A Very Merry Time Indeed

FOOD

Friday I had a smoothie in my office for breakfast and a solo Thai lunch. Dinner was awesome though – the wine bar my guy and I go to now has a plant based menu section! Several months ago, the chef decided to be vegan for a month, just to see what it was like for me (which is epically cool). First, I hear he loves eating vegan – which is awesome. But even more so is the new menu, and I had the vegan po boy for dinner Saturday night (as did my meat eating friend I was there with), and it was delicious!

Other eats include brunch with my boyfriend, salads, beans and rice, and of course Christmas dinner of Tofurkey, mashers, corn, stuffing, mushroom gravy, and a bunch of other dishes I just didn’t get to.

FITNESS

Gym on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday for the HIIT class. And yesterday was my traditional Christmas run. I’ve done it 11 out of 12 years – missed last year because I was in WI and it was snowy and cold and ewww.

I rolled my ankle Saturday night – nothing fun, literally just stepping off a curb. But it was too sore on Sunday to do anything. It was swollen and I was worried I sprained it, but by Monday it was still sore, but I felt comfortable hitting the gym. I just modified any moves that required jumping. To be honest, it is still slightly sore, but it was fine for my run yesterday and I’m heading to the gym in a few where I expect it’ll be fine also.

LIFE

It was nice to be in the office on Friday and Monday. After work Friday, I went out with friends to celebrate the end of another term and that I am officially ABD! That means “all but dissertation”. Essentially, I’m done with classes and my focus shifts to research, analysis, publication, and graduation! My girlfriend I went out with is also in my program and knows just how hard I’ve worked to get to this point faster than anyone has before. So she and her husband treated me to a wonderful night of wine, food, and fun.

I was there about 30 min before S and A arrived. So Alex the bartender – who knows what we love to drink – kept giving me short pours of new things to try

This – was disgusting. Couldn’t even finish the sample, it was so bad.

A turmeric whiskey sour. Was quite good, though I let A finish it because I can’t really mix wine and booze

Saturday I spent the afternoon and night with my boyfriend. We ran some errands and then went to our fav Cape Charles’ spots for cider and cocktails (see now why I stumbled off the curb 🤦🏻‍♀️?).

The next morning was brunch at one of our 2 regular spots and then it was off to run errands on my way home.

Monday was in the office again, then the gym and more errands. I had to pick up some groceries and went to the store near my house. It was a madhouse, and the line looked more like a theme park rollercoaster line than a grocery store!

So Christmas. Normally one of my least favorite holidays – ever since I was a kid. This year was actually really nice. On Christmas Eve, the tradition in my family is to open pajamas and a game, and whoever wins the game gets to choose breakfast in the morning (which means I shop for what 5 people like for breakfast because you never know who the winner will be!).

My son in law spent it with us, and he ended up winning the game. I didn’t play because I was cooking – but it was fun to watch them.

Christmas morning was also nice. Coffee first, then gifts, breakfast, and my run. After cleaning up from breakfast, I put out appetizers and a Bloody Mary bar to snack on until dinner.

We spent the day at home. My boyfriend came over for a few hours and we did his gifts too. I got a Google WiFi mesh that he installed and it’s amazing!

I love maps and globes. Several weeks ago my youngest asked me where I’ve always wanted to go. Without hesitation – Morocco. She got me a framed 1800’s era map of Morocco – in French! I love love love it. I also got a book and a travel cord organizer from my sister, another framed print from my son, flavored vinegar and olive oil and a bottle of Bulleit from my daughter and son-in-law, and an Amazon gift card from my mom. Though honestly – it was less about the what (which was all lovely), and more about the who. I got to be with the people closest to me and have a great day.

What my travel cord “bag” looks like now – so what C got me really is perfect!

Only downside yesterday was the holiday light plan. We went to the Merry Mile, which is at the Virginia Beach oceanfront – you drive on the boardwalk of the beach and see the lights that are there, usually driving under them. It’s about 30 minutes away, and we wait in the long line of cars….to find out its cash only. THE WEBSITE DIDN’T SAY THAT. The kids didn’t want to hunt down an atm and then get back in line, so we went home instead.

