Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Peppermint Mocha Panna Cotta

Planning the menu for your holiday festivities? Don’t forget to include a dessert that is just as gorgeous as it is delicious. Guests will enjoy the extra effort, and you are likely to see your creation throughout their social media! To create this lovely Peppermint Mocha Panna Cotta from Nielsen-Massey, you will need:

1/3 cup cold water
1 packet unflavored gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract
1/2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Coffee Extract
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (garnish)

NMV Peppermint Panna Cotta v1Place 8 mini martini glasses or dessert molds on a small rimmed sheet pan; set aside. In a small glass measuring cup, add water. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand for 5 minutes to soften.
To a medium sauce pan, add whipping cream, sugar, coffee, vanilla, peppermint and coffee extracts; stir to combine. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and the cream just begins to gently boil.
Reduce heat. Add softened gelatin, stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Equally fill glasses with mixture, about 1/4 cup each. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 2-3 hours. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Young Survivors: Kimberly Wyrick

In our October issue, three local young women courageously shared their breast cancer survival stories. Their experiences show that this can happen to anyone. Not only is it important to get your clinical breast exam each year, but it is also important to talk to your doctor (and maybe get a second opinion) if something is off.
Our third story is from Kimberly Wyrick. In her words:

In the fall of 2013, at 38 years old, I felt a small pea sized knot on my left breast while taking a bath. I initially didn’t think much about it. I saw a nurse practitioner and we decided that it was probably just changes in breast tissue.
About a month later, I started getting sharp pains that shot into my armpit and through my chest. After a few weeks of sporadic severe pain almost daily, at my mother’s urging, I made another appointment with the nurse practitioner. She said she thought it was a fibrous cyst but she wasn’t a “boob doctor” and wanted to send me for further testing due to dense breast tissue.
On Thursday, November 14, I went to the breast care center for a mammogram and ultrasound. The doctor told me that they had detected three masses in my left breast and it was cancer. I asked him if it could be anything else. He said “Well, I guess it could be but it’s not.” 
I needed to return the next Monday for a biopsy. It was at that point that a tear ran down my face.
I wasn’t really concerned about the word cancer. I was worried about telling my mother, who had already lost a daughter to leukemia when my sister and I were young. I was separated from my husband and I worried about who would walk through this with me. I was also sort of hoping that my diagnoses might save my marriage. I was worried about my 4-year-old son. And, as vain as this is, I wasn’t concerned about cancer, but I didn’t want to lose my hair. Finally, my biggest concern was how I going to afford treatment. We prayed all weekend.
My doctor called the day after my biopsy and confirmed that I had invasive/infiltrating ductal carcinoma. 
A verse that stuck with me that night was James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete – not lacking in anything.”
I was preoperative stage two breast cancer. The MRI showed that there were cancer cells throughout my left breast and it was determined that it would have to be removed. I decided to have a double mastectomy.
I chose a wonderful team of doctors and had an amazing support system. Many loved ones, friends, and even strangers rallied around me in support and prayer. On January 20, I had my double mastectomy and started reconstruction which was complete that April. The surgery was far easier than the reconstruction. However, it was neat to see how doctors could make your body transform. I continue to have checkups every six months and have to take a medicine daily for the next 10 years.
Never before did I want to be in this club. However, I am thankful that God was present in so many ways, allowing me to persevere.

Young Survivors: Decca Knight

In our October issue, three local young women courageously shared their breast cancer survival stories. Their experiences show that this can happen to anyone. Not only is it important to get your clinical breast exam each year, but it is also important to talk to your doctor (and maybe get a second opinion) if something is off.
Our second story is from Decca Knight. In her words:

