Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Girl

There are compliments. And, there are putdowns and criticisms.


And, then......there are those comments that stand alone. They can be taken as positive, negative, or simply truth. And, what do you do with those kind of comments? Laugh 'em off. Ignore them.......OR, you can just simply shrug your shoulders, slap on that grin, and say, "That's me. Ali."


Yup, believe it or not, I've been compared (on more than one occasion. okay, like 10!) to the character of Jess on that T.V. show, "New Girl." If you've seen it, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, then perhaps you should check it out.






Here is the Wikipedia synopsis of Jess:


"Zooey Deschanel as Jessica "Jess" Day, the eponymous "new girl". She is a cute, bubbly middle school teacher in her late 20s. She is a free spirit. She acts according to her hearts content; usually, in unconventional ways. Her behavior does not reflect social norms, which ends up making her look weird but her quirkiness loveable and charming. Jess is genuine and kind-hearted. She is imaginative and na├»ve, much like a child. She opens herself up to everyone and easily trusts which tends to put her in a vulnerable position. Jess has a tendency to get into awkward situations due to her aversion to confrontation. Regardless of misfortunes, her positivity strives to keep her faith alive. Among her personality traits is her tendency to burst into song, sometimes making up lyrics reflecting her situation."


At first, I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not, considering this 'new girl' is somewhat quirky, offbeat, social awkward at times, and will randomly bursts into song.......but, then, it hit me. That is me. Oh my gooseberries!! Jess girl, you get me! Finally, someone who understands authentic quirkiness and adds a li'l fun spunk, poppin' sass, and cute (yet awfully butchered) British accent attempts :) Yeeeeesss!! Whoohooo!!! I can finally truly sing my Pilates style prayers with confidence, passion, and soul, ha! 


I'm not really sure why I'm writing this post about comparing myself to some fictitious T.V. show character. I'll let y'all speculate and add your two cents (or sense or what ever the heck it is). But, for now, I'm taking this as a shout to the world as a declaration of my unique self and not as an apology for the weird, inappropriate (unintentionally, at least), and just plain random things that fly out of my mouth. Or, maybe I'm just kind of a fan of that show and think it's pretty funny and get a kick out of that Jess girl and felt like posting that....


Whatever the reason, one thing stands for sure - what you see is what you get.



It's Me. Ali ;)








In the words of Jess, "I have to go out tonight, 'cause I'm feeling pretty twirly." I know, right?!! ;)



Cheers!


xo

Monday, March 19, 2012

Enough Said.....


So, this is what my girlfriends and I do when we get together - Happy Hour, eat our weight in salad, popcorn and chocolate, and talk about ridiculous most often hilarious things.....And, tonight was no exception.

Perhaps you will laugh at this stereotype or quite possibly even relate with this 'girl'....Either way, you're in for a good giggle or two.






Now on to more important things.....Yay for gorgeous sunsets ;), Spring beginning manana, and a nice glass of red wine (after not having any alcohol for 6 weeks!!!....well, minus st. patty's day - GF green beer, a must. Not trying it was not an option :)


Cheers!!


XO

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dirty Fingernails, French Crepes, and Ellen

Grateful for Bananas 


(especially with almond butter :)


How does this happen?!! Over a week has gone by and only one post! My goodness!! Time time time, you roll by oh so quickly and sneakily! 


Anyway, the complaining fast is still being attempted. Haven't forgotten just yet. Definitely a fail at times, but hey, I'm tryin' ;)


One li'l trick or key I've learned that is almost a guaranteed attack against the grumblin' blues is.......ding ding ding - GRATITUDE! 


So, what better way to express a thankful heart and hopefully spread a cheerful attitude than to share some treasured moments from the past week or two?!!  :)



  • My parents, Nana, and I had dinner with the Hopsons.....And, that was accomplished without any utensils. Yay for hands!



