Home for the Holidays!

FOOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FITNESS

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

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

LIFE

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

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

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

Elevators confused her…

Ah Chicago. Did not miss your traffic…

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

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

R and her cousins goofing off in the game room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise – fun times!

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

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

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

My Year of Less

No comment 😏

Fiesta Time!

FOOD

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

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

But, we shall go in order…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dinner was mac no cheese!

FITNESS

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

LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M gave snuggles AND snacks. Kuma is in love…

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

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

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

MY YEAR OF LESS

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

Awesome Weekend and NO MORE CARPET

FOOD

All yummy on the food front! Managed only one smoothie since my last blog post! You know it’s getting chilly out when smoothie intake tanks.

Did have lots of other fun stuff tho – and a mixture of eating in, eating out, and travel meals.

The fickn quesadilla from Hell’s Kitchen in Norfolk.
General Tso’s Tofu out w my guy

Whole wheat roti

One of foods I really liked growing up was egg salad. Thankfully, it’s easy to make a vegan version, and I literally seen dozens. My stand by is so simple, but I make it all the time. The firm silken tofu from Mori-Nu is perfect. I cube it, put it thru an egg slicer, and mix with vegan mayo and mustard. Sometimes I add things, like onion, celery, relish, etc, but not this time!

Also made a vegan mac that’s an oldie but goodie from the very first vegan blogger I ever followed – and have been lucky enough to meet several times now. Her food is amazing and very much in line with how I like to cook (low or no fat/oil).

This time of year I really go for the kale-based BAS (Big Ass Salad for new readers) always with a tahini dressing and loaded with whatever I have.

So simple! Equal parts water, lemon juice, tahini, and nutritional yeast. Plus salt.
Love my Tribest personal blender for dressings. My vitamix is just too big for that.

My guy spent the weekend and we had a couple really yummy meals. Friday night was Italian and listening to A tell funny work stories (she works in the emergency department).

Last night was him on the grill and me on the baked mac no cheese! So excited to finally have the Beyond Meat brats! Rounded out with salad and rosemary/garlic grilled potatoes, it was awesome.

Made the mac gluten free for my son’s gf who can’t have gluten

FITNESS

Embarrassing to say – not a whole lot! Had about 2 runs and some yoga at home. That’s it. The good news is that as of today, I officially have my garage back to normal – and that means the home gym!

LIFE

THE FLOORS ARE DONE! Finished them on the 10th, and the rest of the trim this past Friday. We all signed the back of the last board that went in. I do have to get a professional in to do the downstairs half bath, but otherwise, they are finished – and totally beautiful! The house is largely put back together – just a few things I need to pick up yet, but I seriously couldn’t be happier.

Veteran’s Day I went to lunch with my guy, one of my really good friends, her husband, their son, and his brother and his wife. All but two of us are either active duty or vets, so it was a free lunch and a chance to see J and K who moved to MD this past summer – so it was awesome they were in town.

I had a quick work trip in Chicago last week that went really well. It was ridiculously cold – but otherwise had a great time.

I always stay at the Palmer House when I’m in Chicago. They have this amazing old world apothecary called Merz’s that I just love. I definitely picked up a few things, including fun bath stuff for while I was there.

The conference was about consumerism – and this was probably one of my favorite sessions about DIY care.

I mentioned my guy spent the weekend. Friday after the trim was done and dinner eaten, we watched a movie. I had been wanting to see the new Blade Runner 2049 since it came out, and we were going to rent it. Did some reading and found we really should watch the original 1982 one. I had seen it once, but I think I was 17 or so and didn’t remember it. I’ll be honest – I REALLY wanted to love it. But it was just strange. We were both not thrilled, so decided to not watch the new one after all. I probably will someday – when I don’t have to pay for it 😏.

My great friend NS from Nairobi sent a care package to me of coffee! His friend is in Virginia Beach for a dental conference, and brought this for me. Definitely had the one on the right this morning! It was so good.

