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!

Good Times but with a Tearful Goodbye

First of all, Happy 4th of July to my friends in the USA! Today, on our 242nd Birthday, I’d like to remember the dreams our forefathers had for this country, and while I do not feel our current political climate is at all honoring that vision, I have to believe in the strength and heart of the American people, and in the end, we will exceed that vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL who come to our shores.

FOOD

Hot summer days are definitely here to stay! That means morning smoothies and fruit-based deliciousness.

I found myself mostly alone this past 10 days or so. R was in Orlando with her bestie’s family, A works nights, and M mostly works evenings, so my meals were super simple for the most part.

Did have dinner one night at my guys house, but forgot to snap pics. Salad, pasta, and cupcakes!

FITNESS

More Peloton spin fun and runs!

LIFE

Been mostly a good week and a half. R had a blast in Orlando, for which I’m so happy and grateful to her friend’s family for taking her!

Got to have a fun evening out with another couple who were visiting the area.

I took R and her bestie to their first big outdoor show! R had gone to see 21 Pilots with my ex-husband and the other kids about 5-6 years ago. This was her first big stadium show, and Imagine Dragon’s did NOT disappoint! It was N’s very first concert ever. The girls had a blast, and it was so much fun to be there with them.

It’s that time of year again where java is best enjoyed outdoors in the morning!

And A’s garden harvest is starting to produce some yummy eats too.

Other random pics.

But there was certainly heartbreak this past week as well. Our beloved Ginny succumbed to her feline leukemia. We were so fortunate to share her life for 5 years, and saying goodbye, frankly, sucked. I’m not sure Kuma knows what to do being the only fluff left. In time, we’ll rescue another kitty or two, but for now, we’re just focusing on celebrating Gin. Here are a few of the last pics I took of her. Sweet dreams Ginnykins

Birthday Bash Weekend and Other Fun!

FOOD

Summer is definitely in full swing, which means lots of smoothies, fresh fruit, raw veggies, salads, and lighter eats. Also some curry (naturally) and my sweet and sour tofu stir fry (recipe below)!

Shockingly, I don’t have nearly as many pics as usual! I’m especially sad I don’t have any from the party I hosted Friday night for my friend’s annual bday bash weekend! My guy’s son made the main dish, and I made a bunch of salad sides. Guess I was too busy playing host to remember the pics!

Crissie’s Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry

Ingredients

• 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed

• 1 tbsp olive oil

• 1 large can of cubed pineapple in juice (keep the juice)

• 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets

• 1/2 red onion, cut into large wedges

• 1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares

• 1 small can diced water chestnuts

• 1 small can bamboo shoots

• 1 can bean sprouts (or use fresh)

• 2 cloves garlic

• 1/4 tsp ground ginger

• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

• 3 tbsp mirin (or regular white vinegar)

• 2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari

• 3 tbsp corn starch

• red pepper flakes

• salt to taste

Directions

• In a very large pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

• Add tofu, and stir until starting to brown on all sides.

• Add garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes.

• Add red onion and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes.

• Sprinkle a few shakes of red pepper flakes. I did about 3 shakes since my young one doesn’t like super spicy.

• Meanwhile, pour the pineapple juice into a measuring cup.  Add enough water or veggie broth to make 1 1/2 cups.  Add in the ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, and corn starch.  Mix well and set aside.

• Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes.

• Add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and pineapple.  Stir well.

• Add the liquid and bring the heat to high until it starts to boil.  Once it boils, turn down to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes, until sauce thickens.

• Add bean sprouts and heat through.

• Salt and extra soy sauce at the table for everyone to adjust to taste.

FITNESS

It has been all about the home gym! Spin and weights mostly. Some yoga too.

Honestly, I’m in a running rut. I just don’t feel like going – so I haven’t. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the excitement of the bike, but I noticed that the last half dozen runs or so I forced myself to do, and that’s not typical. I usually NEED to run. Oh well, not analyzing it too much. I still get great workouts in, just different I guess.

LIFE

Life has been pretty awesome. Always ups and downs, but that’s normal. It’s been a whole week off from classes, and I’m almost a little bored! My guy says I need a hobby. I don’t know if I have enough time and energy to give any hobby justice.

R is in Florida for the week with her best friend’s family. St. Augustine, Disney, and Resort fun for 9 whole days! They are having a blast! I miss her like crazy, but we chat and I know she’s having a wonderful time.

