Aliens and Hurricanes!

FOOD

Well, I certainly over prepared for the hurricane that wasn’t! I made a couple batch dishes in case power was an issue, and picked up foods that didn’t need refrigeration nor cooking – like lot of fruit, granola, etc.

So the eats ended up being fairly typical. Smoothies, soups, and rice and beans.

Simple carbonara w silken tofu & nutritional yeast, tossed with GF pasta and corn

Beyond Meat crumbles, sauce, and pasta for a quick meal

Adapted from the China Study cookbook – the Caribbean Rice & Beans – threw it all in the rice cooker with extra veg and spices. Serve with shredded cabbage and hot sauce!
Vega All-in-One Vanilla, blueberries, and kale

My guy had invited us over for the duration of the hurricane if it looked like it was going to be bad. There would have been 7 people, 3 dogs, and a sugar glider. His son was calling it the Hurricane Party, but it never happened since Flo really fizzled out. Instead, I had them over for brunch today. So yummy! Pancakes, potatoes, tofu scramble, and biscuits & gravy! And a Bloody Mary bar 🙂

FITNESS

Got in 2 runs and then did kickboxing (core de force) on my streaming Beach body workouts. Also been picking up on meditating again. Really need to stick to that regularly, it’s just so awesome.

LIFE

This week was a lot about Hurricane Florence for the most part. Evacuations were issued Monday for people living in certain areas (those in Zone A. I’m Zone D), and schools and most business canceled Tuesday morning “until further notice”. Honestly, we knew we weren’t going to get a direct hit, but the flooding from intense wind and rain did generate quite the regional panic. Gas stations were running out, and everyone ran out of water as soon as it was stocked. I managed to get a case and 5 gallons at target before anyone thought to look there.

So, it was time to hunker down. I contacted my university to let them know I was in Flo’s path in case I had service interruption, set up all work meetings as conference calls, and then got ready for the floods.

Meanwhile. R AND M CAME HOME FROM CALIFORNIA! They landed around 1130pm Wednesday night. We got their bags and hustled home. Got home right before midnight – which was perfect because it was R’s bday and we all sang to her.

Thursday was her 15th bday. Because it was storm fun, we did lasagna, a homemade cake (due to nut allergies we ALWAYS do homemade cakes! This was strawberry and decorated by her big sis). As a recap, she was out in Cali visiting her dad. Her fav thing was learning to surf! Good thing there’s some awesome surfing in Virginia Beach!

Yesterday marked the end of my 3rd term of my doctorate program! I submitted my final two papers and now I’m done until Oct 8! I’m excited for the break, but know I risk getting bored. So today, after my guy and his young one left, I went to drop off donations at Goodwill and then stopped at the library! The book AB recommended was checked out (both copies) so I put a hold on it.

Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about Nextdoor. If you’re not on it (or are), it is basically Facebook for neighborhoods that is mostly about “those darn kids”, perceived suspicious activity, people who speed, or lost/found pets. But this little gem popped up this week, and it was the funniest thing ever.

LOUD ROARING NOISES AT NIGHT

Occasionally I hear super loud roaring noises coming from the sky, which usually happens at night. The noise appears to come from some kind of strange aircraft. Does anyone know what the noises are? What’s the purpose of it? I live in the country, so it’s kind of creepy and makes me worry about aliens.

But the responses are the best….

~It’s definitely aliens! I would try and capture one and turn it into the government for study.

~Probably the purple people eaters I see in the fields when I’m out running. OR it’s the jet/helo training since we live near Fentress airfield. Whichever makes more sense.

~It’s my stomach. I apologize.

~My cat says not to worry, it will be over soon. But the dog has been strangely quiet….

~You’re not from around here, are you?

~sorry about this…one of my aliens got loose the other night and found his spaceship in the tool shed behind the house. We got him back though thanks to our flying dog.

MY YEAR OF LESS

So far, so good! I did use two of my going out and one movie. I’m keeping track in a OneNote document (I’m a hard core OneNote junkie).

