Thursday, May 25, 2017

11 Favorite Things

Hi all,

With summer just around the corner, the feelings of excitement, free spirits and long days tinging the air, thought a fun entry was in order.  Behold, "11 favorite things" of the moment.

1.  Buckwheat pancakes.  I know, I know.  My being a pancake lover is old news by now.  What isnt old news is buckwheat.  The name is deceptive, as it actually isnt a "wheat" at all.  In fact, its a fruit seed.  Buckwheat is grain/gluten free and yet, results in pancakes that taste exactly like the real deal.  Homey, comforting, bread-y, filling, totally delicious.  Be warned though, once you try buckwheat, you may never go back to grain pancakes again.  These are so easy, taste exactly the same, yet are way better for your health and waistline!

I have several awesome recipes on the offering for your tasting pleasure.  Take your pick from the photos and recipes below, all my own. 

(Click on the name of the pancakes for the recipe!)

Matcha Raspberry Chocolate Chip

Pumpkin Oat

Mixed Berry Pancakes

Cranberry Chocolate Chip

Pumpkin Lavender

Pumpkin Pie Paleo Pancakes (grain free, dairy free, sugar free and low in calories- yet, they taste like eating pumpkin pie!!)

2. Non-fiction books about a few different but related topics:

-What love really is (shocker, most of us dont actually know.  Despite thinking we do ;-))
-Relationships, in general (both romantic and platonic-familial, friendships, etc)
-Openness within romantic relationships
-The art of happiness by the Dalai Lama
-and finally, connecting deeply (emotionally) with others. 

Topics that all of us could use learning a little more about (myself included!  Which is why I am reading more of it).  Our lives could be so much more fulfilled, chock full of growth, joy, and just so much the better for the gaining and utilizing of this knowledge.

A game changer.  Whoa.  I thought I knew about boundaries, healthy ones and what having them meant previously.  Not so much.  This is another book that everyone should read.  Their relationships would be so much the better for it.  Many of us are either confused or misunderstand what boundaries actually mean.  This book is excellent.  Filled with the potential for changing your relationships with the people around you (friendship, romantic, familial, colleagues, you name it), all in positive ways.

And nope, the term "open" has almost nothing to do with sex.  Though I imagine that's what most of you were thinking upon seeing this title, right?  That makes up maybe 3% of what this book touches upon, if that.  And the potential for physical intimacy with others is merely optional. 
It is not necessary for having an otherwise open marriage. 

What they mean by "open" is about a lot more than sexuality.  This book is incredible.  I imagine if every couple read it, there would be significantly far more satisfied and emotionally close relationships between people in marriages over the long run.

And I can hear some people reading this thinking, my relationship is good enough, its just fine the way it is.  I like how things are.  Why would I ever want to change anything?  This kind of thinking is strange to me.  Its a wonderful thing to be happy with your relationship, as well as who you are.  But why fear better?  If its already good but could be even better, why is that something to reject?  Seems a bit silly, potentially even fearful or lazy. 
Its equally as important to be ever striving for growth in life, both within yourself and your relationships with others.  This is what leads to real, lasting, bone deep satisfaction and happiness.  

Another game changer in terms of reading though.  Highly, highly recommend.

3.  Italy.  Where I will be in just 6 weeks time ;-)  First stop: Florence.  Second stop: Siena.  Both with one of my best friends here, Judith.  A rather fitting wrap up to this life changing chapter in Europe.  (As Florence was the first European city I ever spent time in, lighting the fire inside me of desperately wanting to live over here someday).

4.  Green tea.  Always.  SO good for you.  It boosts your metabolism, is great for teeth health, strengthens immune system, improves stamina and energy levels, can help clear up skin.  The list of benefits goes on.  Its an aquired taste to some, but a worthwhile one for acquiring.  Even better?  Green tea with hints of rose in it.

5.  Picnics.  One of the many awesome aspects of summer time.  Grab a good friend, some delicious foods to go, and head for a scenic spot.  Good options in Frankfurt include along the Main River, in any one of the several parks throughout the city, or if you have one, potentially even in your own backyard.

6.  Healthy brownie batter.  Who would have thought it existed?  I realize this statement may have made several women gasp in thrill.  This brownie batter, believe it or not, is grain/gluten free, dairy free AND sugar free.  Truly.  Its fudgy, decadent, so good.  Its become my go-to dessert when needing something comforting and totally yum.  This is a recipe worth having in your arsenaul, both with bikini season coming up and just to have whenever you are craving something delectable and chocolatey.

Heres the recipe, for your sampling pleasure!

7.  Boston!!!!  As well as New England!  What will be my home in just 10 weeks or so.   Crazy stuff.  Totally thrilling, incredibly nerve racking and scary.  Filling me with nostalgia, suspense, excitement and heartbreak.  I know.  A major mish mash of conflicting emotions going on over here.  Leaving the several close friendships I have developed here will be crushing.  Not being able to see those people on a regular basis anymore, but instead being relegated to far less often.  This will be deeply sad for me.  It will leave an aching hole in my life, especially in the beginning. 

Another part of me is just dying to get back though.  Looking forward to exploring Boston once again, but now within a different life situation/perspective lens I had from when I was living there the last time.  I am psyched to be in New England again, where I am from.  So much about it is achingly beautiful.  Blanketing snowfalls, explosions of color during autumn.  Beaches close by, mountains as well.  I love it. 

I could continue writing on and on about all I am looking forward to, as well as the ways this new chapter will be quite challenging for me (reverse culture shock, for one).  But I will save this for another post ;-)

8.  This is such a fun website!  The Pinterest of food/recipes.  All you food fanatics?  Those of you often searching for delicious, new recipe ideas?  This is your thing.  Several of my dishes from Sweet. Raw. Free. have been featured on the site as well :-D. 
Take a looksie for lots of cooking/baking inspiration.

9.  Workout classes.  Numerous different samplings, you name it.  From Hot Iron to Burning Hit, to Barre, to even trying out a Zumba course just this past week with a girlfriend of mine (it was SUCH fun, we were giggling and smiling the entire time). 
I am all about the sweat sessions at the moment.  So much fun, leaving you feeling energized, confident and awesome afterwards.  I am doing these with friends weekly, as well as on my own.

10.  Candles.  Preferably vanilla scented.  Flickering as the sun goes down while you hang out in your room, either writing, reading, or watching your favorite TV series (The Affair, Friday Night Lights, or Gilmore Girls are always awesome choices).  This is one of the best things ever.  Majorly underrated.  So cozy and fantastic.

11.  Celebrations with loved ones and friends.  Summer makes these even more enticing, with the warm weather making days longer, filling people with joy and a sense of more laid back relaxation. 

Lets start with weddings.  I revel in them.  Watching two people who love each other that much, wanting to commit to growing alongside of one another.  Inviting their family and friends to witness this.  Then afterwards, the dancing, eating of delicious food, laughing together and sharing in numerous touching as well as funny moments.  Weddings are wildly romantic, emotionally moving, and such fun. 

Other celebrations falling into this category of awesome gatherings between humans include: Birthday parties, everyone gathering around to celebrate and bring feelings of being special and loved to someone they care about.  A truly wonderful thing. 
Picnics.  Going away parties.  Housewarming celebrations.  Dinner parties.  The list continues on.

All of the above, and more, the underlying point of which is coming together with people you care about (as well as people you likely don't know yet) to share in an experience.  To get to know one another.  To hopefully experience human connection with several different people.  To laugh, eat delicious food, to have fun and delight in one another.

I LOVE parties, entertaining and hosting.  Just being with close friends in this regard.  Its a marvelous thing.

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