This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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This week

Yesterday I went off on a bit of a rant. Sorry about that. I’ve been brooding over this Mommy Wars thing all week. Not so much the thing itself, but the discussions around it. Seems I just rambled and confused the few who read it. My apologies.

Let’s catch up around here, shall we?

This is the week that my husband joins his dad and uncle off in the frozen north for a few days of deer hunting. It’s not exactly great hunting land, he’s gotten exactly one deer in the nearly 20 years he’s been going, but it’s a bonding experience. It’s tradition. It’s just what they do.

This is my annual solo parenting week. It’s weird, but I don’t hate it. I am in awe of the single parents I know. I’m amazed at the parents whose partners travel regularly. But since it’s mostly just this one week, well, eight days, actually, I can take it. I almost look forward to it. Not that I don’t miss it, but there are some pluses.

I get a lot done, most years, anyway. I always have grand plans for getting the house cleaned and some years I actually do. This year has proven to be pretty unproductive so far, but I did have that eight page paper to crank out. I’m planning to haul as much away from the basement as I can tomorrow, but the weather may not cooperate.

wpid-20141116_212428-2.jpgI allow myself one late night meal of delivery garbage food each year. Tonight is the night! I just ordered an Italian sub and half a dozen boneless hot wings. I poured a neat bourbon and here I sit awaiting delivery. No, it’s not good for me. No, I don’t need it. Yes, I am going to enjoy every crumb.I’ll probably have ridiculous heartburn at 3:00 a.m. but I’m willing to risk it.

The kids really do miss their daddy, and that’s good for everyone. We all need a break from each other once in a while. They remember how much Daddy really does love them when he’s gone like this. They will be really glad to see him come home.

I got my paper done. Next, and last of the semester, paper due in two weeks. Then I gear up for Spring 2015, which, by all accounts, is going to kick my butt! Cataloging I and Intro to Digital Preservation, both at the same time. I was warned to take them alone, but I can’t swing it without adding a year onto this whole endeavor. Better to plunge in and get it done. Then I’ve got to figure out a practicum for summer, and there’s just one class to take in the fall. Then I’ll be DONE!

My food is here, you will have to excuse me. I’ll be back, of course, tomorrow. Good night.

 

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Monday, Monday, So Good To Me!

The most peaceful hour of my week, after everyone leaves on Monday morning. Coffee is still hot, there isn’t a TV, video game, or radio playing. The only sound is the refrigerator cycling on and off, a clock ticking, and my typing. Bliss.

So, the apple fig butter. It was FABULOUS! I mean, so, so good! The recipe is so simple. Apples (recipe said 6, but I used 8 small Jonathons), 20 dried figs with stems removed and cut in half, one cup apple cider, 1/2 cup honey, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Mix it all up in a crock pot, cook for 6-8 hours, process in batches in a food processor. DONE! Now I’ve got to figure out how to can things properly, and I think I’ve figured out my Christmas gifts this year! I should probably find some non-bread type stuff to spread this delicious concoction on, too. Mixed it up in Girlie’s oatmeal this morning and she practically licked the bowl. Of course the boys won’t even taste it, but they don’t know what’s good. As I type, I am enjoying sprouted wheat toast with almond butter and this yummy sweet stuff on top. I am in heaven. I’ve also whipped up some coffee with coconut oil, Irish butter, and just a touch of agave nectar. I feel like I’ve actually stepped into decadence. I’m also feeling fueled to make it to lunch! Not totally paleo, by any means, but surely REAL FOOD!

20141103_091952I roasted my chicken on Saturday, only to have Grandma’s old Pyrex dish crack clean through about 15 minutes short of full cook time. Suddenly there was a great deal of smoke pouring out of the oven as the juices spilled onto the oven floor. I had planned to try my hand at zucchini noodles using the spiral slicer I finally bought, but the oven was out of commission. And good thing I wasn’t planning to actually serve roast chicken for dinner, because it was not completely done when I took it out. Eh, no matter. Let it cool, took the meat off and bagged it. It will all be used in recipes and finish cooking then. Mostly I just wanted to get the carcass on to simmer for broth. Now that cold weather is upon us, I’m feeling the need for soups, and I needed to restock my broth supply! Cleaned the oven that night and zucchini noodles are on the menu for tonight. Now, I have seven quart jars cooling on the counter that have been simmering since Saturday evening. Delicious. I actually think I might do a second chicken this week. You can’t have too much broth on hand.

