Home Sweet Home

FOOD

I didn’t snap a pic of it, but my Christmas dinner made by my BIL was Tofurkey sausage, baked potato, sweet potato, and corn. It was very filling and yummy and I couldn’t finish my plate!

Thursday I had lunch with my boyfriend – Thai of course!

Dinner was veggie burgers. Nothing fancy.

Friday morning was a smoothie, lunch was a slow cooker sweet potato, white bean, and kale soup, and dinner was R and I out with my guy and his son at Yard House where I had the gardein orange “chicken”.

Saturday was an oatmeal and banana breakfast, and lunch was busting out the Ninja Foodi for a brown rice with roasted sweet potato and tofu meal. SO good. Plus a BAS (big ass salad). I made a vegan ranch dressing for the salad and for dipping veggies.

Dinner Saturday was out with my guy at the Grilled Cheese Bistro in Norfolk. I had a vegan caprese sammich that was epically delicious. I couldn’t finish it – but I really wanted to! Before dinner, we stopped for drinks at one of our fav eclectic spots downtown.

This morning was a breakfast salad at Whole Foods and then leftover soup for lunch. Snacked on some veggies with dip too.

FITNESS

Friday I did a YouTube spin class in my garage followed by some yoga.

Yesterday I went to the gym and did the weight circuit and then ran 3 miles.

Also – today marked a 14 day streak for daily meditation. I’m using Headspace and love it.

LIFE

Okay, Christmas evening was spent at my sisters with my mom as well. We exchanged gifts and had dinner. After taking my mom back to her place, I walked Kuma and then R and I packed since we were hitting the road early the next morning.

My seester made me vegan cookies!
Little bear and mini moose!
Christmas afternoon cocktails with my sister
My parents look so young!!!
My mom holding me as a baby

Gift from my sister. So funny (and it shouldn’t be – it’s actually tragic)
Jordy getting jealous of my sister snuggling Kuma

Silly text with my guy about Kuma hogging the bed

And indeed, on Wednesday we were on the road by 540am. A quick stop at Starbucks, and we ended up pushing straight through to home with brief stops for gas and to walk Kuma. Traffic was strange – part of I-80 was shut down due to a major accident, so we were routed into Michigan for a bit. All was fine until we got near DC, which sucked royally. We should’ve gotten home by 930, but it was almost 1130 by the time we rolled in. But – felt great to get home.

Kid slept the better part of the 16 hr drive.

Thursday early my guy came over. Excellent timing as he helped save Kuma’s life! She had gotten into some chocolate my son left on his floor (ugh), and thankfully my boyfriend knew how to make Kuma vomit! Hydrogen peroxide on a pancake. Worked like a charm too – poor bear. Once we knew she was fine, we had some wonderful quality time together.

Thursday afternoon R and I went to the SPCA where we promptly fell in love with a 1 year old cat named Mena! She was very outgoing and demanding face scratches. We knew she was meant for us. We filled out the application and went home. Sure enough, the next morning we got the call that we were approved! They had to validate I owned my home and that Kuma was up to date on her immunizations. So – off we went! We’ve renamed her Luna (a name my boyfriend picked out and R and I thought was perfect). Her and Kuma’s meeting was relatively uneventful. I think Kuma is happy to have a kitty again. She’s missed Ginny and Bumble.

Saturday was grocery shopping and errand running, and then an evening and overnight with my guy. We were originally planning to go to Christmastown in Williamsburg, but decided to stay close to home. By the end of the night, we had gone to 3 bars and 1 restaurant. Heard some local music, and then went back to his place. Awesome night all around.

One of our stops was at Grain. I wanted to see the life sized ginger bread house in the Hilton Main where Grain (it’s a rooftop bar) is. And we’ve always enjoyed going there for drinks.

This morning we went out for coffee, and then he headed home while I went to Whole Foods. Went home, ran out again for some errands, and have mostly been just relaxing (aka – bored out of my mind!).

