I think I am falling into a pattern; by the time Friday rolls around I am either too worn out from the work week or too excited about the weekend (usually a combo of both) to write anything of value. This week has been exceptionally disappointing in the career department, I started a post on it but just couldn’t get it to come together so I saved it for another time, and I just don’t have the focus I need to write anything substantial. Since today’s post is following suit on previous Friday’s posts I now dub all future Friday’s as fluff days.
Today I would like to share with you a couple of recipes I really enjoy; one I tweaked to make it a quasi-vegetarian dish (fish sauce is made from fish, so omit if you want to make this vegetarian) and the other is a vegan recipe. I am not a vegetarian but I do try to limit my meat intake. It’s just a personal preference and is something I have incorporated into my lifestyle even prior to dieting. Since my readers are both meat eaters and vegetarians I thought this would be something fun to share that would satisfy both groups.
I love, love, love curry but eating out at a good quality Thai restaurant can be expensive. I have a handful of curry recipes that I rely on when I make it at home and this one is perfect because I can make it with chicken and chicken stock or sub in some additional veggies (I use cauliflower instead of chicken) and veggie stock or water and make it a vegetarian dish.
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in pieces, pre-cooked
3-4 carrots, cut in bite-size pieces, pre-cooked
2-3 cups fresh veggies- I like red bell peppers and zucchini but you can use any you like
1-2 T veg. oil
1 T red curry paste
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk (I use light coconut milk sometimes and taste is the same)
3 T fish sauce (omit if you are a vegetarian)
1 T sugar
1 T yellow curry powder (add more if you like spicy, just make sure you add in small amounts)
1/2 c water or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1A. Pre-cook potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower. * Don’t cook them to done, since
they will simmer with the main dish later. Boil for 5-7 minutes checking doneness at five minutes and then every minute after. Drain and set aside until ready to add them to the curry.
1. Wash and cut fresh vegetables into bite-size pieces.
2. In a heavy saucepan on medium heat, heat the vegetable oil, red curry
paste, and about one third of the coconut milk. Heat for about 5 minutes,
stirring, until it forms a thin gravy.
3. Add the fish sauce, sugar, salt, and rest of the coconut milk, and
6. Stir in the curry powder, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, and water/stock. If desired, add 1 bay leaf. Let simmer just a minute or two.
7. Add the fresh vegetables and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until fresh veggies are just done.
I serve as is or over jasmine rice
Beet, Barley, and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons
This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks Vegan with a Vengeance by Chandra Moskowitz. It is one of the tastiest soups I have ever had. A close second is her recipe for curried split pea soup which might make an appearance at a later date. I love to have soup or soup and salad for lunch so I made this up one Sunday and had plenty for both Paul and I to eat for like three days. Just keep the croutons on the side until you are ready to eat.
For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
A few dashes fresh black pepper
8 cups water
4 medium-sized beets, peeled, cut in half, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup tamari
1 (15 ounce) can black soybeans, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- In a stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tarragon, and pepper; sauté until fragrant (about a minute).
- Add 8 cups of water, the beets, barley, and tamari, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the beans and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the barley from sticking together, or until the barley is tender. Add the balsamic vinegar and fresh dill.
- Serve with pumpernickel croutons (see below) and garnish with more fresh dill.
For the pumpernickel croutons:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices from pumpernickel bread cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In a wide shallow bowl, stir together the olive oil, tarragon, and salt. Add the diced bread and toss gently to coat. Spread the bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and let cool.
Thanks for reading! Bon Appétit!
I am stealing today’s post concept from my super awesome friend JH. On a side note, she is also a fantastic writer and you should check out her blog James & Jax. Her post today directed readers to the list of 365 thought-provoking questions from Marc and Angel Hack Life. Here are my provoked thoughts to the first five.
When was the last time you tried something new?
This question is difficult because I consider myself a quasi-adventurous person who likes to try new things. Heck, I even tried a new scent of deodorant just last month but I am guessing this is not what they had in mind when asking this question. The biggest new thing I have tried would have to be my lifestyle right now. I am following a diet, working out (when physically able to), blogging, really focusing on starting a family, trying to stay better connected with friends, and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way- really just trying to be a better me, which is new for me. I don’t know if I have ever cared this much about myself.
Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?
This question sucks because I am ashamed of the answer. I really tend to compare myself to other army wives, or I guess wives in general. For whatever reason, single girls don’t intimidate me the way married women do. I am weird like that.
It is no secret that I have insecurities about my weight. That insecurity really brings the worst out in me, especially when it comes to meeting new people. When I meet another wife I size her up; pretty, skinny, educated, does she have a career, etc- it’s basically my scorecard to see how I match up. In my head I am thinking, well she may be pretty and skinny but she is stupid and boring. For me, there is this need to find something that I have that she doesn’t in order to feel comfortable enough to participate socially. It’s kind of like creating a level playing field. Except for the fact that for me to feel that way I turn into a critical and judgmental person which is awful behavior I am not proud of.
I used to say how embarrassed it made me to go to the gym because of everyone judging me, thinking I was disgusting. I see the hypocrisy. I do to others exactly what I fear they are doing to me but it ends now. I have really been trying to be happier and more loving of myself. Now that I am starting to accept the fact that I am a truly great person as is, I can stop comparing myself to others just to make me feel better. I will instead just continue to put the best version of me out there and if you don’t like it too bad. The time has come to end my self-deprecating behaviors.
What’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say?
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
This is my motto for the life-changing journey I am on. I really was stuck in a rut. Hating myself for where my life was going yet not doing anything to change it. All of my behaviors that got me to that point were the same but yet I was expecting things to change, expecting a different outcome, without putting in the time and energy to do so. This quote is basically the premise of my blog. It was the thought stuck in my head when I finally realized I needed to change if I wanted to see change.
What gets you excited about life?
The uncertainty of life is what excites me most. It also scares the shit out of me but mostly it is exciting. I love not knowing what the future holds for me, it makes me feel like anything is possible. It also makes me feel like I am the one controlling my future, it is all on me to make the life that I want- it is attainable.
Also, my life excites me about life. My new perspective, part of which is making sure I am not passing up new adventures, really gets me excited for each day. I am trying to live life to the fullest and if I don’t like something, I will try to change it instead of letting it drag me down.
What life lesson did you learn the hard way?
I would have to say the life lesson I learned the hard way is the value of a dollar. I am not saying that things came easy for me when I was a child. I worked while I was in high school and although my parents gave me a happy and comfortable childhood I don’t think I would have considered myself spoiled. No, my lesson stemmed from my abuse of credit cards in college and grad school and the stupid things I spent money on. I was not only naïve to think it would be easy to pay them off but I also acted like the things I bought were necessities when the reality of it was most of my purchases I could have lived without.
I am glad to have experienced the trauma of being flooded with credit card debt; it helped me create a better perspective on what I need versus what I want. It also taught me not to be so wasteful with my money, to save for things I want, and the importance of a budget. It makes me very happy to say that it has been three and a half years without using a credit card and six months ago we finally paid off our last credit card. Yay us! I do not in any way judge people who have credit cards. For us it was all about needing to break out of the habit of using them to live off of. Yes, we do still sometimes buy things that are definitely more wants than needs but knowing that the money is coming out of our checking and/or savings account makes us evaluate every spending decision first instead of mindlessly putting it on credit cards. That in itself was the hardest part and I am so proud that we were able to get to this point.
That about wraps up the Q&A session for the day, my lunch break is over. As always, thanks for reading! I love you guys!
A couple of weeks ago I posted on mine and Paul’s infertility issues. Today I just wanted to give you an update on our progress.
In the last post I told you how Paul has Azoospermia, which means there are no detectable sperm in the semen, but that he was going to undergo a biopsy to see if there are any sperm being produced that could be harvestable for use in IVF. Due to a conflict with his training schedule he had to opt to reschedule his biopsy and is working on getting it scheduled for May. He is also working on getting his PKR (Army equivalent of Lasik) in May too so it is looking like it will be a fun month for both of us- him no sight and severe ball pain and me having to take care of him.
