Random Thoughts

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything.  There have been some exciting changes at work which have been keeping me busier than usual.  (Is it weird that I do most of my posting from work?  When I get home, I don’t really feel like sitting in front of a computer… but that may need to change.)

So I have been anticipating this coming weekend for quite awhile.  Why?  Well, maybe three months ago, Rob and I decided to finally book that vacation we had been talking about for two years and we leave on Monday(!!).  Really, we had been talking about it since our honeymoon.  I kept telling Rob we needed to go to Europe before we had kids.  I studied abroad for a year when I was in college and it was life changing.  Not that I think a one week vacation can have the same kind of impact but I really want to share this type of experience with Rob.  I have a serious case of wanderlust and I have a husband that isn’t interested in going further away than Ocean City.  For some reason, I think it is my duty to change him.  Yikes that sounds terrible.  But it’s sort of true.  I think anxiety about the unknown is one of the reasons he doesn’t like to travel and I’m pretty sure that’s an easy hurdle to get over, especially if I’m his guide.  But I digress…

When we booked our vacation several months ago (Rome, in case you were wondering – I call it a gateway country because honestly who wouldn’t fall in love with Rome?), I had to work around the slightly crazed schedule we have at work.  Once public schools get out, we begin week long summer cooking camps and my normally fairly quiet office turns into a zoo with all hands on deck.  So if I want to vacation in the summer it is has to be done in the short window between Memorial Day and the end of school.  Unfortunately, I had just signed up for a triathlon on June 1… which means our vacation begins on June 2.  Yikes, let’s hope I’m not sore on the plane.  This weekend is going to be a mess.  Packing, last minute shopping, getting ready for the triathlon, getting the dogs ready to be boarded for 10 days.  Oh and did I mention that tonight is the last workout at my box before it closes*?  Yes indeedy.  I’m going have to to hold myself back from going 100% in the last WOD so I’m not overly tired for the tri in 2 days.  Yikes!  I’m jam-packed!

*More on the box closing when I get back.  I found a replacement box already but everything is sort of up in the air.

So here is a random collection of things I wanted to tell you about:

1. We have been going to the dog park every weekend lately.  It’s ah-may-zing!  Dingo especially loves it.  She really immerses herself in the “pack”.  Hudson on the other hand, either follows Dingo around (total little brother syndrome) or can be found behind our feet.  Here is Dingo, completely exhausted, sunning herself after she chased every dog that would let her:

Dingo at the dog parkAnd here’s the smallest dog I have seen yet at the park.  Both Dingo and Hudson kept bopping her on the head and looking at her like “what are you?”dog park chiuaua

2. I just tried this chocolate bar and it is so much fun.  Wow!  It’s total novelty, not my everyday chocolate bar, but it was such a nice change of pace.  It literally explodes pop rocks in your mouth, but then the salt and chipotle flavors are also really interesting.  I’ve had a few other bars by this company and they are all really good, but this one is my favorite.firecracker chocolate

3. I just received these in the mail – I love getting surprises in the mail – from a kickstarter that I funded (is that even the right terminology?).  They are trying to reinvent ketchup.  I can’t wait to try them all!  History lesson: ketchup was originally made with almost every fruit besides tomatoes.  I think it’s time to bring that tradition back.photo 4

4. When I was talking about my “everyday” chocolate bar and complaining about some other silly problems, a coworker drew me this picture.  Good reminder of perspective.  I have only first world problems.  first world problems bucket

4. This quote was on my Facebook feed the other day and it really got me thinking.  I had to save it.  Do I want a “normal” life?  What is it I’m really working for?  How can I have a purpose-driven life?  Thoughts to ponder…

"normal"Have a great couple of weeks and I’ll be back in mid-June!  Happy Summer!

 

Thankfulness

I have a long commute to work and I hate it.  When there is no traffic, it is a fairly easy 30 minute commute.  But when there is traffic – and there is always traffic in the DC metro area – it can easily turn into an hour and half or more.  I am lucky enough to work in a place where being perfectly on time is neither required or expected.  But still, I can’t stand sitting in my car for that long, moving 5 miles an hour.

I’m generally the kind of person who is always trying to maximize my time and sitting in traffic does not allow for me to do an optimal level of multi-tasking.  I get annoyed that I can’t be doing something more productive, that I’m forced to sit there and think or sit still or listen to NPR.  Gahh!  First world problems for sure.  So in an attempt to make the most of this commute and to generally make myself a happier person, I have decided to spend each morning coming up with 10 unique things that I am thankful for.  Today was the easiest day because I had everything to choose from.  The following days may get a little harder but I’m sure that is when it will be most valuable.  I have a lot to be thankful for and sometimes it’s easy to forget that.

Here’s what I’m thankful for today:

  1. My loving husband.  Rob being Rob
  2. My healthy family, many of them close enough to see regularly. photo 2
  3. My funny, quirky dogs. photo 4
  4. A job that I enjoy and rarely dread.
  5. A financially comfortable life that doesn’t have me worrying about how the next bill will get paid.
  6. A strong, healthy body. wonderwoman2
  7. A solid group of friendships built on love and respect, not gossip and pettiness.  photo 3
  8. Reliable and comfortable transportation (remember I was in my car when I thought of this list).
  9. Spring/summer finally being here after a long winter.
  10. The ability to buy, prepare and enjoy beautiful food. lettuce wraps

Of course this list is only the tip of the iceberg, but it did help get me out of an ungrateful funk and realize that I have it pretty darn good and I need to start seeing that.

I’m ashamed to admit this…

This is a hard post to write.  It’s probably going to make me sound like an ungrateful, selfish, jealous b!tch.  And maybe all that’s true, but I’m trying not to be and what’s that expression? The first step is admitting you have a problem?  Well here I am, admitting it.  And it’s making me feel horrible.

Let me back up.  I had a miscarriage back in August.  At the time I got pregnant we weren’t technically trying but we were ttthhhiiiisss close to starting to try so I was over the moon excited.  Of course that meant I was devastated when I miscarried, even though in many ways I was lucky because it was very early on.  Based on what all the doctors told me, I thought we would give a go again, and just like that, boom, we’d be pregnant again.  So each month, I drag Rob into the bedroom when I think the timing is right.  Then for two weeks I hyper-analyze every potential “symptom” until I convince myself this is the month.  Of course, that means I’m absolutely devastated each month when my period does show up, just like clockwork.  I tell myself each month, “Don’t get your hopes up” and each month, that is exactly what I do.

It’s like a sickness, I truly can’t seem to stop myself.  Of course this is putting totally unnecessary pressure on Rob, on me, on my body, on things that just can’t be controlled.  I’m actually tearing up in anger at myself right now thinking about it.  It’s been 9 months of hopes and disappointment.  Two weeks of waiting for the prime day to get busy and then two weeks of reading pregnancy blogs, monitoring my moods, my appetite, my body, my energy level – you name it – and then a day or two of crushing disappointment and self-doubt.  Can I really get pregnant?  Why isn’t it working?  Are we doing something wrong?  Am I ovulating properly?  Is something wrong with me?  <—Notice how much self-blame there is?  I rarely think, what if Rob’s sperm count is low or anything like that.  No, I focus all that negative energy directly on me.  Like I’ve deemed myself the person who must take all the weight of this problem.

So here’s what happened yesterday.   I very innocently received an email from a close friend of mine saying she was pregnant.  I knew they had been trying and I’m so so happy for her and her husband.  But what was my first reaction?  I saw the darkest shade of jealousy-green that I have ever experienced.  Luckily, I was at work, so on the outside at least, I managed to hold it together.  But on the inside, I turned into the brattiest child on earth.  If I could have, I would have thrown myself on the ground and kicked, screamed and cried.  I had this non-stop cycle going around in my head that sounded so jealous, so mean, so freaking ungrateful for my life, that I was actually horrified. green-eyed-monster

By the time I got to the car that night, I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  I was crying the big weepy tears, gasping for air.  It was really a combination of being so painfully jealous of someone that I love and am truly happy for and being really mad at myself because I know I need to grow up.  Of course those thoughts would send me down a self-shaming spiral of thoughts about how I even thought I was fit to be a mother when I was behaving this way and how I was so ungrateful for the many blessings I already have.  Ugh, what an ugly cycle.