All my kids are now home! M got home from NY yesterday, and A got home from Toronto today! Nice to have them all home again.

And Luna is having fun exploring! The first day she spent much of it under my bed. But she’s been going around a lot, but mostly seems to stay upstairs.

Her food and liter box are in the laundry room, which I separate with a baby gate to keep Kuma out

So it’s been a week of home sweet home for sure! Going back to my old “home” to visit family for the holidays. Then the joy of coming back home to Virginia, which is very much our home now. To bringing Luna to her new forever home. All sweet indeed.

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, still nothing great to report. Haven’t been overly contentious of spending, and that’s not good – that’s backtracking to old habits.

Home for the Holidays!

FOOD

Most of the time since the last post has been on the road and away from home, but not all!

PRT – or pre-road trip was all about cooking up what I already had in the house. I didn’t want to grocery shop when no one would be home.

One meal was a Gardein skillet thing. It wasn’t bad.

There was oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast. And since I had 2 blocks of tofu, pressed that and made jerk tofu, coconut rice, and tamari mushrooms.

Then it was road trip food, of which I’ve taken very little photographs. We packed a lot of snacks, so that was mostly what we ate. Also got a falafel at a rest stop in Chicago! That was fun.

There was one fun night at a restaurant in Youngstown, OH – which turns out to be where one of my coworkers is from! Salad and pasta primavera.

Oh, and my sister did homemade pizzas last night. Tried the So Delicious Mozzarella for the first time. It was good, though I think I still like Daiya better.

FITNESS

Nothing since I left on Friday – didn’t even pack workout clothes. Winter in Wisconsin – I’m not running outside!

But the few days before I went to the gym each day.

LIFE

So this holiday season is a bit unique. It’s my first one without all my kids with me since having them. My oldest is in Toronto celebrating with her soon to be husband’s family. My middle is in Albany meeting and celebrating with his girlfriend’s dad and family.

So, R and I came to my hometown in Wisconsin to spend the holiday with family. It started with a road trip Friday morning. An overnight in Ohio, and arrived late afternoon on Saturday.

Day 1 and all excited! Also, grandest Kumaventure yet!
The rest of the 2 days was largely R and Kuma sleeping

Elevators confused her…

Ah Chicago. Did not miss your traffic…

On Sunday was my big family party, which was awesome. First time all the cousins have been together in at least 10 years – mainly because I don’t often come home. My cousins all have kids now, and many are similar ages to R, so she had a totally great time – which made the whole trip worth it.

My cousin hosted the party at my sisters house. Fun tags on the wine!

R and her cousins goofing off in the game room

All the cousins’ kids! So fun to see them all together
My BIL wearing his white elephant gift – one I brought

The youngest cousin!
Me and most of my cousins. I really do miss them all.

Christmas Eve R and I and my niece and sister went to see Mary Poppins, which was really good. Then had pizzas.

Today is a quiet day. Will go over by my mom’s in a few hours, spend time there, then bring her back to my sisters for dinner and gift exchange. All told, a quite and nice trip home – though I miss my older two a lot and hope they’re having a great time.

Tomorrow we hit the road for our journey back to VA!

Last Thursday the kids and I actually exchanged our gifts. My youngest got me a Ninja Foodi! I’m SO excited. I used it that night to make the jerk tofu. Can’t wait to get home and play!

I’m also looking forward to NYE. That evening my boyfriend and his kids and me and mine are having our Christmas. I’m very much looking forward to that.

Otherwise – fun times!

End of day 1 travel selfie sent to my guy. Of course he had to send me one too!

Kuma and Jordy getting to know each other
Kuma, my sister, and I watching Bird Box on Netflix Saturday night.

Next 3 pics are a progression of my Aunt feeding Kuma….

My Year of Less

No comment 😏

Fiesta Time!

FOOD

Okay, it’s only been a few days, but one of those consisted of about 6 hours of cooking and I think I should get some type of award for that.