Also I realize that I’m incredibly difficult to buy for. Not because I don’t have interests (believe me, I have too many!), but I typically just get the things I want and that’s that. Now that I’m not buying myself things, it’s kind of fun to keep a list. Now family and friends won’t struggle come holidays! And it’s funny – it’s not big things. Very little, actually. And it really makes me realize the things I value, and it’s not new shoes and technology toys. It’s books, and candles, and small things.

  • Candles
  • Books – see public Amazon list
  • Race entries
  • Frame my painting from Brazil

Spending

Hurricane spending on things like extra food (though it’ll get eaten eventually), water, batteries, etc. I’ll actually be returning the Amazon things – I couldn’t find batteries anywhere in town that I needed, so I ordered on Amazon. It was supposed to be here by Wednesday – in advance of the storm – but didn’t arrive until today. So I’m sending that back since it’s not needed. Everything else can be used.

Sept 10:

  • $8.15 – Cinema Cafe movie
  • $20.59 – Cinema Cafe dinner
  • $50.72 – Amazon hurricane prep
  • $15.89 – Petco – extra dog food hurricane prep
  • $60 – money for M for food on the trip back to VA for him and R
  • $48.28 – Target hurricane prep

Sept 11:

  • $0

Sept 12:

  • $41 – out with my guy
  • $3 airport parking

Sept 13:

  • $0

Sept 14:

  • $26.19 – Lidl groceries
  • $28.61 – Bloody Mary supplies

Sept 15:

  • $0

I Can’t Be the Only Person Who Cries at Museums….Right?!?!

FOOD

Well, I’ve been on the road since the last post. Had some amazing eats though for sure.

I left Wednesday morning, and on my drive to DC stopped in Richmond to have lunch with my girl HF. We went to Kuba Kuba Dos, and basically got the same thing. A mushroom panini with plantains. Mine with no cheese. Her family is more interested in plant-based meals, so I brought her a few books for ideas. They’re really busy (she’s a nurse, he’s in management consulting) and they have two wee ones. So I focused on quick and easy but with lots of variety. She just sent me a pic of some tofu vindaloo she made, and it looks amazing! #veganactivism

Wednesday evening I went to Chercher Ethiopian with L. OMG. It was literally the best food. And super cheap. We split the Vegan Deluxe (which is 11 dishes), a bottle of wine, and an extra tomato/jalapeño salad. With plenty of injera, it was amazing at only $62!

Thursday I had an event most of the day. Afterwards I went to my fav DC based Thai place – Thaiphoon in Dupont Circle. Got edamame and my tofu green curry!

Friday was the event again, and I had snacks there. For dinner, I went to The Fancy Radish with WB and AB. WB and I went to grad school together, and AB is his totally amazing wife I’ve also gotten to be friends with. We each ordered 2 dishes to share. Didn’t get pics of them all, but everything was amazing. Rutabaga fondu, smoked beets, the heirloom tomato BLT, spicy dan dan noodles, peas and carrots creamy ramen, and Peruvian potatoes. We couldn’t finish it all, but it was so wonderful. The fact that it was an all vegan restaurant definitely impressed.

Okay, their cocktail list was fun too. I stuck with the Aperol Spritz (it’s the AB special, and I only get to drink them when I’m with her!). But still. Impressive!

Got home this morning. The kitchen was a mess that I didn’t feel like cleaning up (damn kids), so I made popcorn. I did eventually clean, and there’s a spicy tofu veg soup in the crockpot for dinner!

Lookit all that sriracha!!

FITNESS

Felt great to get a lot of runs in the past few. Plus walking around the city.

LIFE

First – on Wednesday I woke to this baby. Seriously – I love her SO much…

Been a really good couple of days. My trip to DC was wonderful. I went to a very good military event, and walked away with some great contacts. Also got to see some wonderful friends. L and I hadn’t seen each other in probably 2 years now, so it was really great catching up at dinner Wednesday.

Thursday afternoon I went to the National Mall area. Had no real goal other than to wander. That’s sort of how I roll – plans are nothing but loose guidelines. I decided upon getting off the metro to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. I had never been, and heard nothing but amazing things about it. I spent quite a few hours there, and didn’t come close to absorbing it all. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried at one of the exhibits. It was on the 3rd floor and was about the Chicago real estate industry and their role in segregation well into the 1980’s and beyond. What got to me is how much I just don’t know, and how I’m incredibly ashamed about that. We learn about slavery and it’s abolishment, civil rights movements, Rosa Parks, and desegregation, and think it all ended. Abe Lincoln and MLK are hero’s, and then the story ends. I learned that day – and I know it’s just scratching the surface – about what white business owners have done to keep segregation real. The real estate industry, for example, made white home owners sign covenants that made them unable to sell or rent to people of color. Red lines were drawn that banks used to deny loans to areas and people of color. Much was done to keep segregation alive and well, and I honestly couldn’t handle that knowledge very eloquently. I can’t fathom how we’re really supposed to move forward in equality when we don’t fully shine a light on the past and present. The only way to learn is perhaps to major in African American studies, and what white person really does that? It just all made me feel a little hopeless. What was even more amazing was a woman and her friend, both African American, came up to me when they saw me. Patted my shoulder and said not to worry, because I didn’t do this. But I haven’t done anything to make it better, have I? So – a lot of thinking for me to do.

I told WB and AB this story, and WB has a good friend who works at that museum. Shared his story too. And AB is reading this book as part of her work book club (she’s a nurse), and on my next school break – which starts next week – I hope to find a copy in my library.

Afterwards, I went to DuPont. Went to one of my fav books stores (and R too!) and got her a couple things for her upcoming bday. Can’t believe she’ll be 15! They did have this fun sign out front. I assured them on IG that I did NOT just walk by!

Friday was a really great day. The event in Pentagon City was very fruitful and I was feeling really good when it ended. Then it was back to my room to study and knock out some papers, then to WB and AB’s house. We hung out there and had a couple drinks, and then walked down the road to dinner. Very amazing night.

Got home this morning and the full focus was school. Lot’s to finish. It’s my last week of the term – ends the 14th – and I have some major research due.

M headed to San Diego to his sister and Dad. Sister is homesick, and also a bit afraid of flying – especially solo. Felt it would be better for her big bro to come out and escort her home. And to send a little bit of home to her. They get back late Wednesday night. Just in time for hurricane Florence….

MY YEAR OF LESS

On the purge front, I did finish the closet and bathroom. I had actually purged my closet last year, so there wasn’t as much to pitch. In the end, the combined purge of clothing was 45% – that’s dressers and closet. I purged 70% of the bathroom. I had WAY too many bottles of lotion, let me tell ya! I pitched 12 containers of lotion. Kept 1. It’s the only one I use anyway (Lush Dream Cream is where it’s AT).

So spending on my first travel trip wasn’t awesome, but not awful either. I was planning on using my lunch with H as one of my 4 outings, but she insisted on paying the bill (brat friend). My expenses were food and travel. Metro mostly, but two Uber. One after Ethiopian (L had picked me up since it was on her way from work, but would be way out of the way to take me back – it was late, so rather than metro I Uber’d). And on the way back from dinner with WB and AB because of storms and flooding. I took the metro there, and WB ended up picking me up at Union Station – would’ve drown walking to their place!

So – spending

Sept 5 – $37.79 at Chercher and $13.24 for Uber

Sept 6 – $27 for metro passes to last me the duration, $43 at Thaiphoon (wine + app + meal), and $34.93 for bday gift

Sept 7 – Whole Foods – $19.80 – flowers as a gift to my friends for hosting me for dinner & $19.46 Uber

Sept 8 – $25.20 gas and $36.58 at Wegman’s grocery

Sept 9 – $0

Of course not counted in all this are regular bills. Paid mortgage, car payment, electric, and credit cards.

