the sexy flexitarian

Eat flexy, feel sexy!

It’s a Grilled Cheese Party, Bitches!

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Do I have your attention?

Yep, you read that right: grilled cheese party. And in case you’re unsure of what that means, it’s an entire party dedicated to grilled cheese of all varieties (duh). Basically I’m a genius.

Okay, so Rachael Ray is the actual genius–or more appropriately one of the contributors in her magazine is–but can you think of a better person to throw a grilled cheese party than meeee? There are few things I love more than cheese and bread, and they consist of cheese AND bread and probably my mom.

See, last week I turned the big 2-7. Up until this point I still considered myself a youth, if you will. But 27 is different. It’s verging on 30. Yep, it’s official, I’m an adult. So I did the only thing I could think of to celebrate my adulthood: I threw a grilled cheese party. When I told my dad, he said, “Why don’t you just go to Crash Crawlies and play in the ball pit?” Pfff.

Trust me, I would have if I didn’t think they’d kick me out.

So you’re probably wondering, “Amy, how do I throw a grilled cheese party?” Because, like, doesn’t everyone want to throw a party of such utter deliciousness? Yes. Yes they do.

So here’s how:

1. Figure out what kinds of sandwiches you want. Do you want straight up just bread and cheese, or do you want something Eat Street-worthy?

2. Gather the necessary items, including all the breads, spreads, dips, cheese, and fillings, as well as plates, napkins, cups, electric griddles, panini presses, etc.

3. Help your guests out with some sandwich ideas. I created a visual guide that showed guests how to make nine different sandwiches. Feel free to steal my idea, or get creative and come up with your own.

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4. Present all the ingredients in an orderly fashion so guests can create their sandwiches like an assembly line. If you check out the photo below, you can see I’ve got the bread then the spreads then the fillings and lastly the cheese, which is grated because it melts better.

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5. Let you guests grill their own sandwiches; this frees you up to mingle and keep everyone’s drink full.

6. Ask for help. Thankfully I had some lovely family members helping me set up for this shindig. If I hadn’t, I would have been overwhelmed with the prep. So thanks, y’all!

7. Get everyone involved. Now, this is something I didn’t do, but I wished I had. Rather than collecting and buying all these ingredients myself, a more economical option is to assign everyone a sandwich and ask them to bring the ingredients for that specific sandwich. Because, as we all know, cheese is, like, hella expensive!

So what d’ya think? You’re totally throwing a grilled cheese party aren’t you? Also, apologies for not getting any photos of actual grilled cheese … they were camera shy.

Also, a big shout out to Golden Ears Cheese Crafters for hooking me up with all this delicious cheese!

My Life Rules #2: Trust That the Universe Will Take Care of You

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Okay, change of plans. I know in my last post I said I’d talk about My Life Rules: If You Don’t Know What to Do, Do Nothing, but I’m feeling like I need to touch on a different one first. If you’re wondering why, it’s because this particular rule has been presenting quite a challenge for me lately. (Read: I totally effed the dog on this one.)

Rule #2: Trust That the Universe Will Take Care of You
I’ve never been a religious person. I’ve dabbled in different faiths, I guess you could say, but nothing really resonated with me.

That said, I always thought there might be something going on behind the scenes–something bigger than me, bigger than all of us. Some of you might call that God. Or Gaia. Or the Divine Goddess. Different people have different names for this force, but I prefer to simply refer to it as the all-encompassing Universe.

Now, it’s only quite recently that I transitioned from thinking this force might exist to believing that it does. As a relatively rational, logical person, I was pretty skeptical about a grandiose idea such as this. But here I was, out on my ass with my world flipped upside down, and I thought, ‘Oh, hell, why not?’

Do you know what it feels like to carry all this responsibility and need for control over situations you have no control over, and then give it away? It feels like weightlessness. It feels like sweet, sweet relief. It feels like when you have $700 worth of clothes from a two hour trip across the border and the border guard is a) sexy, and b) does not give two shits about the three layers of clothing you’re wearing.

Now I’m not suggesting that you absolve yourself of all responsibility completely. I’m simply suggesting that if you do your best, you do your due diligence, and you trust that the Universe will figure your shit out for you, it probably will. Hell, even if you don’t trust that the Universe will take care of you, with a good, open attitude it usually will.

Now, I have to say, I really suck at following this rule most of the time. I’m a control freak, what can I say? I like to know exactly what’s going on, for how long, and when it might change, so that I can be mentally prepared for that to happen. I don’t particularly like surprises, especially when they involve getting my car towed. And I especially don’t like that I can’t control other people’s feelings or actions.

Umm I’m trying? Yah, let’s go with that.

To clarify, I don’t mean controlling others in the Imperius Curse kind of way (Shout out to my fellow Harry Potter fans!). More so, I refer to the fact that despite our hopes and best efforts, our ability to predict and control an outcome between two people is limited to the fact that each person is navigating through life in his or her own way. In other words, we all have our shit.

When you realize that the only true control you have is over your own thoughts, behaviors, and actions, well, let’s just say you stop acting like a total lunatic. And for everything else, I’ma let the Universe figure that out for me.

How about y’all? Have you ever had the Universe figure your shit out for you?

My Life Rules #1: Listen to Your Gut

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If you read my previous My Life Rules post, this post will probably make sense. If not, you’re probably wondering, “Where’s the damn food?!” I know, right? I ask myself the same thing every day …

But to answer your question, the damn food is here, here, and even here. It’s just not here-here. See over the next couple of months, I’m going to be sporadically posting My Life Rules, a blog series sharing with you, my lovely readers, about the rules I’ve been attempting to follow in order to live (and love) more consciously.

The Rules are all mine, and they’ve helped me immensely over the past few months. Maybe they’ll help you, too. Maybe not. At the very least you’ll get a glimpse into my life and my journey.

Rule #1: Follow Your Gut
Intuition, animal instinct, gut feeling–whatever you want to call it–it’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you when something is just not working, or is working really well.

For years I thought I was missing it. Really, though, I just didn’t trust it, nor did I value it. See, it’s a scary thing to make life decisions–big and small–based on something so abstract that often defies logic and rationale.

On paper, the last relationship I was in made sense. He had a good job, a great family, and was handsome and generally a good person.

But for the greater part of the four-and-a-half years we spent together, I knew it wasn’t right. I knew it in my gut.

You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s a long time to stick with something that didn’t feel right.” And you’d be right. But as an often logic-driven person, I found many good reasons why I should keep going. Essentially, I rationalized away four years of my life. And I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one who’s done this.

Now, to be clear, I have no regrets. As I mentioned in my first post, I was merely doing the best I could, as I know he was. But as someone told me after my split, two good people together don’t necessarily make a good couple. This is what my gut had been trying to tell me all along.

Toward the end of our relationship, I began hearing my intuition, and giving it a bit more credit. When my mom suggested I move in with her, I went with my gut and did it. Everything snowballed from there. Within a month my ex and I had split, and, although it was hard at first, I finally felt like myself again.

This was a huge Aha! moment for me. My gut was right. I thought, holy shit, you mean I had this all along, I just refused to exercise it up until now? I felt like I’d struck gold. I felt like Aladdin when he finds that underground palace full of treasure–except the dessert didn’t try to swallow me, and I got to keep all the treasure. Best. Day. Ever.

After this I began looking for other opportunities to exercise my gut decision-making skills. It was especially handy when looking for a roommate, which is a nerve-wracking task when a) you live in the suburbs and b) you resort to Craigslist.

I had a few people look at the place, one of which wanted to take the room I was renting out. But my gut said no. Actually, my gut yelled, “Hell the eff no!” But, like habit, I spent some time rationalizing why I should accept: I was on a time constraint, it was slim pickings in the suburbs, and I couldn’t afford the rent on my own.

Rather than letting my brain decide this time, I let my gut take control once more. I said, “No thanks, and good luck.” I had to trust that something else, something better, something that felt right would come along. Sure enough, just a few days later I was contacted by my now roommate. She was just what I was looking for. And if I hadn’t trusted my gut I would have never found her, or I would have, but I’d have already made other commitments.

So, these are two examples in my life where my gut really came into play. Have you had a similar experience with your gut? When has listening to your gut paid off? I’d love to hear your stories!

And keep posted for Rule #2: If You Don’t Know What to Do, Do Nothing.

On conscious living + an intro to My Life Rules blog series

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As you all know, the past few months of my life have been bursting with change. It’s been an interesting experience, filled with highs, lows, and everything in between. But I’ve got to say: for once in my life I feel like I’m actually living.

Conscious living is something I’d read about, but I really had no clue what it was or what it felt like. For many years I lived as a victim of my situation, in constant discontent: with my job, relationships, and general outlook on life. It’s not something I’m ashamed of, as I was only doing the best I could do. But now I know that I can do better.

Last night I watched a TED Talk that revealed we each make an average of 70 choices a day. And each one of these choices presents a new opportunity to live consciously. In years before, these choices overwhelmed me. So much room for mistakes, I thought. What if I choose wrong? It was paralyzing.

I can’t pinpoint the moment I decided to live consciously, and, in fact, it was likely a gradual shift. All I know is that now that I’m here, I can never go back. The simplest of decisions, such as whether to empty the dishwasher or not (yeah, I had inner dialogue over this very dilemma more than once), became not simpler, but presented another opportunity for me to make a choice and stick with it (or not!).

See, the beauty of conscious living is that you are also free to change your mind at any time. I can choose to join a knitting club, for example, and if it’s not my thing, I can choose to quit. What a novelty!

But the greatest benefit I’ve experienced since choosing to live consciously is the huge increase in my level of happiness. I feel more connected to the world, with people and my outside surroundings. And with each choice I consciously make, I get to know myself a little better better–how I react in certain situations, what my true values are, how I want to spend my time, etc. And I don’t always choose right, trust me. But I understand that nothing is set in stone, and I can change directions any time my gut tells me to.

Over the next few months–in between pretty food posts, I promise–I’m going to share with y’all My Life Rules. These are 100 percent all mine, and they kind of just made their way into my life over the past few months. When I feel overwhelmed or anxious I go back to My Life Rules and they always guide me back to my path.

Maybe you’ll think they’re ridiculous–totally fine. I probably would have too a few years ago. And frankly, I’m no expert. I just know what’s worked for me thus far.

Keep posted for the first rule: Listen to Your Gut. And please, share your own wisdom with me, as mine is constantly under construction and pretty damn green.

Dinner Tonight: Sexy Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce via My New Roots

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I tell people that I stepped through a portal to an alternate universe, and this is my life now: new job, new place, new roommate, new friends.

It’s freaking sweet.

I’ve never been good with change. Growing up I experienced so much of it that I grew to fear it. My parents divorced, my mom came out, both my parents dated, and, amidst all this, I lived in over a dozen homes, attended several different schools, said goodbye to friends, and struggled to make new ones. All I wanted were some roots.

Finally, in the ninth grade I moved to a small-ish suburban town … home. It’s far from perfect, but it’s where I made my best friends. (Y’all know who you are!)

I was away from “home” for five years, but now I’m back, and I’m stoked. I live by the river now, with trails all around me–perfect for quiet contemplation (and angry runs!).

And despite being ridiculously busy with this new life of mine, I’m doing my best to keep y’all updated on what I’ve been eating/making.

Tonight’s dinner comes from My New Roots (How appropriate, right?), an amazing blog by Sarah B. I encourage you all to check it out–it’s packed with awesome healthy recipes and nutrition advice. And yes, the food actually tastes good!

Case in point: Sexy Spring Rolls.

As an added bonus, they are so versatile. You can use whatever produce you’ve got sitting in your fridge, plus any protein that you have: chicken, tofu, shrimp–whatever!

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We pretty much followed the recipe; however, did a little improvisation with the dipping sauce. Rather than almond butter we used peanut butter. Spicy peanut butter. What? Ya, it freaking exists. Don’t believe me? Check it out, yo!

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Being that the peanut butter was, like, burn-your-tastebuds-off spicy, we skipped the chili flakes.

Also, we found that wrapping the rolls once and then wrapping them again in another rice paper wrap helped them stay together better. If you do this they’ll keep well for lunch the next day, too. I know this because I ate two in the lunch room while someone else ate a Lean Cuisine … sucker!

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