On the way home, I couldn’t even hear the radio, my thoughts were so loud.  I actually cancelled meeting up with a mutual friend for a Run-Bike-Run because I didn’t think I could manage to show pure happiness at the news.  At the time I thought it made me a bad friend, but now, as I’m writing this, maybe it was me being a good friend because at least I wasn’t sharing my caustic mood.

Instead I drove to the store with every intention of buying whatever it is a person uses to take a bubble bath.  I thought this would relax me.  Here’s why that is ridiculous.  I hate baths of any kind.  We have a huge bath tub in our master bathroom and when they were building it I tried several times to convince the builder to take it out and put in a bigger shower.  The tub has never been filled.  Yet, here I was, a green-eyed monster, looking for bubble bath.  Except I had no idea what to buy, so I ended up with this: mr bubble

Rob got a big kick out of this when he saw it.  To his credit, he knew right away what I had been trying for.  Needless to say, I didn’t end up taking a bubble bath.  Because I also found this at the store.  photo 3 (2)

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I bought it and baked it and in some ways, it was exactly what I was looking for.  I didn’t want some fancy pastry or some homemade cake.  I wanted sugar and fat and chemicals and something that was as awful for me as I was feeling.  Does that even make sense?

Luckily, by the time I had baked them and made dinner, I was pretty much over my pity party.  Today, I’m still feeling that twinge of jealousy but I’m not overwhelmed by it.  And I can really feel the happiness for my dear friend that she deserves.  Congratulations to them! photo 4 (1)

Food Pen Pal March 2014

Ahh here we are on the last day of March and it is truly the first nice day we’ve had in awhile.  If there is any truth to the old “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb” then she sure took her sweet time getting to the lamb stage.  It literally snowed yesterday.

Luckily, right in the middle of the month, I received my Foodie Pen Pal package from Traci over at I’m Hungry.  Just as a reminder, this was what the weather looked like on the day my box arrived: photo 3

I was so happy to see a box of treats on my doorstep after I shoveled our sidewalks.  And Traci did not disappoint!

I had told her I eat about 80% paleo and she did a really awesome job of finding some paleo/some non-paleo treats to try.  And so much of it was local Ohio food, which I think is the best thing about the Foodie Pen Pal gig – I love trying other people’s local goodies.  Foodie Pen Pal March 2014

Yes the beg of granola is open because I started eating it before remembering that I needed to take a picture.  Oops.  But it was so good, so I don’t even feel bad.  Nomnomnom.  And paleo!!  I wouldn’t have known if Traci hadn’t told me.  It has been making an appearance in my #1 go-to breakfast.  breakfast - berries, granola and yogurt

She also sent these delicious potato chips that had all my favorite buzzwords on them – no gmo, organic, locally sourced, gluten free, etc.  They were a thick chip, which may not be for everyone, but I loved it.  We had them with dinner one night when we made burgers but luckily I saved a few… you’ll see why in a second.

There was this chocolate covered maple egg.  I looked at it a little puzzled for a few days before chomping down.  My first reaction was it was a little too sweet for my taste, but then *lightbulb*  I still had some chips leftover, so I used those hearty salty snacks to scoop out the filling and viola!  Delicious!!  I probably could have eaten 5 more that way, so I’m super glad I was out of the chips and out of maple chocolate eggs. chocolate maple egg and potato chip

I haven’t tried the coffee, but let’s be honest, how could it be bad?  It’s buckeye blend flavor, which Traci tells me is mix of peanut butter and chocolate.  I see absolutely no room for this being anything less than divine.  I’m saving it for one of those Sunday mornings where we sit around and lazily drink coffee all morning.

