Monthly Archives: February 2012

Snow Day

I will be totally honest here.  I used to think that people called into work saying that they wouldn’t be able to drive in that day because of the weather were liars.

Like not even tiny liars, but major liars.

We live on the Tundra.  We get snow.  Get over yourself and move on.

So it was very surprising to me today when Marcus trudged back into the house not 20 minutes after attempting to leave this morning to inform me that he was totally unable to escape our neighborhood in his Honda Accord.

And that furthermore, we were going to have to push his car (not disabled, just paralyzed by snow) back up our driveway and into the garage.

All of this at 6:00 AM.

So 20 minutes later, we had made mostly no progress.  Except Marcus was soaked to the bone and I was contemplating how much longer I would be able to last without succumbing to a caffeine headache.

Thank god for Brian, who came walking out of the swirling snow.

I was ready to label this mysterious wanderer as a robber-murderer type.  Because who does that at 6:20 in the morning during a blizzard?

Apparently he is our unemployed neighbor from a block over who was just wandering the neighborhood in case people were stranded.

I didn’t know Samaritans like that existed anymore.

So with our one shovel, Marcus, Brian and I got the car back into the garage.

The scene outside once the sun rose.

Marcus ended up going in around 11:00 AM with my (superior) CRV, because his office is only about five minutes away.

I, on the other hand called into work remotely.  Which was a first for the nearly three years I’ve been there.  It was not such a bad deal.

Can we talk about the fact that I’ve been at my current company for nearly three years?  Because that didn’t even occur to me until I typed it just now.  I’ve been too busy spending the past month marveling over the fact that it has officially been six months since I switched my work hours.

I can’t imagine my life any other way.

But back to the matter at hand.  Working remotely.

I set-up my workspace at the kitchen table and then The Spirit of Productivity took hold and I felt the need to change things around a bit.

The giant Snowman mug seemed only fitting, considering the copious amounts of tea I had committed myself to guzzling.

We all know how that goes.

I led a webinar and dialed in remotely to a lengthy department meeting.  Thank God for modern technology.

That’s not to say that today was all work and no play.  I went for a run over lunch.

It was a wonderful way to spend the day, but there’s something to be said for having to put on Real Clothes instead of a track jacket and shorts.  And the obvious, having an excuse to leave the house at least once every 24 hours.

When is the last time you had a snow day?

How often do you work from home?

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Building Blocks

And we’re back into the cycle of Healthy Living Resolutions with #1, Eat More Green Things and #2, Identify and Listen to my Hunger Cues.

The last time I discussed eating green things, I talked about how Marcus and I were trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diet.  The last time I talked about my hunger cues, I workshopped planning for hungry and holding-out for what I really want.

Reading over them again, they feel like building blocks.

Backstory

My weight loss was stalling out, so I added another 200 calories to my day.  Because for my situation, that seemed like the most logical choice.

I’ve been at a happy (and healthy) weight for the last year, but I wouldn’t be opposed to losing a few more pounds.

The past month has confirmed that it was the right one.

What you should know is that even though I’m not making a concerted effort to shave off X number of pounds before June 16th, my incentive to lose weight (and at the very least maintain it) for the marathon is extremely high.  They say that for every 10 pounds you lose, you can shave up to 8:00 off of your marathon time.

That is not an insignificant number.

The Main Event

In the spirit of Eat Food.  Not Too Much.  Mostly Plants. I’ve been trying to actively seek out things that most closely resemble their original form (be they plant or animal).

This isn’t exactly a new thing.

But in eating more, I made the conscious decision to choose things that would be the best for my body.  For Day 109.  For getting rid of fat and building stronger bones and muscles.

Because at the end of the day, eating more is a completely pointless act if it only translates into me eating more junk.

I feel like I’ve said this before, but in my book, eating real food doesn’t mean giving up bread or processed dairy.  Those fall into the category of things that other people process for me because I am not practiced at processing them myself.

I’m entering my fifth week of avoiding alcohol on weekdays.  College Kat would be extremely perplexed by this one.  It came about after Napa because taking a little break after spending a long weekend in wine country felt good.  It seemed like the right thing to do.  And then the break just kept on going.

I mean, if I was craving a beer or a glass of wine, yes I would absolutely drink it (and I have on a few occasions).  But 95% of the time, I haven’t been.

Yes, I still eat some tributes to Food Science.  Who doesn’t?

Like Quaker Oat Squares every morning for a snack.  Because I am addicted to their crunch and their vaguely sweet, vaguely flat flavor.  We have Girl Scout Cookies in the house.  Because it’s just That Time Of Year.  Candy Corn will ALWAYS fill a special place in my soul.

This is called being human.

The Truth

These changes haven’t been drastic OR fast.  They’ve been little choices.  Daily choices.  With something to show for them.

The weight is slowly coming off (1.5 pounds since I weighed myself two weeks ago).

I’m running stronger than I ever have.

For me, the key has been avoiding any semblance of over-thinking the situation on a day-to-day basis.  Because I can’t imagine what my body is going to look like in 109 days any more than I can imagine what running Mile 18 will be like.

The fact of the matter is that we just aren’t there yet.

Honesty: What is your favorite tribute to food science?

What foods do you incorporate into your diet because they make you feel good?

One Kitchen, Many Hearts: Box 1

Six faces, six places.

From Left to Right, Top Row: Madelyn, Kirsten, Megan, Bottom Row: Jeanne, Allison et moi.

I’m still totally confused about how, exactly we managed to find one another (um, besides Mads) in the vast, mysterious expanse known as The Internet, but I am so very glad that we did.  Even though we live thousands of miles apart, each of these women has taught me so much over the past year about baking, cooking and selfless friendship.

Once upon a forever ago, we coined the term One Kitchen Many Hearts to describe the relationship that we have.  Because in a perfect world we would own a Big Love-style compound in which all of our kitchens opened up into one community yard.  Where we could lend one another a cup of sugar, two eggs and a stick of butter just because.

Not such a bad vision, is it?

Anyway, one day on The Twitter, we were discussing a food blogger pen pal program that another blogger was hosting.  And it occurred to us that instead of sending boxes to strangers, we could send things to one another.

So we set a schedule, wrote down our plan and started shipping away.

This month, I received a shipment from The Lone Star State,which was so perfectly fitting, considering the fact that I have been fixated with All Things Texas lately.  I want to call it a phase.  But I really don’t think it is.

The haul.

The Homesick Texan had arrived in our mailbox the day before and as I pulled things out of Jeanne’s carefully crafted package, I had to use all of my self-control to avoid screaming Oprah’s Favorite Things-style.

Yes, seriously.

The contents.

Are the cowgirl tags killing you dead?  Because I died.

What we have: Elderflower Honey, Homemade Red Plum Jam, Canned Rajas, Fire Roasted Mexican Salsa, Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous, Bayou Heat Hot Sauce, Belgian Chocolates, Dove Dark Chocolate with Almond Promises and Sally Hansen Insta Dri in Slick Slate.

In Marcus’ words: Jeanne really gets you doesn’t she?

Um, yes.  A thousand times yes.

And we have only just scratched the surface of the feasting that needs to take place between now and April.

Want to know what else got sent around the country?  The answer to that is YES!  Pop on over to check out Madelyn, Kirsten, Megan, Jeanne and Allison’s boxes!

Edited to add: To see what I sent Megan, click here!

Spending Sunday

Today, Kirsten asked the following question on The Twitter.

Even though my answer was immediate, it really got me thinking about how I spend my Sundays and how we spend our Sundays in the spirit of Ordinary Time.

Spending Sunday.

The alarm goes off, it’s 6 AM.

It’s long run day.  “Sleeping In” is not a term that exists in this house.

Well maybe it does for him, but for her?  There is no rest for the weary.

Coffee is started, oatmeal is made.  The day’s weather forecast is pulled up in an hourly format and analyzed ad naseum.  Because everything matters.  The wind.  It’s direction.  The humidity.  The abundance of sunlight or lack thereof.

Twitter is checked, books are read.  In an instant, my shoes are on and I’m out the door.

I’ll be back in a few hours, dear.

