You Light Up My Life. And My Bedroom.

FOOD

Been a busy 10 days with a combo of home eats and travel eats.

First – I made a chipotle tex-mex risotto that was killer. Ate it for days!

My boy’s 22nd bday dinner was at his fav sushi/Japanese restaurant and I left SO stuffed. Edamame, cucumber salad, tofu, and sweet potato rolls. YUM.

I flew up to Chicago on Sunday and drove up to the Milwaukee area to see my mom and sister. My mom and I went to a lovely Italian place in Mequon. We shared some bruschetta and I had a simple spicy pasta dish.

Monday morning I had a tofu chilaquiles for breakfast that was amazing. At the conference they had fruit and chia pudding for snacks. Loved it.

Tuesday I had some coffee and a banana in my room for breakfast. I don’t recall lunch – probably a salad at the conference – and dinner I went for Italian again!

Of course there was a tofu green curry dish, and last night was also just a veggie salad on toasted Ezekiel bread with Daiya cream cheese.

No pics, but this morning was a smoothie for breakfast, no lunch, and some creamy tofu-mushroom stroganoff for dinner.

FITNESS

LOTS of runs this past week. Sunday and Wednesday weather in Chicago was wet and cold, but Monday and Tuesday were beautiful. So Monday and Tuesday were runs outside and Wednesday morning was the gym treadmill.

Thursday I went for a run outside at home, which was wonderful – perfect weather.

Think I’m going to focus on yoga this coming week though. My lower back has been sore since late last week. I thought it was sleeping funny or maybe from kickboxing, but it’s a bit worse, so some good yoga is in order!

LIFE

Well – it’s been busy! Shocker, I know. R had her end of year orchestra banquet on Thursday, which was really lovely.

Friday was my fairly normal evening with my guy. Out for a bit and then stay at his place.

Saturday was M’s 22nd birthday! I made a cake as usual (lemon with vanilla “buttercream” frosting) and 14 of us went out for dinner! All you can eat sushi is just insane, but very tasty. Everyone had a great time. It included cake eaten with chopsticks.

Sunday I was up early and on a morning flight to Chicago. Picked up my mom, had lunch, took her home, then went to my sister’s for a bit, which is always awesome. My niece is heading to Germany this weekend for 3 weeks on a school trip – SO excited for her. 15 is a great age to start exploring the world. Well – any age really, but I’m still really stoked for her.

Traffic sucked SO badly heading back to Chicago. Oh well.

The conference was really great – especially the first day. That evening was a reception at the CEO’s house, which was very lovely. Not much food wise for me (though he’s a vegetarian – only vegan eat was a fresh spring roll).

I did watch the US Women’s World Cup opener against Thailand. I started to feel pretty badly for the Thai players. 13-0 is pretty humiliating.

I skipped the reindeer games Tuesday night. I like being around people – but I also really like being alone. After a couple days of intense interaction, I decided some me time was needed. It started with a much needed pedicure, then a rooftop bar and a book, then dinner, a walk through a park on the lake, and then bed.

I came home Wednesday, but due to weather, my flight was delayed. Though I met a really amazing woman at the wine bar at O’Hare. Her flight to Denver was also delayed so we spent hours chatting.

It was very cute, but my guy actually stayed awake texting me the entire time (yay for free in-flight texting!). When I landed safely home, he signed off and went to bed. Well, as we usually do – when I got home I sent him a quick text to let him know I made it safely. Especially since I was going to sleep in the next day. He’d worry, and I’d hate that.

A couple minutes later, I get this…. 🤣🤣

Apparently my text lit up his phone – and his room. I mean, he was awake, but still. Freaking hilarious.

Thursday was a 1/2 day for me working from home. My original plan was to head to DC in the afternoon for an event today and then come home today. But I had too much to do, so I scrapped that plan and stayed home.

On the fun front – I’m done with school for another term! My research topic has been approved! So – I have a couple weeks off, but lots I plan to do in terms of my research and getting organized. I’m switching citation software (from Refworks to Endnote), and need to do some cleaning up of my citations. My next term’s focus is on the literature review (about 30 pages and a min of 85 sources – but I already have 60, so that’s a great start) and a course on research methodology as I put together my approach for IRB approval. Guess I actually need to do this now, huh? ☺️

Today R when to her HS graduation to cheer on some friends from robotics and orchestra who are graduating. She’s now officially a junior 😳

Otherwise today was some work related research on pricing models (I’m a fan of vested pricing model approach personally). Then it was grocery shopping, cleaning, yard work, cooking, and a little poolside reading.

And other random pics for your entertainment!

My chilling at Borjo’s coffee doing my pricing model research waiting on R while she was at graduation

Our fav wine bar has several of these horrible prints in full size. Cracked me up seeing a shop of them at O’Hare

This is me. I’m directionally challenged. Badly.

Boredom Be Gone!

FOOD

I honestly have very little to say here! It’s been a week of fend for yourself kind of meals, including leftovers. That means soups, sammiches, beans and rice, and pasta dishes.

Had a 10am meeting in Norfolk, so stopped at Yorgos for one of my fav bfasts!

Gf shells, peas, chickpeas tossed in Earth Balance and pepper

I did make tempeh and cauliflower buffalo bites in the foodie tho, using the air crisp function! Served with the last of the vegan ranch I made last week.

FITNESS

A couple runs and some bedroom yoga.

Started getting sick on Friday, so the weekend was not an overly active one.

LIFE

Vacation is over! Both work and school started back up, and I for one am not sad about that. No more boredom! I was getting very stir crazy. Went back to work last Wednesday, and classes started on Friday. Well, technically it was today, but the materials were available on Friday, so that meant I started then too.

I didn’t do a 530 wake up most days when I was on vacation. I was usually up by 6 most days, and 7-730 on the days I wasn’t feeling well. Figure sleep is more important for healing than anything.

Wednesday I went to Back Bay Farmhouse Brewery with my girlfriend LC. Was awesome to catch up, and the beers were pretty yummy. Much better than the ciders – only other time I was there was with my guy, and neither of us liked the ciders. Glad to know their beer is better. It’s a really cute place too. One of the beers I had was figs grown on their property that was then soaked in barley wine and then brewed into beer. Fun!

I was a little early, so was working until LC got there.

Friday night was supposed to be a fun night out with my guy and staying there. I tried, I really did. But I couldn’t be in denial anymore when I realized I actually felt like hell. Sore throat, body aches, ear ache, and fever. So – I went home and pouted.

Saturday one of my girlfriends was supposed to come over, but I had to cancel. Both me and R were sick.

Sunday I was actually feeling pretty well. Woke with a minor sore throat, but my appetite started coming back. So, it was off to Richmond with my boyfriend. One of my really awesome friends NS (from Nairobi) has gone vegan for 2019! Something I want to send him I can either order and pay insane shipping fees, or go to Richmond and buy it. Plus, we really love Richmond, so that was an easy choice.

We stopped first in Cary Town for spices and coffee, then to the store for NS’s surprise (he reads this, so I can’t tell you what it is….yet!). We then went to Buskey’s, which never ever is a bad idea. Had a totally amazing time (as always) and then went home. Stopped at Subway on the way, and I stayed at his place for the night. Good times.

FYI, Tart Cherry, Earl Grey Lemon Ginger, Blue Hedgehog, Heritage Blend, and (not shown but they had in the back so we got it anyway) jalapeño lime and grape expectations are all amazing.

On the Luna front, she’s assimilating quite nicely. She and Kuma actually get along great. They tend to sleep near each other and play often. Luna chases Kuma just as much as Kumabear chases Luna. It’s really fun and sweet and they’re both just so silly.

Ah yes. Can’t leave paper towels where kitties can get to them…
My bed. Kuma next to me, Luna on the pillow. At one point I woke and Luna had her paw on
On A’s bed as she studied

After R took a bath with a lavender bath bomb and lavender bubble bath….Luna apparently liked it so much (after the water evaporated) that she rolled around in it!

I LOVE my spice rack. Custom built from upcycled wine barrels. Excited that my boyfriend is making one too! Not from wine barrels, but I can’t wait to see it. It’ll be beautiful. And everyone who loves to cook should have a bitchin spice rack!

I was out of popcorn. Don’t judge.

