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

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

 

 

Cyclical Advice and Being Your Own Best Friend

It’s mid-February and I regret to inform you that I’ve contracted a totally harsh case of the drearies.

Normally around this time of year, the sky remains a dim gray overcast, denying everyone the essentail vitamin D and general, you know, colors that sunshine brings.

But the past few years the weather has become more unpredictable, and this year is a real show off in terms of fluctuation. One day, it was 40 degrees and the sun shone until warm rain melted away all the snow. Two days later, I could barely brave the cold.

I’m not sure which is worse… a predictable stretch of depressing gray sludge, or a bi-polar roller coaster (note: possible band name?) of icy-cold-stingy-needles-of-frostbite tag teaming with mild-goopy-mud with a side of DECEIVING sunshine? And then the full moon happens and LOOK OUT.

In short, quit frontin’ on us, nature!

It’s easy to become negative when you’re getting thrown around like this. Luckily for me, I have a level headed Alex who is great at keeping his cool when I’m melting down. He’s the best kind of partner, because he does this cool trick where he listens to me when I’m feeling my best, and then gives me my own words back when I need them most.

This is what I mean by cyclical advice.  It is so wonderful to have someone in your life who can remind you that you’re a shining light by using your very own words, be it a relative or friend. But what about when that person’s not around?

I often find myself giving advice to friends when they’re in a predicament, but feeling clueless when I’m in the same predicament later on. Why do we forget what we already know so often?

It’s easy to read a motivational quote when you’re feeling great and think “Yes! I get that. I can feel that and reach that and be that. I am this quote on Drew Barrymore’s Instagram.”

But then when you read the same thing when you’re feeling down, it just doesn’t break the skin and get in there like it did before. It might even sound dumb, or empty this time around.

Also, your favorite song sounds worse somehow.

Anything too cheery is just uncomfortable.

Does this sound familiar? Yeah, that’s me right NOW, you might be saying. Shoot, me too, girl.

I’m no expert on feelings, and I didn’t do college so good, but I’m going to try something and you can feel free to join me in this experiment. I am going to begin to treat myself like my own best friend.

You would never tell your best friend she looks ugly. You would never tell them things are only going to get worse from here. You would never tell them everyone thinks they’re selfish, or that they suck at the thing they love doing. So I suggest we treat that part of us that is saying all this nonsense like our best friend. OR a small, confused, baby animal. Tell it what you know to be true: It’s so cute. It’s still learning. It’s not the end of the world. It is loved.

This is that voice in your head saying “Man, I suck! I’m the opposite of fluffy! I’m never going to be as cute as that other bird. Everyone probably thinks I’m annoying.”

Here’s something I believe that you can take or leave:

(that sounded like lyrics from a 90s rap in my head)

The part of you that is spouting off janky crap isn’t the true you. You can actually, with some practice, take a step back and observe these thoughts as they come in from a separate consciousness.

This separate perspective is the true you.

Or… The Trou.

I’ve done this a few times. Something in my brain might be telling me, for instance, that I hate my apartment and how small it is. I do my best to actually look at that thought as something that doesn’t belong to me, and think “Focusing on this is making her feel worse and worse. She doesn’t deserve to feel bad! I’ll talk to her (taps mic) Ahem! Hey, Alison. Higher consciousness here. It sucks that your apartment is so small, yeah. Just wondering, though, what do you like about your apartment?

And then I look around and say “Well, I like that I live here with just Alex and no roommates.”

Yeah, that’s really lucky, not many people your age can do that! What else?

“I like that even though it feels cramped sometimes, it has an upstairs and a basement and attic… and I like that I decorated it with cheerful colors, and that there’s a bath tub, and I love the new fridge, and blah blah blah…”

And before I know it, I’m feeling a lot better. And my higher consciousness winks at me from the clouds and mumbles “Tricked ya.”

I think the key here is reaching for the best feeling thought at that particular moment. Whatever makes you feel a little better than you did. It’s like a ladder, with each step up, it will be easier to reach the next rung of the ladder. You don’t skip 4 rungs when you’re climbing a ladder!

Try it if you want. Let me know how it works for you.

 

Before I go, I’m going to share a couple pictures from the painfully cold, but suuuper pretty walk Alex and I took the other day. The sun was setting and throwing pink gold light over everything. The Moon had risen on the other side, and it was all duality-ish and symbolism-y.

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“Marco”
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“Polo”

 

Giving it the old college try,

Your Peacefriend

Turmerlemonlentil Soup with Kale

We’ve been having the best days. And the better it gets, the better it gets. I feel so blessed to be living a freelancer’s life. Alex and I have sacrificed the comfort of financial stability (for now, at least) for a free and flexible schedule. Our mornings are a sleepy yawn of “what should we do today?” and “where’s a cheap place we could go for breakfast?”

