The Snow Cone Truck

Today, I woke up at 6:30am, went on a long walk with the dog, cleaned the kitchen, and went to the gym. Then (with much encouragement from my boyfriend), I mowed the lawn. All this sounds pretty good, right?  Like maybe, today was a really good “adulting “day!

Just when you start to think I may finally be an adult at the ripe age of 27, I stop the lawn mower mid-cutting because I see a snow cone truck coming down my street!  Did you know that was a thing? Snow cone trucks must be the new ice cream truck! Growing up, I lived in too remote of a neighborhood for the ice cream truck to come down my street, so this was a REALLY BIG DEAL. My inner kid alarm was going off the charts.

I raced into the house to notify my boyfriend (who is a few years older than I am). He injured his ankle earlier this week, so by the time he hobbled out the door, the snow cone truck was already at the end of our block. We decided we really wanted it, so he gave me his credit card, and I ran after the truck.  I just want you to take a moment to picture this – a 27 year old, supposedly grown adult, is running after a snow cone truck. And my neighbors were definitely in their front yards to witness it. 🙂 By the time I flag down the truck, three little kids join me, and a few more are on their way. In a weird way, it made be ultra-aware of my “adultiness”.  Are adults allowed to have snow cones??

When I returned back to my boyfriend, we had a good laugh that I chased the truck and was surrounded by little kids. Then, he reminded me that the entire line was full of little kids, including me! 😉 And inner kid Kimmy was very happy.

After my snow cone, I spent the next couple hours finishing the lawn, and I am EXHAUSTED. I forget that mowing is essentially working out – I think I’m going to skip the gym tomorrow to rest!

Mowing the lawn was not as big of a success as other parts of the day were. I did get it done (in record slow time). At one point, I decided to take out some frustration on a plant that had decided to grow in the middle of the grass.  We had some mulched area nearby, but this little guy decided to grow up in the grass anyways. A responsible adult probably would have shifted around the plant, but I said to hell with it and mowed right over it! This is actually pretty hilarious because I found out later that I had mowed right over a tulip plant!! It was in my way, and I mowed it down!! I’m a weird combination of slightly ashamed and sort of super impressed with myself about this…

The remnants of the tulip plant
The remnants of the tulip plant

I apologize for the birds eye and zoomed-in view. I took this after I finished mowing. I was so exhausted, I didn’t want to climb back down to the backyard, so I took it from the deck.

I also spotted a pretty blue robin egg while mowing. I took this photo while it was intact. When I returned later, the egg had been broken into and eaten! I guess that’s the circle of life.  Poor little guy didn’t stand a chance.

The coloring is so beautiful!!
The coloring is so beautiful!!

So, after quite a long 3 month hiatus, today had so many fun and funny things about it, that I felt compelled to write! 🙂  It’s nice being back! I stopped writing because I wasn’t really finding a theme or way to attract people to the site. And I was a little concerned with this being on the great wide web for eternity. I don’t think I’ll pressure myself into writing all the time or make this into a sophisticated brand (at least not at this time), but I will continue writing when the nerve strikes.  So, thank you for reading, and I hope you got a little enjoyment at the continued battle of adult Kimmy versus kid/lazy Kimmy 🙂

Whole30 Wrap-Up

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3
Novel Attitude: I made it 30 days clean eating! 🙂 Now, can I do it again? To be determined…

I am behind in blogging, but I promise I have a good reason! 🙂 My boyfriend and I moved into a beautiful house together, so we have been busy packing, moving, and unpacking the past few weeks. We have my entire apartment to go, and then we will be all moved in by next weekend!

Our new house! This picture shows the open living and dining room layout feeding into the kitchen and front foray. We love the openness and the hardwood floors!
Our new house! This picture shows the open living and dining room layout feeding into the kitchen and front foray. We love the openness and the hardwood floors!

I’ve been meaning to write a wrap-up for my Whole30 Take 4. I’m only about five days late in posting this, so it is still fresh enough in my mind. Overall, I probably lost about 4-5 pounds the past 30 days. I have mixed reviews about this trial. While cutting dairy, alcohol, and carbs may help me drop weight quickly, I actually experienced pretty big losses in energy. 🙁 This is actually good to know and still shows that Whole30 was fruitful (pun intended).

