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….

Comfort vs Survival

FOOD

Fairly typical eats. A couple smoothies and oatmeal largely in the mornings – especially cold ones.

Minor explosion in the microwave. Oops.

A few outings for Thai, Indian, and a veggie burger.

Vegan burger at Yard House – out with R before an event

Ezekiel bread, sunflower seed butter, banana, and agave

On Thursday a couple friends came over (long overdue hanging out), and I made a build your own taco bar with tofu/potato tacos, Venezuelan black beans, and a totally yummy slaw. The slaw was freaking amazing – A and I kept picking at it while waiting for people, and she eventually just ate a big bowl full.

Ate mine as a bowl topped with Daiya shreds, hot sauce, and pickled jalapeños

FITNESS

Went for 3 runs last week and did yoga twice. Ankle feels totally fine and my calf was mostly good too, yay!

Now, must avoid any other dumb injuries…..

LIFE

Speaking of injuries, R started physical therapy for her wrist this week. She hurt it about 6 weeks ago. No break, but the doc was calling it a sprain/soft tissue damage and she was in a splint for a month. She has to do her exercises at least 5 days per week, and she’ll go to physical therapy weekly for the next 6. Overall though, she’s healing nicely. Was worried for a bit there that she’d need a cast.

On Tuesday, R and I went to an Camping Basics class at REI! It was really interesting, and we learned a great deal. For example, the differences between men’s and women’s sleeping bags are both in where the zipper is, and in what the number ratings actually mean.

For example – I’m eyeing this beauty right here.

See the 20? That means it will be comfortable for me to sleep in when the weather is as cold as 20 degrees.

Now see this one? Same manufacturer. Same numeric rating.

The difference? This means that a man can survive in weather as cold as 20 degrees. He will NOT be comfortable. He simply won’t die.

Our camping instructor was very specific that we understand this. And then complained at how dumb it is to have a difference at all. Men would like to be comfortable too. And women care about not dying. So yes – the numbers on a sleeping bag are about comfort vs survival.

Wednesday I focused on getting the majority of my school work done. Everything was read and 2 papers written. I spent a bit of that time at Starbuck’s with R as she did school stuff too.

Thursday was my friends A and D and his wife P over for dinner, drinks, and laughs.

Friday was running around like crazy, and then Saturday morning it was off to Alexandria for a holiday celebration with my guy and my grad school friends. Our hostess A was perfect as always, and the event was a ton of fun. We did a white elephant gift exchange.

We stopped in Richmond on the way up for a store I wanted to hit up for one of our gifts, then got to Alexandria, stopped for a drink or two (I had a sangria + margarita that was pretty tasty!). Then to the hotel for a while, then dinner and off to the party!

Today was up early to hit the road. I spent some time suffering for the amount of fun I managed the night before (ugh), but after a nap and some caffeine and food, I felt fine enough to get the rest of my school work done.

Me just getting comfy on the drive home

So all told, awesome festive weekend full of friends, fun, and the best boyfriend/babysitter a girl could have 😂.

Okay, so this is a screen shot of part of a book I’m reading – all still part of the becoming a morning person gig (which honestly is going pretty well). It talks about people who are overwhelmed so they hate mornings, and then people who are underwhelmed. This really spoke to me and think that’s largely been me. Kind of goes back to a previous post about not having that 5 year plan worked out. Thankfully it’s coming together a little bit at a time.

MY YEAR OF LESS

I don’t have my November stats yet (Quicken doesn’t post pending charges, so it’ll be a few days), so that report will come in the next post.

I have all my Christmas shopping done with the exception of my guy’s youngest, but I know what I’m getting – just need to coordinate getting it.

I also paid off two credit cards at the end of the month, which is cool, and added several hundred to the emergency fund. All told – good progress!

Birthday Bash Weekend and Other Fun!

FOOD

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

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

Crissie’s Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry

Ingredients

• 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed

• 1 tbsp olive oil

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

• 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets

• 1/2 red onion, cut into large wedges

• 1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares

• 1 small can diced water chestnuts

• 1 small can bamboo shoots

• 1 can bean sprouts (or use fresh)

• 2 cloves garlic

• 1/4 tsp ground ginger

• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

• 3 tbsp mirin (or regular white vinegar)

• 2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari

• 3 tbsp corn starch

• red pepper flakes

• salt to taste

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes.

