Brunch Shenanigans

FOOD

Lots of good eats this week!

My smoothies this week were the lazy kind I pick up at Tropical Smoothie Cafe on the way to work.

I actually made a real meal one morning though, and it was tasty. Tempeh and potato has with onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Topped with tons of hot sauce!

Also an oldie, but goodie! Whole wheat toast with sunflower seed bread and sliced bananas.

Homemade soy yogurt snack.

BBQ tofu and cornbread!

Noodles with pasta and a simple coconut curry sauce.

And of course some tofu green curry on a lunch date with my boyfriend.

Soup for days (and days and days and…days). I made what is still my favorite soup ever. A double batch in the Ninja IQ yielded 26 cups! SO tasty!

I finally checked out Mesob’s Ethiopian in Virginia Beach. WOW. So good and I literally can’t wait to go back. I had the vegetarian plater (though everything is vegan), with Shiro Wot, cabbage and carrots, green beans and carrots, and the house salad with injera bread. I really wanted the Mesir Wot (I LOVE that dish), but they were upfront that it’d take 20 minutes to make that and I just didn’t have time. I have all the ingredients at home, so I should probably try my hand at making it.

Also had a Moe’s salad one day, and then out with my guy – first at one of our favorite wine bars and then dinner at One Fish Two Fish where I had a yummy rosemary gin martini and a delicious off menu vegan dish of spiralized veggies in a spicy tomato sauce.

Yesterday was a big family brunch event. Literally my boyfriend and I, all our kids, and my son’s girlfriend. It was a 2 hr wait, but that was fine. We went to The Bee and the Biscuit and the kids played Uno and we all sat around fire pits (all those over 21 had drinks – which was 5 and that was a HELL of a bar bill, but worth it). Then we went in and had yummy food.

Same wrap I got last time: black bean, potato, spinach, roasted corn, tomatoes. And a side of fruit

FITNESS

Went for 2 runs and then also checked out a new class called Regymen. It’s essentially the Y’s version of Orange Theory. I wore a heart rate monitor and cycled between 3 “stations”. One is treadmills, one is skiers and rowers, and one weights and bikes. There are display monitors around the room so you know what your heart rate is and in what zone you are. It also displays calories burned. In the end I torched 604 calories. Loved the workout. There was perhaps a period where I could’ve thrown up, but that’s ok. Worth it, and I’ll totally go back. Who doesn’t like a workout that makes you wanna cry?

Also did 2 yoga classes. One at the gym, one streaming at home.

LIFE

Pretty typical week. Work, school, family during the week, and fun (and school and cleaning and grocery shopping) on the weekend! I’ve meditated every day, usually in the morning, but if I’m too rushed (or didn’t wake up in my house), I do it later in the day.

On the work front, I hit my 15 year anniversary at my job. I got to pick from a catalog of gifts and got a 4 person tent. Will come in handy when R and I try our hand at camping in a few months! We had that one class at REI and there are a few more there and with a local hikers group I want to do first.

I stopped at a local wine spot while waiting for R to finish up at a school thing.

Not normally a white drinker, but I do love French wine and this was really tasty.

Yeah, I’m short. Feet didn’t touch the ground!

Brunch shenanigans! I LOVE what they do with the outside space to make the wait worth it. Tables, fire pits, a bar, blankets, and a room of games.

Smoke in their eyes made for a goofy shot- but all were warm

After brunch I went home for a bit, then over to my guys house for the night. We watched basketball and a show and had a pretty chill night. After the brunch fun, it was nice to just curl up on the sofa and chill.

And of course the fluffs.

About to get swallowed up by that bush

New morning coffee routine! These two hang out every morning

MY YEAR OF LESS

Ugh. I seriously have sucked paying attention. Which sucks, because I was doing SO well until the holidays. I do have a plan to get back on track – which is basically to reduce going out and only shop when I have a plan.

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….

Sangria IS Fruit Salad

FOOD

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

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

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

Cajun baked tofu, masher w mushroom gravy, and broccoli

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

FITNESS

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

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

LIFE

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

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

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

And other life updates thru pictures!

I

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

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

MY YEAR OF LESS

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

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

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

Savings and Spending Check Up

Video – based on the interactive session I had today

Power of Saving Small Amounts

And a few articles

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

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

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

Spending

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

Sept 17 – $0

Sept 18 – $12.81 for Thai Food for my guy

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

Aliens and Hurricanes!

