Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Consequence Of Getting Enough Sleep

Thanks to my conversion to morning person status , I have been sleeping beautifully for about a month. I have been getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night and feeling well rested every day. It's really nice, I recommend it. There's only one drawback: I've been having the most vivid, unsettling dreams ever.
This occurrence started just after I started getting myself onto a regular sleep schedule. Here are a two of the dreams I've had:

First, I dreamt that I was in the attic of a creepy old house with my dad and Dan, and we were all crammed in a bathroom. We all felt worried, like something weird was going on, and Dan got a text from his brother that said, "Has the sonic gone out where you guys are yet?" to which I replied, "Has the sonic gone out? That's not even a real thing!" at which point a high-pitched sound flooded the air and the sky turned weird, thermal colors. It was clear to all of us that it was the end of the world, and I was afraid because I wasn't sure how long it was going to take, if it would hurt, etc.

Then, last night I dreamt that I was in the basement of a house with my brother, which I guess was my house, and I stumbled upon a dismembered body. I was afraid to look at the face for fear that it was someone I loved. My brother and I were hesitant to report it for some reason, and we learned that a serial killer was on the loose. Next, I was in my attic, and said serial killer was there, but instead of killing me, he drugged me and kept me in a bed in the attic. Apparently my family assumed I just didn't want to come down, because they didn't come looking for me. One day, I was allowed to go downstairs, and I saw two children who I knew immediately were mine. I asked my mom how old they were, and she said four, so I deduced that the serial killer had kept me drugged for nearly five years at least, and had impregnated me and kept me sedated throughout the pregnancy and birth. I knew he was watching me, so I covertly whispered to my mom that there was a serial killer keeping me hostage upstairs, and to please send the police because he might kill me. The dream ended with a police car driving by but not stopping.

WHAT THE HELL??? I assume that I've always had dreams like this, but in my state of constant exhaustion I wasn't able to remember them. It's weird how disturbing they all are, though. Eeesh.

While today was the blizzard that wasn't (I estimate that we got less than 5 inches here, but I could be wrong), the snow day was exactly what I needed. I was like a machine, tearing through my school work like it was nobody's business! With tomorrow and Friday to get more work done, I'm going to be in excellent shape at the end of this week. Hooray!

Snow Day FTW!

While I have yet to be impressed by this storm (or any that we've had so far this year), it did do one good thing for me: snow day! This couldn't have come at a better time, as I am inundated with work, a bunch of which was due today, and despite my diligent work, I didn't get it done. Once I get a bit farther into the semester I think I'll be okay because I'll figure out a good system for getting the massive amount of work done, but here in the second week it feels impossible.
To get geared up for my day of studies, I did 30 minutes of Blast Fat Boost Metabolism. I skipped over the "ab work" circuit because I don't like it and prefer to just keep my heart rate up, so I hit 30 minutes in the middle of the second-to-last circuit. Now that I've done it a bunch of times, I'm pleased to notice that some of the moves are becoming easier. Things that I couldn't do for the whole time (plié hops anyone?) I can now finish without too much trouble. And Jillian loves those jumping jacks, so I feel like I could do those forever at this point. I substitute jumping jacks for moves I still can't do (burpees! And this 360˚ jump spin that makes me really dizzy), but I'm sure I'll be able to do those things soon. The results from Jillian Michaels workouts are pretty amazing--I'm not taking about huge weight loss (I have been losing weight, but that's because of my overall lifestyle, not a miracle DVD) or inches disappearing or anything, but each time I do the DVD, I am stronger, which is really motivating and my goal at the end of the day.
This is what the rest of my day will look like:

The class that's really throwing me into a tizzy is Children's Lit. It's a 200 level English class, so of course I expected lots of reading and writing, but I didn't anticipate this much work. Especially because I had a 200-level English class with the same professor last semester and while there was a lot of work, it wasn't like this. There is a young adult book to read each week of varying length (last week was Stone Fox which only took me about 20 minutes to get through, this week is Tuck Everlasting which is taking me longer. I estimate it will take about 2.5 hours to get through) which we have to write a response paper for, plus we have to read a picture book each week and write a short response to that, PLUS some weeks (such as this coming week) we have another bigger paper due on top of those two things. On top of the reading and writing for Anthropology (3 chapters were due for today, plus we had to find 4 news articles and 4 things in popular media related to Anthropology and summarize each), the worksheets/translating/reading Spanish literature for Spanish class, and reading/quizzes in Music class, my head is spinning. Right now the only thing keeping me from hiding in bed is lists. Lots and lots of lists. For example, all of the things I need to get done this week:

and my schedule from yesterday. I have to have a schedule, otherwise I get really confused and overwhelmed:

I stuck to my schedule really well yesterday, and ended up working until about 5:30, at which point we went to run a few errands so that I could get out of the house for a bit. 
Well, I'd better dive in to take advantage of my lucky extra day to work. For lunch today I'm going to make lentil walnut loaf, which is like a vegetarian meatloaf. I realize this may sound unappetizing for the masses, but I can't wait to try it! Even Dan is excited (although, he has never not liked anything I've made, so that isn't saying much). 



