Heal Your Life with A Cow Bone and a Chicken Toe

Know what’s on my mind lately? I’ll tell you.

Everything is split. Not just into FOR or AGAINST, but a million different shards of opinions.

There is no pleasing everyone, in any situation. Also, it’s very difficult to change someone else’s mind. And no amount of angry arguing with an un-like-minded individual is gonna make it happen. I wish I could give that word “angry” a spiky font to illustrate how uncomfortable it makes me.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up for what you believe in and work toward change. That is a wonderful and powerful thing, and that’s how change happens.

But I do wish there was less anger everywhere. I can feel it’s spikes jutting out from people as I pass them on the street. Spikes poking through my phone as I scroll through facebook conversations between people I love. Heck, the spikes are even manifesting in the weather patterns these days.

I wanted to do my part to bring some shiny light into the internet world with some happy little blog posts about positivity and health and looking forward to things. Because these are what I want my life to be full of. But I can’t help but fear that I’m going to say some little thing that’s going to offend someone looking to be outraged. “How can you be so positive when the world is ending?! You are selfish to think you can enjoy life while so many terrible things are happening! Rainbows cause cancer and smiles killed my Dad!”

These are the words of the imaginary dude who lives in my head and proofs my writing before it gets typed onto the page. Seriously though? F this guy. I never even hired this guy. He just started showing up every day, that was four years ago. (Any High Fidelity fans?)

I don’t write for that guy, I write for anyone who is looking for a little softness in their world. Anyone who has a suspicion that joy is beyond powerful and changes worlds. Anyone who is open to the idea that joy is born from joy alone, and multiplies exponentially when practiced often.

If this doesn’t apply to you, then you may go read some more angry words and let this little blog float off on its lily pad, never to intend harm on anyone.

ANYWAY the whole point of this post is to share with you how I make bone broth. But when I went to brush up on my research, amid all the glowing reviews of bone broth, there were a couple articles that couldn’t wait to tell everyone that bone broth is a HOAX! Like “First of all, IT’S NOT EVEN BROTH. It’s STOCK. NEXT, Everyone who thinks bone broth good for you is A PSEUDO HIPPIE IDIOT (and yes, technically it does have amino acids that help build your skeletal structure, and it has lots of electrolytes and sodium so it’s good, like, after a workout) but IF YOU REALLY THINK DRINKING COLLAGEN IS GOING TO GROW COLLAGEN IN YOUR BODY, THEN YOU ARE SO MUCH DUMBER THAN ME!”

I’m exaggerating obviously. Perhaps I feel a bit defensive when it comes to this sort of thing, mainly because it appears to me that these folks are just getting worked up over people drinking home-made stock. The tone of these articles do feel condescending to me and even made me feel like I’m an idiot for wasting time on bone broth. It may not be a cure-all miracle tonic, but it’s a good source of amino acids and has been proven to improve joint flexibility, and most importantly it’s a home-made food that’s ingredients can be traced back to your own kitchen cupboards.

So the title of this blog post, “Heal Your Life With A Cow Bone and A Chicken Toe” is me having a bit of satirical fun. Sorry if I got your hopes all up for a quick-fix witches brew, but alas, healing seems to only come from within ourselves.

From my Pollyanna-silver-lining perspective, the spiked interest in bone broth is a happy sign that people are becoming more drawn to the natural, the original, and the organic. Since the Green revolution in the early aughts, more people have been turning their cheeks to processed foods, chemicals, and the like.

Yes, there is more knowledge of health sprouting up in people, and corporations are having to adjust to fit us! That’s what I’m most excited about! There was once a time when we could be convinced by a simple magazine ad that we could eat fried food every day  with a clean conscience as long as it was fried in Crisco, because “medical tests” prove it’s healthy!

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And to show how far we’ve come, let me tell you about this Panera Bread commercial I saw. They were bragging about how their food is REAL FOOD, no chemicals or dyes. (Who the heck knows if it’s true or not, but I’m just happy to see that that’s what is testing well in their focus groups!!)

 SO getting back to the whole point, here is how I make bone broth.

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First, I go to the Rochester public market and buy a bag of bones from the nice guy, you can usually get two big bags for $6. Then I pick up some chicken paws. That’s right. The feet of a chicken. They have them at Price Rite. They add the gelatin you’re looking for when you make bone broth, but are not essential. They are… difficult to look at. The bones aren’t great to look at either, hence this crisp pot-handle and blurry carcass parts pictured below!

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So first things first, I dump the bones and feets in this big ol’ pot. I fill it with water, just covering the stuff (these were frozen in a log shape but fell under the water when they defrosted), and bring it to a boil and simmer for an hour. And surprise! This isn’t going to be the actual broth! Tricked you!! Aw man. You were like “but you said crockpot, not STOCKpot!” Shoulda seen your face. Anyway, there are WAY more steps involved. This is just to get rid of all the “scum” that will mess up the taste in the end.

