I Prefer Sparkling Isolation

FOOD

Eats have been fairly similar, despite having MUCH more time on my hands than normal. My produce delivery last Friday forgot all my greens, and they were supposed to come back by last night and hadn’t. I called and it’s supposed to be today. It’s 530pm and I’m not holding out hope. I just miss salads!

Beyond Meat crumbles, cauliflower rice, spices, green beans. Boring – should’ve made a sauce for it – but filling.
Konjac noodles, tofu, broccoli, splash of coconut milk, ginger and hot curry powder

FITNESS

Went for a run yesterday. Haven’t worked out today yet, but it’s a toss up between a spin or yoga. My friend O recommended two of her favorite yoga YouTubers, so I’m leaning towards that. My hot yoga studio is streaming classes 2x per day, but so far they have been when I’m in meetings.

It was chilly and misting, and not my best run ever – but I was really annoyed and frustrated, and the point of my run was to burn that off. And I did, so yay!

LIFE

Well, like many states, the guidance has been evolving. Most recently (yesterday), schools are closed through the rest of the academic year. I am not surprised at all. My school district has not been well prepared for this, however, and I think it’ll be a bit before there’s consistency in education. One of the neighboring cities seems to have it on point though, so hopefully mine will take some lessons from them! But two of R’s teachers (eng and chem) have their act together, so at least there’s that.

My work is so conducive to remote life, that virtually nothing has changed for me. I spend quite a bit of time working from home on the regular, and I tend to prefer it.

One thing I’m liking about this new normal is I’ve talked to several friends in the past few days – where we’re all normally so busy that we’ll text occasionally, and that’s it. O and I spoke at length yesterday about life, changes in our lives, work, health (she should be a fitness model, I’m telling ya!), politics, and careers. I realized as we talked how much I miss her and how I have no excuses to not talking to her more often.

Today J called to give me some life updates of his own, which are exciting and I’m super stoked for him – and humbled that I was the person he thought to call and talk about it with. We chatted for a bit, but didn’t want to catch up TOO much because we have a long overdue happy hour 🙂

Lots of texting too. A and I at length today. JN a few times over the past few days. H and my sister, and even my ex who is quarantined due to an autoimmune condition he has. All told, good to catch up with people.

I did something today that I hadn’t done in 20 years. I printed off the Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle! Luna loved the actual printing. It took me awhile. I guessed 5 without help – and 3 were actually right! R got one. And the interwebs helped with the rest!

Don’t know that I’ll do them daily, but it was nice – both to kill time and to work my brain and learn some new vocabulary!

M is still sick – day 6 of running a fever and coughing. Hard not to be worried, but he’s staying hydrated and even eating some, though not a ton. He manages to stay in good spirits, though he has always been like that!

When not working, I’ve been reading a lot, which is nice. Some TV or movies now and then, but mostly spending a lot of time just reflecting on life. What I want. What makes me happy. What in my life doesn’t make me happy or add value. And, while not making any permanent decisions, certainly entertaining ideas for my future and that of my family. All good things. Felt a little selfish at first, but realize it is okay to prioritize myself (not something I’ve ever been good at!)

On interesting note – is how the approach to COVID-19 seems to be divided so much along political ideologies. Those advocating with the public health lens lean democrat, and you can see that clearly in the news with the states that are taking more stringent measures. Those advocating with an economic lens lean republican, and the red states are easing restrictions – if any are in place to begin with. I truly see both sides of the argument, I do, but as someone who has been in healthcare her entire adult life, is a self-proscribed bleeding heart, and who certainly is a liberal democrat, I definitely believe the right thing to do is to prevent – at all costs – a point of no return with our healthcare systems ability to treat patients. Reading reports of what amounts to battlefield triage in Italy where people on vents are being taken off if they’re over a certain age in order to provide care for younger infected people. I know as a care provider, I would never want to have to make that decision – so for the love of all things – STAY HOME. This is when we need our government to work together to ease the economic burden while the rest of us listen to the healthcare experts. (Sermon over, thank you for tuning in).

Don’t appreciate Apple judging me for my quarantine uptick in screen time!

Staying Safe and Busy with the New Normal

FOOD

There’s never a shortage of food in my house, thankfully, so plenty of meals to make. Smoothies, soups, stir-fries, and snacking on cucumbers and olives mostly.

