Elevator Hell and Other Shenanigans

FOOD

Lazy eats – that’s the theme so far this week.

Like these Instant Pot Brussels sprouts with a baker. Simple, healthy, tasty.

Smoothies and oatmeal a few days.

Gluten-free shell pasta with peas for breakfast one day.

My sister’s black bean soup recipe!

The Other C’s Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 cans black beans (NOT drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can veggie broth
  • 1 jar chunky salsa
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Sauté the onion and cumin in the oil until the onion is soft
  • Purée 2 cans of the beans with can of broth
  • Add the puréed mixture to the onion, add salsa and 3rd can of beans
  • Add lime juice
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes

It’s really my favorite black bean soup recipe, and SO good. I did some slight modifications because I’m lazy. I also try to minimize oil whenever possible, so I actually sautéed the onion in just a little bit of broth, then added the cumin, 2 cans of beans, and the broth – took the immersion blender to it, and then added the rest per the directions.

And a Mexican birthday dinner out which was veggie fajitas for me.

I made a cake (A decorated it) and homemade peppermint ice cream too. Was a really fun time and yummy eats.

And tonight is crockpot red beans and rice!

FITNESS

Had a lot of good workouts this week.

A couple runs at the gym on the dreadmill. A combo of music and having the TV with subtitle on made it semi-bearable. But it’s better than running in the wet and cold, so I’ll take it.

Also got that swim workout in! Honestly, it was awesome. And honestly – was tough too! But – time in the hot tub then sauna after was heavenly.

Also did some weight training since I was there. Nothing crazy, but it’s a start. Took advantage of the ActivTrax program at the Y, which makes it relatively foolproof – which I definitely need when it comes to weights.

LIFE

A whole year down, baby! That’s right – the first year of my doctorate was wrapped when I submitted my last paper Tuesday night. And that was 3 whole days early! To say I’m proud is an understatement. Been a wild year for sure. But – love it. Love learning and being challenged.

Kuma keeping me company as I wrote my last paper!

One relatively horrifying thing happened this week though. I got stuck in a %#$%^#$ elevator!! I had just finished a late lunch and was heading to my car to head to my evening meeting. My car was on the 5th floor of the parking garage, and the elevator got stuck somewhere between 3 and 4. My cell had no service and my first several attempts to raise help via the elevator emergency call button was fruitless. I did eventually get through, but it took way too long. As a bit of background – I’m wicked claustrophobic. So I found myself sitting on the floor of an unmoving elevator crying. After a few, I realized I had my ipad too, and tried that. Sure enough – there was 1 bar, so I could text. I texted my oldest and my boyfriend. He offered to come out, but that wouldn’t do any good. Was still sweet though.

It included this FB post.

Which my best friend saw and immediately texted me. I love her.

I was eventually freed. And I won’t lie – I was a mess by the time they got to me. The building employee actually wanted me to come to the lobby to fill out an incident report. BY GETTING IN AN ELEVATOR. I ever so politely told him to get bent. Gave my name and number and took the stairs up to my car. Fun. Times.

Other fun this week was getting my downstairs bathroom done. When we ripped up the floors, we found water damage – which was beyond our abilities. So I hired a contractor who had to rip everything out and replace the subfloor. They’re in there as I write this finishing up, and I’m SO excited. It’s the last thing – other than grabbing those rugs I want.

Sure my neighbors loved my toilet on the front lawn

Of course there was coffee and Kuma and other shenanigans, like a holiday party at my friend’s M&R’s house last night! No pics of that though. Hmmm…

Braved the crazy storm because she REALLY had to go!

Major uptick is spam calls. This was a first tho.

Not bad! Will be 1-3 books higher by years end tho since school is done

VB has these huge snow globes all over Town Center and I love them
So this happened.

This is a new misspelling for me

Having a little dinner party this Saturday, which I’m looking forward to. Latin themed with tamales, empanadas, arepas, and other fun eats!

MY YEAR OF LESS

I’ll be honest, not sure I have much to report here. No real expenditures now that Christmas shopping is over. Did go out to eat and am going to the movies with my kids on Sunday (bought tix already). That’s about it.

Kuma’s Selective Stair Use Annoys Me

FOOD

Summer is seriously the best for fresh food. Don’t get me wrong, I adore winter squash and kale, etc, but bring on the fruit and summer squash and fresh tomatoes please!