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Here is the scum-water, looking pretty appetizing, but trust me, it smells kinda weird in here. And then this gray foam forms on top that you have to skim off.

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So next, preheat your oven to 400. Once your scummy hour is up, drain the bones. I usually just pour out most of the water because there are too many bones for a colander to hold. Then, get a 9×13 baking dish. Use tongs to put the bones in the dish. I don’t roast the chicken feet, because I dunno what the hell would happen to those freaky things in the oven. God, they’re gross. I’ve heard recommendations to roast the bones, but not the feet, so I just let them chill off to the side for this part.

Roast the bones for apx. 1 hour, but the longer the better tbh. The roasting gives the broth more flavor.

Once they’re roasty toasty, let them cool a bit before FINALLY putting them into the crock pot with the chicky feet. Cover everything with COLD water, and add a splash of the good stuff:Bonebroth4

Now you gotta let it sit in the cold water for ANOTHER hour. You pretty much need a free day to do this, by the way. This step sucks minerals from the bones that otherwise would be missing from the broth!

K, it’s been an hour. Now you can add any aromatics and flavor-boosters you want, although I’ve read it’s best to keep it simple with just some onion, garlic cloves, and black peppercorns, so that’s what I do. But feel free to add carrots, celery, etc.

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Next, switch the crockpot dial to “low”, go to sleep, wake up the next morning, and discover that you never plugged the thing in. This IS an essential step!!! (JK, Mommy messed up) PLUG IN, make sure it’s set to “low”, come back in 24 hours.

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Ah, yes. This time I woke up to find broth.

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The next step is to get a bunch of big glass jars, a strainer, a bowl for discard bones, and a few shallow glass containers, like the pan you used to roast the bones in. Ugh, you have to wash it. Sorry.

The reason we need shallow containers is because at this stage, the broth needs to cool quickly, or it’s in danger of growing bacteria. Also, have a few ice cube trays filled and waiting in the freezer, too. Here’s my little set-up.

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Now begin ladeling the broth through the strainer and dump the strained bits in your garbage bowl. Or your recycling bowl if you want to re-broth the bones, which you can do by all means.

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Once all the broth is ladel’d, drop a bunch of ice cubes in to help cool the broth faster. This is a pretty potent broth, so adding water won’t dilute it too much.

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Then, carefully ladel the broth into your mason jars (I always make a mess everywhere so don’t feel badly if that happens) and pop them in the fridge, careful not to put them next to anything that might spoil with a little extra warmth. When they cool they will have this layer of fat which isn’t harmful, but you can scrape it off if you want. If all goes according to plan, it should have a jello-like texture. This broth will be good for about 5 days in the fridge, months in the freezer.

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So there you have it! That’s how I make bone broth, and I use it to make rice and quinoa and soup, and sometimes I drink it by itself! Make it or don’t, but please don’t shame the broth-drinkers. We’re just trying to figure out way to be better to our bodies.

Softly,

Your Peacefriend

Donuts and Dresses: A Success Story

Today began with donuts.

One of our fav Rochester businesses doubles as an art gallery and café. It’s called Makers, and from them we glommed a Strawberry cheesecake donut, a Crème brûlée donut and a Caramel-Apple glazed with crispy proscuitto on top. Also two amazing pour-over coffees from locally roasted beans.

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That perfect strawberry slice fell on the floor but I still ate it anyway.

Alex and I have this monthly ritual called “donut day”, and the general rule is one morning each month is dedicated to these amazing donuts, but ONLY one. Oh, and only a couple donuts. We learned that the hard way, you cain’t cram a dozen donuts into one day.  Just cain’t.

I’m a strong believer in following one’s bliss, but more often than not mine leads me to the dones, hence the once-a-month rule.

This ritual started out great 6 months ago. But as time went on, we’ve slipped up here and there. One donut day per month turns into 2 and then 3. And today was one of those naughty illegal donut days. Because I’m weak.

I’ve noticed this pattern in my life where I’ll have a brilliant, powerfully charged idea for some routine or project or lifestyle change to ultimately improve my situation, but as time goes on the idea loses steam. I find myself rebelling against my own rules, like an angsty teenager yelling “You’re not my Mom!” at the responsible half of myself.

I’m getting pretty sick of it. It’s actually kept me from starting new projects, knowing the chance of my actually finishing the project are in the devil’s favor. And for some reason the devil doesn’t want me to knit TWO pairs of socks, just one and a half.

So when I challenged myself to sew my first dress from scratch, I approached the project cautiously.

