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Life

It’s Always About Attention

I’m addicted to my own sadness.

This is mad right? Crazy. Why would I want to be sad. How could this be an addiction?

Being sad puts me into a position to be cared for, because let’s be honest here, I crave attention. When I’m not getting the attention I want, I do one of two things: become angry or become sad.

Being angry causes other people to pay attention to me. They wonder why I’m angry and try to calm me down or figure out how to help. Being sad causes people to pay attention to me. They wonder why I’m sad and try to help me be happy, they tell me good things about myself; cater to my needs.

Being sad also puts me in a position of the victim, which in some messed up way, allows me to feel like I need to be extra cared for. People feel bad for someone who has depression, who looks sad, who is a victim.

So it makes sense to want to play that part.

Why would I want people to feel bad for me, though? Attention. It always comes back to attention. Although I find this to be confusing as well, because as much as I crave the attention of others, I hate being in the center of it. A quote from Blackout by Sarah Hepola:

“I’ve always been mixed up about attention, enjoying its warmth but not its scrutiny. I swear I’ve spent half my life hiding behind a couch and the other half wondering why no one was paying attention to me.”

Perfect.

Maybe it stems from my childhood. Although I think I had a normal one, obviously there was a lack of attention or love from somewhere. I know that as I got older, around seven to ten, my Mom started giving her attention to the neighborhood kids whom she babysat for. I didn’t like this. I acted out while they were around, being mean and grabbing at my Mom. I felt left out, like she was dumping me for these new children.

Maybe that’s where my attention-seeking behavior began. Scratch that, I know that’s where it started.

That, and the whole other fact that my Dad didn’t have any interest in my life, besides wanting me to be normal and be a good golfer. Like my brother.

Fighting for attention with my brother was another issue. One that, along with many other probable causes, led to my eventual downfall into anorexia, depression, and anxiety.

I wasn’t getting the attention and care I so desperately needed, wanted, so I concocted my own seemingly awesome plan: Stop eating and maybe people will figure out that there is something wrong with me. Act depressed and then maybe people will care.

But I soon realized this was not the type of attention I wanted. Actually, I wasn’t getting love at all, but anger. My Mom, angry that I was losing weight. My Dad, angry that I wasn’t being normal. My brothers, angry that I wasn’t the same happy kid I used to be.

As much as I hated the angry attention, it was still attention, and I clung to it with all I had. My fragile self thrived on this.

So when the anorexia was fought and I started eating like a normal person again, this attention stopped. Panic arose inside and that’s when the depression took over. Thoughts of killing myself became the new course of action.

Because it’s easier to hate yourself than to love yourself. And it’s easier to feel sad than to search for happiness. And it’s easier to gain other people’s affection through your own shitty-ness.

Being a depressed mess also makes you feel like you’re special, even if it’s in a fucked up way. I don’t feel any sense of uniqueness from being happy or looking on the bright side. Yet bringing myself down, contemplating suicide, and having a negative opinion about everything makes my insides feel special. I’m more fucked up than you. I’m more special than you are.

Sad.

These days, I can’t stand when people say their eating disorder isn’t about attention, because it is. Just be honest. You’re craving some form of attention, affection, care, love. And if it’s not an eating disorder than it’s depression, alcohol, drugs, whatever.

When we hurt and don’t want others to know, we turn to alcohol or drugs or food in a desperate search to not only cure our aching minds, but also in a hope that others WILL notice and in turn save our drowning souls.  

I’ve found, since losing the anorexia persona, depression is a lot harder for people to notice. I keep up a pretty good facade, in an attempt to appear normal, yet on the inside wishing I could let me guard down; fall apart. Because then people would realize something is terribly wrong, and help me. Feel bad for me.

Attention: it’s a devil’s game. 

You’ll never win.

