Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Birthday Weekend Recap

Here is a glimpse into the chilled out celebration of my momentous birth (yes, that was typed tongue-in-cheek . . . if anything can be typed tongue-in-cheek in the first place).

Birthday breakfast
Scrabble + birthday breakfast oats. I went to town on the toppings! Still mostly healthy, just a little more than usual.

Chihuahua torture
A game of Scrabble with the Best Husband Ever included a little chihuahua torture, naturally.

We started a puzzle.

Handmade by Mom
My in-laws threw a little birthday party, which included tasty turkey burgers and angel food cake with strawberries. After we got home, I opened and tried on presents crocheted by my mom.

The next morning I topped my breakfast oatmeal with leftover dessert strawberries and whipped cream from the night before. It was yummy.

After a visit from my dad, the hubby and I finished the puzzle.

Sleepy chihuahua
We capped the weekend off by poking fun at the chihuahua again, as evidenced by copious amounts of chihuahua tongue. Poor boy. It's a hard life. But it was also a quiet and pleasant birthday, even for him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Overnight Oat Success!

Overnight oat success!
Remember my overnight oats in a jar fail? Well, despair no longer! On my last day in the hallowed year of age twenty-seven, I enjoyed a successful batch of overnight oats (also in a jar, but a clean one, not a waning jar of nut butter).

The night before I stirred the following together:
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt, non-fat
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 T coconut butter
  • 1/4-ish tsp of the world's best vanilla extract
  • 1 stevia packet (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2-ish T raisins
  • 1 plum, sliced
I closed up the jar and set in in the fridge overnight. In the morning I gobbled the victorious results down with great exuberance. Success!

(Oh, and in case you were wondering about Saturday's quasi-mysterious slideshow post . . . yes, it was my birthday this weekend. The Best Husband Ever again turned out the best, most timely gift a gal could hope for.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010


From the Best Husband Ever. If you listen to the song, and if you know our story from reading, then you will cry wonderful tears.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oats in a Jar: The Best Part of Waking Up?


Last night I made my first batch of the blogger breakfast favorite, overnight oats in a jar (also known as OIAJ). I tried overnight oat bran in a jar a few weeks ago, but it turned out super watery. I figured that was because oat bran soaks up less liquid than old fashioned oats, so I decided it was time to try out regular overnight oatmeal soaked in the dregs of my Costco-sized jar of almond butter.

Last night I dumped the following into the jar, which contained roughly a Tablespoon of almond butter:
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-ish teaspoon best vanilla ever (really)
  • 1 packet stevia
  • dash of cinnamon
  • splash of vanilla coffee creamer (because we're out of milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon raisins
I stirred it all up, then left it in the fridge to soak overnight. This morning, I eagerly retrieved what I was sure would be a thick bowl of delicious chilled oatmeal. What I found was this:


I'm thinking that the culprit here is too much liquid. Next time I'll try putting in a one-to-one ratio of oats to liquid and see how it goes. However, not wanting the food to go to waste, I gobbled the watery OIAJ down all the same. In spite of having been drowned in excess fluid, this breakfast was still tasty. And if it's good in all its imperfection, I can't wait to see what it will be like when I actually get it right.

Have you ever made overnight oats or OIAJ or some combination thereof? Do you have any tips for me? I could sure use them!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Little Victory: Seeking (and Finding) Help

Yesterday I went to see my therapist. If you've been reading the blog for a little while, you know that I've been having a hell of a summer between my stomach, flaring eating disorder issues, and depression. So last week I called the Best Therapist Ever to schedule an appointment.

I felt weird about it. Forget the fact that this is the first time I have ever chosen to see my therapist. The reality that I needed help seemed to be an admission of defeat. After all, aren't I supposed to be "healthy" and "recovered" in terms of my disordered eating? And I felt afraid. I thought my therapist would be disappointed in me.

I was so wrong. Seeing my therapist was refreshing, and she wasn't at all disappointed or sad to see me. In fact, we were both glad to see each other, although it felt kind of odd to say so since seeing each other meant that something wasn't quite right inside of me. But it was still good to talk, to listen, to be heard, to be understood. Not that I don't feel those things off of a psychologist's couch, but they were magnified during the session.

And I didn't walk into or out of her office with a trudge of defeat. Quite the opposite. I felt brave, victorious, and mature. I needed help, and I acknowledged it and acted on it. Instead of feeling like a failure, I felt proud and alive.