Konjac “noodles”, tofu, and green beans all tossed in soy sauce
An orange/vanilla smoothie with coconut milk. SO good
Tofu, broccoli, and Konjac noodles in a coconut curry base
Probably my very fav way to snack on cucs. Tossed with apple cider vinegar, a little bit of toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Sit about 10 minutes, but good for a couple days.
Tofu eggless salad

I’ve been using the Konjac noodles quite a lot lately. I’ve always passed by them at the grocery, but decided to give them a try and I’m enjoying them. I have RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and gluten can be very bad for it – or any inflammatory condition. As a vegan, I already don’t eat most of the inflammation causing foods (red meat and dairy), and I do try to limit my gluten intake. I’m “gluten-lite”, but I do absolutely LOVE pasta. So – trying alternatives isn’t a bad thing for me.

FITNESS

Thursday afternoon I went to a local state park for a hike. I was getting a little stir crazy and it was a gorgeous 85 degree day. Experts are saying hikes and walks are fine as long as you’re not near people. And man – it was perfect. Only did 3 miles, but no headphones and just walking and enjoying being outside. Only saw a few people, though as I was leaving, the line to get into the park was longer than I had ever seen it.

Other workouts included more spin and running and yoga. I brought my spin bike in from the garage yesterday. I got in a long session by watching the Mandalorian and a bit of You.

Today I decided to go for a run. A bit chilly – low 50’s, but sunny and wonderful. I saw several people out walking and everyone was quick to smile and wave at each other. I will say, that is one thing I’m noticing and fully on board with in the midst of all the chaos and concerns about COVID-19, and that’s most people seem to have more love and compassion for each other (crazy TP hoarder aside), and I hope that’s something that sticks around.

LIFE

Well, it’s only been a few days, and like most of the world, I’m staying home other than a quick grocery trip and that hike.

My eldest two work at one of our local hospitals, so they don’t get the option to just stay home the way I and my youngest do. A works nights in the ED, and her new routine is to come in through the garage, take off her scrubs and put them in a bag for laundry, wrap in a towel and go straight to a shower before going to bed.

My son, sadly, has gotten sick. He had a potential exposure, though no confirmation. Thursday afternoon – while I was actually out on my hike – he started running a fever and developed a cough. He has NOT developed the shortness of breath that is common with COVID, however, so I do not think that is what he has. My daughter says there’s an uptick in Flu B, and his symptoms match that. No way of knowing for certain – he wouldn’t be eligible for testing anyway – but he’s still fully quarantined in his bedroom to keep everyone else healthy. The girls moved all their stuff into my bathroom, so M has his room and his own bathroom and that’s it. I bring him water, tea, and food when he can stomach it.

Last night my friend and I had a makeshift Netflix Party. If didn’t know – Netflix developed a Chrome extension that allows people in multiple places to watch Netflix together. Very cool actually. But that requires using your computer and we didn’t want to do that. So we just hit play and pause at the same time and watched a disaster movie – 2012. It was fun.

Other things this weekend – when we had really hot weather – was sitting on the back porch enjoying a book and a glass of wine

On Friday – the last possible day – I finally got some direction for school stuff, so now I have that to keep me busy as well. On top of that I’ve been trying to have at least some structure to my days. Morning coffee and Kuma time, as always. Meditation, work (if it’s a work day), cooking, cleaning, reading – both fiction and nonfiction, working out, reading or watching something in French, and watching a movie or a show. Honestly, short of not going out and about (gym, friends, shopping, work travel), not much in my life is really changed! The new normal is the safest one for now.

She REALLY misses M…

Solo Date Night for the Win

FOOD

Went to a local Italian restaurant for a work dinner last Wednesday. I hadn’t been there in 14 years, but I remember them having the absolute best broccoli ever. So we got the table a side order of it (I had a yummy pasta dish), and everyone agreed – still the best broccoli!

Literally broccoli magic

I made a yummy Dijon “pasta” Alfredo with shirataki noodles and broccoli. The Alfredo is literally silken tofu, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. SO good.

A simple Beyond Meat Brat for a quick meal

Friday night I went on a solo date (more on that later), and stopped at a spot downtown for some wine and plantains

Snacks at the robotics competition included fresh berries

Yesterday I stopped for Thai. And – wait for it – I did NOT get Tofu Green Curry! Instead I got some coconut curry soup with tofu and some steamed tofu rolls (though I couldn’t finish them)

Today I had a work lunch – Greek salad, but since it was with a vendor, I didn’t take a picture 😂. For dinner I made a tofu stir fry with cubed tofu and Konjac noodles in coconut oil and finished with low-sodium soy sauce. Not fancy, but very tasty.

FITNESS

Runs rule the day! Also some spinning, HIIT, and I’m back at hot yoga! it’s been too long, and I’ve signed up for a challenge at my old studio that should have me there at least 3x per week for a month. My stress has been sky high – and anxiety too – which I never get – so that was telling me I needed to get my butt back on the mat. That said – I forgot how incredibly butt kicking it is!

