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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lauritzen Gardens


Lauritzen Garden's is a hidden gem in Omaha, a hidden botanical oasis actually.  I feel people who have lived here their entire lives don't even know it exists.  

I truly feel, sometimes you just have to step out and be a tourist in your own community - take time to explore and truly live - see everything there is to offer!

My dear friend Vera and I try to get to the Gardens on a monthly basis… usually after Saturday morning coffee or a visit to the farmers market.  She has a membership which works out perfectly because I have one to Joslyn Art Museum so we share our cultural experiences with each other.

We missed our trip in June which is usually the height of Rose season, but there were still a few late bloomers out when we went a few weeks ago.  Even on their last leg they were as beautiful as ever.

In the spring, visiting the gardens always gets me geared up for planing my own flowers and container garden.  It's inspiring to see all the foliage, flowers, and sculpture working together on the grounds.  Then as we visit through out the summer and into fall, I love seeing the changes - the natural variations and the work that the grounds keepers do to ensure colorful blooms as long as possible.  

As we walk the 100+ acre grounds, we chat and reflect, talk about gardening, how things look different compared to our last visit or even a year ago - but regardless we always talk about how much weeding they must do to keep everything looking so lovely and manicured!! 

Vera and I are both excited for October 2014 when the new expansive greenhouse will open…actually I'm not sure that's officially what it's called but it resembles the National Botanical Garden's glass sanctuary in DC if you've even been there.  It's been under construction for over a year and is highly anticipated…It will make the Garden's more accessible year round. 





Here's some of my favorite posts with Vera:


Well, Vera and I are off to the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska this weekend… We look forward to this every year and I'm ready for some apple baking!!  Have you ever attended this festival? It's one of the best! 

-Justine



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apple Crisp

Since the weather here has turned beautifully fall and it is apple season here in Nebraska… I decided to make apple crisp yesterday afternoon to take to a pot luck!


To prepare the apples:

Toss in a large bowl:
7 or 8 diced up apples (seeds & core removed), I used Honeycrisp
the zest of 1 lemon 
zest of 1 orange
the juice from the lemon
2-3 tablespoons of orange juice
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamon (you know I love cardamon!)
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Toss until the apple pieces are completely coated.  The pour into a large baking dish.  I used a deep 9x13 ceramic baking dish.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the crumble topping:

In another bowl:

2 sticks of cold butter, diced
1 1/2 cups Domata flour

cut the butter into the flour until is resembles fine crumbs, you can use a pastry cutter if you have one otherwise just use a fork.

Add in:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup gluten free oatmeal

stir all together with a fork - should be crumbly!

Lightly pour over the apples.  Try not to pack down the topping otherwise it will bake into a cookie!!

Put the ceramic dish on a baking sheet to prevent overflow incase the apples bubble up.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1.5 hours.  This just depends on your oven…and how juicy your apples are… Check on it after an hour.

This is a great dish because well… it's sure great hot with some ice cream, but it's just as good once it's cooled down!  Plus it travels pretty well if you're heading to a pot luck!

If you have leftovers, keep them covered in the fridge.


Enjoy!!

-Justine



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

No One Else Can Play Your Part

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10th). 



(tshirt by @twloha - To Write Love on Her Arms) #NoOneElse14 #WSPD14

I wanted to share a little bit about my story, my experience - I'm speaking for myself - I cannot attest to anyone else experience.  Even sitting her now, a good 18 months later, it's still hard to write about this - even though I've always proclaimed how cathartic writing feels.

Depression is a big bad scary word.  It's not something you can anticipate or prepare for, it's something that washes over you and takes hold before you realize what it is or before you (want) to realize what it is… maybe that's more accurate. 

For me it was total and complete darkness that I couldn't get out from under.  I couldn't understand how it had taken hold so quickly and so deeply.  I couldn't verbalize the pain I felt constantly, the anxiety, the racing thoughts, the reverberating sadness that seemed to never end.  But yet, I was still functioning on the outside - I still had to go to work, fulfill commitments, attend events, socialize… do all the things expected of me… I felt like I was hiding - running a parallel life. 

I had total fear that because I didn't understand what was happening inside my thoughts and because I knew I couldn't verbalize how much pain I was feeling, that no one would understand and no one could help me.  That fear escalated my anxiety and feelings of being trapped inside my darkness.  I felt like my brain was running at full speed 24 hours a day displaying a constant reel of everything that was negative in my life or what I thought was negative - impossible to shut down, but my body was moving in slow motion.  I was physically exhausted from extreme lack of sleep due to fear and anxiety and then there were days where I could sleep for 18+ hours and still be completely exhausted.  I not only felt trapped mentally but felt betrayed by my body physically.

I hate admitting this now even, but I had a plan, I had everything lined up.  I just couldn't handle the excruciating pain anymore and I was prepared to do anything, anything to end it.  I was utterly and completely terrified of myself.  

My rational and irrational thoughts screamed at each other in conflict…constantly…I was so afraid of what I was capable of - I threw away kitchen knives, and I flushed every form of aspirin and sleeping pill I could find. 

I knew regardless of my fear of being able to verbalize what was going on, I had to reach out for help.  

I wasn't able to fully explain what was happening but it was enough and I was able to get the help I needed.  Reaching out saved my life and my story didn't end.  

I fight the darkness every day and do the work needed to maintain the light in my life.  Sometimes days and weeks fly by without a drop of darkness… I work very hard to keep positive healthy relationships in my life and have had to make some changes to ensure I can stay healthy.  But I know it takes vigilance and determination to stay in the light… and that's where I want to be.

