Right Here, Now

Right-Here

Sometimes I’m in the perfect place, with the perfect people — the sun is shining, the coffee is hot, there are breakfast foods involved — but my mind is somewhere else. I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next and how this experience could be improved if I first changed about fifty fundamental things about myself.

Sometimes I’m in a place I hate — I don’t want to be where I am, I’m overworked, annoyed, bored, hungry, exhausted, and I want out. But for one reason or another, I feel I need to stay where I am — other people are counting on me, I am responsible for certain tasks, I am physically trapped (rush hour traffic, luckily no longer a reality for me since I’m now car-free!) So I mentally leave. I check my phone, I turn up the radio, I do whatever I can to distract myself from where I am. And it makes the experience 100 times worse.

But sometimes, rarer occurrences than I would wish for them to be, I commit to the present moment. I’m fully in it. I sip up every bit of sunshine from the good, perfect moments. And I exhale through the harder times. But I experience it all without trying to check out, mentally or physically, without focusing on what could have been done or what I need to do or where I wish I was or how it could all be better.

As we head into the relaxing, quieter moments of the weekend, straight on through to the hustle and boogie of the work week, I’m grounding down with this mantra:

It just is. So be right here. 

If that works for you, please borrow the mantra!

Have a wonderful weekend filled with interesting breakfast foods!

 

Vanilla Cinnamon Almond Milk – One Weird Thing VIDEO!

 

Almond-Milk

I grew up drinking tons of milk — normal, everyday milk from a big plastic jug with a pink or blue cap, by way of a sweet cow somewhere. I think all the milk I drank growing up is the reason my hair and fingernails grow at a lightning fast rate and after a long day I like to chew the cud to let off steam.

At some point I sorta got weirded out by all that dairy. I still consume dairy — I drink cow’s milk, I’m an insane ice cream lover, and I love to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a block of cheese and really go to town. But I just started feeling weird about it all. It wasn’t just the studies of antibiotics and hormones and whatever else I was consuming in my milk, but just a general unease of drinking another animal’s juices intended for its young.

So I let off the milk a little. I’ve tried some of the store-bought dairy alternatives — coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk. Most of them don’t taste amazing and often have a lot of weird, scary additives, including a thickening ingredient called Carageenan. I don’t want to freak you out, so just Google Carageenan sometime in the company of a safe-person. It’s not pretty.

But I have FANTASTIC NEWS! Making nut milks at home are so super easy! And a thousand times more delicious than the store-bought kind! And added-ingredient-free! And packaging-free! And cheap to produce! And hilarious because you get to use a “nut sack”!

This almond milk recipe is one of my favs because it’s the perfect amount of sweet and creamy and nutty. It’s from a fabulous Vegan food blogger, Angela of Oh She Glows, and the recipe is aptly titled My Favourite Homemade Almond Milk.

I like to make a big batch of almond milk and freeze some. They freeze well! And don’t worry, you can make nut milks even if you don’t have a Vitamix. That blender you got as a wedding present twenty years ago will work! I have a cheapo blender from Target and it works great!

Also, I LOVE my No Sew Nut Milk Bags, which my darling and dear sister “made” me for my birthday, courtesy of the fantastically nut-milky blog Eating Vibrantly. (I say “made” in quotes because there’s no sewing involved, it’s SUPER EASY, but still a million thanks to my sister!) Oh and don’t forget to save your almond pulp! You can freeze it or dehydrate it but next week I’ll be making Almond Pulp Hummus!

So go ahead, watch the vid, plop some nuts in a jar and start soakin’! And whatever you do today, do at least one weird thing!

Eco-Conscious Travel Confusion

Erica_Grand_CanyonFor the eco-conscious amongst us, travel can often be filled with confusion and guilt. I want to explore new places but I know the environmental impact associated with traveling is quite great. How do I justify a greenhouse gas-ridden flight or car-trip when my everyday, non-vacation self is obsessed with reducing my contribution to emissions.
I don’t yet have the answers on the most eco-conscious travel.
For the longest time, I thought car-travel was always better than air-travel, as far as Mother Earth is concerned, so I was excited for my recent road trip from Nebraska back to California. However, I’ve been reading many studies which suggest that flying has become so efficient that per person, it often contributes less greenhouse gases than the same trip by auto. But there are so many factors in play here, whether the flight was full, whether the car gets good gas mileage, whether you have to pull over every hour in Arizona to decide whether or not to rescue that adorable stray dog, etc.
Confusing, and kinda stressful, right?
This article from Slate.com is a good synthesis of the car vs plane debate: Has Flying Become More Eco Friendly Than Driving?
Clouds_Grand_CanyonTravel is a reality. I’m this crazy, modern, human person and I can climb into a giant metal bird with a bunch of other human people and fly IN THE SKY and end up in a DIFFERENT PLACE. And that’s insane. And also mundane, by today’s standards.
My nephew was born just days before the holidays. I was going to go to Nebraska to meet him. However much I would have liked to travel by bike or wild stallion, it was not feasible (maybe someday!)
But look at this little dude! I had to go see him, and fast!

 

Sometimes we just have to be gentle with ourselves. Once we get to our destination, we can still be the same eco-obsessed person we are back home. It’s important to keep learning and questioning and exploring alternatives, and as I travel more I will work to discover ways to reduce or offset the impact.

But if I was fretting over every gallon of gas while I was holding my nephew in my arms or while I drove through miraculous Colorado, beautiful Utah, and awe-inspiring Arizona with my best friend, I would have really ruined the peaceful, joyful trip.