Morning smoothies as always. Usually use water as the liquid base, maybe 1/2 a banana and berries and some green – spinach and kale mostly, but sometimes arugula for a spicy kick. Occasionally I’ll throw in a fresh herb like cilantro or mint.

Went to my boyfriend’s house for the 4th. I brought “dessert” 😉

He made a totally yummy smoked tofu plus vegan mashers and roasted corn.

Other random eats like toasted Ezekiel bread with Daiya cream cheese and sliced tomatoes with fresh pepper!

I went to Keegan’s in Virginia Beach to watch the Brazil v. Belgium match yesterday. Their veggie stack is actually really awesome. As was the Tito’s & Soda!

And always tofu green curry.

FITNESS

Definitely still loving the at-home spin classes pretty much daily. I enjoy the Peloton instructors, but after yesterday’s class, still wanted to ride. So, I popped on a show from Hulu (Rizzoli and Isles), sprinted during the show and climbed with high resistance during the commercials. For once, I’m glad to have the bloody commercials! I was pretty dead though after yesterday’s 90 minutes!

Also went for a run, and probably will in a little bit since the weather has cooled off post all the overnight rains.

LIFE

The 4th was a lot of fun hanging out and my boyfriend’s house with his kids and two of mine (M had to work). A’s boyfriend is in town and he came too. The evening involved competitive pool basketball, drinks, eats, and the kids playing video games. It was a pretty perfect day.

My girls!

Now that we have no more cats, Kuma is allowed free run of the house. I had a gate blocking her from the upstairs, as that was cat safe-haven territory. Their litter boxes and food, etc was up there. This means Kuma can actually sleep with one of us. She’s a runt of a pup, so I bought some puppy stairs. Let’s just say the stair training is NOT going well….and I don’t get it. She does the stairs in the house fine. And the front and back porches. But not to the comfiness of my bed! Ugh.

And my summer break from classes is officially over. Back to the grind, and I’m pretty grateful for it. I don’t do boredom well, and the past 3 weeks I struggled a bit with what to do with myself!

Oh well. Tomorrow I leave for a couple days on the road for work. Should be back by late Tuesday night. Until then, typical miscellaneous pics!

Good Times but with a Tearful Goodbye

First of all, Happy 4th of July to my friends in the USA! Today, on our 242nd Birthday, I’d like to remember the dreams our forefathers had for this country, and while I do not feel our current political climate is at all honoring that vision, I have to believe in the strength and heart of the American people, and in the end, we will exceed that vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL who come to our shores.

FOOD

Hot summer days are definitely here to stay! That means morning smoothies and fruit-based deliciousness.

I found myself mostly alone this past 10 days or so. R was in Orlando with her bestie’s family, A works nights, and M mostly works evenings, so my meals were super simple for the most part.

Did have dinner one night at my guys house, but forgot to snap pics. Salad, pasta, and cupcakes!

FITNESS

More Peloton spin fun and runs!

LIFE

Been mostly a good week and a half. R had a blast in Orlando, for which I’m so happy and grateful to her friend’s family for taking her!

Got to have a fun evening out with another couple who were visiting the area.

I took R and her bestie to their first big outdoor show! R had gone to see 21 Pilots with my ex-husband and the other kids about 5-6 years ago. This was her first big stadium show, and Imagine Dragon’s did NOT disappoint! It was N’s very first concert ever. The girls had a blast, and it was so much fun to be there with them.

It’s that time of year again where java is best enjoyed outdoors in the morning!

And A’s garden harvest is starting to produce some yummy eats too.

Other random pics.

But there was certainly heartbreak this past week as well. Our beloved Ginny succumbed to her feline leukemia. We were so fortunate to share her life for 5 years, and saying goodbye, frankly, sucked. I’m not sure Kuma knows what to do being the only fluff left. In time, we’ll rescue another kitty or two, but for now, we’re just focusing on celebrating Gin. Here are a few of the last pics I took of her. Sweet dreams Ginnykins

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.

Whiny (not Wine-Y) and Never Ever Camping

FOOD

Smoothies for breakfast have been extra refreshing in this week’s heat.  I made a monster one yesterday – enough for a filling breakfast and second breakfast in the office!

