Author Archives: SisyphusFalls

When You Don’t Get It


The problem we have with the normalization of words
is they lose the meaning, the power behind them

I remember when my mom first declined to refer to something trivial as “awesome”

because only God is awesome.

I am so guilty of turning “love” into a descriptor for my feelings on everything.

I “love” bacon, and I “love” the movie The Fountain but then I look over at my daughter
and say how much I love her.

People without depression have taken the word “depressed” and stripped it of meaning.
“I’m so depressed, that dress I want is no longer in stock.”

Does that dress not being in stock make you want to stay in bed?
Does it rob you of joy and feel like an anvil pressing with tangible weight down on your head, your eyes, your perception of everything?

People without depression think that suggesting thinking of happy things and getting a good night’s sleep is helpful. To their credit, it’s not that they’re wrong. They are genuinely trying to be helpful, and those things may have a positive impact.

But thinking happy thoughts does not fix depression.

Think of it like this: When you are sick, you may drink a glass of orange juice.

The orange juice does not cure you.
I’ve read a lot of internet clickbait and I haven’t come across that headline yet.

The orange juice may internally help boost your immune system. It may hydrate you and give you some energy.

But you’re still sick. You may still be sick for a long time.

I look at my life currently and I see no future bright spots. I don’t see a break or a breath or relief. I want to go back to the way things were and then I realize I can’t. We just can’t afford it right now. It’s not where we’re at.

And then someone at work just suggests I look for things that make me happy.

But when depression is standing on top of me like a heavyweight jackass, I’m just throwing glitter on a landfill.

Oh, doesn’t it look pretty!
But lord, what is that smell?
Why is everything here broken?
It looked so much better from the road.

Hotel Life


Some days, guests forget that you are a functioning, feeling human being rather than a desiccated piece of human garbage. They proceed to verbally abuse you and it’s rather amusing when they are so entirely wrong but blame you for the error in their thinking.

Some days, guests recognize the tireless work you do trying to meet everyone’s needs and keep a business running as smoothly as possible and they gift your staff with an ice cream cake.

Some days, that day is today.

Turbulence


a bird with steel wings

throttling through an overcast sky

no maternal instincts to teach me to fly

But how to pray and read and sit with strangers

watch future precipitation gestate in the atmosphere

Just outside a porthole window a clear barrier between us and open sky

shimmies and shudders as we skirt over lower storms

riding in this quaking mechanical avian

Putting all of myself in the hands of some man with a dream

And all my trust in the one just beyond the cloud so close to my hand

I feel rain

Sign of Life


I have come to the conclusion that I am a terrible blogger. I know I’m a decent writer, but I just can’t seem to get this blogging consistently down.

I hope you’ll all forgive me.

I am still here and still alive, just rocketing along through my life. We have added a dog and two chickens to our little urban homestead, and I finally got my garden planted and growing beautifully. I’m composting, growing herbs, making soap, making sausage, painting, cleaning and walking.

And I’ve been doing some writing.

So I’ll bring you something soon. We can talk about kids or gardening or how many apology posts I need to make before I get better at this.

I’m just getting really good at apologizing.

Adventures in Homesteading – Making Beef Tallow


And off the diving board we go!

For a while now, I have been really excited about doing things to see if I could do them myself. Why buy a can of condensed soup when you can make it at home? Why buy vegetables in the summer when you can grow your own? Even as a little girl, I was fascinated in baking and sewing and learning how things worked.

A few months ago, I decided that I was tired of spending money on shampoo when I could make it myself. I have very short hair, so I don’t use much shampoo and I’ve cut out conditioner completely. I’ve switched over to shampoo bars and making my own was difficult, exciting and liberating. I’m not dependent on the store for beauty products anymore!

This post, however, isn’t about soap making. It is about a vital ingredient in soap making, as well as an important tool when cooking Whole30 or just sampling different ingredients for your culinary adventures. I introduce beef suet!

Suet is the fat that comes from a sheep or cow, often found around the kidneys and loin area. Available at any local butcher or grocery store, it is usually cheap, plentiful and unwanted by so many people.

Then why did I want it?