I will say that it’s becoming almost a challenge to see how little I can spend, and that’s kinda fun. I know I could’ve eaten cheaper on my trip, but old habits die hard, and I’m not going to eat some fast food crap – especially in an amazing food city like DC! I like to eat healthy and drink good wine. Sorry. Not sorry.

The Revised and Expanded China Study Cookbook!

Okay boys and girls, this is apparently a Two for Tuesday on the blog post front! This post, however, will focus on a single topic – a review of the latest China Study cookbook!

If you haven’t read The China Study, which was originally published in 2005, and revised a couple times since – I highly suggest it. For people like me who would rather make my decisions based on facts over emotions (okay, so that may NOT always be true when buying new shoes, but for something as important as choosing a dietary path in life – gimmie the science!) it’s perfect.

In a nut shell, several scientists, in an effort to improve nutrition in developing countries, conducted the longest study of dietary habits ever – a 20 year study called the China-Cornell-Oxford Project. The China Study’s author (T. Colin Campbell) is one of those scientists. Without going into the details (it’s a large tome and would be a 50 page paper by the time I’m done!), it examines the link between meat eating and chronic illness. It presents significant data showing that a whole food, plant-based, low-fat diet leads to superior health and disease reversal. So – check it out if you are so inclined – it could honestly change (or save!) your life.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ll see other posts reviewing cookbooks that were spawned from the original China Study book. They are written by family members of the author who have embraced this life-style and make recipes that are easy, tasty, and accessible for anyone.

So, when I was approached by the publisher to review the latest, it was an easy YES. I can honestly say that each book has gotten better. The first, while good, was very basic, but could generate wonderful meals with some minor modifications (usually spices in my case). I also have to modify any meals to be nut-free due to an allergy in the house.

So – when the Revised and Expanded China Study Cookbook arrived in my mailbox, I did what I always do – get excited, and lock myself away with a notebook, a highlighter, and some sticky notes to mark the recipes I really want to make.

And yes, placement of the stickies have meaning 🙂

So, I spent about 2 weeks cooking my way through it, and here’s my assessment. BUY IT. Okay, okay. I’ll go into more detail…

The book was penned by LeAnne Campbell, the daughter of T. Colin Campbell. She lives in the Dominican Republic, and that influence is apparent in many recipes, much to my delight. This very hard working humanitarian’s main purpose with this specific book was to develop recipes that were quick and nutritious and could easily be fit into a busy life. And…anyone who reads my blog typically sees the word “chaotic” mentioned several times, so this was perfect.

As usual, the book begins with forwards and backstory, but also spends a significant amount of time talking about raising plant-based children if you so choose to, using local ingredients – home grown gardens if possible, food storage and prep to maximize nutrient content, how to transition into a WFPB diet, suggested substitutions, and the tools you may want to outfit your kitchen with. And THEN it gets to the 175+ recipes. So it’s as much a lifestyle book as it is a cookbook.

I made several dishes from each chapter. Delights including corn bread, pancakes, salads (particularly fond of the Ensalada Azteca and the Asian Ginger Cabbage Salad), baked tofu cubes, the lemon tahini and mango Azteca dressings, Aztec soup (seeing a theme here??), coconut corn chowder, sweet and sour fusion, and the one I’m going to share with you today – Thai Vegetable Curry!

So again – if you’re a regular reader, you KNOW I have curry at least once per week. Now, my curry of choice is Thai Green Curry with steamed tofu and extra veggies. Of course from a Thai restaurant, it’s not exactly going to be overly healthy, but it’s SO yummy.

This version is incredibly simple to make, and very flavorful. Rather than curry paste (which Thai Kitchen makes one that’s pretty easy to find in most grocery store’s with an Asian or International aisle), my very favorite is a curry powder made by The Spice House – which happens to be from my home town and is AMAZING. But have no fear, if you don’t have this or any other red curry paste, the author has a substitution suggestion.