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Twice Baked Sweet Potato

Care for some vegetables with your vegetables? Well, I think technically Sweet Potato is a starch (too lazy to google it), but it's considered a superfood (according to the book Superfood Rx, which I got from the library and didn't read), and you can only feel good about adding more vegetables to a superfood and then stuffing your face with said ultra-super food.
This recipe is a good one to make if you're working from home and can make it over the course of an hour or so. It doesn't require much hands-on time, so as long as you can take several breaks from your work, it's a cinch to throw together. It's also really versatile, you can mix basically anything you have in your fridge in, so it's a good choice when you find yourself without anything planned for lunch. Here's what's for lunch for me today:
Oh, hey little guy! 


Twice Baked Sweet Potato 


Ingredients:


  • 1 large sweet potato (or yam or regular potato)
  • Scant 1/4 cup of your favorite shredded cheese (I prefer cheddar, but due to sending my husband to the grocery store, I can't find any in the fridge. Maybe I forgot to put it on the list, or maybe it's just really good at hiding. Today I had to resort to mozzarella)
  • Approx. 1/4-1/2 cup of a mix of your favorite 3-4 chopped veggies. Today I'm using:
  • Broccoli (always a good choice)
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Frozen Peas
  • Onion


Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚
  2. Heat potato in microwave for about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until really soft. Allow to cool until you can handle it without burning your hands off.  
  3. Cut the potato in half, lengthwise, and scoop the potato out into a bowl, being careful to keep the skin in tact
  4. Mix your cheese and veggies into the potato. Scoop mixture back into the potato skins
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top starts to brown
See? Super easy, tasty, and filling. One is plenty, so I'm saving the other one for Dan when he gets home from work. I'm eating mine with a few leftover California rolls from dinner last night (the only kind of "sushi" I really like...judge away!) and cranberry sauce:

while watching "I Love Lucy." I got season 1 & 2 in a box set for $15 yesterday at Target! I can't even express how excited I am about this, as "I Love Lucy" is probably my absolute favorite show of all time.


Did you watch Nick at Night growing up? Dan has somehow never watched "I Love Lucy" or other shows from that time! What's your favorite old show?  

Monday, January 31, 2011

My Lungs Are Mad At Me

It's been relatively warm lately-in the 30's-so when I left the house to run a couple of errands this morning and the freezing cold slapped me in the face, my little heart sank. Apparently we're getting some kind of storm tomorrow and Wednesday, so I knew that today was my only chance to run, but it was so cold!
Dan got brave sooner than me and headed out for a run. I decided that if he could do it, so could I. I put on a ridiculous amount of clothes: a thermal shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, a fleece scarf, lined running pants, two pairs of (mismatched) gloves, and a headband. Yikes!

As I headed out the door, Dan got home and warned me that it was awful, but at around 10 minutes you get warmed up and it's not so bad anymore.
When I headed out, the sun was beating right down on me, and I initially felt really warm. I was worried that I was overdressed. Then I turned a corner and once again got slapped in the face with the cold. At 5 minutes, I considered turning back because it really sucked, even when I tried tucking my face in my scarf my face felt like an ice cube and my lungs were burning. I decided to keep going to see if Dan was right and it didn't feel so bad after 10 minutes. And he was! I noticed that it didn't feel so bad anymore, and I peeked at my watch and it was just over 10 minutes. My lungs were still burning, I had to take tons of walking breaks, but at least I wasn't freezing. I even took a little detour to make my run a bit longer. I am one of those strange creatures who actually likes winter, but today I was dreaming of spring. At the end of the run, I was really glad I had gone out (as I always am), so it was definitely worth the discomfort.
I came in and had a bowl of carrot cake oatmeal and a smoothie (almond milk, banana, and frozen strawberries) for lunch. It was so good after freezing my booty off. On Saturday, while I enjoyed my carrot cake oatmeal for breakfast (I can't stop eating it!), I made Dan another bowl of apple crisp oatmeal. It was so easy, here's how you do it:

Apple Crisp Oatmeal

Ingredients for one large boy serving: 
1/2 cup oats
1 cup milk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 apple, diced
1 heaping tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon 

Put everything in a pan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently until it's thick and delicious, about 7 minutes. 
I took a little taste of this, and it is really good. Once I get sick of my carrot cake oatmeal, I might have to switch to this! 

Well, I'm off to class. First, Spanish and then Children's Lit, where we will be discussing the children's book Stone Fox. Stay tuned for an update on what I think of my current semester!! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Carrot Cake Oatmeal: I'm In Love

I have been craving carrots like crazy lately, so when I found the recipe for carrot cake oatmeal over on Oh She Glows, I almost died. I knew I had to make it right away, and I did, and it was even better than I thought it would be. I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, so I threw it together with what I did have, and here's what I got to eat for breakfast this morning:

Oh. My. God. It tasted exactly like carrot cake! Here's how I made it:

1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup original almond milk, plus more for serving (you can use any type of milk you want)
1 small carrot, grated (I used just under 1 cup which I loved. If you're not as crazy about carrots as me I'd go with the the recommended 1/2 cup) 
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 dashes cinnamon
1 dash powdered ginger
walnuts 

I put everything except for the walnuts in the pan all at once (I'm lazy when I've just gotten up!) and heated it on the stove for about 7 minutes, until it was really thick and creamy. I then poured it into a bowl, put the walnuts on top, and added a splash of milk (which is how I've always eaten oatmeal, because this cools it down and I am also really impatient when I've just gotten up). So good. I just started making oatmeal with milk instead of just water, and the difference is unbelievable. It's so creamy and delicious! I always figured that it was about the same and therefore not worth the extra 50 calories or whatever, but I was so wrong. 
I will eventually make this recipe exactly following Angela's instructions when I remember to buy coconut cream at the store, and I can't even begin to imagine how good that tastes. 
Do yourself a favor and make this. It takes almost no time, is healthy and filling, and is so tasty. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Transition To Morning Person: Complete