So, Foodie Pen Pals is once again a resounding success.  Thanks Traci!

If you want to find out more about the Foodie Pen Pal program, click here.

The Lean Green Bean

 

 

Will Winter Ever End? and Grilled Vegetable Dip

Broken record alert.  I am so sick of winter.  We have had so much snow this year.  And then it gets nice.  And then it snows.  Rinse and repeat.  Ugh!!  I’m over it.

So this happened on Monday. Last snow storm of 2014

And like I have done for nearly every snow day this year (and there have been many), I decided to dive in and bake and cook.  Except almost everything was a failure.  First I made macaroons.  They came out so ugly that I had to eat them all before Rob came home.  Luckily the dogs were more than willing to help. ugly macaroons

Then I made mayonnaise and broke it a record 3 times!  I finally got it right but I was so pissed by the end that I couldn’t even appreciate it.  I turned it into one of my favorite paleo lunches – tuna and peppers.  photo 1

photo 3And then I struck gold!  Grilled Vegetable Dip.  It’s almost like a cross between hummus and baba ghanoush but better because it used up things I had in my refrigerator.  Here’s what I did:

Grilled Veggie Dip

Grilled Vegetable Dip

  • ~1 lb. mixed vegetables – I used zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and portabella mushrooms
  • oil – my choice, 100% olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T tahini
  • misc. chopped herbs – parsley, chives, thyme, dill, rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • bonus points: 1 oz. goat cheese

1. Slice the eggplant and squash into 1/4″ thick slices.  Remove the stem and gills from the mushrooms.

2. Drizzle the vegetables with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.  Grill on each side until cooked but not falling apart.  Truth be told, my vegetables were the leftovers from dinner the night before.  Veggies shrink down quite a bit when they are cooked, but I started my dip-making with about 2 cups of grilled veggies.

3. Put the cooled veggies, lemon juice (start with half and add more as needed), tahini and herbs into a food processor and pulse a few times until it is consistently chopped.  If you’re adding the goat cheese, do it now.

4. Turn the food processor on to run consistently and stream in a few tablespoons of evoo until it comes together into an emulsified dip.

5.  Taste it and adjust the salt and pepper.  Try not to eat it out of the food processor directly.  Honestly, this got better the second day, so I’m really just trying to help you out here.

This dip is awesome with all sorts of raw veggies.  You could spread it on a sandwich if you were a sandwich eating type person.  I bet it would be good in a salad.  Mostly I’ve been eating mine off of a spoon, straight out of the fridge.

Running into Spring and Cheesemaking

It’s Thursday… wait, what?!?  This week has flown by (again).  Why is it that the older I get, the faster time seems to go?  I don’t know but it seems like every time I blink lately a day, a week, a year has passed without me noticing.

We had a very brief period of Spring weather over the weekend and I managed to run outside.  It was freaking ahh-mazing!  I have been having some very successful treadmill runs lately that I chalk up to my increased fitness from Crossfit, but I was a little nervous about running outside.  History has taught me that my comfort on the treadmill does not always translate when there are elements to contend with outside – wind, cold, heat, hills, sidewalk cracks, you get the idea.  I purposefully chose to wait until the weather was gorgeous before venturing out.  That way, at least the weather wouldn’t be crapping on me.  Turns out, I didn’t need to worry at all.  The run was fantastic.  I actually found myself able to do little bursts where I picked up the pace for a minute or two, generally until I got distracted and forgot that I was trying to run faster.  Speaking of distraction, I actually managed to zone out and “lose” a few blocks of running, which is completely my favorite way of running.  I actually zoned back in and was like “Woah, how did I get to the turn around point already?”  Now that is what I call a good run.

