Thursday, March 29, 2012

Breaking the blogging silence

I know, I know. I've been MIA again. I think this blog is turning out to be pretty self-enlightening. Like I've decided that when I'm really trying to process something, I'm silent. It's interesting, actually. I don't feel like journaling, I don't feel like blogging. I don't do much talking. It's interesting how my brain works. And I'm going to continue to be silent about this one because I don't want to jinx it! But I'll let you all in on it as soon as it's a for-sure thing.

In the meantime, I'm reliving my childhood a little bit at breakfast. Remember those fruit and cream Quaker oatmeal packets? Well I've made my own with my steel-cut oats, a little soy milk and some vanilla protein powder. Add some strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc, and it tastes pretty darn close to those little packets. Except, of course, my version is a lot healthier.

I've been very into Genisoy protein powders lately. I was using them several years ago a few years after I stopped eating meat, but stopped for some reason. My favorite at present is the Genisoy Ultra in Vanilla. It's really tasty and not grainy like some protein drinks can be.

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thursday. I'm back to list making and form filing and all that jazz!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mediterranean Couscous salad + silencing my fears

I've mentioned it before. My fears more or less try to run my life, and a lot of the time, I let them. And I know that's not right, and that I should focus on the positive aspects of any situation, but I've only recently come to the realization that I do let my fears rule most of my life, so it's going to be a process to retrain my brain to think differently.

On Tuesday, I went in for a massage with my wonderful friend Christie, who is a little bit like magic. She can work muscular miracles. She actually taught me how to relax and let my massages work for me. But she's more than just a massage therapist because when I go in there, I don't know what it is, but my brain starts going to these crazy places. It's like I find these pockets of clarity. I've come to more realizations about my life on that table than anywhere else I can think of.

And this week's realization was that my commute time is killing me. It's where I do my most dangerous thinking. It's where I make plans, where I contemplate my future, where I do my best worrying and over-thinking.  What else have I got to do for 45 minutes each way? Sure, I listen to the radio like most Americans, but it isn't enough to really take me out of my head.

So I decided I need to find a way to distract myself while I'm driving (of course not too much because I still have to drive!). I've always used reading as a way to escape my own life. What better way to forget your own problems that to become engrossed in someone else's? So I bought a couple of books on cd and I've been listening to them in the car the past few days.

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And let me tell you, I feel much better! I don't get caught up in my head AND I feel less stressed about driving. I drive slower (not that I'm a lead foot or anything, but I noticed I hover a lot closer to 65 than 75 lately), and jerk drivers just don't seem to annoy me quite as much. I don't care as much about them because more interesting things are going on in my car!

On a completely different but equally exciting note, I promised you a recipe, so here it is!

I adapted this recipe from one in my new cookbook, Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for great vegan recipes. I haven't tried a recipe I didn't like yet.



Mediterranean Couscous Salad


2 cups dry couscous

2 cups water

2 tbsp olive oil

3-4 small zucchini, cut in half-circles

a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

10ish kalamata olives, halved

1 cup frozen or fresh corn

1 leek, sliced thin

a handful of spinach, roughly chopped

tarragon (I hate to add measurements for spices. Everyone likes their own amount. Use as much or as little as you'd like)

thyme

garlic powder

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

 

Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add couscous. Turn off heat and let sit for five minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, saute zucchini, leeks, corn and spinach with olive oil and spices. Add soy sauce and vinegar. Mix and let veggies absorb liquid a little. Add tomatoes and olives and let cook until these last ingredients are just warm. Maybe a minute. Toss couscous with veggie mix. Let sit for a few minutes so the flavors can be absorbed in the couscous. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve and enjoy!

Christy says this salad tastes amazing cold as well as hot. I was having it for dinner, so hot seemed right, but I'm curious to try it cold. Maybe for lunch today!

This is a seriously delicious, amazingly easy dish. I think it will be a go-to for summer dinners.


