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!

Death to Carpet!!

FOOD

Damn, a week and a half flies by! Especially when you have about 5 days without a kitchen!

But oh no, there was no starving. There was lots and lots (and lots) of curry!

We also held our typical Taco Tuesday! My guy and his two sons came over, and it was all about the tacos and a movie! I used our garden tomatoes and jalapenos, cilantro, and a salsa spice blend from Penzy’s for some homemade onion-free salsa (my guy hates onions), and also whipped up Terry Hope Romero’s Green Aji Sauce – which is probably one of my favorite condiments ever.

Otherwise it was salads, pizza, subway, and Moe’s.

FITNESS

A couple runs, some yoga, and a whole hell of a lot of home improvement fun. I’m assuming ripping up flooring and staples for days counts. According to my Apple Watch it sure the hell did!

LIFE

All about dem floors! I mean, other life related things happened (work, school, some community networking), but really….FLOORS.

So a bit of a background. I hate carpet. Always have. Having pretty horrific seasonal allergies and just the fact that it’s ugly, I’ve always preferred not having carpet (except maybe bedrooms).

My ex and I bought our house in Jan 2015, and the entire upstairs is carpet (one big one, as it happens), and the downstairs living room, formal dining room, and study all had carpet. Tan in one room, and blue (yes…pale blue) in the other two. I’ve always despised it. But – he liked carpet, and since we put a ton of money into ripping off hideous wallpaper and painting the house, it wasn’t a battle I was going to fight.

But then divorce happened, I kept the house, and I CAN DO WHAT I WANT. Step one was landscaping (I hated the rocks and now the rocks are buh bye). Now…FLOORS!

Phase 1 was this past long weekend where my guy and his youngest son, me and my youngest daughter did the lion’s share of the work. My good bud M came by for quite a few hours on Saturday to lend his much-needed expertise. Even A got on her hands and knees to rip up staples in the kitchen before going to sleep before working nights.

10-15 hour days, and we managed to get half the downstairs finished, and you know what – it was hell, it was hard, but it’s freaking beautiful! There was some pretty severe water damage by my back door, and that took a full day to repair. And the ripping up of the linoleum (kitchen, eat-in kitchen) took a ton of time. There were literally staples every 1/2-2 inches spaced out over it – which took a long time to rip up. I think whomever put these floors in when the house was built in 2008 were paid by the staple. Ugh.

On a less than fun note I did have a severe allergic reaction. Most likely the wood underlayment was primed with a latex-based primer before the linoleum was put down – and I’m freakishly allergic to latex. So…the sheets of hives all over my torso were just a blast, let me tell ya. It also took me 2 days to clean all that damned dust up. But you know what? Worth it!

And of course Kuma was our foreman and mascot, keeping us on track and motivated!

So behold…FLOORS!!!

Before/During…

Half the house now….

There was severe exhaustion….

Well, with Kuma, she’s always tired…but I did catch the wee one passed out on her bedroom floor one night. Poor kid hadn’t even made it to her bed!

And as inviting as the pool looked, there was just no time!

But – I couldn’t be happier with how it looks. There were a lot of curve balls with oddly shaped areas that needed to have the boards cut to, plus the water damage, so the thought is, other than the bathroom, the rest of the downstairs should be a bit better. That’s our theory anyway!

Phase 2 will commence later in the month. Heading out on vacation on Friday and then R is going to visit her dad in CA. Figure another 4 days of work and the whole project will be done and I can have a death to carpet dinner party!

Music City Fun!

FOOD

Smoothies when I was home, of course. Also ate that cucumber salad from the shredded cucs from the weekend before. It had some serious kick to it with the red pepper flakes marinating in the salad overnight.

My guy and his oldest came over for lasagna night! Tofu ricotta, fresh garden basil and oregano, and fresh garden tomatoes. I wanted to make a bechamel sauce (rather than use fake cheese), but my Nutritional Yeast shipment hadn’t arrived and I used the last of it for the ricotta. So I did use a little Daiya mozz shreds in the end. Totally yummy. Served with a build-your-own salad bar (we all like different toppings) and a loaf of fresh bread (I love making homemade bread – house always smells so yummy!).

Then it was off to Nashville! Thursday A and I went to a veg place called Wild Cow. It was SO good. We had the vegan spinach/artichoke dip, and I had a tempeh Ruben with mashed sweet potatoes.

