DIY Kitchen Makeover

DIY Kitchen Makeover

I believe that the kitchen is the most important room in any home. The kitchen is where food gets made, bodies get nourished, and important conversations happen. I’ve found that when your kitchen is in chaos, so is your life.

This is precisely the reason why I have been wanting to leave my apartment for the entire six months that I’ve lived there.

It all started when a pyrex dish exploded in my oven.  I had been living in my apartment for about two weeks at that point and in hindsight, I think that pyrex dish was just a warning of things to come.  After this incident I got an oven thermometer and realized that my oven was running about 200 degrees F hotter than it should have been. It also fluctuated in temperature so much that it got to the point that it was completely unusable. My apartment manager then replaced the oven and I had to spend the next month trying to burn off the fumes of the chemicals they used to clean it.

The other big problem I had with the kitchen is that the huge fridge was crammed into the tight kitchen space so you could barely stand at the counter or get to the sink. I wish I had taken better “before” photos so you could get the real effect, but just know that in any picture where you see the kitchen cart, that’s where the fridge used to be. And since my kitchen is pretty narrow, I couldn’t even open the fridge door the entire way or use the produce drawers. I’m not sure who designed the kitchen, but it was a really silly use of the space.

I finally got fed up last week and decided that I was either going to fix the kitchen or I was going to move. So I hauled the fridge across the room and put it at the end of the counter. Instantly this changed everything. I could suddenly access the entire fridge, I had room to walk to the sink, and the entire room felt more open and light.  Sometimes all it takes is a simple change to get started.

Who knew that all it would take to make me absolutely love my kitchen is moving the fridge, installing a few overhead lights and a shelf, and getting a kitchen cart? After I completed the project I felt so silly for not doing it earlier! And, the best part? I actually love cooking in there now! I had forgotten that I used to actually like being in a kitchen! :)

My hope is that sharing my kitchen makeover with you will inspire you to create a kitchen that you adore and inspires you to create delicious food. So here we go!

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My favorite posts of 2013

My favorite posts of 2013

I think I will always look back on 2013 as the year that completely kicked my butt — and took my breath away. This year I challenged myself in a million different ways, faced some big gremlins, and I can’t believe everything that happened when I look back on it all.

For starters, I changed my diet and moved away from being exclusively plant-based after six long years. I’m happy to report that nowadays my body is feeling strong and healthy with the mix of plant-based/meat-based/seasonal/gluten-free/grain-free dishes I enjoy. (It also really likes these zucchini pizza boats.)

I discovered that you can make (non-dairy) sugar-free coconut vanilla ice cream in a food processor. Big win.

I survived a tricky legal situation regarding my blog name and this website became officially known as In Sonnet’s Kitchen.

I showed the world how to spiralize zucchini and how to make zucchini fettuccine. And, once you do that, you need to top it with this beef bolognese, easy lentil marinara, or this amazing rosemary-butternut (non-dairy) creme sauce.

My relationship of seven years ended. This inspired a lot of reading about healthy relationships and the realization that the beauty of this life is that we get to choose how we want to feel. We can’t control how other people think, feel, or act, but we always get to choose our feelings. And I choose to feel good.

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What I learned from my vacation

Vacation

The end of the year is one of my favorite times because I love the process of self-reflection and I find it fascinating to look back and see how things in my life evolved. 2013 was certainly full of shifts, big surprises, and some pretty amazing accomplishments.

One of the highlights of my year was a much-needed personal vacation I took earlier this month. I was in the midst of a huge life transition and needed to get to get some perspective. So, I sat down and asked myself what I wanted out of my travels.

I had four goals:

  1. See beautiful things that take my breath away.
  2. Eat delicious food and enjoy every single bite.
  3. Listen to music that moves my soul.
  4. Travel alone and prove to myself that I can stand on my own two feet.