The landscaping adventures have been going well. All the rocks are gone and now it’s tackling the weeds and getting the sprinkler system fixed. Overall though, the yard is light years better than it ever was.

Also had the house and back deck pressure washed too. It all looks so pretty!

And R and I gutted the shed. It was the only thing I hadn’t done since the divorce. It was so disorganized and full of crap, it was fun to clean it out. I have SO much space (and two leaf blowers!).

I bought a new door for the screened in porch – one with a doggie door! The previous door had a torn screen from when Kuma was stranded outside during a storm and needed to get into shelter. Since Ginny is feline leukemia positive and can’t ever be outdoors, the screened in porch was her sanctuary. My guy came by to hang it up, and it’s totally perfect. And once again, I have a happy fluff!

This weekend was the second annual beach and birthday bash! My good friend M’s birthday was Wednesday, and he and I co-host a weekend of parties, friends, boats, and beaches! Friday night is at my house – this year was a BBQ bash and pool party. Saturday we occupied two boats and spent the day on the water enjoying a perfect day. Last night was a taco bar at M & R’s house, and today was brunch at a waterfront restaurant (which I didn’t make this year). Our out of town friends are split between mine and M’s houses as many travel quite a ways to get here. In all, I think there were about 20 people, and it was an amazing time.

Ginny cuddled in my guys lap for about an hour Friday night. I think it was her way of thanking him for giving her a catio space again!

One of my guests was a puppy! Jackson is a Shiba/Shepherd mix and totally sweet. He and Kuma got along just fine.

Today I had to stop at my guys house to return a cooler, then went grocery shopping. Been a day of meal prep, laundry, and putting the house back together post-party and guests! All told – a pretty perfect weekend!

Otherwise it’s been a ton of pool fun, java on the back deck, fluffs, and fun!

Spin, Spin, Baby!

FOOD

I’ve actually been home for well over a week straight! And – no trips until a short one in July, so it’s been pretty nice.

Before I got home though, I did get to see a girlfriend in DC and meet for breakfast at an all vegan joint called Fare Well. Had these awesome tofu chilaquiles that I think I could eat every single day!

Other eats on the road. Tofu dishes, fajitas, eggplant, and other yummy stuff.

Home eats!

Fitness

Okay, so for this, I’m totally stoked. I have been obsessed with getting a Peloton bike for months now. For those not familiar, its a spin bike with a built in big screen and, with a peloton subscription, you can take on demand or live spin classes.

On the road trip, we stopped at Tyson’s Corner where they have a Peloton showroom. LOVE. Also was lucky to try it out at the Westin when I was in Chicago, so I knew I loved it.

Well, I literally had it ordered and in my cart and ready to buy it, but just felt too selfish spending $3k for the bike, delivery, set up, and shoes. The subscription is $12.99 per month and not included. Even though all the kids want to use it, I just couldn’t stomach that price.

So what does my guy do? He does maybe 10 minutes of research and finds a “Peloton hack”. Grand total? $350 + subscription! http://www.sippingandshopping.org/my-peloton-bike-alternative/

So I purchased a Sunny spin bike. Don’t need spin shoes since the pedals are clip ins on one side and cages on the other (I have road racing shoes, and just need to change out the clip types).

I got an iPad mount so I can put my screen up. And a Wahoo cadence sensor. Voila! I can do everything a Peloton can do, without the sick price tag.

And I’ve been using the heck out of it! My bum is sore, but that’ll fade in a few weeks.

It’s the perfect addition to the home gym we’ve been building since last fall. Oh, and while the bike wasn’t 100% put together, R (my 14 yo) built it in less than an hour. Just as functional and sturdy as the Peloton bike.

So while I still love to run, I’m excited to spin, spin, baby!

LIFE

Really can’t complain. Picked up a summer cold that had a lingering cough for over a week, but other than that, felt fine.

While out of town, turns out one of my good friends was in Baltimore (he lives in Portland), so we got together for dinner one night, which was awesome!

M turned 21 on the 8th! So right at midnight, had to take him out for his first legal bday shots! My friend B was sending shot ideas. After the four horseman, M quit it on the shots and had a beer before going home.

Big dinner party and then pool party on his bday proper. The next day, he and his girlfriend went to Toronto for the week. They had a blast.

My friends who live in NOLA came to stay for a few days. Well, A didn’t – she had to work, but J and the kids were here, and stayed with me for two days. It’s always nice to see them.