I realized this morning, when I woke up at 6:15 and then couldn't fall back asleep for an extra 15 minutes that my goal of becoming a morning person has been realized. Hooray!
As I posted earlier this month, I wanted to adopt a better sleep schedule. I've struggled with insomnia for my entire life, and "they" always say that you should go to bed and get up at the same time each day, which I'd always scoffed at. Things got really out of control when I stopped working at the coffee shop full time and started taking mostly afternoon & night classes. The newfound freedom of not having to get up at 5am every day was awesome. Over the past 2 years, my bedtime has slipped later and later, until at the beginning of December I was regularly staying up until 3am, sometimes 4. Then I would sleep until 10, but I always felt tired, like I was never getting enough sleep. 
So, as I'm working on becoming healthier in every aspect of my life, I realized that it is really important to get my sleep under control. For about a month, I've been going to bed early, around 10, and getting up early, between 6 and 7:30 every morning. Just this week, I'm really noticing a huge change: I never hit snooze anymore. I used to hit snooze at least once, but usually twice (and often more) every single morning, but now when my alarm goes off, or when Dan gets a sub call in the morning, or anything wakes me up after 6, I'm just awake. But it doesn't feel bad, it feels awesome. I get up, eat breakfast, read some blogs, and then I'm ready to start my day. 
I've been falling asleep more easily and sleeping through the night, and I feel much more rested during the day. Having extra time in the morning is so much more productive (for me) then having extra time at night. Damn it, I hate it when "they" are right! 
Yesterday morning I was out the door for a run at 8am, the first run I've gone on in a long time. It was really cold, so I cut my run down to two miles. It was good, I was glad to be out there again. I went on another run this afternoon, and decided to stick with my two mile route because my legs are sore from yesterday. I'm actually glad we had that super cold day (it was like -21˚ or something!) because 31˚ felt positively balmy and I was so happy to be running in it. I had to take a lot of walking breaks today, because my legs were more sore than I anticipated, but I finished the two miles in 21 minutes, so it wasn't too bad. I'm hoping that Dan will be in the mood to go for a walk later today, because I have been sitting at the computer most of the day writing papers, so I am dying to get outside some more! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Such A Good Wife

As I mentioned before, I made a Jewish feast for dinner on Friday night. I absolutely love latkes, matzo ball soup, and even brisket (though I'm usually not a big fan of red meat), but usually I only have them a couple times a year, for Passover and then usually twice around Hanukkah (once at my in-laws, and once at our annual Hanukkah party). I had a craving, and Dan got awfully excited when I asked him if he wanted me to make that dinner, so I did. 
I've never made brisket before, and I accidentally got a pot roast. But in my opinion, brisket and pot roast taste exactly alike, so it was fine. I started by popping the meat into the crock pot at 7am with some broth, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and onion, and then I topped the meat with a ketchup-based glaze (which I've seen on my mother in-law's brisket, otherwise I wouldn't have done it). I turned it on low, and then proceeded to fuggidaboutit. 
Closer to dinner time, I mixed up some Manischewitz brand matzo balls as per the instructions on the box, and got the soup rolling. I added carrots and celery to the broth so that we could get some vegetables with our meal. 
Once that was on, it was latke time. I've only really made latkes for huge groups of people, so I added too much onion to mine. Dan claimed not to mind, but I was cranky about it. Here's how I make them (with a corrected amount of onion!) 

Latkes
serves 3-4

Ingredients:
3 potatoes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 Tbsp flour (or matzo meal) 
salt & pepper to taste 
Oil for frying

1. Peel the potatoes and grate them into a bowl of cold water (this will slow the oxidation...if you skip the cold water, they will quickly turn black.) You can leave them in the water for maybe an hour, but you really have to work pretty quickly with latkes. 
2. When you're ready to fry them, drain the water and then ring out the potatoes (the drier the better. You can even ring them out in paper towels if you have some handy). Put them in a bowl, and then add  the remaining ingredients (except for the oil) and mix well.
3. Pour enough oil in the pain so that it's about 1/4 inch deep. Heat this on medium-high until a drop of water flicked into the pan sizzles. Scoop up about 1/4 cup of the latke mixture (I use a slotted spoon to eliminate any residual moisture) and place it in the pan. You can fry as many as will comfortably fit.
4. Cook for a minute or two, checking for brownness, and then flip over until the other side is cooked. I put the cooked latkes on a baking sheet topped with a cooling rack in the oven, which I set at 150˚ to keep them warm. 
Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce. 

I pulled the meat out of the crock-pot:

And it shredded beautifully. Unfortunately, it was a little dry (look at how much liquid is in that pot? How was that possible? I guess I really have no clue how to cook red meat!), but thankfully there was enough juice to dip it in to make it tasty. Here's the spread:


With the meat a little dry and the latkes a little too oniony, the best part of the meal was the matzo ball soup from a box! Sheesh! It was okay, though, because overall it was yummy and I got my fix. Now I will be good until Passover. 
Oh, and of course no Jewish feast would be complete without some Dr. Brown's soda:
Which you can buy in the Jewish food section of Price Chopper. 