Apparently if you’re me, these goals will lead you to Miami in order to board a cruise ship to the Bahamas. And, for the record, not just any cruise ship: a Matchbox Twenty cruise. Yes, ladies and gentleman, my epic vacation of 2013 involved a giant boat with my favorite band from the 90s. It really was my version of heaven.

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20 Tips for Visiting Disneyland

Disney Tips

One of my favorite highlights from this summer was visiting Disneyland. In mid-July I took a short weekend trip to California and got to spend exactly one day at the happiest place on earth. And, if you’re a big Disney fan like me, Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth. I’ve been meaning to share some trip highlights and tips with you and now that the summer is winding down I figured I’d better get to it! 

Here are the best lessons I learned around food, health, photography, and everything else Disney.

Food:

  • Research before you go. Whether you have dietary restrictions, food allergies, or just want to eat a little healthier on your vacation, my best advice is to do your research before you go. All the options for dining at Disney can be found here and you can search by park, type of cuisine, and price. Prior to the trip I came up with a list of my top three favorites at Disneyland and Downtown Disney (since we weren’t visiting California Adventure) so I would have options and could decide based upon what we were craving (and how crowded it was).
  • If you have a special place to dine in mind, make a reservation. We ended up eating at off-hours (to avoid crowds) and doing a casual dinner so I didn’t make reservations ahead of time, but I would definitely recommend this if you want to eat dinner at one of the restaurants.
  • If you have special dietary needs or food allergies, check out Disney’s Special Dietary Requests. You can always notify restaurants ahead of time if you need special accommodations, but I was honestly pretty impressed with the variety of options in the park. I noticed that the majority of menus had salad options, vegetarian (and some vegan) options, and items without gluten.  We opted to splurge on lunch at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ and grab grilled salmon salad as a lighter dinner. (Note: Big Thunder Ranch BBQ does have veggie skewers, but if you’re vegetarian/vegan, I would probably recommend picking a restaurant with more variety.)
  • Disneyland does allow you to bring food into the park so take advantage of this and pack your own snacks. Not only is it much more affordable, but this is a great way to make sure you have some healthier options available throughout the day. My snack stash included Justin’s Almond Butter Packets, celery sticks, a cucumber, a peach, and a Natural Calm magnesium packet for a late-day energy boost. However, if you forget your snacks, the park does have plenty of stands with fresh veggies and fresh fruit. (Just prepare for it to be a bit expensive!)
  • If you are bringing a meal or snacks that need to be kept cold, I opt for my ziplock bag trick: Fill a quart-sized bag with food or snacks and then fill one gallon freezer bag halfway with ice. Place the food bag inside your ice bag then seal up! This trick is handy because you can replenish the ice as needed, or dump it out when you’re done. The bags end up weighing less and taking up less space than ice blocks.
  • Plan your treats. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you probably know that I live by the 80/20 rule and believe in eating healthy overall and indulging in treats in moderation. One of the challenges I usually see for folks going on vacation is they use vacation as a time to “go wild” and eat everything under the sun. Although this sounds like fun and it sounds like it will make your vacation more enjoyable, I have personally found that this usually results in me feeling sick and then not being able to enjoy my vacation. Keeping this in mind, my approach for this trip was to plan for specific treats and splurges ahead of time, then eat healthy the rest of the time. Since I knew we’d be eating a big lunch, I made sure my breakfast and dinners were on the fresher side and included veggies as my snacks.  I also avoided sugar, with the exception of my peach in the afternoon and a small dessert after dinner. This approach worked out really well for me because I didn’t end up with a stomachache or having sugar crashes, but I did still get enjoy my vacation with a few (pre-planned) treats.

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A Legal Situation & A New Blog Name

A Legal Situation & A New Blog Name

It feels like the end of an era.

When I started this little blog three and a half years ago, it was a grad school project to document my journey to reconnect with food and find pleasure in the everyday. Wow, this little blog has grown and changed over the years. With my recent migration from Blogger to WordPress this site has continued to grow even more, climbing the search engine rankings and gaining more traffic. I have been so blessed to have you be a part of this journey with me. Whether you are a new reader or a longtime reader, I consider us friends. Thank you, dear friend.