Saturday we did a bunch of errands – took carpet to the dump, got his tools back to his house, and returned all the extra boxes of wood I ended up not needing. Then it was dinner, and he and I and my son and his girlfriend went out. Starting at Birch, then Torch, a brief stop at Grain (was WAY too busy), and then ended at Hell’s Kitchen. And of course we used Lyft the entire night.

Today was naps, school work, and laundry and not much else ☺️.

All told, it was a really perfect weekend, and I am one lucky girl.

Good progress on the becoming a morning person thing. I finished the Miracle Morning and have been using it as a blueprint for my own mornings. So yay!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Other than home improvement stuff, this is going quite well. I’ve started Christmas shopping and have a very set budget for it – so here’s hoping I stick within it! I use the Christmas Club account through the credit union at work, so that makes a big difference. R, Kuma, and I are going to WI for the holidays, so there will be more expense than planned, but it’ll be fine.

I do need to buy a bookshelf for my study. The one I had was broken, so this is a replacement. I also need to pick up a couple area rugs as well and I’d like a wingback chair and table for the sitting area in my study. I’m looking at Wayfair and Birch Lane and will see about Black Friday furniture sales. The rugs can wait – will be in the DC area in a couple weekends and will hit up IKEA since ours doesn’t open in Norfolk until Spring.

Nope. Brain isn’t Melting. I Hope.

FOOD

Been a fairly typical week. Smoothies, salads, soups, curries, and stir fries mainly! I’m loving the (mostly) chilly weather.

Lazy meal – beyond meat crumbles + marinara over pasta
Simple Instant Pot dish – 1 c soaked pintos, 1.5 c br rice, 1 jar salsa, 4 c broth 25 min high pressure

Yes, popcorn is a meal!

Out for Indian with my guy!
Enjoying drinks on the water
Special order FAIL. Our admin is amazing – always orders me vegan eats. Kitchen screwed up and added feta 🤨
Thankfully (or sadly) I expect them to screw up, so I always bring back up eats. This time – leftover soup!
Killing time at the Sbux where my son works. Apparently this is my new nick name??

FITNESS

Been another really active week. Runs several days and LIIFT4 on 4 of the days. Good times!

LIFE

School, work, school, family, school, school, school. Oh, you get the point. Every waking minute when I’m not working, working out, with my family, or my guy – I’m studying. And since I sleep for crap, that leaves a LOT of time for studying! I can’t tell if my brain is melting or expanding. I’m hoping for the latter. It’s all good though. I really do love learning.

Kuma – my study buddy sleeping on the job
Was a really cold saturday, so studies with tea!

Friday night was fun. R and I hung out, played Backgammon, and watched Black Panther.

My guy got some new shades and he sent me a selfie in them. I was already in bed, so sending a reciprocal selfie was met with squinted eyes due to the flash. So I got my old Burberry glasses (that he hates) and did one with those instead!

I was feeling pretty run down on Saturday, and while I took a nap, A took R (and Kuma) to a local farm to get pumpkins!

Also having all 3 kids home – at the same time – for a picture! (Ignore the floors – we’re mid- home improvement project!)

Sunday was studying during the day and then most of the day and evening with my guy. Was tons of fun, as always.

Otherwise- my life in miscellaneous pictures!

R and I were at Sbux waiting on M and saw a rainbow!
My guy’s youngest and I whine about math. So I sent him this 🙂
For my next house?
Showing off my new glasses for my guy (while wearing his fav sweatshirt 🤣🤣)
Quick wine and magazine break from calculating statistical control charts. Can ya blame a girl?

Looking forward to the rest of the week. Have a few really cool/nerve wracking things happening, my birthday, and fun times planned!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, I was confronted for the first time for something I didn’t allot for. Eyebrow waxing! Now, thankfully I’m not really hairy or anything, so every 2-3 months is fine. But I will tell you – I will NOT tweeze. Ugh. So, I did pay the $10 to get them waxed last weekend.

The only other unplanned thing was an Uber – which was a necessity after the golf tournament! Otherwise, everything is within expected categories: replacing things that ran out, groceries, and going out, but not going over my monthly limit.

And what am I doing with all this $$ I’m not spending? Paying off bigger ticket item bills, loans, and putting stuff into savings.

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!

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!