I used fresh jalapeños and basil from my garden, and an orange bell pepper since I took my red one to my boyfriend’s house this past weekend! And I skipped the peanuts. I also served mine over riced cauliflower rather than regular rice, though it would be delicious over any rice or quinoa too.

So I guess you’ve waited long enough. Here’s the recipe! Enjoy – and if you enjoy it, drop me a note and consider picking up the book. Happy (and healthy) eating!

THAI VEGETABLE CURRY

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

This simple, tasty dish can be prepared with a wide range of vegetables. I often make it at the end of the week, using whatever vegetables remain in my refrigerator. It’s slightly different each time, but always tasty.

1 cup sliced onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno

2 tablespoons vegetable broth

2 cups lite canned coconut milk

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1½ teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 cups chopped broccoli, steamed

1 cup green beans, steamed

½ red bell pepper, sliced, steamed

2 cups chopped spinach, steamed

1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed

Cooked brown rice, for serving

Peanuts, for garnish

Lime wedges, for garnish

1. In a large pot, saute onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno in vegetable broth over medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes, until onions are browned.

2. Add coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, and lime juice. Bring to a low simmer.

3. Fold in steamed vegetables and basil. Cook for 1 minute. I generally like my vegetables crunchy, but if you want, cook 1–5 minutes longer.

4. Serve over brown rice, garnished with peanuts and lime wedges.

Note: If I don’t have Thai red curry paste on hand, I replace it with 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and ½ teaspoon of garam masala.

Dog Eating Couches & Other Shenanigans

FOOD

Lots of yummy eats this past week, mostly in, but a couple out. I had several vegan meals actually made FOR me (and not at a restaurant). This is a new twist in my life, and one that I definitely love. My guy loves to cook and he’s made some incredible meals this past week!

Here are the highlights…

Gardein Chick’n Stir Fry

Sushi place by me with 11 veg options!
Potato & Veg tacos w lime/pepper watermelon
By far our fav cidery
New local cidery too! A fan so far

When they cater a meeting and the vegan option is a sad salad…everyone else had hearty meals
My new popcorn maker and I’m in love! Microwave, no oil needed, with an option to add fun stuff to melt and drip thru the lid. I used Earth Balance

My contribution to one of our meals this weekend
My guy made vegan Chick’n Marsala and it was amazing! Whole crew ate vegan that night 🙂

He bought a new blender, and I brought my fav brand of protein powder so I could have my typical bfast. Perfect for a day of studying

Second vegan meal he made me this weekend! Grilled BBQ tofu, broccoli, and mashers (which his son declared changed his life! They were that good…)
My contribution to Labor Day – Mac no cheese
Gardein burger, loaded kale salad, corn, Mac no cheese!
Took the leftover Marsala home and had w broccoli today

So I definitely did not starve this past week. I think it’s fun that my guys son said the new way his dad made mashers “changed his life” they were that good :). And they were.

FITNESS

A couple of runs is about it. And yard work. Been looking at a few weekend hikes I want to do when fall really kicks in. May actually have to try the whole “camping” thing!

LIFE

All told, a good week. Typical work and school stuff, though the school stuff was pretty heavy this past week.

Did get a day trip to Richmond and Williamsburg, which was nice.

There was a funeral to attend on Saturday, but otherwise the weekend was good too. I spent it at my guys house where we hung out, played games, watched TV, and I did ten tons of school stuff while they cleaned and did normal household stuff. As a very sweet surprise, while I was writing a paper, they washed my car!

You can’t tell, but 3 of us our playing. 2 of us got out butts kicked

At Sly Clyde Cidery. Hadn’t played since a kid with my sister. So fun

I’m ONE roll from going out and he gets doubles. Ugh.