Well, I'm off to lunch with my mommy (yes, leftover couscous salad) and then a fun-filled weekend with my husband and "little sissy," Ashley, who is hanging with us! I can't wait!


 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mr and Meatless' Mexican Rice Bowl

After spending the weekend eating a pretty steady diet of carbs and sugar, I decided it was time to get back on our normal track for dinner last night! I wanted something simple, something healthy, maybe something with a little spice, so I came up with this delicious little concoction.



Mr. and Meatless' Mexican Rice Bowl


1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 cup brown rice

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 cup frozen corn

1 tomato, chopped (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)

1 avocado, chopped

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

sour cream (or greek yogurt) and salsa and shredded cheese to taste (optional)

 

Combine water and broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice. Simmer covered until liquid is almost absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Add black beans and corn and continue to simmer covered for another 5 minutes or until beans and corn are warm.

Divide rice mixture between 4 bowls (or two bowls and two containers for lunch the next day, like we did). Top with avocado, tomato, cilantro, sour cream and salsa. Mix and enjoy!

 

Like I said, totally simple, but really delicious and satisfying and perfect for a weeknight when all you want to do is order Mexican takeout.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ten things to be happy about 3/19

I have a lot to be happy about at this point. The last few weeks...last week especially....were hellacious! I am so glad to be on the other side of them.

1. My to-do list at work is empty! Well, not entirely empty, but the four  major projects I HAD to get done ASAP are done. Check!

2. I got to wake up to this view this morning!Sure, we were snowed in all weekend. But we were at the vineyard, so we were in good company and we should be able to get the car out and go home tonight.

3. I get to sleep in my own bed tonight! I totally take that for granted when I don't have it. And it's not that I don't LOVE mini-vacations, but there's nothing quite like the feeling of falling asleep in your own bed.

4. I tried a few recipes from my new cookbook! I know, I'm lame for forgetting to take a photo, but I made the coconut orange bread pudding from my Blissful Bites cookbook. I also made the sweet polenta porridge and Jim made the hearty lentil soup. All of them were fabulous, but my favorite had to be the bread pudding. It was such a unique take on a classic dessert. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone contemplating going vegan.



[caption id="attachment_666" align="aligncenter" width="335" caption="the book"][/caption]

5. I got the cutest new shoes! I haven't bought anything for myself in a long time. And in the shoe department, I am seriously lacking. I have no shoes to trompse around in the rain in, nor did I have any cute shoes for spring. So, like any girl would probably do, I went for cute over function. Winter is almost over, afterall! I'm not so sure I love the bottoms of them...they're kind of weird, but I'll wear them around the house a bit and see what I think. Aren't they adorable?!

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6. My husband is at work with me today! Part of being snowbound all weekend was that he was stuck with me, which means he is still stuck with me. He's just sitting there watching YouTube videos while I work, but it's still kind of nice to have him here.

7. I get to see my sister-in-law tonight! She doesn't know it yet, I don't think, but her husband is cutting Jim's hair tonight (before his job interview tomorrow!), so we'll be over there for a little bit tonight. I'm excited. We have a good time together. :)

8. As a result of #1, my office is getting very clean. It's so much nicer to work in a clean office, and having nothing else to do, I have time to CLEAN!!

9. I think there's a delicious slice of pumpkin pie on its way for me! I made chicken pot pie for dinner last night, and Ashley made the crust. Well she used her grandmother's recipe, which is one of those that can't be cut down in size, so with an extra 6 crusts, she made a pumpkin pie for dessert. And I'm not sure anyone makes better pumpkin pie than Ash does!

10. I have a massage tomorrow!I haven't had once since, I believe, the last time I included it in my ten things post. I'm so excited! I need this like crazy!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Monday. What are you happy about today?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So sick of being sick!

Yes, yes. Sick again. Okay, well not at the moment. I'm over this one, but I spent all day Friday throwing up or feeling like I was going to throw up, and the rest of the weekend feeling slightly woozy every time I ate something.

