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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh hi!

Jeez I haven't even written here since I got a dog, moved to a new house (and by new, I mean a 1950's rental), and passed my comprehensive exams.

I guess I'm feeling the need to give a little thought to 2014.  2013 had a lot of good times and important milestones, but it was so much like, "head down and keep moving forward."  A year of transitions.  Thomas took a leap of faith and quit his band directing job.  I took my last classes ever and passed comps (and boy couldn't that have been a dozen blog posts...very stressful, but I made it through.)  That means it's dissertation time for me.  Thomas and I moved in, and it's going well.  The transition took a while though...I think we only recently got into the swing of things.

Right after we moved in and unpacked, we took turns having pneumonia for 8 weeks, then I dove head first into studying and freaking out over comps.  I was a total maniac. After the written exams, I waited for 3 weeks to get the results, but my classmates and I went straight into prepping for the oral exam, which happened right before Thanksgiving.  Passed that and am finally feeling normal again.  My classmates who had to do rewrites have all passed by this point, which is great.  Comps are a crapshoot, and we could never be sure what they wanted from us.

It feels like I didn't make any real progress in personal goals this year.  I HAVE gotten better at everyday vegan cooking, and hope to continue incorporating more and more of that in the coming year.  I have become a big fan of Lindsay Nixon at and learned a lot about cooking without oil.  I dig it.

This last month since comps ended, I have been exercising a lot, walking, cooking.  Will carry that into the new year for sure.  Thomas got me a kettlebell, tennis racket, and swim goggles for Christmas, so we have some fun fitness stuff to do.  We really just want to start getting off our butts more.  Less beer, less TV, more fresh air and movement.

While 2013 was a year of moving-right-along types of change, 2014 promises bigger, even more life changing transitions.  Graduation, for one!  Yep, at this very moment I should probably be working on my dissertation and getting the heck out of school.  August at the soonest, but December graduation is most likely.

And Thomas and I have a fun new CRAZY journey on the horizon sometime in 2014.  I will post about that when it's 100% final.  Right now, it's only 97% final.  Let's just say his leap of faith quitting teaching has paid off in a way that's I think will benefit both our careers big-time.  No babies or bells!  Get your minds out of the gutter, people!!  ;)

The word for 2014 is COURAGE.  I didn't pick a word for 2013, but if I had, it might've been PERSISTENCE.  And now's the time for courage.  Courage to take advantage of the opportunities that last year's persistence brought about.  Courage to take risks (YOLO!)  Courage to go after dreams.  Courage to love fearlessly amidst crazy life transitions and uncertain futures.   Courage to tackle faith and politics, where I've perched happily on the fence for several years.  Courage to change.

Happy new year, mostly to myself, since that's why I write in the first place.  I wish me and anyone who happens to read this peace with the events of 2013 and happiness and courage in 2014.  Much love!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Decluttering...part 1 of many

I'm preparing to move into a smaller space with my boyfriend.  I am serious about getting rid of crap.  I am very nearly a hoarder!  So yes, I'm airing out my dirty laundry here in public.  Come along!

A couple weeks ago, I consolidated my clothes from 2 closets into 1.  The closet I began tackling today, with a free hour between conference calls, is my "empty" closet.  I can't stop laughing that THIS is my empty closet.  Let's get real.

I focused my efforts today on bags.  I had 6 bags in this closet!  4 of them were full of stuff.  I'm hoarding bags that are in turn hoarding stuff.  UGH. 

I recently read that a good way of thinking about stuff is, imagine you have passed away...what would your stuff say about you to the people going through it?  I started with Bag #2, a canvas conference bag.  Here's what I found.

 The best thing in this bag is the oatmeal!  Apparently, I'm so afraid to waste anything that I held onto that little bit of oatmeal when I was done instead of throwing it out.  I don't want to be wasteful, but I need to get real about what I'm holding to!  The carpet cleaner attachment and winter hat can be relocated, the conference materials and mail recycled, and oatmeal trashed.  The canvas bag will be donated.

Moving on to bag #3, my trusty backpack that I took on last year's mega road trip.

What good is this stuff doing me stashed in a bag?  I'm sure I haven't even looked in here since last summer! This bag of stuff says I'm afraid to get carsick watching DVDs on the road, I'm afraid I won't be able to sleep at night (earplug and nighttime sleep aid), I'm afraid of falling asleep on the road (candy and energy pills), and I'm not very sure why I have my yearbook.  WHOA.  That's a lot of preparation for things that may never happen!  

