Happy Happy 2019!

FOOD

New Year’s Eve meals were pretty spartan. I had a big bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and pumpkin pie spice for breakfast.

I munched on some pretzels and black bean hummus, and then later in the evening some tortilla chips and salsa. Just wasn’t very hungry yesterday.

This morning started with a yummy green smoothie. Water, banana, mandarin orange, frozen mangos and pineapples, and spinach. Really, really good.

Lunch I munched on some Wildwood baked teriyaki tofu. No pic of that because I literally just ate the block of it.

Dinner tho – busted out the Foodi again! I used the pressure cooker to make a lemon risotto and then the broil function to roast some carrots. If you’ve ever made risotto – it’s a total labor of love. Typically it takes me about 40 minutes on the stove – and you have to constantly interact with it by adding small amounts of broth at a time and stirring until absorbed. For this, it was literally garlic, 5 cups of veggie broth, 2 cups of Arborio rice, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and a little salt. Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes, natural pressure release for 10, then quick release. I added about 1 tbsp of Earth Balance into it to make it a little creamier.

I also made a loaf of fresh French bread, some brownies, and started a batch of soy yogurt.

FITNESS

Does housekeeping count? If so, that was NYE!

Today though, I was that girl who went to the gym on New Year’s Day. Did a weight circuit for 45 minutes and then came home. No run today – my legs were jelly!

LIFE

Sunday night my son’s girlfriend came over for dinner, games, and to bring us our gifts (so sweet). For me – she got me this mug which is utterly perfect! Think it’ll become my work mug 😂

She also got me 3 Himalayan salt shot glasses. Where she, M, and A promptly did Tequila shots while I watched. Tequila and I aren’t on speaking terms…

Well, I didn’t have quite the NYE I planned, but it was all good. Originally my boyfriend and his kids were coming over to finally exchange our Christmas gifts, have dinner, and maybe watch a movie. Then I was going back with them to spend the night there. Alas, sidelined by illness. Just hope he feels better soon!

I did go over with their gifts and a cake. I got some wonderful gifts including slippers I really wanted from my guy and a sugar skull ornament from his youngest! I know it’s an ornament, but it’ll stay out all the time.

I don’t like shoes on in my house, so my guy leaves his crocs here and I have new slippers!

Then I took the gifts they got my kids back to my house. Not quite the exchange we planned, but getting all 7 of us together at one time is quite the challenge. R got a camp chair she’s been wanting since we took that camping 101 class. She’s barely left it since 🙂

Otherwise it was a quiet night. I was actually asleep by 11!

This morning I woke to almost 70 degrees! And that meant having my morning java outside!

I spent the day organizing, taking down the holiday decorations, cleaning, and cooking. I also finished Infinity War on Netflix that I started last night.

I’m not the biggest resolution kind of person, though I do love the idea of fresh starts/clean slates, etc. For me it’s more about being a positive influence, helpful when I can, caring, thoughtful, etc, but this year I’m adding working towards a start up idea I have and see where that may take me.

As for 2018, all told it wasn’t bad at all. Lot’s of life changes, but it’s amazing how things turn out even better than expected or could ever hope for. I’m happy, healthy, and loved. What more can a girl want?

Hope your 2019 is everything you want it to be and more!

Otherwise, miscellaneous pics! Luna has been coming out and about even more the last day. It’s warm, so doors and windows are open and she’s chilling in them often. Demands head scratches and is really a mild mannered sweetie. Very grateful to have her in our family.

Trying to convince that this toy is NOT for her….

New wine glasses! And a bottle my guy left here after our last dinner party

United by a 63 degree evening!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Something dawned on me yesterday as I ran out to the store for the 4th time. By suspending the shopping/money spending rules for the holidays, I found myself justifying continuing to buy stuff and go out. Saying it was all “holiday” related. It’s like I tossed my rules right out the window. Thankfully the holidays are over and this is the beginning of a new month.

So $ spent today – nada. Hope future posts keep saying that!

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 😏

Thankful for Everything Except the Ankle Injury

FOOD

Let’s get the non-Thanksgiving pics out of the way first!

On Wednesday, I had ramen and my very first bubble tea with my guy! Mine was coconut milk with Oreos.

Wednesday night was one of my fav chili recipes – Chili Con “Carne”. It’s from one of my older cookbooks – Vegan Lunch Box from 2008. I don’t dust it off very often, but I can’t seem to part with it either when I do my book donation purges every few years. This particular recipe is practically worth the price of admission, so I keep it around.

Today I had lunch with my guy and his youngest – a BAS (no Romaine, thank you!). Dinner was leftovers.

So what did we do for Thanksgiving? Other than have a really nice evening, there was ten tons of food too.

Breakfast was toast with sunflower seed butter. And a mimosa!

Will prep now – this was an Omni gathering. I only cooked vegan eats, though my guy made 3 dishes (1 vegan, 2 not) and my son’s girlfriend brought 3 dishes (2 vegan, 1 not).