I was diagnosed at the age of 32. At the time, I was a healthy, active, young mother who ate well and loved running. My son was 1 ½ years old and I was working at a part-time job that I loved. My OBGYN found a mass during a routine clinical breast exam. He thought that it was probably a cyst and said I could wait a few months and come back or get an ultrasound. Luckily, I chose the ultrasound.
It looked suspect so they sent me for my first mammogram and then a biopsy. I can remember my next appointment like it was yesterday. It was there that my breast surgeon told my husband and I that the mass was cancer. We heard that it was aggressive and that the tumor was large.
We went into shock. A stream of doctors appointments with the breast surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and reconstructive surgeon followed. We felt like we were at the hospital all the time. Soon I had a bilateral mastectomy and the insertion of expanders. The latter are slowly pumped up to stretch your skin to allow for implants. During this operation they did a biopsy of my lymph nodes on the infected side and found that the cancer had spread there. This meant that I would have to have radiation.
After sometime to heal, I started my chemotherapy regimen— every three weeks for six rounds. Soon after my first round, my hair started falling out so my husband shaved my head. My sweet little son thought that it was silly. I am so thankful that at that time he was too young to understand what was going on.
Following months of grueling chemo, we went head on into radiation— everyday for six weeks. I kept joking with hospital staff that I should have some type of frequent flyer card that accrued points. After healing from radiation, I had another surgery called a Lat Flap surgery. During this procedure, they take a part of your lattisimus dorsi on your back, cut it out along with the skin, nerves, and blood supply, and transplant it to your chest. This would allow my affected side to hold an implant. After healing from this harrowing surgery, I finally had my last surgery where they took out my expanders and put in my implants. The whole process lasted about one year.
I was lucky that I didn’t have to work while in treatment. I needed all my energy to be able to interact with my young son. My husband, sister, parents, and in-laws took such great care of me. My friends were amazing. They raised about $15,000.00 for the first Virginia Blue Ridge Affiliate Race for the Cure here in Roanoke.
Five years out now, I am doing well. I still take medication that will hopefully keep the cancer from returning.

 

Opera Roanoke Presents Sweeney Todd

Opera Roanoke launches its Ruby Anniversary season with Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller Sweeney Todd. Audiences can see performances of this popular drama on Friday, October 30 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 1 at 3 pm at the Jefferson Center’s Shaftman Performance Hall.
Sweeney Todd is an alias used by the main character, Benjamin Barker, who returns to London to seek revenge on a judge who banished him to life imprisonment fifteen years before. Below his former barber shop, he finds a struggling meat pie shop, inhabited by proprietress Mrs. Nellie Lovett. She recognizes him and, together, they form a plan of murderous revenge against the judge who sentenced him based upon false charges.
In this production, Carla Dirlikov makes her role debut as Mrs. Lovett, opposite young baritone Corey Crider, who will play the Demon Barber of Fleet Street title character. Dirlikov is widely- known for her roles in Carmen, The Flying Dutchman, and Julius Caesar. Crider was praised by Opera News for his “seductively sympathetic” portrayal of Sweeney Todd. Together, they are sure to deliver an unforgettable performance.
Visit www.operaroanoke.org for additional information on how to purchase tickets for this event.

Serve It Up Sassy: Caramel Apple– Delicious!

Recipe Development, Food Styling, Photography and Article by Liz Bushong

With a dash of cinnamon or a sprinkle of sugar, the apple is the favored fruit for fall. Would you like to smell the aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon and apples baking in your kitchen? These apple recipes will show you some of the sweetest ways to enjoy the autumn season.

Caramel Apples settingMemories of fall always include caramel and apples.  A big golden delicious apple on a stick covered with sweet chewy caramel and peanuts is just one of three apple-delicious recipes that you can make this season for your family and friends. Have you had problems with caramel staying on the apple after you dipped them? This homemade caramel recipe and ways to prepare your apples will keep your caramel from slipping off. Now you can make gourmet caramel apples with loads of caramel, chocolate, and various toppings without the caramel pooling at the bottom of the pan.

Caramel Apple Walnut Cookies are individual mini pies filled with a layer of caramel and thick homemade apple pie filling. The cookie is topped with a piecrust woven lattice that resembles an apple pie. As you bite into this little bit-of- heaven, the apple filling with its cinnamon and walnut bites ooze from the sides of the cookies. The cookie top is sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon and sugar.

Skillet Caramel Apple Pie (2)Another all time favorite is the apple pie, but this time it is baked like grama used to make it, in a cast iron skillet.  What makes this pie special is the caramel layer in the bottom of the skillet before you add the piecrust and filling. The caramel bakes through the two-layer crusts and rises to the top of the pie making this pie, caramel apple-delicious all the way through.

Apple treats are comforting desserts that should make a regular appearance at your fall get-togethers and meals. The sweet scents of apples and cinnamon baking in your oven will make your home cozy, warm and inviting. Decorating with apples is an inexpensive way to create pretty tablescapes and fall décor for your home.

For a dazzling fall table display bring out your favorite autumn accessories, pumpkins, gourds, leaves, and wooden bowls of granny smith or assorted red and yellow apples. Choose flat bottom pumpkins for stacking, mix colors that will make your display more eye appealing. Ornamental kale, mini pumpkins, mums, potted pansies and sunflowers create a simple but beautiful table and porch presence. For more ways to help you serve it up sassy go to www.lizbushong.com. Be sure to get your free downloadable copy of the Top 5 Fall Favorite  recipes when you subscribe to the Serve it up Sassy blog.