I had a ton of pool drama. First company I hired to come open it and get it ready just sucked beyond reason. After a month of them continuing to muck it up, I hired a different company, and the difference has been incredible! They also spent over an hour teaching me everything I needed to know to do all this myself too. Needless to say, with the weather as hot as it’s been, the pool is definitely getting used!

This past Friday was the last day of the second term of my doctoral program! My last deliverable with a huge paper, but once it was knocked out, I hit the pool with my Kindle Oasis (waterproof) and read all afternoon. I have off until July 9th, which worries me that I’ll get bored, but that’s okay. The mental break is nice.

And A finished up her first term in nursing school and killed it! She was struggling with the schedule change – working full time nights and school full time days. Made a comment about needing an eye mask or something. Got her these – she’s been sleeping great since between the eyemask and ear plugs!

And this tee for R…if you knew her, it describes her perfectly.

Other events included going shopping for new floors for my house, going to see the Incredibles 2 last night (better than the first!), plus plenty of miscellaneous fun and fluffs! Plus a few shots from the MGM casino in Maryland.

Favorite Food Season + Family, Friends, and Fun!

FOOD

It’s been a fun little bit since getting home (and before hitting the road again!).

I love spring/summer when it comes to produce. Time to bust out ALL the zoodles, salads, and other fun eats. And yes – I bought that salad thingy to see if it’s really as cool as it looked. Eh. I prefer my veggies more evenly diced. Did great for the lettuce though. Will keep trying it out! Haven’t done it for fruit yet.

Also went to a local food and wine fest with my guy, which was a total blast!

Also lots of grilling and other amazing eats (like a vegan butter chicken made with soy curls and served on cauliflower rice!).

And on the road eats…

FITNESS

A few runs but the best was going to yoga with my guy. He had never been before and really enjoyed it, which makes me totally happy.

Also stopped by the Peloton showroom, so that’ll be happening soon too!

LIFE

Busy, but what else is new? I happen to love being busy. Not that I can’t slow down now and again, but there’s so much cool stuff in life, may as well do as much as possible!

The second term for my doctorate is winding down. We’ll have a couple week break before ramping up again. It’s mostly reading and writing, but also doing research on potential topics for my research project/dissertation. I have two topics I’m interested in at the moment, so that’s good. A month ago I was at a complete loss!

The pool has been opened and even got in one day of swimming between the rains and travels! But it is also the season where I try to have my morning java outside on the porch as much as possible!

Spent a night in DC, which was a ton of fun (though it always is) and got to see several of my local friends to celebrate me being in town as well as a friend’s birthday AND his wedding anniversary!

And of course miscellaneous pics of family, fluffs, and life!

Peanuts Suck Less Than They Used To

FOOD

It’s been a mixed bag of at-home meals and dining out. Nothing really new there to be honest. Did have one quick trip to Dallas, which is always yummy 🙂

Smoothies always rule!

As the weather warms up (and it’s FINALLY warming up!), plenty of salads! (Pay no heed to the butter – it wasn’t mine! )

Last time I was in Dallas (last October) we went to a restaurant called Mesa Mayo. OMG. The food was amaze balls, but so were the margaritas. I fell in love with the Serrano Berry. My travel partner in crime loved the avocado one, but since I’m allergic to avocados, I could not partake. However, being in Dallas earlier this week, I sure as HELL went and got my Serrano Berry! And studied at the same time 🙂

Last night I went out to dinner with my girl JG from grad school! She took me to a place called True Kitchen. She picked it due to the great selection of vegan eats for me. I had an amazing cucumber Tom Collins, a tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sammich, kale salad, and sweet potato hash. And we shared a hummus plate. SO GOOD.

I also tried Poke for the first time at a place called Low Key Poke. And while I was recently told it was a Hawaiian tuna dish, this place described themselves to me as “Chipotle for sushi”! So, I had the green tea rice, tofu with a soy and sriracha sauce, and tons of veggies. It was really yummy and spicy!

Other misc eats!

Like this awesome seitan gyro wrap! Recipe is from Zsu Dever’s book Vegan Bowls. Only I made it as a wrap instead. Kids love it, and it’s supper tasty. Enough for leftovers for the oldest cabbage to take to work.

FITNESS

The hellacious coughing finally stopped around Sunday/Monday. Until then, it was just the walking, yoga, and some strength training – as long as it didn’t set off coughing fits.

Otherwise I ran in the hotel gym. Felt good to run – and even though I hate the dreadmill, I hate not running for 2 weeks even more!

