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I had a very limited fruit experience growing up as a kid in upstate New York.  We always ate apples, oranges and bananas.  Strawberries and blueberries were typically ‘too expensive’ and if we got plums, nectarines or peaches they were always tasteless and rock hard.  Mangos or pineapple were also too expensive and “too much work.”  As for pomegranates?  Forget about it.  I think my first experience with pomegranate was in a martini (ha!) and later on a fruit tart we sold at the bakery where I worked. 

When they were on sale at our local grocery 2 for $5, I couldn’t resist.  I was going to make something with pomegranate, dang it!  It was a flavor I thoroughly enjoyed and who says a salad has to be boring?! It was time for this love affair to begin!

Luckily for me, my honey even mentioned a video about how to de-seed a pomegranate from a regular visitor to our valley and kick ass video blogger named ‘The Fresh Princess.’  Meet Corinne! She’s a doll… 

 

You should also know that I have a love/hate relationship with salad.  I LOVE TO EAT SALAD.  I HATE TO MAKE SALAD.  However, this kale salad is quick AND super delicious.  Not only is it incredibly healthy but because kale is such a hearty green, it doesn’t pertain to salad pet peeve #2.  You can toss it in dressing and let it sit for  a few days without it getting mushy or gross in the fridge.  YAY!!!  The pomegranates, pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds add a great crunchy texture and a ton of flavor!

Kale Pomegranate Salad

Notice the bottles of alcohol in the background? I was totally ready for something healthy after the holidays, feeling totally maxed out on sugar and alcohol.  This was supposed to be a ‘Detox from New Year’s’ blog… And here it is January 19th.  How does time move so quickly!?  Smart asses, don’t answer that… 

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Anyway, if you’re in a winter stew slump, this light and refreshing salad will do just the trick! I was going to make it again but alas, there are no more pomegranates to be found at our grocery until next Christmas.  Oh, mountain life… You big city dwellers, hug your year round pomegranates tight tonight.  😉

What healthy meals are you cooking up?  Please share any ideas in the comments below. I always love new recipes!  xoxo

 

 

Kale Pomegranate Salad
A seeded kale and pomegranate salad covered in a tangy, refreshing dressing! Super healthy and easy!
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FOR THE SALAD
  1. 1 bunch of kale
  2. 1 pomegranate, seeded
  3. 1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
  4. 1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
FOR THE DRESSING
  1. 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 T. apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 T. dijon mustard
  4. 1 T + 1 tsp. honey
  5. 1/4 tsp. salt
  6. 1/8 tsp. pepper
Instructions
  1. 1. De-vein your kale. Massage the leaves for a couple of minutes.
  2. 2. Throw the kale into a bowl with pomegranate, seeds and nuts.
  3. 3. Whisk all of your dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Massaging kale leaves helps to reduce its toughness and bitterness!
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

 

 

Most people that know my mom know that she spent over 20 years in the mental health field.  It took her to the brink of sanity on many occasions.  Especially the last five years, I could just tell that my mom was soooo very unhappy. I would always ask her if it was really worth it to wait it out. She just kept her eyes on the prize of retirement.  

What most people don’t know is that my mom is an artist.  She draws. She sings. She painted a beach scene on my sister’s wall when I was little that I’ve never forgotten.  She likes to put all of her kids’ creative success solely on their fathers.  She is such a creative person, but to raise four kids, lived in art-less, uninspired ‘mom-survival mode.’  So many moms I know do this!  She not only downplayed her artist instinct but she almost squelched it like a bad memory.  You would never know by the way she lived her life.  Now that she is in retirement she seems happy as a little clammy jay bird! She has redecorated and repainted parts of the house.  She’s actually taking the time to breathe and think about herself for once, a relief to all of her kids.

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I Relaxed the Day After Christmas.

