Can we all agree that this year has gone by too quickly? I feel like I’m constantly saying, “Is it Friday already?” “Wait, it’s November!?” Some days I feel genuinely sad about this. Every time a celebration, a vacation or a long awaited weekend away comes, it feels like within seconds it’s a memory. Why does it feel like time is flying by at a million miles an hour? For some of us, probably most of us, it’s because we’re constantly on the go with work, kids, running errands, cleaning the house, or anxiously waiting for the next thing. Rarely do we slow down, put the computer away, turn off the tv and go for a walk. This concept of ‘living in the present’ is one of the biggest struggles I deal with and maybe you haven’t realized it yet, but it’s probably one of yours too.
Yes, this post contains a recipe about a deliciously easy and moist (sorry, I hate that word too, but it’s true) apple bread, but it’s mainly about something we all need to learn how to do, and that is slow down. Take time to live; take time to walk; take time to rest; take time to cook; take time to invest in all the things that makes up your beautiful life; your family, your friends, your home, your faith, your health and yourself (with pictures of apple bread thrown in).
Whether you feel like your life is off balance or not, the only way to really notice (in my opinion), is to take a break from your routine. For myself, my routine is wake up, go to work, come home, make a blogworthy recipe, write, watch tv, try to do a workout, go to sleep too late…with a lot of pointless time-sucking things like Facebook thrown in. Basically, my day consists of sitting in front of a computer, then coming home and sitting in front of a different computer and a tv. For someone who loves to be outside, this life doesn’t sound like mine. Does this sound familiar to you? If you have kids I’m sure your routine might look like: wake up, get kids ready, take kids somewhere, clean or do errands, pick kids up, make kids food, make kids do important things, put kids to bed, wine, sleep, repeat.
Well, no matter your routine, you need a break. Try to think of a time when you felt relaxed and on the verge of bliss. Go there. Do that. Think small, though. If Hawaii is your time, then think about what you were doing in Hawaii that made you feel that way and try to replicate it where you are. Was it reading on the beach? Then go find a park on a sunny day and read in the sun for as long as you can. If you need inspiration then I’m happy to share my favorite things to do to clear my head and escape.
(also, look at this bread, yum!)
My top 5 favorite ways to unwind and let it all go (in order):
Yes, it’s physically challenging, but in my opinion there’s no better way to clear your head than to strip yourself of all luxuries, strap only the bare essentials to your back, traverse over rugged mountain terrain and get an awful night’s sleep in a freezing tent on a beautiful hillside somewhere (my somewhere is Mt. Rainier). Don’t think you can do that? Trust me, anyone can Be An Adventurer.
2. Walking (preferably with our dog).
If you don’t have a dog, just go for a walk, or borrow someone else’s. Either go in silence or pop headphones in and listen to something that makes you do your shoulder dance.
I used to mainly do it for the physical benefits (strength, flexibility, balance), but lately it’s been one of my favorite ways to shut my mind off and shed my body of about 10 gallons of sweat (really, it’s kind of gross-awesome-mainly awesome-but also really gross). Regardless of the sweat, by the end I feel strong and level headed.
4. Singing in the car.
Either by yourself or while your significant other is sleeping, turn the music up loud enough so you can’t hear how awful you sound because then you sing like you actually don’t sound awful. Really belt it out though…like lose your voice. I recommend Adele or Sia if you really want to kill your vocals.
5. Watching or listening to something that makes me laugh really hard.
Laughter has a way of making even the worst of situations better. It has ended stupid fights in my marriage, reminded me to stop being so serious all the time, leveled the playing field when situations seem tense, cured deep sadness and made awkward moments bearable. It also just makes you feel good, which we all need to experience a lot more often. I suggest Veep, Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show clips, Jim Gaffigan anything, The Heat or this video.
With your week ahead, I urge you to take time to unwind and slow down. Don’t fill your free time with anything but moments that will calm you and allow you to soak in what’s happening around you. Be thankful, be patient, laugh a little, cry a little and remember what really matters.
Oh, and make this bread. It’s really good.
What to Bring to the Store
In order to reduce your packaging waste while making this recipe, bring the following with you to store:
- a reusable produce bag for your apples
- 2-3 reusable bulk bags for the flour, sugar and cinnamon (if you don’t already have these in your cupboard)
As always, bring your reusable grocery bags!
Waste Meter – 4 out of 5!
I like to rate my recipes based on how much waste was produced in the process of making them. If you did your homework and brought all of your reusable with you to the store, then the following items are what you’ll end up with. Recycle your egg carton and milk carton once they’re empty. Compost your egg shells and the peels and cores of the apples. The only item you will need to toss is the wrapper to your butter. With that, this recipe gets a 4 out of 5 on the waste meter!
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, organic is best
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup almond milk (plain or vanilla)
- 2 apples, peeled and shredded
- 2 tsp white sugar (for topping)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (for topping)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a 9X5" loaf pan with butter.
- Beat the brown sugar and butter together with an electric mixer or a fork and a strong arm. Add eggs and beat until combined.
- Mix in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, then the almond milk and stir. Fold in the shredded apples.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. With 2 minutes remaining, mix the specified sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top. Bake for the remaining 2 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a rack about 10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing.