Solo Date Night for the Win

FOOD

Went to a local Italian restaurant for a work dinner last Wednesday. I hadn’t been there in 14 years, but I remember them having the absolute best broccoli ever. So we got the table a side order of it (I had a yummy pasta dish), and everyone agreed – still the best broccoli!

Literally broccoli magic

I made a yummy Dijon “pasta” Alfredo with shirataki noodles and broccoli. The Alfredo is literally silken tofu, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. SO good.

A simple Beyond Meat Brat for a quick meal

Friday night I went on a solo date (more on that later), and stopped at a spot downtown for some wine and plantains

Snacks at the robotics competition included fresh berries

Yesterday I stopped for Thai. And – wait for it – I did NOT get Tofu Green Curry! Instead I got some coconut curry soup with tofu and some steamed tofu rolls (though I couldn’t finish them)

Today I had a work lunch – Greek salad, but since it was with a vendor, I didn’t take a picture 😂. For dinner I made a tofu stir fry with cubed tofu and Konjac noodles in coconut oil and finished with low-sodium soy sauce. Not fancy, but very tasty.

FITNESS

Runs rule the day! Also some spinning, HIIT, and I’m back at hot yoga! it’s been too long, and I’ve signed up for a challenge at my old studio that should have me there at least 3x per week for a month. My stress has been sky high – and anxiety too – which I never get – so that was telling me I needed to get my butt back on the mat. That said – I forgot how incredibly butt kicking it is!

LIFE

As usual, busy – but not freakishly so.

I forgot to mention in my last post two cool things. One was – went to my first Advisory Board meeting! In case you missed it, I’ve accepted a volunteer appointment on the Human Services Board in my city – we advise the city council on matters concerning youth, elderly, and special needs.

The other cool thing is I went to my very first alumni event from my undergrad. It was a wine and app event held at a store – local start up called the Hamilton Perkins Collection – from another ODU grad. They make sustainable bags, but do cool stuff like provide the bags for Coachella this year. I met the founder about 3 years ago in the local start-up community, so it is so cool to see them have a store. He also roped me into being on his podcast in 2 weeks 😳.

Last week was pretty chill actually. Friday I had no plans, my eldest was working, my middle had plans with his friends, and my youngest was on her way to a robotics event out of town. So – solo date night! First I got my nails done, and then I decided to go to a play, and it was so good! It’s called The Play That goes Wrong. It’s basically a play within a play, and it was absolutely hilarious. I splurged for the “Stage Left” lounge before hand for cocktails and apps. https://broadwaygoeswrong.com. The evening itself was wonderful. I had my Kindle to read while at the restaurant and the lounge, and just enjoyed the time alone. I foresee many more of these in my future as my school load lessens.

I got home much later than I’m used to – and was unamused that Kuma took my spot. She’s cute though, so there’s that at least.

Saturday morning I drove up to Richmond where R was having her robotics competition. I didn’t go Friday since there were no spectator events – it’s the kids in the pits putting their bots together. M came up too. They did well, though didn’t advance past the day and a half of qualification rounds. My girlfriend H came on Sunday, along with her husband and their two kids. It was a lot of fun and the kids all did great.

That’s our bot!

Saturday night M and I went out – first to Buskey’s for some cider and chess, and then to Fat Dragon for Chinese food. R stays with her team at a separate hotel.

I won one (because M as helping me) and he won one (because he stopped helping me), but it was a ton of fun!

The past few weeks have been stressful and leaving me feeling pretty anxious often. Personal stuff. The good news is some decisions have been made, and while sad, it is the right decision and the anxiety is gone now. Time will tell, but all I can do is move forward and enjoy life as it comes!

On an exciting front, I submitted my very final edits for my doctoral work (pre-research), and they have been approved! Going through final review now, and if that’s approved, off to IRB! With any luck, I’ll be starting my research by April, if not the last week in March!