FOOD

Well, I certainly over prepared for the hurricane that wasn’t! I made a couple batch dishes in case power was an issue, and picked up foods that didn’t need refrigeration nor cooking – like lot of fruit, granola, etc.

So the eats ended up being fairly typical. Smoothies, soups, and rice and beans.

Simple carbonara w silken tofu & nutritional yeast, tossed with GF pasta and corn

Beyond Meat crumbles, sauce, and pasta for a quick meal

Adapted from the China Study cookbook – the Caribbean Rice & Beans – threw it all in the rice cooker with extra veg and spices. Serve with shredded cabbage and hot sauce!
Vega All-in-One Vanilla, blueberries, and kale

My guy had invited us over for the duration of the hurricane if it looked like it was going to be bad. There would have been 7 people, 3 dogs, and a sugar glider. His son was calling it the Hurricane Party, but it never happened since Flo really fizzled out. Instead, I had them over for brunch today. So yummy! Pancakes, potatoes, tofu scramble, and biscuits & gravy! And a Bloody Mary bar 🙂

FITNESS

Got in 2 runs and then did kickboxing (core de force) on my streaming Beach body workouts. Also been picking up on meditating again. Really need to stick to that regularly, it’s just so awesome.

LIFE

This week was a lot about Hurricane Florence for the most part. Evacuations were issued Monday for people living in certain areas (those in Zone A. I’m Zone D), and schools and most business canceled Tuesday morning “until further notice”. Honestly, we knew we weren’t going to get a direct hit, but the flooding from intense wind and rain did generate quite the regional panic. Gas stations were running out, and everyone ran out of water as soon as it was stocked. I managed to get a case and 5 gallons at target before anyone thought to look there.

So, it was time to hunker down. I contacted my university to let them know I was in Flo’s path in case I had service interruption, set up all work meetings as conference calls, and then got ready for the floods.

Meanwhile. R AND M CAME HOME FROM CALIFORNIA! They landed around 1130pm Wednesday night. We got their bags and hustled home. Got home right before midnight – which was perfect because it was R’s bday and we all sang to her.

Thursday was her 15th bday. Because it was storm fun, we did lasagna, a homemade cake (due to nut allergies we ALWAYS do homemade cakes! This was strawberry and decorated by her big sis). As a recap, she was out in Cali visiting her dad. Her fav thing was learning to surf! Good thing there’s some awesome surfing in Virginia Beach!

Yesterday marked the end of my 3rd term of my doctorate program! I submitted my final two papers and now I’m done until Oct 8! I’m excited for the break, but know I risk getting bored. So today, after my guy and his young one left, I went to drop off donations at Goodwill and then stopped at the library! The book AB recommended was checked out (both copies) so I put a hold on it.

Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about Nextdoor. If you’re not on it (or are), it is basically Facebook for neighborhoods that is mostly about “those darn kids”, perceived suspicious activity, people who speed, or lost/found pets. But this little gem popped up this week, and it was the funniest thing ever.

LOUD ROARING NOISES AT NIGHT

Occasionally I hear super loud roaring noises coming from the sky, which usually happens at night. The noise appears to come from some kind of strange aircraft. Does anyone know what the noises are? What’s the purpose of it? I live in the country, so it’s kind of creepy and makes me worry about aliens.

But the responses are the best….

~It’s definitely aliens! I would try and capture one and turn it into the government for study.

~Probably the purple people eaters I see in the fields when I’m out running. OR it’s the jet/helo training since we live near Fentress airfield. Whichever makes more sense.

~It’s my stomach. I apologize.

~My cat says not to worry, it will be over soon. But the dog has been strangely quiet….

~You’re not from around here, are you?

~sorry about this…one of my aliens got loose the other night and found his spaceship in the tool shed behind the house. We got him back though thanks to our flying dog.

MY YEAR OF LESS

So far, so good! I did use two of my going out and one movie. I’m keeping track in a OneNote document (I’m a hard core OneNote junkie).

Also I realize that I’m incredibly difficult to buy for. Not because I don’t have interests (believe me, I have too many!), but I typically just get the things I want and that’s that. Now that I’m not buying myself things, it’s kind of fun to keep a list. Now family and friends won’t struggle come holidays! And it’s funny – it’s not big things. Very little, actually. And it really makes me realize the things I value, and it’s not new shoes and technology toys. It’s books, and candles, and small things.