Okay, Star Wars. To be honest, I have always been more of a Star Trek fan, but with the series concluding, I want to brush up on the series, so I’ve been working on watching them all in a lead up to going to see the finale on Saturday with my son, boyfriend, and his eldest. I never even saw them all, so it has been a fun education. Thus far, I have watched 5 of them.

And other miscellaneous shots of the week!

Is That a Chardonnay in Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me

FOOD

One morning last week (Wednesday, I think) I made oatmeal and put a scoop of protein powder in it. I’ve done this before and it was fine, but this was just nasty. I choked it down but wish I hadn’t!

I had Ezekiel toast with sunbutter two days. No other breakfasts in the past few days.

I haven’t had much of an appetite since Friday morning, and honestly – haven’t eaten much. W was not happy with that, so we went out to Fancy Radish in DC and shared a few plate. Still couldn’t eat much, but did have a bite or two of everything.

FITNESS

Worked out every day last week, either a run, a spin, or a strength training session. Saturday I was in DC and did a ton of walking. I do wish I had packed workout clothes. A run in the city would’ve been perfect. Today we’ll see. Could probably use a run or a hot yoga class honestly, but I just got home from a weekend away and am not sure yet.

LIFE

Been a fairly rough week, but it is what it is. Friday I headed up to DC for a weekend and holiday party with friends. It was a much needed weekend.

Friday I wandered around Old Town Alexandria for a couple hours. I was planning to stop at this one wine shop, but it was closed. Stopped at the Majestic for a glass of wine and reading before heading over to W’s house.

W and I hung out at his place for a bit, then walked the couple blocks to Fancy Radish for dinner. Then back to his place for a few hours, then back to my hotel.

Saturday morning was a little rough, but then I met up with A to grab coffee and watch the Scottish Day parade. It was awesome, I can’t believe I didn’t get any shots of the tons of dogs in tartan in the parade! But it was a really great time.

My girl A taking pics!

After the parade, I walked to the metro and went to the Natural History museum for a bit. Then back to my hotel. I was supposed to meet up with friends for the parade of boats with Christmas lights, but I dozed off. Did make it in plenty of time for the party though, which was really nice. There were about 15 or so of us. Grad school buds and their other halves mostly.

For the past several years, my friend D and I pick on Chardonnay drinkers. It goes back to an experience with an ex-girlfriend of his, and has turned into a bit of a running joke. So he got to the party, came over to give me a hug, and pulled out a bottle of Chardonnay! It was hilarious. Obviously left for other party guests if anyone wanted it.

Just the Darden classmates!

This morning I woke up and drove home! Got home about an hour and a half ago. Not sure what the rest of my day will look like, though likely cleaning, some cooking, school work, and maybe a movie.

Trying to see if I can like bourbon. A and K happened to pour a class of Pappy van Winkle – a $700 bottle – and I only had a tiny sip, but it wasn’t bad!

Picking the wee one up from robotics

Oh Honey, Who Hurt You?

FOOD

Been nice being home for the past week! Eats have been pretty typical while home. Salads, stir fry, rice and veggies, oatmeal, soup, and smoothies.

My fav red Thai curry soup with white sweet potato

I also made three batches of homemade soymilk. One is a soy/oat/date blend which came out way thicker than I wanted. Will play with that and reduce the amount of oats next time. One super thick batch (double the soybeans) in order to make homemade yogurt (my first time making it from homemade milk), and a batch of normal everyday soymilk. Really happy all around.

A few meals out with my guy too. One was a Tex-Mex place we’ve liked, though it appears the quality (both of service and food) have been declining. Sad since they’ve only been open a year or so.

Fajita bowl with Impossible burger chopped into it

One of our fav brunch spots where I get the hummus lettuce wraps and sorbet mimosa!