So the conference I was supposed to go to in Orlando did end up getting canceled. Definitely bummed, but also was the right call. No one needs to be traveling during all this COVID-19 uncertainly. That said though – I’m working from home this week. Too much going on emotionally to feel productive in the office, and a very light meeting schedule since I was supposed to be away. Definitely getting a lot of good work done at home though.

Is There a Nurse in the House?!?

FOOD

I wish I had more exciting stuff to report. I’m dabbling with intermittent fasting – not fully committed, but have read some interesting research. To be honest, I used to be very anti IF and thought it was just a way people starved themselves. But, after doing research and the impact on insulin, insulin resistance (which I have), cortisol (which I have too much of), decided to give it a go. Overall not too terrible, but it means no fun breakfasts and smoothies to share!

I do find myself not being overly hungry. Don’t know if it’s IF (though apparently that’s common) or stress (also present!), but I’ve had a lot of salads with tofu and soups.

Actually a take on vegan butter chicken, but with tofu instead of my usual soy curls, and cauliflower rice. Came out SO yummy.

After A’s graduation (more on that below!), we all stopped at our normal Mexican spot – mainly because they have a vegan menu and really good margaritas! I didn’t eat much, and as usual, I forgot my leftovers.

There was Thai food too. Two good ones (one lunch with a co-worker who is also vegan!), and one by myself. One was really horrific – a place in VB I’d never been before and will never go again.

Blurry, but you know what it is! What it always is!
Seriously the worst. Ordered the veggie spring roll – they gave me chicken. Ordered steamed tofu (not a fan of fried), they brought fried and said that’s just how they do it. And the flavor was gross anyway.
From my fav place near my house

Had two pizzas too! The first was on Friday night when my guy and I went to our wine bar. Got the beet-za (beet juice in the crust and beets on the pizza) with a cashew cheese. Really tasty. Saturday we all met for brunch at the spot my guy’s son works as they just started carrying vegan pizza on a cauliflower crust. Good stuff and was also my dinner that night.

Peppercini, tomatoes, and pineapple

FITNESS

Well, I’ve mainly been getting my running game back on! I love the HIIT classes and need to figure out how to do both, but I’ve missed running and hadn’t done it regularly since late summer/early fall.

I am certainly motivated to run as my guy has started to! Even though he’s more than a foot taller than me and his long legs will trounce me, it’s still fun talking about training together. So, I’ve been running 3 mi per day, 6 days per week for the past week and a half. I am thinking of doing 2x per day workouts. HIIT and runs – just need to figure out which in the morning and which after work. While running at home in the morning would be easier, going to HIIT gives me time to drink and digest my coffee before working out! The downside it having to get ready for work at the gym.

LIFE

Well, life has been busy! Last week work was steady but not crazy. This week is crazy.

BUT – the highlight of the week was my baby girl graduating from nursing school!! I’m so incredibly proud of her – she busted her butt working and in school and it’s amazing to see her achieve her dreams.

For those not familiar, the ritual with nursing graduations is called a pinning ceremony.
A and her hubby J

After the pinning ceremony, we went for tacos and margaritas – at A’s request for months leading up to it!

Friday was busy at work, and then date night with my boyfriend. Wine night and then back to his place. Saturday I went home, worked out, then got cleaned up and the kids and I and J met up with my guy and his youngest, and one of A’s best friends for brunch.

Sunday was research and writing all day. Like 14 hours straight! BUT – all my edits are done and turned in. Hopefully there won’t be many more rounds of edits needed and I can head to IRB.

Today is Super Tuesday and we in Virginia vote our primaries. I got up, did that, went for a run, and then cleaned up. It was a work from home day with the exception of a networking meeting at Starbucks. I really wanted to try their new Golden Drink – which is a pineapple, ginger, turmeric, coconut milk concoction. So I did a mobile order because I needed to set up for a webex meeting just before my networking meeting and didn’t have a ton of time. I got there and the barista asked what I ordered – said it was mobile. She said it didn’t come through, asked me what it was and made me on. 10 seconds later another barista shouted my name and put my drink in the mobile order spot. So – ended up with 2 for the price of 1. And you know what – yummy! Also, my networking meeting was awesome. It was with a venture capital/emerging tech scout. Great conversation for sure, and who knows where that will lead!

Well this is a new one, but much appreciated! I’m getting tired of the texts from candidates, so a call is even worse

Otherwise, so far been a good week. Had a coffee meeting yesterday with a grad student interested in identifying pain points in healthcare that could potentially use a technology solution. Smart guy and I’m hooking him up with a couple coworkers.

Today was really nice, and the floofs were loving the open door and sunshine!

I’m supposed to be going to Orlando next week for a conference and some fun, but at this point not sure it’ll happen. With the COVID-19 outbreak and fears, many organizations are canceling travel for their people, and many events are being canceled. While this event hasn’t been canceled yet, it still is possible. And while my firm hasn’t canceled travel yet, that’s possible too. I’ll be bummed because I love Florida and that week is pretty special for a couple reasons, but also wouldn’t blame anyone if it did get canceled. I’ll just be out the $ already spent on Disney tix!

Whiskey Squares

FOOD

I certainly had a few good eats this past week. I made a big batch of my spicy tofu soup and had that spread out over a few days.

And while I forgot to take a picture, a Thai lunch date with my boyfriend.

I was in DC for a few days, which included one where my girlfriend LS and I went to Equinox. They have a lot of vegan options, and we split the caramelized cauliflower with pistachios, capers, and golden raisins, and for my main dish, I had the pan roasted Japanese eggplant. Everything was amazing!

Last night I stayed at my guys house and he made his homemade spaghetti. Smelling it cooking all day was really awesome, and tasted amazing. Mine with Gardein crumbles. I also had that for breakfast today.

FITNESS

Went to the gym Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before work for the HIIT program. Hate to call it a class since you can come in anytime – it’s a daily curated workout (sort of like a WOD) in a special area of the gym. It’s 15 stations, with 3 1/2 minutes spent at each station in a combo of working and resting.

I get this each Sunday to show what the week will look like. I like how every day varies
So I wear a heart rate monitor, and while I try to hit at least 500, I really prefer to get closer to 700. I often do when I workout in the evening, so I’m going to have to see if it’s just me adjusting to morning workouts or something else. But still, 578 isn’t bad!

LIFE

Been a busy and excellent week. Since our kids didn’t have school on Monday, I ended up spending Sunday night at my guys house. Dinner, a couple movies (Instant Family – which was really cute, and I can’t for the life of me remember the other one!). In the morning we went to our respective gyms and then to work!

About that gym fun. I WAY over packed, and the little locker could barely take it. I had my work clothes plus the ones I wore on Sunday to his house. Obviously I wore my workout clothes to the gym. I had towels, toiletries, my Dyson hair wrap, and my flat iron. Makeup. Etc. In the end, I decided to just put my hair up in a bun and head to the office.

Tuesday was the gym and then a jam packed meeting day. I packed better though and left my purse in the trunk of my car. Before I went to bed on Monday, I straightened my hair, so just needed some dry shampoo after my Tuesday morning workout and could then wear my hair down.

Wednesday was also the gym and then to the office. Not such a busy day, which meant a quick happy hour with my guy. We went to a wine spot (not our typical one) because it was closer to where he needed to be. Wine was not great, but the time was. Then I was off to a happy hour at a new co-working space downtown. Which meant a cooler full of beer (I went with Stella Artois). And then a decision to hit a local bar for some whiskey drinks. The bartender had fun making up stuff for us, and it was all yummy.

Thursday was NOT a gym morning. I went to work, realized I accidentally stole a credit card from my drinking buddy, had lunch with my guy, returned the card, and headed home to pick up my car rental.