My boyfriend bought R a camp chair she wanted. Let’s just say she’s not waiting until camping
season to use it…

At Starbucks doing some reading before classes started. And documenting in my Commonplace Book

MY YEAR OF LESS

Happy for the start of the year. Decided this week to cook from food I already had in the house. I always have a TON – beans, rice, veggies, and fruits are always in supply. I picked up a few fresh veggies and fruits, but otherwise have been making meals with what I have on hand.

I bought the gift for NS, a replacement spiralizer for me, and yesterday out in Richmond. Also some pet supplies for Luna.

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.

I Need Work Shoes…Who Knew??

FOOD

I think it’s really fortunate that I love to cook. Well, I guess it’s only fortunate that I’m a GOOD cook. Would kind of suck for people if I loved to cook but was terrible at it…

Anywhoo. There was lots of cooking the past couple days.

But first. Smoothies!

Chocolate Vega powder, banana, and spinach

Saturday night was an Indian Feast + Game night. I made 8 dishes:

  • Garlic naan
  • Basmati rice
  • Tofu/pea tikka masala
  • Red Lentil Dal
  • Soy Yogurt curry Potatoes
  • Charred eggplant and potato
  • Curried cauliflower/carrot/peas
  • “Butter” “chick’n” – made with soy curls

Cooking took several hours, but that was fun

Sunday was obviously more chill. I marinated some pressed and cubed tofu in tamari, lime juice, garlic, and agave, and then stir fried that up. Also made a sweet and sour red cabbage dish in the Instant Pot too. Very simple recipe of broth, apple cider vinegar, unsweetened apple sauce, and salt.

Today was lasagna-ladas! Basically – and I’ve mentioned this before – I’m lazy. I don’t like going thru the drama of rolling up the enchiladas since it all ends up a mess anyway. So – layer the corn tortillas and filling like lasagna, top with enchilada sauce, and bob’s your uncle.

Topped with the last of my homemade soy yogurt

Mine was loosely based on Chef AJ’s Enchilada Strata dish from The China Study All-Star Collection. I used canned enchilada sauce (read above “lazy”), and some different fillings. I also topped with my pickled jalapeños from last week! SO good.

FITNESS

Okay, had two runs. One Saturday morning and one this morning. I also did a Beachbody workout today called LIIFT4. It’s a combo weight training and HIIT program. Just launched today, so I figure why not check it out? I really enjoyed it, though I was literally a sweaty puddle on the floor after….

LIFE

It’s only been a couple days, so not a whole ton! Saturday afternoon I went out with my guy for a while. Then we went grocery shopping and came back to my house so I could start my marathon cooking spree. It was fun bouncing around the kitchen, drinking wine, and getting kisses.

It turned into a little party. It was me and my 3 kids, him and his youngest, a friend of A’s, M’s girlfriend, and another of M’s friends. Certainly plenty of food for the 9 of us. The kids all hung out either playing or watching video games, and the playing a board game after dinner while my guy and I chilled outside and then napped!

Sunday was cleaning, yard work, and reading. Very low key. Just maybe a wee boring. BUT – one more week and my next term starts and then I’ll wish to be bored!

Today was work and finishing the yard work. That’s it!

Definitely need “work shoes”…my flip flop life ain’t havin it…

On a different note – I have been seriously slacking on my “becoming a morning person” plan. And after some serious shaming by my guy yesterday, I’ve recommitted to it. Despite the fact that lately I can’t seem to fall asleep before midnight-one am (and last night was no different), I still got my a$$ up at 530. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pretty. But I did it. So suck it, baby.

MY YEAR OF LESS

Month one is DONE. Overall, I’m pretty happy, though there are areas I can definitely tighten up.

Overall, I spent 9.56% more than I intended. That was due to a few things I bought for the house (to facilitate said yard work mentioned above), and MUCH higher water and power bills than anticipated. My water bill was 252% higher than budgeted and my power bill was 63.9% higher. What was cool was I was under in so many other areas. Not always by a lot, but by enough that – even with those crazy expenses – I wasn’t too far over what I thought I’d have in expenses as a whole. I spent much less on groceries, gas, entertainment, and my natural gas bill than I budgeted. Will definitely trend that over time.

All this meant I put a healthy chunk into savings as well as paid down some other bills. All told – good first month, but I know it could be better. Stay tuned!