Grateful for TWO clean hands ;)


  • I cleaned a fire place for the first time last week....gotta learn at one point in my life, right?!! 




  • LOTS of fabulous beach walks and runs and stair workouts, one in particular being an extra sparkly day. Hooray for membership to the best gym ever!!




  • Celebrated Dear Maeg's Birthday last week. Wonderful night that included: making savory crepes and chocolate pb dessert; special time with special friends; and belly-aching laughs while watching my favorite Ellen Degeneres and Sophia Grace.


  • Making homemade gifts for friend's birthdays, showers, and just because :)

Grateful for DIY creativity


  • The color pink....just gotta love it :)

  • Girl time, food, and jacuz sessions with dear friends! LOVE!

  • Oh, and can't forget the show The Bachelor...

  • Daylight Savings, gorgeous sunsets, Wine Steals, and boyzzz!! Ahh, don't have much interaction with the opposite sex (esp. since moving back from nyc), so it's always somewhat exciting meeting/hanging out with groups that contain both girls AND guys, hahahaha :) Contributing factor - growing up with 2 brothers, perhaps?!! 





  • How can a smiley face not make you smile?!! Just not possible! =D)


Grateful for big ol' grins

  • I've been enjoying 'practicing' my cooking on lots of friends and family. Thank goodness for an endless encouraging supply of guinea pigs :)



That about sums up my highlights of the past week or so, those gems of a moment that I'm quite thankful for :)

If nothing more, this post is a great reminder for me to keep that cheerful heart a spittin' out lots and lots of thanks :)

Psalm 118:24
Colossians 3:17
Psalm 136:1
Ephesians 1:16
Colossians 3:15
Hebrews 12:28
James 1:17
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Cheers!!

XO

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover (Or a Cookie by its Form....or Lack there of ;)



It's about time I post this recipe, right Jamie?!! Not sure why you keep asking me....you do realize I don't really use the same ingredients every time, yeah?!! Haha....I'll try my best though, so you can use these cookies (or oat mound) to make more friends. You're most welcome :)

Okay, gettin' right to it:

GF Oatmeal Cookie (or Glob) "Recipe"

1/2 cup melted butter (or coconut oil) - cut in half if using applesauce
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (this is the reduced sugar amount...you could always substitute with maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar)
6-7 cups TJ's GF rolled oats
1/2 bar (1 lb plus bar from tj's) dark chocolate or more ;)
4 eggs or less (or substitute with mashed banana)
1/2 - 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 cup peanut (or almond) butter

This last batch, I added coconut yogurt, applesauce, almond milk, a pinch of pink sea salt and cinnamon....feel free to add whatever suits your sweet li'l fancy pants :)

I'm not much of a baker, I don't have much patience, and I don't like to follow directions....

Therefore, I just mix everything together in a big bowl all at once. Glop heaps of cookie dough on baking sheets (either greased or with parchment paper). Cookies will spread, so leave lots of room....unless you like oatmeal bars instead ;)

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, until light brown. 

Indulge :) 

*Warning: last batch (for Bachelor season finale girls' night), my 'cookies' did not keep their form, so they literally became one huge mound. Everyone ate from that plate with their spoons. Taste was at least a success, yesss!! :)

Love you J-Dizzle!!! Happy cookie baking!! Oh, and invite me up to visit you and your biola buds!! I need to get out more, ha! ;)

Cheers and Hugs!!

XO  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Deprivation??? - I think NOT!



One of the best combinations - peanut butter (or almond butter) and dark chocolate! I can hear the Hallelujah chorus going off :)

Even though we're trying this restricted diet (which includes no sugar), this does not mean we have to completely ignore our sweet tooth.

This past week, I had a dessert making party in my kitchen - blueberry-coconut-almond muffins and peanut-almond butter cups.

Check the recipe out on the link below for those homemade dark chocolate treats (sorry, I didn't post the muffin recipe).

*Note: I left out the honey fyi. Still delicious decadence!