Paul and I have also been discussing possible alternatives if we are unable to go the IVF route. It looks like if this does not work out for us we would end up going with private adoption. I have been doing a lot of research and with some help from my friends I have been able to talk to people first hand and get their feedback on agencies and the processes and their experiences. We have decided on the agency we would use if it comes down to that and are very excited about this choice.
Friends of mine from high school, he is also in the Army like Paul, used this agency and they strongly recommended it. It is also the same agency that came recommended when another friend of my inquired about adoption on the bump website. This agency seems like the perfect fit for us because we can stay with them regardless of what state we live in which was a big concern for us since we could still be waiting to adopt when our next Army move rolls around.
Also, another selling point to this agency is that they opened my eyes to all of the grants available for people trying to adopt and thankfully we would qualify for them financially. They are not grants through this agency but the agency shares links to other non-profits offering grants. I will definitely be applying to as many of these as I possibly can. It’s amazing how many organizations exist which are geared to helping families through this process.
This weekend was a little rough for me having spent two days surrounded by kids. On Friday, we went over to another married couple’s house for dinner. They have two sons; one is three and the other is six months. I spent the evening playing the Wii with the three-year old who demonstrated that I really am that bad at Mario Kart by kicking my butt. J, the father, said to Paul that I shouldn’t feel obligated to entertain their son and Paul said that I didn’t feel obligated, that I just really loved kids and proceeded to tell him about our fertility issues.
For me, it is hard enough to deal with the emotional side effects of our problems but it is even harder to hear them being discussed. Not saying that we should keep this issue to ourselves, just it makes me so sad to hear the words spoken out loud. I think it is because when I hear him talk about it I can hear the fear in his voice, the uncertainty, that we might never have a family of our own. We both try to stay optimistic but sometimes that is easier said than done.
Saturday was spent babysitting our favorite little girl, M. She is ten months old and is very playful and affectionate and babysitting her is always so much fun. It was a beautiful day outside so we took M and her dog Lexa out back and sat on a blanket and played. It was amazing to watch her stack her toys and play with her finger puppets and dance to the music playing on Paul’s iPod. She is so funny; she loves music and dances to almost anything, including commercials. Her parents have brought her to Spurs basketball and Rampage hockey games with us and she just bobs up and down to the music they play at the games, it’s super cute! Between her happy and humorous personality and all the little baby hugs and kisses, I left there feeling like my biological clock was in overdrive.
I know that our time to be parents will come but some days I just get so impatient. We have been trying off and on for over 6 years so it is hard to accept that it will be a few more years before we can have a family of our own, especially when almost every person we hang out with has kids. For now, I will just work on being the best “Aunt” (quotes because Paul and I are both have no sibling so we will never be biological Aunts or Uncles) I can be.
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy 30% off from March 17-20 at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy plus we’ll make a 5% donation to a non-profit.
I know that right now most of you are experiencing the same thing I currently am; a bad case of the Mondays. Last night I was thinking to myself that maybe if my weekends were less fun then I wouldn’t despise Mondays so much. However, I am pretty sure that isn’t true. I know if my weekends sucked I would just give up on life completely since my weekends are my saving grace. Mondays are always such a hard transition from weekend relaxation to weekday work stress. It isn’t that I hate my job per se, it is more like a combination of the fact that it is boring and unrewarding and is made exponentially worse dealing with condescension and arrogance from some of my co-workers, all of which just makes me dread being there. I am fortunate to have a job, so I shouldn’t complain but sometimes it is hard not to.
Today my thoughts have been focused around happiness and how I can become happier in some (re: all) aspects of my life. Then, thanks to Twitter, I stumbled across today’s post on SoulPancake which totally meshed with what how I was feeling. Although I tend ramble and rant on about a specific topic, today I would like it if you could read the short blurb on SoulPancake, and if you have time you should definitely check the story that started it all on the Onion, and then let me know what you think.
Is it unrealistic to expect happiness?