Anorexia, Anxiety, Depression, Life, Personal

What My Anxiety Attacks Look Like

I don’t have normal panic attacks. There’s no rapid heart rate or sweaty palms, or fear of not being able to breath. But I do have periods of overwhelming anxiety. Periods when I don’t know what to do with my anxious thoughts so I sit and cry.

My anxiety is constant. It never goes away. Yes, some days I consider it to be better than others, but unless I’m sitting at home in my comfort zone, my anxiety is on full speed. When I say anxiety, I’m referring to mostly social anxiety, ie. fear around people, what to say, what they might say, what they might ask me, fear of looking stupid or mumbling my words. Basically just an overall sense that other people are judging me and being afraid of those judgments.

But I also have anxiety where I think too much about life: what should I do with myself, I haven’t made any major accomplishments, what if I never do this or that, am I going to have enough money this month, what am I going to wear, buy, do today, etc. And then there is food anxiety: what am I going to eat today, should I have this or that, and noticing what other people are eating and balancing my intake against theirs because in some weird world that puts my mind at ease. Body anxiety is in there somewhere too, obviously.

Pretty much anything there is to worry about, I worry about. 

Most days I can balance my anxieties, keeping them in check in order to preform the necessary tasks that my day requires: going to work, making dinner, going grocery shopping, having conversations with people, etc. Normal, human things.

But I’ve realized that I have two modes when it comes to my anxiety. Want and need. The things that I need to do, such as work and make money, is something that I can do without too much of my thoughts getting in the way. I mean of course my anxiety is always with me at work, but I am able to push it aside for the most part.

Then there are the things I know I don’t necessarily need to do, so those things I’ll avoid like the plague. Parties, social events, family gatherings, walking in public, going places by myself. These are the things that trigger my anxiety attacks because I know I can get away with avoiding them, but I am usually pressured into going either by someone else or by my own guilt.

What happens is that I feel like I literally can’t handle the situation or I picture myself not being able to handle it, by typically sitting by myself, avoiding conversation at all costs, feeling left out, feeling misplaced unimportant, forgotten, unhappy, you get the point. So if I know I’ll feel these things, then why would I put myself through them by choice?

That’s always my argument when I’m trying to explain this to other people. Why put myself through a traumatic event when I can just stay home and be comfortable being alone?

So my attacks typically start with me saying I don’t want to go, trying to explain the situation to someone, then my thoughts get out of hand, I start thinking about all of the worst possible things that could happen and how I will feel while being there, and I break down in tears. The thoughts and feelings seem perfectly reasonable and real at the time, but to someone else they seem completely irrational.

I’m just going to end up all alone in the corner and everyone is going to wonder why I’m so weird. 

People will constantly judge me based on what I will say, but more importantly what I won’t say. 

Many more thoughts run through my mind, which then leads to me getting overwhelmed, crying, panicking. Usually two things happen after my attacks: I feel better after getting the fear out and end up going anyway, or I get my way and I go home.

There have been two occasions where my attacks have caused me to completely avoid the situation while simultaneously being in the middle of the situation. Basically, meaning there was no way out of going, and my attack didn’t stop. So I go, say hello or whatever and then stay out of sight for most of the time, in another room by myself somewhere. Sad, I know. And this makes the whole situation ten times worse because it’s embarrassing. I can’t face the party so I hide and then people end up questioning what’s wrong with me, if not to others, at least in their heads. Or maybe that is my anxiety talking again.

Anyways, in the last seven years, this has happened twice, which is pretty good, but disappointing because the first time it happened was back in 2010 and the second time was last week…

So I’m not sure what happened in between those years, I guess maybe I didn’t have to go to any parties or celebrations, or at least ones I didn’t want to go to.

But I’m upset with myself because it feels like shit when I let my anxiety control my life. It also feels like shit knowing that this behavior can really make other people frustrated and angry with me. I don’t like to disturb the peace so when I do, it physically hurts.