October harvest brings bushels of apples and plenty of apple and caramel-infused desserts. Surprise your kiddos with an after school snack and bake a batch of Caramel Apple Walnut Cookies. For the upcoming harvest party, dip and design Caramel Apples.  For supper tonight bake a little bit –of- happiness with the Skillet Caramel Apple Pie.  Don’t skip the vanilla ice cream on the warm pie.  It is truly apple-delicious!

 

Caramel Apple singleCaramel Apples

6 medium Gala apples, wax removed
1 cup butter + 4 tablespoons
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup corn syrup
1-14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup or vanilla
Chopsticks or craft sticks

Toppings:
Diced peanuts, walnuts, pecans, mini m & m’s, white bark, chocolate morsels

Prepare apple toppings and place in bowls, set aside.
With 4 tablespoons of butter grease parchment paper or wax paper, set aside. Remove wax on apples by placing apples in boiling water for 40 seconds, remove and rinse. Dry apples, remove apple stems and add sticks. Place apples in refrigerator to chill while you make the caramel. (You will thoroughly dry apples with a towel before dipping in caramel.)
In large saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, sugars and corn syrup until smooth, but not boiling. Add condensed milk and stir with wooden spoon until candy thermometer reaches 178 degrees.  Remove from heat and add syrup or vanilla, let caramel cool for 3-4 minutes before dipping apples.
To dip apples; make sure apples are completely dry. Dip apple in caramel and allow caramel to drop off the bottom so it will not pool,  roll apple in desired toppings, place on buttered wax or parchment paper to set. Melt white bark and chocolate chips in separate containers and place in individual disposable piping bags. Pipe  white bark and chocolate around tops of apples in a drizzle design. Keep apples refrigerated.
Yield:  6 caramel apples

 

Caramel Apple Walnut CookiesCaramel Apple Lattice Cookies

2 refrigerated pie crust* tested Pillsbury
3 medium granny smith apples
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – divided
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg- divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup caramel ice cream topping
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts-optional

Peel, core and dice apples, place in saucepan with butter, brown sugar, salt and 1 teaspoon of each spice. On medium heat, cook apples until soft and thickened. Remove from heat and cool. Unroll one crust, using a 2 ½” round cookie cutter, cut out 12 cookie rounds.  Place rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops of pie crust cookies with caramel topping. Add a ½ teaspoon apple filling over top of cookie round. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired.  Unroll remaining crust and cut long strips of dough ¼ “ wide. Weave dough strips to create a lattice design. Cut cookie lattice with round cookie cutter to create clean edges. Mix ¼ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake cookies for 30 minutes at 350. Drizzle cookies with caramel sauce if desired. Best served warm.
Yield:  12-13 cookies

Skillet Caramel Apple PieSkillet Caramel Apple Pie

5 medium gala apples, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1- teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 – unbaked pie crusts* tested Pillsbury Refrigerated Crust
8 tablespoons butter- divided
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed, light or dark
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts-optional
1 teaspoon sea salt-divided

In 10”cast iron skillet, over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir caramel mixture together until smooth and bubbly around the edges of the skillet. Add walnuts, stir to combine. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add apples, flour, sugar, and spices,  mix to coat apples.
Unroll one crust and place on top of caramel –walnut mixture in skillet. Pushing the crust up the sides of the skillet. Add coated apples and 2 tablespoons of butter diced into small pieces. Unroll remaining crust and place over the apple pie filling. Pinch and crimp both crust edges together.
Brush top of crust with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake pie on a parchment lined baking sheet for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce if desired.
Yield:  8 servings

 

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®

Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com

Staycations!: An End-of-Season Home Vacation

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

Pack your bags, it’s time for the best end-of-season vacation you have ever had and you don’t have to leave home to take it!   Vacations don’t have to end just because a season ends, take a relaxing and enjoyable vacation at-home or in your hometown anytime you want.

A true staycation is more than just a week or weekend at home; it is a planned intentional time of events for relaxation and fun for your entire family.

Here are a few planning tips for a successful Staycation:

1. Brief-your-case for having a vacation at home by including your family with the planning process.  See Step 4.

2.  Decide what kind of vacation you want to take. Gather brochures just like you would when you plan a travel destination.

3.  Create a budget for activities and food.  Plan your menu for the week and make-ahead a few meals related to your themed vacation.  No one really wants to cook while on vacation, unless it is a culinary destination.

4. Inspire the family with the staycation idea and plan a “staycation idea” dinner party/meeting.  Good food always brings people together and a pretty tablescape will reinforce the excitement that a  home vacation could be fun.