In other news, I'm itching to go on a run. I haven't been on a run in a long time because things keep getting in the way, like snow, seriously frigid temperatures, or time constraints, or like yesterday when I had a killer headache that started Monday night and had me down for the count. Thankfully, I got a ton of school work knocked out before I gave up and laid on the couch with a cold washcloth over my eyes and popped a million pills to try to make it go away. I have been doing other things, such as long walks, Jillian Michaels workouts, and Richard Simmons, so I have still been exercising every day, but I really want to listen to my audiobooks that I'm only allowed to listen to when I run. Today I have no headache, there is no snow, it is reasonable warm outside, and I don't have to leave for class until 3:30, so I think today is my day. 




Friday, January 21, 2011

Lacking Motivation

Today is my last true day of freedom before classes start again on Monday. I have mixed feelings--I haven't been working much over break, so I really appreciate the free time to get everything done that needs to get done around the house. I like having a clean apartment. Once I go back, it's going to be a struggle to find time to keep up with everything. On the other hand, I love school, and I'm always happy to be taking classes, so I'm looking forward to being back in that groove.
I am staring at the stack of school books for this semester with fear in my heart. I am taking two weird classes: Children's Lit and History of Rock Music. Say what?
Children's Lit will fulfill my final 200-level english requirement, but more importantly, it's taught by one of my favorite professors of all time (I had him for a class called Minority Voices last semester), which is why I signed up for it. I'm not particularly interested in reading young-adult books or anything, but he is so awesome, and this is most likely my last semester at ACC, so I couldn't pass it up. The downside is that there are twelve (TWELVE!) books required for the class. They are young-adult, and therefore most of them will be quick reads, but that's almost a book a week for that one class. Let me give you a visual of this ("The Cay" is hiding underneath "Stone Fox," that's why it looks like there's only 11):

Most of these books I can read in a night, but I foresee "The Book Thief," "Dough Boy" (written by the professor), and "Seth something or other's Love Manifesto" taking more time. I looked sadly at the stack of books I have to read next to my bed and said, "See you in May, buddies!" 
History of Rock Music came about because we expected to have a second car by now (we're waiting on an inheritance) and we don't, so I won't be able to make it up to Queensbury for the 2pm creative writing class I originally signed up for. I had to scramble to find another class, and most of them are full, so I was left with this as my only option. I don't think it will be terrible, but it's an online class which I'm dreading. I can't seem to get out of taking one online class each semester, and they're always so much more work than traditional classes. Anyway, the class will probably be pretty interesting despite my general inhuman disinterest in music. 
I stacked all of my books together to get an idea of what I'm in for this semester, and here's the damage:

If you're wondering what $500 will buy you in a school book store, you're looking at it. 


I have a lot of things to do today to make my life easier once school starts. I need to clean the house from top to bottom so that I don't have to worry about it next week (namely the office, which I have boycotted entering since school ended, and is a total disaster), I need to bake some bread (fingers crossed I still have time for this once I'm in class!), I need to finish my college application essays. I also need to go for a run, something I had almost given up on because of all the snow when I got up this morning, but now the snow has stopped and the sun is out. Hooray!
I've been up for three hours, but have yet to really do anything. Well, that's not exactly fair. I did get a "brisket" (I accidentally got a pot roast. Shiksa alert!) into the crock pot for dinner tonight. We're having a Jewish-fest of brisket, latkes, and matzo ball soup. More about that some other day (let's just say for now that Passover is too far away from Hanukkah).
And here I am, procrastinating further with this blog. I'd better wrap it up, but before I do, I just have to talk about the French baguette I made last night. We were having boring old pasta for dinner, and in the afternoon I wondered if it was hard to make a baguette. I found a pretty simple (but different than any other bread) recipe on the interweb, and gave it a try. As my dough was rising, I looked at other recipes that were much, much more complicated and was glad I'd found an easy one.
The result? So good! It didn't look much like a baguette when I pulled it out (it was kind of...squat. I should have rolled it out longer), but when I cut into it and took a bite...CRUNCH! It was so good. I used this recipe, following it exactly except that you need more flour than it calls for, which is obvious when you're trying to knead the bread. I don't know how much extra I put in, I just kept adding it until it was the consistency of bread, not goop.

What you see next to the bread is olive oil with a smashed garlic clove, dried parsley, and pepper to dip the bread in. SO GOOD. Oh my god. I was quite proud of myself about this concoction:

In order to eat white bread dipped in olive oil guilt free, Dan and I went for a walk and then I did 30 minutes of my new Jillian Michaels DVD. I was actually not that sore when I got up yesterday, but I really started feeling it when I was doing the DVD again. Yikes! I don't feel sore today, but I don't think I'm going to attempt the DVD for a couple of days. My run is going to be short and easy--I'm doing my old 1.5 mile route because it's the safest in these snowy conditions! 
Okay, okay, time to do stuff I need to do! 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Veggie Burgers & Zucchini Chips

Last week I found a recipe for bulgar & white bean burgers. I detest store-bought veggie burgers and I'm not a huge fan of homemade bean burgers--the texture turns me off. The recipe looked good, though, and I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to whip them up.
I liked them, but I didn't love them...but I was excited to see potential in the recipe. The bulgar changed the texture of the bean burgers and made them much more delicious. I took to my lab kitchen to make over the recipe to perfection.
The results? Amazing! They're similar to falafel. Here's the recipe:

Chickpea, Bulgar, & Veggie Burgers
Yields: 8 burgers

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup uncooked bulgar
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup nut of your choice (walnuts would work best because they're soft, but I went with almonds because I had them on hand)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup frozen peas

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.
2. Add the bulgar and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow bulgar to simmer, covered, 10-12 minutes, until cooked through. Stir in the soy sauce.
3. Allow the bulgar to cool slightly. Throw it in a food processor with the nuts, cilantro, and cumin, pulse until the nuts are chopped up and everything is incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Put the chickpeas in the food processor and pulse until they are crumbly, but not smooth. Add these to the bulgar mixture and mix well.
5. Add the egg and bread crumbs to the mixture, mix well.
6. Add the carrots and peas, mix until evenly distributed.
7. Scoop out 1/4 cups of the mixture and form into patties with your hand. Place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least a few hours. Here's what you'll have at this point:
8. Once they've chilled, heat a bit of oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the burgers (as many as will fit comfortably) to the pan, allow to cook until brown, about 3 minutes. Flip them over, brown the other side. And you're done:

This was the start of my sandwich. I cut a slice of honey oat quick bread in half, plopped the burger down, and added tomato, spinach, and a little bit of ranch dressing. I tried to put the other half of the bread on top, but I could not, for the life of me, fit it into my mouth, so it ended up being open faced.
These are so, so good. I could have eaten a million of them. They're surprisingly low-calorie (about 150 each) and really filling.

On the side of my burger, I decided to try yet another experiment: zucchini chips. I took the sweet potato fry baking method I learned on Iowa Girl Eats and used zucchini instead. Here's how to do it:

Zucchini Chips
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 small zucchinis
1 egg white
Panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Slice the zucchinis into rounds (I used a mandolin). Beat the egg white in a bowl and sprinkle the bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the zucchini in the egg white and then in the bread crumbs to coat. Lay on a metal cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet (for crispiness). Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.
These were good, too. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Yum!
This was quite a vegetarian feast:

Win!

I spent yesterday fighting some dumb cold with all my might, and it appears that I have won! Several cups of airborne and cloves of raw garlic later, I feel fine today. It was touch and go for awhile yesterday, with a sore throat and general achy-ness, but today (so far, anyway) I feel none of that!
After consuming a clove of raw garlic Monday night by popping it in my mouth and chewing it up, I realized that that was not the best way to do it. So yesterday, I used a garlic press to mince a clove into the bottom of a shot glass and then topped it off with tomato juice: 
Dan's reaction: "Oh my god, you're so crazy. I'm taking a picture of this. "

It was down the hatch in no time (hey, my younger days of heavy drinking paid off in the end!) and besides the delicious lingering garlic breath, it was much less disgusting. One clove in the morning and one at night, and I'm seriously as good as new. 
I spent yesterday laying pretty low, because I've learned that pretending not to be sick doesn't make it go away. Despite this, I was still able to get a ton done around the house, including cleaning, making a loaf of bread, making a curried lentil soup, and then making tortillas from scratch (because I forgot to write that on my grocery list and was not venturing out in the snowstorm!). Let's talk about these tortillas for a minute:

They were so good, and really easy. They were a little fluffier than the ones you would buy in the store, but it wasn't a bad thing. I used this recipe, and opted for the whole wheat variety. I will definitely not be buying store bought tortillas anymore. These were easy, seriously delicious, and had only 5 ingredients that I would always have on hand. 
I used the tortillas to make some veggie enchiladas that were unimpressive in the end, so I won't bother posting the recipe. Dan really liked them, but they were definitely missing something (don't you even dare think "meat!" because that's not what it was). Also, there wasn't enough sauce, so they were pretty dry. 
I didn't feel up to exercising yesterday, but today I was really excited to try out Jillian Michael's "Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism"

This workout is different from 30 Day Shred in that it doesn't involve any weights, it's a bit slower paced, and it's twice as long. I was feeling a little nervous about doing such a long workout with Jillian Michaels (that woman is nuts!), but I really liked it! It was HARD. There are seven six-minute circuits, so it doesn't get boring at all. During the first circuit, I noticed Jillian was more chatty and took time to explain some of the moves, and coming from the 30 Day Shred you don't stop for a second mentality, I was like, "What are you doing, little buddy?" but even with the slower pace, it was intense. A lot of the moves from 30DS showed up, plus tons of new ones. I had to pause the DVD at one point to get a glass of water--that't how rough it was! 
The main problem I have with her workouts is that I'm above an old-lady hair salon, and I feel self-concious with all the jumping that is involved. I think they're often wondering what in tarnation is going on up here. So the plyo moves don't get my full effort because I'm trying to be quiet. Still, I feel like I got a really good workout and I will definitely be sore tomorrow. I worked up quite a sweat, and I even got kind of wheezy after awhile. I would definitely recommend this one! 
I downloaded two audio books that I really want to hear (one David Sedaris and one Laurie Notaro), so I'm waiting for all this dumb snow to stop so that I can go out on a run! This new only listen to audiobooks when I run idea was so genius. 
I'm off to make some tea and curl up on the couch with a book (a collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates) before working on my college application! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sick Day