Time to start the laundry, head to Meijer, generally start getting things done. Tomorrow is Election Day, YAY! The kids are out of school for Election Day, BOO! Probably won’t get much accomplished tomorrow, but I’m on a good run with this daily blogging thing, so I’ll do that, at least.

 


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#NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month

Okay, BlogHer, I’m in!

What a great month for National Blog Posting Month! November is a little crazy, but not crazy like December. There’s so much to talk about in November, well, for me anyway. I love this little semi-pause between chaos of back to school through Halloween, and the holidays. The weather is firmly NOT summer, and I feel like I’m fully into the most productive season of my year.

Can I do it? Can I actually blog every day for a month? That’s the challenge I’m setting for myself. I always feel like I have so much to say but I shouldn’t bother until it’s all put together in some totally rational (well, okay, semi-rational) form. Maybe I’ll get better at that if I do it every day for a month. Maybe I’ll just ramble and run off all my followers, few as they are. I guess we’ll see, won’t we.

So, it being November 1, All Saints’ Day, I’d like to start by telling you about the wonderful, healthy, nutritious breakfast my children ate this morning. I’d like to, but I cannot. Not one person under age of 11 has eaten anything but candy so far today, and it’s almost noon. AND, they’re all glued to the screens in the basement. PlayStation, Kindle, and PC are all going strong. But, after a few weeks of video game ban, and my refusal to buy Halloween candy in advance because it gets eaten, I suppose they deserve their little party. Daddy will be enforcing a basement clean up party in the afternoon, anyway.

Halloween was a success, and even this Grinch had a good time. Girlie and her friends had a ball. Pending approval of the other parents, I’ll share a picture at some point. Middle Bird had a lot of fun trick-or-treating, especially after they ditched the little guy and Daddy showed him how to really cover ground. I think the total candy haul in this house is a little ridiculous. The Baby Bird headed out as Buzz Lightyear, but ditched the wings this time. There was just no talking him into it. He still did quite well with his candy haul. I’m not doing a lot of candy monitoring around here. Frankly, I’m hoping they will either burn out, or get rid of it quickly! Myself, I’ve had my fill. I was a bit gluttonous last night and this morning’s sprouted wheat toast with hard boiled egg and sliced tomato was just what my body was screaming for!

wpid-20141101_115000.jpgGiven that the house is bursting with candy, it’s naturally time for me to get back to eating a little better, right? Yeah. The Paleo Experiment of last winter was very successful, and though I don’t think I need to be quite so strict about it, I think I’ll be leaning that way for a while. I felt really good, and I want some more of that! I finally got around to replacing the food processor attachment to the Cuisinart, and I invested in a mandolin slicer and a spiral slicer. The plan is to cut out almost all grain, sprouted wheat being one exception, a lot of dairy, most sugar, and generally avoid all processed foods. It’s not a diet, just a style shift in what I eat. I’m not going to beat myself up if I decide that I just HAVE to have one of the fabulous apple cookies my mother only makes at this time of year. For now, I’m off to the store for more jars. I’m going to roast a chicken to day and get the broth going, plus I want to give a shot to making fig apple butter in the crock pot. Surely I’ll be blogging about that tomorrow, right?


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Summer Salad

I should write about back to school. I should tell you all about the start of 4th and 5th grades. Eh, it will be more fun to tell you about that when the First Day of School photos stop showing up on Facebook.

Back to a little food blogging. I fell away from the paleo thing over the summer, and it’s time to get back at it. No 30 challenge at this time, maybe when we get further into fall, but I am turning back to a more paleo-esque diet. I felt better and dropped weight. Plus there are plenty of dishes I really like and totally satisfy.

20140826_121608Today, for lunch, I’m eating something really similar to my favorite summer salad recipe from mom’s kitchen. The original recipe is pretty simple. Wedged tomatoes, sliced onions, striped and sliced cucumbers, all marinated in cider vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar. Topped with a dash of celery seed for good measure. It’s delicious after an hour in the fridge, but amazing the next day. As a kid I remember taking a spoon to the leftover dressing in the bottom of my bowl. So tart and sweet, tasted like summer itself to me.