5. Clean your house before you begin your staycation. Get caught up on laundry, dishes, and the everyday duties that can be stressful.  Place special scents and music in your home that reflect the type of vacation you are taking.  Select special guest room items in each bedroom to mimic a bed and breakfast vacation.  Set up and stock a beverage center with your family’s favorite snacks or snacks that you would have on a travel destination.  Set up a continental breakfast buffet for each day of your vacation.

6. Unplug for a day!  Develop a plan that the entire family will unplug all technical devices including cell phones, computers, pads, and even watches during this vacation week.  Make it a game and give a prize at the end of the week to the family member who stayed true to the technical shut down.  Select a prize that excites everyone and announce the no –tech challenge at the beginning of the vacation week or during your family planning meeting.

7.  Maybe your staycation is an outdoor adventure, plan for day trips to zip lines, white water rafting or hiking the mountain trails.  Other ideas for a staycation include: Spa day or week, a culinary international tour , Hawaiian or Caribbean cruise with different ports of call or create a DIY room, you get the idea.

Here is one Staycation Dinner Party-meeting inspiration to get you started:

mini suitcaase-www.lizbushong.comYour planning meeting could be a trip to a tropical beach.   Begin with a suitcase as the centerpiece.  A backyard profusion of blooms-hydrangeas, pink geraniums and verbena- overflows the open suitcase centerpiece.  Simply line the vintage suitcase with plastic then add a water- filled rectangular dish to hold the fresh cut flowers and potted plants in place.  Plank the sides of the suitcase with tropical photos or scrapbooks.

Bright and bold colorful placemats serve as a runner for the center of the table. At each place setting create mini suitcase favors that are made from cardstock.  Cover the suitcase with cute stickers and fill boxes with candies or surprises for each family member.  See mini suitcase how to at www.lizbushong.com.

A quick and easy healthy menu includes make-a-head black bean burgers, sweet potato fries and a peachy apricot parfait for dessert.  Your family will be surprised and excited about taking a home vacation.  Remember, planning is key, we don’t want this satiation to be all on mom and dad’s shoulders, this is a family affair.  Make this staycation fun and a time for reconnecting with the family.

Peach Parfait www.lizbushong.comPeach-Apricot Cream Parfait       www.lizbushong.com 

1 -12 oz. ounce can apricot nectar
1-3oz. package lemon flavored gelatin
2 -16 oz cans unsweetened apricot halves and peach halves, drained
1-8oz package sour cream
Whipped cream and mint springs to garnish if desired

In small saucepan, bring to boil 1 cup apricot nectar. Remove from heat.
Add lemon gelatin, stir until dissolved, stir in remaining cold apricot nectar. Set aside.
Place peaches and apricots in electric blender, process until smooth. Divide mixture.
Add sour cream to one part of divided fruit mixture.  Process to blend.
Pipe or pour fruit mixture into decorative parfait or serving dishes. Garnish with whipped cream/mint sprig.

Yield:   8 parfaits

Bean Burger recipe www.lizbushong.comSpicy Black Bean Burgers      www.lizbushong.com

2 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup slivered green onions
¼ cup diced celery
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each paprika, red pepper, cumin, oregano, parsley, dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon grated lime peel
2 teaspoons lime olive oil
Olive oil and butter for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Pat mixture into a 4 x 6 inch rectangle and score into 3- 2-inch sections making 6 burgers.  Shape into 6 patties.
Heat skillet with 1- teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter.  Fry burgers until browned 3 minutes on each side.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight before cooking.

Yield:  6- 2” burgers

For a seasoned potato buns recipe, visit www.lizbushong.com!

Helping you Make a Statement, Make is Sassy and Make it Yours! ® 

See staycation ideas http://www.livingwellspendingless.com

Liz Circle 2013 smallLiz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tri-cities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine.  For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com 

Bella Loves–August Edition

The products we use on a regular basis should contribute in a positive way to our overall health. The comprehensive list of ingredients on many household products is a little scary. Fortunately, there are alternatives out there with less potentially harmful chemicals that work just as well (if not better) than those filled with things you cant pronounce. Here are some of our favorites:

fatface_fat_stick_1__34358.1432945057.500.340Everyone in our office bought a Fat Face Fat Stick. Order one and youll wonder how you went through your daily activities without it. A multi-purpose stick, you can carry it with you to help combat dryness in three ways. Its a lip balm, cuticle repair, and lotion stick ALL IN ONE! www.fatfaceskincare.com

mollys_dryer_balls-1There are a lot of chemicals in dryer sheets. You’ve heard about them for years, but it’s hard to ditch the dryer sheet when you want to eliminate static from your laundry and make sure your clothes come out smelling fresh from the dryer. We recommend replacing them with Mollys Suds Wool Dryer Balls. They last up to three years depending on your dryer model and reduce drying time by 15-30%. Visit their website to learn why the switch might be easier than you think.  www.mollyssuds.com