Bag #4

This was a good bag!  But the stuff in it wasn't doing me any good in my closet.  I recycled the folders, trash, and spoon, and put the rest where it belongs.  Notice that tag...there are several in this bag, and there's another one in bag 3.  What this says about me is I buy new stuff a lot, and probably in preparation for or during travel.  Kinda dumb to keep buying up stuff.

Anyway, you get the idea!  The rest of the bags were pretty much the same...full of stuff I don't need, or stuff I can't use because it's hidden away.  I also need to downsize my bag collection.  This beach bag can't make the cut.  I love it because it's pretty and it was a gift from my boss, but it's not practical to keep it.  I also don't need so many backpacks - really, I just need one.  But my boyfriend doesn't have one, so I am keeping one for him in case we both travel somewhere we want one.  I will sell the other one, and I will keep the Ikea bags for now because they are great for moving stuff like clothes and blankets.

PS: Puddin' is really cute today.

Next task will be the rest of this closet!  Stay tuned for more life simplification. I want you to watch it happen HERE, not on Hoarders 10 years from now. ;-)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Worst blogger ever...

Can't win em all.  I'm ON FIRE in everything else in life right now.  Blogging...not so much.

I've been living mostly on green smoothies and salads for the last 10 days, and WOW, I feel amazing.  I have never had so much energy!!  I feel antsy like I absolutely MUST exercise.  I signed up for the 30-day green smoothie challenge from Young and Raw on Facebook.  To be clear, they do not advertise the smoothies as meal replacements - I am taking that upon myself.  What wonderful meal replacements they have been for me!  I make 2-3 in the morning before I leave for work/school so I have plenty for the whole day (plus a salad with fresh or cooked veggies and beans).  The key to success is chopping as many veggies in advance as possible.  I have chopped kale (I bought a big bag already chopped), cucumbers, celery, cilantro, parsley, and baby spinach, as well as chopped bananas that I froze, ready to go.  I have orange juice because some of the recipes call for juiced oranges and I am too lazy.  I have frozen blueberries and pineapple.  So the only things I have to prep when I make the smoothies are fresh fruit, like apples, pears, avocado, lemons, limes, etc. 

I lost 7 lbs in the "lose big" challenge at work.  I am still going strong.  I added exercise back this week after laying low for a week after a foot tattoo.  I'm basically unstoppable.  ;)

Even school and work are positive lately.  I have been freakishly on top of the world, and it feels way better than the drudgery I am used to, so I'm rolling around in it and being super obnoxious.  haha

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lose Big Challenge

After the holidays, I was at my typical heavier weight, the upward end of that range of 15 lbs or so I find naturally occurs in my current lifestyle.  Not 2 weeks later, I had already swung back down 10 lbs, just naturally, by not eating all that rich food.  So, when the College of Education at my university announced it was hosting a Biggest Loser style competition "Lose Big", and my friend and I started a team, I decided to let that holiday weight back in advance of the weigh in.  I continued to exercise, but I have been eating very poorly.  Unfortunately, I developed a new fast food love: Braums!  Whoa.  Talk about an underrated burger.

But I digress.

I weighed in yesterday and finally got started.  Green smoothie for breakfast, peanuts for a snack, veggie soup for lunch, kale salad for dinner.  It was a great day.  Today, I have that leftover kale salad for lunch, and I'm making a greek salad with shrimp for my valentine tonight.  You gotta try this Greek dressing recipe. The best part about it is it doesn't need to be refrigerated.  It tastes amazing.  I'm going to get some pita and hummus to go along with the salad of shrimp, feta, greens, tomato, olives, cucumbers, and whatever else would be good that I'm forgetting.  T isn't a big onion fan, so I'll pass even though this salad is begging for some thin slices of pretty red onion.  Not necessarily a low calorie meal coming tonight, but a reasonable holiday splurge. :)

Happy valentine's day!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth

Sooooo...there's this 8-week Biggest Loser competition starting at work.  I am on a team of 3.  It doesn't begin for another 2 weeks, so I have been a BAD GIRL.  I will be posting more when the competition begins.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

School started...

Sorry I'm so busy!  I'm eating about 80-90% vegan right now, but I didn't take the time to buy groceries before the week started last week, so I ate a lot of convenience foods.  Not too much overly processed stuff, but salad bars, veggie wraps, etc.  Two things stood out.