I'm so sick of being sick!

And that's it for my whine fest today. But since we're talking about being sick, I thought I'd share with you my "sick foods." Everyone has them. Those foods you eat only when you're sick? The ones that generally make everything just a little bit better.

My mom had a sick food for everything:

Fever? Rainbow sherbet and 7up float

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Tummy ache? Saltines and Gatorade

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Cold? Lipton's noodle soup. You know? The one that comes from a box in powder form?

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Morning ickiness that could be sickness but could just be grogginess? Cream of wheat with a little brown sugar and milk

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In my adult years, I've taken some of those with me. Friday I survived on Lipton's soup and Gatorade, pretty much exclusively. There were a few saltines, a little bit of applesauce and a half bowl of Cheerios in there somewhere, but none of that seemed to stay in place.

What are your favorite foods to eat when you're sick?

 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Baby fever...or not + bento lunches

Every time I turn around, someone is asking me when Jim and I are going to have a baby. And it never seems like any of my answers satisfies people. I feel like everyone expects us to drop everything and start trying right now.

And I know that I own the problem here. I need to just relax and let their comments slide by. When Jim and I are ready, we'll start trying to have a baby. Yes, I know I'm 28 and my clock is ticking. And yes, I know that there's never a perfect time to have a child. But isn't there something to be said for being prepared for one?

Currently, we live in a 900 square foot apartment. It's small. Almost all of our wedding gifts live in a 5x10 storage unit down the street because we can't fit everything we own into the apartment. Also, Jim is still hunting for a job, which means my income is the only income, and it's already spread pretty thin. And these are just the major points.

[caption id="attachment_648" align="aligncenter" width="259" caption="Me and my nephew when he was about a week old. Love this little guy!"][/caption]

Don't get me wrong. I love kids. Eventually I plan to have one (two max!), but I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to have space and money enough to accommodate a kid. In fact, I think its kind of irresponsible not to. I want to have a cute nursery for her/him, and I want to have a rocking chair and not just shove a crib into our extra bedroom amid the bookcases and rc cars. I want to be able to offer my child a comfortable and happy existence, something I don't feel I can do at this exact moment in life.

So please, if you fall into the above category of people, give me a break, would ya? When we are ready for kids, I promise, you will be the first to know!

On a different, more delicious note, I have rediscovered the coolest lunch box! I used mine for a while and then I moved and it got stuck in the back of the cabinet and I just dug it out last night!

It's a bento box!


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They're from a company called Laptop Lunches and they're marketed more toward kids, which is pretty awesome if you ask me. I think they're a genius alternative to a traditional lunchbox or brown bag situation.

I used to pack up mine every day to bring to work. It's a really useful tool in portion control and healthy eating. Each little box is a perfect serving of whatever you fill it with, and the company's website has a ton of "menus" and recipes for different things you can fill it with. Like this one they call Potluck Bento. It has whole wheat pasta salad, cucumber, tomato and basil salad, crackers, a peach and balsamic dressing. Looks delicious to me!



And this one, called Hummus and Veggies.



And this one, called cashew crunch!



Their menus are grouped by season, so you can click "Spring" and there will be a bunch of menus with things that are in season in spring. The site also has a huge list of recipes for the different items on the menus (and more I think!).  I'm excited to try some of them out next week (after I go shopping this weekend. Our cabinets are bare! eep!). All of their menus are also health conscious and well-balanced, perfect for any kid...or adult!

Do you have any healthy lunch strategies? Have you ever tried a bento box lunch?

 

Monday, March 5, 2012

So sensational salmon salad

Today was challenging.

I got to work and my adorable little nephew was there, which made me smile. He always makes me smile and his presence when I arrived at the office was a great start to my day.

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But that's about where it ended. The poor guy hasn't been feeling well, and about an hour before his scheduled doctor's appointment, he threw up all over the front of himself and all over his office pack-n-play. From there, things kept rolling downhill.