In part I can say it’s not my fault, but when it comes down to it, it is. I have the opportunity to push past the fear, be bigger than it, but I don’t sometimes. I just let the thoughts take over and I start sinking without even trying to swim.  

I guess the thing that messes me up the most is that I still haven’t figured out how to deal with these situations. My coping mechanism is still to avoid, make excuses, push the problem away, but we all know how well that works. I have tried deep breathing and it does help, I have to admit. It really does calm me down and helps my mind relax. Drinking helps, obviously. Having a drink allows my mind to chill out and for me to not take things to personally. But drinking can’t be a coping strategy.

The best way to deal with my anxiety, and I hate this answer, is just to fucking face it. Face it head on. Go to the damn parties, gatherings, whatever. Do the thing that scares you.

I hate admitting it, but this method works. It’s freakin painful, but it works. Facing fear is the best way to deal with it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But yes, it helps you grow. 

 

Anxiety, Life, Personal

life at the moment {a short summary}

Life at the moment: happy + sad, exciting + boring, up + down.

In the past four months, I’ve gone through five jobs. Two different landscape companies, an organic farm, an artisan bread bakery, and finally a juice + smoothie bar. Although I feel somewhat happy in my current position, it’s been a battle getting here. Between a couple outrageously horrible bosses, multiple emergency room stays, and forging a new relationship, the last four-five months have been both amazing and yet discouraging at the same time. Amazing because I’ve found someone I can confidently say I love and see a future with and I can wake up and go to work without an incredible about of dread. Yay for me. But yet discouraging because the process of getting these two things was not pretty or easy or even necessarily very fun.

It’s always when you start to reflect on your past events that you realize the meaning or see the significance. Yet in the moment, nothing makes sense. How convenient.

My job basically consists of making juice, smoothies, baked goods, and other vegan-ish dishes, while putting on a happy face and being nice to customers. It is rewarding and I enjoy the fact that most days I can work alone and try new recipes and see what sells and what doesn’t. But the downside, and I guess what will always be the drawback to working under someone else, is that it’s not my own, so even though I have ideas on how to improve things, the owner has control and sees their own vision, not mine.

The upside to this downside, however, is the fact that it gives me motivation to open my own place someday. Then the vision will be my own and I can do whatever I want.

That’s my life goal right there folks: do whatever I want. 

Realistic? Probably not. But then again, reality only kills the dream. 

The job is only one part though.

Like I mentioned above, I met someone about five months ago, almost to the day, although the exact timeline is blurry, as I took a little while beginning things in fear of making past mistakes. That’s besides the point. The point is that I’m in love with this guy. He’s wonderful, caring, funny, very loving, and the best part, challenging. He challenges me to face my maybe not-so-wonderful qualities or faults in order to help me better myself.

So far, I’ve learned how to somewhat effectively put my thoughts into words and to communicate even when I don’t want to or find it hard.

Fun fact: we fell in love on top of the ferris wheel. Bonus.

Mentally though, although improving, my down days still occur. However, instead of being  a whole day, it’s more of moments now. Sad, happy, sad, content, happy, etc. Before, it was more of a sad-all-fucking-day kind of deal, a flash of happiness maybe, then back to being depressed.

I feel that J plays a part in this, but also the job, and the fact that I’ve finally back at the gym and eating decent again.

I joined the YMCA not too far from the house, and it hasn’t seemed like a struggle to get there like it did a couple months ago. Last month, I committed myself to a 30-day yoga challenge so maybe that helped as well. While I wasn’t going to the gym, I let myself beat myself up about it, which only fueled the guilt  more so doing the yoga, I think, helped clear my negative thoughts. But since getting back into a routine at the gym, my moods have seemed more stable and my happiness in terms of my body has improved. All good things.

I obviously still have days, like today, where I wish I could be more, do more, and be less myself. For some reason, I felt inadequate and just plain useless today; left out too. But I try to take these days with a gentle heart because not every day is going to be fantastic. I can only make the effort to pull out the positives and focus on the parts of the day which brought me the most happiness:

Coming home + getting hugs from J.

