Monday, April 16, 2012

Checking in... (delinquently)

I wish that I could begin this post with a laundry list of what exciting things I've been up to.  That's just not the case, however.
My "volunteer" position takes up much of my time- between 20-30 hours per week.  This is usually made up of about 8 hours of actual therapy, 3 hours of supervision/training, and then 9+ hours of clinical notes, research, contemplation, and pulling my hair out.
Add in about 8 hours per week of job searching/applying.
And the occasional surprise of actual paid work.
Then, I'm up to about 40 hours per week.

I'm still working hard to take care of myself.  Yoga, eating right (and gluten-free), plenty of water, praying to the gods of youth and joint lubrication.... so on an so forth. I'm still human though. Slouching, trying to convince my left hand that the entire keyboard can't be handled by Mr. Righty, attempting to wear high heeled boots (it was raining- my flats would have been soaked!).

I hope this post finds everyone well.  I truly intend to post more frequently.  Maybe if more interesting things happened to me...

...I am overdue for my yearly car accident/idiot encounter.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ghetto as pho

It is plain ugly out today.  This is day two of rain, wind, and winter-like temps.  Yes, I'm aware that it's still technically winter.  But this season is usually a lot more tolerable for me and my interconnective tissues.

Yes, I've been feeling like poop.  Coincidence?  I think not.  But, I've been trying not to dwell on the "why" aspect of my pain recently.  It causes more stress than it's worth.  So, I've been taking it easy, doing what I can to make our new, tiny apartment seem less cluttered.  

And then I get a call from Costco that my tires are in and they aren't too busy right now- if I'd like to venture out this afternoon.

So, to warm my insides (and quell my cravings for a Costco hot dog) I came up with a quick soup for lunch.

Ghetto as Pho

Ha ha, word play!
Warm 1.5 cups of homemade chicken stock in the microwave until lukewarm.  Add dried mung bean threads you found in your "pantry" (it's my old office bookcase...with jars and stuff on our dining room).  Microwave two minutes.  Stir.  Add shredded cabbage (a couple good handfuls) and diced leftover rotisserie chicken (maybe a couple ounces).  Microwave another minute.  Add frozen peas- one big stuck-together clump should do it.  One minute more.  Throw some rooster sauce on there and a small spoonful of hoisin.  Eye a half of a lime that you left on the counter overnight, then squeeze it over the top for good measure.  Ignore your shame.  Eat out of the Pyrex with chopsticks and feel fancy.

Yes- as you may notice from the picture- my task for today was to go through all my old Bon Appetit issues and throw them out after clipping the recipes and articles from them that I cared to save.  No, apparently this did not inspire a more gourmet lunch. 

Which I'm totally okay with.  

Because I have happy soup belly.

Have a nice day.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Hello from the new place!

Hello, everyone!
It's been about a month and a ton has been going on.  In that time we went to Seattle to celebrate my Bro-in-law's 30th birthday (which was a surprise, so I could write about it... it was difficult), I packed up the apartment, we signed our lease, we started moving, my volunteer work has gotten busier, life has gotten more stressful... I'm not going to lie, there were a few days of bursting into tears.

With all this stress (and a bit of gluten), my body has been a bit peeved with me.

The trip to Seattle was wonderful.  I was gluten-free the entire time with the small exception of some clam chowder from a place in Pike Place and a delicious croissant from a French bakery.  If you're going to eat gluten, people- go French.  There's my life advice for the day.

Our new apartment is nice.  It's on the top floor so it gets tons of happy light without peepers looking in the windows as they walk past.  During the move I was very good about not over-lifting- but 50 trips up and down the stairs with 15 pound boxes still isn't a picnic.  And then we had to feed our wonderful friend who helped us out.  Papa John's to the rescue!  That was the end of my splurging, however.  I've been good ever since.