But I don't want to rehash every detail, so I'm going to bypass the painful parts and move on to my evening, which got better from the moment I fell into my wonderful husband's arms.

He always makes things better. I love coming home from a bad day because he gives the best hugs and always listens and finds some way to make me smile.

And then there was dinner, which was fresh, healthy and fabulously delicious.

I made a salmon salad with fresh, wild salmon from my family's fishing lodge in Alaska poached in white wine and champagne dressing, lettuce, spinach and radicchio from a local organic farm, tomato, avocado, grilled asparagus, boiled potatoes and homemade croutons made from a whole wheat english muffin.

It was so delicious! I ate a huge plate of it with a glass of bubbly water made with our SodaStream soda maker we got for our wedding.


Everything was so fresh and filling, we got up from the table with full bellies.

Now it's off to bed with us so we can start it all over again tomorrow! Hopefully it will go a little more smoothly than today did!

Goodnight, friends!

Back to the land of the living!

 



Since the weather has been so beautiful and spring-like here, I decided it best to start the day (and this post) off with something pretty. Plus, I'm feeling better so my outlook is a little more rosy.

This is actually the first day in almost two weeks I've actually felt like myself. I'm still coughing up crap, but I have a little bit of energy, I don't feel like I want to just flop back into bed, and my extreme self reflection seems to have returned. I'm not sure I'll be returning to the gym just yet...probably not the greatest plan to go back to a cardio workout when I'm not 100% sure my lungs can handle it yet, but Jim and I did a bit of walking this weekend and boy did it feel good!

Probably one of the best things about spending an extended period of time horizontal is that you have nothing but time to think. I'm a thinker anyway. My brain just doesn't ever stop. So given the time to think without interruptions, my brain went a little haywire. Which is a good thing, I think, because I've made a few decisions about my day to day life.

1. I like the whole "mostly vegan" way of eating. I feel best when I don't include dairy in my diet. But I don't want to be so stressed about it that I can't enjoy things like mac and cheese every once in a while when a craving hits.While I was spending so much time horizontal, I ordered a few new cookbooks, so I have some new material even!

[caption id="attachment_634" align="aligncenter" width="287" caption="So excited to start trying some of these recipes!"][/caption]

2. I need to spend more time with friends. I realized recently that I have a few friends who are parts of couples, and Jim and I don't really hang out with other couples, but we want to. And it's just a matter of making it happen, right? Spending time with friends is one of the single toughest things for me to do because it requires I actually MAKE THE TIME. If I don't think about it, I keep on going with my day to day crazy life. I have to make a point of sitting down, carving out some time and making a plan!

3. I want to exercise in the morning. This one is, of course, easier said than done. I'm in no way a morning person. But when I DO workout in the morning, I feel better all day long. It's just so hard for me to wake up and the last thing I want to do when I'm feeling sluggish and groggy is elevate my heart rate and work my muscles. This is my biggest challenge.

4. I need to get out of the house. Sounds easy, right? But I don't like where I live. It's not pretty. So I have to make an effort to spend time in beautiful places. I feel so inspired to take photos and yet nothing pretty to take them of. So I have to make that work.

5. I need to start doing what makes me happy. This one is a work in progress because what makes me happy isn't going to pay the bills right now, and with my income being the only income, I can't really mess with it at the moment. But I'm taking steps toward doing what I want to do. I got my business cards in, my website is up and running and I'm collecting ideas and inspiration and shooting locations so I'm prepared when the time is right!

6. I want to try new things. I feel like my world is small, and while I can't change my physical location right now, I can change what I do within it. Jim and I have made a deal to try two new things every month. He will choose one, and I will choose one. It should get us out of the house and expose us to new and exciting experiences. I can't wait!

That's pretty much the gist of it. I find that if I don't stop myself, my head gets too full and then I get stressed because I can't possibly accomplish all the things swirling around in there at once. I'm learning to write them down and pace myself!

I hope everyone is having a lovely week and enjoying this weather as much as I am!