LIFE

Been a very busy and awesome week. Last Wednesday my kids booked me for a massage in a salt room at a local place called Green Leaf and Pebble Tea Spa in Virginia Beach. It was incredible. 60 minute massage and they give you an extra 30 in the room to do whatever you want – nap, meditate, etc. I mostly just laid there enjoying the peace, but had to get pics too! My sinuses were a mess, but being in that room helped so much. I picked eucalyptus as my aromatherapy addition just for that reason too. And of course it’s a tea spa, so I had tea too! Licorice – and it was killer. I don’t like black licorice, but they gave me a sample and I was hooked. So tasty!

I had some dryer issues (basically, had to hire a chimney sweep to clean out the ducts. Who knew?). So while I had to wait a week for them to come, I did have to hit up the laundry mat one time. It actually ended up being kinda cool. Aside from not being cheap ($2.50 per wash!), they had WiFi, and I was able to get 4 loads of laundry done in an hour, study, and do a webex. That, my friends, is multi-tasking!

Thursday I had a happy hour/dinner with a colleague from IBM. Of course I had to take her down to the Oceanfront of beautiful Virginia Beach! She’s from Pennsylvania and had never been down this way before. It did start to rain just as we were leaving.

On Friday, R had a really big appointment. For those long-time readers, I’ve chronicled the last 16 months of her working on something called OIT – Oral ImmunoTherapy – which is a protocol to help build immunity to food allergies. R has a life threatening allergy to peanuts, and additional allergies to several tree nuts. Well, after 16 months, it was time for her food challenge! She had been eating 3 peanut M&M’s for the past 7 months. The food challenge basically goes like this – eat 5 grams of peanut butter, wait a half hour, eat 10 grams, wait another half hour, eat 15 grams. If all goes well, that’s a pass, and she’s safe to eat peanut stuff freely. Though to maintain immunity, she would have to eat something with peanuts everyday.

First of all – R HATES the taste of peanuts. Watching her every day eat her dose, it looks like she’s being tortured. She opted for peanut butter and saltine crackers.

Well, about 8 minutes into her first dose, she started to have a reaction. Sore throat and some itchiness. When it didn’t resolve (it can often be caused by anxiety), and she was monitored the entire time – her breathing and vitals, etc – they gave her prednisone and Benadryl to resolve her symptoms. We hung out another hour and change and then went home.

So – she didn’t pass the food challenge. And as discouraging as that is, it’s still incredible progress! That dose just 18 months ago could’ve been deadly. So, we have a choice to make. Keep doing the dose, slightly higher (at 4 peanut M&M’s) and then try the challenge again in 4-6 months, or just stay at the 4 peanut M&M’s indefinitely. At this point, she’s cleared to fly in terms of peanut exposure – what she’s eating daily is way more than any accidental exposure she’d face – and leave it at that. If she has no desire to free eat peanuts and peanut containing foods, then mission accomplished. We haven’t made a final decision on that yet, and technically we have 4-6 months before we need to. So for now, peanuts still suck – but they suck less than they used to.

Before we left the hospital, she did have her blood drawn to retest her for treenuts. Sometimes they can be outgrown, and her severity to treenuts was MUCH less than peanuts. So if she’s clear there, she’s clear to fly! That was her big goal. And especially now with her Dad living on the other coast, it really is important so she can visit him.

Saturday was a really fun day. R had an adjudicated orchestra competition up in Williamsburg. After their performance (which include schools all over VA and NC), all the kids went to Busch Gardens for the day! They played amazingly well and won first place for High School orchestra! In between activities, I parked myself and studied. And had a cider too…

After getting home Friday eve, it was a quick shower and then going out with my guy. I was leaving the next day and wouldn’t see him for a bit. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Norfolk then for drinks. Good times and then back home!

Sunday was coffee on the back deck, packing, studying, chilling with the kids (ones who were awake anyway!), and then eventually heading to the airport for a late afternoon flight. It was direct, so I got into Dallas at a pretty reasonable time.

Then it was work and then spending time with JG! We went to the movies – of which I entirely blame her for picking something shitty! We saw I Feel Pretty. Apparently she didn’t look at IMDB ratings. I did. I had low expectations. She was sadly more disappointed I think!

Then there’s random pics of the fluffs. Like Kuma who really just wants to sleep. All the time. And Ginny who can get comfortable in what looks like uncomfortable positions.

I also had a little extra time yesterday, so got a mani and pedi and went from reds/burgundies, to pinks! Ready for summer! Helps that on Monday the pool was opened and will be swim ready early next week! Perfect timing as the weather really heats up.