Because the whole point of moving was to save money we've been trying to get as much of our security deposit back as possible.  Painting, cleaning, cleaning.  Ugh.  At a certain point I told my hubby that I couldn't do it anymore.  So, we recruited some old friends: Molly Maids.  They cleaned our place once a month during my intense thesis writing time and I always loved the results.  So, they should be cleaning away at our empty apartment this afternoon- leaving only a couple things that I may need to touch up tomorrow afternoon.  But then, we're out.  And we should get most of our deposit back (minus 150 from the cleaning service... and however much a new screen costs... I doubt they will miss Spartacus's "doggy door" on the slider").  I plan on celebrating by letting my new apartment get absolutely filthy.

It's pretty apparent that the stress has been taking a toll.  My most recent appointment with my rheumy I was definitely flaring at the time- joint pain, fever, fatigue.  It showed in my labs as well: My antibodies to double stranded DNA was a bit higher than normal (which is rare for me) and my platelet count was low (again).  Negative for antiphospholipid syndrome, though.  Huzzah!

For more information on lupus-related blood tests check out the Lupus Foundation website.

Well, I'm feeling guilty for not doing work... so I think it's time to sign off for now.  Have a good week!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sorry about my absence... has been stressful recently.  I'm still working hard for the domestic violence organization which means all or most of my time on the computer needs to be dedicated to work.
In addition, we recently received our lease renewal notice.  Holy rate increase, batman!  After much thought and grumbling we decided it was just too much to put up with for six months until we move to Oregon and buy a house.  We found another apartment in a less-nice area of town where we will be saving close to 500 bucks per month.  So, lots of packing in my future...
I will be better about posting.  I just need to get a handle on this workload.  I miss writing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Monday! (And Happy Birthday!)

Not only is it Monday- but it's a very important birthday!

‎"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr. (February 25, 1967 - Los Angeles, Calif.)
Love that quote.
So, let's all take a moment to remember a great man who paved the way for advancement of all civil rights.  Let's respect those rights which we've won in this country and remember those rights which many citizens still fight for today.

As for me and Monday, this week is off to a pretty decent start so far.
Well, except for the actual start.  Back pain right from the get-go, argh.
I used my foam roller, did some healthy alignment yoga, used my roller, and then rocked the P90X back and biceps work out.  Then I used my foam roller again.  I'm feeling much better now.  Still yearning for a massage, though.  After some digging through my insurance benefits I discovered that massage can only be utilized at the same time as physical therapy.  Which makes no sense to me... why would I need both?
I'm hoping that an increase in core strengthening exercises (currently at 1-2 times per week) and yoga (P90X once per week, flow/healthy alignment once per week) will give me some relief without having to start in on my high medical deductible.
I started my day with some oatmeal dressed up with flax, chopped pear, walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup.  My post-sweat snack was a blood orange Chobani.  Not my favorite flavor- but it hit the spot and gave me a nice helping of protein to replenish my aching arms.  Planning on a salad for lunch with some canned salmon or maybe some sardines.  Dinner (as seen on my meal plan) is delicious kheema spiced ground beef.  Can't wait... although I am running low on tomatoes for toppers.  Dommage.
So, great workouts and a healthy meal plan for the day.  The only thing left to do is to be productive.  Haven't gotten a great start on that, yet.  I did, however, call on an interview for another social work position.  Looking forward to scheduling it- Mama needs a new resistance band.
Start your week off right, folks!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's For Dinner: Post-Cleanse!

Happy menu planning day!
This is the first week of not being on the cleanse... even though I wasn't super good towards the end.  I wasn't feeling too hot one day- which called for eating a bag of popcorn.  Not the worst comfort-food splurge I could do, but I still felt guilty.  I also broke my "no liquor" rule after a very long day of volunteering.  That gin and tonic was pretty delicious, though.
So, I'm adding in small amounts of dairy this week (should I do provolone or Swiss on my steak sammies?) and a bit of processed food. I'm also happy about the return of Costco chicken Sunday.  After two weeks of the cleanse I've been cooking A LOT.  I'm excited to have a break.  All the while, I will be eating and drinking with purpose- good food, intentional drink pairings (hello, margaritas!).