LIFE

As usual, busy – but not freakishly so.

I forgot to mention in my last post two cool things. One was – went to my first Advisory Board meeting! In case you missed it, I’ve accepted a volunteer appointment on the Human Services Board in my city – we advise the city council on matters concerning youth, elderly, and special needs.

The other cool thing is I went to my very first alumni event from my undergrad. It was a wine and app event held at a store – local start up called the Hamilton Perkins Collection – from another ODU grad. They make sustainable bags, but do cool stuff like provide the bags for Coachella this year. I met the founder about 3 years ago in the local start-up community, so it is so cool to see them have a store. He also roped me into being on his podcast in 2 weeks 😳.

Last week was pretty chill actually. Friday I had no plans, my eldest was working, my middle had plans with his friends, and my youngest was on her way to a robotics event out of town. So – solo date night! First I got my nails done, and then I decided to go to a play, and it was so good! It’s called The Play That goes Wrong. It’s basically a play within a play, and it was absolutely hilarious. I splurged for the “Stage Left” lounge before hand for cocktails and apps. https://broadwaygoeswrong.com. The evening itself was wonderful. I had my Kindle to read while at the restaurant and the lounge, and just enjoyed the time alone. I foresee many more of these in my future as my school load lessens.

I got home much later than I’m used to – and was unamused that Kuma took my spot. She’s cute though, so there’s that at least.

Saturday morning I drove up to Richmond where R was having her robotics competition. I didn’t go Friday since there were no spectator events – it’s the kids in the pits putting their bots together. M came up too. They did well, though didn’t advance past the day and a half of qualification rounds. My girlfriend H came on Sunday, along with her husband and their two kids. It was a lot of fun and the kids all did great.

That’s our bot!

Saturday night M and I went out – first to Buskey’s for some cider and chess, and then to Fat Dragon for Chinese food. R stays with her team at a separate hotel.

I won one (because M as helping me) and he won one (because he stopped helping me), but it was a ton of fun!

The past few weeks have been stressful and leaving me feeling pretty anxious often. Personal stuff. The good news is some decisions have been made, and while sad, it is the right decision and the anxiety is gone now. Time will tell, but all I can do is move forward and enjoy life as it comes!

On an exciting front, I submitted my very final edits for my doctoral work (pre-research), and they have been approved! Going through final review now, and if that’s approved, off to IRB! With any luck, I’ll be starting my research by April, if not the last week in March!

So the conference I was supposed to go to in Orlando did end up getting canceled. Definitely bummed, but also was the right call. No one needs to be traveling during all this COVID-19 uncertainly. That said though – I’m working from home this week. Too much going on emotionally to feel productive in the office, and a very light meeting schedule since I was supposed to be away. Definitely getting a lot of good work done at home though.

Flight Club

FOOD

Mixed bag of home and road eats this past week. I was home for four days, and then back to Chicago for a few.

I made a butternut squash sauce for pasta.

I swear, there’s a baker under that mound of green beans and chickpeas!

Brunch Sunday with the boyfriend – my typical wrap.

Lunch on Monday was with a co-worker and I had a veggie burger

Tuesday late lunch/early dinner was with my sister and mom. My sister and I split an Impossible burger. She had never had one before, and hadn’t had a hamburger in 30 years, so it was a fun treat! They’re very filling, so splitting that an an app was just fine.

Chicago eats were a mixed bag this time. I was “captive” and the vegan eats were slim pickings, at least until the last day. So I picked up stuff at Starbucks or had oatmeal in my room. No lunch for 2 days, and I think I can’t look at another Clif Bar for awhile…

FITNESS

Spin class, runs, and yoga while I was home.

LIFE

Well, been busy for sure. Last weekend was fairly low key. Spent most of it at home with the kids and doing all the home front fun stuff like cleaning and grocery shopping.

Sunday was brunch with my boyfriend and hanging out at his place a bit.

Love the fire pits at our fav brunch spot

Monday was work and then shopping the veteran’s day sales! Then packing for a morning flight to Chicago.

Tuesday morning I hopped a flight to Chicago and then headed up to Milwaukee, where I picked my sister up from work. We then went to her house and then to pick up our mom for lunch. All told it was nice.

Though – on Monday Wisconsin got a ton of snow and I may have been a bit worried about the roads. Texted C from the airport to validate the roads were ok. She then went to social media to publicly shame me. Brat sister.

Picked up C, after some directionally challenged moments, and were on our way!

After lunch, spent some time at her house visiting my niece, nephew, and brother in law. Then it was back to Chicago.