This is my story.

And no one else can play my part.

-Justine

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Highlights

Honestly, I'm not exactly sure where this summer went, but I'm sure most people feel that way.  It seems like it was just Memorial Day and now we've already blazed past Labor Day and are well on our way through September.  

I completed my blog re-design and refresh… there might be a few bugs left and a few pages that I'm still updating but I at least finished most of it, which is a huge accomplishment after procrastinating all summer.  You know how you love something until you stare at it forever and you pick it apart and just can't stand it anymore… that's how I was feeling… then I let it completely derail my writing in general among many other excuses.  

Anyways, I'm back -- refreshed, revamped, reenergized, and ready to write, explore, and share. 

A couple highlights from my summer… (I wish I had more to show, but it went so fast and most of it was work…which I love by the way - more on that later).

Summer 2014 [in 8 photos]

one:: I took up crew rowing this summer for something different and outside my comfort zone.


two:: I love my job and we have a great team working together advocating for the future of agriculture.


three:: I ran the Seattle Rock and Roll half marathon in June for TEAM in Training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Seattle may be my new favorite city (sorry DC!!).


four:: Any free time this summer was spent with friends out at the lake as much as possible.  Beat that summer heat!!


five:: Most of my summer was spent driving around Nebraska supporting my 19 county Farm Bureaus, county fairs, parades, expos, and meetings!  I drove over 20,000 miles this summer - hello windshield time :)


six:: One of my dearest friends was married in a beautiful ceremony in Memorial Park this summer.  It was all about love, friends, and happiness.


seven:: For the first time ever, I had the opportunity to attend Omaha Fashion Week to see one friend model in a show and another debut her new line!! 


eight:: Summer is for theatre in the park on the hottest day of the year.  



I had a great summer, but no one is happier than I am for fall… bring on the cool weather, fall clothes, pumpkin candles, cinnamon lattes, and husker football!! 


-Justine








Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sorry for the mess...

Please excuse the mess on LBD… We're currently under construction!!

My goal is to have this finished tomorrow.

Changes coming :) 

-Justine

Friday, April 11, 2014

H54F!!

Friday already?

Happy Friday!!  I'm linking up with Lauren today for High Five for Friday.

one:: every time I attempt to clean off my desk, it just piles up worse than ever.  I actually didn't travel much this week, so I was holed up in my office at my computer more than the usual hour I regularly have…which lead to this mess.

two:: last friday I had the opportunity to tour a specialty pig farm… I have a full post on this soon!

three:: it's hard admitting this, but I'm actually starting to enjoy the solitude of my solo runs… I still have moments of struggle, but there are moments of clarity also.

four:: I had my first Lululemon experience… really bad, tremendously bad decision… I'm totally in love.  Can running tights really be this amazing?  And for no reason, other than I fell in love with the feel of the fabric… why do I love texture so much… I had to buy a running tank also.

five:: (excuse my manicure, top priority tomorrow).  We're doing pedometers as a wellness challenge at work.  I'm obsessed to put it lightly.  Unfortunately I also hate the thing because I almost never wear pants to be honest (no, no, I wear skirts or dresses!!) and it's so hard to wear the thing.  So most of my steps come from running.  But I just love seeing that number sky rocket!! 

I'm off to Chicago here in a bit to see my bestie :)  Fun filled weekend with Christina is just what I need.  Haven't been to Chicago to see her since I went last year around my birthday.

I hope you had a great week and have a great weekend!!

Always, J

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Relationship with Food

So I had a conversation the other day with a friend that made me realize how different my relationship with food is from hers. 

I suppose I've noticed this over the years from many many conversations with different friends because it appears that most are similar.  To be completely blunt and honest, most (and these are female friends by the way) correlate food to "how fat is this going to make me."  They struggle with the concept that food is comforting for them and in return, food will make them uncomfortably tight-waisted.  I have one friend who can simply rattle off foods and their matching calorie counts, which absolutely blows my mind.

My relationship with food is undeniably different.  

I have a love / hate relationship with most all food.

When I think about food, my only consideration is how much pain will this inflict…not how many calories is this, how much will I have to workout to counter-balance this choice, will this make me fat?

I could eat an entire bag of chocolate chips, I have no idea if that's 100 calories or 10,000 and nor do I care… but I do know if they are gluten free.  When I look at an ingredient label, I only look at the ingredients…at this point, after all these years, I couldn't even tell you what's listed above that… I've become completely immune to it.  

Some people find comfort in food… I find it terrifying.  Food is painful for me.  There's nothing scarier than "let's meet for lunch."  Sure… Where are we going to go, how's my stomach going to feel that day, is it going to be weird if I don't eat, maybe I can just eat a little bit, I guess I could cancel my plans after just in case, can't we just get coffee?

I just get exhausted thinking about food.  Maybe it's seasonal, or because I haven't been feeling fantastic lately, or because I haven't been cooking much lately… or maybe I wish I just had to think about calories.

Actually, no.  To some extent, I'm grateful my food decisions aren't related to numbers - that my choices are still about taste, and feeling, and exploration.  But I also wish food was more comforting.

I physically cannot keep pace with other people.  My celiac ridden body just does not enjoy food the way other people do… maybe I'm the only one.  I just don't know.

Why do we have such weird relationships with food?


I'm grateful food is my medicine, my salvation, and that I'm not reliant on drugs and chemicals to feel, to feel healthy… that I have some level of control over how my body will react to what I choose to eat.

But the constant internal food dialog running through my mind is getting old.

Can we talk about something else?

oh wait, this is a food blog.



Always, J