I know happiness is a feeling in a moment, and it is fleeting, but do you think it is possible to be happy, or at least feel satisfied, with your life as a whole?
Do you think that it is the need to achieve happiness that keeps us from becoming complacent or accepting mediocrity which in turn fuels our need to continually achieve more which creates more pressure/stress, which in turn makes it impossible to experience happiness?
I am mentally and physically drained from this week and just don’t think I can pull together a quality post today so instead you get a list of some of my favorite things which will hopefully put me in a better mood for the weekend.
My iPhone: I do not how I survived without one. Although I had wanted one since it first came out, I could not convince myself it was worth spending the money on- I can be quite frugal sometimes. I am so happy Paul helped coax me into getting one, good move hubby, but am pretty sure he regretted that decision once he realized it meant I would ignore him 24/7 because of it. I love how easy it is for me to stay connected to my friends who are all over the country. I also love the Face Time feature. It makes me feel like I am right there having a face to face conversation instead of feeling separated by thousands of miles.
Music: I have been a music junky since birth and was raised by parents who are even more hardcore music lovers than me. Both in their retirement, all my parents do is watch Netflix and go to concerts. Growing up my dad was pretty tight with the money except for when it came to things like going to concerts or sporting events, any activity that created a memory. They were always more about the experiences than the tangible stuff and I am pretty much the same. I have only been to a couple of concerts since I moved to SA, one was with my parents in Austin, and it has been a rough adjustment for me. I have found solace in my iPod and Pandora and am lucky I can listen to music all day long at my desk. Some of my favorite bands currently in my rotation are: Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire, The Airborne Toxic Event, Phoenix, Warpaint (thanks JH) and The Black Keys.
Books: I love reading; it goes hand in hand with my love for music. My father was an English teacher and always encouraged me to explore the world and the lives of others, real or fiction, through books. I don’t get to spend as much time reading as I would like. The amount I read definitely fluctuates with the amount of time Paul is at home. Reading is the perfect escape for me when he is off doing Army stuff. There is nothing quite like getting lost in the imagery or fantasy of a story. I also love the personal connection you can make with characters or authors. I love to read Jen Lancaster because her stories are super funny and very relatable. Currently in my queue: Anthology of an American Girl: A Novel by Hilary Thayer Hamann, Dreaming in French by Megan McAndrew and My Life in France by Julia Child.
Photography: I love photography even though I am not very good at it. It is one of my favorite things to do in my free time. I like photographing anything but if I had to choose what I like best I would say nature. For me, nature photography is a great reason to go and wander through some beautiful parks and gardens and it brings calm to the chaos of every day life. It slows down the mind and brings focus on the beauty of your surroundings. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Cooking: My love for cooking probably comes from my Italian upbringing. My mother and grandmother are both great cooks and both tend to go overboard with the amount of food being served, especially during the holidays. I am pretty much the same way. I always take on crazy menus and cook way too much. I love having friends and family over for meals, there is definitely a different level of intimacy you gain when you engage in a meal together. I can see why dieting is so hard for me because I only have happy, warm feelings towards food. Life would be easier if I hated to eat and was a super picky eater but that is not the way I am so that is why I am trying to practice moderation and portion control.
Weekends: Who doesn’t love weekends??? As I write this post I am getting happier and happier because the weekend is quickly approaching. The weekend provides you with endless possibilities and I am always excited to see what new adventure I will partake in. I love staying up past 10p and being able to sleep in. I love late breakfasts and multiple cups of coffee, strolling with the dogs on the paved trails near our apartment, Rampage hockey and Spurs basketball games, book sales at the libraries, and unexpected zoo trips, to name a few. I hope that your weekend is an awesome adventure or a relaxing retreat from the week. Either way, enjoy it!
Thanks for reading!
Ok, so I am a day late. I apologize. I was hoping to write up two posts yesterday but I only got to the first one and this one was bumped. Oh, well- better late than never.
In honor of International Women’s Day 2011 I would like to pay tribute to some of the powerful, life altering female influences in my life. Some of them I know, some I have never met, and may never meet, but either way they have shaped my life for the better. For all you have done, I thank you.