This hummus veggie wrap at the Boar's Head deli on campus.  $3.50.  I don't know if the tortilla is truly vegan, but this is one of the tastiest options I have had on campus.  Others include a couple of questionable salad bars and veggie sushi rolls.  I had them put all veggies on there...tomato, lettuce, onion, olives, cucumber, bell peppers, pickles, jalapenos, banana peppers, plus the hummus.  It was awesome!  That night, a professor had ordered herself a pizza, and it smelled sooooo good.  I heard her order spicy sausage over the phone, and I drooled.  So, this was also a big win for not succumbing to an unhealthy dinner.  (Although, I did eat a cupcake from someone's birthday that day...)

Last night, I made the soup in this video:

My version had a roasted acorn squash, about 10 roasted roma tomatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, 5-6 carrots, 3-4 celery stalks (just leftover in the fridge), 1 onion, 3 shallots, some garlic, 2 green peppers, 1 box veggie stock, a little water, salt and pepper.  I simmered all this until the carrots finally got tender, then I added half a bag of "super greens", which was a mix of spinach, swiss chard, red chard, and bok choy, along with a can of coconut milk.  I seasoned it with a couple teaspoons of garam masala, then let my roommate do the immersion blender honors.  This required great restraint on my part, because I dreamed so long of making soups with an immersion blender, and I have only done it once since August, before last night.

Guys, this soup was KILLER.  I was floored by the amazing flavor.  I say this all the time, because I love soup so much, but this might have been the best soup I have ever made.

My roommate loved it, too.  Good thing, because there are 12 cups of leftovers in the fridge.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Detox Derailer

I went to the doctor today with bad cold symptoms and a fever that just won't quit.  She didn't think I had the flu, so I guess that's good.  She said it was some kind of upper respiratory infection and prescribed an antibiotic, but said it may or may not help.  The whole time I waited for her, I was reading a poster about how antibiotics are overprescribed for URI's, which are normally viral and won't be helped by antibiotics.  When she came back with the prescription, I said, "Would YOU take this?  You said it may or may not you think I should just wait it out?"  She said since I'd had a fever so long, she'd probably take it if it were her.

So, I got the prescription and am hoping to be well very soon.  I have no energy to cook.  Thomas made me a nice vegan meal tonight, though.  :)  Spaghetti with veggie pasta sauce, and a salad with dijon vinaigrette.  It was awesome.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Detox Day 1

I'll start with the good news.  The first day of the detox was full of AMAZING food.  Don't forget you have to sign up here to get the recipes.  Jennifer Moore was generous to offer the program for free, just go sign up!

Breakfast was Cinnamon Apple Oats.

Lunch was Kale Salad with Chickpeas...the best kale salad I've ever had, and probably one of the best salads period.

Dinner was Latin Grains, Beans, and Greens.

The food has been incredible.  The downside of Day 1 is that I'm having bad caffeine withdrawals.  I'm finding little spurts of energy throughout the day, but overall, feeling pretty foggy.  I haven't had to take anything for a headache though.  I wonder if tomorrow will be the day it hits me.  

I took an hour nap at about 2pm and woke up with that cold feeling in my chest and throat.  I've had cold symptoms on and off for about a month, but now a cold, dry cough.  I could be sick or it could be a detox symptom.  Who knows.  I am sure that keeping up with the detox is the right move, though.  Good, healthy food will hopefully get me right fast.  And keeping it up will hopefully KEEP me well.

Tonight, I'm drinking lots of herbal tea with lemon and watching The Biggest Loser.  I have a scale from Tony Little, and in the box was a list of weight loss tips.  Much to my surprise, there was one on there I hadn't heard before.  Limit condiments on your food, especially when eating out.  Not because of all the fat and calories in sauces and dips.  But because, without condiments, you will quickly notice the quality of the food.  How true is that?!  Watching the restaurant and fast food commercials during this show, I notice that everything is about some special sauce or seasoning.  Don't get me wrong, I like sauce AND seasoning!  But most of the crap at restaurants would be completely unappetizing without the condiments they put on them.  Makes me not tempted by restaurant commercials.  

Day 2 tomorrow!  Heaven help everyone at work dealing with me without caffeine.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year 3-Day Detox

I signed up for a 3-day detox from Jennifer Moore, "Holistic Health Coach and Natural Foods Chef".  You can read more about the detox plan and sign up for free here.  And you want to, because even if you don't do the detox now or ever, signing up is the only way to get the plan, and the recipes inside look amazing!  Check it out.