I wanted to make it a little more paleo friendly. For me, one of the most important things about paleo is the processed sugar. There are a few paleo-certified sweeteners, and technically agave nectar is only paleo-friendly, but it’s still my sweetener of choice. Hey, I said paleo-ESQUE! The vinegar was fine, though I switched to unfiltered, raw cider vinegar. And the switch to olive oil was just common sense. To get it all to mix, I used an immersion blender, which might not be strictly necessary, but I liked it. I’d say I used equal parts agave and oil, to twice as much cider. Dumped it over the tomatoes, onions, and cukes, topped it with a few shakes of celery seed, and set it in the fridge for an hour or two before lunch yesterday. Success! It was delicious. And of course, today’s lunch is even better.

Too bad I ate it all. It would have been an ideal thing to take to the pool this evening. The kids will be enjoying the last cheap hotdog night at the local pool. Guess I’ll just whip up some shrimp something after they are in bed.

 


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School, the boy, and our diet.

In every semester, I have a few of those “Oh, my God, I’m swamped and I don’t know when I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel” posts. This could be one of them, but that isn’t what I signed on to write about today. I am swamped, and I don’t know when I’ll see the light, but I’m beginning to accept it all as a permanent state. Doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to only taking one class this summer, and belonging to to the pool, but there is the tiniest chance I could be working part time, or even just volunteering somewhere, too, so I’m not going to get too pumped about an increase in down time, yet.

I finally found an edition old enough to serve for my Rare Books project. Inside was a pressed leaf that I can't bring myself to get rid of. Hope it's not harming the book. :)

I finally found an edition old enough to serve for my Rare Books project. Inside was a pressed leaf that I can’t bring myself to get rid of. Hope it’s not harming the book. 🙂

There are things going on that I need to share, though. And I’ve hit some walls in my determinations about how much to share about some things. I think there are some fine lines to walk, and I’m working out exactly where those lines fall. One of those areas of my life is our current challenges with my middle child. He’s been experiencing some increased issues with impulse control, focus, staying organized, keeping his body under control. Most of it could be chalked up to typical, bright, nine-year-old (well, almost) boy stuff, but it’s more. That’s all I can say to describe it. It’s just MORE. His teacher is losing patience, we are losing patience. Life at school is getting too hard for him, life at home is getting harder for all of us. But I still hold onto my conviction that this is not a kid who needs a diagnosis, a label, or a designation. He’s not ADHD, or maybe he is, but not to the point that there are advantages that outweigh the disadvantages of labeling him as such. But the fact remains that we have come to a place where the whole thing is bigger than we can manage at home, or without outside advice.

I will make his annual well-child appointment with the pediatrician today. I will make it for just him, and his dad will try to be off work and join us. We’ll start there. We love Dr. W, she’s been our only pediatrician for all three kids, and Middle Bird knows her, and trusts her. Hopefully, he will be comfortable, and we can all talk about the situation. I need someone to tell me where to go next.

Then there’s the school stuff. I’m struggling, maybe panicking a little, with keeping up this semester. The Rare Books class is a constant onslaught of new and fascinating material, but it’s so foreign to me and I’m having trouble finding the time to read everything, watch every lecture, and just absorb it. I’m keeping up, but it’s the hardest I’ve worked at one class since starting this endeavor. And the other class, Special Libraries with less daily stuff, but several big projects, is not a cakewalk, either. I’m enjoying both classes, thank heavens, so I’m making it work, but I’m getting a little close to the flame here. The Special Libraries class is over around March 23, which will make the Rare Books class go a lot smoother for the last two months or so of its run. I am learning SO much this semester, since I finished the core stuff that got me all pumped up for the profession, and moved into the more specific issues and daily life of a librarian of some flavor. I’m excited, and I’m ready to get into it.

That’s where the rough stuff comes. I’ve known for a while that I need to start beefing up my resumé. If I can’t find a job, and I wasn’t looking, really, I have to find some volunteer experience to put on there. I need to find somewhere to get my feet wet in this whole library work world. I don’t know how we’re going to make it work, but it’s got to happen and soon. I got a lead on a job, pretty entry-level stuff, but I managed to get myself an interview tomorrow. Maybe nothing will come of it, but I haven’t had a job interview in about 12 years. Good practice, and a chance to increase my network, even if the job doesn’t work out. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Other big doin’s in my life? Well, there’s the whole paleo thing, right? Yeah, it’s still on. Sort of. I think we covered early on that rules for eating aren’t my strong suit, but this is still working really well. Let me recap what I’ve been successful, or mostly successful, at maintaining.