 

I’m on the phone with her this week and she tells me she took a ‘sip and paint’ class– one of those classes where you get to paint a picture and drink wine.  She thought it was so  much fun but was slightly annoyed that there were lines on the canvas to stay within, and that she couldn’t paint her tree the way she wanted.  Finally, she just resolved that she was was just going to paint her tree the way she wanted anyway!  There was a hint of law-breaking rebel in her voice that I adored.  HELLO, ARTIST MUCH!!??? Most people are SO content to stay within the lines and do it ‘right’ so that they have a pretty picture to instagram.  Just the idea that my mom got out of the house to do something creative made me soooo very happy (and happy for the other folks there creating, too!) She said it inspired her to buy some paints and a canvas. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!!!

Can you imagine if my mom locked herself in a room once a day and actually did something creative for herself the past 20 years?  How much happier she probably would have been?  

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I Planted My Garden

 

This Inspiration tab is for sharing stories that I find  courageous, brave and inspirational, for sure, but I also created this page for the Artists, Creatives and Creators.   I believe wholeheartedly that there is an artist in all of us.  Maybe we’re not all Picassos but who cares!?  That is the point.   We all are uniquely creative and have a muse inside us that loves to create for the joy of it.  If you watch ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ you realize even a career in raw fish can be inspiring. 

I believe our culture has trained us to look at creativity and artistry as frivolous, totally selfish, unpractical and unnecessary, an utter tragedy in my mind.  How many mid life panic attacks do we have to have, second homes do we have to buy to keep ourselves happy and socially ‘okay?’  What if part of that hole that needs filling is creation?  The joys of childhood that were stifled with words like ‘responsibility’ and ‘logic’ and ‘career’ and ‘success.’  Most of us, myself included, are perfectionists… “If I can’t do it perfectly, what’s the point?” or “If it’s not amazing art, I shouldn’t share it.” What about the tried and true-less: “It’s just too late to start that now.”

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I Self-Cared In a Warm Bath of Epsom Salts.

 

Creating art isn’t about finding self worth in our ‘likes’ or in the money we make as artists.  It is about the joy that it brings us– which is far from frivolous, if anything it helps maintain our balance as humans.  We also can’t wait for everything to be perfect before we begin. How can we ever become great artists if we aren’t creating regularly?  For every photo I like, I’ve taken 200 photos I’ve hated.  Get me? Maybe in ten years, I’ll have one great photo.  But I am so happy to live for that one great photo. 

Take a moment to think about how amazing this planet would be if more people concerned themselves less with clean houses, making money, being martyrs to their families, letting fear rule, <insert a million other excuses here>, and just created?  Shared it fearlessly and without expectation? Art, music, books, photos, gardens, trifles, pottery, drum lessons, landscaping, dance classes, etc, etc, etc… 

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I Took Photos of Our Kittens Rather Than Murder Them For the Mess They Made

 

This year I started working on a series of photos I’ve titled ‘The Mess Series.’  It occurred to me just how much time I spend cleaning each day and how little time I spent doing something creative.  The clutter constrains me, I say.  Well, bullshit.  I decided I wasn’t going to do that to myself anymore.  Out of self and creative care, it was no longer allowed.  Rather than clean, I take a picture of the mess and the title becomes what I’ve done instead.  It is a work in progress but a series that has really helped me to put my inner artist first, find peace in the chaos (a great practice for life anyway!) and kick my excuses to the curb. 

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I Hiked Maple Pass

These photos are some of the un-award winning pictures I’ve been taking.  It also helps me deal with being comfortable in my own skin as messes are personal, can be judged and posting them can feel vulnerable.  A statement for how we live our lives really.  I hope they inspire you to put aside your own excuses and create. This series is a work in progress so most of these won’t end up in the final project, I would imagine.  But because they mean something to me as an artist, they are worth sharing for now to make a point.  THINGS THAT MEAN SOMETHING TO US ARE WORTH SHARING, HOMIES!!! 

At the very least, CREATE.  Okay, rant over.  🙂  

I have a HUGE fire under my butt this upcoming year– not to accomplish but to create.  For the JOY of it!  I have projects I want to start, things I want to say, feelings that need to come out in a healthy way.  I really hope you’ll join me.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you’re working on! xoxo.

Mandi