Last night I noticed a distinct pain in my throat every time I swallowed...sigh. I hate being sick so much. Dan loves being sick because it gives him an excuse to lay on the couch, read, get out of his chores, (and, ahem, whine), but I think it's the most annoying thing ever. I've got things to do!
Last night I had some airborne, which I always do when I feel something coming on, and I almost never get really sick. Last time I started getting sick, I didn't take any and I was sick forever. Could be a coincidence, but it seems like the mega dose of vitamins and minerals does something. Also, as desperate times call for desperate measures, I ate a raw garlic clove. Now, I love garlic. I love garlic more than any normal person loves garlic. I'd heard of taking raw garlic before, but just never done it. This time I thought, "I love garlic, I might even LIKE eating it raw!" Um, no. It was awful. The flavor was so sharp and stingy. It was bad. Real bad. I managed to get it down, and then had to drink a huge glass of water because it made me feel nauseous. Despite brushing my teeth like a mad woman, I can still taste the garlic in my throat. I've only been up for an hour so it's too soon to really tell, but I don't think I feel any worse than I did last night, so it may have been worth it. We'll see.
I'm hoping I feel okay as the day unfolds because I have a bunch of crap to do. I've been at work for the past two days and Dan has been home, so needless to say, the apartment is a bit of a mess. Also, I need to bake some bread and apparently I have to make some homemade tortillas since I forgot to put them on my grocery list. Actually they are not very hard to make (I'll be using this recipe), and I'm sure store-bought tortillas are full of chemicals so tortillas might become something I make at home sine I always have the ingredients on hand.
On top of my domestic duties, I just got this:

and was planning on trying it out today since we are under a winter storm warning and I won't be running outside! I may have to wait until whatever I'm potentially sick with goes away, though. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rest Day

My arms and legs are sore from my last two days of exercise, so I've decided to take it easy today. When Dan gets home from work, we're going to go on a nice long walk, which I think will loosen up my muscles, but I'm not doing anything intense today. Except for working on college applications, that is.

I am really excited about the prospect of moving on to a university (I've milked just about all I can out of ACC--if I sucked it up and took a lab science, a 1 credit gym class, + 1 more class this summer, I would earn my associates degree) with an actual Spanish program so that I can jump into what I want to do when I grow up. However, the process of getting there is really overwhelming, so today I made a list of the steps I need to take to complete the application process and then dove in:

1. Complete my SUNY application and review it to make sure it's totally accurate [check!]
2. Decide on a "safety" school to apply to in addition to the two I actually want to attend [check! I decided on Oneonta instead of Binghamton because I think it is pretty easy to get into, and therefore truly a safety school]
3. Complete application part II for SUNY Albany & my chosen safety school (and relish in the fact that SUNY New Paltz only requires the SUNY application for transfer students) [overwhelming!]
4. Find the addresses for where to send my transcripts at each of the 3 schools [check!]
5. Submit transcript requests to ESC and ACC
...and then I'm done!

So, as you can see, I've done the easy ones, and I only have two steps left. I go back to school a week from Monday, and my goal is to have all 5 steps completed by then. I'm going to wait to get my student loan refund before I actually submit them--with the application fees and cost of transcripts, this is going to cost about $200. Sheesh! None of the schools actually require me to have a letter or recommendation, but I think that I will get one from my fave Spanish teacher for good measure.

I make lists like this all the time, because I tend to get overwhelmed. It really helps to lay out a plan when something seems so complicated that I want to give up. As soon as I broke the process into a few doable steps, I could relax a little bit.

Dishes time!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Picking Up Momentum

Last night, I got a second wind and did level 3 of 30 Day Shred (sooo hard after not doing it for so long!). I really like 30DS because it's challenging, but quick-paced and I don't get bored. During level 3, I may or may not sometimes yell at Jillian through the TV. I then did 30 minutes of yoga. Confession: usually I do each yoga position to the best of my ability (which is usually laughable...I'm not very flexible!), but sometimes when I'm grumpy, I forsake the positions I hate for child's pose. Last night I replaced about 3 positions with child's pose.

Today we were hit with a snowstorm that really let me down--I was hoping for a nor'easter that would close everything down for the day (without knocking out our power, of course). My hopes soared at midnight when peeked out the window and saw that the snow had started--I woke Dan up to squeal, "It's snowing!!" I was unimpressed in the morning, though. There was less than a foot. It snowed all day so I couldn't run, but I took the opportunity to get some exercise by shoveling my car out even though I wasn't planning on going anywhere today. I figured it would help Dan out tomorrow morning when he gets up for work. We were plowed in, so I had to shovel around the car to get to it, then once I brushed off the car, I had to shovel again because there was so much snow. It took 30 minutes, and it was hard work! I wish I had more to shovel, it's such good exercise. Between 30DS last night and shoveling today, my arms and legs are burning.

It feels like I'm getting back into exercise more than I thought, so that makes me happy. Hopefully by tomorrow, they will have cleared the shoulders of the roads around here so I can go on a run. And this time, I won't forget to use my inhaler...sheesh!

Roasted Chicken, Three Ways

These days, I'm fancying myself quite a domestic wonder. I've been baking my own bread (after doing this for about 3 weeks, I'm not sure how I could ever go back to store bought bread, as homemade bread is so amazingly delicious), as I mentioned before, and as if that wasn't enough, I had a stroke of genius while making my latest grocery list. I purchased one roasted chicken from the deli, and proceeded to use it for three meals.