I never played before. Took forever to learn, but was fun once we did

I came home Sunday morning to get things done at my house that I needed to, but went back for dinner, which was really nice. By special request, I brought Kuma with me. All was awesome, she got on fine with his dogs, and liked to explore. Though she decided to explore behind the sofa – and got stuck. He had to take the couch apart to get her out. I will say I was a bit mortified. As soon as she was out, she tried darting right back. Ugh. So when his son asked me to bring Kuma by, and I asked if his dogs would eat mine…the eventual reply was “no, but the couch will”. Valid.

MY YEAR OF LESS

Okay, on to the new section! I guess this may be considered a personal finance blog addition. And here’s why I’m adding it. When I first started RunCrissieRun, it was because I had declared to my now ex that I was going to run a marathon in 2010 (it was NYE 2009). So when I woke up the next morning and had the “oh hell, now I need to do this” minor freak out, I decided to blog about it, mainly to keep myself accountable to the training. And it worked great! So, that’s really the main motivation for sharing this part with all of you.

A co-worker of mine posted on FB about this book called The Year of Less, and how she wanted to see if anyone was interested in doing a challenge group. So, I picked up the Kindle version right before my vacation, and read it, decided it sounded like a great idea, and agreed to the challenge – which kicked off Sept 1.

It’s a super easy read about the author who went on a year-long shopping ban, but ended up being more about mindful consumerism, minimalism, addiction, etc. Good read that I recommend. And being a single mom, being more contentious with spending is not a bad thing (it’s never a bad thing, really). And I admit that I do like to shop – and it’s largely unnecessary stuff.

So, I built a spreadsheet (gotta put that MBA to work!) so I could take some baselines of my spending so I had something to track against, create a budget, define my rules (more on that in a sec), and keep track of what I’m purging. Part of this, which admittedly goes beyond just “not shopping” is taking stock of what you DO have, what you actually use and need, and decluttering your life. Many who know me know that I tend to throw anything away I haven’t used in 6 mo or more because I actually hate clutter (that wasn’t always the case, believe me). But that doesn’t mean I don’t have way too much crap. The purging will be done over the course of weeks – my life is just too busy to set aside the days it’ll take to get done.

So first – my rules. Simple enough -what I can and can’t spend money on…

Each month I’ll track all the new additions to savings as a result of NOT shopping so much! I really don’t have much consumer debt (low balances on a couple cards), and only big debt is house, car, and student loans. Would be really nice to build up that personal savings and work on paying down the big stuff. I’ll report as a percentage though (to income) and not an actual $$ amt.

And to my first purge! Friday night, I turned on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and went through my dressers (yes, I have two – got one in the divorce!). It took the entire movie to finish, and in the end, I purged 51% of the contents of my drawers! Planning to tackle my closet and bathroom next.

my purging “helper”

Fun spending facts:

Sept 1 – $0

Sept 2 – $0

Sept 3 – $34.13 at Lidl for a WEEK’S worth of groceries for 3 of us

Sept 4 – $0

So – there ya go! Interested to see how I fare on my trip to DC that starts tomorrow….wish me luck!

A Little TV/Movie Therapy Is a Good Thing

FOOD

It’s been a pretty typical week on the eats front. Smoothies, curries, tofu, salads. My mainstays for the most part.

Tom Kha – my very fav Thai soup

Did have a night planning to grill, but the gas was out on my grill, and as I disconnected it to run up to swap it out at the hardware store, it started to rain. So – no grilling! But tofu, potatoes, and veggies cooked in the house were just as yummy!

The leftover tofu was awesome on a sammich with vegan mayo and topped with spicy brown mustard and slaw

One night was red beans and rice. Always a fav. Actually found Tofurkey Andouille sausage for it too!

I spent the weekend with my guy and his son. We had some out to eats…

Shaved Brussel sprout and arugula salad with spicy cashews and a maple vinaigrette.

Under the ten tons of sprouts is a mound of hummus and a few veggies stuffed in a pita.

…and dinner in last night. Kale and cabbage salad with tahini dressing (YUM), a blended veggie soup from the market (ICK), and Gardein Mandarin Chicken (way YUM).