  • No sugar, no artificial sweeteners. This one was big for about a minute. I stressed about giving up my sweetener in coffee, but in the end, I started enjoying black coffee. Nobody could have been more shocked at THAT! Knowing that sugar is off limits has actually made it WAY easier to drop weight, whether it’s the actual lack of sugar, and an argument could be made for that, or whether it’s the part that rule has played in making other things off limits. All sorts of things I used to eat for snacks, and considered somewhat healthy, are off the table. No more cereal, even the fiber stuff. No more granola bars. No more prepared foods like salad dressings. I’m actually amazed at how little I missed it after the first couple days. I have allowed myself a little honey, and I need to invest in some of that delicious, raw, local stuff sold over at the farmer’s market.
  • No grains. Just like the sugar, this made so many of my go-to snack foods off limits. Even though I fought with the portion control when I tried other diets, I was still allowed small amounts of things like Wheat Thin crackers, Ezekiel bread, and corn chips. None of those things qualify on this mostly-paleo experiment, so they just aren’t an option. I think when I finish this 30 day kick-off, a little rice and quinoa will be the first things I add back. We are experimenting with the gluten elimination thing to try and help Middle Bird, so I’ve had a few mouthfuls of rice pasta, gluten free bread, and quinoa, but just a few. I didn’t feel right about asking the kid to eat it without at least trying it. The verdict? Rice pasta is pretty darn good. Even Daddy Bird ate it and he’s tough.
  • No legumes. No peanuts, no soy beans, no black beans, no navy beans. There are other legumes, but those made up a pretty sizable part of my pre-paleo diet. I don’t think that I actually miss them, other than the extreme convenience. I mostly included them for their protein value, and if I’m eating meat/chicken/seafood every day, I need the legumes less. I will probably allow edamame back in after the 30 days, but the rest are probably not necessary.
  • No dairy. Also MUCH less stressful than I expected it to be. As with the sugar, I expected my morning coffee to be a big stumbling block, but because I found I actually enjoy black coffee, that wasn’t an issue. I have learned to eat the things I used to think NEEDED cheese, without cheese. Scrambled eggs, for instance, do not need cheese. Don’t tell my children, but I actually like them BETTER with just the sautéed veggies and some Frank’s Red Hot. Cheese was the biggest part of this category. I don’t eat yogurt anymore, but I never really needed it, it was just something to eat in the afternoons that I thought was “healthy.” Full of sugar, or some substitute, so I don’t need it at all.

Overall, I feel SO good! My skin is improved, my sleep is improved. I feel much more even as far as energy. I could probably give up that coffee, but I like it and since I don’t see it as a big negative, I’ll keep drinking it. And I’ve lost about twenty pounds! That’s right I’m about a third of the way to my final goal! And it wasn’t even HARD! Sure, there were moments, especially when eating with other people or eating out, where I had to really make an effort, but most of the time, day to day, it is no real stretch after the first week or so. Once I cut the sugar, I am amazed at how I don’t feel “hungry” every afternoon.  Studying in the kitchen, I always felt tempted to go eat something when I didn’t need anything. I attribute my lack of those feelings of hunger to breaking my addiction to sugar. I eat good, filling, whole foods and mostly at mealtimes. It doesn’t feel challenging, it just feels normal. I like it. I’ll keep doing most of it for the foreseeable future.

20140121_211833A few people have asked for “recipes” I’m using, and other tips I’ve learned. I’m no expert. I’m not even a learned enthusiast, but I’ve learned a few things by trial and error. I can share them. You can take them or leave them.