51vIBQSQVUL._SY355_Knock out fruit flies fast with Aunt Fannies Fly Punch! A powerful, non-toxic fruit fly formula, it safely and effectively eliminates fruit flies. We love fresh produce, but it often attracts these pesky, uninvited guests– regardless of the cleanliness of our kitchens and produce providers. No one wants to surround themselves and their family with toxic chemicals, so get rid of the pests naturally and enjoy your apples and bananas in peace! www.auntfanniesco.com

Visit our Facebook page this month for a chance to win these items and be sure to pick up our August issue for more products you are sure to love!

 

Back to the Basics

At various points during the day, I check Facebook and my email like many of you— my feed flooded with products and programs promising happiness and fulfillment, for a price. The thing is— whether your happiness is temporarily increased by clothes, electronics, or fast food— the high is soon over. It is followed by the heavy burden of guilt over purchasing something you didn’t actually need or the feeling of pure exhaustion after a grease-covered meal.

If you want to take control over subtle influences in your daily routine (and live life just a little lighter) consider the following options:

  1. Live below your means.

    Coupon queens everywhere are about to really hate me, but understand that I do mean well. Stocking up on items you will definitely use with coupons is a fantastic idea— as long as you really do use them. Otherwise you end up with a large amount of food you have to throw out because it expired, and the money you thought you saved becomes money you could have put towards existing debt or a vacation.

    Do some research on minimalism and see what parts of it you can apply to your own life. Minimalism gives less power to the objects that surround us— but it doesn’t take away the meaning of the important things in our lives. Instead, it allows us to consciously choose what is important and why without being bogged down by meaningless objects that hurt our health, relationships, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Visit www.theminimalists.com to see if you can benefit from any of their suggestions and tailor them to fit your needs!

    Donate items that you don’t use to people who really need them. The obvious choice is Goodwill, but you can also post free items on websites like www.freecycle.org. They have a specific section for Roanoke already, so it is as easy as going on their site, creating an account, and posting what you have to give away.

2. Take charge of your diet.

Organize your kitchen to encourage your family to spend more time cooking, cleaning, and eating healthy. Place items in drawers where they will be convenient to reach when you need them and get rid of extra dishes, cups, and utensils that no longer serve a purpose. When you have more space, your kitchen looks clean and welcoming after a long day of work or running errands. You may even look forward to getting there and spending time with your family rather than waiting in line at McDonalds to pick up dinner.

While we are talking about fast food, it is also important that you try to spend your food budget wisely. Make a list of things you need before you go grocery shopping and stick to that list. We have fallen into a habit in which we place very high value on convenience. Therefore, if it is on an end cap and on sale, we are far more likely to add $3 here and $5 there to our basket without thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, many of those products are not healthy and can include chemicals and preservatives that leave you hungry, tired, and even sick. Commit to the list— accounting for every meal during the week. You’ll save money AND feel better at the end of the day.

61VWkE9iEPL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Consider growing your own fruits and vegetables— it’s possible, even in the city! Look into making some of the staples in your pantry by yourself. With a little practice, you can make your own cheese for 1/3 of the store price and bake your own bread for about fifty cents per loaf. No matter how committed you are to the idea of sustainable living, Woman-Powered Farm by Audrey Levatino is a great book to add to your library. From teaching you the basics on raised garden beds and farm animals to operating farm machinery, it is perfect for the woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.

3. Reorganize your schedule

Completely banning electronics from your house is unreasonable, but cutting down on your TV time and opening a book is better for your brain. Get out of the house with your family, or on your own, and hike one of our area’s beautiful trails. See the world around you without a camera phone lens. Choose activities that will inspire you to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Very often, happiness is just outside of your comfort zone.

Make time for energy-saving activities like hanging clothes on a line or chopping wood for a wood stove this winter. Not only will you stay active, but you will save money on your electric bills. If these ideas are too extreme for you, ease yourself into it. Bike to work or carpool if you can, keep those lights turned off, and set the temperature in your house to a comfortable but reasonable number. Little changes now can make a huge difference over time.

Choose any of these suggestions and tweak them to apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you may find that it is easier to identify the subtle influences that challenge your happiness and follow your own path instead.