At some point, Marcus gets out of bed.  What he does during these early hours is a mystery to me.  The only evidence that he has set foot in the kitchen are the egg shells in the sink.

They are the modern-day trail of crumbs.

While I chase everything and nothing, my husband the Grocery Shopping Fairy sources our weekly list.  Because someone has to keep this family fed.

I come home.  Sometimes we laugh at how terrifically bad I am at navigating the stairs.  Sometimes we don’t.

We rinse the cilantro and put it away for later.

I shower and eat.  Again.  Because this is all about routine.  And eating is the basis for all of them.

The routines, I mean.

I nap because the thought of keeping my eyes open for a second longer is unbearable.  Sometimes I see it coming, sometimes I force myself into bed.

The end result is the same.

I wake-up and eat.  Again.

The laundry goes into the washing machine, to check another thing off of the list.  Our life is not all glamour, you know.

Fortified, I begin my work in the kitchen.  Sometimes there is baking.  Sometimes there is sauce-making.  Some days the immersion blender becomes an extension of my arm.

None of the specifics really matter.

At some point Marcus joins me, to eviscerate jalapenos or wash dishes or both.

We listen to the radio station that I kind of dislike but am too lazy to change.

Complacency happens.

I pull together a salad dressing and we begin our final dinner preparations.  I am happiest when they involve brightly-glazed stoneware or enameled cast iron.

Who wouldn’t be.

I eat, again.  We feast together like it’s Thanksgiving and suddenly the dishes are done and put away again.

The DVR has been hard at work, albeit silently.  Nestled amidst blankets on couches that have been well-loved, We reap the fruits of its labors.

The laundry needs folding, it’s time for bed.

There is never enough time and Monday morning is less than eight hours away.

What do your Sundays look like?

How do you embed Tweets on WordPress?

A Bit of Improvement: Hitting the Lights

Last weekend, the real purpose of our trip to Lowe’s was not for seeds, but to source a few light fixtures for our main floor.  The fixtures that the house came with, while not totally heinous, are a whole lot of brass n’ glass.  Which we do not love.

File that under Design Concepts That Never Should Have Come To Fruition.

Last weekend, Marcus offered to replace the hall light WITH the caveat that if we were not successful in our attempt, I would be without a hall light until he got home from his business trip and we could call a real expert (my father-in-law) in.

We took down the old fixture.  The new fixture we purchased was missing a piece.  It got returned to the store and I was without a hall light.

We all saw that coming.

This morning, while I was off leading my 5k group, Marcus and David did The Replacing.

What I learned about photographing light fixtures: It’s better to take the photo when the light is off, and depending on where the fixture is located in your house, it might be totally impossible to get a shot with any degree of natural light.

The kitchen.

I love it 11/10 except for the part where it makes the cabinets that The Previous Occupants did not re-do look absolutely heinous.  Re-facing them to match our island will need to happen sooner than later.

The hall.

The original problem.  And despite the fact that David revealed all of the secrets of light fixture replacement to Marcus today, we will be taking it down and returning it for another.  Because the light that it gives off is fluorescent and blue in contrast to all of the warm light that is happening in this house.

Add that to the top of the list of problems I never thought I would have.  I always knew I would need to pick a theme for our fixtures (brushed steel?  bronze?), but I never thought I would be concerning myself with how to match the type of light that the fixtures cast.

What home improvement projects have you attempted to tackle recently?

Friday Food Round-Up!

Marcus was on travel this week.  Right?  Right.

So I relied upon Enchiladas to carry me through a few lunches and did the Single Girl Food thing in the PM.

Because when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to make a big batch of something…In the worst case scenario, you end up freezing some of it.  And that’s really not such a bad deal.

Sunday – West Texas Stacked Enchiladas from The Homesick Texan

The first words out of Marcus’ mouth after I served this up were “That is the most unappetizing thing you’ve ever made.”  He’s so encouraging like that.

Those words of his?  Were absolutely true.

How it is that the first dish I cooked out of a Tex Mex cookbook was vegetarian, I may never understand.

Oops.