Whole30 is meant to be an experiment on yourself. Eat clean for 30 days straight and slowly reintroduce food groups back into your diet to understand how your body reacts. I always struggle with the reintroduction (I’ve eaten pizza, chocolate cake, pasta, and chicken bacon wraps since Wednesday). However, I had some realizations during the process. I either did not manage my caloric intake well throughout the day, or I lacked energy due to not eating carbs. I think it’s a combination of both. Fruit and veggies were the most carb-dense food I ate, and I upped my fruit intake drastically to make up for loss of other sweeteners. I think this was a mistake. While fruit is delicious and relatively healthy, I ate it early in the morning or as a snack between long periods without meals. Fruit is not substantial enough to eat as a snack or breakfast unless you have another full meal planned within a relatively close time period. It’s a quick boost from sugar and then downhill drop. I also ended up eating A LOT of peanut butter – as a snack and as a dessert. Peanut butter coupled with apple slices was a great snack for me – the protein offset the carb high, so later in the afternoon, this was filling for me. But peanut butter as a dessert close to bedtime was just packing on unnecessary calories right before sleep. This confused my body. I think it even prevented extra weight loss because I’ve heard that your body actually loses weight while sleeping. The big thing to remember is that peanut butter is delicious but extremely fattening. It’s great in moderation, but I was bordering on four tablespoons of peanut butter at least five times a week! Keep in mind that these are the realizations from my personal experiment. What have you discovered with healthy eating tips, tricks, and realizations?

Meals

I took photos of meal preparation over the past few weeks with the intent to write about them, but I think I’ll post some photos with quick descriptions. I had various successes and experiments. I’m still trying to find the best paleo breakfast – if you have a suggestion, please let me know! Eggs, bacon and potatoes were too high in calories and too much protein, despite how much I would love to eat that combo for every single meal…

Bacon and Jalapeño Frittata

Unsuccessful flourless egg quiche. The flavor was okay, but I used way too much almond milk. It would have turned out better with a denser texture and added crunch. After checking a few other recipes, it looks like frying all ingredients on stovetop before transferring to oven may help with overall cooking process.

Quiche Makings

Quiche

Turkey Patties

I loosely based my recipe from a NYT article. In reality, my dad makes amazing bun-less Italian-seasoning hamburgers with fresh herbs and vegetables from his garden. I had a hankering for this and tried recreating. I was not quite as successful, but overall this recipe gets a huge thumbs up.

Mixed herbs and veggies

Italian Seasoned Turkey Patties

Italian Herbs Turkey Patties

Baked Chicken Wings

I’ve been trying to perfect baked chicken wings because my boyfriend and I are huge fans of Buffalo Wild Wings. Every now and then, that’s totally fine, but those are fried with a ton of sauce. These chicken wings are slightly healthier because they are baked and unbreaded. The spice rub recipe was DELICIOUS, and I used a Paprika Garlic Chicken recipe for cooking instructions. These were two HUGE thumbs up. Definitely boyfriend-approved. I believe the trick is heating up the mixture before you apply to chicken.

Chicken Wings

Chicken wing seasonings

Baked chicken wings

Whole30 – Week Two

Previous Healthy Eating Post: Whole30 – Take Four

Novel Attitude: Pre-prepared food is critical to Whole30 success.

I’m into my second week of the Whole30, and I have to be honest – there have been slip-ups. Some on “accident”, and some due to loss of will power. A big challenge for me is eating with friends. They all are extremely understanding of my desire to eat healthy, but my will power lessens exponentially when I am eating with others. It may be some sort of subconscious form of peer pressure that I create in my head, or it may purely be temptation to eat cheese curds or dessert. Overall, I still consider myself to be on the Whole30, but the true Whole30 book does not allow for any “cheating”. Personally, the fact that I have had a couple of slip-ups and still returned back to Whole30 eating is a huge positive. Previously when trying to diet, the second I cheat, I give up entirely and make several poor eating choices in a row.