Steak Sandwiches with Horseradish Sauce
Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Costco Chicken Sunday!
Roasted Veggies
Kheema Spiced Ground Beef with avocado and tomato
Chicken Pho
Egg Foo Young  (Thanks, Kevin @ Closet Cooking!)
Spiced Eggplant
Source: Bon Appetit 
Quinoia Salad (From the same recipe, replacing bulgur with quinoia to make it gluten-free)
Fish Tacos (I found gluten-free breaded fish!)
Black Bean and Corn Salad
Hungry Girl Margaritas

What are you excited to make this week?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Toe sox!

A big thank you to my hubby for these super cute sox made especially for yoga! My dog was never more downward facing than today (what?).
I thought I would try some yoga this morning to alleviate some of the horrendous back pain I've been having recently.  I saw a bit on a local news show about a woman who uses yoga to help her car accident related back pain, so I thought I would give it a shot.  It was a bit helpful while I was rocking it- but hasn't fixed my powerful need for a visit to my favorite physical therapist.
I've been without PT for about four weeks now.  I did okay for two weeks, but now I find my spine to be generally cranky with me and my hips to be a bit out of alignment.
I have a couple choices- I could ask for a new referral for physical therapy or I could get my lovely husband to authorize my spending a chunk of change on a massage.
But since he bought me those socks for Christmas... I'm guessing not...

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's For Dinner: Cleanse Part Two

Hi everyone!  I'm pretty shocked at how infrequently I post considering that whole lack-of-a-job thing.  But, I'm here, and I'm prepared to be honest in regards to how I'm doing on my "cleanse".

All the meals last week were pretty delicious.  I've decided that baby bok choy is one of my favorite new veggies (probably to my husband's dismay).  I have five of those cute little cabbages in my crisper.  The cider-glazed chicken breasts were delicious, as was the apple-fennel salad.  I had never had raw fennel before and was surprised at how well it went with the shallot-y dressing and the granny smith apple.  The pumpkin-shrimp curry was the star of last week's menus.  Previously, I had just dumped the can of pumpkin in and expected it to be magical.  This recipe had us cook the pumpkin for awhile with the onions.  Add in the coconut milk and it was a decadent experience.  We happily ate the leftovers.

Limiting my drinking to none-or-one was pretty good until Friday.  I had a stressful day and we decided to have a date night to unwind.  We had sushi (not inherently evil, but the white rice and some of the obviously mayo-based sauces made me feel guilty) and I enjoyed some sake.  I'm sure I was well over my one drink.  But, I did skip the delicious popcorn drenched in "butter".  Last night was just one of those situations where you find that one glass of white wine turns into two... turns into what I thought would be emptying the bottle for a half glass... it wasn't.  C'est la vie, right? Back on track...

My morning meals (I usually do two, one small bite before the gym, a bigger one after) usually revolved around hardboiled eggs (so easy!), kefir, and nonfat Greek yogurt.  I think I ate the cleanse recommended oatmeal just once- who has the time?  I passionately long for my morning coffee, but have been good- drinking green tea and chai roobios instead.

I have one more week of trying to remain in the "cleanse" spirit.  After that I will be rocking my New Year's resolution of "Eat and drink with purpose".

Here's my menu for the week:

Moroccan-Style Lentil and Chickpea Soup with Lamb and Roasted Tomatoes, Caramelized Cumin-Roasted Carrots. (Straight from the cleanse.)
Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry, Brown Rice Pilaf, Salad with Miso-Lime Vinaigrette
Sake-braised clams with Baby Bok Choy, Soba Noodles (Hopefully a celebration meal from a successful interview!)
Greek Chicken Kabobs with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Tomatoes, Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Sirloin Steak, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Happy eating, everyone!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A good pot of lentils...