After just one bite, you'll be saying good-bye to that pestering li'l chocolate-withdrawl-complaining-bug :)




Cheers!

xo

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Letter



My two cents for the day.


What do you do when your workout plans are cancelled due to a rare rain storm? Well, write a letter, of course.


It was a week ago from yesterday that I wrote a letter (remember that crazy rain we had?!). Now, I'm not going to go into details about the specifics and reasons and all that; however, I do feel compelled to share the impact that the act of writing that letter had on me.


Ever since moving back from the East Coast, I have felt prompted to write a letter to a certain someone in my life. Not sure why I put it off for so long, but the rain (or You, Lord :) finally led me to sit down and just write that thing! 


Ok, so the letter ended up being a little longer (10+ pages longer!) than I had planned on, but I just went with it. It became a raw, genuine expression of my love and admiration for this person, along with an apology, confrontation (in gentleness), truth, and thankfulness. Wow! What a release of freedom and healing I experienced. Truly! Not sure exactly how that worked, but I believe this physical act (of writing the letter) allowed for a softening of my heart and a work of the Holy Spirit.


My lesson?? How writing a letter can be so friggin' freeing! I also learned that I am only responsible for.....ME - my behavior and response in any situationI don't have control over any one else in life. In any relationship/friendship, I need to be honest and speak the truth in love; however, at the end of the day, my job is to focus on my role in the friendship/relationship and seek the lesson in every circumstance (ask, What, Lord, are You wanting to reveal to me right now?). Also, giving the letter to this person was a huge step out of my comfort zone (not AT ALL a fan of confrontation and potentially hurting someone!)! This was yet another lesson in boldness, courage, communication, and honesty (all surrounded by love and grace, of course:).


So, all this from the simple act of writing a letter, huh?! 


Yep :) 


Oh, life lessons. 


Cheers!


xo

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stuffed Roasted Kabocha Squash


This complaining fast is going quite well. I've learned a few invaluable lessons already (thank You, Lord!), and I'm sure I'll get around to sharing some of those at one time or another :)

For now, let's talk food. I realize this isn't a 'food' designated blog per say; however, with my recently acquired skill (certified natural foods chef) and ever-increasing love and passion for health, nutrition and cooking, I've decided that I just might be writing more and more posts pertaining to this topic. A lot is currently in the works regarding this hobby and career of mine, so it's only natural for its contents to spill into this "Table For Two" blog. However, I am hoping and planning to create/design a more designated 'spot' for this niche of mine. 

With that being said, I am posting an (unintentionally) vegan dish that I made this past week. My parents and I are doing this cleanse that requires a somewhat strict and limited diet. So, I've been having oodles of fun in the kitchen, trying to create yummy, enjoyable meals that not only contain okay-to-eat (for us) ingredients, but that are bursting in flavor, texture, nutrition, and satisfaction.

Enjoy :)

*Note: I tend to be rather loose in my measurements (and by loose, I mean, I don't measure at all...ha), so think of this 'recipe' (and future recipes) as more of a general guideline that allows for lots and lots of creativity and inspiration :)

Stuffed Roasted Kabocha Squash

1 Kabocha Squash (looks like a green squat pumpkin)
coconut oil
salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped mushrooms (crimini or button)
1 bag spinach, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 can coconut milk
1-2 cups chicken broth
cooked brown rice - optional
toasted coconut flakes - optional

Dried spices:
(These are the spices I used to obtain more of an Indian flavor, and the coconut adds an element of Thai flare; however, I like to have fun and play with various herbs/spices to create different flavors (and I encourage my friends to do the same)..."a little of this, a pinch of that, a handful of those" is how I roll :)

cumin - a couple of dashes 
paprika - a few pinches
curry powder - lots :)
cinnamon - one tiny sprinkle
ginger - a couple of dashes
garlic powder - depends on how much you like garlic :)
cayenne - depends on how much you like heat/spice!