And the fact that I can write such a long sentence with very little punctuation and it’s still grammatically correct, but that’s a whole different story.

But, we shall go in order…

I had oatmeal Friday morning. No smoothie though (was out of a few ingredients).

I also started pre-cooking for the Saturday party by making my spicy green sauce and homemade seitan for the arroz non pollo.

Friday night a stop at one of our fav wine bars and then dinner out with my love having a strange lemon pasta thing that was odd, but tasty.

Saturday morning he, his young one, and I went to brunch. Portobello bagel with hummus, fruit, and a tropical mimosa followed.

Saturday we had a Latin dinner party! I made black bean and sweet potato tamales, 2 empanadas (one corn, one a TVP-based “beef” taco), cheezy arepas, slaw, and the arroz non pollo (a rice, veggie, tomato, and seitan dish). My guy made the plantains, which were killer.

Sunday naturally started off with a cleansing smoothie after the feasts of the night before. Lunch was leftovers. For dinner we went to cinema cafe. I had popcorn and fruit punch….

This morning I threw a batch of Spanish rice into the rice cooker while getting ready for work (ran out of the arroz non pollo). Threw a couple empanadas on it for my work lunch. Breakfast was a banana and coffee.

Dinner was mac no cheese!

FITNESS

Weather was odd, so I did get a run in, but also did some spinning on my bike in the garage. Never got to the gym…

LIFE

Probably one of the coolest things was having the downstairs powder room finished! They did an amazing job.

With school being done until Jan 7th, I’ve been reading for fun. Always my paranormal fun stuff, but also been reading a lot of nonfiction. Currently loving Where Good Ideas Come From and re-reading The Lean Startup and Blue Ocean Strategy.

Also upped my meditation game in the mornings, which has been nice.

Friday night I spent at my guy’s house. Saturday we went to breakfast, toured a local island we like, and then hit up a tienda before he took me home so I could get cooking for the masses!

Saturday was the Latin Fiesta dinner party! All told, there were 13 of us. A combination of my friends, my kids and their friends, my boyfriend, and his son. The living room was a major video game battle zone while the “adults” hung out in the dining room drinking and talking.

Extra props to my friend MM who brought and made these yummy peppermint drinks! Whipped vodka, peppermint vodka, coconut cream, and grenadine. YUM.

Oh, and MM and his wife RM brought Kuma the BEST gift. It’s a bucket of popcorn with 3 popcorn balls that come out. She loves it. She pulls out the popcorn balls and drops them at my feet one by one. I throw them, then the bucket (which she whips back and forth to “kill” while bringing it back). Then I stuff the popcorn balls back into the bucket, and we do this until she tires out. It’s so much fun.

M gave snuggles AND snacks. Kuma is in love…

Sunday ended up being super chill. I admittedly got freakishly bored, but persevered. The evening ended with going to see Mortal Engines with my youngest, my middle, and his girlfriend. Oldest couldn’t come because she started her new job as an ED Tech! In less than a year she finishes nursing school – so excited for her to move into a clinical role.

Today Kuma didn’t want to get up (neither did I really), but eventually she did, and then it was a Monday at the office.

Tonight has been cooking, cleaning, blogging, and reading!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Seriously no updates. I’m feeling pretty self-conscious about that honestly. But that’s the point of blogging – to have a written account and accountability, and I have literally failed since November. Due to holiday’s, I’m not sure it was entirely avoidable, but I’m absolutely positive I could’ve done better. And I will….

Elevator Hell and Other Shenanigans

FOOD

Lazy eats – that’s the theme so far this week.

Like these Instant Pot Brussels sprouts with a baker. Simple, healthy, tasty.

Smoothies and oatmeal a few days.

Gluten-free shell pasta with peas for breakfast one day.

My sister’s black bean soup recipe!