And grilled cheese (vegan for me of course!) and fried pickles after a movie date.

FITNESS

A run and some kickboxing when I got home from Chicago. I’m banned from working out now until cleared by my doctor. More on that later.

LIFE

So I got home late Friday evening and immediately went to bed. The rest of the week has been pretty darned eventful.

A brunch date, a wine bar date, two movies, and lunch date were definitely the highlights. Included a total of three coffee shop stops as well as a wander through the Old Beach farmers market (very bougie). All packed into about 3 days!

We do love being regulars here. They know what we like. Saw us come in and the sommelier runs into the back to bring this out, having saved a bottle knowing we’d like it – and we did!

Charlie’s Angles and Joker were the movies. One was fun. One was disturbing. A coffee shop near me, one closer to his place, and one near the farmers market.

Between the rest rooms at our brunch spot

From Three Ships coffee spot

Monday night I met up with an old co-worker (he left the company 8 years ago!). He’s become involved in the start-up world and has recently joined our local angel investor group. I happen to know them, so it was fun to reconnect. We met for a glass of wine and just caught up and made some plans for future business collaboration. I’m going to be a guest on his podcast and he sent me a book, which is one of my favorite types of gifts!

Tuesday was not a fun day. So back in August I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on my left cheek. Small, but had to come off. Good news is it’s not the super scary type of skin cancer (that’s melanoma). This one is usually caused by some bad sun exposure from sometimes decades earlier. But it has scared me into being more diligent about sun screen than I really ever have been (here’s your PSA kids – WEAR SUNSCREEN EVEN IF YOU DON’T BURN EASILY). Due to my crazy travel schedule, I really needed to wait until I knew I could arrange being home for a few weeks to heal. Hence the surgeries (yes two) on Tuesday. My girlfriend AJ picked me up and was my chauffeur and friend for the day. Step one was to the dermatology surgery office. That involved torture by Christmas music, needles to the face, discussions of temporary blindness, and the eventually excising of the cancer. Then they patched me up and sent me to the waiting room with AJ to kill an hour while they went to verify they got it all. They did, so then we had a few hours to kill before going to the facial plastic surgeon to sew me up and minimize scaring. That one was low-key horrific. Much more painful and invasive and numbed half my face – including my teeth! But, he was great and from my hometown of Milwaukee, which was fun, even though I really couldn’t speak once they got going (he had a resident).

I was offered stronger meds than Motrin and Tylenol, but I refused. Didn’t end up needing them anyway. Sore, but tolerable. Can’t really get it wet, can’t workout, etc.

The rule was to keep the bandage on 24-48 hours. I made it 24 hours and 30 minutes. I sleep on my stomach and the bandage started bunching. Drove me crazy!

By Thursday, I was totally stir crazy and needed to get out of the house. I was out of tofu, so I figured a quick trip to the grocery was needed. So here I am wandering around the store, and a woman comes up to me, puts her hand on my shoulder, and says “oh honey, who hurt you?”. UM… CANCER HURT ME. At first I was a little taken aback by someone approaching me like that (I have a black eye and stitches going down my cheek – so I did look a hot mess), but since it’s really restored my faith in humanity. She cared enough to make sure I was okay, and if I wasn’t – not sure what she’d have done – but it still warms my heart. We chuckled when I explained it to her.

That was early. The black eye and swelling got MUCH more impressive…

Since I couldn’t take a shower and get my face wet, it was definitely bath fun. I’m a huge fan of bath bombs, and my youngest bought me a ton of great spooky ones for my birthday! Luna really enjoys bath time too.

So – that was my week – plus quite a bit of time on my doctoral research stuff. Great times and not so great times, but in the end, I can’t complain. No more cancer. Fun with my love. Caught up at work. Research humming along. Seriously no complaints.

New throw blanket is VERY much Luna approved

She enjoys when I change the sheets. Even though she gets in the way

Still a Whiskey Conspiracy and Doctoral Fun

FOOD

Still been on the road since my last post. I had another day in Vegas and the highlight for sure was dinner at the speakeasy Beauty & Essex.