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

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

• Add bean sprouts and heat through.

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

FITNESS

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

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

LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spin, Spin, Baby!

FOOD

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

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

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

Home eats!

Fitness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Florida Adventure

FOOD

Well, I just spent the last week in Florida! I had oatmeal and bananas for breakfast every morning in my room, a banana and granola for lunch (the conference was a healthy-food desert), and vendor sponsored dinners every night – of which I had some variation of salad most of the time.

When I was out on my own, food got a little more interesting! Veggie flat bread, falafel, stuffed greek peppers, black bean soup and a great lentil/hummus/tabbouleh/pita dish (that was in Morocco at Epcot!).

Since I’ve been home, it’s been pretty much all FitOrbit meals and fresh juice.

one of the toys I got at the conference.  A water bottle with a center you can fill with fruit!  Today I used cucumber slices

FITNESS

My workouts consisted of the hotel gym treadmill, a few body weight workouts (burpees, sit ups, pushups, etc), and YogaGlo.com classes on my laptop in my hotel.

Oh, and according to my FitBit, I walked TWENTY SEVEN MILES in three days. Yep, gotta love a gigantic conference room floor!

So speaking of the FitBit….I have to send mine back. Yes, I am one of the lucky FitBit Force owners who have gotten the contact dermatitis/burns on my wrist from wearing it. It breaks my heart – because I love it – but it’s tearing up my arm and needs to be returned. They’ve recalled them and aren’t selling them anymore either because this is apparently a little more common than originally thought. Ugh.

LIFE

Oh gee, where to start? The conference itself was awesome. I went to to some great sessions (the favorite of mine being a congressional panel discussing upcoming possible legislation around what I do), met with dozens and dozens of vendors, did a scavenger hunt for a Vespa (didn’t win, but it was fun), and went to a ton of evening events.

as a Vet, I loved that this is even a thing!  I went and ended up meeting with some newly discharged vets to give advice as an “experienced health IT professional”.  This felt great to do.
a very small sampling of the conf room floor.  Each of these are vendor booths that develop tools and technologies to try and make care better

I also tweeted the heck out of everything, which was fun.

my tweet was scrolling on the big screen just before Hillary Clinton came on stage!  I was so proud 🙂
Oh, and the main keynote speaker on Wednesday was Hillary Clinton. I was in the front row (off to the side) and very much enjoyed the hour. I didn’t like some of the questions that strayed from the topic (healthcare technologies), but she redirected everything back to the topic at hand, which I appreciated.

To highlight a few fun ones…..

One vendor did a fun night and had an ice sculpture that was a luge for martinis. They’d mix them, pour them in the luge into your glass, and you’d have a chilled martini! I did not partake, but thought it was cool.

Another sent limos and a car service to collect you and bring you to a lakeside firepit bourbon tasting, wine tasting, and cigar rolling evening. I had the wine. It was good. Car service to and from my hotel was much appreciated as well.

Then there was the river boat, balloon ride, and Irish pub evening. Probably the most fun of the vendor nights, though they were all nice.

Thursday after my morning sessions (the conference ended), I met up with my Aunt/Godmother and Uncle for lunch! It was a very nice time – my Uncle B constantly ribs my food pics on FB. All in good fun, of course. It was nice to catch up.

Thursday eve I saw a friend of mine that moved to FL last year. KD and I went to Taverna Opa, and it was a blast. Belly dancers, sparklers, shots, and table dancing….and that was pretty much everyone in the place! Flying napkins and shouts of “Opa” ensued.

Friday I spent my solo day at Epcot. I walked through the world showcase twice, sampled some beverages, shopped, took in the arts, movies, and performances of each country, and had a very nice time.

Believe it or not, I was in bed before midnight every night.

I came home Saturday and other than my normal grocery and food day yesterday, have been home with the family. Today was work from home – school was canceled for snow/sleet/ice storms. All told, I’m really happy to be home.