Friday afternoon was Thai! According to A, New Orleans is lacking in the Thai food department, so that was definitely on the agenda.

Friday we stopped for a drink before meeting up with A’s high school friends for dinner, where I had a really yummy veggie fajita.

Saturday we went for drinks and dinner with her brother before heading to the concert. I had a raw squash salad that was amazing. Watermelon sorbet too – which was only ok.

This morning we went to First Watch for breakfast where I had their Powerbowl – coconut milk chia seed pudding topped with fresh berries, blackberry preserves, and granola with a side of artisan toast.

FITNESS

Early in the week was runs and spins. None since I got to Nashville – except a ton of dancing at the show!

LIFE

Quite a busy week! My guy and his son, me and R and Kuma hit up Home Depot Tuesday evening to pick up tools for the upcoming flooring project. Then it was dinner for 6 at my house! Lots of fun and the kids all watched a movie too.

Wednesday was a ton of meetings and then a late wine meeting with a venture capitalist who’s backing a software company I’m looking at. Then it was home to pack.

Thursday I had an early flight to Nashville. I landed around 10 and headed to a Starbucks to await A, who was driving up from NOLA. Was perfect because I got all my school stuff done.

We went to her brothers, went to grab food, and then had a chill night of hanging out and catching up over a bottle of wine for us and some bourbon for JJ!

Friday was relatively low key too. I was up several hours early, so did more school stuff. Then A and I went for coffee and pedicures. She showed me around parts of Nashville – which is a beautiful city.

Dinner was with a group of A’s friends from High School. One I had met before in Virginia Beach. All really sweet ladies, and then we went back to H’s house to hangout for a bit.

Saturday was literally a day of drinking and music and it was amazing. We stopped at one quick place (where I had a cider and a sour beer) before going to the really famous area where all the music stuff is. We spent the afternoon at a place called Tootsie’s drinking beer and listening to bands. People can just walk in and play and it was so cool. I really loved this 15 year old girl who got up and sang House of the Rising Sun. Made me totally miss my Dad – he’d have loved it.

Also got a wicked cool rendition of The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

And then – off to the main event! The entire reason we came here – other than to see each other of course. Sleigh Bells, the Pixies, and Weezer show! It was totally amazing. We had pit tickets so we were right up at the stage. It was just shy of 4 hours of music and dancing.

We crashed hard when we got back and today has been low key. Breakfast and will be leaving for the airport soon to come home! I miss my kids and my pups and my guy and I’m ready to sleep in my bed! Will be sad to say goodbye to A since I don’t know when I’ll see her again, but all told, this was an amazing trip!

Concert and a Kitchen Marathon

FOOD

Well hell, where to start??

Sunday was an epic kitchen day. It started with my normal routine of meal planning, which includes generating a grocery list, shopping, and then coming home to prep. I do want to interject here for a second that I spent a grand total of $45 on groceries for my family of 4 for an entire week! $38 at Lidl (that place is amazing!) and $7 at Harris Teeter for the two things Lidl didn’t carry. Anyhoo, I share because it’s pretty damned cool.

So I sometimes do a “little” batch cooking or prep on Sunday’s. Usually in the form of prepping fruits and veggies to make them easy to grab and eat, or maybe a soup, a salad dressing, and occasionally a dessert (I dislike baking, so it’s rare. Besides, I have a daughter who loves to bake, so why take that pleasure from her?!?).

I had a 6-pack of bell peppers from the week before and some leftover quinoa too, so I figured that was perfect to make some stuffed bell peppers in the slow cooker!

It was a simple dish – stir fry onions, garlic, and the diced bell pepper caps, Beyond Meat crumbles, tomato sauce, quinoa, red wine, and fresh basil and oregano from the garden. Slow cook on low for 4 hours, and there are 6 meals!

Then, using a Happy Herbivore recipe, made a quinoa, kale, and cucumber salad with a tahini-mint dressing. Kale and mint from our garden, the cuc was a gift from another garden. 2 more meals for the week!

And I needed to make some homemade yogurt. 15 hrs in the incubator because I love it tart, and then overnight in the fridge. I will say, I’m not sure I’m going to love this batch. Harris Teeter only had their brand of soy milk, and I usually use Westsoy or Eden. But I figured it’s got to be basically the same. When it finished this morning, it looked fairly separated, so my guess is it’s NOT the same. I’ll check it in the morning – see if it’s at least good for cooking with if not eating

The basil was really going wild so I made a batch of low-oil vegan and nut-free pesto. I used This recipe. Skipped the sunflower seeds, and just rolled with the rest. Made two jars, one of which I gave to my guy.