(On a side note -- I took the above photo inside my therapist's building with my camera phone. Again, it turns out a super shot! I'm amazed.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dirty Nose Monday


Happy Monday! I enjoyed my blog-free weekend. I might have to make this a regular thing, because often I just slack off blogging and then feel guilty. When I actually plan to take the weekend off, however, I feel a-okay. When I was not-blogging-on-purpose this weekend, I was farmer's market-ing, playing Scrabble with the Best Husband Ever, hitting up the samples tables at Costco hooping it up with friends, and making some new ones (friends, that is, not hoops).

Today, I started the work week off with a bowl o' oat bran, topped with fresh strawberries and Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter. Then I got some writing done, mingled with copious coffee-drinking. En route to one of my refills, I glanced out the back door and saw Lio having his way with one of the empty planters on the porch. Apparently digging in a box of dirt is much more satisfying than digging in a yard of the same.


Of course Lio is too coy to let me snap a picture of him in action. But note the displaced dead plant (which was already killed by my black thumb, but not yet disposed of). The silly chihuahua all about the planters this morning.


I guess that makes it Dirty Nose Monday around here. Lio feels that everyday should be just as fun and filthy. How's your Monday starting off? I hope there's just as much chihuahua-esque satisfaction with a little less dirt.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Special Delivery: A Nut Butter-y Review

Special delivery
In between all of the adventures and stomach cramping of this week, I received a special delivery. It was a package from The Healthy Apple! I won this New York City-dwelling blogger's Justin's Nut Butter giveaway week, and now I find myself with heaps of single-serving packs of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Thank you, Big Apple gal! Click to visit her super recipe for dairy-free chocolate mousse.

Of course I had to tear into one of the 80-calorie pouches right away. Yesterday's afternoon snack was a rice thin spread with an insane amount of chocolate hazelnut butter:

I'm guessing that this is a tablespoon-sized serving. Yet again I am amazed at how much nut butter a tablespoon contains! I'm always so stingy when eyeballing almond butter servings. Clearly, a half-ounce pack of chocolate hazelnut butter is as voluminous as it is tasty.

And it really is tasty. I liked the strong hazelnut flavor, which is not overpowered by the chocolate. I expected this butter to be more frosting-like, but I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and harmony of tastes. I would have liked for this to have more protein (the half-ounce pouch has 2 grams of protein), but overall this was a nice, healthy treat.

This morning, I added a package of Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter to my breakfast oat bran. Next time I'll add more stevia as the bowl was a little bland, but overall I enjoyed my most recent concoction. Want to try it yourself? Here's a recipe!


Spiced Banana Oat Bran with Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

1/2 cup oat bran
1 cup water
splash of milk
1 banana, sliced or broken into small chunks
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet stevia or other sweetener*
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 T chocolate hazelnut butter

Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan, stir, and set over medium heat (I prefer my stove's number six setting on the dial). Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally. When the water has been absorbed and the oat bran is bubbling gently, remove and service. Top with Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter or another nut butter of your choice.

Serves 1.

*I know I mentioned that the original bowl I made using this combo was a little bland. I only used half a packet of stevia in the original, and so adjusted the recipe accordingly. Happy oat bran-ing!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Very Good Thursday

I thought today was going to suck. After all, yesterday's downtown day ended with me watching TV on the sofa until I fell asleep at some unmentionable morning hour, stomach in full-on cramp mode. Then my alarm did not wake me up when I had planned, so I had to scramble through a shower in order to meet one of my very best friends for coffee at nine o'clock A.M.

But it was totally worth it. Well, of course it was. I haven't seen this amazing woman in over a year, since when she and her new hubby moved to Texas. I would have dragged myself out of the house even if my stomach had not stopped staging a protest, although I'm thankful it did. That way I could fully focus on laughing/sharing/whining/visiting/vomiting (emotionally) for the nearly three hours that we spent sipping coffee and catching up. Unfortunately, this is a quick visit, but I was glad to be able to savor the time we had. It felt so wonderful. Ain't girlfriends grand?

After my friend headed off for her next social call (she's keeping very busy, trying to visit with all the old friends and family during her brief visit), I had planned on going home for lunch. But, since I don't make it downtown very often, I decided to wander around with my notebook for a while. Then, while passing a little restaurant I've always wanted to try but never have, I decided to treat myself.


I snagged an upstairs table and enjoyed the quiet, clean atmosphere while I waited for my food. I've never gone out to eat by myself like this, so it was both a challenge and an adventure!