I think another contributor to my slip-ups this week is I limited the variety of protein eaten during the first week. While I made several types of chicken dressings, I still ate chicken for nearly every dinner. This week I did try to expand my repotoire with salmon and pork.

Thin-Cut Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions

Huge plus with this recipe is portion control. Those five thin-cut pork chops were only .59 pounds, so even eating three of them is within one serving. It’s a good way to trick the body into eating more for less.

I replaced the butter with olive oil in this recipe, and it still turned out really well. I would definitely recommend cooking more onion than what the recipe calls for because they are super yummy. I also was challenged a bit with caramelizing the carrots; I ended up steaming them more than caramelizing. Any suggestions on how to caramelize carrots in a lower calorie way than using sugar?

Pork Chops 1

Carrots 1

Onions 1

Pork Chops 2

Baked Cilantro-Lime Salmon

Unfortunately, I did not record the official recipe I used, but this turned out wonderfully. I still have a ton of fresh cilantro leftover from a week or two ago, so I continue to incorporate it into my cooking. I also threw in the fresh parsley.

I’m a big fan of broiling salmon for a little teensy bit of crunch, especially when there is a marinade or seasoning on top. I threw this salmon into the high temperature broiler for a couple of minutes. I monitored this extremely closely as I have a higher burn rate than success rate with broiling. 🙂

I put seasonings (black pepper, sea salt, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder) on the salmon first, and then brushed on an olive oil, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and parsley marinade.

Salmon2

salmon 3

Uncooked and already looking good!

salmon 4

After baking, pair the salmon with some steamed broccoli, and you’ve got quite the hearty dish.

Pork Roast with Dijon Glaze

Two of my good friends came over for dinner tonight, so I decided to make pork tenderloin. Not only are pork tenderloins relatively inexpensive to purchase, but they are also pretty easy to cook. For dinner parties I love baking because you can time it, so your guests arrive a little bit before the dinner is finished cooking. This ensures a hot meal for the guests.

I was a little surprised with this recipe because it called for both a rub and a glaze. I think the glaze helped seal in the seasonings from the rub. In my next rendition, I probably will go a touch lighter on the cumin and coriander than what the recipe calls for. It was just a teensy bit overbearing. Otherwise, the flavors really accentuated the natural tenderness of the meat.

Pork Roast 1

After baking the pork for 30 minutes, I glazed them. This picture is top roast with only the rub, and bottom roast also with the brushed dijon glaze.

Pork 2

I wanted some heavier veggies for the pork, so I pan-fried carrots and cauliflower – a delicious concoction my boyfriend discovered a couple months ago. In this picture, you also see one of our new CutCo knives on display. More to come on our trial month with the fancy new knives! So far, so great! 🙂

Second Week Attitudes

I’m pleased with discovering the deliciousness of “healthy” foods. It helps me not to miss the unhealthy junk food (like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos) as much as I have on other diets. It’s fairly taxing having to cook or plan out every meal, so I’m hoping to be able to do a little more pre-cooking for several meals than what I currently have paced out. Some people mention physical relief such as decreased swelling in joints and disappearance of aches and pains. Unfortunately, I cannot report any changes here. However, I may be sleeping better than before, so I’ll continue monitoring that.

All in all, I really like the Whole30 concept and think it’s a manageable lifestyle to incorporate into most meals. Once I’m done with the 30 days, I hope I can keep up the paleo-istic tendencies for majority of my diet while also allowing the occasional cheat. As long as it’s in moderation, I think that’s necessary!

Do you have a “healthy” cheat food to recommend? 🙂

Whole30 – Take Four

Previous Healthy Eating Post (1/8/2016)Kimmy tries more cooking

Novel Attitude: Retrying the 30 day food experiment Whole30

I felt inspired after trying three new recipes in my last post. Not only do I want to continue cooking with a larger variety of spices and protein, I also want to cook healthy meals that are also delicious. I love food in general, both healthy and unhealthy. I’ve been enjoying the healthy meals so much, I think there is a lot of room to explore tricking myself into replacing unhealthy foods with healthy ones.