When I was researching my first soap recipe, I found that palm oil was required in many of them. Not only is palm oil very hard to find around here, as well as expensive, but it is also under scrutiny for not being very sustainable and damaging to the ecosystem. I’m not a super crazy ecophile, but I do want to be a good steward of my planet as well as use up what other people might waste. A common (and ancient) substitute for palm oil? BEEF TALLOW!!

Wait, hold on. I said suet. Where did this tallow come from? The title? Tallow is just the rendered (melted down) suet. Take suet, add heat, get tallow. Easy peasy.

I am planning on a new batch of soap soon, so I stopped by West Side Market here in Cleveland and purchased some suet from Pinzone’s Meats. Eventually I hope to get some suet from my in-laws steers.

Next step was to get it home and trim it. Suet is white, semi hard and laced with a membrane that is very similar to shrink wrap.

I trimmed off any meaty bits or membrane that was loose, pulled the remaining suet into pieces and put them in my small crock pot. You could also use a heavy pan on the stove, or a Dutch oven, but I like the slow and relatively independent process of the slow cooker.

Then I covered it and stir every half hour or so until the fat is all melted and rendered. All that should be left is liquid fat and some crispy pieces of meat or other impurities that were still attached to the suet.

Using a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth (or coffee filter) and time, I very carefully poured the liquid tallow into a baking dish lined with wax paper. I let it harden in the fridge overnight. As it cools, it becomes opaque and turns a creamy white. Depending on what your cow was fed, the color could range from gray to a golden yellow.

Then I pulled it out of the container, cut it into chunks and weighed it for my soap making. I got exactly 20 ounces of hardened tallow, so that will be good for two batches of shampoo bars! Tallow will last for quite some time on the counter, fridge or freezer. I prefer freezer because it will keep it stable almost indefinitely.

And there you have it! Another little adventure into homesteading for this crazy lady. Thanks for checking in!

Whole 30 – Pumpkin Porridge


Knitted together by chia seeds, butternut squash and chicken thighs, I have survived week one of Whole30! I feel great. I still have some mid-afternoon fatigue but a lot of my aches and pains are gone and my energy levels are up. Hooray for coconut milk and sweet potato at every meal! 😀

I AM NOW 70% AVOCADO.

Yesterday, I made some pumpkin and peanut butter dog treats for my canine friend Sadie and had about a half can of Trader Joe’s pumpkin left over. In an attempt to find a good use for the extra that was Whole30 approved and also delicious, I stumbled upon a recipe by Jenny on the Spot for a hot pumpkin breakfast cereal. Based on her recommendations and my own conviction to keep things as cheat-free as possible, I have adapted the recipe.

Super nutty, comforting, warm and delicious, this made for a great lunch. It would also be a perfect breakfast or afternoon snack. Enjoy!

Whole30 Pumpkin Porridge

Makes two servings

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup coarse almond meal

1 can of pumpkin purée (NOT PIE MIX)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup hydrated chia seeds

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4-1/2 tsp of Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice

Salt to taste

Handful of sliced almonds

1/2 tsp ghee

Diced apple

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, toast coconut and almond meal until fragrant and just starting to brown. Stir in pumpkin, coconut milk, egg, chia, applesauce. Whisk together until combined.

When mixed well, add apple pie spice and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

Melt 1/2 tsp ghee in a pan and toast the sliced almond until brown.

Serve porridge and top with almonds and chopped apple. Add other toppings if desired. Enjoy!

Whole 30, Round Two


A year ago I first attempted and conquered the Whole30 eating plan. Friends had tried it and I was overwhelmed with conviction. I had to make changes to my eating habits and my life.

I am an emotional and a boredom eater. I convince myself that I have earned the right to eat what I want because I’ve had a bad day or I ate better at lunch or something needs to be finished in my house. When I am depressed, I snack. When I’m tired, I snack.

In short, I love food but we are not always friends. Food is sort of that friend who convinces you that partying is the way to feeling better. And you believe it, until you’re in the bathroom all the next day cursing its name.

