Category Archives: Basics

Substitutions….just a stage


I was with a friend of mine yesterday who has been battling with migraine headaches.  In the five years since I’ve known her, I’ve noticed them worsening.  In the beginning she averaged 5 a month…that was when she started medication and starting all her various experimentation…lately she’s been having them almost daily.

She does Yoga(is a yoga instructor), is a Reiki Master, has had acupuncture(says that relieves her for a short period of time), has had that Botox treatment(that was a nightmare), has been on an elimination diet, gave up caffeine due to a nervous tic on her face and the list goes on.

She’s a fabulous cook using organic, non GMO products and doesn’t skimp on high quality ingredients.  But, I’ve noticed lately how she obsesses over the latest ingredient substitutions that I have seen online as being mainstream.  She wants her diet to contain the categories it always had and the more she experiments, the more foods she finds that don’t agree with her. She will find something she CAN eat and eat that daily…and sometime later is no longer able to eat that either.

When I first went on a gluten free diet, the recipe book I had purchased at the time had recipes for bread and rolls made from a concoction of potato starch, cornstarch, and xanthan gum or guar gum.  It was a white pasty mess but being desperate for bread, I ate it.

Then it was rice flour products and now the trend seems to be  almond meal flour and coconut flour along with massive amounts of eggs.

The question rotating in my brain is, are the substitutions doing more harm than the originals?

I see people on facebook obsessing over how to make desserts like they used to have…so they’ll make a “substitute” using the other flour options…and later find out that the calorie count/fat count is astronomical.

When you have the goal of giving up sugar for example, so many are trying the various substitutes out there so that they can still eat the same way they always have.  It’s like it was in the beginning of being a vegetarian…I used to get the various “fake meat” products…but over the years, I’ve gotten past that stage and don’t need nor do I want that.

My two cents on the substitutions subject…there are no substitutions.  This past year has taught me that success relies on focusing on real food.  In the beginning you will be in the stage of denial of sorts…the total shock that you may have to give that food up “forever”.  This is the stage when you play with the substitutions.  The sad part is that some people never go beyond that point to explore the wonderful world of real food.

It’s interesting how I’ve been able to change my focus this year…to go from apple pie with all the sugar to sliced apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top…and truly savor it.  I no longer look at candy in the same way nor do I even think about drinking sodas or sweetened coffee or cocoa products.

Now, that doesn’t mean that now and then I won’t  be tempted to eat one of my favorites from the past…but I find that a very small portion will satisfy me(also, if I get a large portion of anything overly sweet, I’ll possibly get heartburn and /or a migraine headache…no thank you!)

This does not happen over night.  It’s a learning process and a challenging one in the beginning…but after a while it does become easier…and if you slip, to forgive yourself and move on.

til next time…Evacountry roads 002aphoto by Eva…Country Road


August…A Great Month for De-Cluttering!


   I decided towards the middle of July that I had finally had enough of my clutter in my house.  June I spent de-cluttering my body with the elimination diet so it was time to get the house de-cluttered as well. 

   I have also read that clutter in our homes affects our wealth and peace of mind…so for those reasons alone, I am determined to have a completely decluttered house!  I also want to get to the point that I am no longer embarrassed to show friends and family members all the rooms…

   Now, this is a daunting task and not one to take lightly.  Clutter is something most of us deal with and have some uneasy feelings(dare I say shame) about.  It ranges from closets and drawers that are over flowing…and if you open them the contents fall out…to no floor space left in a room. 

   I have been reading some good books on clutter and one by Cheryl Mendelson entitled “Home Comforts” has an interesting article about the concept of “Broken Windows”.  The theory is “any sign of social or physical neglect in a neighborhood causes people who are predisposed to antisocial conduct to feel more inclined to commit various crimes and misdemeanors.  If there is one broken window and it isn’t fixed, this suggests to the malefactors that no one cares or no one is in charge-therefore it is safe to write graffiti on the walls, litter and break other windows.  This in turn suggests to more determined wrongdoers that they could get away with mugging and burglary.  The first broken window, if not tended to, leads eventually to total social deterioration.” (Page 31)

   The “Broken Window” theory in our clutter is this…if you have a clear table or a chair and someone leaves a glass and a book there by mistake, it gives someone else the belief that it is now ok to put something there as well…and before you know it, clutter has begun.

   Julie Morgenstern’s book “Organizing from the Inside Out” has the concept that we should arrange our rooms the way Kindergarten rooms are organized.  The Kindergarten Model of Organization works because: a. The Room is divided into activity zones  b. It’s easy to focus on one activity at a time  c. Items are stored at their point of use  d. It’s fun to put things away because everything has a home  and e. there is a visual menu of everything that is important.   (page 60)

   Getting Started:

   If you want to De-Clutter with me this month, here are some initial suggestions that I have learned:

   1. Get boxes and label them:

       a. Keep

       b. Toss

       c. Give Away or Sell

       d. Undecided

   2. When you go into the room, start in one area and just begin putting the items into the boxes. 

       Do not spend the time reading the papers, letters, looking at the photos…they are put in the 

      “keep” box for  now for later sorting. 

      It is beneficial to have a timer because it will give you a sense of urgency.  Even doing 15 minutes a day is good…you can do one drawer at a time…one shelf or even a part of a shelf, a table top can be cleared.  Every bit helps.  Every bit gives you that sense of control once again. 