Two years ago in January 2014,  I read The Whole30 kindle book and tried this experiment on myself for the first time. I’ve written about The Whole30 in a few posts: Summer Solstice Reflections, Cooking Up a Swim, and Blazing Saddles. I am a big believer in the concept.  Essentially, for thirty days, you eat extremely “clean”, which means very low processed carbs, no dairy, no alcohol, no beans, and no sweeteners. After thirty days, slowly reintroduce the missing food groups back into your diet to understand specifically how your body responds to each food group.  For instance, do you have an upset stomach as you add dairy back in? If yes, then maybe this is a food group that you should be limiting anyways. Do you have long-lasting energy after eating beans? Great! Then, maybe this is a food group that can have a little more of a presence in your weekly diet.

When I first tried eating clean for 30 days, I had days where it was no problem at all and days where I felt so deprived, I ate everything acceptable I could under the sun because of that feeling of deprivation. Ultimately, I did end up losing about 10 pounds (which I gained, lost, and re-gained periodically over the next two years). I didn’t stay true to the philosophy of the Whole30 because on the 31st day, I ate a big bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and reverted back to not-so-great habits.

This January, I will complete the Whole30 again and chronicle the ups and downs. I started the Whole30 on Monday, January 11. This seemed like the best decision not only for me but also for the blog. I’ve mentioned the Whole30 to quite a few friends, and I know others are interested in how it works and how it goes. You may be questioning why I called this post “Whole 30 – Take Four”. On at least two other occasions, I have attempted the clean eating and broken down after a week or two. I’m happy to report that I have not given up on this fourth trial!

First Week Attitudes

All in all, I don’t really consider the Whole30 to be a “diet”. For the most part, I really don’t feel too deprived. If I’m writing completely honestly, I miss cheese even more than I miss wine! There are a few key adjustments I made to successfully incorporate this new lifestyle:

  • Prepare lunch every day or have a plan to eat a healthy lunch out
  • Bring oranges and bananas to work. I’d rather not snack, but I need to have something available when I do
  • Use almond milk for coffee and tea instead of diary milk
  • When I am feeling deprived, eat a nice, juicy steak
  • Nuts are good to have on hand as a sweet and salty snack as well. They’re no Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or chocolate bars, but they’ll give me an energy boost and a full stomach
  • Avocados are fair game always. I’ve already made such strides in portion control over the past year that I no longer feel the need to eat more than a quarter of an avocado at a time.

Toward the end of the week, I did start to notice the huge lack of sugar in my diet and felt quite hungry all day on Friday. I think this may partly be due to eating mostly chicken as the protein in each meal. This was eye-opening. I eat a lot of chicken because it’s cheap and easy to cook, but it is important to diversify for my health and my cooking education. Yesterday, at the store I bought thin-cut pork chops and salmon. I’m hoping the diversity helps me stay satisfied longer and curb my cravings.

I’ve got about 23 days left in this Whole30 journey. I’m feeling pretty confident I can maintain my commitment, especially since I’ve gone public with it! I’ll continue writing about how the process goes over the next 23 days. Only 24 more days to go until my big glass of wine…

Kimmy tries more cooking

Previous Healthy Eating post (10/31/2015): Not Your Standard Cupcakes

I’ve been on a bit of a cooking streak lately, and I’m finally seeing some improvement with my meals! I’ve been researching more on proper techniques, and it’s paying off. I’m no longer concerned about serving edible food for other people! 😉

Novel Cooking with Split Pea and Ham Soup

For Christmas, we bought the typical pre-cooked spiral ham. Reminiscing on past Christmases with my mom cooking, the main reason I wanted a ham was to turn the leftovers into split pea and ham soup! My boyfriend and I managed to make it to the grocery store with two minutes to spare on Christmas Eve and picked out a ten pound bone-in ham for only 30 bucks! I checked a few specialty butcher shops prior, and they were going for as much as $15 a pound. Honestly, our ham tasted wonderful, and I’m okay knowing I got 8 extra pounds’ worth for the same price!

I based my soup recipe from a combination of the veggies I had available in my fridge, a slew of online suggestions, and my mom’s advice. Not only was it delicious, but it was boyfriend-approved! I included the following ingredients: two bags of dried split peas, chicken stock, water, ham bone, cut up ham, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, and spices to taste. Use about 3-4 cups water for each dry cup of split peas, and throw in some starchy veggies!