My last morning I found a açaí bowl that I ate just before my last meeting of the conference! Though it was with DB, who is one of my favorites.

Then it was off to Atlanta until today (I’m sitting in the airport killing time and waiting to go home!). It was my doctoral residency so most food was in the hotel. Breakfast was oatmeal, lunch was whatever they had – typically a salad, though one day was much more dynamic. Dinner one day was with K and I had the vegan grit bowl. Second day was with K and our advisor Dr. J, and I had the red and white quinoa bowl with tofu.

Saturday I got out of the hotel and hit up ATL with my girlfriend E. Stopped at the Wrecking Bar first for some flights of in house brews, then The Porter for a Beyond burger and their signature salt and vinegar popcorn (which is totally worth the hype!).

FITNESS

In Vegas I walked. In ATL, I did yoga and my daily burn app. Nothing fancy, but hell, 10 days on the road and I’m thrilled with what I managed!

LIFE

Oh hell, where to start? Left the HLTH conference in Vegas energized and excited, but nervous too. Excited about all that’s going on in the space to truly disrupt my industry. Nervous because the disrupters are the outsiders – and that can be a problem for those entities that aren’t willing to adapt. The next 5-10 years will be really fun to watch.

I got to my Atlanta hotel around midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The trip is for my very final residency in my doctoral program. I will admit, the experienced was mixed. There are only 2 of us left from our initial cohort (me and K), and while we all keep in touch with the original crew, we are a bit on our own.

This trip was supposed to focus on specific skills to aid in the research process. K and I are both done with all coursework, etc, so what we really have coming up is IRB approval, research, writing, and (hopefully) graduate. So this trip was to focus on tactical skills to get to graduation – like interviewing, site permissions, and going over all the detailed elements we need to know. And while we got some of that, our professor (and there were only 5 of us in total, K and I in the lead cohort with Strategy & Innovation, and 3 others who are behind us in various areas of Leadership and HR), liked way too much to pontificate on things that were entirely irrelevant. All told, it was valuable, but not nearly as much as it could/should have been. I mean really….making us work on creating a mission statement on how we are the “leaders of our own dissertation project”? UGH. All that aside, I got enough to where I’m super jazzed to get going. I submit to IRB at the end of this month, which is totally insane. There is a distinct chance that I start my research before Christmas. It moves up my timetable somewhat, but I’m still so very excited!

Thursday night after class K and I grabbed drinks (SHE DRINKS WHISKEY AND I SWEAR IT’S A CONSPIRACY) and dinner, and it was to bed pretty early.

Friday night after class we had dinner (and a fair amount of very good wine) with our current mentor.

Saturday night after class was all about time with E (WHO ALSO LIKES WHISKEY). Also my youngest R did a cybersecurity scavenger hunt thing at a local community college and got second place!

And today was class and then off to the airport to wait relatively patiently for my flight. And people watch. And I desperately wanna give this woman a makeover…

And while this entire trip has been very productive, I am beyond ready to get home to the ones I love!

Other fun stuff for your viewing pleasure.

Getting prepped to hand out candy on halloween!

Sour Beers and Birthday Fun!

FOOD

I made a big batch of my spicy tofu soup that I ate several times during the week. My eldest loves it too, so I was forced to share.

Other eats included Thai green curry on a lunch date. I’m wondering if the quality of our normal spot is going down, or just a new chef maybe. It was honestly too thick and a bit too sweet for my liking, and his wasn’t as awesome as usual either.

I still had leftover Ethiopian stew, so I had that a few times too. Breakfasts were often oatmeal.

Friday was Indian lunch date and then an after work cocktail (lemon basil-tini for me) and for dinner was vegan pizza on a cauliflower crust.