In all truthfulness, if I hadn’t told Marcus there wasn’t meat in there, I doubt he would have cared.  The sauce absolved probably every kitchen sin I’ve ever committed.

I would also like the time to say that the soft-fried egg?  Was actually an instruction from the book and not my own doing.

I knew I was going to love that thing for a reason.

Our modifications: We did not fry the tortillas in oil.  We used about half of the cheese (only cheddar) and eight tortillas instead of 12.  Instead of making four stacks, we actioned it in a lasagna style.

Monday – Single Girl Food AKA a Monster Salad, Not pictured: Sweet Potato Oven Fries

I had a nearly freaky craving for hard-boiled eggs this week, and as luck would have it, salad is the perfect vessel for such things.

I mean, sometimes it’s nice to know that no one else could possibly get in the way of your cravings.  I boiled away to my heart’s content.

Who would have thought, right?

Thursday – Rajma from From mom with love…, Baingan Bharta and Garlic Naan from Trader Joe’s, Roasted Broccoli

This dish required me to use 3/4 cup of a masala sauce base from page 172.  Until today, all I knew is that it involved a great deal of food processing.  Originally, I had set my heart on “winging” it in proportion.  But then I realized that it really would be nice to have some masala base hanging around in the freezer, ready-to-go.

So after I got done with my run, I got cracking on the first phase, which after all of that food processing involved a lot of waiting.  For my efforts, I was rewarded with tonight’s portion and five bags to toss in the freezer.  Not bad, right?

After assembling the actual contents of this dish, I realized that it was INSANELY spicy, even for yours truly.  But I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’ve realized what it is that I can build into a dish so that I can change the heat intensity or the way that the flavor hits.

Who would have guessed, right?

So in went a can of diced tomatoes, to give the whole mess a fruity undertone (and some much-needed bulk!).  The minute after I tossed it in, I turned over to my cookbook and WROTE IT DOWN.

Because when you own cookbooks, it’s okay to do that.  I’m sure most of you realized that ages ago, but to this member of the group, it’s a relatively novel concept.

To me, the dish was good, but not impressive.  Marcus, on the other hand, told me that he would gladly eat it again.  So that’s another tally in the Kitchen Victory category, right?

What’s the go-to can that you’ll pour into just about anything?

What’s the most visually unappealing dish you’ve ever made?

Soothing Through Organizing

After last night’s post, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be calling y’all Woolen Warriors instead of kittens.  Because it would seem that we are all cardigan-hoarders.

I love it.

Today is the kind of day where I feel like I’ve spent the entirety of the it raising one or both eyebrows.  Not in a skeptical-sort of way, but in a Seriously?-sort of way.  In an I Am Not Impressed-sort of way.

You know, the kind of day where you want to start planning out the next few days just to ignore the reality of this one.  Not because it has been bad (it hasn’t) but because it’s the kind of day where something just doesn’t feel…resolved.

Yes, THAT.

As a cherry on top of the cake, I decided to check my horoscopes, which is what I do recreationally and when I need answers to something quickly that I just don’t have the time to figure out on my own.

If you learned nothing else from the centaurs in Harry Potter, it’s that the answers are in the sky.

And yes, I said horoscopes, plural.  Because under the old horoscope I was a Virgo and under the new horoscope I’m a Leo.  I’m still as confused about all of that as you are.  The whole old-new thing.  But I think it’s important to hedge my bets and check all the things, just in case.

The Virgo horoscope said that “dark, depressing dreams could plague your sleep tonight,” and the Leo horoscope said “Your concentration is likely to be off and what your reading will probably look like Greek to you.”

Can we all agree that The Universe has totally set me up for success here?  Because I don’t know how much more ominous we could get.

So right now I’m meal planning (which is usually relegated to the weekends) and grocery list re-writing because for God only knows what reason, that feels soothing to me.

It probably has to do with the Type A within and the need to organize…something.

Say what you will, those lists look a hundred times better than they did 20 minutes ago.  And right now I’m craving Mexican, so that’s pretty much all we’ll be eating next week.

Whims: They get things done.

What do you do to de-stress?

Are you soothed by order like I am?