Lessons learned:

  1. Boil down the ham bone first, so you can easily pull apart extra meat from the bone and add to soup later.
  2. Don’t worry about having too many veggies. At first it seems like your ratio is way off, but once the peas absorb all of the water, even a large amount of veggies seems rather small.
  3. Add some fresh ham to the soup each time you reheat it (suggestion from Mom).
Mm-mm-good! Split Pea Soup.
Mm-mm-good! Split Pea Soup.
Novel Cooking with Lemon-Parsley Chicken

What do you do when you’re craving Giada de Laurentiis’s Lemon-Basil Chicken, yet the drought in California caused a basil shortage (or so the store clerk says)? You turn to Martha Stewart! I tell ya, the woman may be an insider-trading crook, but she’s a great cook. I followed recipe nearly exactly for Martha Stewart’s Easy Roasted Chicken Thigh recipe.

I was incredibly pleased with this recipe, and I learned a great way to bake thighs! First, you create an olive oil, lemon juice, mixed seasoning marinade. I added chopped parsley as well.

Marinating Lemon Chicken
Marinating Lemon Chicken

After letting the marinade set for a bit, roast the chicken first skin side down for 20 minutes. Then, flip the thighs over and roast skin side up for 10 minutes. Is there actually a difference between baking and roasting? These are the knowledge tidbits about which I am not as keen – I simply used a regular baking sheet.

Mix a dijon mustard and honey glaze and brush it on the chicken. Then, broil for a few minutes to make them crispy. I love broiling for crispy skins! A year ago, I had never broiled before, and now it’s one of my favorite methods for crisping or cooking all different kinds of food.

Roasted lemon chicken with steamed broccoli and carrots
Roasted lemon chicken with steamed broccoli and carrots

Lessons Learned

  1. Try to plan ahead, so you can let the chicken marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Find a better container than the bowl for marinating. Any suggestions? Plastic bag or tupperware, maybe?
Novel Cooking with Cilantro-Lime Chicken

This next recipe is perhaps the best dinner I’ve cooked yet, or at least in a while. The funniest part is that my boyfriend ended up going to dinner with a friend, so he didn’t even get to try it! All for me – yum 🙂

I had given up avocados for a while because we’re in a love-hate relationship. I think avocados are divine, and I am aware that they are popularly considered a “healthy” fat. However, we’ve discussed my moderation issues before…Having an avocado or two a day is definitely beyond the moderation point! After giving up avocados for a few months, I had a real craving for them the other day and discovered this Cilantro-Lime Chicken recipe.

First, mix up the marinade: cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and I added more parsley and garlic powder. I always use parsley in recipes whenever I buy it because it’s dirt cheap and SO MUCH PARSLEY. It always ends up going bad! I also do not believe there is such a thing as too much garlic. Vampires, beware!

Cilantro marinade
Cilantro marinade

Next, soak the chicken in the marinade.

Chicken marinating in cilantro and parsley spices
Chicken marinating in cilantro and parsley spices

Throw the chicken in the oven. I cooked it exactly the same way as the previous recipe – bake, flip and bake, broil. While it’s cooking, mix up some onion, tomatoes, lime juice, and avocado.

Avocado salsa - I don't think there's enough avocado to justify this as guacamole.
Avocado salsa – I don’t think there’s enough avocado to justify this as guacamole.

To finish everything, I laid the chicken and salsa on a bed of spinach and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Bon appetit!

Voila! It tasted as good as it looks. YUM!
Voila! It tasted as good as it looks. YUM!

Lesson Learned

  1. Don’t cut the avocado and tomatoes as small as I did. The texture would be better with slightly larger chunks.

If you end up trying out any of these recipes, please comment below to let me know how your concoctions turn out! I’m always interested in more healthy recipes (especially low-carb and low-dairy), so please share!