Salad of the day

I ordered the salad of the day. It had arugula, roasted beets (which I love), goat cheese, almonds, and a very light touch of ginger dressing, plus a bit of French bread on the side. It was delicious, although small for the price. I was clearly paying for the experience -- which, for me, was victoriously worth it.

The fun did not stop there, however! Still wandering by my lonesome (and not feeling lonely in the least), I was heading back to my car when I paused outside of a used bookshop. I've passed this shop often in the five-ish years I've lived in Montana, and yet I've never gone inside. Today, I rectified that.

It was insanely amazing. The bookshop was stuffy, drab, and smelled of old paper. In other words, it was heaven for me. I adore stores (especially bookstores) that have towering shelves of books in various stages of newness, stairs, nooks and crannies and hideaways, and older books that shouldn't be forgotten but have. Words cannot describe how delicious and therapeutic this bookstore was, so I'll just let the photos do the talking.




On second thought, even pictures don't capture the bookshop's cozy and ramshackle atmosphere. This is a place that must be experienced. If you're ever in town, I'll take you to explore it myself.

But guess what? The courageous fun still didn't stop there! After a pit stop at the library, I took myself to a park for a hooping session. In public. By myself. (And I was hooping for no more than five minutes before I was propositioned by a very tan and dreadlocked guy who wanted to know if I smoked pot and if I was part of the Rainbow Warriors. Which I don't, and I'm not. )

All that to say . . . it was a very good day. A very good day indeed (stoned and silly hippies excepted).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Downtown Kind of Day



Out To Lunch

You Know Who


(Can you believe I took these with my semi-dinky camera phone? I never thought the quality would be so good!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I'm so proud.

Seriously. Have you noticed any changes here on Kitchen Courage? If you're perusing this via a reader, click over to the real site. Do it now.

Have you found it yet? The newness? The awesomeness? It's there. Keep looking.

Okay, I can't stand the suspense any longer. Yesterday, in lieu of a post, I spent three hours archiving all of Kitchen Courage's recipes on their very own page. Click here, or at the Recipes tab at the top of the page. I'm so proud! Seriously. I can't get over myself.

The blog reorganization did not stop there, though. I also created a new page with my recommended products and affiliates, including my Amazon store. Do I get paid when you click on these products and banners? Yep, but not very much. And I really do endorse everything that I am affiliated with. I would not recommend them otherwise. If you like Kitchen Courage and feel that it's worth a few cents, a click on one of the items on the new Recommendations page will deposit some change in my rather pathetic PayPal account.

I also removed the "about" section on the right sidebar and created an About tab at the top of the page in its place. It's the same info, slightly altered for current accuracy.

I've been a busy blogger. Now the question must be asked -- whaddya think? I'd love to hear your thoughts, reactions, critiques, and suggestions. Also, please let me know if you run across any broken or incorrect links in the recipes archive. (Seriously, I can't stop scrolling through it -- I had no idea I had so many tried-and-true recipes under my apron belt! Somebody stop me, please!)

The blog hasn't completely consumed my life, though. I've also been keeping busy in other ways. Such as taking care of our neighbor's sweet dog when she hopped into our yard last week and I could figure out how to get her back through their very complex fencing.


She kept our three pups busy (and jealous, especially Jackson).

Then, during one of last week's many sleepless nights, I made a new hoop. It's the smallest, lightest one I've ever made, and I intend to use it for off-body dancing.

Newly made

Of course I had to play with it outside once daylight came.

There was some peanut butter cup experimentation, inspired by HEAB's battle of the buttahs:

Homemade treat

This homemade peanut butter cup was made by pressing a tablespoon of Sunland's natural caramel peanut butter into a paper mini muffin cup and freezing it overnight. My verdict? Yum. It fueled yesterday's workout.

Oh. And there's been more oat-eating. I appear to be addicted.


This was a dessert bowl, made of oatmeal, chocolate PB2, blueberries, and a new food find, Nature Valley Granola Thins. These babies are thin squares of granola coated with dark chocolate (or peanut butter, depending on which variety you go for). Crumbled over a hot bowl of oatmeal, the dark chocolate melts most deliciously.

So . . . a busy, busy blogger I have been. What have you been up to? Do you like the changes to Kitchen Courage? Do tell!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Savory Pizza Oat Bran

Pizza oat bran

What's that you see? This couldn't be another post about a recent venture into Oat Bran Land, could it?! Yep, I'm continuing to explore the uncharted territory of oat bowls -- and my boldness is growing.