Receiving sloppy kisses from Leah (the dog).

Feeling as though I was still able to provide a loving space for both my Mom and J.

Eating beef stew from the crockpot (meaning I didn’t have to cook!)

Little moments + little things = the most rewarding forms of happiness.

Life, Personal

let us be kind {to ourselves}

being kind to myself means:

accepting where I am in my life. I may not be where I want to be, but I am taking steps to become a better version of myself.

accepting my body and the changes it’s gone through.

being okay with swapping strength training for yoga. there are different forms of fitness, each one bringing new and exciting challenges to both the body and mind. it is okay to try new things, while letting go of the old.

staying true to my own goodness. i am aware there are things i need to strengthen within myself, but i am also aware that i do not need to make any changes to my soul. i am perfect as i am.

giving myself time and space to relax. it’s okay to take a ‘me day’ or a couple ‘me hours’ and just relax. this might mean drawing, watching a favorite show on netflix, cooking myself something yummy for dinner, or literally just laying down.

accepting that i don’t have everything figured out and possibly never will. as much as i feel safe with making plans for my life, things are constantly changing and being okay with the possibility that i might never know what i want to do with it (my life) is important.

knowing i am doing the best i can with what i have/know at the moment.

knowing i can only do so much. there are always going to be people who demand certain things, attention, etc. and there will always be bills pilling up, chores to complete, jobs to get done. we can only do what we can do with the resources we have now.

letting things go that do not serve me. ie. the past, negative thoughts, old wounds, etc.

allowing myself to feel.

allowing myself to get angry.

allowing myself to express my thoughts and emotions in whatever way works for me in the moment.

this whole ‘being kind to myself’ concept seems to be a theme in my life right now and i can’t ignore it.

Anxiety, Life, Personal, Self Kindness

Pondering Purpose

Purpose. 

It’s all the rage it seems. Find your purpose, and life will make sense; you’ll finally be happy.

I used to do a lot of thinking about what the total purpose of life was and also where my own purpose fell into that, and it only seemed to bring me sadness. Mainly because I couldn’t really pinpoint any sort of purpose. And so that was when I started pondering the idea that maybe there is no purpose. No purpose to anything.

I mean what is life? Why are we here? What does it all mean? Is there really a reason we are all living on this Earth, just kind of floating around, trying to be something we’ve been conditioned to believe?

What if there isn’t a purpose to our existence? What would happen then? What would people do?

Sometimes I wonder if this whole idea of having a purpose is just something those in religious leadership made up in order for us to believe in something, but I won’t get into my views on religion, that’s for another day.

If people believe they have a purpose in life, they can then feel as though they are working towards something that might make an impact, help them feel better about themselves.

But what if our purpose, and also the overall point of life, is just to be here living it? Would that be enough? Pondering this idea, that life having no point is kind of scary, but yet oddly freeing too. Because if there is no point to life then we can all stop trying so hard to search for one. One less worry on our minds I suppose. Maybe desperately trying to find out what our purpose is, what the point of life is, is a major cause of our stress. We’re all running around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something greater than ourselves. If we were to let that belief go, where would be be? What could be accomplish then?

I think it’s also just my tendency to be negative about life, but sometimes trying to be honest with ourselves and looking beyond just the clear skies is needed in order to see the bigger picture.

I mean I can obviously see why believing you have a purpose in life would make life seem more fulfilling. You feel more connected and feel as though you were making your mark on the world. Nothing wrong with that.

So to each their own. And maybe there is a little of both beliefs. A balance if you will.

I guess that’s where I’m struggling. Somewhere between believing there is a point and purpose to my existence and knowing there really isn’t a reason why I am alive, going to a job I hate just so I can argue with a boss I despise, only to make enough money to pay for things I don’t need but I’ve been told I need in order to live the human life.

It seems a little like a trap to be honest. Like maybe at one point in history there was a method to the madness, but somewhere along the way we obviously lost it. And we’re just too far gone now to get it back.

So how do I live when I believe there is no point? I live to enjoy the act. There are so many beautiful things about being alive and living in this world. I’ve been trying to find the little miracles within each day, watching the sunrise or set, seeing a flower blossom, paying attention to the sound of a loved ones laugh, their smiles, watching my dog be insanely happy, etc.

I mean, what is the purpose of a dog’s life? To be alive. To live. To be here and to bring happiness to others. That’s a pretty awesome purpose right there not going to lie.

Life, Personal

What Are You Afraid Of?

What are you afraid of?

I came across this question recently and couldn’t get it out of my mind.

What am I afraid of?

I am afraid of being a failure, of never being enough. This really scares me. It scares me so much that I will avoid doing things in order to keep myself safe and secure in my comfort zone. I fear any kind of failure. I fear the feeling of failure. I fear the feeling of not being enough, enough for others, enough for myself.

I am afraid of judgement, of people not liking me. I fear that I’ll never be anything that people hope me to be, or that no one will ever like me for who I am. I am afraid of saying the wrong things, wearing the wrong clothes, making the wrong mistakes. People always judge, and that scares the hell out of me.

I am afraid of not living my life. A weird fear, since sometimes I think life is pointless, but what’s the point of life if you don’t follow your dreams? What’s the point of being alive if you’re not actually doing the things you want to do? I am afraid of never reaching my dreams, following my heart, going where my drifter soul wants to go.

I am afraid of being close to people. Opening up to people is so freakin’ scary because there is always the risk that they won’t get you, or they’ll judge you, laugh at you, pretend they care and then leave you. I don’t like getting close to a lot of people in fear they’ll think I’m clingy or annoying. I hate feeling like I’m annoying.

I am afraid of being sad. I kind of laughed when I wrote this one down because I feel like I’m such a paradox. I want to be happy, yet I thrive on things that make me sad. That’s confusing. Maybe it’s because when I am feeling happy, I usually think I don’t deserve it, so I hold onto the things that bring me sadness.

I am afraid of regret. I am afraid I’ll regret things I’ve done, and regret things I haven’t done. Like there’s no win-win. Sometimes I find it odd when people say they want to have no regrets, but is that even possible? I feel like we will always regret something.

Apparently I am afraid of everything. Life is great.

xoxo

 

Life

This Too Shall Pass: My Journey With Suicide

I distinctly remember the first time I truly wanted to die. I was applying to borading school and in order to be allowed to go, my doctor would need to talk with the nurses there to make sure they knew what my deal was.

I was a recovering anorexic.

I hated this. This made me want to end my life. The fact that I would never be able to wipe the slate clean on my past made me want to kick and scream.

I wish I was dead. That’s what I wrote in my journal that day. And then I gave up on going to boarding school until I could go without needing to inform the world of my problems.

Looking back now, obvously, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. I’ll tell anyone who is interested that I used to have an eating disorder. It’s not shameful anymore. But back then, when I was still suffering in the stigma that surrounded anorexia, this was a big deal. I had no desire for anyone to know my secrets.

From this point on, I began to think that suicide was a valid option to get rid of my pain and sadness. I would teter between days of being motivated to live and then days where all I wanted to do was die. It was a constant roller coaster.

One I could never get off.

I think when people know someone is suicidal, they assume they’re holding a gun to their head, when in reality (and in my case), we are not actively trying to kill ourselves, but we wouldn’t necessarily be disappointed if we died.

Up until this spring, I refused to wear my seatbelt in hopes we would crash and I would not make it. (I only wear it now because our new car beeps outrageously). I remember driving back home one night, crying, tears rolling down my face, and all I could think of was how much I wish I could just swerve and hit a tree or something. I wanted to end everything because then people wouldn’t have to deal with me.

I also stopped looking whenever we crossed the road or train tracks, in hopes something would it me. It was okay to risk it because, best case senario, I would die. And the worst thing? I stopped caring about using sunscreen in the hopes I would get cancer and eventually die.

These things are terrible, and it’s hard to even write it down. I feel like a such a horrible person voicing these thoughts out loud, but honesty can be freeing. 

My journey with suicide continues today. It’s a constant battle and they days seem to be more bad than good, lately. It comes in waves. I can be fine for weeks, then fall apart for a couple days, or be happy for a whole day, then sad all night. It scares me sometimes because, lately my first reaction to my pain is that everything would be better if I just wasn’t here anymore. And this shoulnd’t be my first thought.

It can be terrifying, even to myself, how my brain works. I have a hard time controlling my emotions and most of the time feel as though I’m drowning and I can’t breathe. That is not something you want to feel. It’s a feeling of too much pressure. Like all your bones could snap at any moment, and your heart might burst.

 

One Way Road Sign on Concrete Wall, Vancouver, British Columbia

 

How I’m dealing?

To be completely honest, I haven’t really been dealing with anything very well lately. Usually, my coping mechinism involves talking with my Mom, but I haven’t wanted her to worry, so I don’t say anything. And that does not help. Talking about our feelings is always okay, even when you feel asamed or unworthy. You are allowed to share your pain with others without being judged. 

I have been trying to push everything down, put on a happy face and act like everything is fine. Especially at work. The other day, I cried on the whole drive to work, but upon getting there, I wiped my tears, smiled, and pretended everything was fine. The day went surprisingly well. Sometimes you just need a break from the thoughts, and some good laughs.

My favorite method of enduring the pain is a simple saying: This Too Shall Pass.

Simple, yet completely true. Everything eventually passes, and until it does, we must be gentle with oursleves. Beating myself up for feeling a certain way only makes things worse, so I try to remind myself that this too shall pass, and focus on something good.

 

xoxo

Tayla

*If you or someone you know if struggling with suicide please find help. The suicide prevention hotline # 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention, and TWLOHA for help.

Anorexia, Life, Personal

Thai Red Curry Recipe + Thoughts About Life

This week has been quite the roller coaster of emotions for me, but I can’t really say this is a new thing. I am typically over-emotional. If that’s a thing.

It’s not even that one day has been good and another bad, but rather one minute of this day has been great, and then in the other minute, the day completely sucked, and on and on. I’ve gotten home from work two days this week and literally just sat down and cried.

But it’s not all work related. Most of it is just life stuff. In fact, work has been somewhat enjoyable, aside from the minor stress from constantly feeling like I’ve failed at everything. But that is beside the point.

 

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But life. Really. What’s the point?

Sometimes I just have a hard time believing that life is suppose to be this way. Wake up, work, come home, make dinner, fight with the person you’re suppose to love, sleep. Repeat.

That doesn’t sound like a great time to me, just saying. And yeah, yeah. I know there are things you can do to make life interesting, but it always feels so boring to me. Even when I try to have fun.

 

Thai Coconut Carrot Soup

I made soup.

On my days off I feel the need to do something, get shit done, so I cook or bake. Which is something I like to do. I have fun on my days off, mostly because I’m alone and I like being alone.

But I feel lonely lately. I feel in need of a new adventure or something.

If I could, I would pack up and move out West, do something completely different, try something new. You know? And yet, somehow I’m made to believe this is not something that is okay. I’m told it’s not ‘practical’.

 

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I don’t know. I’m just feeling lost. Uninspired about everything. I want to do something different. Make a change.

 

Thai Curry with Rice and Vegetables

Make more curry?

This was actually really amazing curry. Not gonna lie, I think I did an awesome job making this. Here’s the recipe in case you’re bored, like I was.

Thai Red Curry with Rice + Vegetables (Adapted from Cooke + Kate)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice or long-grain brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • Pinch of salt, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (about a 1-inch nub of ginger)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin 2-inch long strips
  • 1 yellow or green bell pepper, sliced into thin 2-inch long strips
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch wide rounds (to yield about 1 cup sliced carrots)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 can (14 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1½ teaspoons organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
  • Garnishes/sides: handful of chopped fresh basil or cilantro, optional red pepper flakes, optional sriracha or chili garlic sauce
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To cook the rice, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rinsed rice and continue boiling for 30 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to prevent overflow. Remove from heat, drain the rice and return the rice to pot. Cover and let the rice rest for 10 minutes or longer, until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving, season the rice to taste with salt and fluff it with a fork.
  2. To make the curry, warm a large skillet with deep sides over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add a tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt and cook until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, while stirring continuously.
  3. Add the bell peppers and carrots and cook for until they are fork-tender, 3 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk and kale to the pan along with ¾ cup water and 1½ teaspoons sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the peppers, carrots and kale have softened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the curry from heat and season with rice vinegar and soy sauce. Add salt (I added ¼ teaspoon for optimal flavor), to taste. Divide rice and curry into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if you’d like. If you love spicy curries, serve with sriracha or chili garlic sauce on the side.

 

Enjoy.

Food, Life, Personal

What I’ve Been Hiking + Remembrance Tattoo

Ben and I try to hike every Sunday if possible. We’re five peaks away from completing the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, but we’re saving the last couple for our one year anniversary in two weeks. So we’ve been hiking some smaller stuff which is still fun.

Three weekends ago we met up with Ben’s Dad and hiked to Lakes of the Clouds hut and then over to the Boot Spur. It was such a beautiful day, practically perfect. It was a little chilly on the Boot Spur, but you couldn’t beat the view.

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If you’ve never hiked Mount Osceola on the Kancamagus Highway, you must. It’s one of my favorite hikes. The view is incredible for the relatively short hike. There are two trails up, the Greenly Ponds Trail that starts on the Kancamagus which is a bit longer, but you hit East Osceola as well, also a 4,000 footer. And the Mount Osceola Trail that starts on the Tripoli Road in Woodstock, NH.

A couple of Sunday’s ago we took the Mount Osceola Trail up and even though the day was a bit dark, the view was still amazing. Hiking is always a roller coaster for me, much the same with life. I start out happy and having fun, and then the climb starts and I get more serious, stop talking, and just push through until I reach the top, where I finally relax and let go of all the stress. I get to enjoy the view and breathe easy knowing it’s all downhill from here.

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This past weekend, Ben and I went on an adventure trying to meet up with some friends who are hiking the Appalachian Trail. They started southbound in July and were in our neck of the woods, but we couldn’t really plan anything with them. So we figured we’d try to catch them at Lonesome Lake hut, but we missed them probably by an hour or so.

We didn’t give up though. We got some beers, peaches, and fresh corn together and left a cooler for them on the side of the trail a little further ahead. They found it and were so thankful! We felt pretty proud of ourselves. Hopefully we’ll actually see them soon when they get into town.

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After our adventure, we drove to Jackson to pick some blueberries up at Green Hill (our wedding site) and I did a little posing. It was a perfect day. I love when the mountains have so many shadows on them. The reason we were in Jackson though was because I had a tattoo appointment later that day.

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This tattoo probably has the most meaning to me out of all my others combined. Although it’s tiny, it signifies a lot. There’s a little back story involved though.

About 6 years ago, my Mom took a job as a live-in caregiver for an older gentleman named Mack. Consequently, I ended up living there as well, and I loved calling it home and felt like I belonged there. Mack was an odd guy, he had done a lot of metalsmithing and welding, as well as hundreds of other things that were amazing, but he always had thoughtful things to say and I was close with him. He was like a grandfather to me. When he passed, both my Mom and I were with him to make sure he wasn’t alone.