At It Again

Most Recent DIY Nightstand Post (9/27/15): Nightstand – Final Class

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the last time I worked on my nightstand was probably in early November, and the class ended in late September. It’s been nearly complete for a few months now, and I lost the drive to finish it! Over the holidays, I found renewed vigor (thank you New Year’s Resolutions!) and spent a few hours on it on Saturday and Sunday. Plus, my boyfriend and I randomly stopped by an Amish furniture store on Saturday, and the wooden furniture was absolutely exquisite. The best part for me besides fantasizing about one day making masterpieces was that I could find imperfections in even professional-grade work! $2000 tables had minor gaps between the wooden boards, and they were still beautiful and well-crafted. I’ve been told by multiple woodworkers that majority of woodworking is figuring out how to adapt when cuts or joins or designs go unexpectedly throughout a project. It combines creativity, engineering, and experience, and I love that I’m entering into a world where imperfections can be the best parts of of a product. I’m going to need a few more projects before my final product only has minor imperfections in it, but my nightstand tells my story. It will be proudly displayed and used in my new home.

It’s amazing the satisfaction I receive after working on my nightstand, especially now in the finishing stages. It actually doesn’t look too different from the last picture I posted because the updates I’ve made have been minor. Yet, I know the amount of work that goes into even making the smallest tweak.

In about five to six hours of total work, I finished glueing on the front pieces and sanding the top of the nightstand. I took before and after photos of the nightstand top, and I think it’s pretty remarkable the difference sanding makes! I used a belt sander to get the roughness out of the wood and smooth over the separate boards (if you can recall, we cut a large piece of wood and reformed pieces with glue and biscuit joining to create the sides and top).

BELT SANDER
belt sander
Belt sander after about an hour and a half of use. We’ll need to replace the belt soon!
BEFORE
The top of my nightstand before sanding. You can clearly see the individual boards, lots of dried glue, and even some residual paper that was accidentally glued on.
The top of my nightstand before sanding. You can clearly see the individual boards, lots of dried glue, and even some residual paper that was accidentally glued on.
AFTER
belt sander
Believe it or not, this is the same top! The wooden boards blend much more nicely together, and you cannot really see any residual glue. If you look closely enough, you can see some scarring from the belt sander. This occurred if I sanded over one spot too much compared to another or was holding the belt sander unevenly.
I thought I'd add one more after photo of me! Sanding is a messy task! Definitely make sure you wear goggles and a ventilation mask. The breathing was fine for me, but I got the occasional sawdust in my eye.
I thought I’d add one more after photo of me! Sanding is a messy task! Definitely make sure you wear goggles and a ventilation mask. The breathing was fine for me, but I got the occasional sawdust in my eye.

What an improvement! I’ll go over the entire nightstand again with a random orbit sander – my very first woodworking tool purchase!  This will help with the final smoothing over and hopefully hide any of the imperfections in the wood occurring naturally of caused by me.

I wanted to treat you as well to my boyfriend’s nearly finished nightstand. He’s a bit farther than I am, and it looks GREAT! He needs to add in some sliders for the drawer and then polyurethane for the coat. I’m going to use the same hardware for the drawer knob and style for the edges. He made his nightstand with ashy maple, and I used mahogany. Despite using different kinds of wood, I think this will match well if we place them in the same room or use them as end tables on the same couch.

This is my boyfriend's nightstand, made of ashy maple. It looks wonderful!! He did a really nice job. He's got just a few more steps to go before it's ready for use.
This is my boyfriend’s nightstand, made of ashy maple. It looks wonderful!! He did a really nice job. He’s got just a few more steps to go before it’s ready for use.

Where do you think we should use the nightstands once they’re complete?

Welcome to 2016

Happy New Year!

In the past year, I switched jobs, took a two and a half month summer, and was more diligent with becoming the person I want to be. All in all, I think I proved to myself that I’m not too old to reinvent myself. My main readers are family members, so I know they’re laughing because I’m the youngest in my family! 🙂

Truth be told, I have the same “New Year’s Resolutions” this year as I did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and so on. It’s a broken record! Really, I think it shows that it’s important to stay involved in your life and be the driver. I took a backseat for a lot of years because I didn’t realize how much power I hold over decisions. I liked to think that my goals would simply eventually happen. All gain and no pain – that’s not the way life works.