1.) Turn oven on - 375F convention or 325F convection (cooks faster). Rinse kabocha squash. Then, halve, deseed and slice squash (keep skin on if organic). Lay pieces flat on oiled cooking sheet. Rub in coconut oil (or evoo) and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 30-45 minutes (depending on setting) until golden brown and soft.

2.) Heat a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil (medium heat) in a large skillet. Saute onions until soft. Add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add copped spinach, beans and whatever spices you choose. Stir for a minute or so. Add coconut milk and chicken stock. Cook until heated through (or until desired thickness). Taste and adjust seasonings.

3.) Take 1-2 pieces of squash and place in wide shallow bowls. Top with brown rice and bean-mushroom-spinach mixture and sauce. Sprinkle with toasted shredded coconut.

Serves 4-5


The roasted kabocha squash (loaded with vitamins, minerals and flavor) is like a cross between pumpkin and yam. It has a sweet and slightly nutty aroma and taste, with a smooth creamy texture that melts in your mouth. Pairs nicely with the mixture and sauce. Or, eat it plain or with a dash of cinnamon and coconut for a tasty dessert. 

Cheers!

xo

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh Me! Oh My! I Just Might Cry (or pee in my pants ;)!!!!


In case you didn't know - I love to eat. I love to cook. And, I love fresh, seasonal, local, organic, sustainable, wholesome, fun, delicious, beautiful food :)

I'm a passionate organic foodie dork who gets SO excited about supporting local family-run organic farms :)

This is worthy of a jump, a shout, and a big crazy tail wag!!!! Ohmygoodness! Guess what I just discovered right here in San Diego??!!! - 

Garden of Eden Organics CSA

Check out their website to find out more information:

A quick synopsis:

Who They (Garden of Eden) Are

Garden of Eden is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for San Diego and other southern California regions. By joining our CSA for a weekly delivery of seasonal, fresh, certified-organic and chemical- and pesticide-free produce, you not only get the freshest, best-tasting produce, you know that you are supporting local California growers.

About Their CSA

Community Supported Agriculture is a great way for the consumer to become directly involved with farmers by supporting the sustenance and operation of their farms. GOE Organic CSA membership can be monthly, quarterly or annually with a minimum twelve-week commitment. Each week we deliver an ever-changing, seasonal variety of freshly harvested fruit and vegetables to several central locations around the area.
Garden of Eden is different from a tradtional, one-farm CSA. We are a co-op of 13 small farms, which for our members means variety. This is one of the most important distinctions of our program. Owners Paul and Jennifer Trejo are always looking for something new to keep the program fresh and exciting.

Enjoy :)

Cheers and hugs to beautiful, healthy, organic food happiness!!!

Tea Time

Oops! Missed a day. Oh well. Guess a little Sofia Grace, Rosie, and Taylor Swift will just have to do:



Now, if those two little girls and Taylor Swift (all having tea time together) don't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Cuteness


 

I know that I hadn't written in this blog for quite awhile, and then BAM! I randomly come back with this complaining fast that I recently started and begin writing again everyday....

There's no real rhyme or reason, I guess it's a 'just because' thing. I realize I'm not required to explain myself, yet I feel compelled to at times. Not sure why. The need to defend myself? Perhaps. Or, too worried about misperception on the reader's end? Possibly. (Sounds like pride, actually, but let me go on). I find it rather funny that I so quickly and simply decided to start writing again, yet how soon it turned into a 'formula' where I, for the most part, have to critically and strategically think about the content and fluidity of what I'm writing. Quite silly if you ask me. I'm quite silly. One, for thinking this way. And, two, well, I'm just silly silly, as in goofy silly, ha ;) 

But, anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest. . . I'm curious why I often sense a nonverbalized pressure to say or do the 'right' thing? And, I'm not talking about moral issues here. I find that if I don't fit into that mold (that either I or society has created), then that leads to (or has the potential to lead to) disappointment, changed perception, or goodness forbid, a lost fb friend ;) (over-thinking? most likely)....