This lunch bowl of oat bran is a prime example. After the Best Husband Ever indulged in some pizza this weekend, that's all my tastebuds craved. So I gave in, healthy-style, and savory pizza oat bran was born. I was surprised by how satisfying and filling this bowl was. Dare to try it out yourself?

Savory Pizza Oat Bran

1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup tomato sauce
garlic, basil, and oregano to taste
1 cup water
1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Place all the ingredients except for the cheese in a saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Continue to cook and stir until your desired consistency is reached, then serve and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Serves 1.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Me and My Gray Hair

Two years ago, I discovered my first gray hair.

When I found the gray hair, I couldn't quite decide how I felt about it. On the one hand, it was a sign of getting older. On the other, I thought it was kind of cool.

The hair itself didn't really surprise me. The summer of 2008 was a stressful time. I was about four months into my eating disorder therapy, very underweight, and was working at my first full-time job since becoming anorexic. I worked at a private school's small day camp and, with one other young woman, was in charge of about twenty high energy children between the ages of five and ten. All together, life's day-to-day challenges were tough, and I wore my gray hair as a badge of honor, a symbol of living the trenches.

I still have the gray hair, or at least a gray hair growing in roughly the same location on my head. Now, however, my hair is shorn to about half an inch, and the hair is much more apparent when I look in the mirror. And while this plucky little hair used to be something of a prize, now I'm not so sure. I'm older. I'm closer to the big 3-0. And . . . I don't feel like I'm bravely living. Instead, I feel like I'm barely existing, slouching aimlessly from day to day to day toward old age.

In other words, I'm in a funk. A major one. A life funk, a God funk, a writing funk. And I don't know how to climb out of this deep, black cavern I'm living in (figuratively, of course -- the Best Husband Ever and I still reside in our house). I don't have a job serving as my lifeline to the world like I did two years ago, and both my current profession (a work-from-home writer) and my turbulent digestive system (thanks to Crohn's) are separating me even further from what I have come to think of as real life. And there's no end in sight.

So . . . I'm going to keep slouching along. Maybe (hopefully) one day soon I'll feel like I'm standing tall again, like I'm a person in the world. In the meantime, I'll keep grappling with the darkness that's living where my heart used to be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eating My Words (and Oats)

Remember how I wrote that I never joined the ranks of oatmeal-adoring healthy food bloggers? Well, I may have to rescind that statement. This week, I have eaten three bowls of oat bran as either a breakfast or lunch. I barely make three bowls of oats in a year, much less in the space of a week. I might have to get myself an oat fan button or something.

The thing is, it's been chilly here. Right now, at 10:45 on an August morning, I'm sitting at my kitchen table typing with goosebumps on my arms and cold toes. Our blazing ninety degree weather has tempered drastically with the help of a week's worth of intermittent thunderstorms. Not that I mind -- I love when the temperatures never climb out of the seventies and I don't have to worry about my dogs dehydrating on a hike.

But the cooler temps mean that a morning smoothie (or even an afternoon one) doesn't sound all that appetizing. Instead, I've been cooking up some stove-top oat bran. I believe that this week's concoctions have included peanut butter and coconut butter, both of which were delicious. I also accidentally dumped a massive pile of ground ginger on yesterday's oat bran, but thankfully a quick dash of maple syrup and some cinnamon and nutmeg evened the spice's flavor out and made for a tasty breakfast bowl. What's your favorite oatmeal/bran recipe?

On a random note -- I found the funniest photos today when Googling for oatmeal images. Click on images to visit their original sources (the dinosaurs-in-bowl one is particularly worth checking out), or just hang out here and giggle with me while you contemplate your response to my recipe query.

(Get it? Barney Butter?)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crock-Pot's Night Out

Into the slow cooker we go
Slow cooker + frozen chicken + BBQ sauce + sliced carrots = easiest dinner ever.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Late Bloomer

Can you believe that we are nearing the middle of August? I suppose this is the time that might be called the "dog days of summer," but here it already seems as if our brief time in the sun is winding down into an early autumn. Our late-blooming summer might be on its way out.

I can't decide how I feel about that. On the one hand, I don't really like the blistering and relentless heat of Montana summers. Plus, I do enjoy the crisp weather of fall. There's a certain excitement to it, something that I can never quite place the source of but which I love nonetheless. Nothing beats the smell of hearth smoke in the cool, gray air.

