracker post – another thing on my list! It is so helpful to read about other people’s cooking successes and failures. It helps me as I try to whip up a dish I am completely unfamiliar with.
      Holy Moly those chai tea smores look good don’t they?????

  6. Mil says:

    Hi Jillian,
    When you say Indian Curry, do you mean the spice mix or a paste? Either way, I love Maya Kaimal’s cookbook “Savoring the Spice Coast of India”. Her recipe for “Peppery Chicken Curry” and “Pumpkin (I use butternut) with Toasted Coconut” are faves. This cookbook is more of a Southern Indian book, so it’s a little different than the usual Indian fare found here.

    1. Jillian says:

      Mil, I want to learn how to make a tasty curry dish. Something with some tofu and/or chickpeas, served over rice. Anytime I try a curry recipe it tastes like it’s missing something. I bet I could substitute tofu for the chicken in the dish you mention.
      2 of her cookbooks are at my local library so I will start there. Thanks!

  7. LeeAnn says:

    The Yoga Spa in Ballston Spa has mommy and me yoga classes on Monday afternoons.

  8. Robin says:

    I just discovered yogaglo.com. For $18/month, you can do yoga in the comfort of your own home whenever you can grab some time. There are zillions of permutations – choose by duration of course, instructor, ability level, type of yoga, pose tutorials, etc. I’m a convert, especially this time of year when snow days, kids’ sickness and holidays turn my me time back into parenting time. Bravo for the all the resolutions. Sharing them out loud is half the battle.

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