FITNESS

Managed to get a couple of runs in and a little kickboxing. It was a chaotic week and I’m happy to get even those in. Was intending on a hike this weekend, but so many other things came up that it just never happened.

LIFE

I’m not kidding when I say it’s been a chaotic week.

My ex-husband arrived on Sunday to spend two days in town visiting with the kids. For the most part it was okay. Tuesday morning he left with the young one to spend a couple weeks in CA where he now lives. Won’t lie – that was hard to let her go and I miss the hell out of her. We talk and text all the time, but I’m ready for her to come home.

The rest of the week was work, school work (outside whenever possible!), networking meetings with various regional leaders, getting admonished by my dermatologist (I don’t burn, don’t use sunscreen, and apparently “have enough freckles to last me a lifetime”….he’s not well pleased with me), and some much needed time with my guy.

Excited to be assigned this as one of the authors was my marketing professor in grad school!

This weekend was a lot of fun. We indoctrinated a new member of the cribbage club! My guys son – he played really well. I still won, but that was by no means a sure thing as I was in last for most of the game.

We watched a couple movies (Dogma and Good Will Hunting plus one or two earlier in the week and a couple fun shows – I haven’t watched this much TV/Movies in years!), went grocery shopping, went to the pub to cheer on Chelsea as they took on Newcastle, and hung out on the back porch and studied while my guy did laundry and his son studied too. It really was a pretty perfect weekend.

I came home, wrapped up my last big paper of the week, did wash and dishes, and hung out with the pups.

Oh, I finished the Year of Less that I mentioned in the last post. Also created a spreadsheet to track my progress with it. More to come next week when it officially kicks off!

Until next time, silly pics…

Vacation and Re-Entry to Normal Life

FOOD

Okay, I’ve been blissfully on vacation for the past 8 days, so many meals were out with some simple ones in. Still had daily smoothies (have Vitamix, will travel), so things were always off to a healthy start regardless!

The first pic is a quick meal I made at home with roasted cherry tomatoes from our garden, fresh herbs from the garden, and some balsamic vinegar tossed with pasta.

On our trip there was plenty of pasta, vegan sausages, salads, veggies, edamame, tofu, and smoothies. Didn’t snap pics of everything, but none of us starved, that’s for sure.

Oh, and fun drinks too.

FITNESS

Well, lots of walking really. Didn’t pack workout clothes since I knew I wouldn’t use them.

LIFE

Well, I’m not going to bore you all with details of my vacation. But…IT WAS AWESOME. Filled with people I love, so there’s no downside anyway! Spent a long time traveling, but it was all so worth it. Only one missing was A – because she has nursing school and couldn’t get away. I’m so incredibly proud of her and her priorities – but we certainly missed her.

One of the best parts was seeing this face after 15 months! N and his family from Nairobi are really amazing and I miss him all the time.

I certainly missed this little one. Just lookit that face! A and M’s girlfriend S took amazing care of Kuma while we were away.

We got back home this afternoon. Good timing as my ex-husband arrives overnight to spend 2 days visiting before taking our youngest to CA with him for a couple weeks. It’d be lying if I said I’m not going to miss the crap out of her 😦

And now it’s time to wallow in post-awesome-vacation-depression.

On another note, a friend of mine turned me on to this book called The Year of Less. I read half of it in a little over an hour! It’s basically about a woman who goes on a one-year shopping ban. My friend is starting a little challenge group that I’m going to do. More deets to come, but it’s really about being a more mindful consumer and focusing on purchasing what you need over satisfying whims. I’ve always loved to shop, but as a single mom with pretty much the same expenses I had as a dual income house, I could use some overhaul in how I approach my finances. The challenge will start Sept 1, so I’ll add a new category to the blog about it as I go.

AND – I have a new cookbook from a publisher to review (and give away) so stay tuned for that! Now that I’m back, I can cook my way through it to give you the low down on what’s what.

I know this is short and sweet (just like me!), but I’m exhausted and ready to curl up in bed and finish The Year of Less!