When I got my little chicken home, I removed all of the meat that easily came off (knowing that I'd be making chicken soup, I didn't try too hard). That night, I made this salad:

which contained the following ingredients:

spinach
cucumber
mushroom
roast chicken
clementine wedges
crasins
chopped peanuts (walnuts or almonds would have been better, but I had peanuts on hand)

I served it with a piece of my honey oat quick bread, of which I've now made four loaves.

I then set about making some delicious chicken noodle soup:


Here's how:

Get yourself:
The carcass from the roast chicken with most of the meat taken off for other recipes (don't stress too much about getting all the meat off, because what remains will fall off the bone and become the chunks of chicken in your soup)
2 cups of chopped carrots
2 cups of chopped celery
1 large chopped onion
Several cloves of garlic
Salt & Pepper
A healthy dose of parsley (dried or fresh)
Plus:
1 cup of flour
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp milk

Then:
1. Put the all the bones in a large stock pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the water is simmering, and walk away for 3-4 hours.
2. Strain the broth into another pot, and then allow the bones to cool slightly so that you can remove any remaining meat from them. Add this meat back into the broth, discard the bones.
3. Add the remaining ingredients (except the flour, egg, and milk) to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables begin to get soft, about an hour.
4. Towards the end of the hour, mix the flour, egg, and milk in a small bowl. Start with 1 Tbsp of milk and add more only if necessary to form the dough into a ball. When the ingredients are combined, pour the mixture onto a clean surface and knead it into a ball. Roll the dough out really thinly on a well floured surface in a shape that resembles a rectangle (keeping in mind the noodles will puff up when cooked), and cut into noodles with a pizza cutter.
5. Raise the heat so the soup comes to a rapid boil. Sprinkle the noodles into the soup, stirring so they don't stick together. Allow the noodles to cook until soft, about 30 minutes.

This soup is literally the best chicken noodle soup I've ever had (and I've made it from scratch differently in the past). I think it's the homemade noodles that really make it great. I've actually got another pot going for dinner tonight. What could be better on a snowy day like this??
Finally, I used the rest of the chicken in this stir fry last night, the recipe found on the Eating Well website:




The recipe calls for raw chicken, but I just threw my cooked chicken in at the end. I also made some variations. Here's what I did:

Ingredients:
1 lemon
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp flour
1 Tbsp canola oil
1.5 cup roast chicken (the meat that remained after using some in the salad)
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup carrots, sliced into coins
1 cup chopped peppers (I used green and red) 
1 cup snow peas, stems and strings removed
5 scallions, chopped, whites and greens divided 
Tons of garlic

Grate 1 tsp of lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and mix 3 Tbsp of juice with the broth, soy sauce, and flour, and set aside. 

Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and carrots, and pepper, cook for about 5 minutes until carrots begin to get tender. Add peas, scallion whites, garlic, and lemon zest. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add to pan, cook until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Add scallion greens and chicken, and cook until the chicken is heated through, 2-3 minutes.

I served this with some soba noodles, and it was delicious! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting Back Into My Routine (+ Motivation!)

Admittedly, I'm having some trouble transitioning back into my pre-brother visit routine. Eating well once again isn't the issue, in fact, I'm happy to be doing it (lots of eating out and eating poorly over the 3 weeks he was here was fun, but certainly didn't leave me feeling my physical best), but exercising is another story. Since my brother left 6 days ago, I've only been on two runs. I haven't just been totally lazy, as I've had something going on every single day since he left, but I'm a little disappointed with myself because I definitely could have exercised more.
The first run was on Thursday afternoon, with Dan. We ran around Saratoga for just under 3 miles. It was a good run, and Dan was being an excellent coach. I got bored quickly, as usual, and whined around mile 2, "Can I take a walking break now?" Dan asked, "Do you think you can run farther??" and I replied, grumpily, "YES." so there was no walking break for me. There were several welcomed red light breaks, but that was actually bad because I lost my momentum and then really wanted to stop running.
I just finished my second run, which was originally going to be about 3.25 miles, but I had to abort that plan when I realized I had forgotten to use my inhaler. I ended up doing about 2 miles, and it was a good run. I discovered a pretty obvious way to entertain myself during runs: audiobooks! Duh! Music doesn't really motivate me to keep going, and I find running to be extremely boring, but today I found a free audiobook app for my iPod and listened to the beginning of "Benjamin Button" on my run. It's a story I've been meaning to read (even though I saw the movie and didn't like it much), and it was a good choice. The person reading it had a deep, molasses-slow southern drawl, which helped me relax and keep a slower pace (very necessary when I've forgotten my inhaler), and I got really wrapped up in the story. It's much funnier than I remember the movie being. I'm only going to listen during runs, so if I want to know what happens, I guess I'll have to get back out there!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Obligatory (Belated) New Year's Resolution Post