  • Candles
  • Books – see public Amazon list
  • Race entries
  • Frame my painting from Brazil

Spending

Hurricane spending on things like extra food (though it’ll get eaten eventually), water, batteries, etc. I’ll actually be returning the Amazon things – I couldn’t find batteries anywhere in town that I needed, so I ordered on Amazon. It was supposed to be here by Wednesday – in advance of the storm – but didn’t arrive until today. So I’m sending that back since it’s not needed. Everything else can be used.

Sept 10:

  • $8.15 – Cinema Cafe movie
  • $20.59 – Cinema Cafe dinner
  • $50.72 – Amazon hurricane prep
  • $15.89 – Petco – extra dog food hurricane prep
  • $60 – money for M for food on the trip back to VA for him and R
  • $48.28 – Target hurricane prep

Sept 11:

  • $0

Sept 12:

  • $41 – out with my guy
  • $3 airport parking

Sept 13:

  • $0

Sept 14:

  • $26.19 – Lidl groceries
  • $28.61 – Bloody Mary supplies

Sept 15:

  • $0

Thriving on Chaos (as usual)

FOOD

What a chaotic few weeks! Getting back into the swing of school, work, family, social life balance seems to always lead to more meals out, which is never my first choice. Don’t get me wrong – I do love to go out to eat for sure – but I really prefer to make good and healthy meals for the kids and me.

Smoothies are still my favorite for breakfast, and lots of salads, soups, curries, and of course tacos for everything else!

FITNESS

Same as always – runs and hot yoga and some workouts in the garage! We had more snow, so that meant a lot of indoor workouts – which are my least favorite.

Unfortunately, I got sick last Monday, and while I’m managing as long as I keep my fever down (been a huge pain to have a persistent fever), I’m still not up for runs. So, gentle yoga at home and daily meditation and it’s all helping.

LIFE

It’s certainly been a busy couple of weeks, but that’s nothing new. On the home front, R has gotten really involved in her high school’s robotics club, and is there pretty much every night and Saturday. They have a big competition coming up, and she’s really loving it. Her mentor is a NASA engineer and she’s learning so much and loving every minute of it.

School is really intense, but that’s okay. I do really enjoy it though. I picked up this wonderful book called Deep Work by Cal Newport, and it’s really given me an edge I think on obtaining that hyper focus I need to do well in school and build this new program at work. He goes into detail in how our deeply connected world has led to a inability of people to “go deep” in concentration and therefore production of meaningful work. After all, how can I write publishable papers and build professional program frameworks if I’m checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 50 times per day? (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my social media, but it does provide a next-level distraction that I can do without). I have a long way to go before fully implementing all the techniques I’m learning, but it’s been really impactful so far. I first heard about it on the MentorBox podcast (I’m a MentorBox member), and was so intrigued, I picked up the audio book. I’m now thinking I need a print copy as well! I don’t do that for many books – usually the audio is fine – but this is one I feel I’d like to have for a quick review time and again. I plan to check it out at the library first to see if there’s anything in there I’m not getting from the audio book (like some physical examples he discusses). Anyway – if you have any interest in professional development and increasing productivity – especially as a knowledge-worker – I highly recommend it.

Work is getting more and more interesting as we progress through our restructuring and I work on building this new division. The good thing is I have very loose direction, so I get to build it the way I think it should be – rather than following a prescribed set of expectations. I’ve always enjoyed that freedom to be creative with my work, and to base my ideas off of research and best practice in varying industries. It’ll be slow going for awhile – which is fine – since we all still have “day jobs” until the restructure is done. But it’s still be fun to get into.

I was in Chicago this past week for a few days. Was supposed to be Wednesday – Sunday (today), but ended up coming home Friday due to expected inclement weather in Chicago. I was bummed because I was supposed to visit family Friday afternoon-Sunday morning. Fortunately, I know I’ll be back there in May at least, so will make an extended trip to visit family and friends back home.

Other than that, I’m enjoying time with my munchkins as well as an active social life. Excited that this will be a short week as I head out of town on a little get away with about 15 of my friends! I guess that means it’s time to get back to the books so I can get all my school work done before mini-vacay starts!

All told, I have an incredibly busy life, and I love it. I’ve always known I can’t sit still, and certainly couldn’t just do nothing all day. Some may say I take it to the other extreme – on the go constantly. And there may be some truth to that, but I can’t imagine it any other way. I do take “breaks” to slow down a little bit, but must admit, I love living in my world of barely controlled chaos!