On Sunday, Rob and I went to a cheesemaking class.  Even though Rob basically has zero interest in learning to cook, he is endlessly interested in producing food items.  He wants to learn to make cheese and beer and liquor and things like that.  I find his interest confusing but I’m never one to discourage any interest he has in food, so for Christmas, I bought him a cheesemaking kit and then I signed him up for this class at the school where I work.  The cheesmakers are literally the sweetest people on earth.  They come twice a year from Three Shepherds Farm in Vermont to teach these classes.  Every time they come I look forward to it.

Rob making cheese

Rob is going to stretch mozzarellaWe made tons of cheese and we ended up taking home more than most because we were the last ones there (I had to lock up).  Our mozzarella balls turned into margherita pizza.  That is the thing I crave more than anything else when I am trying to eat grain free.  And man, did it hit the spot! photo 3

We also have a cup or so of quark that I’m planning on making into ice cream.  There are 5 (!) rounds of soft-ripened cheese rolled in herbs.  I plan on giving some of these away because as much as I love it (tastes a lot like chevre but it’s made out of cow’s milk) I know I can’t eat that much before it goes bad.  But a little part of me is sad to part with it.  My garage is now home to 3 rounds of feta that are brining.  They take 1-2 months, so we’ll see how that turns out.

 

Crossfit Goals

A funny thing happened this morning.  I have a friend that I workout with at Crossfit.  I met her there and we are usually pretty well matched both in pace and ability.  She is an amazing motivator because she is within reach.  This morning I realized she has blown by me in a couple of key areas.  Two things that are very challenging for me – pull-ups and double-unders – she has turned into a pro on (seemingly) overnight.  I am so excited for her!  And it’s putting a little giddy-up in my step.  I can’t be lacsidaisical about this anymore!

The time has come for me to officially put into writing my Crossfit goals.  I have been at this for about 6 months and there have been some amazing strides, but some things are not coming along as fast as I would like.  Hopefully this will give me the benchmark I need to see some serious results.  I’ve even included some non-Crossfit goals that are just general fitness things I would like to do in the next year.  I will do:

  • 1 Double Under on command (not by accident)
  • A string (5 or more) of Double Unders
  • Rx Workout with Double Unders in it
  • 1 unassisted Pull Up
  • Rx Workout with unassisted Pull Ups
  • A full-depth handstand Push Up
  • Run a 5k in under 30 minutes
  • Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
  • Back Squat 1.5 times my body weight
  • Bench Press 100 lbs.
  • Deadlift 1.5 times my body weight
  • Front Squat my body weight
  • Fran unassisted
  • A true Filthy Fifty, Rx
  • Ground to Shoulder with the 115# Atlas Stone
  • A Muscle Up on the bar
  • Learn to Climb the Rope
  • A 30″ Box jump
  • An unassisted Ring Dip
  • Compete in the 2015 Crossfit Open

Somehow just putting all of these down already makes me feel more motivated!  I’m ready to get going!!  1

 

Ramen anyone? Anyone?

Eek!  I’m teaching my first cooking class in two days.  I’m very excited about it but I’m getting nervous too.  I have such a flight mentality, as in fight or flight.  If there is something I don’t like or scares me, I’m so tempted to run away.  I know this class will be great.  It’s on one of my favorite topics – ramen!  It should be very do-able, but since I’m scared a little bit, I’ve been sitting here aggressively procrastinating writing up the recipes for the recipe packet that I need to hand out to the class.

Yes I know that my procrastinating is only hurting me.  The class will happen whether I’m rushing at the last minute or if I plan ahead.  And I will be so much happier and more relaxed if I get to work writing it all up.  So instead of doing what I logically know to be a the right thing to do, I’m sitting here typing up a blog post.  What a knucklehead!

Here’s a preview from some of the recipe testing I did over the weekend.  Not quite a Cup o’Noodles is it? 2

If I ever get around to writing the recipes for class (I will get around to it – my job depends on it), I’ll probably come back and post them here.  You should have the advantage of the recipes too, right?

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