I was gifted several cucumbers, so I busted out the Salad Shooter and shredded them up. They’re in a rice vinegar, crushed red pepper, and raw sugar marinade.

And of course I needed a dressing! The herb garden is exploding, so I wanted to make something fun. I made this creamy herb dressing, but subbed a homemade tofu sour cream. Seriously, it’s amazing.

And then – the beets. One of my favs – OJ, raw sugar, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard in the Instant Pot.

And finally, I baked a cake. An orange/blueberry/lemon bundt cake.

So yeah. Yesterday was busy! While I was cooking, my lunch was herbed tofu on toasted Ezekiel bread with Daiya cream cheeze and freshly picked tomato from the garden!

Today – a smoothie, falafel wrap, lemon sorbet, and one of the bell peppers. And a slice of cake 🙂

FITNESS

Nothing Saturday – was running around like crazy after getting home from New York. Sunday I went for a run and this morning I did spinning.

LIFE

Saturday I got home, unpacked, showered, and got a quick manicure before heading out. A bunch of us went to see Dave Matthew’s. 14 of us with lawn seats. Can’t complain – it was free and honestly a good show. Thing is…I’m a rebel. My guy and I got separated from the group as we left the limo bus and got to the entrance. And as we were walking, noticed that the back row of covered seats was empty. So – when no one was looking, we hopped the rail and got to enjoy the show in seats – and out of the rain! Not everyone was thrilled, but alas.

After the show it was a limo back to Town Center and a quick drink before Ubering home.

Sunday was the cooking marathon, laundry, and studying.

Today was work and then I bought my new floors! If all goes well, they should be installed the weekend of Aug 3rd. DEATH TO CARPET.

All in all, a great weekend!

And Kuma – who is still not on board with this whole #becomingamorningperson thing. And because I forgot my journal when I went to NY – even though I stuck with the 530 am wake-up time – I decided to not fast-forward in the journal, so technically, Hell Week isn’t over yet. Soon. But not yet.

She can’t even….

Tomato-Gate (and some really Kinky Boots)

FOOD

I was home for the first part of the week, and did get to make a few dishes. My favorite was a quinoa salad with Beyond Meat chickn, fresh mint, and tomatoes from our garden!

And speaking of tomatoes….

We have several tomato plants from cherries to normal sized ones. They’re ripening quickly, and A picks them every day when she gets home from classes.

Well, on Sunday I was busy cleaning and studying, and cooking, and decided that the fresh tomatoes were a perfect snack. So I took the jar of cherry tomatoes out by the pool and ate them while I studied. A was displeased and our own little Tomato-Gate ensued.

I also had smoothies, green curry (shocker), salads, veggie dumplings, and a few other awesome eats.

FITNESS

Well, I got two runs in this week and some yoga at home. But, I made the mistake of doing a workout video – which was awesome. Until the next day where I could barely walk, and forget sitting and standing! Felt like I did 1000 squats!

Then I hit the road and have walked around Manhattan. Heading home today and looking forward to more runs and spin!

LIFE

Well, week one of #becomingamorningperson is done. It was largely ok. The past two days in NYC meant about 4-5 hrs of sleep each night so I’m exhausted, but otherwise it’s going fine. I am getting a lot more done in the mornings, and I can’t complain about that. It’s still not fun, but I don’t play snooze tag and do get rolling at 530 when my alarm goes off.

Kuma, however, is still not a fan.

Tuesday night went to dinner again with my guys family. Everyone but A because she was sleeping before working nights.

Wednesday was out on the water and having apps and cocktails at Waterside with friends. J is moving to MD in a couple weeks, so this was our last evening out. It was a perfect night too.

Then Thursday it was off to NYC. I arrived around 6pm and then met my friend for a late dinner and wine.

Friday was a day full of meetings – though very interesting. I went back to my room, got all my school work for the week done, and then met up with N for a cocktail and then to see Kinky Boots on Broadway! It was by far my favorite. I love the movie, and was so excited when the show came out. We stopped for a quick drink after the show, and then back to the hotel!

For now, I’m getting ready to board my flight home! Then it’s seeing the kids and then off to a concert!