I don't normally make new year resolutions, but at the beginning of December, I spent several days considering what I need to do to be happier and laid out some goals to get me going. The goals all tied together into one super-resolution: to continue focusing on being as healthy as I can physically, mentally, and within my marriage. I think the key to not giving up on a resolution by January 2 is to create a plan. Here are the elements that will help me keep my resolution:



source
Continue to eat healthfully
This is actually not a huge challenge for me. As long as I sit down and plan my week's meals in advance and make sure not to buy crap such as chips or sugary cereals, I don't struggle with my food choices. The real challenge is making the grocery list before I realize we're out of food, but lately I've been really good about planning meals.
source
Exercise 4-5 times per week
The main challenge I've identified here is figuring out how to run when it gets really snowy. Inexplicably, we have almost no snow right now, but I know that won't last forever, so I really need to sit down and figure out how to run when it's not safe to do so in my own neighborhood. This will probably happen by my planning my runs in the afternoon, when I have a car and can drive into town where it will be safer. Also, I would like to get more exercise DVDs to keep my motivation and interest up when I don't feel like running.
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Sleep!
My sleep habits are shameful. I often stay up really late and then sleep until 10, which is fine for some people but not how I feel at my best. My goal is to be asleep by 11 or no later than 12, and get up at 7 or 8 every morning.
Limit the interwebs
source
This is actually partially tied into my sleep habits. I tend to spend a lot of time aimlessly browsing the internet, especially once Dan goes to sleep and I get bored. Even during the day though, I have a hard time disconnecting. This is such a ridiculous time suck. I've gotten better about it since I first set these goals, and I've been reading like crazy, something I used to do but started to forgo in exchange for the quick fix of the internet. I still browse around the websites I like to keep up with, but force myself to put the computer down once I find myself searching for something, anything! to look at.
source
Become more organized
I'm pretty organized already, but I've been slipping. My main goal is to really push to keep our apartment neat and organized (which wouldn't be an issue if I wasn't married to Messy Messerson), which is currently happening. Once school starts again, I'd like to be better about not allowing myself distractions. I usually make a schedule for each day in the morning to avoid getting overwhelmed (breaking my work into 30 or 60 minute chunks) but I allow myself to do unimportant things like browse the internet too much.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Night 5k Recap

Last Friday was the night I've been anxiously awaiting for several months. I spent all day randomly yelling out, "I'M NERVOUS!" Earlier in the year, my goal was to run the race in about 30 minutes, but when winter hit and my stamina took a nosedive, I considered not running at all.

On Friday, my tentative goal was to run the whole thing without stopping. I've never run for that long before (I think my previous record is 27:30), and the two times before when I'd practiced the route, I wasn't able to finish without multiple walking breaks. Long story short: I did it!!!!!!!!!!






I felt really good until just after mile 2, when it really started to hurt. Before that point, it wasn't bad; I was even commentating the entire race in a southern accent that I pick up whenever I spend time with my family (I don't know why, none of us are from the south). Once you hit 2 miles, the course is a steady uphill, and I was getting crabby. Thankfully, I was running with my friends Simone and Maddie, who encouraged me through the entire race and chatted at me about donkeys and horses while I huffed along. There were definitely moments when I thought I wouldn't make it. When a volunteer shouted out, "Just a quarter mile left!" and I spotted the finish line in the distance, I was like, "Alright, alright, we got this!" and my morale shot up. THEN I saw Dan, who had finished the race already and was waiting for me. He joined us for the final stretch, which was awesome. I even finished strong with a sprint. I came in with a final time of 35:32, which is not only the longest that I've ever run, but (obviously) the fastest I've finished a 5k distance. I seriously thought I might die for a minute after I stopped running, but once I got some water it was all good.

I have not run since my victory but I am eager to start up again. I was going to run today, but...my hair looks cute and I'm going out tonight and don't want to have to do it again (yes, that's really the reason I won't be running today. Also, full disclosure: my hair isn't THAT hard to do). Tomorrow is the sad day that I bring my brother to the airport, so Thursday is earmarked for a nice run. Looking forward into the year, I will do some more races for sure, and will definitely do first night again this year. My goal is to break 30 minutes, which I think is easily obtainable with a year to train.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Honey Oat Quick Bread

Worry not, a blog about my race is forthcoming. I'm waiting on some pictures before I recount my experience. Hint: it was awesome!

For now, I will confess how domesticated/insane I have become now that I'm on break from school: I decided to start baking my own bread. Before you dismiss this entirely, have you ever read the ingredient list on a package of wheat bread? It's terrifying. So far, I have made two loaves of quick bread (meaning no yeast), and they are so delicious. This week I plan to try out a traditional wheat bread to see how time/labor intensive it is. My thinking is that I can bang out a loaf of regular bread each week, and if we run out and I don't have time to make another, I can whip up this quick bread in under two hours. Here is the recipe, which I got from Eating Well. I followed it with only two tiny changes:


Honey Oat Quick Bread 


1 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz plain yogurt (I used a 6 oz container of plain greek yogurt with no issues)
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil and you couldn't taste it once the bread was finished.)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375˚

Coat your loaf pan (as you can see, I used a round casserole dish because I didn't have a loaf pan at the time, and it worked fine. Any bakeware of reasonable size will do the trick) with cooking spray and sprinkle a tablespoon of the oatmeal in, shaking the pan to coat all sides. I now have a nonstick loaf pan, so I skipped this step the second time I made this.

Mix the wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt thoroughly in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat the oats, egg, yogurt, oil and honey until blended. Stir in the milk. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring until just mixed (don't over mix any sort of bread/pastry product or it will not be light and fluffy). Scrape the mixture into your baking pan immediately and spread it around so that it's relatively flat. Sprinkle a bit of oatmeal on top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until it's very brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Both times I made this, I had to bake for the full 50 minutes. Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen bread with a knife, and then turn onto the rack. Let cool completely, for about 45 more minutes (if you can resist taking a little taste, that is!)

The cool thing about this bread is that I always have all of these ingredients on hand, and it is ready to eat in 2 hours from start to finish. Next time I am going to try replacing the oil with applesauce for ultimate health.