It’s been a year ☕️☕️

Let’s chat.

Roughly a year ago I was sick. Sick for the first time in sixteen years. I remember “catching” something as clear as day when my husband came home and planted a wet one on me–during cold and flu season. You see we have a protocol during those times of him gargling or at the very least brushing his teeth before giving me a kiss after work–again we only use this protocol during peak cold and flu season. Why you ask? Well, I don’t like being sick. So, I do everything under the sun to stay healthy. I have dedicated the last twenty years of my life to being the healthiest person I can be. Having had a poor start in life (growing years) and then not taking care of myself as a young adult left me in pretty rough shape by 30. Years of smoking, drinking, partying, and hard work had me tired, sore, depressed, allergic to everything, and sick often. Add onto that several back injuries from working in healthcare and Fibromyalgia since I was 24 and I was in bad shape by the time I turned 40.

What changed and how did I do it?

Well, I quit drinking and smoking at 39 for good. I haven’t partied, or even gone into a bar/nightclub in over 27 years and quit the healthcare field almost 21 years ago. I avoided, thank God, the opioid crisis after refusing to take painkillers (thus forfeiting any back surgeries) many years ago. Of which I am ever so thankful for today. I live with chronic pain from back issues I’ve had since I injured it at 18 and again at 27. I’ve learned how to deal with it without taking prescription medications. It involves diet changes, exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises. A lot of work but way better than being addicted to pain pills. My one and only mission at 40 years old was to learn how to eat good healthy food–something I had never done and growing up never experienced and get myself healthy. My every waking moment, when not working or taking care of my household, was spent researching lifestyle changes, organic food, sourcing organic food, CSA’s, bicycles, exercises, gym memberships–you name it, I was committed to being healthy. In 2020 I made a promise to myself to give up sugar. Deep down in my heart though, I had resigned myself to always being addicted as I cannot remember a day in my life that I wasn’t. Then Covid 19 hit and the first reports out were people with diabetes and high blood pressure were being the hardest hit. I researched probiotics, cleanses, and upped my leafy green intake. Since December 1st I have had zero cravings for sugar–any kind of sweet. Zero cravings. No more candy, ice-cream, treats, bakery goods, nothing. I will probably always accept a slice of pie and buy the occasional bag of jelly beans, but I feel very, very confident that I’ve beaten my sugar addiction.

Prioritizing my health and that of my husband has worked for the most part. Some unforeseen things occurred– I started perimenopause at 42–I’m just now at month 8 without a period and I’m 56. I experienced hot flashes for almost a decade!! At 45, I started having issues with my feet which later was found to be from arthritis. I have had bone spur surgery which did absolutely nothing for my feet and I take glucosamine. My feet hurt all the time but not as bad as they did before glucosamine. All this to say, other than these issues, I wasn’t sick for sixteen years until February 26th of 2020. No cold or flu or anything. Besides my bone spur surgery no hospitalization for us in over 26 years. No prescriptions drugs and no flu shots. We’ve done pretty good I’d say.

Now a year later without ever knowing whether we had Covid 19 or not , I still experience extreme fatigue, hoarseness, and aversions to smells. How much of this is related to my age, or stage of menopause–no clue? Too much time has gone by to see whether my husband and I made antibodies–so we will never know. He is an essential worker who has worked every day there’s been work for 20 years. He has had 19 years of no call-ins, including this past year throughout a pandemic. He’s the only one of several hundred employees at his work to ever have masked up. He works for 10 hours a day with a mask on every day of the week. We have an entire routine/regimen developed to prevent us from getting Covid-19. Though it may surprise you that we only stayed home during the stay at home orders otherwise we shopped as usual unless there was an uptick in local cases and then we did grocery pickups. I also went and got my hair done every six weeks –my beautician is semi-retired and throughout the pandemic has continued to work. Her salon, which is in her home, followed all precautions. I had zero qualms about going about my normal routines as long as I continued to follow our protocols. I was happy to support her during a very difficult time.We always wore masks, gloves, wiped down groceries, and wiped off surfaces we touched in the car. We didn’t expect others, regardless of the mandates, to follow precautions (and they didn’t). If they did, they did and if not–well, that was on them. Everyone we know and almost everyone at my husband’s job has had it. We know people who died ( two under 40 years old, 2 over 40 years, and 3 in their 60’s). Many, many times where we shopped the majority of the customers were without. Again, we did what we needed to do and let everyone else on earth do what they felt best. We take nothing, absolutely nothing, for granted. When it comes time for vaccines we will have to wait because we do not have underlying health issues, neither of us are over 65, and both of us have food allergies and are allergic to penicillin.

