Are You There Career? It’s Me, Ashleigh.

After months of asking the universe this question, it FINALLY ANSWERED.

I have now officially been employed for three whole days, and even though the world can’t get much brighter than November in Florida, it most certainly has. On Monday I got up at 6 a.m., made my safe a healthy protein packed breakfast, and dusted off my old work wardrobe. Heading out the door felt good. Really good. So how did all this finally come about?

I took a risk, that’s how. A huge, scary, life-threatening (okay, maybe not) risk. Long story short, I applied for a double-digit number of jobs, and at first, I was having very little luck getting through HR as I relayed in this post from a few weeks ago. My final big push of applications went through in the middle of August, with a few trickling randos to follow. I ended up getting four phone interviews and four final interviews for five different jobs, which was both amazing and amazingly stressful at the same time. However, things became really complicated as I learned more about each opportunity and met more people, and one particular position stood out among the others. It became even more interesting when that hiring process got pushed back and prolonged, while the others swiftly took off at breakneck speed. My greatest fear, of course, was not getting a job. My second greatest fear was having to take the wrong job.  One by one, the positions for which I completed final interviews called with offers. What came next was a full 24 hours of feeling honored and nervous breakdowns, trying to decide whether to take it or go full-out for the one I really wanted. My heart knew where it wanted to go, but my head was panicking. Ultimately, I chose to risk it, and as a former career counselor, I know full-well that these risks can go either way to the extreme. In my case…

It paid off.

I’m officially an Eagle.

FGCU Shirt

I’m so excited to report that after five painstaking months of unemployment in a state where I knew no one, I accepted a position as an Academic Advisor for Special Populations in an amazing office full of incredible people at Florida Gulf Coast University. A school that is well-known for it’s dedication to sustainability, service-learning and… Dunk City! Check it out:

Already I feel a sense of purpose, a life-permeating stimulation, a welcome exhaustion. Not to mention that after two years of major life changes (jobs, graduations, surgeries, getting married) and major risks (moving to Florida, quitting my job, you know, the usual), I finally feel a small sense of stability creeping in. I know where I am going to be in the next couple of years – a concept that is alien to me. We’re officially DINKS (dual-income, no kids) again, and although we have some catching up to do, we are off to the races. FINALLY.

So today I am thankful for my career. For the opportunities I am so lucky to have. For finding a purpose in helping others. For Bill supporting me through this rough patch and some very dark days.

Oh, and the teeny tiny, completely unspectacular, not at all awe-inspiring view from my office window.

Office View

How on earth did I get here? This is was gratitude feels like.

xo

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Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Okay, WHOA everyone. WHOA.

When I invited Kelly over to try our hands at cauliflower pizza crust, we fully intended to post the finished product on Insta and the FB in an effort to boost our Pinterest-worthy reputations. But what we didn’t expect was the amazing amount of requests for the recipe!

As you may know, I’ve been slowly trying to find grain-free alternatives to my favorite comfort foods, and it’s been helping so much with the previously unfortunate state of my stomach. When I first switched I just went to gluten-free brands like Glutino and Udi’s, which are both amazing and highly recommended, but still had trouble staying off the flour. The more I read, the more I found, and thanks to the discovery of Danielle Walker of Against All Grain, as well as the wonders of almond flour and coconut flour, I’ve ventured into the intimidating world of grain-free (albeit not exclusively). One thing I missed: PIZZA. Well, with Pinterest abuzz with so many veggie-based crusts, it was time to figure out whether said bases were only the stuff of the Pinterest Gods, or whether those of us who are a domestic hot mess could pull it off as well.

Verdict: Pretty easy, and pretty worth it.

So without further ado, here is our accidentally-on-purpose, super easy, ad-libbed version of Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust.

Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust

IMG_7135

Makes 2 personal size crusts (recommended) or 1 large crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons Italian seasoning (such as McCormick)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Wash cauliflower, and let dry fully.
  3. Chop roughly into small pieces.
  4. In a food processor or blender (I used my Nutribullet, but next time I’ll use my Vitamix), pulse the cauliflower pieces until a rough paste-like consistency forms.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower onto a glass bowl. (Sides will scrape easily with a spoon.)
  6. Add eggs, cheese, and seasoning, and combine. Mixture will appear wet.
  7. Form two balls for personal size pizzas or one ball for a large pizza, and place on a non-stick baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (From experience, we decided that we preferred the two smaller pizzas for several reasons: for more crispy edges, for less wet/limp middles, and most importantly, for easier transfer off of the parchment paper… that was an ordeal!)
  8. Press the cauliflower mixture into parchment to form thin crust in desired shape. (Not thinking this would go up in a post, you will see we went with the indeterminate, lop-sided, too-hungry-to-function choice.)
  9. Using a paper towel, firmly press middle of crust to remove excess moisture from cauliflower.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 400ºF.
  11. Remove from the oven. Using a large spatula (such as my handy Omelette-Pancake Spatula from Crate&Barrel), lift pizzas to remove parchment paper and replace directly on non-stick baking sheet.
  12. Load up pizzas with you favorite toppings! We chose no-sugar-added pizza sauce, a bit Italian blend shredded cheese since there is already parmesan in the crust, spinach, green bell peppers, and gluten-free Casual Gourmet Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausage that I found at Costco and LOVE. Another fave would be switch out the traditional sauce for pesto, then layer with Italian blend shredded cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and goat cheese crumbles.
  13. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until outer edged turn golden.
  14. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Slice, serve, and BOOM grain-free, delish cauliflower crust pizza!

So there you have it! This recipe did end up being an original, inspired by but deviating quite a bit from a Pinterest post we found, mostly out of sheer laziness or lack of tools. (Sorry I don’t have a CHEESECLOTH, universe.) That said, if you decided to try it and have any suggestions or successful tweaks, please let me know in the comments! In the meantime, may your tastebuds and (more importantly) you tummies be happy and clean!

xo