On the other hand, however, an early autumn probably also means an early (and possibly lingering) winter. Since I've chosen to make Montana my home, I can't really complain about snow -- I mostly like it, and find it quite beautiful. But come March and April, I'm longing for green grass and sandal weather. An early start to the enduring Rocky Mountain snow season is not among my favorite things.

Also, I'm just starting to truly embrace the summer. I feel like I lost three months of my life to Crohn's and related fallout this spring, and so missed the onset of the sunshine. Now, my mind and body are catching up to the rhythms of the earth, only to find that I'm already falling behind again. Although I don't love the intense heat of summer afternoons, I do enjoy a good summer evening. Last night, I took my hoop out and danced in the driveway in the gathering darkness. When I was done, I sat on our front steps and simply savored the last glimmers of day. It was glorious. I'm not ready to say goodbye to such nights yet.

But . . . I suppose I don't have much of a choice. I can either resist (which, as the Borg say, is futile), and let God and nature drag me kicking and screaming into the future, or I can adapt and breathe and go with the flow. In other words, I can seek balance. Not easy, but preferable to the alternative. And, while I wait to see whether the summer dashes away or lingers, I will try to enjoy life's current blessings while they're available.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Health-y Surprises


Yesterday I went to the gym. I haven't gone in what feels like a long while, mostly because I either feel like a DVD is more convenient and offers a better workout, but also because the weather has been so nice that I'd rather be outside.

But yesterday was gym day. After hooping in the park with some other awesome women (third week in a row!), I took my sweaty self over to the fitness center. And -- it was lovely. There was hardly anyone there, so it was quiet and peaceful. I happily elliptical-ed away while reading the April 2010 issue of Health Magazine.

I have an on again/off again relationship with health and fitness magazines, since they often focus on looking good and losing weight rather than my goal of achieving balance. Still, sometimes a magazine is just the thing (if read with a grain or two of salt), and I actually really enjoyed this particular edition.

My favorite article in the magazine was the cover story, an interview with actress and musician Zooey Deschanel. This actress is my age and is super cute (in spite of how flat and unattractive her Health cover photo is), quirky, and fun to watch in every movie I've seen her in. I'm not sure what I expected an interview with her to reveal, but I was very surprised to learn that she is quite the balanced gal. She's a health food store junkie, and is an early-to-bed/early-to-rise person just like me. Also, she says that she loves chilling out at home -- just like me again! If I liked Zooey Deschanel before, the interview has convinced me that we would totally be BFFs if we met.

Okay, maybe not. But I did find her down-to-earth lifestyle very refreshing. Plus, Ms. Deschanel tap dances and plays the ukelele (although probably not at the same time), which I think is rad. Her answer to the final question of the interview ("When do you feel most at peace?") made me think about my hooping. She replied, "When I'm playing music, I definitely feel really happy." A lot of hoopers describe hoop dance as mesmerizing, magical, zen-like, and a cure-all for mental maladies. I don't. It's not some magical chill pill -- but it does make me feel "really happy." Thanks for the opportunity to reflect, Z! (Can I call her that? Probably not.)

Hrm. Somehow this post turned into a Zooey Deschanel fangirl gush. Still, I was very impressed with her balanced responses to the interviewer's questions. My original goal in writing, however, was to share the magazine's healthy eating content, spotlighting smoothies. I discovered some concoctions I had never before considered (banana maple smoothie? yes, please!), complete with recipes. Check out Health's gorgeous (seriously -- the Sunrise Smoothie Parfait is a work of art) and delicious-looking Feel-Good Smoothies.


Have you read anything particularly surprising, refreshing, or interesting in magazines lately? Are there any public figures (politicians, entertainers, etc.) who have pleasantly overturned your idle expectations of them?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend Recap


In spite of not feeling very well, this weekend was a wonderful time of hanging with family from both near and far (above are my fabulous niece and nephew), as well as hooping. And, once, both at the same time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Friday Finds #4

image from Catina jane Arts
Happy Friday! I've gathered some succulent new web discoveries for your viewing pleasure. Check out past Friday Finds here. And be sure to visit Catina, who is the amazing artist (and hooper!) behind the lovely image gracing this post.
  • Zen and the Art of Not Writing :: Write For Your Life (Yep, I'm not ashamed to start off with a little self plugging. Because I wrote this, and somebody wanted to give it a home.)
  • What You Do Next :: Daily Generous Wife Tips (this brief post is so wise, and not just for wives)
I'm also in the middle of a Kelley Anderson novel, the fun and entertaining Stolen. What are you reading?