I’ve been working on a sewing project (that I’ll post about later) that was giving me grief, and today I was spitting and huffing and puffing about it. Alex was being very wonderful and reassuring, and he suggested I step away from the project for now and do something that makes me feel happier. So we decided to go find some more nature to walk in. And then he gave me a dum-dum he had in his coat pocket. I’m the baby.

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Blue raspberry dum and a red raspberry beret. Putting myself in time-out for this caption.
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Even though Alex has a cold right now and was feeling hazy, he still managed to make friends with a tree. Something he is good at.

When we got home I knew I had to rear up and kick my own butt into gear and cook an adult meal! We’d been living off of leftovers and snacks and our parent’s generosity for the past few days. I decided I would make more of a very popular soup that hasn’t lasted more than a couple days in our little apartment. I nicknamed it “Turmerlemonlentil Soup with Kale” …just now as I was writing this post. Because “Lentil Soup with Turmeric, Lemon and Kale” is a bit too on the nose for this moi.

I took two recipes and mushed them together to get this soup, and it’s always a little different every time because I use the palm of my hand instead of a measuring spoon, and sometimes we have 3 potatoes and sometimes we have 5.

So the “Turmer” in “Turmerlemonlentil” actually stands for Turmeric, believe it or not. This is something that wasn’t in either of the original recipes. I love turmeric, and from what I’ve read, it loves us too. It’s been used in India for thousands of years not only as a spice, but also as a medicinal herb. Turmeric has been proven to be anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-brain and heart disease, anti-depression, as well as cancer-preventing and Alzheimer’s-preventing! It’s pro-health, in short. So I add it to whatever I can. And it gives the soup a happy yellow tone!

I also like to use another F.O.H. (Food Of Health), bone broth. I didn’t have a batch made today, so this time I just used store bought chicken stock.

Turmerlemonlentil Soup with Kale

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs Ghee or olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3-5 potatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4-6 cups bone or chicken broth
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 cup chopped kale, stems removed
  • salt and pep to taste
  • 1 med lemon

How to make:

  1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones. Soak them in cold water until you’re ready to use. This makes them easier to digest. You can even soak them overnight.
  2. Chop onions, mince garlic, peel potatoes and carrots and cut into small cubes (I like them to be fun-sized) and chop Kale and set all aside.
  3. Heat the ghee or oil in a large pot or dutch oven over med heat for a few mins.
  4. Throw in the onions, cook till softened a bit. Bout 4 mins, then throw in the garlic. After another couple minutes add in the carrots, potatoes, and spices. Season a bit with salt and pepper, but not all of it. I like to salt as I go. Sauté 10-15 to get the softening going.
  5. Add in lentils and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes.
  6. Blow on a spoonful and taste to see where we’re at salty-wise. Salt to taste.
  7. Turn off the heat, add in Kale and stir to wilt.
  8. Now add in the lemon juice. I like it REALLY lemony, so I usually do a whole lemon’s worth, but start with half and go from there.
  9. Serve with some crusty sourdough
  10. Good job
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Bite sized cubes to soak up max flav
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Prepping these flat beanies for bath time. They hate bath time.

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Here’s Alex… “helping”. Look at the delicate grip he has on the spoon. Masterful technique. The key is to drag the spoon in a circle, just barely scraping the surface of the soup.

Take a peek at my messy little apartment kitchen, decorated for a joyful meal prep experience with bright colors, twinkle lights, and lots of fun trinkets that cheer me on and celebrate whatever I happen to be cooking.

It was real dumpy when we moved in. Painted sad, muted gray, which I’ll admit is a trendy color right now, but with only two windows in that room that get exactly zero sunlight, the results are DUMPY to the max. And the horrible, dusty boob-shaped single overhead light really gave it that authentic college dorm feel. I can’t stand single overhead lighting, it makes me emotionally Hulk out. Hence the happy twinkle lights. We also threw this chick up on top of our fridge.

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Yet another unrealistic beauty standard for women. Smooth, bare pits and an electric skull.

So here’s the final product, and I’m gonna be real with you, folks. It looks like Campbell’s Chunky barf with my phone camera. Soon I’ll be the proud owner of a glamorous camera, but until then, even my fancy yellow Cousances dutch oven can’t help a bro out.

But I can assure you it is a healthy, rustic soup with spice, salt and tang. Just what we crave after a long sniffly walk through snowy woods.

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Tiddly pom,

Your Peacefriend