Since we’re friends (and since it involves this blog), I have to fill you in on a situation I’ve been dealing with.  A few weeks ago I received a cease and desist letter from someone regarding the name of my blog because they own a trademark to “For The Love of Food” and asked me to stop using this name. This immediately sent me into a state of panic. This is not what any blogger, website owner, or business owner wants to hear.

In case you don’t know what a C&D letter is, it is basically a formal request to tell you to stop doing something. My cat and I thought we would also help you out with a visual illustration:

A Legal Decision & New Blog Name

A Legal Decision & New Blog Name

I did my research. I talked to family and friends. And then I talked to lawyers. A lot of them. Big, expensive, scary lawyers in Seattle who wanted to construct a big, expensive, scary counter argument back that would allow me to keep my blog name. I thought about it. I thought long and hard. And I realized that the last thing that I wanted was my beautiful little blog, the place that had always been my refuge, to become a battleground. I wouldn’t have it.

After listening to Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map on repeat for three days straight, it was pretty clear to me what felt right: I wanted to change my name. So I found a great lawyer in Oregon and we talked about some options. We laid out some terms and figured out how to proceed forward. I couldn’t have done this without her help.

When you’ve worked your butt off for three and a half years to grow your blog and build a brand, it’s hard to just drop it. I won’t lie, there was a lot of frustration and tears about this.

But I have to look at the beauty in this situation: I get a fresh start. And that can be refreshing, energizing, and inspirational. Although I’m really sad and feel like there is a loss to be mourned here, I’m ecstatic at that thought of moving forward with something that is uniquely my own that no one can ever take away.

After hours and hours and hours of brainstorming and several sleepless nights, I finally found a new blog name. And maybe it’s just because I’m still in a severely sleep-deprived state, but I honestly love it. And it feels so much more true to me.  So here we are.

Welcome to In Sonnet’s Kitchen. I’m so glad you’re here.

A Legal Situation & A New Blog Name

So, now a few logistics:

  • The website will redirect automatically, but please update any bookmarks with the new name and web address (www.insonnetskitchen.com).
  • If you have a link to my blog on your site, first of all, thank you so much (!) and second, please update it with the new name and web address.
  • If you are connected with me on Facebook, you likely have already received an email from Facebook stating that my page is changing its name.  If we’ re not already connected on Facebook, be sure to like the page to get updates!
  • If you follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, or receive my weekly newsletter, those accounts are under my name and will stay the same. And if we haven’t already connected on Twitter, Pinterest, or by email … perhaps we should?  :)
  • And, a favor to ask: if you happen to notice broken links or issues with the website, can you leave me a comment or contact me and let me know? Thanks in advance.

I just want to end this with a giant thank you to the community of awesome folks who read this blog, comment, ask questions, share recipes, and generally make my life better every day. You are the reason I have this blog in the first place so from the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

Cheers,

Sonnet Signature

 

Choose How You Want to Feel

Choose How You Want to Feel

You know those people who just downright inspire you? Those people who every time they open their mouth you just feel like they are speaking directly to you?  That’s how I feel about Danielle LaPorte.

I’ve mentioned Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map here before (see my posts on The Desire Map, Choosing Abundance, and Vulnerability) and I just can’t get enough of her. I’ve read her book The Fire Starter Sessions multiple times now and I cannot stop raving about how much her Desire Map book/program has changed me life.

There have been some challenges happening in my personal life lately. Things that make me want to get defensive. hurt. angry. retreat to the emotional level of a five-year old.

In tough situations, these are the natural reactions of our ego. protect. shelter. shield us from the emotional blow.

But these reactions often only drive us further from what we actually want.

Have you ever been in a fight with someone and been so angry that you pushed them away, when all you actually wanted was to feel closer? Have you ever felt so sad, a sadness so deep that it chilled to the bone, when all you actually wanted was to feel radiantly happy?

Do you want to be angry or do you want to be at peace? Do you want to be sad or do you want to be content? Do you want to be right or do you want to be free?

The beauty of this life is that we get to choose how we want to feel. We can’t control how other people think, feel, or act, but we always get to choose how we want to feel.

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I’m changing my diet…

Ditch The Food Labels

Today I have a big announcement to share.

I’ve written and rewritten this post over ten times now and each time I’ve struggled with what I want to say to you and how I want to say it. I finally boiled it down to this: Living a healthy, happy life should be about eating whole, fresh foods that make your body feel energized and good — and it shouldn’t be about what we call it.

I have always felt strongly that this blog is a place to talk about seasonal, delicious food and healthy living and I wanted our blog community to be a welcoming space open to anyone curious about eating better — regardless of what they ate or how they labeled their diet. I believe that food and what we eat is an entirely personal choice. And, as I mentioned last week, I feel strongly that there is not one diet or one way of eating that works for everyone because each of our bodies are different.

So with that, I want to share that I have recently changed my diet and don’t feel that the “plant-based” label fits anymore, even though I’m still eating a ton of plant-based meals. When I found my way to being vegetarian in 2006 and plant-based in 2007, I was at a complete breaking point with my health and found myself rushing in and out of ERs due to gallbladder attacks. Being plant-based changed everything for me.

However, for the past year and a half, something has been feeling off in terms of my health and I finally decided it was time to switch some things around in my diet. This was really hard for me to consider because I had always believed that being plant-based was what my body wanted. In January, I began adding eggs back into my diet and last month I started eating small amounts of poultry and seafood. To my surprise, my body responded really well to it and I noticed I was feeling a lot better.

If I am being completely honest with you, then I have to share that I went through a period of time where I couldn’t talk about this with anyone because I was an emotional wreck. Even though I had found my way to this diet for health reasons, along the way, being plant-based had become an immensely spiritual and emotional decision for me. I felt strongly connected to this earth and all of the creatures and beings on it. I never liked eating meat or eggs growing up and I didn’t have any cravings for them. I certainly never thought I would go back to including them in my diet. I’m still coming to terms with this in a lot of ways because it’s such a huge change for me, but I feel really strongly that this is the right decision for me at this time.

I am so grateful for my journey and everything I have learned on it. Over the last seven years I’ve learned the importance of eating real, whole foods, eating seasonally, and choosing quality food. I am excited to continue this journey through this blog and keep inspiring each other to live a healthy, happy life that we love.

So, even though I’m ditching the labels around my food choices, I’m excited to continue sharing my recipes with you that will always focus on real, whole foods, and seasonal veggies. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • More creativity around grain-less meals. (If you’re gluten-free or grain-free, I’ve got some recipes for you!)
  • Lots of seasonal veggie recipes! We’re heading into summer soon (my favorite season) and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite summer dishes with you.
  • More “how to” tutorials. (Including how to soak and sprout legumes and some dairy-free cheeses!)
  • More posts exploring DIY green beauty remedies and ways to live a healthy, sustainable life.
  • And eventually, even a few recipes here and there including eggs or meat.

As I mentioned in my post on my three philosophies around food, health, and life, I’m not here to tell you what’s best for you and I’ve never been the kind of person to be preachy about my diet. I think we all need to make the right decisions for ourselves and trust our guts when it comes to our health.

Wishing you the best in health and happiness,

Sonnet

My Philosophy on Food, Health, and Life

Being healthy isn't just about exercise

What does it mean to you to be healthy? What does being healthy look like and feel like for you?

One of the things that I love most about this blog and our blog community is that although we talk a lot about food, this blog is really a place to talk about what it means to live our healthiest, happiest, and fullest life. As a certified holistic health coach, one of the greatest lessons that I could possibly share with anyone is that your health is not just about your physical body — it’s about emotional, mental, and spiritual health too. So, I thought we’d spend some time today talking more about what it really means to be healthy and my philosophies around food, health, and life in general. 