Welcome to Hell Week

FOOD

I finally got a curry this week! Whew. I had lunch plans that fell through, so off I went to one of my fav Thai restaurants to eat and read.

There have also been smoothies (of course), cream cheeze/tomato/sprouted bread (toasted) half sammiches – with fresh from the garden tomatoes!, and veggie pho too.

One night R and I went out with my boyfriend and his kids. Mexican. YUM.

I also grilled one night and made my favorite spicy tofu soup. This one is tofu, onion, canned tomatoes, garlic, sriracha, cauliflower rice, and green beans – all simmered in vegetable broth.

Also was looking for something a bit different, and whipped up a chickn salad using Beyond Meat fake chicken strips, onion, celery, and Dijon mustard – served on half a pita with more fresh sliced tomatoes. Think I’ll be making this one again!

But. There’s more. Oh yes. TACO FEST. My guy and I went – and we were hungry. I’m happy to say there was a decent enough selection of vegan options that I was happy. Sad to say that I couldn’t eat more than 3, though I tried.

There was an Asian inspired tofu taco with sesame sauce. Indian inspired tacos with cauliflower and chickpeas, and a nacho dish with lentils and tons of toppings, including vegan cheese and a spicy cream sauce. And of course margaritas!

All in all, we had a nice time. Down side was they sold too many tickets and lines were crazy deep – like 60+ people per food truck! And only one place for margaritas. While it was open 1-7, we left around 230 or so – when it got stupid busy. We were full anyway, so who cares. Headed across the street to Grain for a drink, and then back to my house. Beer flight for me, cider for him.

FITNESS

So remember how I recently lamented that I lost my running mojo? Well – perhaps just giving voice to it changed the game. Or maybe it was getting new kicks this week (way overdue – was getting blisters from my last pair!).

Anywho…had several runs the past few days as well as a spin session (during the finale of Rizzoli and Isles), and made use of the home gym weight equipment too.

LIFE

So, I’ve decided to work on becoming a morning person. To orient you to my feelings about mornings – I hate them. I think that people who get up at 5 or 530 are nuts, and that the only good reason to be up at that hour is if you’d been up all night. Anything before 630, and I just may get a little violent.

And you know what – this has worked for me for 44 years. When I worked nights at the hospital – it was perfect! Off work at 7, at the third shifter happy hour by 730, and bed by 10! When I was married, I would just run and stuff in the evenings. Easy peasy, and mornings could remain the domain of the insane.

Then I started seeing my guy. And he’s a very early morning person. And we certainly don’t live together or anything, but we have our fair share of overnights, and while I’d be happy to stay snuggled in bed until 830, he just can’t. And to be fair, my evenings have become busier with going out and studying, and so I figure now is a good time to join the ranks of the deranged and become a morning person. Theoretically, I like the idea of getting my workout done, being caught up on work and school stuff, etc.

So. Here I go. First, I did some research in how one decides to become a morning person. Turns out – there’s a LOT of info on it. After reading a lot, I actually decided on a journal/workbook thingy called The Morning Sidekick. It’s a 66 day program geared towards making you want to get your ass out of bed at a ridiculous hour.

It’s broken into three phases. Phase 1. Hell week. The journal says the first two days are the hardest, so I started it Friday night/Saturday morning so I could have the two craptastic days on the weekend. And you know what? They WERE craptastic. But I dragged my ass out of bed anyway. I suck at sleeping, so trying to force myself to fall asleep by 10 is comical. So, for instance, last night I finally fell asleep around 1230. Got up at 530 anyway. Coffee, then 2 workouts, shower, laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and started school. All before 830. It was WILD. I’m not in love with it yet, but will keep giving it a try!

Kuma, on the other hand, clearly didn’t sign up for this whole “morning thing”. And this was her – and she didn’t move until I was back from my run around 7.

Other fun things this week include getting all my school stuff done more than a day early so I could start working ahead. Morning fun has nothing to do with it – was just the first week of this term and it was a bit light.

I picked out my new floors! Stopping tomorrow after work to place the order for delivery. The floor laying party is scheduled for the weekend of Aug 4th. I’m SO excited!

Also took R to see Jurassic World today. We both really enjoyed it.

The garden is doing great! A is super proud of it. It’s also helping keep her sane between working full time and full time nursing school. And I like eating everything! I swear, even though we’re growing ten tons of tomatoes, they rarely last with me around.

Other than that, chilling out, cooking, cleaning, and spending time with the ones I love!