   3. Probably the easiest way to start is to take a garbage bag and go through your whole house and just pick up what you can see at a glance needs to be thrown out.  Give yourself a number of items to throw out before you stop…10, 15, 20…when you reach the number, you are done, tie the bag and throw it out.  If you would just do that every day, you will see strides…for example…in your kitchen, your bathroom, your underwear drawer, your linen closet… 

     I’ll be adding more tips as we go along…it’s also great if you have someone doing it with you..I presently have a few on line friends doing it with me and every day we let each other know what we have done…

   Will you join me?

   til next time…Eva 



Doing the “Brain Dump”


Similar to the “irritation list” is a technique called the “Brain Dump”. I don’t know who originated it but it is an effective organizational technique. In the work sector, its an effective exercise of everything that is on your mind, things you need to do, people to contact…everything that is taking energy away from you.

When you write something down, it gives that thought/idea an energy that it doesn’t have when it is simply in your mind and relieves your mind of remembering the details.

I like to do it at night before I go to sleep…I write down everything that is still cluttering up my mind and will possibly affect my sleep. Take a sheet of paper and pen and just write down whatever you are thinking about. This can take a while, especially if this is the first time you’ve done it and have a lot on your mind.

Once its done, you should feel relieved because it is on paper now and you don’t have to mentally keep track of it. It takes away some of your stress.

A Brain Dump can be done any time of the day…when you do it during the day, its a great way to develop your “to do” list. You keep writing down everything that is on your mind, no matter how small, silly or nonessential you may think it is. Your next step would be to go over the list and on a different sheet of paper(or two, or three), write down the most important things you have written down that need to be done…prioritize them and then proceed to do them.

Give the Brain Dump a try and see how it can begin to relieve your stress, de-clutter your mind, and make your life more organized


Where to Start (Part 2)


Back again…have you made up your list? I made mine up and I don’t know about you, but I got a little miserable, irritated and disgusted while doing mine…
So, now what?
Well, there are a couple of things you could do…

1. One thing to do is on another piece of paper, write down all of the items that are small…things that won’t
take long to do. On another piece of paper write the ones that would take longer. And on the last piece of
paper, write the ones that would involve several steps.

2. Write down the items that if you got rid of them, your life would be a lot better.

3. Circle the items that irritate you but don’t have to be done right away. The remaining items would then
be the items that you really want to get cleared away.

OK, now you have a list of items you really want taken care of…now you go through each of those items and ask yourself the question, “Now what?” What would you have to do to get that issue taken care of? Write down exactly what you have to do. If it will take several steps, then write the steps.

Make it into a viable checklist and you are now ready to go…take the first item on your list and do something now, today. Cross it off…Hang this list up somewhere you can see it and make an effort to work on it daily if possible.

Naturally, some of your list items will take quite a bit of time…break them up into baby steps so that it doesn’t become too overwhelming. When you have completed a step, pat yourself on the back and treat yourself in some way…good job!

If you notice, there are so many people who profess to be an “expert” and are advertising for your attention and money. The one thing I keep emphasizing to my daughter plus reminding myself as well, it that you need to start thinking for yourself…and the reality is that you need to become the expert of YOU. Your body isn’t just like someone else, your thoughts, your desires, your basic needs…all are yours alone.
So by starting your journey, you will gradually attract the people you need, the resources and the strength to move forward. The more you learn about yourself, the stronger you become.

til next time…Eva

Where to Start? (Part 1)


Where to start? Basically you could start from anywhere and add on to a daily practice with baby steps so that you don’t burn out.
But, what if you are in overwhelm and don’t know where to start?(I’ve been there and still get that way!). One way is to get yourself s cheap notebook(I’ll be doing this along with you…I just picked up one at the dollar store, nothing fancy though I probably will decorate the front of it shortly 🙂 )

On the first page, put the date on so that you know when you are starting your journey. The first thing I suggest is to make yourself a “What am I putting up with” or “What is irritating me?” list. When you know all the areas in your life that you are just “putting up with” or gives you irritation, you have a list.

OK, what exactly are you putting up with in all areas of your life? If you want, I usually start with the basics of my living space. To give an example of some items I have on my list for my living space:

a. The front door sticks and it is difficult to unlock/lock it.
b. The living room curtains.
c. The cutlery drawer has too much stuff in it that I don’t use…and it hard to close.
d. Window screens in the living room need to be repaired/replaced.
e. Downstairs needs to be majorly de-cluttered.

Does that give you an idea? Once you’ve done your living quarters, then you tackle the other areas of your life…some suggestions are:

1. Physical Health – diet, water, exercise, weight, etc.
2. Personal Appearance – hair, clothes, shoes, eyeglasses, etc.
3. Work – your job, etc.
4. Emotional – spouse/so, children, parents, family, friends, etc.
5. Financial – bills, savings, budget, etc.
6. Desperate needs you have
7. Time Constraints – are you involved in too many activities that are putting you in overwhelm?
8. Clutter – physical, mental, time, etc.

Give yourself plenty of time to complete these lists for yourself. They will form a basis for you to follow in the days and weeks ahead. So find your notebook, a quiet spot and your favorite beverage, some soothing music perhaps and take some quality time to write your lists. I’ll be doing the same. And then when I come back, we will go over part 2.

til next time…Eva