  • Coconut oil is wonderful, but it isn’t the panacea. Unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil has the most health benefits, but it’s got a distinct flavor. I love it with sweet potatoes, anything cooked with ginger, and seafood, but I’m not fond of it for browning meat or roasting vegetables. Because it solidifies at 76 degrees, when I toss my chopped cold veggies with it, it gets a solid coating quickly, and that makes spreading them on the parchment paper messy and unappealing.
  • Good old extra virgin olive oil is still the BEST! I don’t have to measure it now, so I love it even more. I’m not slathering it on everything, but it’s good stuff and I’m never going to run out of it again!
  • Shrimp rules! It can be reliably bought frozen and thawed in just the right portions. It is fat free and delicious on salads, pan seared with ginger and onion, or with oven roasted veggies of any kind.
  • Parchment paper is a cooking miracle. I have no idea why it has just never been something I picked up. I tried roasting sweet potatoes and veggies of all kinds, and the results are stunning. Perfectly browned yumminess without mess, or the need to flip halfway through cooking. I roast something on parchment nearly every day now. Broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onions, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and carrots have been the most popular.
  • Bone broth is lovely. I’ve roasted a couple chickens and used the carcass, and once just cooked up a bunch of drumsticks and made broth from them. Fabulous stuff! I LOVE it. I don’t buy broth at the store ever anymore. My stuff gets all icky and gelatinous in the fridge, but that means it’s REALLY good for you, even if it’s not very appealing when it’s cold. I make chicken rice or noodle soup for the kids and my husband, I sauté up veggies and drown them in the broth for me. It’s a wonderful winter comfort food to keep on hand. I’m sad that there is none in the refrigerator right now. I’ll roast another chicken on Saturday!
  • I cannot be trusted with almonds. Seriously, they are the safe munchable, so I will munch them. If they do not come in pre-portioned packets, I will eat WAY more than I’m supposed to. I’m not sure why my will power is so weak with this one thing, maybe because it’s not been required much with the other things, but I’m not buying almonds in bulk for a while.
  • I don’t feel the need for coconut milk. I just haven’t bothered, yet, and I’m not in a hurry. I don’t see where it could fill a need or whole in my diet. Lots of paleo folks swear by it, but I read an article about how hard it is to get it without the guar gum as a stabilizer, and it just turned me off. No big deal.

I could share some of the recipes that have worked for me, but I think you should play with it and see what works for you. What flavors do you like? Put some together in the pan and see how it turns out. I found every new recipe I tried with an open Google search, so use that. Pinterest, of course, has lots of ideas, too, though I found LOTS of things just way too complicated. I hope to spend more time looking over the next month or so, so feel free to follow me there if you like. I haven’t done much, but it will be picking up. Remember that most recipes, especially those with such simple and basic ingredients as those on the paleo list, are just foundations. Feel free to play with things however you like.

I might think of more, maybe I won’t get the gumption to write about it. If you’re reading, let me know, that might help. 🙂 Saturday is my thirtieth day. I don’t see much changing, though. A little rice, and quinoa, maybe. Eh. I’m feeling really good, and I want to keep that going. My next challenge is to try and do better with buying organic and sustainably farmed. That will be a whole new challenge.

These are a few of my favorite paleo sites. Maybe you think I’m crazy and want to prove it. Maybe you are thinking about giving it a try and need to know more. Either way, check out a few, or just hit Google.

Easy Paleo

nom nom paleo

Whole30

The PaleoFood Recipe Collection


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A Victorious Weekend (was there a football game?)

I DID IT! I made it through the first weekend of my own paleo journey. I was a bit worried about having family for dinner on Saturday, followed by a Sunday evening at friends’ to watch the Super Bowl. That’s two big temptation events back to back. Those are some of the most food-centric events I can imagine. If I’d been doing this longer, I might have volunteered to make a whole meal of paleo foods for the eleven we had for dinner Saturday, but I couldn’t wrap my head around that, so we just compromised. My mother made a couple chuck roasts. I made mashed potatoes (which I did NOT eat, despite the fact that I make THE very best mashed potatoes EVER!), corn, broccoli, bread, and fruit salad. Mom baked a cake, and I bought ice cream. It was okay. I mean, really. Yeah, there were lots of times I was tempted. I even forgot what I was doing and put a full helping of corn on my plate before I remembered and dumped it on my brother’s plate. For dinner, I loaded my plate with beef and broccoli. For dessert I stuck with black coffee and fruit.

Then for Super Bowl, my lovely host volunteered to have a Mexican spread, allowing the kids to just pick what they would eat, and I could build a lovely salad of the things I could eat and skip the bad stuff. That worked out really well. As long as I can eat guacamole, I’m happy! I almost didn’t miss the cheese and sour cream. I ate more guacamole by dipping raw broccoli and cauliflower instead of corn chips.

Let’s be totally honest, though. I drank several glasses of red wine over the two days. I’m not sorry about that. In fact, holding that glass and taking the occasional sip, totally allowed me to feel like I was not in any way deprived. I never drank enough to impair myself. I just had it in my hand. I am convinced that I was successful with the food because I still had the wine. I will consider dropping the alcohol after this 30 day experiment, perhaps for Lent, which starts just a week after my 30 days are up. But for now, this is working. I know Whole30 wants you to skip the scale and all other methods of measurement and comparison, for your 30 days. I think we’ve established that I’m writing my own rules here, so yeah, I’ve been on the scale. I’m down ten pounds since I started playing with this diet. Two just over the weekend! I suspect that it will be the sugar and the grains that I’ll leave out the longest. I think that’s the key to my weight control, but we’ll see what data we gather over the next 26 days.