The Other C’s Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 cans black beans (NOT drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can veggie broth
  • 1 jar chunky salsa
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Sauté the onion and cumin in the oil until the onion is soft
  • Purée 2 cans of the beans with can of broth
  • Add the puréed mixture to the onion, add salsa and 3rd can of beans
  • Add lime juice
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes

It’s really my favorite black bean soup recipe, and SO good. I did some slight modifications because I’m lazy. I also try to minimize oil whenever possible, so I actually sautéed the onion in just a little bit of broth, then added the cumin, 2 cans of beans, and the broth – took the immersion blender to it, and then added the rest per the directions.

And a Mexican birthday dinner out which was veggie fajitas for me.

I made a cake (A decorated it) and homemade peppermint ice cream too. Was a really fun time and yummy eats.

And tonight is crockpot red beans and rice!

FITNESS

Had a lot of good workouts this week.

A couple runs at the gym on the dreadmill. A combo of music and having the TV with subtitle on made it semi-bearable. But it’s better than running in the wet and cold, so I’ll take it.

Also got that swim workout in! Honestly, it was awesome. And honestly – was tough too! But – time in the hot tub then sauna after was heavenly.

Also did some weight training since I was there. Nothing crazy, but it’s a start. Took advantage of the ActivTrax program at the Y, which makes it relatively foolproof – which I definitely need when it comes to weights.

LIFE

A whole year down, baby! That’s right – the first year of my doctorate was wrapped when I submitted my last paper Tuesday night. And that was 3 whole days early! To say I’m proud is an understatement. Been a wild year for sure. But – love it. Love learning and being challenged.

Kuma keeping me company as I wrote my last paper!

One relatively horrifying thing happened this week though. I got stuck in a %#$%^#$ elevator!! I had just finished a late lunch and was heading to my car to head to my evening meeting. My car was on the 5th floor of the parking garage, and the elevator got stuck somewhere between 3 and 4. My cell had no service and my first several attempts to raise help via the elevator emergency call button was fruitless. I did eventually get through, but it took way too long. As a bit of background – I’m wicked claustrophobic. So I found myself sitting on the floor of an unmoving elevator crying. After a few, I realized I had my ipad too, and tried that. Sure enough – there was 1 bar, so I could text. I texted my oldest and my boyfriend. He offered to come out, but that wouldn’t do any good. Was still sweet though.

It included this FB post.

Which my best friend saw and immediately texted me. I love her.

I was eventually freed. And I won’t lie – I was a mess by the time they got to me. The building employee actually wanted me to come to the lobby to fill out an incident report. BY GETTING IN AN ELEVATOR. I ever so politely told him to get bent. Gave my name and number and took the stairs up to my car. Fun. Times.

Other fun this week was getting my downstairs bathroom done. When we ripped up the floors, we found water damage – which was beyond our abilities. So I hired a contractor who had to rip everything out and replace the subfloor. They’re in there as I write this finishing up, and I’m SO excited. It’s the last thing – other than grabbing those rugs I want.

Sure my neighbors loved my toilet on the front lawn

Of course there was coffee and Kuma and other shenanigans, like a holiday party at my friend’s M&R’s house last night! No pics of that though. Hmmm…

Braved the crazy storm because she REALLY had to go!

Major uptick is spam calls. This was a first tho.

Not bad! Will be 1-3 books higher by years end tho since school is done

VB has these huge snow globes all over Town Center and I love them
So this happened.

This is a new misspelling for me

Having a little dinner party this Saturday, which I’m looking forward to. Latin themed with tamales, empanadas, arepas, and other fun eats!

MY YEAR OF LESS

I’ll be honest, not sure I have much to report here. No real expenditures now that Christmas shopping is over. Did go out to eat and am going to the movies with my kids on Sunday (bought tix already). That’s about it.

Taking Procrastination to a New Level (but still getting my stuff done!)

FOOD

Been a fun week in the kitchen. Breakfasts have been both smoothies and oatmeal most days, though I did have soup a few times too.