Quite frankly, if I love to write, then gosh darnit, I just want to write. And, write freely, not giving too much thought to how I or my writing is being perceived. Some days, I will think long and hard about what I want to write. Other days, I will....not. I'll be deep, serious, and thought provoking sometimes. And, silly, funny, and lighthearted at other times. I want to break that 'formula' that I so unfortunately have a tendency to create for myself. 

I guess (since I'm a chef :) I'll compare it to cooking - I love being in a kitchen, whipping up a new, fun, (hopefully) tasty meal. I may be bold and frequently try new ingredients, herbs, spices, and techniques. There's no guarantee that my creation will come out with 5 stars every time, yet it doesn't stop me from continuing to do what I love to do. And, with more time and practice, I will eventually get the hang of the art of cooking. So it is with writing. It's a hobby, one of my many hobbies. Fills me up and is a great release. I enjoy doing it and hope to never quit just because it can be a little intimidating at times and bring up a few billy nilly insecurities. 

So....with that, I am not apologizing for this post or the following randomness. It's a rather adorable song sung by a little girl to her hedgehog, and it made me smile. So, there. Watch, listen, smile, and be blessed. 




CHEERS!!! Here's to the freedom to be YOU and random, if you so desire :)


oxo


Galations 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Not too high on life?



Feel like this occasionally?




Or this:


Or this:




Do you roll your eyes at the following?




Just can't seem to nip it (complaining) in the 'butt'??


Then, perhaps we should reconsider...





Punishment for grumbler??

Oh, I sure hope NOT! Ha! :)

Night y'all!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Music to Their Ears



Day 3. So far so good :)

Thanks to the influence of American Idol and Southern Belles, I am in the process of reshaping my habits to combat the complaining temptation with the following responses:

*Note: The examples are (for the most part....) hypothetical situations ;)

1.) A song - in an unfortunate situation that is provoking the complaining bug, just take your usual, instinctive reaction, completely flip flop the words and sing your response. Eg., after barely tipping over a wine glass and having it shatter all over the counter, learn to bite your tongue, release, and sing "Oh, soft fluffy baaaaaallssss of warm fuzziness. I loooooo-uh-uh-uh-ve when I so gracefully bump breakable things with my loving touch, for this teaches meeeee humilityyyyy and patience. Now, reeeeeest innnnnn peeeeeeace, dear broken glaaaass (fluctuating between alto, soprano, and tenor)." Sing as long as you need to, until feelings of complaining subside.    

2.) A sweet tone of voice - if someone tells you you're a big baby and uses a sarcastic, cutting tone of voice, then take one deep breath, and in the girliest most innocent voice ever, respond with - "Aw, I think I may be sensing some pent up stress there that you're accidentally taking out on this innocent bystander, muah. But, don't you worry, buttercup, no harsh feelings whatsoever. We all have our off days." And, then, for extra brownie points, throw in a wink ;) 

3.) A sugared phrase - "How adorable that a 21-year-old baby brother still wants his mommy to make his breakfast, scratch his back, and cuddle. Bless his sweeeeeeeeet little heart...."

4.) A nice smile accompanied with a batting of the eyes and a light giggle - soccer game or food network (in the slight off chance that you're possessing the clicker before the boys walk in the room)......."Yes, I have always wanted to bond with by bwuddahs over Everyday Italian. Oh, you're just going to LOVE Giada  :)" 

Sarcasm or not, these alternate responses really do have a positive effect on one's attitude, or at least they do for me (so far....as in today, ha! :). They usually lead to a smile, laughter, and/or a light-hearted feeling. I don't know about anyone else, but I sure prefer these 'new,' spiced-up reactions. I'm looking forward to implementing them more in my life, until they become habit :)

Cheers to not complaining!

xoxo

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Official



Welp....There ya go. It's officially official. Nothing like a purple silicone wristband to lock this fun, minute 'agreement' in stone, right??!! 