My original plan was to drive to DC early Friday morning to get to my 10 am coffee meeting. However – it started snowing, and so I decided to go up to DC Thursday evening instead. In the end, I probably didn’t need to. I couldn’t navigated the roads, but around here you never know. Virginia Beach didn’t get much, but Suffolk got quite a bit. I didn’t want to risk it. So, I hit the road just after 3 and met up with my old doctoral cohort for a few cocktails (they have their residency this weekend – same one I had in Atlanta back in October).

Me and SJ

My coffee meeting got moved up to 9 in Herndon, and that was a great time as always. Another Darden alum I met last year, and we’ve been keeping in touch as careers, etc, develop.

I had lunch with my girlfriend LS. We’ve known each other for ages – met through my best friend AC. I hadn’t seen her in the past few trips I’ve made to DC, so definitely wanted to rectify that. She picked Equinox for lunch (fairly close to the White House), and then we walked over to a liquor store around the corner. I’ve been on the hunt for this Japanese Whisky called Nikka from the Barrel. Can’t buy it in VA anymore, but thought DC may have it. The place was amazing, and while they didn’t have what I wanted, he did give us a tasting and I picked one that was really close. I also got a bottle of Mezcal for my guy, and a nice tequila (NOT mezcal) for my house.

LS has also been wanting to be a whiskey fan, so we spent some time at lunch reading about bourbon, whiskey, whisky, and all the differences. What we finally came to the conclusion of is all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Sort of like every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square.

Then it was off to a happy hour to finally meet in person a woman I was helping with her start-up. She used to work for my company, but in the DC area. She worked for a hospital president I know well and is in a new role, and asked me to help her out. We’ve had calls and emails and LinkedIn messages, but finally got to meet in person. She’s lovely and I really liked meeting her. Unfortunately, her little one was sick, and not 15 minutes into our wine, her parents called and asked her to come get the baby. Oh well. It was still nice

That did give me time to get my hair done though! In my haste to pack to avoid snowmageddon, I forgot my hair dryer and any hair product. Hence my hair in a bun, once again. But I had a fairly important dinner coming up, and across from the wine spot in Clarendon was a blow out bar – so in I went and had my hair blown out. Overall excellent experience and well worth it.

Then it was off to Jaleo in Crystal City to meet my new academic advisor. She’s the one who is really getting me close to the finish line, and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to meet her in person. I felt it important to have at least a little bit of a relationship, and her being in DC for the residency was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I am SO glad I did too! She’s lovely. We spent 3 hours eating tapas, drinking sangria, and talking – almost none of it about school. We had similar up bringing, and after talking through other things, feel we may have divorced the same man 🤣. She’s also a world traveler (more so than me) and speaks French! We talked about start-up ideas we each have and how we can help each other with those endeavors after I graduate, and overall just had a wonderful time and connection. I’m grateful she’s in my corner as I head towards the end of this doctoral journey.

Since I saw the crew the night before, I didn’t feel like meeting them all at the bar again, so I headed to my hotel and to bed.

The next morning though, I went back to where the residency was in order to meet my mentee. I signed up through my university to be a mentor, and was partnered with a lovely woman who immigrated to the US from Africa a few years ago, and currently is in banking in Arizona. Similar to me, she’s been doubling and sometimes tripling up on classes to get done as quickly as possible. We speak, text, and email regularly, and it was wonderful to meet her for coffee before her classes started at 8. It also gave me time to say goodbye to my other friends and professors before hitting the road home!

I got to my boyfriend’s house around 1 (had to stop at the grocery for some dinner items!). We watched a couple episodes of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – eh. And then started on Hunters – which I really liked. Just before dinner, his brother came over, and we all ate and watched Guess Who, which I had never actually finished watching before – and it’s cute. Then it was time to watch basketball and go to bed.

This morning was coffee then going home to do wash, clean, grocery shop, and organize for the week ahead!

One of my fav mugs from my guy. Drinking tea while working on my research.
Kuma being very toasty and lazy on A’s electric blanket Thursday
My best friend’s husband sent us this. It’s true – I’m a bit hyper organized and LOVE project management.
The British crack me up. This headline would not fly in the US…
This is me.