Saturday was the most fun (of course) because it was birthday brunch at our fav spot with all but one of our munchkins (he had to work). The Bee and Biscuit is awesome not just for it’s food, but for the outdoor oasis you wait in before your table is ready. Jay is the best bartender, and we had some delicious drinks. Vegan Bloody Mary to start, a manmosa, and their summer solstice. That meant more coffee with my hippie wrap and fruit meal.

For dinner we checked a new spot off the list – Oiishi Burger in Virginia Beach. It was only ok, and not likely we’ll go back. Miso soup was bland, edamame was good, and the veggie curry was only ok. His meal was only mediocre too.

FITNESS

Started the week at the gym for some strength training and treadmill/dreadmill fun. Rest of the week was workouts at home, namely runs, walks, spin, and yoga.

LIFE

Sunday started with what should have been a quick drive to the gym. Alas, major car fire had the highway near me completely shut down for about an hour. Good news is it doesn’t appear anyone was hurt and that’s all that matters. Me sitting in traffic just means I’m lucky that I wasn’t the cause of it.

Always that guy who has to get out of his car to try and see the scene 🙄

After the gym, it was grocery shopping, meal prep, cooking, laundry, and homework. Typical Sunday!

It was a pretty busy week on the work and school front. Couple of coffee and lunch dates with my boyfriend as we could squeeze them in, but otherwise a really normal week (meaning I was actually at home!).

Thursday night R (who is a junior in HS this year) had a 2 hr event at one of the primary schools in our city called STEM&M (which I think that name is totally adorable). Her robotics team went to the event with last years bot and talked to the 3-5th graders about robotics. She had a blast. And I had 2 hrs to kill. I was going to hit up a Starbucks or something and study, but one really wasn’t close. BUT, a newly opened brewery was – so of course I had to hit that up! Texted a girlfriend of mine, and she met me there briefly. Really love their sour beers!

Saturday was my birthday and it was really awesome. It began with brunch with my 3, my boyfriend, and his oldest. That was several hours. After brunch, the kids and I headed to Ikea because R needed a new desk and M also got a new shelf. We had some fun karaoke on the way. After getting home, I packed up a bag and headed to my guys house. We hung out there for a bit until his youngest got home and got ready for a night out. Then we also headed out to our fav Cape Charles for some cider. Then off for dinner and back to his place. This morning was a lot of snuggling and then going grocery shopping on my way home. All told, about 70 people – friends and family all around the world – wished my a happy birthday and my heart is warmed knowing I have so many wonderful people in my life.

Necklace from my sister. When I thanked her (because it’s awesome!), she wrote that “the message is so you. You’re one of the strongest people I know and can do anything.” I cannot express what that means to me coming from my older sister – someone I’ve always admired and wanted to be like!

And of course, other random pics of the week, mainly of the floofs!

This week should fly by. I’m in the office only Monday, with offsite meetings and responsibilities Tues-Thurs and then a flight to Vegas Friday morning which kicks off a marathon trip of conference and residency!

When Eyelids Wear Hats

FOOD

Lots and lots of yummy eats! Since my last post I’ve had one trip (New Orleans), a few outings here at home, and some much needed kitchen fun!

Stopped at Whole Foods to grab an Impossible Burger with grilled pineapple and bbq sauce.

The next day, my guy and I spent the day out and about. First a brewery for some pretty darn good beer (I was shocked by the sour – one of the best I’ve had) and amazing food. Then our fav cidery. And then distillery where we had a few cocktails and chatted with E who moved to VA for the summer to collaborate on a pop up sushi restaurant – it was his last day, but he’ll be back next summer.

Then it was off to NOLA for a work/fun visit!

First night was a work dinner, so of course I couldn’t pick the place. Found out the day before where it was, and gave them a call. They made me an amazing dish! Farro, roasted veggies, and a spicy cherry sauce. Totally divine. Didn’t snap a pic because I really just met most of the people at the table and didn’t want to be TOO weird….

Sadly, most eats was grabbing a salad. Staying in the French Quarter, there’s little beyond creole/Cajun and seafood. One night though, A, J, and I went to an amazing placed called MoPho, and I had the tofu spring wraps and the vegan pho – both amazing!