A few posts ago, I wrote about the “Anytime Resolution.” I am still a fan of this concept because inevitably, we all fall off the horse with goals throughout the year, and it sets us up to hop right back on. Given it’s the new year now, I’ll go ahead and take advantage of the fresh start. And eventually when I lose sight of my goals, I’ll restart with the Anytime Resolution. 😉

For blogging, I stopped writing consistently. This is partly because I began a new job and had less free time, partly because I got a little worried about publicly stating thoughts on the Internet, and mostly because I didn’t have a good sense of what I want to accomplish with this blog besides writing better. After a lot of consideration, I DO want to keep writing on here, and I want to have more focus on here.

This is my idea: since I have a lot of goals under the umbrella of overall becoming the person I want to be, I thought I would have a different goal each month about which I write. Throughout that month, I will try out one to several apps or websites or books that can help me achieve the goal. I’ll review them and write about my progress. Hopefully, this format still gives me the flexibility to write about me (because let’s face it, this ain’t the year I stop being so self-involved 😉 ), but also gives my readers more buy-in to what my goals are. I really do think that I’m not alone in a lot of my goals and especially my struggle to stay motivated with goals, and I’d love to establish a better relationship with YOU on here. This way, you may be able to relate more to what I’m writing, try out some of the things I’m trying out, and comment with your own reviews and whether you have any recommendations for me!

This means I’m also asking you to be more involved if you like reading my blog (which I hope you do!).  Comment and let me know your thoughts throughout the year, especially if you’re really passionate or not really passionate about something I write.

Here are some of the Monthly Novel Goals I am considering:

  • Cooking/Recipes/Healthy Eating
  • Fitness
  • Languages
  • Project Management Professional/Professional Development
  • Brain Puzzles
  • Comedy/Wittiness
  • Woodworking**

Given that’s at least six rather broad topics in no particular order right off the bat, maybe I’ll keep to this list for now and expand later or touch all/some of these topics twice. Let me know if you have any ideas! Odds are it’s something I’d be happy to try out.

Happy New Year!  Here’s to celebrating our accomplishments in 2015 and continuing forward with resolutions in 2016!

**Edited**

The Tree That Killed A Prius

Do you ever think that karma gives you a second chance?  Maybe you did something a little wicked, almost had negative repercussions, and ultimately were able to learn your lesson to avoid something worse happening in the future?  It’s almost like the universe is throwing you a bone – “Hey, man, we all have those days where we’re just a little extra selfish and a little extra preoccupied.  I get it. Don’t sweat it. Don’t do it again.”

Today may have been one of those days. I had a pretty nagging earache that I finally got checked out by a doctor in the late morning.  I’m fine, and it was only a bad case of swimmers’ ear. When I returned back to work, I noticed that one of the parking spots nearest to the building became available. We do not have assigned parking, but I always feel a twinge guilty when I steal someone’s spot as they head out to lunch. Is that okay to do? I always figure if I don’t steal it, then someone else will! 🙂

About an hour later, panic spreads throughout the office. A tree has fallen in the parking lot.  How could this be?!? It wasn’t even a particularly windy day! It just so happens that this tree landed in the parking spot adjacent to where my car was parked. And of all the cars to land on, it falls onto a red Prius, the most environmentally-friendly car in the lot! There was a black mustang convertible parked right next to the Prius on the other side, so maybe the tree had poor aim? Or maybe the tree intended to give the car a great, big hug, and we simply have different interpretations of “totaled” and “hug”. Regardless, this tall pine that was just five feet too long took out a good three cars, with the Prius bearing the brunt of the force.

Luckily, nobody was near the tree when it landed, and everyone is okay. Plus, my manager who owns the Prius handled the situation well and found the irony funny.

And it got me thinking about karma! Was the force sending me a message? (Yes, I DID just throw a Star Wars reference in here, thank you very much). My car was barely even touched, and I was able to buff out the two minor scratches I could find.

Steal not your coworkers’ parking spots.

The Case of the Doughnuts

Have you ever tried to resist a doughnut all day?  How about for two consecutive work days?