Sangria IS Fruit Salad

FOOD

Was nice to have a pretty lazy week, which meant some fairly lazy eats. Since I don’t have to study all evening, I can whip up some good stuff!

There were smoothies of course. And LOTS of popcorn! My new microwave popcorn popper is amazing. No oil or added anything if you don’t want – and typically I don’t. Plain with some salt is fine. I did put Earth Balance on the lid to melt into the popcorn for R tho.

Black beans and rice
Tofu green curry with my guy! I only get 4 outings a mo, but he’s worth it!
BAS with chickpeas
Simple tomato and lentil stew I whipped up in the Instant Pot
Pressed and cut tofu (obviously…)

Cajun baked tofu, masher w mushroom gravy, and broccoli

BAS w/ dry fried tofu & bragg’s liquid aminos, tons of veg, and a Catalina dressing

FITNESS

Have run most of the past 4 days. Kickboxing yesterday. Meditating daily. Working my way back up to 20-30 min per day.

Perfect running weather!
Good thing you’re not supposed to look cute after a run! I turn beet red for HOURS

LIFE

The skies cleared, no rain in the forecast, so it was off to Busch Gardens on Sunday! Me and R and my guy and his youngest. The place was dead, so we road all the rides multiple times, did a couple laps, and had a fun time. Howl O Scream was starting, so I was super stoked for that. Turns out though, that they had expected Hurricane Florence to keep them closed that weekend, so they weren’t prepared for the full experience. Just a couple haunted houses were open. So we decided to call it a night with plans to come back on my birthday. I try to go every year on or near my birthday – especially since Halloween is my fav holiday.

My guy and I really love cider. Was happy they had a local Bold Rock Pear on tap!
My baby girl 🙂
I have a good friend with a pup named Lulu. Took this for him

It’s been 4 days of no school. I’ve mowed, cleaned the house several times, did wash, and eventually – when there was nothing left to clean – started reading my library book! I also got notified that the one I put on hold is available, so I’ll be picking that up this week too!

And other life updates thru pictures!

I

Getting to be end of the harvest! Tomato plants have been ripped out, but peppers still going strong!
Chatting Econ with my guys son, saw this, and totally made me giggle
ME!!!!
Snuggle buddy while I read Sunday after my run and before going to BG

My guy got R a tool box and some tools for her bday (perfect gift, let me tell you). She went around tightening all the hinges and handles in the house. Which I greatly appreciated

MY YEAR OF LESS

It’s been a pretty good week. I did use 2 of my going out this week; one on the theme park and one on lunch. Both reasonable though since I have passes to the theme park. Only spend was food and drink and a locker rental for our bags on two of the rides.

I also did have to buy new silverware. Almost all my forks are missing. We have a theory in the house that they ran off to Mexico. See – several years ago, all my spoons went missing. We theorized that they went to party in Mexico and didn’t come back (I mean…margaritas, sunshine…would you come back?!). Clearly the forks felt slighted, and went too. Actually, I’m pretty sure the kids accidentally threw them away. I really dislike using anything disposable. Utensils, paper plates, cups etc – unless it’s absolutely necessary (I admit I picked some up when I thought the hurricane was gonna slammed and I wasn’t going to have water to do dishes – alas – will donate them to a local shelter).

So today I attended a budgeting seminar that Fidelity put on through work. Figured why not? I keep a pretty good budget I think, but there’s always an opportunity to learn more. Honestly, it was a good hour. It went over things like what % of your income should be spent on essentials vs savings vs “other” (It’s 50/20/30, btw), and some other resources. Also good info on what debt to pay down first, etc. I’m posting them here for you if you’re interested. I did compare my budget to the Fidelity model, and will be applying my monthly expenses to it to see how I fare.

Savings and Spending Check Up

Video – based on the interactive session I had today

Power of Saving Small Amounts

And a few articles

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/learn-about-types-of-debt#Carloans

https://www.fidelity.com/labs/student-loans/#/

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/how-to-pay-off-debt

Spending

Sept 16 – $57.38 at Busch Gardens (not bad when considering those prices!)

Sept 17 – $0

Sept 18 – $12.81 for Thai Food for my guy

Sept 19 – $57 on silverware. I used my Target Red Debit card to save 5%