I, of course, have to start off thanking my mother. She is and always has been my best friend. She is an amazing woman who has led a very difficult life but through it all still was able to teach me everything I know. She has spent the past 30 plus years battling with bipolar disorder, an illness that caused her and our family much pain and sadness. She persevered through all of the rough times, some of which seemed pretty hopeless, and currently lives a happy, peaceful life having control of the illness for the past three years. She is stronger and more upbeat than I could ever dream of being. She has never let her illness define who she is. She is a truly remarkable woman. Thanks Mom!
Thank you to my Great Aunt Jenny who became a lawyer back in the 1950’s, back when it was still somewhat rare for women to go to college, let alone an ivy league school, let alone complete a JD program, let alone become a practicing lawyer who ended up winning some of the biggest cases in California and Federal law at the time. She has been a role model to me as she epitomized the working woman I wanted to be. Heck, she even married her law clerk. She is a badass and makes no excuses for not knowing how to cook or do most household chores. She was a pretty powerful lawyer back in her time and was still able to raise two wonderful children and have a long and loving marriage.
I would like to thank all of the women in the world who are currently fighting for women’s rights, fighting to end violence against women, fighting for equality, and their freedoms. I often take for granted what has been done by the women before me in order for me to have all of the freedoms and rights that I do. However, with things like income disparity and sexual harassment still prevalent issues in our society, I know there are still battles that need to be won and will try to be a more active participant in those things directly affecting my life.
I would like to thank all of the military wives out there who choose each and every day to make the sacrifices required to live as a military spouse. I know it is hard for the soldiers too, but for the purpose of this post I am focusing on the other side. I am an Army wife but I don’t view myself in the same light. My husband has yet to be deployed and works in a research lab so aside from having to deal with the normal amount of BS that comes from dealing with the military I do not categorize myself as a true Army wife. I think about the women who every day are taking on both roles, mother and father, while their spouse is away. I think about how hard it must be to raise a family, or try to start a family, while your partner is away. Some spouses aren’t even lucky enough to have communication on a regular basis. You are required to be strong and flexible, handling anything life throws at you all on your own. Moving and leaving behind friends and careers only to start anew somewhere else, my heart goes out to each and every one of you. You are overworked and underappreciated. For all that you have sacrificed and will continue to sacrifice, I thank you.
To my friend JH who has been with me for 13 years, I would like to thank her not just for being an amazing friend but more so for being such a positive influence on my life. She has been with me through the thick and thin of it all and for that I am thankful. J has met all of my big life decisions with nothing but encouragement- I am where I am today because of her. She is an amazing working mother who fought an arduous battle with PPD and not only survived it but is using her experiences to help other mothers who are going through the same thing. She is the type of person who would give you the shirt off her back and ask for nothing in return. She has been through many difficult situations and life experiences but you would never know that, as she does not take pity on herself but instead tries every day to become a better person for herself and her son. She is a rock star and I love her tremendously!
Last but certainly not least, I thank all of you- my mostly female readers- because each one of you has impacted my life for the better. I know I say the main reason of this blog is for my personal accountability but it is also to stay connected to you. You have guided and shaped the path that I am on and I am forever thankful. Your support and encouragement is incredible and will not be forgotten. So, for those of you who I have known for 13 years or 13 days, I just want to say you are awesome, I love you and thank you.
One of my faithful readers left the following comment about yesterday’s post:
How do you stay motivated to say no to junk food during the work day? I think I need to make sure I have NO CASH for vending machines, for starters. But how do you resist the junk your co-workers bring in? Or do you just practice moderation? I need some practical tips, dear!
These are great questions and I thought I would share my response as a post for everyone to see. Maybe some of you will also comment on today’s post and share your own insights. Something that works for me might not work for you so it is important to take what I say with a grain of salt and not get discouraged. Trust me; finding out what works for you is harder than implementing it. As always, practice moderation- I think it is very important to never feel like you are depriving yourself.