Cleanse with Crissie in 2014 (or aka…let’s kill Billy)

FOOD

The best thing about the past 5 days is that I can actually taste food again! I'm not sick anymore (FINALLY), so food once again tastes good!

I made a marinated lentil salad during the holiday, and took it to work on Thursday as a lettuce wrap with a side of strawberries and cherry tomatoes. YUM.

I've also had less than stellar Pho, a bean and corn stew, and whole wheat penne with balsamic veggies.

I also made a totally killer Shamrock Shake-ish green smoothie! It's actually from the Dr. Fuhrman website, and it fully rocked. Coconut milk, spinach, mint, vanilla, banana….all yummy stuff.

Last night was tapas fun that culumnated in a ridiculously rich (too rich) coconut chocolate creme pie thingy.

But, if I need to stop teasing you all with my title, 2014 is going to be the year of the food cleanse. I will fully disclose here that my reasonings are actually not for vanity. They're to put an end to the hive nightmare of the past year (I hope). So…starting with tomorrow's post, the food sections of my blog will focus on the cleanse du jour.

For my first one of 2014, I'm going with Dr. Fuhrman! I've blogged about him before, and he's written a ton of really great books (Eat for Life, Eat for Health, The End of Diabetes, Super Immunity….the list goes on). Anyway, he advocates a vegan diet that is high in nutrient density, and between his books and his website, he has some prescriptive eating plans, of which I'm going to follow a 21-day version beginning tomorrow. I will track my progress as a whole, with the goal of concluding it hive-free. If I do – yay! I've found my “magic bullet”. If not….I will move onto another eating program with the goal of ending hive-free (or at the very least, hive-light!).

FITNESS

So I tried going for a run, and despite my feeling mostly human again, my lungs disagreed. I ended up doing a power-walk workout with some yoga after. Not bad, but I do hope this respiratory nonsense departs soon…..

LIFE

Well, the first week of 2014 is pretty much in the bag! All in all, it was a very good week. I went back to work on Thursday (like most of the world), the younger kids went back to school (A is still on holiday until next week), and R's swim team even ramped back up again.

Yesterday AC and JC had their annual post-Holiday party, which is always a good time. D and I went, and HF was there! She's one of my travel buddies (Vegas and Seattle), and while she doesn't live in our area, actually traveled here primarily for the party! D finally got to meet her, which made me happy too.

Today AC, HF, and I met down at the Oceanfront for a long lunch. Afterwards, it was off to do my regular weekend grocery shopping and food prep.

Okay, so to explain Billy. My chronic hives have finally been given a name! Dermographism. LC mentioned that it's not a very good name and I need to call them something else. Billy is the first thing that came to mind, so now when I talk about my hives, I call them Billy. Strange, maybe, but it's less of a mouthful than dermographism!

In 2010, a great documentary was made called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It's about a guy named Joe from Australia who is overweight and has chronic urticaria (aka…Billy), and decides to go on a 60 day juice fast/cleanse in an attempt to rid himself of all the excess weight, hives, and the meds he has had to take to keep the hives under control (I admit…I've thus far mostly refused to do that). Anyway, that's where the concept of the year of cleanses has come in. I'm not willing to do such a long juice fast, but I am willing to do a series of whole foods based cleanses if it means killing Billy. If, by the end of the year, I haven't been successful, then I will do a juice fast (15 days or so) to see if that works. I hope it won't come to that, but I'm starting to get fairly desparate. Some days are ok (like today….not one errant wheal on my body), and some I want to cry as I lie in bed covered in ice packs trying to make them go away. It sucks that my Dr isn't sure why I have them, has no real way to treat them, and is telling me they may last the rest of my life. Like hell….I'll find a way to kick Billy out of my life one way or another!

All my babbling aside, most days are pretty good. Some are worse than others, and while I was sick, it was pretty bad. I'm assuming the compromised immune system was a beacon for Billy to come out and play, but being sick for over a week also left me with a lot of time to sit and think and read. Now I'm on a mission – hives aren't something I should just live with for no reason, and I imagine I can beat them with a good clean diet, just like I have other ailments. So stay tuned….this should be an interesting ride!!!