 

John_Erica_Grand_Canyon

Snowman_Grand_CanyonPlus if you have similar goals as I do, to slow down and live in the present, I highly recommend driving through Arizona and Utah. You have to literally STOP every 60 miles or so for some form of wild animal.

And it’s magical!

The world is beautiful, the Grand Canyon is miraculous, wild horses, new nephews, best friends and little snowman friends are sweet gifts of joy.
And if you are still stressed about greenhouse gases, just remember, this picture exists:
Freezing_At_Grand_Canyon

Life-Changing Bread – One Weird Thing VIDEO!

 

LifeChanging_Bread

I love to cook. I have no training but I love to try new recipes and I love to eat.

It’s a joke amongst my roommates that my cooking always includes “One Weird Thing,” be it an alternative sweetener, a flour substitute, a superfood, or simply more vegetables than have ever been together in one dish!

I am lucky to have no food allergies or sensitivities, I don’t subscribe to any particular food methodologies, I eat animals and gluten and sugar and everything! But I do believe too much of one thing is boring and bad. So I like to experiment.

Thus, I present to you the One Weird Thing video series! I will be making little videos of the recipes I’m currently trying out, and linking to the original source of the recipes.

First on the docket is the well-loved Life-Changing Bread from one of my favorite blogs, My New Roots. I love following Sarah Britton and all her recipes on My New Roots. She is always experimenting with alternatives and going in-depth on the health benefits of each dish.  Can’t wait for the My New Roots cookbook to come out!

Enjoy the video, enjoy the bread, try one weird thing today, even if it’s not a food. I hope it’s all life-changing!

 

Trip to the Dairy Farm

Baby_Calves Smiles_With_Jayme Super_Duper_Jayme_Smiles

On a recent cold and windy winter day, my sweet, pick-axe wielding, pastoral beauty queen best friend Jayme invited me out to the dairy farm she was farm-sitting.

New baby cows had been born on Christmas Day and oh goodness, they probably wanted to meet me and my whole family! Load up that minivan and let’s go to Southeastern Nebraska!

It really was such a treat to visit the Chisholm Family Farm’s Orchard Hill Creamery. The cows, chickens, micro pot-belly pig, dogs, cats, and feral children all seemed well-treated and happy.

The creamery produces Certified Naturally Grown dairy products. I had my first tastes of raw milk, which DOES taste different than store-bought. Oh and the cheese, those delicious hand-made cheeses I ate! Those cows really must be happy to bring so much joy to my mouth!

 

Jayme_The_Hatchet_WomanCalves_Eating Calf_MilkJules_The_Brave

Throughout the day at the farm, I was really vibing with my eldest niece, Jules.

When met with new and unfamiliar situations, Jules and I can often be quite similar—feeling apprehensive and frightened of the unknown. Let’s be honest, we all feel like this from time to time, right?

Watching Jules experience discomfort and fear reminded me it’s completely OKAY to feel like that sometimes. And then to see her make new friends, feed cows and pigs, climb hay bails, and sing at the top of her lungs, I realized, she just did what many of us forget to do quite often. She felt her feelings, sat with them, took a breath, and when she was ready, was so very brave!

Here’s a little video of Jules being awesome and making me smile on our trip to the farm!

 

Jules_On_Hay

Jules_Jayme_MilkHay_Dairy_FarmChickensFuzzy_DogAndrew_Sam_CreameryDirty_Hair_WitchesDark_Window_CreameryHave a super idyllic day!

 

Wintry Positivity

 

Erica_In_The_Cold

I spent the first 22 years of my life in the Midwest, never thinking twice about the cruel winters and the miserable summers. It’s all we knew—freezing winter mornings scraping the windshield and muggy, sleepless, bug-bitey summer nights.

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I’ve become a bit of a wimp. I’ve been visiting my hometown in Nebraska for weeks and I’m truly struggling to keep my mood up.

It’s not just the temperature, but everything that is made harder because of the climate—car-travel becomes a necessity for those who can afford it, fresh produce isn’t local since there is a limited growing season, spending much time outdoors becomes difficult, and for weeks on end the world is gray.

I am so in awe of my friends and family in Omaha who are making the most of the winter months. It’s bitter here, like don’t-leave-the-house-or-your-skin-will-actually-freeze bitter. Watching my friends remain warm and bright when it’s everything but, I notice some similarities in their wintry practices. So, with inspiration from the great people of Omaha, I’ve compiled my very own list of positivity tips to make your own winter (even if it’s just an emotional winter) a little snugglier.

 

Wintry Positivities:

  • Make your home space cozy and comfortable, candle-light and blankets are huge
  • Engage in meaningful work when possible, find fulfilling hobbies when work is a drag
  • Organize large groups of friends together for funtimes, preferably singing and/or dancing
  • Get outdoors and in nature as much as possible, proper layering is a must

 

John_Laura_Smile John_Laura Laura_Erica_Wintry_Positivity John_Erica_American_Gothic

Add to that list:

  • Have many winter-time photoshoots with your weirdo friends, abandoned barns are a plus!

 

Intentional and Sustainable

Starting_From_The_Beginning

Mindful American is the name of my travel documentary series highlighting intentional and sustainable living in the United States.

But outside of the actual series, Mindful American is an all-encompassing project for me, a journey—to learn to slow down, become more conscious of my resources, work to build community, and to discover alternatives to my everyday decisions and habits.

Oh, and feel a whole lot more joy! I just want to grab the world with my two hands and wring it out til I squeeze every last drop of joy into my life. But in a totally less violent way than that analogy suggests.

I’m excited to share my journey on this site, so stay tuned for photos, videos, and embroidered pillows showcasing my adventures in mindful living!