So, apparently, word spreads quickly (thanks to present day technology....oh, and lovely mothers with lovely mouths who like to keep their husbands in the loop ;), and my Dad found out about my 40-day (or 31 day;) complaining fast.


He, being the super star encourager and supporter that he is (oh, and not to mention benefiting firsthand from my li'l experiment....dad + grumble-free experimenter = happy happy joy joy :), returned from work today with "A Complaint Free World.org" bracelet for me. Yes, how thoughtful.


Haha, oh Daddy. Thank you ever so much for your gift. Quite frankly, I LOVE it! Purple is so my color and we all know how much I love silicone, woot woot! 


Day 2. And, I already have a new accessory for my fashionable wardrobe and two parents who are onboard with one of my ideas. Now, I could get use to this ;) 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And, She's Off!




Complain
verb (used without object)
To express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault.
(Dictionary.com) 

Philippians 2:14 ~ Do everything without complaining or arguing.



Lent is 40 days. I know. You're point being.....? Forty minus 31 allows nine days wiggle room of potential complaining. Ugh, maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic, but then again, it is me, Ali Wright, we're talking about here. One complaint-free afternoon is difficult enough, let alone 31 days! What was I thinking?!!! 


How it all went down:


Driving today, a thought (or string of thoughts, rather....okay, a full on convo with myself) popped into my head. Complaining. So unattractive. And, why do most people have to be professionals?! So annoying to be around! 


Not so fast, oh mature, wise one! I believe what you're doing right now is considered complaining....


Busted.


You're right. I am quite the well seasoned complainer, aren't I?


Well, up for a li'l challenge? How about taking a break (just for a bit...a rest, if you will) from the good ol' act of grumblin'? It is Lent, ya know?


I guess it can't hurt, right?? For starters, I like a little competition. Second, it reminds me of a research study...on myself (should be interesting to see the effects, positive, hopefully). And, oh yeah, can't forget the most important - it will force me to be completely and utterly dependent on You, God, if I am to follow through with this 'fun' challenge :)


So, there you have it. I'm participating (or, at least attempting to participate) in Lent this year. Not for legalistic reasons. Or even religious reasons. It just so happened that it began yesterday, and I just kinda feel like taking a break from complaining. That's all. Nothing huge. Just a simple heart cleansing detox. Not sure if it's a good idea to share with the public like this, but whatever. It will be good for accountability reasons, right?! I mean, how hard can this be? I can not eat sugar for three weeks, and purely, this is the same thing.....God, You love my pride, don't You?! And, my facetious sarcasm. Oh peas louise. Off to a good start......Start over. To be honest, this shouldn't be a bigger deal than this post is making it out to be. Simply put, I want to take a break from complaining, and I miss writing, so why not write about a potentially....humorous? impossible? for sure challenging, feat?! ;)  


Anyway, day one. Over. Who said I followed through today without complaining?? Haha, oh boy, this sure is going to be fun(ny). And, besides, complaining is relative, right?! Or, at least in the ear of the beholder?.....Just don't tell anyone about my li'l challenge. That way my failed attempts can remain between You and me. Oh, boy, just think of how that'll look if my family finds out! Or my friends!! I'm....I'm.....not hopeless. Just a widdle girl wanting to try a complaint-free couple weeks....days....hours...moments. Good thing it's the 'moments' and 'little things' (or steps) in life that are worth noticing and being grateful for, right?! :)


Cheers! Now go eat, drink, and be merry without that complainin' ;)


Okay, God, but for reals now. I do want to try the whole 'no complaining' thing. But, we both know it can NOT be done without Your Grace, Your Power, Your very Life flowing through me! So, with that, I invite You to be my 'Grumble-Free is the Way to Be' Desire and Execution throughout this time. Thank You :)