Here we are at Day 4. For breakfast I ate leftover chuck roast sauteed in the pan with mushrooms, onions, and broccoli. Not very breakfast-y, but delicious and filling! I feel confident I can go get some schoolwork done without thinking about food all morning! And now I have three full days of success, two with major temptations, behind me! I feel like I had a HUGE victory this weekend and I hope that has created some momentum for me! Tonight’s plan is to roast another chicken, put some more bone broth on. I still have Mom’s big crock pot, so I’ll do it in that.

 


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Paleo 30 Day Experiment Kick Off (sort of)

Okay, I was inspired by the Whole30 program, but I tend to make up my own rules, so let’s see how this goes. I thought about all the changes to my diet this requires, and even though it’s certainly easier than a lot of diets, it’s a lot. Then I thought specifically about giving up alcohol. I can’t lie to you, gang, I really enjoy an adult beverage at the end of the day. Not every day, but probably four nights a week. A glass of wine or a cocktail after the kids are down. Maybe two or three on a weekend. I don’t remember the last time I was really drunk, but. Well, that’s a lie. I remember, but it isn’t something that happens often. Life is too messy for that these days.

So, all of this is to make excuses for not giving up alcohol as part of this experiment, at least not now. Maybe it will skew the entire thing, I don’t know, but when I thought about changing my diet so drastically and giving up alcohol, it felt like two separate projects. As soon as I looked at it that way, it felt like I was setting myself up to fail at both of them. But I have to reevaluate the drinking anyway, so this is what I came up with. I will not drink anything made from something I’m not eating. That means no beer (no great loss, I only drink beer rarely), no spirits distilled from grains (so, like, all of them except tequila), and no mixers that I wouldn’t normally drink. That pretty much leaves wine (and at least red has some health value), hard ciders, and of course, tequila since it’s made from the agave cactus. I guess I could do shots of tequila, but that just doesn’t have that it’s-been-a-long-day-let-me-check-facebook-and-relax kind of vibe. Margaritas would have mixers with sugar. Hard ciders are like 200 calories a serving, but I do enjoy them from time to time and I’m not actually counting calories, right? Well, I guess that just leaves my red wine. I can live with that. I do love a red wine.

20140131_085237

I can’t show you dinner, but this was my breakfast omelette. If I’d already been to the grocery, there would be avocado with that!

I’d really like to share a lovely snapshot of my Day One dinner tonight, but I’m afraid I wolfed it down before considering a photograph. It was divine, though. As I told the Facebook folks, if I can pull that off every night, paleo will be a breeze! I sauteed mushrooms, red onion, zucchini, and shrimps in coconut oil, then hit it with a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot (I really do put that s#$% on everything). I topped it with half an avocado. The old dieting Bird would have budgeted it all out so that I could have a little cheese, parmesan or feta, or maybe even cheddar. I didn’t miss it at all. Just to keep up, breakfast was an omelette with spinach and salsa with Frank’s. There was no real lunch since I was so busy, but I ate a couple handfuls of almonds here and there, some pineapple, and a fistful of sugar snap peas. Oh, and a banana. Probably should have had more water, but I’ll drink a glass before bed.

The next two days will be rough. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. We’ll have dinner here with his best friend (today is his birthday) and wife, my brother and his girlfriend, Mom and Dad. Mom’s making roast, so I can eat that. I’ll make green beans, corn, and mashed potatoes. I’ll put coconut oil or bacon grease (not stressing about nitrites, yet) on the veggies, but mashed potatoes are off limits. We’ll have cake and ice cream, but I’ll be skipping that. I bought some raspberries, blueberries, and apples so I could make a nice fruit bowl to go with the cake. I’ll just eat that. I’ll be okay. THEN, Sunday is Super Bowl. We’re going to watch the game with another family who care about as much as we do about the game. We haven’t seen them in a while so it will be good to catch up, but gatherings like that mean food. Thankfully, they are very health conscious and aware of my little experiment, so I have support!