Thing is – I love smoothies. I love getting fruits and veggies (and often protein via some Vega or Garden of Life) first thing in the morning. But – when it’s cold, it’s less appealing. So by combining my smoothies with oatmeal, I’m finding that not only am I full for HOURS, I’m also more inclined to enjoy my smoothie since I also have a warm dish.

Speaking of soups….made three different ones this week! A broccoli “cheddar” that was amazing, a roasted mushroom that probably needed less onion (per my guy – he HATES onions) that I didn’t blend well enough, but for a non-onion hater, it was yummy, and a huge batch of lentil/veggie soup that we ate for days….and days and days.

Both the broccoli and mushroom soups came from his book:

The lentil was made up. It’s sort of a mix and match recipe…

  • 1 bag green lentils
  • 9 cups veggie broth
  • 3 tbs Tamari (gluten free soy sauce – could use soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos)
  • Veggies & spices of choice!
  • Slow cook on low 8 hours

I added corn, potatoes, onions, and carrots for veggies. And oregano and thyme for spices.

Hot soup and fresh bread ready when we all got home from work/school!

With a big dollop of Earth Balance

Added quinoa to the soup for breakfast yesterday

There was also a big kale salad. I LOVE a good kale salad, and it’s perfect to make in big batches because the heartiness of the kale means it keeps for several days without getting soggy. And since the death lettuce (aka, Romaine) is still out there, all the more reasons to stick to kale as my green of choice.

Kale, quinoa (I tend to make a big batch of some grain on Sunday’s to enjoy thru the week – this week it was quinoa), tomato, blueberries, cucumber, and onion. Topped with one of my fav tahini dressings from Oh She Glows. I often skip the oil and replace with water though.

So I got a Ninja Cooking System with Auto-IQ just over a year ago (right before Thanksgiving last year), and kind of forgot I had it. But, since having to move furniture around to get the floors done, I found it again in the bottom of the hutch. I realized I hardly use it, though it’s a really groovy thing. So I tried to use it for several things this week. I used it for the batch of quinoa (I typically do stovetop or in the rice cooker), but also played with the Auto-IQ for making the broccoli soup (came out perfectly!) and used it with the slow cooker feature for the lentil soup. Definitely going to keep that sucker out more often. It has 4 features – slow cooker, stove top, steamer, and baking. But also the IQ feature is cool. Been using the recipe book it comes with to get a better sense of how to use it for my needs, but it is fun.

R and I went for pizza one day between major errand running, and out for Thai once for dinner with my guy and his youngest.

Yes, I fall on the “pineapple belongs on pizza” camp. Come at me.

FITNESS

Runs and yoga. It’s been cold, and running in the cold (really, doing anything in the cold) isn’t something I dig. I’m thinking of adding in swimming a few days a week. I really, really miss swimming.

LIFE

Been a good week! Started off with grocery shopping – which is something I actually really enjoy.

Lot’s of school work and studying, which is nothing new, but still went well. My term ends next week Friday, and I’m trying to avoid the last minute push to get stuff done. I mean – I’m a master procrastinator, and certainly suffered from that this week, but I’m still ahead and determined to stay that way so I can enjoy the week and the break before my next term starts in January.

It was also the Feast of St. Nick’s! We celebrate by putting up our decorations on the night of the 5th, and everyone gets a small gift and treats on the morning of the 6th.

My oldest A loves to cook – especially bake – and has been looking for something to document her recipes.

R specifically asked for ear muffs.

And I got this for M! An old blogger friend has her own Etsy shop called Rap Mugs, and this was just perfect!

And of course Kuma got treats too!

The rest of the week was coffee, silly selfies between me, kids, and my guy, a fun (and cold) night out at a football game, getting the side table for the reading spot, and Kuma in her various forms of mostly being lazy.

Trying to get in by A and sleep…

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, November stats are in and they’re BAD. I got away from daily tracking, and it’s crazy how easy it is to spend a small fortune just going out to eat. Like $800 worth! Clearly blew it last month. This month may be tough due to holiday travels, but I seriously need to get my butt in gear. So I’m calling November a total fail….ugh.