3 cups of coconut water, 2 oranges, 2 cups of frozen mixed fruit (strawberry, mango, banana), 1 scoop vanilla Vega powder, 2 cups of spinach and 1 cup kale

Today I made tofu eggless salad & veggie sammiches for lunch.  So simple – firm silken tofu (Mori Nu), vegan mayo (I use Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo), a squirt of yellow mustard, and about 1 tsp of agave.  I like to put pepper on mine after it’s on the bread (R doesn’t like the pepper).

on whole wheat bread topped with cucumbers, red onion, lettuce, and tomato slices

I whipped up a batch of stuffed bell peppers this afternoon too!

Crissie’s Pressure Cooker Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked per package instructions
  • 1 pouch of Beyond Meat beefless crumbles.  Could sub 2 cups of cooked lentils too
  • 3 bell peppers, tops removed and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced fine or minced
  • 1 jar marinara of choice
  • 3 tsp of spice blend of choice.  Excellent option would be an Italian blend.  I used something called Lake Shore Drive Seasoning from my Milwaukee hometown shop The Spice House
the tofu, nutritional yeast, and fresh basil are for another dish I made as a post-cooking topping

Directions

  • line a sauté pan with water
  • cook the onion and garlic on medium heat until the onion is translucent – about 5 minutes
  • add the remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

  • Insert the rack in your pressure cooker.
  • Place the bell peppers in a oven safe dish
  • Stuff them!

  • Put about 1 cup of water into the pressure cooker, and place the dish inside.
  • Seal it up, and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.  Let pressure come down naturally.
dinner for 3, coming up!

I have a ton of fresh basil growing in my herb garden and came across this pesto recipe from Forks over Knives I really wanted to try.  My thought was to drizzle it on top of the peppers before serving, or possibly mix it into the stuffing.  So, I whipped it up (sans Pine Nuts since we don’t do nuts here right now), and while incredibly tasty, came out more the consistency of mayo than a traditional pesto.

So – while it didn’t find a home with the bell peppers, I can totally see this as a sammich spread or tossed with pasta.

M ended up going to a friends house to swim and R asked for the mushroom dish again tonight (the one I made Monday), so I scrapped the original plan of bell peppers for 3 and made R’s request and salads for our eats.

At least the peppers are made and now so are tomorrow’s lunches!

FITNESS

Swimming!  Seriously, with no AC, it’s pretty much the only thing I can handle.

Okay, I did go for a run on Tuesday.  R had to talk me out of jumping in the pool in my clothes.  I did manage to peel them off and put on a suit first, so I think I deserve bonus points there.

LIFE

The 4th of July holiday started like pretty much any other Tuesday off.  Woke up R, did her OIT dose, went for a run, then a quick pool dip, shower, and off for Williamsburg with my girls!

We were gone for a few hours, having a blast, when the dumb weather report got it right for once and it started to rain.  We decided to head home and catch fireworks a different night this summer.

As expected, no one called about my AC until Wednesday.  The soonest they can come is now tomorrow morning – so assuming it’s something that can even be fixed right away, we’ll be at 4 days with no AC.  I know I sound whiny but it suuuuuuucks.

I went to the office yesterday (blessedly cool air) and then to happy hour with co workers after.  It’s a place I’d only been to via boat before, so I actually didn’t really know where it was!  And while it was odd being there without MM and RM, the Orange Crushes were still fantastic.

Today I stayed home – hoping for an AC technician cancelation so I could be fit in (something the company thought possible).  That, and I felt guilty having the kids sweat it out in a hot house all alone.  Knowing R, she’d play video games all day or read and not hydrate.  It also sucks trying to get ready for work when it’s hot.  (I know, I’m getting whiny again).

Tangent time (but it’ll make sense).  I’ve never been camping.  Not really – I mean I slept in a tent in my backyard a few years ago and once in Vegas, but I’ve never been out in nature roughing it.  I WANT to find the idea appealing and be all one with nature and stuff, but deep down I know that my idea of roughing it is a hotel with no bar.  And no AC in the summer.  So – this week is as close to camping as I ever wanna get.  Worst vegan ever right?  I love nature – just don’t want it on me.

Peace kids!

Kuma looking very dramatic at her lack of cooling options.