I really haven’t done one of these “here’s my life” kind of blog entries in a while and I apologize if I bore you to tears. I just want to document some of this paleo experiment. I have a feeling I will be keeping more of it than I thought when I first read about it. Certainly not all of it. I cannot imagine a whole life without butter, but I also know I don’t need as much as I was eating. And the sugar thing is just crazy. I can already clearly see a difference in my tolerance for sweetness. I ate brownies that Mom brought last night and they were good, don’t misunderstand. I mean, they were brownies! But I was happy with a much smaller piece than I would have been a few weeks ago. I wonder how I’ll feel after a month of none!

Wish me luck.


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Fabulous Friday

It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that Friday isn’t so exciting for the stay-at-home mom with a mountain of homework to due by Sunday night. My work is just beginning and even though there were times during the week when everyone was home and awake, there will be a lot MORE times over the weekend. But, I’ll have help, I’ll get it done. I just have to, that’s all. Can’t help getting a little jazzed about Friday, though. It’s a lifetime of training, I guess. The kids have make up piano lessons after school, but nobody else has to be harassed to do homework. TV and video games for EVERYONE! Woohooo. Eh, sue me.

I’m really just rambling here so I don’t have to go work on my homework, but I did have a couple things to say. I’ve lost a little weight. Not a lot, just about seven pounds, but it’s a start. Especially since I haven’t “dieted” and I’m just experimenting with the paleo thing. I’ve pretty much eliminated dairy entirely, which is kind of amazing. I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening. I dropped the cheese on my eggs, then started with the black coffee, then I went to have a yogurt for lunch and realized I hadn’t had dairy in three days, so maybe we just won’t have the Yoplait now, either. My right knee was one of my “inflammation issues” and it hasn’t bothered me in a couple days, either. Can’t say those two things are related, but can’t say they aren’t.

I’m going try my hand at roasting a chicken. That’s right, I’ve never done it. I looked up several recipes online and I was utterly shocked to find that apparently this task amounts to “wash chicken, dry chicken, cook chicken.” I think I can handle this. I’m a kind of excited about having the carcass to make bone broth. Something warm and comforting to drink when it’s crazy cold, that’s good for me, and I can turn lots of lovely things into soup. If it works out well, I may be roasting a lot of chickens. They’re cheap, I like the idea of having roasted chicken around to throw on salads, into soups, whatever. Maybe I can convince the kids to eat it in lunches. I’m probably stretching there a little, but a girl can dream.

Finished off my 1000 day gouda and my loaf of Ezekiel bread. It’s the last week of the month, so I’m not going to make a big grocery run before Friday, or I’d jump all in. Maybe I am all in, but I’m not yelling at myself for the occasional pretzel or piece of bread. (Oh, wait, I did have a little butter on my dinner roll last night. Eh) I’m going to enjoy a shot of bourbon when the kids are in bed tonight because I’ve been putting it off all week. All that just amounts to not starting my 30 countdown, yet. I’ll try to do 30 days of hard core, extreme, seriousness, as described by the folks at Whole30. After that, I don’t see myself staying off alcohol, grains, legumes, or dairy, but I can see myself eating FAR less than I did a few weeks ago. Some of it is just about breaking old habits and making new ones, I guess. This feels doable, and not in that 0h-I’m-just-hyping-myself-up kind of way. Alcohol will be hard. I really enjoy a drink in the evening, maybe a few with friends on a weekend. The fact that it seems like it might be hard makes me more sure I should try it, though. Thirty days is not that long. It’s been more than 30 days since Christmas already!

Pretty bleak out there.

Pretty bleak out there.

Oh, good heavens, it’s been more than 30 days since Christmas! How is that possible? February is sneaking up. It’s a short month and then it’s March. March is practically springtime! Everyone is complaining about these crazy cold temperatures we’re having, and I get it. I do. But we’ll make it through. The cold, I can handle. The high gas bill is gonna suck. Thank you, Lord, for the blessings of this nice warm house, my nice warm coat, my nice warm bed, and my nice warm car. I don’t actually spend much time in that awful cold, but it sure did stink putting fuel in the van this morning!


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Here we go again…

Here I am again, overwhelmed at the amount of schoolwork and a little panicky about getting it all done. It will get done, it has to get done, but it’s gonna be a manic few months here. Maybe two classes at once is too much at this level. Especially if I have to add some volunteer work. I’m thinking of dropping back to one class at a time. I’ll revisit that thought later. Right now, I’m committed to these two, so I’ll get it done.

Note that, even while eating, there's homework in the background.

Note that, even while eating, there’s homework in the background.