I'm beginning tomorrow.  The official dates were supposed to be today through Monday, but I wasn't ready to get going today.  This detox goes far beyond eating vegan meals.  Here's the list of what we aren't eating: caffeine, gluten, sugar, alcohol, and animal products.  Caffeine is going to be a REALLY tough one for me.  Last time I quit caffeine, the headaches didn't last long, but I felt like I was in a fog for a long time.  I originally planning to ignore this part of the detox, thinking it wouldn't make sense to suffer through 3 days of withdrawals only to start chugging coffee again in the end.  But, I have since decided try quitting caffeine again.  I would definitely like to get through this semester without EVER having a Monster in my hand.

Gluten is another one I don't think much about on a regular basis.  I know many people have discovered gluten sensitivities and adopted gluten-free diets they have found improved their overall health.  I have been having serious attention issues, the further I go and the harder it gets in school, and I've heard that gluten-free diets are sometimes successful in treating ADHD, and though I don't know exactly how "diagnosable" my attention issues are (and not sure I want to know), it's worth a shot.  I could say the same things about alcohol, too.  Using it more and more the harder school gets, and I can't be sure how much of my attention issues are related to that.

Cutting sugar and other sweeteners shouldn't be too big of a deal.  I won't be tempted to sweeten the coffee I'm not drinking. ;)  And no animal products is a breeze.  I'm very comfortable with that and convinced of the benefits.

But I've been yo-yo-ing on caffeine and booze for quite a while, manually revving myself up with caffeine each morning, and manually shutting myself down with alcohol many nights.  Cutting both will be the hardest part of the detox, but probably the most beneficial.  If I am serious about wanting balance in life, hopping off this yo-yo ride seems a logical move.

So here I go tomorrow!  Be sure to sign up for the detox to get your hands on those recipes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Leftover Barley Dilemma

I cooked a cup of barley last night, but I only ate about 1/3 of it.  And naturally, tonight, all I could think about was junk food.  I wanted fast vegan splurges (curry takeout or salad bar gluttony) were totally unappealing.  Not to mention that cold leftover barley sitting in my fridge.  UGH.

I overcame my cravings, but I would need to cook something that made me feel like I hadn't given anything up by skipping the junk food.  Snow is in the forecast tonight, so I decided that some roasted veggies and a fire would fit the bill.  Somehow, that idea morphed into cooking up a yummy mushroom gravy to put on the leftover barley.  Based loosely on this recipe, here's what went down.

First, to compensate in my head for not giving into the fast food temptation, I bought my first vegan substitute.  So far, I have avoided buying vegan cheese, fake meats (not counting tofu), etc, but the recipe called for vegan margarine, so I decided to go for it.  Why not.

I started by cooking down 1 lb of mushrooms.

After they had given off a good bit of their liquid, I added a chopped onion, some garlic, and a couple tablespoons of the Earth Balance.  After the onion cooked down a bit, I added 2 tbsp of soy sauce and a bit more than that of sherry.  Finally, I added about 1 cup of veggie stock and 3 heaping tablespoons of flour. I let the mixture (below) cook for 6-7 minutes.

Then I added a couple more cups of veggie broth, salt, pepper, and thyme, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.  Served over leftover (i.e. not wasted) barley with a side of asparagus and a crackling fire, I call this a success.


Healthy food is the prettiest, no doubt. Lunch from The Cupboard (my local health foods store) salad bar. Spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, olives, squash/tomato salad, a couple vegan potato salads, green peas, red peppers, and edamame hummus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Grain Train: BARLEY

I am still not very adventurous when it comes to grains.  I have only had quinoa and rice, I think...I eat both pretty regularly, but I could do better.  Starting tonight, I will diversify my grain palette.

I've had this barley for at least 6 months.  I bought it to put in a salad and chickened out of making it for some reason.  Tonight, I wanted something different to accompany my New Year's Day chili, since we devoured the amazing polenta I fried to accompany it last night before even our second bowl.  I was going to do rice.  Ever since I had rice with a Creole chili recipe a few years back, I realized I'd underestimated it as a tasty, filling addition to chili.  But no...I was just saying today I wanted to try new grains!

So, I consulted the internet, rinsed the barley, and chunked (or as my boyfriend insists is correct, "chucked") 1 cup of it in the rice cooker with 2.5 cups water and some veggie bouillon.  I know your mouth must be watering.  haha

About 30-40 minutes later, it was finished!  The texture is firm, and it tastes good.  It would be perfect in a salad - go figure.  ;)

Goes great with the chili, and makes me hate myself substantially less than I did after eating that greasy fried wonderful polenta.

Barley, we will meet again.

Click here to read more about the nutritional characteristics of barley.  Yay, fiber!!  #gladmyboyfriendisgoneforafewdays