I got a great sewing machine for my birthday last year from my grandparents, and though my wonderful Grandma helped me learn some basics when we made an apron together this past year, I’m still a bit of a clueless baby when it comes to sewing. I would love to be able to make most my own clothes, not just because it’s economically responsible skill to learn, but also because I’m a show-off!

I’m sort of kidding, but real quick note: The phrase “show-off” has a negative connotation, but my belief is that there’s nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and “showing off” your success to the world. The notion that you should hide the fact that you’re proud of yourself because it might come off as “braggy” has always seemed super OFF to me.

I meeeean … Don’t we all want success? Unique talents are what make humans so cool, so shouldn’t we be encouraging that in people? Society is made up of individuals who need support, don’t we want our society to thrive? And here’s something to consider: In sharing your successes, you will probably inspire people to make their own success happen! And that is how we grow and change and evolve. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, no one should ever take offense to your success. If they do, that is entirely their own baggage.

So GET READY for me to practice my very best showing off! Because I am so proud of me.

And although I’m still struggling with all that… donut stuff…

…I did show some personal growth in finishing my very first dress! It’s by no means perfect, but it’s good enough for my first try.

And I am going to proudly wear it to a wedding this summer.

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The skirt has plenty of room to expand so I can appear larger and scare off predators.
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“Can’t wait to yellow the pits of this beaut!” says my glands
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BTW It has pockets.

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And if anyone reading this is inspired to make this dress now, here is the pattern I used. Number D.

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You are Living Creativity

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul”

– Deepak Chopra

Today I am feeling so grateful for the drive within me to create. Create art, create clothing, create conversation, music, delicious food, these posts. I am grateful for my creative spark, and I am grateful for your creative spark.

I can’t help but notice that we are constantly creating new ways of living, and thinking about things, and finding joy. Even if it’s just a small change you’re making in your own life, I believe these small changes do effect the whole.

Whether or not you consider yourself a “creative” person, we are all creating all the time.

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Listen up. Evolution depends on creative thinking. Things very normal to us today were once absurd ideas. Think about cell phones, air planes. Heck, I mean we have 3D printers that can print skin cells for crying in the night! Who thought of that? My guess is it was a  creative person who’d probably been told they were “weird” more than once in their life.

The people who first thought of these things had a strong belief that the future can be amazing. What a bunch of weirdos, huh?

These types people are the reason we evolve and learn and move forward. Even if it feels like we’re standing still, or even taking steps backward, I have a strong suspicion that the feeling of moving backward is actually progression in disguise.

As an artist, I get the impression that people think I, and other artists like me, are more creative than other people.

Here’s my thought about that: I have devoted my life and career to being creative, but I don’t think that means I have more of it in me than anyone else. I am practicing creativity daily, and working it into every area of my life. And like anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

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Portraits of Alex’s creative outlets

This is true for playing an instrument, and writing, and playing a sport, and drawing figures, and cooking, and meditation, and being joyful.

And the more you practice, the better you become.

And the more you practice, the easier it gets.

And the more you practice, the more IT comes to YOU.

And the best part is: it’s never too late to begin!

To summarize, you have the same creative spark within you that Picasso had. Want to find that sucker? Simply begin practicing.

Do things that excite you and are even a bit daunting. Find creativity wherever it presents itself to you. Experiment with fashion. Try cooking something you’ve never made before. Learn a new language! Learn a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, like armpit farting.

My dudes, this is how we are MEANT to live! And more and more people are waking up to the idea every day.

I have heard a number of stories about people who were devastated to lose their safe and well-paying, but bland and unstimualting corporate job, but found joy in something creative, and made a happy, rich and successful path for themselves as a VCP (Very-Creative-Person)!

And if I haven’t convinced you yet, according to real actual SCIENCE, neglecting to practice our creativity could severely impact our health.

“Those who continue learning new things throughout life and challenging their brains are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In essence, you need to use it or lose it.source

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This earth fuzz is creating so hard, you guys.

So, I guess, like, if you want to live a long time, you have to actually LIVE. None of this sad, bland rice cake of mere existence. How ’bout a funfetti cupcake that’s piped full of fresh, tasty fulfillment? Or maybe there’s like a cool toy inside, like a whistle… or a tattoo of a dog on a skateboard or something.

So as I listen to Alex drumming along to jazz upstairs, even though it can get loud at times in our little old apartment, I am so proud of his passion and willingness to express himself.

I hope this inspires you, even a little bit. I get so happy every time I hear about someone’s new-found creative passion, and I want more! I want the planet to be filled with creative people, chasing after joy with all their hearts!

Tell me in the comments what you do to practice creativity. But only if you want to make me happy.

Making progress,

Your Peacefriend