Meanwhile, I’m also determined not to just eat whatever the heck I want to this semester. I’ve dropped a few pounds when classes are out only to pile them back on when classes resume about three times now. I can’t be bothered by the whole calorie counting thing, though. That’s too much trouble anyway. I’m also having some inflammation issues, particularly in my joints, and I’m wondering if diet can help that a bit. So I’ve decided to try a little paleo. I’m going to start with the Whole30 idea and see what happens. Maybe I’ll hate it and that will be the end of it. Maybe I’ll feel a bit better and keep going. Maybe I won’t be able to live without sweetener in my coffee and I’ll last two days and freak out. We’ll see. I know there are a lot of meals considered paleo that I can get excited about. I like that I don’t need to keep track of anything and as long as I keep plenty of veggies and some fruit around, I’ll never have to figure out what to eat. I like that I can cook meat and serve it to me and my family. I will have to make some modifications and maybe I won’t consume the whole meal that the rest of the family gets, but I won’t have to make two separate meals every night, either.

So far, I’m just experimenting with some meals. I have not committed to get started. I’ve got a half a loaf of Ezekiel bread and a chunk of 1000 day gouda I’m not willing to throw out. I’m pleased, though. Last night I had sweet potatoes, onions, and spinach. It was delicious! I was a little shocked at how much I enjoyed it, actually. That’s the dish in the picture. Breakfast was two eggs, spinach, onion, mushrooms, and avocado. I was stuffed. I should have left time for lunch before I go pick up Joey, but I’m going to snack on some sugar snap peas and I think I’ll make it. I’ll keep you posted. I’m not looking forward to giving up alcohol, either, but that’s not exactly a deal breaker.

 


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Standing at the door…

Here it is! The holidays are HERE! It’s not pre-holidays. It’s not almost the holidays. It’s here! Tomorrow I go to the grocery for all the stuff I need to make my part of Thanksgiving dinner. Today I will tackle the house. Toilets, vacuuming, laundry, oh dear God, the laundry. But right at this morning tears are streaming down my face as I contemplate my blessings.Thanksgiving-dinner2-760380

I have avoided the Month of Thankfulness that so many of my friends participate in. I love seeing what my friends are thankful for. Often it’s loved ones, or material blessings, or just living in this wonderful country. Sometimes it’s little things like a good cup of coffee, or a few minutes to sit down. A few weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook about how she couldn’t bring herself to participate because she was conflicted about it all. If she posts that she’s thankful for her wonderful husband, won’t that make a newly widowed friend feel bad? Maybe that’s why I couldn’t post? Or if I post about how thankful I am for my husband’s good job that affords me the chance to live in this house in this neighborhood, will that bum out my friends who are struggling with unemployment and just want keep their home out of foreclosure? I thought about this a lot for a few days. In the end, I decided no. Not, my posts wouldn’t, or shouldn’t make anyone feel bad. Well, probably not. So I didn’t participate. Doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. I’m so thankful from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. I’m grateful for my family, my parents, my brother, my husband, my beautiful children. NOBODY on this planet is more blessed with good people in their lives. My heart could pop. And I’m thankful for the material blessings I enjoy. My home, my warm bed, my stocked pantry, my reliable transportation, even the fabulous coffee maker that just brewed up a pot of go-juice for the afternoon. And so much more. Doesn’t mean my life is perfect, just that I’ll keep my own problems, given the choice.

I’ve written before about how I know this time will pass. Someday someone I love will get sick, or be taken from me without warning. There will be job stress for my husband or myself, I do plan to re-enter the workforce soon. Sometime each of my children will disappoint me with a decision or direction. I’m not unprepared for that, though nobody is ever really prepared. But just like I know exactly WHO I am grateful TO, I know where I’ll get the strength to get through those things, too.

Now I’ve got all these lovely blessings to be thankful and we’re standing in the doorway ready to walk into the holidays. I LOVE the holidays. I’m sure not every year will be as lovely as this one promises to be, but I pray I’m never any less aware of how lovely it all is.

I’ve got to get back to my job today. It’s weird being in this between terms thing. I only had a short break between Summer and Fall, so being out of classes so long is a little unnerving. Might help if that one prof would go ahead and post gradeStill, today I am Mom, plain and simple. Mom who cleans toilets. Mom who does laundry. Mom who prepares for Thanksgiving, a gameday party on Saturday (Go BUCKS!), and Christmas. Good thing I love being Mom.