On Wednesday I baked ten tons of cookies. Choc chip that actually weren’t that good (won’t use that recipe again) and my normal oatmeal raisin cookies that do rock.

On Thursday, the marathon began! But first – snacks. No meals other than the “big feast”, so snacks are put out for everyone to munch on, and get put up about 2 hrs before meal time.

Son 2 made me realize I forgot the dessert hummus this year!

Started with a pumpkin pie (which we still haven’t eaten!). Then green bean casserole, butternut squash au “gratin”, 2 tofurkey’s (one in a crock pot, one baked), sweet corn bread, sweet carrots, two gravies (one that came with the tofurkey’s and a homemade mushroom one) and stuffing with wild rice.

My guy made the mashers (vegan) and also made corn pudding and brought smoked turkey.

My son’s girlfriend made two types of croissant dishes – the dessert one was vegan – and a big batch of sangria!

And because I’m really paranoid about dishes coming out at the same time, I employ the sticky note method! R mocked me for it a little, but hey – it worked. Everything came out at the same time!

There were 9 of us in all. Me and my three kids, my guy and his two, my son’s girlfriend, and his best friend – who’ve I called Son 2 for years. And we had MORE than enough food.

And by the end of the night, my heart and belly were very full! And how could it not be? I was surrounded by many of the people I love most in the world, so yeah – it was a perfect day.

FITNESS

So, inspired by the run that didn’t suck on Monday, I wanted to run on Wednesday too. BUT, it was too cold for me (31 degrees), so this happened…

And I typically hate dreadmills, but I really wanted to run, so here I found myself. I was 19 minutes in, and my right calf cramped so badly I actually had to stop. That sucked. But I hopped on a recumbent bike for 20 so I still got a workout in. The upright spin bike put too much pressure on my calf, but was fine on the recumbent. Guess that’s one benefit of going to the gym…

Yesterday before cooking I did a walk/run – only about 20 minutes because I didn’t want to press my luck. Was fine though.

Today I went for a hike! REI has their #OptOutside campaign again this year, and I do like the idea and there just so happened to be a meetup group going to First Landing State Park for a 3 mile trail hike that sounded perfect. So, I signed R and I up, and my guy had thought to go too – though that fell through. And frankly, at 7am, R didn’t want to go anymore either (freakishly cold, and she hadn’t had a great night’s sleep), so decided to go anyway! There were 6 of us (though 21 originally committed), and while it was wicked cold, after a half mile or so, was warmed up enough to really enjoy it. Everyone was chatty, so the time really flew.

After, I met up with my guy and his son for lunch, and then went home. I took off my shoes and sat by the fire before going over to my desk to get studying. My ankle started to feel a little sore, and after 20-30 minutes, was agonizing. Now, I did trip during my hike over a root – didn’t fall, but it was less than graceful. But I felt fine all the rest of the hike and after, so I can’t be sure that was it, but I have no other explanation.

So RICE it is! Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevate. It’s largely feeling better, just can’t rotate it without pain. For awhile there, it wasn’t weight bearing at all. Ugh – finally get my running mojo back and I get this. ARGH.

LIFE

Can’t complain! (Other than the ankle drama).

Wednesday was some work and errand running. Including finishing grocery shopping. Behold – my list…

My accent chair arrived, and I’m fairly pleased. Kids love it. It’s not a long term chair, but definitely wanted something in the study other than the desk and the book shelves. It’s a place to read, etc. Need to pick up a side table, hopefully this weekend.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and a really wonderful day. My oldest works night, and was working, but came home, slept until 2, and then got up to spend the day with everyone before going back to work. My guy came over fairly early (his boys started their day with the other side of the family and then came over by my place). We took a run to Starbucks to get java and see M, who had to work. We spent the rest of the afternoon cooking together, which was a lot of fun, while the kids all watched the Lego movie. Watching them watch it and laugh and sing was really fun. Good thing I have a HUGE sofa – all of them sprawled out on it.

Then it was dinner and everyone in food comas. Let’s just say that things were much more tame after the eating ended. Then it was cleaning and dishes for me while everyone just relaxed and slowly dispersed.

Kids in food comas

And today was up early, hike, lunch, and school work. One of the contractors came to assess my half bath, and I should have that estimate tomorrow. The guy my coworker hooked me up with was a no-reply and no-show, so that sucks. Still have two tho, so hopefully those will balance out.

All told, awesome couple days!

And Kuma!

They were both cold!

Kuma snuggling the cooler my guy brought over on thanksgiving…

MY YEAR OF LESS

Not a lot of updates on here. I picked up things needed for the big feast of family. Got A’s Christmas gift, and had lunch out twice.

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.

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!

AC Off, Soup ON!

FOOD

Okay, I’m a big believer in soups whenever the heck you want soup. Doesn’t matter about the weather, but there IS something fun about fall soup season kicking in.

I was going to whip up a butternut squash/apple soup for dinner tonight but the darn thing was bad. But, I did have an acorn squash, so whipped up something fun with that.

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed into large chunks
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Place squash cut side down in oven-safe dish with about 1 inch of water
  • Place remaining veggies and garlic in a different oven-safe dish. Coat with olive oil and maple syrup
  • Roast everything in the oven for 45 minutes. Let cool.
  • Put all the veggies (scoop out the squash, silly), the broth, coconut milk, and broth in a large sauce pan. Blend with immersion blender. If you don’t have one, blend in batches in your blender. But really – for $25, if you’re a soup junkie like me, just get the immersion blender!

Also – will say I went a little sweet with this. I think it’d be yummy with curry in place of the nutmeg and cinnamon too.

And this was not my only soup either! I whipped up the Spicy Potato Kale soup from Awesome Vegan Soups, using hot peppers from our garden of course.

Speaking of hot peppers, we’ve had so many from the garden, had to do something with them. My guy suggested pickling. Brilliant! Used this recipe. Minus the bell peppers, with a blend of jalapeño and hot cherry peppers, and 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 bragg’s apple cider vinegar.

Other eats I made include this applesauce cake, tahini/maple/balsamic dressing, vegan sushi bowls (which I shared w my guy’s youngest), creamy mushroom stroganoff, salads, and smoothies.

Seasoned sushi rice, spicy cucumbers, edamame, tofu, and shaved carrot

Eats out include salads, Thai, various portabello mushroom dishes, olives, and pasta.

One of the portabello dishes. It has a LOT going on, but was tasty!

Olives and Wine!!!

Out with friends – portabello dish #2 from Whiskey Kitchen

Also had a few harvests. Not much as the season is winding down. We pulled the tomato plants. BUT – today I spotted a cucumber. The FIRST of the season! The cuc and squash plants all died in late spring. But, they found their way back! Also, A had decided to try her hand at sweet potatoes. After vines going crazy, we pulled them – and had a pretty surprising harvest. SO tasty.

FITNESS

Been a busy and good week. Alternating runs, yoga, and kickboxing. Been taking advantage of the beach body streaming workouts now that I’m not going to drop in yoga classes or kickboxing classes anymore!

LIFE

Busy, but fun week! Started with…FIGHTER JETS! My friend D – whom I mentioned in my last post – is part of a charity group called Warrior Team – seriously check the link because what they do is pretty cool! We got to see their pilots flying Russian jets dog fighting while my friend MC’d the whole thing. After we (me, my youngest R, my guy, and his youngest) went to go meet them. D gave us a tour and history lesson of all the planes on the tarmac, down to which battles they fought in (like WWII), etc. It was fascinating and made the whole air show that much cooler.

After, we dropped the kids, got cleaned up, and then met D, one of his pilot buds, and good friends MM and RM for dinner and drinks. Very fun night.

Grad school buds and friends for life.

Since I have no school until the 8th, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading! Taking FULL advantage of the library and my Kindle Unlimited subscription!

So while I was reading, caught Kuma hopping around the yard. Clearly stalking something – assuming a cricket or grasshopper or frog. You know. Something that’s actually smaller than her!

If you must know, it’s the Rylee Adamson series from Shannon Mayer. quick and fun reads and right up my alley when I’m between classes and research

Tuesday after work I met up with a friend for happy hour. It rained off and on that day, and on my way to my car after work, slipped on the wooden bridge. Argh. Wasn’t wearing heels, nor running, or anything! Busted knee and wounded pride. Both are healing nicely.

My guy and I hit up the Oceanfront one evening for a drink and a stroll. Tourists are gone, so it was quiet. Watched some surfers and then went home.

Thursday night was wine class! We had a lot of fun – there was a pretty big crowd. We sampled 8-9 wines or so. After we went to a late dinner and then home.

Tonight was quiet – cut the grass, clean the kitchen kinda quiet. But – the biggest thing of the day is I TURNED OFF MY AIR CONDITIONER! I officially declare summer over. Let the breezes blow the fresh air through my house!

Tomorrow will be fun though – making a monster Indian Feast + Game Night for all my kids, a few friends, my guy, and his youngest. Will be cooking ALL day. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Kuma clearly digging for something!

And while I don’t often get political on here (I leave that for Twitter, and boy oh boy have I lately!). – this week has made me CRAZY.

MY YEAR OF LESS

So I really did have to switch to the $200 limit this month. I thought 4x per month of going out would be logical. Once per week with my guy and that’s it! But life is quite different. Taking my daughter to her appointment with no choice but to stop for lunch, or work related networking outings, etc. As of today – 9/28 – I’m at $198.72 in “going out”. Though I went out 8 times.

Everything else this week has been groceries ($32).

I should have been taking advantage of the school break to work on purging – but I haven’t. I see that as some rainy weekend ahead!