When it comes down to it, I really have three simple guidelines that I follow:

#1 Moderation and The 80/20 Rule
For a big part of my life, I categorized foods in two ways: either a food was “good” or it was “bad.” I don’t know about you, but as soon as I am told that I can’t or shouldn’t have something, that’s exactly what I want. As a result, I spent many, many years trying to guilt myself into avoiding the forbidden “bad” foods, only to wind up with failed willpower and eating way too much junk overall. Several years ago as I began to clean up my diet and eat more fresh, whole foods, I found a better balance by using The 80/20 Rule.
The 80/20 Rule is essentially this: 80% of the time I focus on eating fresh, healthful foods that make my body feel strong and vibrant and 20% of the time I allow myself to have treats (or less-than-optimal foods). 
Over time, I’ve found that eating with balance actually helps me to eat better overall because I get to enjoy healthy foods that I love while not feeling deprived of treats from time-to-time. And as I have applied this rule to other areas of my life, I have found myself enjoying my workouts more, focusing on quality time (instead of the quantity of time) spent with those I love, and feeling more balance in all areas of my life. 
 
#2 Listen to my body and trust what it tells me
Listening to my body is a huge one for me. I have personally experienced a variety of health issues throughout my life and the way I have managed to get through each one is by listening to my body and trusting the messages it sends me. When I say that I listen to my body, I simply mean that I notice how I feel after I eat certain foods. I believe in the concept of bio-individuality and that everyone’s body is a little different. This means that foods and exercises that makes me feel great might not work for someone else, and vice versa. 
 
There are hundreds of different diets and ways of eating, and I do not believe that there is one perfect way of eating that works for everyone. One of my biggest pet peeves with the nutrition world is that there are so many different “experts” out there preaching that their way is the best — and, most of these diets are at complete odds with one another. I don’t know about you, but if I tried to follow every new nutritional fad out there, well, it wouldn’t be possible and I would drive myself crazy. The world of nutrition and health is constantly changing and evolving and I have found that trusting my own body makes the most sense for me. 
 
I have also found that what my body needs and wants changes over time. As my workout routine shifts, my career shifts, or my social relationships shift, all of these things have an effect on my body. As we grow and change, I believe that we constantly need to be re-evaluating what we are eating, how we are eating, and how we are living in general. 
 
#3 Remembering that my entire life is connected
 
And this brings me to my final point: your life is a system and each part impacts the others. I can’t expect to feel my best if I am eating crappy food, but food isn’t the only thing that determines my health and happiness. Being healthy isn’t just about the physical stuff like eating better and getting exercise – it’s about all aspects of your health: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  --Click to tweet it!

 

Our country tends to put a lot of emphasis on what we can do physically for our health: eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking water, and exercising. But for some reason the conversation stops there. Our lives are made up of so much more than food and fitness. Think about your career, friendships, romantic relationships, spiritual practices, hobbies, or finances. When one of these areas is lacking or completely draining you, it impacts other areas of your life and you as a whole.
 
My personal struggle is that I tend to work too much and not schedule in time to do fun things. For many years, I also put everyone else’s needs before mine and I constantly found myself feeling burned out, exhausted, and unhappy. However, as I became aware of these things, I began to take more time for myself, do more things for pleasure, and build stress-reducing activities into each day. I also began to spend more time chewing my food, eating slowly, and really taking the time to enjoy it. 
 
Once I began to address the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of my life, in conjunction with the physical, my health completely changed. Practicing self care and building pleasure into all areas of my life is still an ongoing lesson that I learn each and every day, but I notice a difference when I take care of myself and when I don’t. The path to total wellness looks different for each person, but if we don’t include our emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing in addition to our physical body, we are missing key pieces along the way.
 
What guidelines do you follow for living your healthiest and happiest life?  And what have you learned about caring for your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing?