Sunday, January 29, 2012

I started this year with lofty ambitions, just like many others. I made a list of resolutions and hoped that this would be the year I'd actually follow through with them. But a few hours into the new year, things seemed to unravel. I broke down mentally and physically. I realized I was feeling worn down, trampled,  defeated, invisible. I had been pushing myself so hard, so long, that I reached my breaking point. What was I doing with myself? To myself? Why wasn't I trying so hard to make myself happy as I was to make everyone else?

So, finally, I gave in. I let the emotions out (read: I cried, and blubbered, and cried some more) and got real with myself. I was just as worthy of true happiness as the next gal. And, I am in control of that happiness. Not my family, not my friends, not my neighbors.  

Me.

So, here we are, almost a month into the new year, and I am resubmitting my resolution for the year. As much as I'd love to stick to my original list, I've realized that they won't be possible if I don't follow this new resolution. My new years life resolution is to love myself as much as I love others.

I need to care for myself and my soul. I need to nurture it, protect it, and fuel it, just like you would any other living thing. If I myself am truly happy, it will be so much easier to share that feeling with others.

Before,  I would just put the happy mask on every day and hope those around me wouldn't see through it. Well, the mask is off now. No more hiding.

I am Valerie. 

I am a woman.
I am honest. 
Some days I am happier then others.
I am resilient.
I am a dreamer.
I am willing to take a risk.
I have an extraordinary amount of love to give.
I am one of a kind.
I am not alone.

So here's to a new year, a new attitude, a new Valerie. As much as I am going to be real with myself, I will be with you. No more fluff, no more bullshit. Just the truth. (Speaking of the truth, here's one: I left my job at Wisconsin Cutlery, finally! More on that in another post). The blog may take a different turn for a while, but if anything, I hope to write more. It has been quite a challenge just to verbalize this, let alone publish it for the world to see, but has been a crucial step in my therapeutic process.

True to form, though, I will leave you with a recipe. I haven't been in the kitchen very much lately, so posting a recipe would be a challenge. But, yesterday, something wonderful happened; my new camera body arrived, while I was cooking, none the less. I had been preparing a hearty beef stew and just threw a spiced apple bread in the oven to bake when the mail man showed up with the package. So after slicing, I snapped a few pics to test out my new toy. What resulted was a moist, dense bread, ever so slightly sweet, with hints of ginger and cinnamon. And the photographs weren't too bad, either!


Spiced Apple Dutch Oven Bread

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 apple, finely chopped or grated (I used Suncrisps that I purchased at the Farmers' Market)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 3 tablespoons oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix in medium bowl: flour, sugar, apple, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
3. Mix, in separate bowl, milk, eggs and oil.
4. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour wet mixture into well. Mix from center until lightly blended.
5. Pour into well greased dutch oven (I used a 4 quart dutch oven). Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. 6. Bake one hour or until top of loaf is golden brown. When done, remove from oven and turn top side up to cool. Cut into wedges to serve.