And while I’m done Christmas shopping – I went over budget there too.

Comfort vs Survival

FOOD

Fairly typical eats. A couple smoothies and oatmeal largely in the mornings – especially cold ones.

Minor explosion in the microwave. Oops.

A few outings for Thai, Indian, and a veggie burger.

Vegan burger at Yard House – out with R before an event

Ezekiel bread, sunflower seed butter, banana, and agave

On Thursday a couple friends came over (long overdue hanging out), and I made a build your own taco bar with tofu/potato tacos, Venezuelan black beans, and a totally yummy slaw. The slaw was freaking amazing – A and I kept picking at it while waiting for people, and she eventually just ate a big bowl full.

Ate mine as a bowl topped with Daiya shreds, hot sauce, and pickled jalapeños

FITNESS

Went for 3 runs last week and did yoga twice. Ankle feels totally fine and my calf was mostly good too, yay!

Now, must avoid any other dumb injuries…..

LIFE

Speaking of injuries, R started physical therapy for her wrist this week. She hurt it about 6 weeks ago. No break, but the doc was calling it a sprain/soft tissue damage and she was in a splint for a month. She has to do her exercises at least 5 days per week, and she’ll go to physical therapy weekly for the next 6. Overall though, she’s healing nicely. Was worried for a bit there that she’d need a cast.

On Tuesday, R and I went to an Camping Basics class at REI! It was really interesting, and we learned a great deal. For example, the differences between men’s and women’s sleeping bags are both in where the zipper is, and in what the number ratings actually mean.

For example – I’m eyeing this beauty right here.

See the 20? That means it will be comfortable for me to sleep in when the weather is as cold as 20 degrees.

Now see this one? Same manufacturer. Same numeric rating.

The difference? This means that a man can survive in weather as cold as 20 degrees. He will NOT be comfortable. He simply won’t die.

Our camping instructor was very specific that we understand this. And then complained at how dumb it is to have a difference at all. Men would like to be comfortable too. And women care about not dying. So yes – the numbers on a sleeping bag are about comfort vs survival.

Wednesday I focused on getting the majority of my school work done. Everything was read and 2 papers written. I spent a bit of that time at Starbuck’s with R as she did school stuff too.

Thursday was my friends A and D and his wife P over for dinner, drinks, and laughs.

Friday was running around like crazy, and then Saturday morning it was off to Alexandria for a holiday celebration with my guy and my grad school friends. Our hostess A was perfect as always, and the event was a ton of fun. We did a white elephant gift exchange.

We stopped in Richmond on the way up for a store I wanted to hit up for one of our gifts, then got to Alexandria, stopped for a drink or two (I had a sangria + margarita that was pretty tasty!). Then to the hotel for a while, then dinner and off to the party!

Today was up early to hit the road. I spent some time suffering for the amount of fun I managed the night before (ugh), but after a nap and some caffeine and food, I felt fine enough to get the rest of my school work done.

Me just getting comfy on the drive home

So all told, awesome festive weekend full of friends, fun, and the best boyfriend/babysitter a girl could have 😂.

Okay, so this is a screen shot of part of a book I’m reading – all still part of the becoming a morning person gig (which honestly is going pretty well). It talks about people who are overwhelmed so they hate mornings, and then people who are underwhelmed. This really spoke to me and think that’s largely been me. Kind of goes back to a previous post about not having that 5 year plan worked out. Thankfully it’s coming together a little bit at a time.

MY YEAR OF LESS

I don’t have my November stats yet (Quicken doesn’t post pending charges, so it’ll be a few days), so that report will come in the next post.

I have all my Christmas shopping done with the exception of my guy’s youngest, but I know what I’m getting – just need to coordinate getting it.

I also paid off two credit cards at the end of the month, which is cool, and added several hundred to the emergency fund. All told – good progress!