Trials and Tribulations

FOOD

Honestly, not a whole lot to write home about the past two days. I had salads for lunch the past two days, but didn’t take pics. Yesterday’s was loaded with the Morningstar Farms fake chicken strips. Today’s was just veggies. No breakfast either day and no dinner yesterday. Boring, I know, but just haven’t had much appetite lately. I’m starting to wonder if it is stress related!

FITNESS

HIIT at my gym both yesterday and today. The class is called Zone4 – which is explained in the picture below. I do find myself in the 4th one more than any other, which I suppose is a good thing.

The workout varies each day, which is nice to alleviate boredom (this week ending is shown). Yesterday I burned 736 calories and today 610. Can’t complain about that!

LIFE

Well, it has only been two days, and a weekend at that. No plans other than focusing on my dissertation. I have a new academic advisor and finally got feedback from her late last week. Let’s just say she blew up more than I was anticipating – and I don’t necessarily agree with her on some of it, so now it’s about finding time to meet with her to review. Overall, I do appreciate what she has to say as it will make me a better writer and researcher – but she also seems to believe her volunteering at an AIDS facility in Chicago in the 1990’s gives her more insights into nonprofit healthcare than it actually does. Everything I’ve pushed back on so far she’s caved on. I don’t want to offend her (can’t afford to since she determines my readiness for IRB), but I’m getting frustrated with having to educate her. But on the flip side – I can assume other readers may not understand either, so I need to do a better job of being clear. With her, it’s a combination of lack of knowledge – which is fine – and bad/inaccurate/uninformed perspective – which isn’t. Alas, such are the trials and tribulations of a doctoral student 😉

So yesterday, I went to the gym, stopped at the library, made lunch, and spent the rest of the day reviewing her redlines on my writing and reconciling those I could. Then I had two vodka sodas and went to bed!

Today will be similar. Gym, lunch, and now that I’ve reconciled the redlines, doing actual research and writing. And laundry. And, I assume, some vodka sodas!

Hope your weekend was more fun than mine (though mine has been productive, and I can’t complain about that!). This coming week should be good – light on the meeting schedule and a quick overnight trip to DC for several meetings – including one with my academic advisor!

Horrible shot, I know, but the floofs were really enjoying the fireplace last night

I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To Good…

FOOD

Wednesday dinner was at my boyfriend’s house. He grilled me some delicious Beyond Meat brats! Ate mine with kraut and mustard and a side of potatoes and a salad.

Thursday we met up for lunch – Thai Green Tofu Curry which also became my dinner.

Friday I had lunch at PF Chang’s with IBM. I didn’t take a picture (that’d look strange), but had the steamed Buddha’s Feast, which is tofu, broccoli, asparagus, and carrots.

I haven’t been having breakfast lately. Sometimes a smoothie or some fruit if I’m hungry, but lately I really haven’t been overly hungry. I’m sure it’s just a phase 🤣

FITNESS

HIIT classes, which I totally love. They’ve added a kickboxing station, which is probably my very favorite intense exercise if I had to pick one.

Also did some spin at home. Still need yoga…

LIFE

Meetings on Wednesday and then over to the guys house for some chill time and dinner.

While in my office Wednesday, I get a text from R asking me a question. She’s a junior in HS and has an Econ class. Her teacher isn’t always right – or not right enough – in some of the things he says, so she often asks me as a sort of fact check. I mean come ON, he teaches the Laffer Curve like it’s a legit thing! Anyway….

I feel like I should take over the class sometimes…

So Thursday I did a thing…

To frame it a bit – I’ve always been interested in volunteering, and I have done some minor things here and there (like a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, etc), but nothing very specific. More the past few years, I’ve wanted to focus in my community. So, an opportunity came up and I accepted a nomination to sit on the Human Services Advisory Board in my city! The role of the board is to draft policies and programs that address the most vulnerable – children, those with special needs, and the aging populations – and then advice the city council.