The day I left, A and I met for brunch. Mimosa and a tofu po boy at Surrey’s! Quite tasty.

Then I got home and went a little crazy in the kitchen! In a good way, of course.

Indian feast! Red lentil and sweet potato slow cooker curry, garlic naan, and basmati made with cinnamon and cardamom for dinner my first night home.

The second day, I worked from home – I had 8 hr webex meetings both Monday and Tuesday. Have laptop – will cook!

Ethiopian Stew from Plant Pure Nation

Oil-free tomato salad

Sourdough starter for injera bread! Never made it before, so I’m excited
Shredded TONS of cabbage. Used 6 cups (barely any!) for some slaw

Homemade bread for lunches
Brownies. Obviously

Last night I made feijoada! It’s the national dish of Brazil – usually made with smoked meats. Mine is made with portobello mushrooms, soy curls, and some liquid smoke for that Smokey flavor. It came out great! Kids loved it, which is good because it made tons for leftovers. Also made rice and tostones (which I prefer with lots of hot sauce!)

Today was coffee and a banana for breakfast and then a ramen lunch date!

FITNESS

Well, in two weeks there have been several runs, yoga, long walks, and some spinning in my garage.

LIFE

Whew, where to begin?! The beginning, I guess.

The last Friday night I was home, I hung out with my girlfriend/classmate S and her husband. Wine and chatting for a few hours was nice.

Saturday was a long date day with my boyfriend to the brewery/cidery/distillery.

Wednesday I took off for New Orleans. But first…!

I went to Ulta. I’ll be honest. I’ve always wanted to try false eyelashes, but I admit to being totally intimidated by them. So I stopped in Ulta because I was out of hair stuff, and it turns out they’ll put them on for you! They also happen to have latex free glue (which is rarer than you’d think). So voila! I liked them. Though it felt like my eyelids were wearing little hats.

I arrived fairly late and went to my hotel and to bed. The next morning I was up early. Since my meetings didn’t start until noon, I wanted around the quarter for a bit and stopped for coffee.

I sent my kids the pic of the Lost Boys poster – it’s a family favorite. Anyway, the conversation got interesting and they called me bougie!

After meetings and dinner, A and I met up and hit the quarter for a bit. Then back to my hotel to sleep. I had more meetings in the morning and she had a conference until 3. Then we met up at a happy hour event, headed to her house, and then out to MoPho.

The State of Grace

I was done before A on Friday, so I stopped at a spot in the Quarter for a salad, a drink, and a reread of a classic! This is the Effen Amazing – which is some gin and cucumber concoction. Yum.

Saturday was a ton of fun. Met up with A and J to tour and drink in the quarter. It sounds like a lot, but it really wasn’t. First was Tableaux and the incredible Pimm’s cup. 3, to be precise.

Then it was someplace else to get a to go cocktail since that’s totally a thing so we could keep walking around and shop. This was the Cajun Cooler. Ended up drinking about half.

We eventually stopped at a Mexican place – after going through Jackson Square and the French Market – where I had a little bit of the pineapple cilantro.

This trip included stops in voodoo shops, art galleries, kitschy shops and an open air market.

J and A had to head out to get their kids. I went back to my room to chill a bit, and eventually wandered out again for a salad and class of wine.

Sunday I met with with A for brunch and shopping. Picked up 4 pieces of art, I’m really excited about!

Bathroom at Surrey’s…which honestly is one of the stranger one’s I’ve been in

Home and school has started up again! Let the extra chaos commence 🙂

Fast forward to today. Luna had a vet appt late this afternoon. She HATES carriers. After many scratches, I got her in. And she broke through it – literally – on the drive! We hung out in the car while waiting for our appt (I managed to hold her in the carrier until I arrived). The tech came and let me know when a room was open so we could go right in. She has a UTI and will be just fine. They gave me a box crate to get her home in – which was MUCH easier, and I’m keeping it!

And other miscellaneous pics