The Whole30 is an overhaul of eating, removing sources of potential inflammation, irritation, poor nutrition and excessive indulgence. No grains, no added sugar of any kind, no alcohol, no processed foods and additives. Good rule of thumb – if you couldn’t maybe find it in the wild, don’t eat it. It’s very similar to Paleo without the inclusion of natural sweeteners and substitute foods like carb-free pancakes. The Whole30 strives to pull you away from even imitating the foods that may have been a weakness in the past.

This time around, I had such a hard time convincing myself that I needed to do the plan. But once I was on the plan, I knew what I needed to do and how to cook and plan. And I already feel a world of difference.

So today, I am sharing a recipe I through together yesterday when I needed dinner and had pieces to put together. Just giving you a glimpse of how my next 30 days will look.

Simple Sweet Potato Soup

Serves one

1 sweet potato, roasted

1 cup coconut milk

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp sweet yellow curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley

Roast your sweet potatoes wrapped in foil at 375F for 45 minutes. Once cooled slightly, scrape into bowl. Add coconut milk and mix with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth. Add seasonings and adjust to taste. Enjoy!

For more information on the Whole30, please visit the Whole30 website. This post was not sponsored in any way.

Day One


If there is anyone out there who still remembers this blog, I think I’ve found my cure to absence. I don’t know why I didn’t think to check out a mobile app for WordPress until now, but here we are. I’m hoping this will encourage me to post regularly since I can incorporate all of my media from one place.

As I’ve been venturing through the complex system of fire escapes that constitutes my life, I’ve been starting to embrace the idea that each day is not a continuation – it is, in fact, day one. I fight bipolar, depression and anxiety. Each day is a totally different experience. I just got tired of regretting actions I’d taken the day before or things I had said and sheepishly wandering into the next day. No, I need to take responsibility for my actions, but I don’t have to wallow in shame or regret.

Every day is day one.

Come and walk with me.

Wednesday – Whole 30, Part 2

Photography Challenge Week 4 – Headshot


For all of you math whizzes out there, it’s week 4 but I only have two images?????

I’ve been struggling to find my motivation. Not to take the photos, but to be content to take them where it’s convenient for me. Especially when encountering such talented photographers on my supporting Facebook group, it’s an even further struggle to make this a personal challenge and growth period and not a contest. So I’ve been content to watch their development and keep working on my own. No tree blooms overnight.

I’ll post the missed weeks as I come to them, but for today I leave you with some portraits of Lily from this morning. This kid… She was pretending the heating vent was a fireplace and having breakfast with her stuffed friend Duckles. Dale Foshe, the mastermind behind the 52-week Photography Challenge, hinted that a head shot should tell the viewer who this person is in one sentence.

lily_2016.jpg

(C)2016 Simply Stein Photography

“An independent, spirited toddler whose beauty and mischevious nature shines even through her unpolished outward appearance.”

She’s my beauty, and I love her so very much.

Until next time, my friends!

52 Week Photography Challenge


I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions – just like being specifically generous at Christmastime, why do we feel like one season of the turning of the world is enough to change everything? Why aren’t we striving to resolve and grow all year long?

All that to say I’ve crumbled. I resolve to complete the Dogwood 52-week photography challenge. And lose 50 pounds. And exercise regularly. And defeat the dreaded Balrog with nothing but a wooden spoon.

We’re off to a smashing start.

The assignment for week 1 is a self portrait. Typically, we’d be dredging up something featuring a perfect coif, non-squinted eyes, a favorite outfit and eighteen retakes of the same ridiculous pose. There’s a time for that.

In rethinking how I’ve looked at photography since graduation and having children and generally never being presentable for public until two in the afternoon, I wanted to start this year with honesty.

week 1 - self portrait

I’m trying to redefine how I look at the idea of “self-portrait”. I’ve always been a photographer who likes real, candid snapshots of life. We primp and plan to show our “best” side in a selfie, but is that really us at all?

Me cooking breakfast for my two year old after coming home from a weekend of hunting with my father-in-law. Focus on the brush to show my attempt to keep everything together even though there’s mess on the counter representing my current life perfectly – breast pump, half eaten chocolate bar, goldfish. Taken with my Canon 7D, ISO 400/f 3.5

Look forward to more soon, with a longer entry coming in hopefully shorter than an eternity!

-H-