View from my room did not suck

By the way, if you don’t have WTForecast, you’re missing out. It makes crap weather at least funny.

Lots of very informative meetings and presentations for 3 days I have been in Chicago. Got to meet up with several people I’ve met over the years in the innovation space, and met a few cool new ones. One of the new people I met actually used to work with one of my girlfriends back in DC. We took a selfie and sent it to her. Small world.

Wednesday night I couldn’t join the party because I had class, but that was ok. I joined it last night at a place called Flight Club. NOT Fight Club, which made me completely reevaluate my expectations of the night! It’s a nightclub with darts. I played. I largely sucked. But had a great time.

And now, I’m airport bound and ready to be home with NO work travels for about a month! I’m quite excited 🙂

Until then, random pics for your enjoyment.

M and I made Vesper’s to celebrate watching Casino Royale. They were WAY too boozy, so basically turned them into Cosmos

Totally forgot about this building in Milwaukee that has ladybugs on the side.

My munchkins went out to dinner together last night.

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!

Too Tired for the Complication of Oatmeal

FOOD

Been an awesome couple days, especially today with a lot of kitchen play time.

Saturday I had a strawberry-Vega vanilla smoothie for breakfast. I also made oatmeal. Alas, not paying close enough attention apparently, and I sprinkled cumin all over it instead of cinnamon. Guess I was still sleepy. Needless to say, I didn’t eat it.

I don’t recall if I had lunch (no pic, it didn’t happen, right?!).

Saturday night was a date night and we stopped at a yummy local Italian place and then for ice cream at a local spot that has coconut milk based chocolate ice cream!

Sunday brunch was a Beyond bowl (Beyond Meat sausage, potatoes, peppers, avocado, and black beans. And mimosas, of course.

I skipped the Avo (allergy) and the tortillas (unnecessary)

Sunday dinner I made a red Thai coconut curry tempeh bowl. Super simple and incredibly tasty. I’m a fan of steaming tempeh cubes for about 10 min before using in any recipe. Easier on the belly (so I read once, anyway).

This morning I tried the smoothie + oatmeal combo again. Successful this time by using Apple Pie spice….where the bottle doesn’t look anything like my cumin and cinnamon bottles!

I had leftover tempeh curry for lunch while I bulk cooked like crazy.

Tomorrow is my youngest’ s first day of school (junior in HS), so it’s back to making desserts again. Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. I also made a batch of acorn squash Alfredo (this recipe, which I mostly follow and totally adore), a huge batch of lentil soup, pasta salad, my first go at vegan Andouille sausage, and tofu/potato tacos. No one shall starve in this house.

Acorn squash alfredo with quinoa gf noodles and peas

Mashed chickpeas, vital wheat gluten, and tons of spices later = vegan andouille sausage magic!

Tofu/potato tacos

FITNESS

Runs pretty much every day. And some yoga as well. And a spin class in my garage.

I was stupid sore on Saturday and part of Sunday from the HIIT/TRX workout on Friday. In a good way though, so I can’t complain.

LIFE

Friday was a pretty low key day. Slept until 8 (bed at 130am, so it’s understandable). Went to the gym and worked and studied most of the day before meeting up with my boyfriend for a quick happy hour.

Saturday was a run and then studying until going over to my guys house where he was working on stuff and watching football and I was studying. Then we went out for a bit, came home, watched a couple episodes of The Boys and went to bed.

Sunday was brunch, then home to clean, run, and study some more.

Today I went for a run and grocery shopping. This was fun. I went to Lidl, which is still my fav place to shop. $43 for a week’s worth of groceries for a family of 4. A couple blocks away, there’s a bakery outlet. I’ve meant to stop for ages, but finally did today. OMG. So excited. It said TastyKake, which is the biggest reason why I never went, but it also said Nature’s Own, which my kids like their whole wheat bread. Figured there was no down side to checking it out. SO glad I did. They have Dave’s Killer Bread there! If you’re a clean eating hippie, you know what that is, but if not, here’s the thing – all organic, sprouted grain, non-GMO, high fiber breads with no artificial silliness, like high fructose corn syrup (which I’m nearly violently against). I vacillate between that brand and Ezekiel. I walked out with 4 loaves of bread and a thing of English muffins for $6. I’d pay more than double that at Wegman’s or Kroger. So – not going to drive past the bakery outlet just because I think it’s just junk inside!

The rest of the day was really just me, my headphones, and audiobook, and bulk cooking. Maybe a bit of studying too, but not a lot.

This coming week I’m mostly off. I work tomorrow and part of Wednesday, but off the rest of the time. Lots to do!

My sunshine puppy