Had I never changed my lifestyle and then eventually my husband followed suit, I have no doubt we would have experienced several health concerns by now. What has come up we’ve been able to resolve quite quickly and I know it has to do with our lifestyle change and eating mostly whole foods.

I say none of this to brag, or receive compliments, or to pat myself on the back for a job well done. I say all of this because I firmly believe that food and lifestyle change do work. They work better than you’d ever believe. We are by no means wealthy so when extra money had to be spent to buy organic food–we gave up cable television. Twenty years later still no cable television. We have never had smart phones! Why? Well, think of all the good food you can buy not paying hundreds of dollars a year for a smart phone. We opted to buy a compact sedan vs. a truck or SUV because we simply cannot afford inflated insurance or gas (especially when it was over $3.00/gal) when we’re buying good healthy food from our local farmer.

I don’t know what the next ten years will look like? I pray that everything we’ve changed in our lifestyle will produce good results for whatever may come…I pray for all my friends and their families that we all make it out of this pandemic and none of us has to deal with the long-lasting effects of Covid-19.

I am so looking forward to spring and all of the wonderful garden plans I have in the making for container garden 2021. Just one more container garden here and we’re moving out of this apartment. We have been here too too long already. We’ve got a lot of things to tackle in the next few years and so many changes to come. I hope you my friends will stop when you can and keep up with me–leave a link to your blog so I can follow along on your journey. Until then be safe and be well! 🐝

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

cabbage-brunswick

cabbage-rolls

Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for cabbage rolls is here 

Years and years ago I used to unwind by watching two hours of Food Network every day. Even though I had been cooking since I was twelve, and I had worked in several restaurants with positions from prep cook, to line cook and sous chef in training, I really truly didn’t know much about food. I worked these type of jobs, not for my interest in cooking or food, but rather to survive at the time because these types of jobs were aplenty. When I got married I learned quickly that my husband, although not interested where the food comes from, is interested and lets his feelings be known, that he wants home-cooked meals and he wants a variety of good home-cooked made from scratch. It’s how he grew up and never having been on his own before we married, it’s all he knew. So while I was unwinding, I was learning, and mentally preparing to learn to become a good cook. Which more than anything relies on really liking food, getting acquainted with how it grows, where it grows and how to prepare it. The chefs on the Food Network in the 90’s really saved my bacon (pardon the pun). In 2004 I started our family on our journey towards a more sustainable life by changing our diet to a more organic diet. I looked to advocates like Alice Waters for inspiration and information. From Alice Waters, I found an abundance of information both at the library, local extension offices and of course the internet. I’ve probably watched 50 documentary’s on food, and learned something different from each one.  Food has a history, food is a part of people’s culture, tradition, and history. Food is a living, growing product needed for each and every one of our survivals. The closest you can get a food to pure is to pluck it from the soil it grows in and eat it. As time has gone on I’ve found several homesteaders who have shown me great products, sustainable living practices, farming & gardening methods, food preservation and so much more.

chef-v-howard-cookbook

Sometime last fall I sat down to catch an episode of A Chef’s Life on PBS and ended up buying all the seasons of the show. Whenever I could find the time I would sit down and promise myself two shows just two shows. I always watched at least three and given the time I would have watched all three seasons right there in my easy chair. Chef Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life lives in North Carolina with her husband, twins, and parents.  Chef Howard and her husband own two restaurants in North Carolina. The show is about her and her husband running the restaurant and her sourcing the food, from local North Carolina farmers, and cooking up all these unique food dishes with it. Each show is like a super creative history of something locally grown- peas, sweet potatoes, okra, apples, peaches and so much more. I mean three, soon four, seasons full of food information, foodie topics, watching the chef make interesting, and delicious looking food in her restaurant, the inner workings of a restaurant and of course her home life, children, husband, and neighbors are featured. I love love love A Chef’s Life. My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year and without hesitation I said- Chef Howard’s new cookbook- Deep Run Roots. I received it last week- early birthday presents rock. It’s a good-sized cookbook weighing in at 4# so I’ve got a lot of reading and recipe trying to get into.

We are supposed to be getting frost tonight, which mid-October I would kind of expect. A lot of the trees in the surrounding areas haven’t changed color yet. A couple frosts and fall colors will be here. Seems like just yesterday I was sharing recipes for rhubarb a food that signals spring. Last week and this pumpkins and cabbages- foods signaling fall.  Later this week- biodynamic vs. organic.