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Simple Living and Pesto

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity” -2 Corinthians 1

Recently, my son performed well in a football game but immediately started berating himself on not meeting his personal goals right when he got in the car to go home. I said to him, “Come on! Enjoy your good game for at least 10 minutes before looking to your next goal.” And, then, it hit me like a strong winter wind that howls around the corners of the house all night long and blows patio furniture into the neighbors yard, he gets this relentless drive, in part, from you, Laurie. Some days, my brain works on overdrive, like a 16 year old in his 80s, beaten up Ford Thunderbird, who drives with his foot flat down around girls who wear a half can of Aquanet on their hair, his t-shirt off, a giant S for superman painted in green on his chest and a mullet of clown hair, that badly needs some one-on-one time with scissors but he thinks makes him more “free.” Ok, who am I kidding, my brain works that way every day! Additionally, if anyone asked me to describe myself I would say, “A party animal with the convictions of a holy God running through me.” Phew! Good thing God got ahold of my heart early!  Sometimes I wonder if the good Lord put both that drive and passion for fun in me on purpose, knowing that either one without the other would burn me up!

So, I am naturally a complex person and my life feels constantly complicated. 🙂 Many of you men will undoubtedly be jumping in at this point with thoughts like, “Of course it is; you’re a woman!” No no no (insert tolerant, artificial chuckle :-)), I do have many female friends who seem to find life much more straight forward than I do. However, like so many of you, I’m sure, I find myself perplexed lately at how my days became so busy and long for a simpler life. When I read this self help headline on Facebook this week, “9 Ways to Make Your Days Simple Again,” I initially guffawed and thought, “Now this ought to be good. How will they make MY life simple?” However, I also felt a momentary, dreamy breeze move in off the ocean, lift my hair and run soothingly across my brow, “Could their tips help?”

Actually, there was only one that stuck out to me from their list and I will share that (I am not sure of the author) but the rest are my own goals that I am particularly focusing on for the next 3 months. Why? Because the simpler my life is, the more energy I have to love and enjoy people and God; and, my friends, that is what it is all about. Don’t worry, I stopped short of staring at myself in the mirror with the frosted over, vacant look of someone who is playing mind games and robotically stating a confidence they don’t feel, muttering, “You can do it! You can live more simply! You can say no! Mind over matter!” LOL. 🙂 Some of that stuff seems the same as dipping liverwurst in donut glaze. Lol.

My 7 Goals for Simple Living,

Written to Myself (maybe you will find them helpful too):

  1. Get rid of junk and get your house down to the bare essentials, room by room. Why the “bare essentials?” Because even if I say that, undoubtedly, I will keep more and keeping more means cleaning/taking care of more. Seriously, if it has been sitting there unused for six months, just give it away or throw it! I don’t care how cute or useful it might be down the road! Aim for one room or closet purge a month. Schedule it!
  2. Make a list of your major priorities/family mission and set your schedule around them (keep a copy in your purse or on your phone). Say no to commitments that don’t fit your priorities/mission and don’t feel guilty. This includes sometimes saying no to events you are invited to that are all about caring for people (Ooo, boy, that is a TOUGH one but sometimes has to be done). Otherwise, my dear kids are left with the scraps and will check themselves into a family counselor by the time they are 16.
  3. Schedule uninterrupted “me” time each day, even if it’s 30 minutes (for me this is prayer, workout or shower time). This was from the above article I mentioned.
  4. Give your kids (and yourself) healthy parameters and say no to stuff outside of that. Busy isn’t always better. Quiet time for them to just be home is actually healthy. For example, “You may hang out with friends on Saturday only during the school year.” Or, “You cannot hang out until your work is done.” “Friday night is date/ parent night and nothing else is scheduled (for driving purposes)” or “You may only play 1-2 sport(s) a year.”
  5. Schedule focused daily prayer. Prayer calms, levels us and focuses our thinking. Besides, God can move supernaturally when we pray and work out our “crazy.”
  6. Be fully present in the present. Make it a life discipline to be fully engaged with people in whatever you’re doing, not on your phone or     laptop. In this day and age, this one discipline alone might calm us significantly. I have given this one a lot of thought because I keep in touch with dear friends and family with my phone. I have wondered about setting up “no phone times,” such as during dinner and the hour afterwards or no phone when the family is all together. I think each person will need to figure out what works but scheduling phone time is better than being 24/7 available.  
  7. Identify the major problem areas in your house, schedule or life habits and create systems to help those run more effectively. For example, if your house is always a mess by Monday night, maybe it is because you are out that night and don’t have cleaning time. So, schedule an hour of cleaning before your meeting or first thing Tuesday. If you find your refrigerator a mess regularly, wipe it out every time you get groceries, etc.

_DSC0584Pesto Recipe:

Eating well isn’t simple at first. It requires preparation and new ways of cooking, shopping and thinking. Another difficult part of eating well is that it takes time to get used to cooking with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables which give rich flavor, instead of meals covered in sauce. The problem with dressings and sauces is they are full of sugars, fat and sodium. I wanted to give you a few sauces that are healthier to use as salad dressings or on top of grilled lean meat in moderation. Below, is a healthier version of pesto. I would recommend using a teaspoon on top of a grilled chicken breast, for example. In the next few months, I will periodically add a sauce or dressing recipe and will create a link to all of these.

Blend together:

  • 1.5 packed cups of organic basil (equivalent to a 4 oz box)
  • 1/4 Cup part skim parmesan cheese (for the best taste, freshly grate)
  • 1/4 Cup of organic coconut oil, just brought to melting on the stove top over medium heat
  • 2 Tablespoons of raw pine nuts
  • 1-2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lime juice, depending on how much bite you like. I liked 2 but my kids preferred 1
  • 2.5 Tablespoons of organic chicken stock, fat free (Costco)
  • Garlic to taste (I have a family member with a significant garlic allergy, so I left it out. However, you could add one clove at a time, tasting as you go, up to 3).
  • Salt and Pepper to taste. It was salty enough for me without adding any.
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