When dieting, one thing I think is important to understand is what kind of eater you are. I think you need to understand why you eat the way you do in order to change-up your habits or implement control methods. How can you expect to be successful at changing your behaviors if you don’t understand what you are doing wrong? This is something I had to focus a lot of my attention on in order to make smart dieting decisions. I found that I fall into three categories; stress eater, grazer, and food lover and needed to think of how I could control each one.
Stress eating: I think this is a pretty common behavior. I don’t know if I would ever be able to eliminate all stressors from my life so I needed to change my behaviors from stress eating to stress exercising, stress venting, stress tweeting, etc. Now, when I am stressing about something I turn to my friends, the gym, or social networking to let off some steam. God help me if Paul ever gets a twitter account. I have found these options to be just as satisfying as eating a candy bar and probably even more helpful because it forces me to confront my issues head on instead of just burying them.
Grazing: I am pretty sure I could win any contest that involves eating slowly for a long period of time. I am definitely the type of person who likes to snack while I am watching a movie or TV. I can just snack and snack and I end up finishing whatever is in front of me. I have mindlessly eaten a whole bag of chips, twizzlers, cookies, etc. without even realizing it. If there is food in front of me I will eat it. For this problem I took on two different approaches. One, spend less time on my couch. This is made easier because of my workout routine. I have less free time at home so therefore I have less time on the couch. I am making a conscious effort to reduce how much time I spend watching TV but I have not eliminated it completely. So when I find myself relaxing on the couch and I feel the need to munch I try to choose healthy options. I will eat a plate of carrots and celery or some fruit. For me, when it comes to grazing/snacking, I really don’t care what I eat so I don’t feel like I am losing out by eating carrots versus potato chips.
Food Lover: I love food. I love to eat it, I love to cook it, and I love the experiences associated with it. I love trying new foods and that feeling of satisfaction I get from testing the limits of my cooking abilities, i.e. chocolate soufflé for Valentine’s Day. This is the reason why I decided to stick with the slim fast shakes, because it allows me to continue to have one meal a day of my choosing. I never feel like I am dieting because I am not limiting myself of any foods. I just focus on limiting the portion size of the meals I eat and try to make healthy choices when I can. I also don’t skip dessert.
Most nights my dessert is a banana (sometimes with peanut butter) but if I am out I will have a cupcake or mini parfait if I feel like it. If there is cake at work, I will take a small slice to have with my lunch but I always eat everything else I brought for lunch first. If someone is pushing Girl Scout cookies in my face I will take one, and then quickly give them back. One is enough to satisfy the craving and as long as they aren’t still in front of me I am ok with having just the one.
I have heard you should never grocery shop hungry but I try not to go most places hungry. For example, Paul and I went to the movies Sunday evening around dinner time. We had gone out for lunch earlier in the day but I knew if I didn’t have a shake and a snack before the movie I would want to eat while I was there. To make matters worse we were at the Alamo Drafthouse which offers a full menu and they had pizza in a cup because we were there seeing ‘The Jerk’. Since I wasn’t hungry I was able to avoid pigging out during the movie, just some ice water for me. I did have a bite of the pizza in a cup but I just had to try it- it was probably my only chance to ever have some and I was ok with that decision.
So to recap, these are my guidelines that help me stick to my diet:
- Find better alternatives to stress eating since stress will always be a part of life
- Spend less time on the couch
- Try to choose healthier snacks
- Eat foods that make you feel satisfied
- Don’t skip dessert, and yes fruit counts as dessert
- Don’t pass on the office foods, just moderate portion sizes and eat some good, healthy stuff first
- Never go anyplace that has or sells food while you are hungry
- Drink lots and lots of water
- Find the balance you need to feel satisfied with your food choices; don’t be too hard or too easy on yourself
- Most importantly- everything in moderation. You don’t need to buy a backup cupcake just in case you don’t like the first one. One cupcake is plenty. You will survive.
I know nothing I am saying is new and I am sure you have heard it all before. It is different to know the things you should be doing versus actually implementing them into your life. That is what I am working towards every day, implementing these changes that will help me follow and maintain a healthy, or at least healthier, lifestyle.
Thanks for reading!