"A good pot of lentils" is actually the name of the recipe posted on Bon Appetit.  Here's the recipe for your healthy eating pleasure:

2 cups lentils (French green or black beluga)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Optional Aromatics:
1 carrot, peeled; fennel fronds; 3 sprigs thyme; 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley; 1 medium onion; 1 celery stick; 1 bay leaf; 1 head of garlic (the top 1/3 sliced off), and 1 whole dried chile

Place 4 cups water, lentils, oil, and salt in a heavy large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add any or all of the aromatics and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and no longer chalky at their core, about 30-45 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Let lentils cool in the cooking liquid. DO AHEAD: Cover and chill lentils in liquid for up to 5 days. When ready to serve, scoop lentils out of liquid with a strainer or slotted spoon.

Recipe source (Clicky)

The picture is the pretty pre-cooked lentils.  For aromatics I used fennel fronds, thyme, baby carrots, a bay leaf, half an onion, and the head of garlic.  The result was delicious.  As my menu stated, I served the lentils with trout and roasted zucchini.  I also threw a salad in there with a quarter of an avocado and the miso-lime vinaigrette.  I don't think it's a bad thing to go overkill on the veggies.  :)

What healthy thing do you enjoy going overboard on?

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They knew I was on a cleanse!

It's like Raley's knew I was starting my cleanse this week!  I realized that I had forgotten lemons for my trout tonight, so I grumbled my way to the store.  Lemons and limes were 5 for $1!  This is especially great, since I enjoy adding citrus to my water when I'm not indulging in alcohol.  A bag of Cuties were $2.50, and I picked up a couple pears to round out my snacks over the next week.  That is one happy fruit bowl.  I also bought a couple things of grape tomatoes... I know they aren't in season, but at a buck per container I couldn't resist.  Add in some extra garlic and my trip came to around nine bucks.  Not too shabs at all.  
Speaking of great deals, Aveeno is on sale at Walgreens- buy one, get one 50% off.  I bought the skin brightening wash (it's a bit gentler than St. Ives) and the overnight intense relief cream.  I'm a happy camper today!
In related news, I'm procrastinating on working on my support group curriculum... so, uh, what's going on with you guys?

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

WFDW- 2012 Cleanse Edition

How's everyone doing after the frivolities of New Year's Eve?  Kevin and I kept it low-key and stayed home for our celebration, indulging in ribeye steaks, mussels in a lovely butter-wine sauce, garlic bread, Parisian salad, and rosemary-garlic roasted red potatoes.  We watched movies and shared champagne kisses at midnight.  It was exactly what I needed after the hectic Christmas holiday.

Yes, please.
It was a wonderful meal to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to my two week cleanse.  I covered all of the cleanse no-no's yesterday: Caffeine, alcohol, simple carbs, artificial sweeteners, huge portions, and naughty fats.  I look forward to going without after so much delicious indulgence.

Last year I did the Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse.  It was pretty damn difficult- the ingredients were hard to find, the meals took a long time to cook.  There was a lot of preparation that went into everything.  It's hard to plan each and every meal in a day, let alone stick to a dinner plan.  So, this year, I'm using the Cleanse Guidelines as inspiration, and rocking my own menus.

Bon Appetit

Note on the following menu I specifically state the veggies- sometimes I just imply that we're going to have a salad or cook some peas and it never happens.  I'm planning to incorporate vegetables and fruits into each meal, have at least one salad a day, and really stick to the correct portions.

Chicken Fried "Rice" (I'm actually using quinoia), Asian Salad with Miso-Lime Dressing, Steamed Baby Bok Choy
Lemon-Garlic Trout, Lentils, Roasted Zucchini and Mushrooms
Cider-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apple-Fennel Salad, Brocolli Rabe with Chili-Garlic Black Bean Oil
Pumpkin Shrimp Curry, Leftover Lentils, Leftover Brocolli Rabe
Pork Chops with Red Wine-Grape Sauce, Roasted Butternut Squash, Salad with Cranberries and Almonds
Maple-Cayenne Salmon, Salad, Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Are you making any 2012 adjustments? What are your thoughts on cleanses?