So Thursday morning was my swearing in ceremony. I’m really excited to roll my sleeves up and get busy. Right now, it’s about familiarizing myself with the various laws and programs and doing the necessary training. Then diving into our next board meeting in early March. I sincerely hope that I can do good things for my community.

And to celebrate – I went to a movie! Saw Bad Boys For Life (loved it). Got there early and enjoyed an orange crush and some reading.

Then I went home and eventually took Kuma to get R from robotics.

Today was work and then cocktails with my guy before heading home.

And while earlier in the week was Oreogate. Mid week was Doritogate! Seriously – I got the monster Sam’s Club sized bags on Saturday. Wednesday – gone….no one has fessed up to it, though I’m pretty sure I know the culprit. And it isn’t the dog.

Oreogate

FOOD

Oddly, not many food pics.

Before my flight on Monday, my guy and I went out to lunch at a new to us place. Burger and bourbon joint, but has the Beyond Burger. Was a little hole in the wall near the oceanfront area. Nice to try, but not a place we’re likely to go again. Food was okay, but not awesome. Didn’t even get a pic.

While in Chicago, the catering company did their best, and breakfast was yummy. Lunch was never vegan, but I had two great dinners – one Italian with the work crew and one Italian with my sister and her fam!

Last Friday was a ramen lunch date with my guy.

Saturday afternoon was Pho and dinner was Chinese. My guys fav Chinese restaurant now has a dedicated vegan menu, and I had the pineapple tofu teriyaki and it was amazing! That was also my dinner on Sunday.

Sunday was a family brunch, and I had my sorbet mimosas (with coconut rum of course!) and the hummus lettuce wraps.

Monday I stopped for Thai and got fresh rolls and Tom Kha Tofu soup before a meeting. No dinner.

Lunch today was edamame and veg sushi (broccoli and sweet potato).

FITNESS

Mostly runs, but also the gym yesterday and today for my HIIT class. Yesterday was very intense and I loved it. HR monitor says just over 700 calories burned in an hour. Yes please! Today I was pretty exhausted (only 2 hrs of sleep last night), so I was NOT feeling it. Did it anyway though, so there’s that.

LIFE

Another good and busy week. Chicago meetings were great. They really are my fav group of people. Old Fashions and Manhattans were had!

Wednesday the meetings ended at 1pm, and I went up to Milwaukee to first visit my mom and then see my sister on her 50th birthday! It was great to see them all. It was snowing by the time I got back to my hotel in Chicago, which caused some flight delays on Thursday morning, but nothing major. Still home in plenty of time.

Thursday afternoon I dropped off a library book and picked up R. We were supposed to have a private tour of a new robotics facility in our area – but there were wicked storms and we had to reschedule. So we stopped at Moe’s. Main power was out, but they still had emergency power, so it was kinda fun. She was still hungry after eating, so she went back through the line. Apparently got chatting with people and was offered a job. So – my 16 y/o now has a job and starts next Sunday!

On Friday, I’m back in the office, and this thread happens with my children. See – Monday before my afternoon flight, I went to the grocery store to ensure plenty of food and lunch snacks….Oreogate ensued.

Saturday morning R had a hair appt. I sat in the Starbucks next door with a soy latte and a book!

Saturday evening was at my guys house. We normally stay in on Saturday’s, but the boys had plans, so we went out for Chinese. And then watched the single most intense basketball game I have ever seen (Duke vs UNC). Sunday was fam brunch where, among other things, my eldest daughter and my boyfriend did a breakfast shot. Then I bought many, many Oreos.

Yesterday morning R had a Dr’s appt and then I had meetings at a coffee shop in Norfolk that an acquaintance of mine owns. It was 1pm, so tea for me. But it was a great time. Then gym, then home.

Today I was in the office really early because I had to leave early for a derm appt to make sure the skin cancer scar is healing well – and it is. Did provide an opportunity for coffee with the guy though, so that was nice.

Or any clinical job. I was crazy (ED) and then dead people…