A couple friends and I went to an 80’s event at a local bar. I certainly went all out in my outfit (leggings, tutu, side pony, lace gloves, etc). Sadly not all did. But that’s okay, it was a good time anyway!

Also did a day trip to Richmond for some serious fun, which included a couple Cideries and meeting up with friends. My favorite, shockingly, was a jalapeño lime cider at a place called Busky’s. SO good.

Candles & Cats Don’t Mix

FOOD

I start every morning with a cup of black coffee. And despite many people's claims that to truly get healthy one must kick the habit…not going to happen. One cup of coffee isn't going to suck my body into acidic hell. So it stays. And that will make me and everyone around me (especially in the morning!) very happy!

That said….

Breakfast yesterday was a green smoothie, lunch was a quick spicy tofu soup, I had a post-run snack of a baked potato with refried pinto beans and hot sauce, and dinner was a soup and salad.

my standard recipe of onion, garlic, tomatoes, and sriracha. This version was also cabbage and asparagus.

Breakfast today was a green juice (used up the last of my kale and cucumber!), morning snack was a green smoothie (and used the last of the pineapple), lunch was spicy hummus and gluten-free seed crackers (not pleased with this choice…truth be told…but found myself hungry after yoga, really sweaty, and no easy meal in site), a PM snack of Allegro hot chocolate in unsweetened coconut milk, and dinner was a butternut squash and black bean soup served over quinoa.

I've been loving making juices almost every day the past two weeks. I hope to get these in at least 3 days per week once I go back to work. It's also a great way to use up produce that's not going to last much longer!
threw in a scoop of Vega Vanilla Smoothie powder for some extra staying power
holy crap, this was good. Whole family loved it. D and M each had two servings.

FITNESS

Yesterday – shortly after writing my “come clean” post – I went for a run. I am on W2D2 (week 2, day 2) of the 10K app, and the run was just under 2.5 miles. I will be honest – it's a bit frustrating. The app includes walk breaks – and the goal is to build up the endurance – and I really just want to blow through them sometimes, especially when I'm feeling strong, but I also know that overduing it is dumb.

Today I went to a hot yoga class, and I have a new favorite instructor! I took his class earlier in the week, and he's just awesome. Great instruction, walks through the class to be sure everyone is in the right alignment, and has a great and playful energy. I have a feeling I'll be specifically seeking out his classes in the future.

LIFE

The past two days have been blissfully simple. Today was my last day off, and this time away from work has been quite lovely. We're gearing up for a busy year, so I'm glad to come into it after a week and a half off!

D is feeling great and is allowed to have fiber again. No raw broccoli or anything, but he's back to his green smoothies, is putting weight back on, and looks awesome. Kids have mostly been big lumps and enjoying their vacations too!

In this morning's meditation session, Ginny joined me…like she always does. This time, she decided to check out my candle a little too closely and ended up with a singed whisker! She was fine, but the room smelled awful, so I cut my meditation short (only 4 minutes in!).

I have a confession to make. I totally love the Biggest Loser. While I disagree with some of what they do (losing 15 lbs in a week…no matter how big you are…can't possibly be good for the long term), I do still find the show fun and inspiring. I can relate to people who want to change their lives, regain their health, and need help doing it. Thing is, I haven't watched it much the past few years and completely forgot about it. Until this week. And in between reading, cleaning, relaxing, and hanging out with my family….I've been binge watching the heck out of Season 16 on Hulu.

my Biggest Loser companion…though she clearly fails to see the value of the show!

 

GOAL CHECK IN

I know it's only been two days, but here's how I stand with it:

  • 100% gluten free
  • worked out both days
  • no wine
  • the crackers today – while GF, were still a processed food. I was really disappointed in that. I haven't bulk cooked, and when I got home from yoga, the kids were in the kitchen making lunches for themselves (tofurky sammiches!), and so I didn't have the room to make something. Truth is…I could have picked something better. Even a banana to get me through a half hour until I could reclaim the kitchen.
  • meditated yesterday for 8 minutes and today for 4. Yesterday's was bad…mind kept wandering…but that's part of the process. Today was great until the smell…
  • my goal is to be around 1200 calories per day. Nailed it today….was under yesterday (which is NOT good). I think it was partially because I slept in yesterday and also went to bed fairly early last night, so there really weren't enough hours in the day. And while I've been tracking my calories for years…there's a shift when I'm not drinking any!