It is NOT easy, especially not when said box of doughnuts sits itself right behind your cubicle, and every time you get up, you take a longing glance in its direction, maybe counting how many are still left, how many have been eaten and save you the misery of fighting that temptation, how glistening the glaze looks, how crisp the sprinkles look.  Need I go on?

This happened to me on Friday. My lovely coworker dropped off a box of doughnuts as a farewell gift, which was very, very sweet of her. The problem for me with doughnuts is that I never have just one doughnut. As my boyfriend stated, whoever thought of the idea of doughnuts for breakfast was a jackass – it’s cake for breakfast! It’s a scam!

I watched the box of doughnuts slowly decrease down to four and a half – one of my coworkers was eyeing them all day just like me, but she actually was able to control herself and only eat one bite! I was impressed. Now, I’ve tried a lot of diets (for short duration) over the years, and I do believe that you can get away with a little indulgence a few times a week. So long as it is only a little indulgence! But once I get the taste of doughnut in me, I want more, even if they are a little stale or bland. There’s a trigger that goes off which I have never figured out how to control. The only solution I’ve discovered so far is when another very sweet coworker of mine brought in molasses cookies. Everyone talked about how delicious they were all day; yet, I resisted the first day! On the second day with the leftovers, I ended up taking the very last cookie. Oh my goodness, was it delicious! However, I was smart this time because I could not eat any more cookies. I successfully timed it and forced the hand to self-control.

I think people are becoming more accepting of the fact that it’s okay to not indulge when someone bakes or brings in pastries. To tell you the truth, I don’t know a single person who actually believes that pastries are healthy (I’m sure you can make a healthy variety, but that’s not the kind that’s brought in, and even if it is, it’s still probably not super healthy). If I had better self-control, I would absolutely grab a pastry, but history has shown that I never have one pastry.

I’m also not the only one with little will power, probably not even close to the only one. I even made zombie cupcakes a while back and ended up eating three of them! To tell you the truth, I made them partly because I intended for others to eat them, so I could just think about how yummy the cupcakes are. I didn’t intend to eat any! That plan backfired.

I’m all on board for social occasions and pastries, and I appreciate that others may be able to eat fewer of them than me. I’m just going to be resisting that urge a little more from now on, and setting the example that it’s okay to indulge on some days and not indulge on most days. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you or your food (that’s probably about as far from the truth as possible!), it just means that every time I have a little success with weight loss and working out, I sabotage myself and it’s really, really difficult for me to recover from that. The only reason why “cheating” doesn’t work is because I overindulge. If you can “cheat” within a reasonable amount, more power to you!!  And let me know the secret 😉

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

I started my Thanksgiving vacation with a 14 hour road trip with my boyfriend to Ithaca, New York, which was absolutely gorgeous. Ithaca is situated on one of the Finger Lakes. The lake stretched practically from Buffalo to way past my viewpoint in Ithaca!

On a walk down by the lake, I finally learned how to skip rocks. The beach was covered in smoothed shale which was perfect for practice. The trick is a combined flick of the wrist and a quick roll off the fingers. The walk was necessary after the Thanksgiving feast from the previous evening!

View down by the lake
View down by the lake

After Ithaca, we split up our trip back to Madison with a stop in Cleveland to visit more family members. I’m happy we did because even driving only 8 hours today left me completely exhausted. It was great meeting several extended family members and lots of family dogs!

I’m keeping this post short because I’m about to grab some shut eye – there’s nothing quite like going to sleep in your own bed after time away. I also don’t want to reveal too many personal stories with new people out of respect to their privacy. I will say this – it’s a little daunting meeting members of someone special’s family, but I also really like getting to understand more and more of the family history and relationships and personalities. It’s nice adding new memories with the family, goofing off, and adjusting to personality mixes. We played Balderdash and Scattergories, which ended up being silly and fun ways to break the ice (with a lot of humor and teasing at everyone’s expense!). I even managed to cook up some scrambled eggs and broccoli and cheese casserole that turned out pretty yummy!

No matter where you are in the world, Thanksgiving represents togetherness and appreciation. These are values that we can celebrate everyday, and I look forward to the added benefit on Thanksgiving of getting everyone together and cooking up delicious food. Cheers to you and yours.

Pursuit of Happiness