He loved to collect things. Hammers lined the walls, knickknacks were displayed everywhere, and he always kept anvils around the house. All different sizes and types. I found it fitting to have an anvil as my tattoo, in remembrance of him, hence the M underneath.

The other M stands for Marlin. Marlin, being my golden retriever and my best friend in the whole world. He passed away last year after the vet found a tumor inside his stomach. It was devastating to me. I got him as a sixth grade project, to train him to become a special needs dog, but he didn’t pass because his hips weren’t 100%, so we got to keep him. I spent every waking minute with him. He was my best friend, and was there for me through all of my darkest days. He was the best.

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xoxo

Tayla

Life, Personal, Travel

Vegan Strawberry Muffins + Streusel Topping

Strawberry season just barely ended at my farm, but the strawberry baking hasn’t ended at home quite yet. Ben and I were invited to go to a house warming party for a girl at Ben’s work, so I thought I’d be nice and bring something. Most people who work at Ben’s farm are health-conscious and one of the girls is vegan, so me, being nice again, thought to make vegan strawberry muffins with a streusel topping!

I even learned how to make and use flax eggs for the first time…which was exciting!

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Turns out everyone was at the get together was super appreciative that I brought a dessert, and even more thankful that I made it friendly for everybody. The best part?

Ben enjoyed them.

Which is saying a lot because he is definitely a sugar and butter kind of guy, just saying. He’s not too keen on me trying to make recipes healthier, but he thought these were amazing and didn’t even realize they were vegan until I told him!

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The strawberries I used were slightly old. We picked them on Saturday and I made these on Wednesday afternoon and they might not of been refrigerated all of that time…

But, hey, what can you do when you only have mini fridges? There’s just not enough space for everything sometimes! It worked out in the end because I froze most of them, and even the ones that I did use for these muffins weren’t that bad, just kind of mushy.

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The party turned out to be really fun. There was a lot of outrageously healthy food there which was all incredibly good, considering most of it was gluten free (a lot of gluten free foods can be a bit…cardboardy).

But really, it was great. And the desserts were awesome too. Besides mine, there was a chocolate cake (not quite on the healthy list) and chioggia beet and buckwheat brownies, which were one of my favorites. I love beets!

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The night was beautiful, we took the top down on the jeep and Ben had his door off, because why the hell not? It was fun to just drive and feel like we didn’t have a worry in the world.

And it was nice to be out at night for once. We hardly ever go out anywhere after work, besides of course, to the gym. But that’s not the same really.

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This recipe was adapted from Crazy Vegan Kitchen

Yields 12 Muffins

Vegan Strawberry Muffins + Streusel Topping

15 minPrep Time

20 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

    Lemon Sugar Topping
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 Lemon
  • Muffins
  • 1 cup Frozen Blueberries (for jam)
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 cup frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh Blueberries
  • 1 1/8 cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Flax Eggs (see note)
  • 1/2 cup melted Coconut Oil
  • 1 cup Almond Milk "buttermilk" (see note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
  2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with non stick muffin liners.
  3. Bring 1 cup frozen blueberries and 1 tablespoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.
  5. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar, flax eggs, coconut oil and vegetable oil together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous.
  6. Slowly whisk in Almond Milk buttermilk, and Vanilla until combined.
  7. Using rubber spatula, fold dry mixture into wet mixture, along with ½ cup Frozen and ½ cup fresh blueberries until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)
  8. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.
  9. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Type: Dessert

Notes

Flax Egg - For each egg needed, combine 1 tablespoon Golden Flaxseed Meal with 3 tablespoons Water, stir and let sit for 1 few minutes.

"Buttermilk" - Combine 1 cup Almond Milk with 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar. Whisk, and let sit for 10 minutes.

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http://taylaanne.com/2016/07/16/vegan-strawberry-muffins-streusel-topping/

Food, Life